Why are demons blamed for sleep paralysis?

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Author's Note: Why are demons blamed for sleep paralysis?

Sleep paralysis is a key stop in many skeptical examinations of supernatural experience -- and the "experience" part is key. There's no doubting the severity or indeed the subjective reality of a sleep paralysis "encounter" with a demon, alien, ghost or other presence. But these hallucinatory attacks also underline how thin the line really is between our sensory experience of the reality -- which is itself a kind of hallucination -- and the sort of sensory experience we so easily categorize as magic and madness.

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  • Cheyne, James Allan and Gordon Pennycook. "Sleep Paralysis Postepisode Distress: Modeling Potential Effects of Episode Characteristics, General Psychological Distress, Beliefs, and Cognitive Style." Clinical Psychological Science. April 18, 2013. http://cpx.sagepub.com/content/1/2/135
  • Rose, Carol. "Giants, Monsters and Dragons." W.W. Norton. 2000.
  • Sacks, Oliver. "Hallucinations." Alfred A. Knopf. 2012.
  • Stephens, Walter. "Demon Lovers: Witchcraft, Sex, and the Crisis of Belief." University of Chicago Press. Aug. 15, 2003.

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