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Tony Grist

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Sleep Paralysis [Jun. 6th, 2010|12:51 pm]
Tony Grist
I had one of those sleep paralysis dreams last night- and knew- even as I was having it- that I was asleep- and all I needed to do to get out of it was wake up. This didn't stop it from being uniquely awful. The experts say that sleep paralysis accounts for most experiences of incubi and succubi and witches and vampires and abducting aliens- to which I nod my head and say, "Yes, but I've never ever made the mistake of thinking one of these things was anything other than a dream." I was being attacked of course- in this instance by an evil child- a boy with whom I'd been having a peacable conversation only moments earlier. You'd think that finding yourself unable to move would be terrifying enough, but- no- you're also always under attack- and threatened with some kind of violation. I wonder why this is.
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: pondhopper
2010-06-06 01:27 pm (UTC)
It's things like this that make me glad I'm hardly ever aware of my dreams and remember them only rarely.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2010-06-06 03:38 pm (UTC)
I have these quite often. Luckily the memory fades.
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[User Picture]From: endlessrarities
2010-06-06 02:14 pm (UTC)
I've occasionally experienced similar things. And yes, I find it quite obvious that however unpleasant, it's not happening in reality.

The first time I woke up and thought, "Oh! So that's what it's all about then?" The reaction was almost clinical...
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2010-06-06 03:40 pm (UTC)
It's horrible when you're in the dream, trying to get away, but I find the memory quickly fades. Once I'd woken from this one I went back to sleep almost straight away.
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[User Picture]From: wolfshift
2010-06-06 04:02 pm (UTC)
I guess immobility only really becomes an acute problem -- the kind of thing our subconscious dream-minds like to contemplate -- when it makes us unable to defend ourselves against some kind of threat. Paralysis per se would only be tedious for the subconscious; it needs a narrative, complete with antagonist, to be thrilling.

Also, brains are strange.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2010-06-06 04:09 pm (UTC)
I think you're right there.

It's weird how our brains go out of their way to give us a hard time. Do you think some kind of evolutionary imperative is being served?
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[User Picture]From: wolfshift
2010-06-06 04:23 pm (UTC)
It's possible, I suppose. I've heard/read that one theory about the purpose of dreams is to prepare us for situations that we may encounter in the waking world. But I'm not totally convinced, because so many dreams seem surreal or random that it's hard to see how they relate to the waking world at all. I tend more toward the idea that dreams are a by-product of the mind's nightly processing of input from our waking hours--kind of like exhaust, if you will.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2010-06-06 07:31 pm (UTC)
If it is evolutionary I can't think why, but it does seem odd that we should scare ourselves silly for no good reason.

Sleep paralysis dreams stand apart from the sleeping brain's ordinary surreal outpourings by virtue of their intensity and their conformity to a strict procedural pattern. The imagery may vary, but the experience of not being able to move, coupled with threatened violation is always the same. Perhaps there's a physiological explanation.
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[User Picture]From: red_girl_42
2010-06-07 03:22 am (UTC)
I've had dreams like this, but I've also had situations in which I wake up mentally, but I'm completely unable to move. Usually I hear a loud ringing in my ears as well. I'm conscious of being in bed, and I want to open my eyes or move, and I simply can't.

It's incredibly terrifying. It used to happen to me a lot when I was a nanny. I would take naps when the baby napped, and I was always paranoid that he'd wake up crying or something and I'd be unable to respond. I think, however, that in such a situation (where something external woke me up) I probably wouldn't have the paralysis. I don't know.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2010-06-07 08:32 am (UTC)
I've had that too. You think you're awake, only you can't be really.

I think you're right- if there had been a real external stimulus- like a baby crying- you'd have woken up straight away.
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[User Picture]From: mokie
2010-06-08 10:10 pm (UTC)
I think it's because we wake in alarm at outside stimuli. "What's that noise? An attack! No, wait--just the cat."

But sometimes the brain forgets to turn off the dream and release the body when you partially wake, so here's all this waking stimuli coming at your half-dreaming brain, and the standard reaction kicks in: "What's that? An attack!"
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2010-06-09 08:17 am (UTC)
That's very plausible.

The rabbits live in the bedroom next door to us- and often decide to move furniture in the middle of the night. They could well have provided the "outside stimuli".
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