Sleep Paralysis


Many of us are familiar with sleep paralysis and perhaps some of you have actually had the sensation of being in a semi-sleep state, trapped in your body, unable to move. If you have, then you know what a frightening and shocking phenomenon this is. If you are unfamiliar with what this is exactly – a quick definition:

“[S]leep paralysis [is] a state of consciousness occurring while falling asleep or upon awakening, lasting for several minutes or a few seconds, and characterized by a feeling of an inability to move. While experiencing this state the individual is fully aware of the condition, surroundings, and have complete recall of the episode. Vivid and terrifying hallucinations often accompany this state of consciousness and a sense of acute danger may be felt. Once the episode of paralysis passes, the individual often sits up with a start, experiences symptoms of panic (e.g. tachycardia, hyperventilation, fear) and realizes that the perceptions of danger were false.”¹

Sleep paralysis is very often attributed to paranormal activity. A few of the most common entities who are held responsible for holding people down in their beds are the incubus, the djinn, demons, and various other dark entities. This can happen only once or it may happen repeatedly over a series of nights. It is documented that about 15% of our population has fallen victim to sleep paralysis. In the United States alone, nearly 3 million people report this nightmare each year.

According to Shelley Adler, in her book Sleep Paralysis², there are certain common traits:

  • victim’s impression of wakefulness
  • inability to move or speak
  • realistic perception of the immediate environment
  • intense fear and anxiety
  • lying in a supine position
  • feeling pressure on the chest
  • difficulty breathing
  • an awareness of a ‘presence’ that is often seen or heard

The Stuff of Legends

The history of sleep paralysis has been recorded as far back as the 2nd century when the Greek physician Galen attributed it to indigestion. Since then, it has perplexed mankind so much so that it exists as legends within nearly every culture throughout the world.

One such culture is located on the most eastern province of Canada – Newfoundland. Here the stories of the “ag rog” have become a popular explanation for what happens in sleep paralysis. “The Hag,” as she is also known, is an incubus or succubus that visits in the form of hallucinations. She then sits on top of the chest of the victim, pushing the life out of the them. Sometimes the creature is a male, the gender doesn’t necessarily matter:

“He was heavy. I tried to shift my arms, but they were pinned to my sides. And I could smell him, which was the worst of it — the bitter combination of feeling a rough jaw against the skin of my neck, and the terror of being unable to breathe. I choked. He smelt like sweat and something else — something ugly.”³

After the experience is over and the victim recovers, profuse sweating and exhaustion usually ensue. Witnesses report that some victims let out a high-pitched scream or low moans. Their eyes may be closed or open. Sometimes these attacks can be fatal, as was reported during the 1980’s in Portland, Oregon and St. Paul, Minnesota. A group of healthy Laotian Hmong refugees, between the ages of 25 and 50, were suddenly dying and professionals were unable to find any medical cause. Their deaths were attributed to sleep paralysis.²

Outside of the United States, sleep paralysis is known all over the world. “In Chinese culture it is called, in pinyin, “鬼壓身/鬼压身,” guǐ yā shēn (‘ghost pressing on body’), in Turkish ‘uyku felci’ karabasan (‘the dark assailant’), and in Vietnamese ma đè means ‘held down by the ghost.’ The Hungarian term boszorkany-nyomas means ‘witches pressure’, while German has alpdrucken, or ‘elf pressing.’ ” In Japanese culture sleep paralysis is known as (金縛りkanashibari (‘bound or fastened in metal’). In Korean culture, sleep paralysis is called gawi nulim (‘Hangul: 가위눌림’). I list these terms specifically to show that sleep paralysis has been a deeply embedded issue within the human race for millenia. So why is this happening?

From a paranormal perspective, spirits and other entities do visit us in our dreams. Sometimes, like a deceased relative, he or she comes to offer up a warning or perhaps to comfort in a time of need. Darker entities have an agenda of their own. Perhaps the entity has attached itself to a family member so it can execute a haunting in the home. Sometimes we involve ourselves activities that invite malevolent spirits into our lives such as using Ouija boards, performing magic rituals or any form of witchcraft. As such, these entities have been invited into your dreams and sleep paralysis may just be a “side effect” of your actions. Others claim that alien abduction is the cause.

