It looks like you're using an Ad Blocker.

Please white-list or disable in your ad-blocking tool.

Thank you.


Some features of ATS will be disabled while you continue to use an ad-blocker.


The Old Hag Syndrome

page: 1
<<   2 >>

log in


posted on Jan, 17 2012 @ 04:32 AM

You wake up unable to move, barely able to breathe... you feel an oppressive weight on your chest... and you sense some evil presence in the room... The old hag strikes!

I believe that I have experienced this once in my life. 3 years ago I woke up around 3am in the morning in full blown panic mode the second that I woke up. I could not breathe.You know what it feels like to have an anxiety attack? It felt like that. I felt an uneasy feeling inside of my bedroom, a sense of doom. I could not move at all and it felt like something or someone was pushing down on my chest during this "struggle". It felt like my chest was about to explode. In fact, at first I thought I was having a heart attack or something due to how I was feeling.

Then, just as quick as it started, everything went back to normal. I went to the bathroom to wash my face with a wet towel and I looked in the mirror and noticed 4 distinctive fingernail like marks down my chest. They were red and fresh. My skin was whelping where the marks were.

Ive heard some people say that the Old Hag syndrome and sleep paralysis are one in the same. Is this true? Was this a possible Succubus attack? Anyway, ever since then I figured that I was attacked by the Old Hag.

Here is some information on the subject.

About a year and a half ago, I was awoken in the night by a strong, warm breeze. I could not move and could not scream. It lasted about 30 seconds and was gone. I saw nothing. Last week it happened again. I was lying in bed and again was awoken. I felt a very strong force holding me down. I could not sit up. I tried to scream for my daughter and could not get any noise to come out. I tried to hit the wall with my arm and this force would not let me. It again lasted about 30 seconds and was over. I really don't believe in ghosts and didn't see anything at all. I am just really scared and confused.

Have you ever had a similar experience? The above incident is a classic example of what has become known as the "old hag" syndrome and is one of many such letters I receive from readers each month. The victims awake to find that they cannot move, even though they can see, hear, feel and smell. There is sometimes the feeling of a great weight on the chest and the sense that there is a sinister or evil presence in the room. And like the above reader, they are often quite frightened about what is happening to them. The name of the phenomenon comes from the superstitious belief that a witch - or an old hag - sits or "rides" the chest of the victims, rendering them immobile. Although that explanation isn't taken very seriously nowadays, the perplexing and often very frightening nature of the phenomenon leads many people to believe that there are supernatural forces at work - ghosts or demons. The experience is so frightening because the victims, although paralyzed, seem to have full use of their senses. In fact, it is often accompanied by strange smells, the sound of approaching footsteps, apparitions of weird shadows or glowing eyes, and the oppressive weight on the chest, making breathing difficult if not impossible. All of the body's senses are telling the victims that something real and unusual is happening to them. The spell is broken and the victims recover often on the point of losing consciousness. Fully awake and well, they sit up, completely baffled by what just happened to them since now the room is entirely normal. Confronted with such a bizarre and irrational experience, it's no wonder that many victims fear that they have been attacked in their beds by some malevolent spirit, demon or, perhaps, an alien visitor. The phenomenon occurs to both men and women of various ages and seems to happen to about 15 percent of the population at least once in a lifetime. It can occur while the victim is sleeping during the day or night, and it is a worldwide phenomenon that has been documented since ancient times. "In the 2nd century, the Greek physician Galen attributed it to indigestion," according to The Encyclopedia of Ghosts and Spirits by Rosemary Ellen Guiley. "Some individuals suffer repeated attacks over a limited period of time; others have repeated attacks for years."

Another example:

I am a 27 year old female and have been suffering for the past 12 or so years. It started just being unable to move, like someone was on top of me, pinning me down. And although I was trying with all my might to move or to scream, all I could do was barely wiggle my toes and faintly murmur. In the beginning it was very frightening and I would try with all my might to wake up. Upon waking I would be unable to resume sleep for at least a few hours. Now I have become somewhat used to them. Sometimes I even lie back and see how long I can take that awful, overpowering feeling. In the end, I always try to wake myself up. Over the years this "thing" has kind of metamorphosized into a dark being, something who is doing this deliberately to me for some reason. I guess this is something that I may have invented in my head to deal with it. I am not really sure. After I got used to it, I never really questioned it. It still occurs about every 2 months or so. Sometimes once a night, other times it can happen several times in one night.


