You awake from a restless sleep, perhaps from a discomforting dream or nightmare, and as you begin to become aware of your surroundings, you are startled to find that you cannot move your body. A prisoner within your own physical shell, you struggle to find why a sudden, inexplicable paralysis has occurred, though you notice you’re only capable of opening your eyes and looking about the room. Suddenly, something catches your attention; a dark silhouette moving against a far wall, or an illuminated, waving form just above you. Faint whispers gather around you, just out of your visible range, and though they seem to be speaking right in your ear, you can’t make out distinctly what is being said. This is followed by the terror of perceiving movement–another being–moving on the bed next to you. You can’t see this individual, but you feel their hands creeping over onto your body, then their knees as they mount on your chest. You panic, and just before you meet what appears to be an inevitable demise, you regain control of your body, and sit up sweating, desperate to find the unseen intruder, who no longer exists.
No doubt, many of you reading this review have experienced the phenomenon described above, which became the focus of Louis Proud’s new book, Dark Intrusions: An Investigation into the Paranormal Nature of Sleep Paralysis. This volume, no doubt, will solidify Proud’s presence in the Fortean community, as well as take what is, to date, the most particularly focused view regarding the nature of apparitional and other external influences on humanity as they relate to Sleep Paralysis and other phenomena–physiological and otherwise–that accompany it.
I say this because, rather than documenting a few dozen or so reports having to do solely with what we know as Sleep Paralysis (also referred to by names such as Night Hag, Devil Riding Your Back, and other cultural varieties), Proud uses Sleep Paralysis as a sort of platform, upon it placing a multitude of cases that involve different ways external influences of a spiritual nature can affect us. Proud, in an unconventional approach, manages to draw relevant parallels and associations between a variety of similar phenomena; similar, that is, in that the strange interactions that occur during hauntings and poltergeist activity, as well as instances of channeling and possession, can and do relate to the mysterious “Night Hag” syndrome.
Proud himself is very experienced with this strange altered-state, having suffered from the condition intermittently since his teenage years. He has encountered such a strange consistency in his own experiences that he has penned various individual names for some of his night-time visitors, which he describes variously as androgynous “child-like” characters that cling to his leg, as well as strange, leech-like creatures he claims to have witnessed a number of times when waking from vivid dream sequences.
Another interesting point Proud makes deals with his inclusion of strange sounds and other varieties of audible stimulus that can (and often do) occur during a bout with Sleep Paralysis. Humming, buzzing, electronic and mechanical-sounding noises, and even insect-like manifestations (similar to the call of cicadas on a summer night) are frequently reported, which is of particular interest also to scholars of entheogens like DMT, who have documented similar descriptions of sounds and voices heard by participants in studies pertaining to pharmacological research.
Rather than the clinical perspective that is so often attributed (i.e. sporadic bouts with near-psychosis), Proud takes into consideration a variety of external factors that may influence the human mind (even referencing the work of pioneering Ufologists like Trevor James Constable), and draws information from a variety of cultures that describe hauntingly similar accounts of entering altered states during near-wake stages. As stated earlier, Dark Intrusions will solidify Proud’s presence in the Fortean community; however, it will also become a reference for others who frequently encounter this strange aspect of human consciousness, which they will no doubt look to in trying to better understand the nature of their own experiences.by