Sometimes, though, none of these scenarios apply. So then, why do folks who may not even as much as believe in the paranormal suffer from this frightening experience?

Skeptic’s Explanation

Science has a pretty convincing explanation for why sleep paralysis occurs. When we start to fall asleep, we slowly move into REM sleep. Once there, we are locked into the dream state. These are the normal stages of sleep. Sometimes, though, stages are bypassed:

“During rapid-eye-movement (REM) sleep, the muscles of the body are paralyzed, presumably to prevent the dreamer from physically acting out the dream. Researchers are not sure why this normal paralysis happens during consciousness for victims of sleep paralysis, but psychophysiological studies have confirmed that attacks are particularly likely to occur if the person enters REM sleep quickly after hitting the pillow, bypassing the stages of non-REM sleep that usually happen first.”⁴ 

Panic attacks are commonly associated with sleep paralysis and may be a possible explanation. Over the course of my research I have found that a very large percentage of the general population suffer from symptoms that qualify them for a diagnosis of panic disorder according to DSM-III critieria, even though they may not recognize themselves as having this horrible phenomenon.

Fear is yet another possible predictor for sleep paralysis. Once the victim awakens from the sleep state and the body remains in “paralysis,” the element of fear takes over immediately. The fear reaction activates the amygdaloid and temporal lobes of the brain which then leads to all of the other hallucinatory and sense experiences. To put it simply, the brain creates the unusual phenomena of sleep paralysis triggered by the surge of fear.

One final scientific explanation is sleep apnea. I personally suffer from this disorder and use a CPAP machine every night. When the body falls into its pre-dream resting state, breathing is slowed dramatically and blood pressure drops. Those of us with sleep apnea will stop breathing at points during the night which drops our oxygen below safe levels. Mine went as low as 67%. In an oxygen-deprived state the brain can go a bit haywire and create many of the symptoms that are being associated with sleep paralysis. Although I have never personally suffered from paralysis, I can see where having sleep apnea could be a possible explanation.

Final Thoughts

The four possible explanations for sleep paralysis offered here are an attempt to rule out paranormal phenomenon by using our current understanding of the human body and mind. Depending on what angle you choose to look at the subject, any one of these possibilities can debunk sleep paralysis’ supernatural claims. There is one fact that remains a common thread through all documented experiences no matter what part of the world is studied.

“Auditory experiences ranged from tapping sounds and footsteps to jabbering voices. Visual experiences ranged from shadowy outlines to vivid demonic figures. Floating experiences ranged from rising sensations to vertiginous flights through spinning tunnels.”⁵

The experiences listed above could be taken straight from the transcripts of any paranormal investigation, out-of-body-experiences or those who are sensitive to the spirit world. No matter who the victim is or in what part of the world sleep paralysis is studied, these experiences remain strangely consistent. As stated earlier, while in the dream state it is known that we can interact with certain spirits – like our deceased relatives. The spirit world, transversely, likes to interact with us. Perhaps it is the intent of certain entities that trigger the phenomenon of sleep paralysis. Darker entities love to play the role of trickster or dominate individuals and using fear is a great way for them to accomplish their devious goals.

Science has left us with a few unknowns that surpass anything it can yet explain. Scientists cannot provide clear answers why auditory, visual, and floating experiences are so consistent across the board. The study of the paranormal realm can. Until science can prove further… people who experience sleep paralysis may truly be interacting with spirits and entities – many of whom feed off of our fear of being trapped in an immobile physical body and subject to whatever the entity chooses to do to us.

Would you agree with this assessment? Do your personal experiences dictate that sleep paralysis may actually be something else?

Drop me a line in the comment box below or wherever you find this article on social media. I’d love to hear from you and thank you!!

Works Cited:

¹ Bell, Carl C., et. al. “Further Studies on the Prevalence of Isolated Sleep Paralysis in Black Subjects.” Journal of the National Medical Association. Vol. 78, no. 7: 1986. pp. 649-659.

² Adler, Shelley R. Sleep Paralysis: Night-mares, Nocebos, and the Mind-Body Connection. 2011.



