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Sleep Paralysis : Good explanation or Pseudoscience
#1
Question 
First off let me say that I understand the "Scientific" explanation of this phenomenon. It seems completely sound reasoning that you could wake up with portions of your nervous system shut off to protect you during sleep. A form of REM atonia. It also seems perfectly reasonable you could experience panic and experience a shortness of breath. You breath more shallow when your sleeping and if you panic, you begin to attempt to draw more air in and it feels like your breath is stiffled. I can also even buy that you can "imagine" the sense of a weight on your chest, shoulders or legs due to being immobile and shallow breathing.

I'm a reasonable guy. I can totally see all that. If that is ALL that you experience, then thats probably what it is.

But theres more isn't there? Thats why I dont really like the term "Sleep Paralysis" to explain the whole gamut of the experiences. Many of the symtoms do no fit into the basic concept of "Sleep Paralysis". I feel like they are lumping things in just to have control over it and claim understanding when its not present. Science does it all the time. Psychology is based around this.

Lets talk about Hypnogogic and Hypnopompic states for those who may read the forum and not know:

-Hypnogogic state is the transitional state between wakefulness and sleep. Characterized by the rational mind trying to make sense of dream images and experiences.

-Hypnopompic state is the transitional state between sleep and wakefulness. Characterized by the dreaming/emotional mind trying to make sense of the solid world.

Also the basic definition of an Hallucination:

- A hallucination basically, is a perception in the absence of a stimulus. More specifically hallucinations are defined as perceptions in a conscious and awake state in the absence of external stimuli which have qualities of real perception, in that they are vivid, substantial, and located in external objective space.
The latter definition distinguishes hallucinations from the related phenomena of:
-Dreaming, which does not involve wakefulness
-Illusion, which involves distorted or misinterpreted real perception
-Imagery, which does not mimic real perception and is under voluntary control
-Pseudohallucination, which does not mimic real perception, but is not under voluntary control.
Hallucinations also differ from "delusional perceptions", in which a correctly sensed and interpreted genuine perception is given some additional (and typically bizarre) significance.

Now. If taken individually then sure, sensing great evil and fear, seeing shadowy figures, sound like possible hallucinations by definition. The official line is that they are "Hypnogogic" or "Hypnopompic" hallucinations which means they are the result of a state mentioned above. The problem with this theory IMO is that if thats the case then the experience should be wildly different and varied, much like our dreams. Sure there are certain collective archtypes that tend to overlap in dream experiences but not with NEARLY the consistency that we see in "Sleep Paralysis". Why dont more people experience an overwhelming "Good" presence? Creatures made of water? Why dont some people see bears dressed as clowns sitting in the corner of their room looking at them? Why dont more people awake on the tonight show talking about thier new movie and see Jay slowly fade away? Damn, just an hallucination!

Hallucinations, going purely off the definition of it, would not be that universal. I have my own ideas about the collective unconsciousness and other states of existence but how its being rationalized is not taking any of that into account. There should be a statistically varied account of experiences during these encounters. Is EVERYONE dreaming of "Demonic" type presences moving around and watching them sleep, then suddenly waking to see them? That would only create more questions in my mind, not "explain" anything. To be fair there are reports of different experiences. The statistically significant number is very similar and it is insuficiant to just say they are "internal projections" of vastly different and varied people.

Its also significant that not everyone experiences these "presences". Some merely have the sleep paralysis and nothing more. They often feel "panic" but not the kind of primordial terror that accompanies these "presences". It almost bypasses perception altogether. You feel it THEN figure out whats causing it. They seem to be related somehow but seem to be seperate phenomenon as well.

Youve all seen these commercials:

Nyquil - the nighttime, sniffling, sneezing, aching, coughing, stuffy-head, fever, EVIL PRESENCE so you can rest medicine.

What does not fit?

I'm not saying that there couldn't be an explanation we are not aware of. Its completely possible. They have NOT found it yet though. They may be on to something but its woefully inadequate as a complete explanation of all the symtoms present, hence my use of "Pseudoscience". Its not proven, not tested. Yet they act as if its completely proven and explained.

Its like the "Swamp gas" or "weather ballon" lines. Sure, some of it probably is, but the line gets old when used to dismiss phenomena clearly NOT either. Is it Aliens? Who knows. Lets just quit the "weather balloon" stuff.

What say you?
"It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it."

-Aristotle (384 BC - 322 BC)
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#2
Pseudoscience is a methodology, belief, or practice that is claimed to be scientific, or that is made to appear to be scientific, but which does not constitute or adhere to an appropriate scientific methodology, lacks supporting evidence.

Well if we look at people without Narcolepsy then sleep paralysis can be eliminated with proper sleep and elimination of stress. So if they understand it enough to eliminate it I would say that is supporting evidence which would remove the title pseudoscience. They understand the different stages of sleep and how your muscles disconnect during this. Now why do we see dark objects? because most people sleep in the dark. We are programmed from a young age that darkness and evil are related. Our brain automatically fills in the blanks of what we are experiencing so it comes out as evil. Now if sufferers slept in a bright room the version might be an angel or good. But do we associate choking or smothering with an angel? No so evil is used instead.

