Sunday, November 11, 2018

Haunting of Hill House - Sleep Paralysis

This is my second post here about the Haunting of Hill House. But, the Netflix Original Series is being viewed by an enormous amount of people, and since it involves the paranormal, it will to some small degree the mainstream cultures's view regarding supernatural topics.

One such topic is Sleep Paralysis, or as some refer to it, the Night Hag phenomenon. Again, I don't want to spoil this for anyone. I will speak very generally, but if you absolutely don't want any potential spoilers about the Haunting of Hill House, stop reading now.

The character Nell experiences Sleep Paralysis in the show, from childhood up through adulthood. As an adult, she actually pursues medical treatment or counseling for the condition. It being a horror movie, the counseling seems to work for a bit, but in the end, the supernatural nature of her affliction overcomes in the most horrible ways.

If you have never experienced Sleep Paralysis, it can be enormously terrifying to experience. If it is accompanied by the visual of someone or something holding you down, the terror increases exponentially.

The scientific explanation of Sleep Paralysis, in very simple terms, involves a natural process in sleep where the mind in deep sleep cuts off the connection between the mind and body (paralyzing the body) to prevent you from moving around violently as you dream. An abnormal sleep cycle or an interruption of the sleep cycle at a very specific time can cause the mind to wake before the mind has been reconnected with the body (releasing the paralysis). And this results in a person who is awake by paralyzed for a time.

Probably the oddest thing about Sleep Paralysis is the visual component of the experience. Often the paralyzed person sees and feels someone holding them down. Sometimes they see a hag-like woman on top of them, holding them down. Other times, people see a dark figure, someone they know, or even something as odd as an alien. Science explains this as the mind, only recently woken, creating a plausible explanation for the paralysis. Nothing more than a visual hallucination.

This scientific explanation can be comforting for some. For others, the intensity of the experience and the utter reality of their experience leaves the scientific explanation a little empty.

I personally have experienced the phenomenon several times. Everytime, it was enormously frustrating and scary. There is a sense that if you could just move your hand, or turn your head, or scream out that you will be free. But, try as you might, you can't move or call out. Eventually you do...and the whole experience ends. But, it can be quite unsettling.

I was impressed with how the Haunting of Hill House handled the phenomenon. Especially how they explained it scientifically, and had Nell seek out and receive counseling.

Mark Stinson
Ghost Vigil Investigations

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