⁵ Cheyne, J. Allen, et. al., “Relations among hypnagogic and hypnopompic experiences associated with sleep paralysis.” <em>J. Sleep Res.</em> (1999) 8: 313-317.

The Paranormal Therapy of Spirit Attachment


“The demon’s target is not the possessed; it is us the observers…everyone in this house. I think the point is to make us despair…to reject our humanity: to see ourselves as ultimately bestial, vile and putrescent; without dignity; ugly; unworthy.”
William Peter Blatty, The Exorcist

On my sister site, Paranormal Insights, I decided for the month of December to bring you, the reader, home to my neck of the woods for the Christmas holiday. And so, by keeping in tune with this theme, I want to do the same with this site.


The above quote is taken from the movie “The Exorcist.” Most paranormal enthusiasts are very familiar with this possession that took place here in St. Louis in 1949. Robbie Doe was a young boy from the East Coast area who was held responsible for what may have been considered Recurrent Spontaneous Psychokinesis (RSPK). His extreme activity confounded the professionals and forced a focused discipline from priests never seen before in current history. The lines drawn around this exorcism are so blurred between the field of parapsychology and paranormal demonic activity that it is difficult to tell if his possession was derived from this physical world, the spiritual one or both.

“In what is perhaps one of the most remarkable experiences of its kind in recent religious history, a 14 year-old Mount Rainier boy has been freed by a Catholic priest of possession by the devil…. the boy broke into a violent tantrum screaming, cursing, and voicing of Latin phrases – a language he had never studied – whenever the priest reached those climactic points of the 27-page ritual in which he commanded the demons to depart from the boy.”   – Washington Post, August 20, 1949

Geographically, if you search Google Maps, you’ll find the house of this notorious supernatural event located at 8435 Roanoke Drive in Bel-Nor, Missouri. A photo is pictured above and has been the source of many books and investigations.

Local writ51xvcn-ensl-_sx331_bo1204203200_ers like Troy Taylor and Steven LaChance offer up their versions of the story, which are quite different from the movie. The real stories are based on the actual people and priests involved in this historically controversial event. Troy has personally interviewed one of the priests before he died. I invite you to check him out at this link:



Steven’s perspective on this incident brings it into the broader spectrum of how it affected the city of St. Louis in general. You can find him here:


I Always Feel Like Somebody’s Watching Me

When we think of a spirit releasing from or attaching to a human body, we tend to think of two things: the rising of the soul out of the body at the point of death and exorcisms. Death is a process that we have little to no control over – when your ticket is pulled, it’s time to go. Exorcisms are, in reality, an extreme form of spirit attachment that is not as common as folks might be apt to believe. Although there are numerous claims that exorcisms are on the steady rise worldwide, these phenomena are not necessarily a concern for most of us. There are spirits, though, who do affect our daily lives – and we do not even realize it. Here is where the gentle practice of spirit release therapy is called into action.

What exactly is this discipline? Before this question is answered, keep in mind that today’s science was yesterday’s myth. Many of the things that were once considered as coming from some mysterious realm of magic can now be tested and explained by science. With spiritual matters, this too will only be a matter of time.

“There is a tension between what the physical sciences can accept and what people experience in their subjective reality. This is not helpful for the person who suffers distress that has its origin in a spiritual domain. It is therefore necessary for medical science to be able to expand its frames of reference and accommodate real subjective experiences in order that they can be treated effectively.”

In Spirit Release Therapy (SRT) it is understood that certain spirits are able to affect each one of us at any given time. Sometimes this is done in a good way, but with SRT, entities that negatively affect people are the main concern. These entities may be spirits who have died and have not yet passed on through the Light or they may be mischievous or malevolent spirits who seek out potential victims. The spirits do not necessarily enter into the human host, although sometimes they do.