So does anyone have their own theories as to what may possibly be taking place to these people that are experiencing this? Is it a true experience of the paranormal?

edit on 17-1-2012 by Vrill because: (no reason given)

posted on Jan, 17 2012 @ 04:32 AM
More on the Old Hag syndrome:

Did you know that about 40 percent of you have experienced some degree of the "old hag syndrome" and you may not even know it? I remember my first episode quite clearly--it was in the middle of the night when something woke me up. I know I was awake, because I could see my bedroom around me. I was very alert, but I couldn't move. I was completely paralyzed. I felt pressure on my chest, I had trouble breathing, and my heart started to race. Then, within a few seconds, the episode was over, I could move again, and I sat up in bed, scared and confused. Old hag syndrome is known in many cultures and can vary in degrees from a somewhat mild case, like I experienced, to a much more extreme episode where a sleeper wakes up paralyzed and sees a spectral presence moving over them. The victim can feel pressure on their chest and possibly even experience choking. Old hag syndrome, or "sleep paralysis" as it is known in the medical community, takes its name from the belief that an old witch or "hag" would attack you in the night while you were sleeping and literally sit on your chest and try to squeeze the life out of you. In some Asian cultures, people believe this phenomenon is caused by an angry demon that didn't receive a proper offering.

Pixxy, from Harlingen, Texas, had a run-in with old hag syndrome this past September and October: Dear Ghostvillage, One night I was asleep and something woke me up around two or three in the morning. It was really dark and warm in my room, and I could hear a faint static sound-like a radio with bad reception. At first I thought it was my CD player, but when I looked it was not on. But the sound was still there-just static and one faint voice that went in and out, like a radio. Then my eyes were drawn to the far-right corner of my room, and on the ceiling there was something white and unrecognizable just "hovering" there. At first I passed it off as a dream or something else, but the occurrence happened twice more that week. Toward the end of October, it happened again. But this time I had a new experience along with the warmth and static-I had the sensation of being held against the bed. When I saw that white thing, my first instinct was to sit up and run out of the room, but I couldn't move. I could barely turn over. -Pixxy

Some believe that old hag syndrome is an actual spectral attack. John Michael Greer, a practicing ritual magician, explains in his book, Monsters (Llewellyn, 2001): This experience isn't simply a vague general category, or another name for sleep paralysis or some other simple medical diagnosis. It's a very specific type of event with a whole series of consistent details. The experience almost always happens with the subject lying on his or her back. The subject wakes up, and can perceive his or her actual surroundings, but cannot move or speak as the experience begins. A presence approaches the subject and then presses down, choking or smothering.

Medical science also has its theories on what old hag syndrome is. I spoke with Dr. Emmanuel Mignot, Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Director of the Center for Narcolepsy at Stanford University, and former chair of the National Sleep Disorders Research Advisory Board, and got his explanation as to what is happening physiologically when we sleep and during old hag syndrome. "You have two stages of sleep," Dr. Mignot explained. "You have the first type called 'slow wave' sleep or 'non-REM' sleep, which is the first stage of sleep you achieve. During that stage of sleep your brain waves, which [are measured by an] electroencephalogram (EEG), kind of slow down. You're groggy, you don't think a lot, and if one wakes you up, you wake up confused and not really thinking anything specific. And then after about an hour and a half, you go into another stage called REM sleep, or Rapid Eye Movement sleep. During REM sleep you have these rapid eye movements, or twitches of the eye. You are completely paralyzed, and you're actively dreaming." Dr. Mignot went on to explain that we sleep in cycles, and approximately every 90 minutes we go from slow wave sleep to REM sleep and back again. And it is only in REM sleep that we dream, when our brains are very active (as opposed to slow wave sleep, when they aren't very active at all). It is also in REM sleep that our bodies are completely paralyzed. "If you were not paralyzed during your REM sleep, you would be in serious trouble," said Mignot. "You have to realize that if you were dreaming that you were running around and if you were physically able to run, you would be kicking in your sleep. You could kick your significant other. This problem does exist; it's called REM Behavior Disorder, [though] it's not very common. In general, fortunately, you are paralyzed." As the night wanes on, you tend to have more frequent REM sleep and less frequent slow wave sleep, which is why sleep paralysis is most common in the early morning. Dr. Mignot said, "Sleep paralysis is a strange occurrence. It happens when your body goes into a stage where it's half awake and half into REM sleep. Consequently, you get into this paralysis stage, but the rest of your brain [is] switched into the 'awake mode.' Sleep paralysis is damn scary. And people are really afraid that they're going to die-but actually they don't." So where is the old hag? What about the specter moving toward you in your bed? The medical explanation for experiencing a visual representation of a dream while you are partially awake is called "hypnagogic hallucinations," Dr. Mignot explains. "Hypnagogic hallucinations are rare, more difficult to find," but maybe they are a somewhat plausible explanation? "After all, dreaming is hallucinating," Dr. Mignot concluded. Frequent sleep paralysis (multiple times in a week) can be a sign of not getting proper sleep, or, in rare cases, it can mean you have a disorder such as narcolepsy. Very little research has been done on sleep paralysis overall, admits Dr. Mignot. He is currently reviewing data from 1,200 patients in a study that involves questions about sleep paralysis, but it is too soon to know any real facts yet. The debate on whether old hag syndrome is a supernatural phenomenon or simply a by-product of some disturbed sleeping will go on between the believers and the non-believers. But the fear that you experience when you have one of these nocturnal episodes is very real, no matter whom you are.


