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Nadir/Desolation Experiences
Record Type: Review   ID: 971

The Terror That Comes in the Night: An Experience-Centered Study of Supernatural Assault Traditions

Hufford, David J.

 The author, an associate professor of behavioral science at the Pennsylvania State College of Medicine, is concerned with the experiential basis of supernatural beliefs. In this study he concentrates on one such belief: that of the nightmare, incubus experience, or supernatural assault. Known as the experience of the "Old Hag" in Newfoundland, it has the following characteristics: "(1) awakening (or an experience immediately preceding sleep); (2) hearing and/or seeing something come into the room and approach the bed; (3) being pressed on the chest or strangled; (4) inability to move or cry out until either being brought out of the state by someone else or breaking through the feeling of paralysis on one's own" (pp. 10-11). Through questionnaire/interview and case study approaches, Hufford found that accounts of this type of experience are consistent regardless of the culture of origin. Some of the accounts have features that border on the parapsychological. As an outcome of the research for this book, Hufford has developed and advocates an experience-centered approach to this and other types of supernatural (and, one could say, psychic) accounts and stories. By making a phenomenological study of the experiences, it becomes possible "to gain a better knowledge of the experiences lying behind a particular supernatural belief and to begin to consider the role of those experiences in such belief" (p. 256).
Publisher Information:Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1982 (Publications of the American Folklore Society: New Series, Vol. 7). 278p. Bibliographical footnotes; Bibliography: 259-265; Index of features: 267-270; Index: 271-278; 5 tables
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