Snippets in History

The medical professional who is credited with pioneering SRT is Dr. William Baldwin, a man who left the field of dentistry and decided to pursue a passion. In his doctoral dissertation in psychology he put forth the first serious effort in considering spirit release therapy. His approaches and techniques may be a bit controversial, but the basis of his work does hold merit. Here is an example of a case study by one of his advocates, Dr. T.J. Palmer:

“The schoolgirl who could not walk. This was a fifteen-year-old girl who had progressively lost the use of her legs until she had to be taken to school in a wheelchair. There was no medical explanation for her condition and when I [Dr. Palmer] visited her home she was seen to be crawling on her elbows from room to room as she dragged her legs behind her. On investigation, it was discovered that when she was eight years-old [she had fallen victim to abuse]. The fear generated by this experience attracted a discarnate entity that used the fear to attach itself and incapacitate her. This case is representative of how…emotions emit an energetic frequency that acts as a beacon to attract negative spirit entities.”

This example relates how certain spirits are able to influence, sometimes even completely alter, our lives. If this case study seems a little far-fetched, the let’s revisit a story that is closer to the hearts of those of us who love the paranormal.

Aaron Goodwin, as most of us already know, is an paranormal investigator and many times “ghost bait” for the hit show Ghost Adventures. He has documented his encounters from their lockdown at Bobby Mackey’s Music World in Wilder, Kentucky. He relates what happened as a result of a spirit attachment on his website Aaron Goodwin Collections:

“I wanted to just talk about what happened with my ex wife and I and of course Mackey’s. After I came home from Mackey’s the 1st time hunting there, everything changed for me. Right away we could notice something had followed me home from there. My ex-wife and I would share the same nightmares at night and went threw some crazy paranormal stuff. My nightmares had to do with this white bearded old guy that was always trying to get her and I. We would wake up at the same time at night. She would wake up screaming or out of breath. She would wake and talk about things that had to do with places I hunted. We would share the same dreams and the stuff that happened around the house was indescribable.”

This spirit attachment disrupted Aaron’s life so much that his marriage ended in divorce. The entity created an environment that drove a wedge between them. It interacted physically by performing different poltergeist activities. Then it made its way into the dream state and did not allow them to have peaceful nights. Any tensions that may have existed between Aaron and his wife would be exacerbated to a whole new and conflicting level. They may have constantly fought. Every little trigger that could be pushed, would have been initiated by the shadow entity. These are just a few of the things that can occur with spirit attachments.

Never Throw Caution into the Paranormal Wind

How is it possible that a spirit can influence us, many times without us even realizing it? The answer is simple: energy.

The ability to manipulate energy may single-handedly explain a great deal of paranormal activity. Ghosts are able to use and transform electromagnetic fields into energy that allows them to perform tasks such as speech, scratches, knocks, object movement, and many of the familiar interactions. This manipulation can be performed with a variety of other sources like lithium batteries and low-level radiation. Activity can also be utilized from humans themselves through their emotions.

As was stated earlier, our emotions can act as a beacon to attract unwanted spirits, and, as such, these same spirits can alter our mental states. Another physician, Dr. Parisetti has this to say:

“We have patients showing exceedingly weird symptoms and/or a variety of disruptive behaviours whom are reportedly cured by therapists by basically asking a ‘possessing spirit’ to leave their body.”

So we have observations in both the paranormal and scientific realms that warn us of the potential of spirit attachments and the consequences when this happens. Sometimes a priest must show up with his book of the Rite of Exorcisms or the patient may see a therapist for relief.

Why This Article?

My purpose in bringing out all of this information is to reveal the fact that everyone needs to be cautious when they dive into the field of paranormal investigation. Our field has been in the pioneer stage for over a couple decades and we have amassed an incredible amount of knowledge from our technological efforts. But always keep in mind that we are dealing with an unseen realm that, fundamentally, we do not understand.

We do not know exactly how spirits can do what they do or how far they can take a spirit attachment. We cannot specifically define the Natural Laws that govern the world on the other side of the veil and we certainly can never know the true intent of any spirit or entity. Ghosts can not only affect us emotionally, but they can physically alter us as well. Slowly the stories of para-enthusiasts suffering from heart palpitations, abrupt organ disruptions, and other medical conditions are being whispered among themselves. Could they simply be coincidences?

I certainly encourage further exploration, as I will continue to do so from the research end. But please, when you’re investigating that reportedly haunted site… never throw caution into the paranormal wind.



Works Cited


Flickr – Photo taken from the archive of Alice Popkorn

Spirit Release Therapy (II)