So what are your thoughts, feelings and theories on this subject?
edit on 17-1-2012 by Vrill because: (no reason given)

posted on Jan, 17 2012 @ 05:09 AM
has happened to me quite a few times in the past.......but not recently...only once in the last 2-3 years or so....but the strange thing about the last time it happened is that I was sleeping on my belly/chest down not on my back....and I had the whole paralysis thing going on and something pressing down on my upper back and and lower neck trying to pin me down into the bed......of course all of this happened while I was fully able to see, hear and smell...but not move.....and then all of the sudden it just stopped......but I had to fight it off and really try to move my arm for it to stop.....Was damn freaky....

posted on Jan, 17 2012 @ 05:17 AM
I think I've had a run in with the "old hag". I posted about it a few years ago, and I think you will find it very similar.

posted on Jan, 17 2012 @ 05:35 AM
It's also called Sleep Paralysis, and there have already been a million threads on this here at ATS so you might not get too far with this.

I've only experienced it once, and it was the only time in my adult life that I've experienced the kind of "What's going on in the dark over there?" whole-body-chill fear that is mostly left behind with childhood. It was horrific, and I hope it never happens again.

With my experience, I had a very loud ringing in my ears while I was trying to fall asleep, that would get louder the more I drifted off, and would only stop if I moved my head around a bit, but then would come right back.

The ringing suddenly stopped, and I found myself completely paralyzed, laying in bed on my back. A black "substance" started to ooze up the far bedroom wall, very similar to a scene in the first The Grudge movie. Then it started pushing out from the wall and creeping toward me, no idea how long this went on but it seemed like forever.

When it was almost close enough to touch me, and I was at Panic Level 10 omg-I-can't-move-and-i'm-gonna-die fever pitch, just like that I snapped out of it, the black crap was gone and I could move. I screamed at the top of my lungs "There is SOMETHING EVIL IN HERE AND IT'S TRYING TO GET MEEEE!" lol! My roommate came running in in a panic yelling "What, what is it?" and I had to explain what happened.

Awful, awful experience, even without the black ooze, the feeling of being wide awake but not being able to move a single muscle in your body is absolutely horrifying.
edit on 17-1-2012 by maus80 because: Spelling

posted on Jan, 17 2012 @ 05:55 AM
It happens to me a couple of times a month. It's horrifying. The terror, the inability to move, the feeling of a presence in the room...

I found that it happens to me when I sleep in the dark and in silence, so I sleep with the television on. I think it's because I can't see what's around me, but the light and sound of the tv make it easier to identify my surroundings. I'm sure that's not the real reason, but it's worked for me so far. During the night, at least. When it actually happens it's because I fall asleep while it is still daytime and I haven't turned the tv on, so when the night comes the terror begins.

Also, if the room is dark, it's easier to get confused about all the shadows and unidentified objects and think that there's something there that can hurt you. But a few days ago it happened while my desk lamp was on and it sucked too. I have one of those skeleton dolls that laugh when you pull a string, and it hangs from my lamp, and when I woke up and couldn't move I was certain it was going to kill me, I thought I saw it move and laugh (it didn't, but my mind was still confused with sleep).

