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Sleep Paralysis in Art and Literature 

Sleep Paralysis in Art and Literature
Sleep Paralysis in Art and Literature

Brian A. Sharpless

and Karl Doghramji

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date: 19 September 2020

Sleep paralysis has often been depicted in great works of art and literature. The fear-laden nature of the characteristic paralysis and hallucinations of oppression and assault appear to have captivated many members of the Western canon. Several creators of the works found in this chapter likely had personal experiences with sleep paralysis. Needless to say, the presentation of paradigmatic sleep paralysis episodes by these creative masters lends a vividness of detail often lacking in clinical writings. Along with the famous paintings by Fuseli, one can find vivid depictions of sleep paralysis in the writings of Erasmus Darwin, Herman Melville, Guy de Maupassant, Thomas Hardy, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Ernest Hemingway. Relevant passages are presented and found to be very consistent with the subsequent scientific literatures.

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