Now some people on this forum want to believe it is evil and it is a demon or something negative. Its easier for them to believe then a scientific answer. I happen to believe the explanations we have already been given. Do we understand everything with the brain? No but we learn more every day. Now we are all different so we all can have our own beliefs. As long as we don't go back in time and strap people who experience this in a chair and thrown in a lake. If they float they are evil if they drown they were just experiencing sleep paralysis.
Belief bias occurs when we make illogical conclusions in order to confirm our preexisting beliefs. Belief perseverance refers to our tendency to maintain a belief even after the evidence we used to form the belief is contradicted.
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#3
Yes i would accept the medical explanation for sleep paralysis except for.
1.The sense of a powerful evil presence
2.The actual feeling as something is holding you down or wrapping you up.
3.Thinking that you are awake and going though this multiple times.
4.Some people experience smells
5.Some people hear voices
6.The complete terror that is off the charts ....where does that come from.
7.At time catching a glimpse of lights or a form.
etc....
Yes i would say if it was just a dream that caused paralyzes maybe. But in my mind with all the other things that occur when people have them.I think there is something else going on other than just the medical explanation.
And by the way you can have these at any time of day.
“All that we see or seem is but a dream within a dream.”
― Edgar Allan Poe
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#4
(09-27-2010, 06:17 AM)UglyNRude Wrote: Pseudoscience is a methodology, belief, or practice that is claimed to be scientific, or that is made to appear to be scientific, but which does not constitute or adhere to an appropriate scientific methodology, lacks supporting evidence.

Well if we look at people without Narcolepsy then sleep paralysis can be eliminated with proper sleep and elimination of stress. So if they understand it enough to eliminate it I would say that is supporting evidence which would remove the title pseudoscience. They understand the different stages of sleep and how your muscles disconnect during this. Now why do we see dark objects? because most people sleep in the dark. We are programmed from a young age that darkness and evil are related. Our brain automatically fills in the blanks of what we are experiencing so it comes out as evil. Now if sufferers slept in a bright room the version might be an angel or good. But do we associate choking or smothering with an angel? No so evil is used instead.

Now some people on this forum want to believe it is evil and it is a demon or something negative. Its easier for them to believe then a scientific answer. I happen to believe the explanations we have already been given. Do we understand everything with the brain? No but we learn more every day. Now we are all different so we all can have our own beliefs. As long as we don't go back in time and strap people who experience this in a chair and thrown in a lake. If they float they are evil if they drown they were just experiencing sleep paralysis.


I said that I agreed with the purely "physical" designation that you say is treatable. What's being treated is the physical symptoms of "paralysis".
Thats what I dont like about lumping all this together. "Its called Sleep Paralysis? Right? So if they figure out the "Paralysis" part then its obviously solved".
Thats exactly the point I was making. The "Intruder" phenomena seems to be seperate but seemingly related. Yet it must be explained since the other is?
THAT is what I meant by Pseudo-science. I was specifically discussing the "Evil Presence" aspect. I have yet to hear one satisfactory explanation of this experience. I am not saying I know that this is a purely "supernatural" encounter. I dont know that for sure. But neither does anyone know that its not. Its certainly fine to think what you want and I understand those who are skeptical.
Assuming things that are not proven works both ways though.

These phenomena dont always just happen in the dark. Wouldn't the whole "filling in the blanks" thing happen with ALL transition state hallucinations then if its such a universal thing. Transitional state hallucinations are also a fairly common phenomena and do NOT normally involve these intense "Evil" experiences and feelings of unbridled terror reported. They are almost universally seperate altogether.

The consistant reports and common experiences are to statistically improbable to cede to chance. If there is something mundane at work I have yet to hear anything that makes sense.

We should not act like this is in the "Solved" file when its not. I would like the truth either way honestly and have an open mind about it. Its possible that its not some malignant entity, but its also possible that it is. Its not been completely explained like many think.
(09-27-2010, 07:44 AM)Roland Wrote: Yes i would accept the medical explanation for sleep paralysis except for.
1.The sense of a powerful evil presence
2.The actual feeling as something is holding you down or wrapping you up.
3.Thinking that you are awake and going though this multiple times.
4.Some people experience smells
5.Some people hear voices
6.The complete terror that is off the charts ....where does that come from.
7.At time catching a glimpse of lights or a form.
etc....
Yes i would say if it was just a dream that caused paralyzes maybe. But in my mind with all the other things that occur when people have them.I think there is something else going on other than just the medical explanation.
And by the way you can have these at any time of day.

1 and 6 are what concerns me as unexplainable. The universal abject terror experienced goes beyond random hallucinations.

You can actually hallucinate with any sense. Smell, Touch, Sound, etc. Not just sight.

