A password will be emailed to you.

Here’s a fascinating article on the power of belief, framed in cultural beliefs about the night-mare/’old hag’ experienced during episodes of sleep paralysis by the Hmong people of South-East Asia:

They died in their sleep one by one, thousands of miles from home. Their median age was 33. All but one – 116 of the 117 – were healthy men. Immigrants from southeast Asia, you could count the time most had spent on American soil in just months. At the peak of the deaths in the early 1980s, the death rate from this mysterious problem among the Hmong ethnic group was equivalent to the top five natural causes of death for other American men in their age group.

Something was killing Hmong men in their sleep, and no one could figure out what it was. There was no obvious cause of death. None of them had been sick, physically. The men weren’t clustered all that tightly, geographically speaking. They were united by dislocation from Laos and a shared culture, but little else. Even House would have been stumped…

Twenty-five years later, Shelley Adler’s new book pieces together what happened, drawing on interviews with the Hmong population and analyzing the extant scientific literature. Sleep Paralysis: Night-mares, Nocebos, and the Mind Body Connection is a mind-bending exploration of how what you believe interacts with how your body works. Adler, a professor at the University of California, San Francisco, comes to a stunning conclusion: In a sense, the Hmong were killed by their beliefs in the spirit world, even if the mechanism of their deaths was likely an obscure genetic cardiac arrhythmia that is prevalent in southeast Asia.

In short, after reviewing all the evidence, Adler “makes the provocative claim that the Laotian immigrants of the 1980s were in some sense killed by their powerful cultural belief in night spirits.”

You can pick up a copy of Sleep Paralysis: Night-Mares, Nocebos, and the Mind-Body Connection at Amazon US or Amazon UK.

You might also like…