Hag Syndrome" The
See: The haunted
Art of Henry Fuseli here!
paralysis is a condition characterized
by temporary paralysis of the body shortly
after waking up (known as hypnopompic
paralysis) or, less often, shortly before
falling asleep (known as hypnagogic paralysis).
it is closely related to the paralysis
that occurs as a natural part of REM (rapid
eye movement) sleep, which is known as
REM atonia. Sleep paralysis occurs when
the brain awakes from a REM state, but
the bodily paralysis persists. This leaves
the person fully aware, but unable to
move. In addition, the state may be accompanied
by hypnagogic hallucinations.
More often than
not, sleep paralysis is believed by the
person affected by it to be no more than
a dream. This explains many dream recountings
which describe the person lying frozen
and unable to move. The hallucinatory
element to sleep paralysis makes it even
more likely that someone will interpret
the experience as a dream, since completely
fanciful, or dream-like, objects may appear
in the room alongside one's normal vision.
or "Night Hag", in Polish mythology,
is a nightmare spirit that also goes by
the name Krisky or Plaksy. The Nocnitsa
is also present in Russian, Serbian and
Slovakian folklore. She is known to torment
children at night, and mothers in some
regions will place a knife in their children's
cradles or draw a circle around the cradles
with a knife for protection. This is possibly
based on the belief that supernatural
beings cannot touch iron (Lindemans).
She is known in Bulgaria
as Gorska Makua.
The Night Hag is almost
certainly linked to the common apparition
seen during the hypnagogic state of sleep.
The night-hag of Russian, Polish, Serbian,
and Slovak folklore. She torments children
at night. In some regions, the mothers
place a knife in the cradle or draw a
circle around it with a knife. Hiding
an ax or a doll under the floor beneath
the cradle also prevents her from getting
at the child (possible based on the belief
that supernatural beings cannot touch
iron). Other names for the hag include
kriksy and plaksy. Her Bulgarian equivalent
is the gorska makva, a hideous wood-hag.
Lindemans, Micha (2004). www.pantheon.org/articles/n/nocnitsa.html
The current usage
of the term nightmare refers to a dream
which causes the sleeper a strong unpleasant
emotional response. Nightmares typically
feature fear or horror, and/or the sensations
of pain, falling, drowning or death. They
can be related to physiological causes,
such as a high fever; psychological ones,
such as unusual trauma or stress in the
sleeper's life; or commonly for no apparent
cause. Nightmares can be so stressful
as to suddenly wake the sufferer in a
state of distress, which may prevent falling
back to sleep for some time.
are commonplace, but recurrent nightmares
can interfere with sleep and may cause
people to seek medical help. A recently
proposed treatment consists of imagery
UNEXPECTED NOCTURNAL DEATH SYNDROME
In the news:
Nightmare was the original
term for the state later known as waking
dream (cf Mary Shelley and Frankenstein's
Genesis), and more currently as sleep
paralysis, associated with rapid eye movement
(REM) sleep. The original definition was
codified by Dr Johnson in his A Dictionary
of the English Language and was thus understood,
among others by Erasmus Darwin and Henry
Fuseli, to include a "morbid oppression
in the night, resembling the pressure
of weight upon the breast."
Such nightmares were
widely considered to be the work of demons
and more specifically incubi, which were
thought to sit on the chests of sleepers.
In Old English, the being in question
was called a mare or mære (from
a proto-Germanic *maron, related to Old
High German and Old Norse mara), whence
comes the mare part in nightmare.
The mythology of the
Sea Island people of South Carolina and
Georgia describes the negative figure
of the Hag who leaves her physical body
at night, and sits on the chest of her
victim. The victim usually wakes with
a feeling of terror, has difficulty breathing
because of a perceived heavy invisible
weight on his or her chest, and is unable
to move i.e., experiences sleep paralysis.
This nightmare experience is described
as being "hag ridden" in the
Gullah lore. The "Old Hag" was
a nightmare spirit in British and also
Anglophone North American folklore.
This type of waking
dream is called mareridt in Danish, nachtmerrie
in Dutch, malson in Catalan, cauchemar
in French, mardraum or mareritt in Norwegian,
pesadilla in Spanish, Albdruck, Albtraum
(from Álf, Old Norse for Elf) or
Nachtmahr (older) in German, incubo in
Italian, mardröm in Swedish, painajainen
in Finnish, luupainaja in Estonian, pesadelo
in Portuguese, èmèng in
Mandarin, gawi in Korean, karabasan in
Turkish , kanashibari in Japanese and
bakhtak in Persian.
The Nightmare, Henry
Fuseli, 1802 (Frankfurter Goethe-Museum,
Frankfurt)Various forms of magic and spiritual
possession were also advanced as causes.
In nineteenth century Europe, the vagaries
of diet were thought to be responsible.
For example, in Charles Dickens's A Christmas
Carol Ebenezer Scrooge attributes the
ghost he sees to "... an undigested
bit of beef, a blot of mustard, a crumb
of cheese, a fragment of an underdone
A mara, or a mare is
a kind of malignant female wraith in Scandinavian
folklore believed to cause nightmares.
