Culture affects sleep paralysis!

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Lucy wakes up in the middle of night by a weird thing pressing her body. She tries to open her eyes but she can't. After several attempts, she finally sees what was on her; it is an old witch with wrinkled face and sharp nose. She tries to scream but she can't. On the other side of the world, Takayoshi experiences the same thing. When he opens his eyes because of a horrifying feeling, he sees a pale-faced ghost with long black hair staring at him. It's a ghost he often sees in Japanese horror movies.

What these two people are experiencing is called sleep paralysis. Sleep paralysis is caused by a disruption in the sleep cycle and is often associated with anxiety or even terror, feelings of vibrations, humming noises, and the eerie sense of menacing figures lose to or on top of the immobile person. This is a universal phenomenon, but why do people see different things during this experience?

I think the culture affects people even in unconscious state of mind, because people experience or dream different things during sleeping. For example, Lucy dreamed about a witch because she has never seen Japanese horror movies, and has heard of scary witch stories ever since she was little. On the other hand, Takayoshi is more familiar with Japanese ghosts than witches in western folk tales, which resulted in seeing a girl with long dark hair. As this simple example tells us, we know that we can't categorize people into groups psychologically. When one thing applies to one group, it may not apply to the other group because of cultural and environmental differences. That's why we need to focus on individual differences in studying psychology.

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This page contains a single entry by park0978 published on May 8, 2012 2:42 AM.

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