Characteristics and Features of Sleep Paralysis in Italy: Hallucinations and REM Sleep Somatic Sensations Associated with the Pandafeche Attack

[Speaker] Romanelli, Andrea:1
[Co-author] Jalal, Baland:2, Hinton, Devon E:3,4
1:Department of General Psychology, University of Padova (Italy), 2:Behavioural and Clinical Neuroscience Institute, University of Cambridge (United Kingdom), 3:Massachusetts General Hospital (United States of America), 4:Harvard Medical School (United States of America)

A recent study has found that 38% of the general population of Italy believed in a supernatural causal explanation for their sleep paralysis (SP), namely the Pandafeche attack, mainly referred to as a witch, but also as a ghost, a cat-like spirit or a dwarf-like creature (Jalal et al., 2014). The present study investigated whether believing in the Pandafeche as a causal explanation for SP would influence characteristic and features of SP among experiencers in the general population of Italy. We found that supernatural causes for SP were associated with higher rates of SP episodes and with prolonged immobility. Moreover, believing in supernatural causes for SP was also associated with experiencing hallucinations and more types of hallucinations (e.g. both hearing and seeing the Pandafeche) and somatic sensations during the episodes. In brief, characteristics and features of SP in Italy are discussed, illustrating the multifaceted and complex nature of SP.
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