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Sleep Paralysis: Typical Symptoms and Associated Features 

Sleep Paralysis: Typical Symptoms and Associated Features
Sleep Paralysis: Typical Symptoms and Associated Features

Brian A. Sharpless

and Karl Doghramji

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date: 18 October 2019

This chapter synthesizes the empirical literature on the characteristic features of sleep paralysis and isolated sleep paralysis. The clinical impacts of this condition (e.g., fear, distress, and impairment) are emphasized throughout, and the atonia, conscious awareness, and hallucinations each likely play contributory roles for sufferers’ discomfort. The various types of hallucinations are discussed in turn (viz., auditory hallucinations, inanimate object hallucinations, the sensed presence, and hallucinations of others). It is argued that a sequence to hallucinations occurs such that humans/entities are sensed, then seen, and finally felt. Next, the replicated factor structure of sleep paralysis hallucinations is described (i.e., intruder, incubus, and vestibular-motor subtypes) and connected with folkloric beliefs. Finally, associated features of sleep paralysis are catalogued and the limited data on clinically significant manifestations of sleep paralysis (i.e., recurrent fearful isolated sleep paralysis) are summarized.

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