The old hag phenomenon as sleep paralysis

A biocultural interpretation

Robert C Ness

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

75 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

This paper describes a syndrome of psychological and physical symptoms involving body paralysis and hallucinations traditionally interpreted in Newfoundland as an attack of 'Old Hag'. Folk theories of cause and treatment are outlined based on 13 months of field research in a community on the northeast coast of Newfoundland. Data derived from the responses of 69 adults to the Cornell Medical Index (CMI) indicate that there are no significant differences in psychological or physical illness complaints between adults who have experienced the Old Hag and adults who have not had this experience. The striking similarity between the Old Hag experience and a clinical condition called sleep paralysis is analyzed, and the implications of viewing the Old Hag as sleep paralysis are discussed within the context of current theoretical issues in transcultural psychiatry.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)15-39
Number of pages25
JournalCulture, Medicine and Psychiatry
Volume2
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 1 1978

Fingerprint

Sleep Paralysis
Newfoundland and Labrador
sleep
Cornell Medical Index
Ethnopsychology
Psychology
interpretation
Hallucinations
Paralysis
field research
psychiatry
complaint
experience
illness
Research
cause
community
Sleep
Therapeutics
Psychological

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Anthropology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

Cite this

The old hag phenomenon as sleep paralysis : A biocultural interpretation. / Ness, Robert C.

In: Culture, Medicine and Psychiatry, Vol. 2, No. 1, 01.03.1978, p. 15-39.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

@article{586779388c93478f865afd4a2238cae8,
title = "The old hag phenomenon as sleep paralysis: A biocultural interpretation",
abstract = "This paper describes a syndrome of psychological and physical symptoms involving body paralysis and hallucinations traditionally interpreted in Newfoundland as an attack of 'Old Hag'. Folk theories of cause and treatment are outlined based on 13 months of field research in a community on the northeast coast of Newfoundland. Data derived from the responses of 69 adults to the Cornell Medical Index (CMI) indicate that there are no significant differences in psychological or physical illness complaints between adults who have experienced the Old Hag and adults who have not had this experience. The striking similarity between the Old Hag experience and a clinical condition called sleep paralysis is analyzed, and the implications of viewing the Old Hag as sleep paralysis are discussed within the context of current theoretical issues in transcultural psychiatry.",
author = "Ness, {Robert C}",
year = "1978",
month = "3",
day = "1",
doi = "10.1007/BF00052448",
language = "English (US)",
volume = "2",
pages = "15--39",
journal = "Culture, Medicine and Psychiatry",
issn = "0165-005X",
publisher = "Springer New York",
number = "1",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - The old hag phenomenon as sleep paralysis

T2 - A biocultural interpretation

AU - Ness, Robert C

PY - 1978/3/1

Y1 - 1978/3/1

N2 - This paper describes a syndrome of psychological and physical symptoms involving body paralysis and hallucinations traditionally interpreted in Newfoundland as an attack of 'Old Hag'. Folk theories of cause and treatment are outlined based on 13 months of field research in a community on the northeast coast of Newfoundland. Data derived from the responses of 69 adults to the Cornell Medical Index (CMI) indicate that there are no significant differences in psychological or physical illness complaints between adults who have experienced the Old Hag and adults who have not had this experience. The striking similarity between the Old Hag experience and a clinical condition called sleep paralysis is analyzed, and the implications of viewing the Old Hag as sleep paralysis are discussed within the context of current theoretical issues in transcultural psychiatry.

AB - This paper describes a syndrome of psychological and physical symptoms involving body paralysis and hallucinations traditionally interpreted in Newfoundland as an attack of 'Old Hag'. Folk theories of cause and treatment are outlined based on 13 months of field research in a community on the northeast coast of Newfoundland. Data derived from the responses of 69 adults to the Cornell Medical Index (CMI) indicate that there are no significant differences in psychological or physical illness complaints between adults who have experienced the Old Hag and adults who have not had this experience. The striking similarity between the Old Hag experience and a clinical condition called sleep paralysis is analyzed, and the implications of viewing the Old Hag as sleep paralysis are discussed within the context of current theoretical issues in transcultural psychiatry.

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=0017941217&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=0017941217&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1007/BF00052448

DO - 10.1007/BF00052448

M3 - Article

VL - 2

SP - 15

EP - 39

JO - Culture, Medicine and Psychiatry

JF - Culture, Medicine and Psychiatry

SN - 0165-005X

IS - 1

ER -