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What is a Succubus?

Updated on February 3, 2017

A succubus is a sexually seductive female demon. The male equivalent is called an "incubus". Belief in these creatures dates from the 14th century, and continues to the present day (albeit to a greatly lesser extent).

The Paranormal Explanation

The first succubus is sometimes said, based on the Talmud, to be the first wife of Adam, called Lilith, who refused to be subordinate to her husband's will. She parted from Adam and proceeded to become a promiscuous mother of demons, tormentor of men and killer of children. Over time lore in relation to succubi treated them as a general race of female demons or evil paranormal creatures.


The earliest explicit depiction of succubi date from the medieval period. The are described as female demons that visit men, either bodily or via dreams, to steal their energy through sexual activities. Then name "succubus" is derived from the Latin word succubare (to lie under). A detailed account of the putative actions of succubi is provided by the Malleus Maleficarum (1487).

More recent accounts of sexually seductive of hostile paranormal spirits typically make no specific claims about their origins and intentions. Succubi are becoming popular in fiction, even as heroines, with the resurgence in the popularity of paranormal fiction and erotic romance.

The skeptical explanation

There are many experiences that occur during sleep or in sleep-like states. These include nocturnal erections and emissions, night terrors, and sleep paralysis. The same phenomena may underlie more modern beliefs such as alien abduction.

It would be easy to attribute these events to an invisible supernatural force rather than the actions of our own bodies. They can be very alarming experiences where a person loses control of his own body. This does not actually imply, of course, that their body is under the control of another--rather than just an unconscious bodily process.

!6th century Succubus
!6th century Succubus | Source

The conclusion

It is hard to conclude that the literal existence of succubi is at all plausible. It seems that they were invented to explain phenomena that are now better understood as normal (or sometimes malfunctioning) physiological processes.

The succubus now exists only as a fictional character in games such as World of Warcraft.


  • McCarthy, K. M. (2012). Transvestism, Witchcraft, and the Early Modern Lilith.


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      Matthew518 4 years ago

      Actually there are alot of people who have had experiences, many positive. Succubus spirits are real, not imaginary. Science always tries to explain away the existence of something it doesn't understand. I wish Lewj was still on here, I know he had legitimate experiences with these beings.

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      Website Examiner 5 years ago

      First, let me compliment you on your user name and profile image. I have read the Malleus Maleficarum, which I enjoyed due to its wild ideas and colorful language. I find your hub insightful, and am glad to have learned from it.