Trailer for a documentary about sleep paralysis and its cultural transformations, including The Old Hag in Newfoundland, kanishibari in Japan, Zanzibar's Popobawa, and Sudden Unexpected Nocturnal Death Syndrome (SUNDS) among Hmong refugees in California. The one-hour film was written and directed by The Gray Brothers (Toronto) and first aired on Canadian TV in March 2008. Only a fraction of the interview footage shot in Zanzibar was shown, and one woman's theatrical demonstration of the experience of anal rape by Popobawa was omitted because of concerns over possible censorship. Instead you get me mopping my brow, as though traumatised by her dramatic reconstruction... I'm now transcribing interviews for a directors' cut that will use more of the missing material, Inshallah.

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Comment by Martin Walsh on September 7, 2009 at 11:32pm
To learn more about sleep paralysis:
Comment by Martin Walsh on September 7, 2009 at 11:16pm
Comment by Martin Walsh on September 7, 2009 at 11:11pm
Here's a paper about the Zanzibar case that focuses on changing local explanations of Popobawa panics:
The original seminar paper included a section on the alleged link between Popobawa experiences and phenomena associated with sleep paralysis. But all of the social/cultural anthropologists who reviewed subsequent journal submissions asked that I omit this, confusing (I thought) my report of a biocultural explanation with support for it. And so in the published text it is banished to a footnote. God knows what they would have made of a psychoanalytic thesis, though at least one colleague favours this, and after the seminar recommended that I begin by reading Ernest Jones' *On the Nightmare* (1931/1951).
Comment by Mylene Hengen on September 7, 2009 at 7:43pm
I am not an alien abduction specialist, lol, but I did find something once that reminded me very much of the descriptions in the video, staring into the face, descending from the walls, sexual 'agression'. It's interesting. I'd rather study this in psycho analytical terms but hey, whatever works. Ps no I didn't get a notification
Comment by Martin Walsh on September 6, 2009 at 9:07pm
Hi Mylene - yes I'm aware of the connection; indeed the first time I was approached by a film-maker it was to include Zanzibar's Popobawa in a documentary about alien abduction. But when they realised how comparatively difficult it would be to get good footage in Zanzibar they went elsewhere (to include a segement about voodoo I think - this was some years ago and I haven't tried to track down the film that came out of this).
Comment by Mylene Hengen on September 6, 2009 at 8:54pm
You know, besides Fuseli's incubus and the Italian romantics, this has also been described as "aliens" by other informants, also. Just a thought.


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