She appears as early as in the Norse Ynglinga
saga, but the belief itself is probably
even older (see below). "Mara"
is the Old Norse, Swedish, Finnish and
Icelandic name, "mare" is Norwegian
The mara was thought
of as an immaterial being – capable
of moving through a keyhole or the opening
under a door – who seated herself
at the chest of a sleeping person and
"rode" him or her, thus causing
nightmares. In Norwegian/Danish, the word
for nightmare is mareritt/mareridt, meaning
"mareride". The Icelandic word
martröð has the same meaning,
whereas the Swedish mardröm translates
as "maredream". The weight of
the mara could also result in breathing
difficulties or feeling of suffocation
(an experience now known as sleep paralysis).
The mara was also believed
to "ride" horses, which left
them exhausted and covered in sweat by
the morning. She could also entangle the
hair of the sleeping man or beast, resulting
in "marelocks", a belief probably
originating as an explanation for polish
plait – a hair disease. Even trees
could be ridden by the mara, resulting
in branches being entangled. The undersized,
twisted pine-trees growing on coastal
rocks and on wet grounds are known in
Sweden as martallar (marepines).
According to a common
belief, the free-roaming spirit of sleeping
women could become maras, either out of
wickedness or as a form of curse. In the
latter case, finding out who the cursed
person was and repeating "you are
a mara" three times was often enough
to release her from this condition.
The concept of the mara
has very old roots in the folklore of
the Germanic peoples, possibly the belief
was shaped as early as in proto-Indo-European
religion. According to the American Heritage
Dictionary, the word can be traced back
to an Indo-European root *mer, meaning
to rub away or to harm.
See: THE HAGS OF
occur as one is falling asleep, while
hypnopompic experiences occur as one is
waking up--both experiences occur within
the time period between sleep and waking
(or vice versa). Experienced qualities
vary, and include fear, awareness of a
"presence", chest or back pressure,
and an inability to breathe (hence the
folkloric notion of mara-like creatures
tormenting sleepers), a falling sensation
or a feeling of tripping, but sometimes
are often described as incomprehensible
noises rather than distinctive sounds.
During the hypnagogic
state, an individual may appear to be
fully awake, but has brain waves indicating
that the individual is technically sleeping.
Also, the individual may be completely
aware of their state, which enables lucid
dreamers to enter the dream state consciously
directly from the waking state.
The hypnagogic state
is sometimes proposed as an explanation
of experiences such as alien abduction,
apparitions, or visions.
A lucid dream is a dream
in which the person is aware that he or
she is dreaming while the dream is in
progress. During lucid dreams, it is often
possible to exert conscious control over
the dream characters and environment,
as well as to perform otherwise physically
A lucid dream can begin
in one of two ways. A dream-initiated
lucid dream (DILD) starts as a normal
dream, and the dreamer eventually logically
concludes that he or she is dreaming,
or a wake-initiated lucid dream (WILD)
occurs when the dreamer goes from a normal
waking state directly into a dream state
with no lapse in consciousness.
Hypnos and Thanatos,"Sleep
and His Half-Brother Death" by John
People who suffer from
nightmares would benefit from the ability
to be aware they are dreaming. A pilot
study was performed in 2006 that showed
lucid dreaming treatment was successful
in reducing nightmare frequency. This
treatment consisted of exposure to the
idea, mastery of the technique, and lucidity
exercises. It was not clear what aspect
of this treatment was responsible for
the success, though the treatment as a
whole was successful.
Identifying one's dream
signs, clues that one is dreaming. Dream
signs are often categorized as follows:
The dreamer, another dream character,
or a thing does something unusual or impossible
in waking life, such as photos in a magazine
or newspaper becoming 3-dimensional with
Context — The place or
situation in the dream is strange.
Form — The dreamer, another character,
or a thing changes shape, is oddly formed,
or transforms. This may include the presence
of unusual clothing or hair, or a third
person view of the dreamer.
Awareness — A peculiar
thought, a strong emotion, an unusual
sensation, or altered perceptions. In
some cases when moving one's head from
side to side, one may notice a strange
stuttering or 'strobing' of the image.
Cohesion — Sometimes the
dreamer may seem to "teleport"
to a completely different location in
a dream, with no transition whatsoever.
See: Does Recurrent
Isolated Sleep Paralysis Involve More
than Cognitive Neurosciences? By
Jean-Christophe Terrillonand Sirley Marques
Adler, Shelley R. "Ethnomedical
Pathogenesis and Hmong Immigrants' Sudden
Nocturnal Deaths." Culture, Medicine
and Psychiatry 18 (1994):23–59.
Hufford, David J. The
Terror That Comes in the Night. Philadelphia:
University of Pennsylvania Press, 1982.
Parrish, R. Gibson,
Myra Tucker, Roy Ing, Carol Encarnacion,
and Mark Eberhardt. "Sudden Unexplained
Death Syndrome in Southeast Asian Refugees:
A Review of CDC Surveillance." Morbidity
and Mortality Weekly Review 36 (1987):43–53.