As far as 7 goes. The whole, "your in the dark so you see shadows" kind of works if its the fleeting, corner of your eye kind of hallucinations. If you watch it enter the room and settle at the left foot of your bed, like condensed shadow. All the while positively radiating malice, evil, and terror. Most reports aren't that you get scared because you see a dark shape and think it must be evil because its dark. You FEEL the terror emanating from it like a furnace, from that point in space. Often before you see it. You KNOW its there. It goes far beyond "scared". Most people have probably never experienced an equivical level of fear before to compare it too. This is also quite different from the "Panic" from not being able to move.
(09-28-2010, 03:03 AM)WildcatNC Wrote:
(09-27-2010, 06:17 AM)UglyNRude Wrote: Pseudoscience is a methodology, belief, or practice that is claimed to be scientific, or that is made to appear to be scientific, but which does not constitute or adhere to an appropriate scientific methodology, lacks supporting evidence.

Well if we look at people without Narcolepsy then sleep paralysis can be eliminated with proper sleep and elimination of stress. So if they understand it enough to eliminate it I would say that is supporting evidence which would remove the title pseudoscience. They understand the different stages of sleep and how your muscles disconnect during this. Now why do we see dark objects? because most people sleep in the dark. We are programmed from a young age that darkness and evil are related. Our brain automatically fills in the blanks of what we are experiencing so it comes out as evil. Now if sufferers slept in a bright room the version might be an angel or good. But do we associate choking or smothering with an angel? No so evil is used instead.

Now some people on this forum want to believe it is evil and it is a demon or something negative. Its easier for them to believe then a scientific answer. I happen to believe the explanations we have already been given. Do we understand everything with the brain? No but we learn more every day. Now we are all different so we all can have our own beliefs. As long as we don't go back in time and strap people who experience this in a chair and thrown in a lake. If they float they are evil if they drown they were just experiencing sleep paralysis.


I said that I agreed with the purely "physical" designation that you say is treatable. What's being treated is the physical symptoms of "paralysis".
Thats what I dont like about lumping all this together. "Its called Sleep Paralysis? Right? So if they figure out the "Paralysis" part then its obviously solved".
Thats exactly the point I was making. The "Intruder" phenomena seems to be seperate but seemingly related. Yet it must be explained since the other is?
THAT is what I meant by Pseudo-science. I was specifically discussing the "Evil Presence" aspect. I have yet to hear one satisfactory explanation of this experience. I am not saying I know that this is a purely "supernatural" encounter. I dont know that for sure. But neither does anyone know that its not. Its certainly fine to think what you want and I understand those who are skeptical.
Assuming things that are not proven works both ways though.

These phenomena dont always just happen in the dark. Wouldn't the whole "filling in the blanks" thing happen with ALL transition state hallucinations then if its such a universal thing. Transitional state hallucinations are also a fairly common phenomena and do NOT normally involve these intense "Evil" experiences and feelings of unbridled terror reported. They are almost universally seperate altogether.

The consistant reports and common experiences are to statistically improbable to cede to chance. If there is something mundane at work I have yet to hear anything that makes sense.

We should not act like this is in the "Solved" file when its not. I would like the truth either way honestly and have an open mind about it. Its possible that its not some malignant entity, but its also possible that it is. Its not been completely explained like many think.
(09-27-2010, 07:44 AM)Roland Wrote: Yes i would accept the medical explanation for sleep paralysis except for.
1.The sense of a powerful evil presence
2.The actual feeling as something is holding you down or wrapping you up.
3.Thinking that you are awake and going though this multiple times.
4.Some people experience smells
5.Some people hear voices
6.The complete terror that is off the charts ....where does that come from.
7.At time catching a glimpse of lights or a form.
etc....
Yes i would say if it was just a dream that caused paralyzes maybe. But in my mind with all the other things that occur when people have them.I think there is something else going on other than just the medical explanation.
And by the way you can have these at any time of day.

1 and 6 are what concerns me as unexplainable. The universal abject terror experienced goes beyond random hallucinations.

You can actually hallucinate with any sense. Smell, Touch, Sound, etc. Not just sight.

As far as 7 goes. The whole, "your in the dark so you see shadows" kind of works if its the fleeting, corner of your eye kind of hallucinations. If you watch it enter the room and settle at the left foot of your bed, like condensed shadow. All the while positively radiating malice, evil, and terror. Most reports aren't that you get scared because you see a dark shape and think it must be evil because its dark. You FEEL the terror emanating from it like a furnace, from that point in space. Often before you see it. You KNOW its there. It goes far beyond "scared". Most people have probably never experienced an equivical level of fear before to compare it too. This is also quite different from the "Panic" from not being able to move.

There is also a difference between being paralysed and mistaking it as pressure and genuine tactile sensations of hands and visual or audible representations of something actually holding you down. Most report mere "pressure" during the purely "paralysis" experience which is probably just you thinking something is there. I can see that. But actual localized digit pressure on your neck, where you can feel the fingers? You actually see something on you?

I'm not so sure.
"It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it."

-Aristotle (384 BC - 322 BC)
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