- Diseases, Disorders & Conditions
Old Hag Syndrome
What it is?
'Old Hag Syndrome' appears to be a form of hallucinatory sleep paralysis which occurs shortly before falling asleep or just as one wakens. A surprisingly large number of people (2%) experience it once in their lives. It is a terrifying experience when it does occur. The unlucky few are visited much more often.
People in all cultures are aware of it and give it names which when translated mean 'the Crushing Demon', 'the Dark Presser', 'Being Held By Ghost', 'Being Held By Shadow' or similar.
Records go back even further than the 2nd Century and it is surmised that the 'Old Hag' name refers to Lilith, the first wife of Adam (the Bible misses this bit out) who was cast out of Eden to become a demon of the night for refusing to make love in the missionary position. Seems harsh punishment for a girl who wanted a bit of imagination in her sex life.
Lilith - First Wife of Adam
A visit from the Old Hag feels so real that it is difficult to believe that it is not a genuine experience.
There are many suggestions made to the cause of this unsettling visitation which stretch from the realistic breathing disorder to voodoo curses. As can be expected there is equally as many folklore remedies to cure or prevent.
The Nightmare by Henri Fuseli
The majority of people who have the experience see nothing at all because they are either incapable of opening their eyes or are too frightened to do so.
Those who do take a peek talk of a hideous old woman or a shadow or a black cat.
There is even a school of thought which believes it is alien abduction. A job then for Mulder and Scully.