I must to add that this happened while I was sleeping in silence, with just the lamp on, so I think it has to be a light AND noise to keep the sleep paralysis away, in my case. This is one of the more innocent cases, though. The other times are much creepier.

A lot of times, when the paralysis has worn off, I run screaming out of the room and my parents come to check it out, to make sure there's nothing there.

edit on 17-1-2012 by Casandra because: (no reason given)

posted on Jan, 17 2012 @ 06:16 AM
It wasn't your wife, was it?

Kidding, but very glad this has never happened to me..although having just read this and it being fresh in my mind I'm sure I'm due for my first sleep paralysis experience
edit on 17-1-2012 by Hawking because: (no reason given)

posted on Jan, 17 2012 @ 06:36 AM
I've been experiencing this for a few years now and I just had a thought while reading here that I've never had before.... Has anyone ever had sleep paralysis during the daytime? I never have and I don't remember ever reading about anyone else who has, but if it really is just what doctors say it is then it would stand to reason that it shouldn't matter what time of day it happens.

Now I'm intrigued, I may have to research this again. I worked graveyard shift for years so naturally I slept during the day and I've never once had it happen during the day. It's always at night and coincidence or not, mine usually happens at about 3:30am.

If anyone has any daytime attacks please share or if this is a hijack my apologies to the OP... Send me a U2U... I'm thinking maybe I should start a new thread on the topic.

Anyway, thanks for bringing this up again!

posted on Jan, 17 2012 @ 10:03 AM
I think this is related to the coyote ugly experience. Where you wake up and realize there is something really ugly in bed with you, and you chew your arm off like a coyote to get away from it.
Just kidding.

Sounds crazy, hope it was just a weird medical experience as opposed to some mystical being.

BTW you post alot about various mystical and cryptozoological beings. Have you ever seen anything unusual for real?

posted on Jan, 17 2012 @ 01:54 PM
I had this experience too, like a previous poster mentioned, I was also sleeping on my belly. I managed to turn my head enough to see a haggard olive gray leg straddled over me. Hard to say if it was male or female. I just cussed it out and made damn sure I was not afraid of it and it left. Could be demonic or just a vivid dream, I don't know.

posted on Jan, 17 2012 @ 02:00 PM
I usually sleep facing down, so i never see what's sitting on my back, but one day i took the courage to look back, worse mistake i ever did, i could not sleep properly for 2 days.

I layed face down, i turned my head over my right shoulder, and looked with right corner of my eye, i see this figure, a bit smaller than a gorilla sitting on my back, sileently, no facial feature except eyes, rest was like a shadow, outline of a figure, directly looking at my eyes... i paniced and struggled my way to "wake up".... i even had a chill down my spine just writing this info....

I heard you eyes are open during sleep paralysis... because i could clearly see the blue light coming my computer's login screen, then again, it is possible to "see" the light thru your eyelids.
edit on 1/17/2012 by luciddream because: (no reason given)

posted on Jan, 17 2012 @ 02:11 PM
never had exactly what you guys are describing, but i have had weird panic attacks caused by sleep.

i suddenly come back awake at the exact moment i was falling asleep and i always wake up in a panic because i am convinced that i am not breathing. and for the first half-second or so i can not move anything except my eyes.

posted on Jan, 17 2012 @ 02:24 PM
reply to post by SilverStarGazer

Someone here reckons they have had sleep paralysis during the day not sure how true it is though, would have to look into it more
People with narcolepsy often have sleep paralysis so i just found out

Sleep paralysis. People with narcolepsy often experience a temporary inability to move or speak while falling asleep or upon waking. These episodes are usually brief — lasting one or two minutes — but can be frightening.

posted on Jan, 17 2012 @ 02:26 PM
I used to have these attacks about 20 years ago and then as recently as 1995, and I remember them all quite vividly..

In my case ity felt like I was being pulled in sprit while my body stayed on the bed, then my spirit was then pushed to the floor and pinned there with what felt like 2 hands and a knee added for extra force... I could even feel the carpet and everything felt like being completely awake with full cognizance of everything happening..

Not really sure if it could have been a hag attack or not, but when it happened to me, I would experience rapid heartrate and huge adrenaline rushes, then anger, and at that point I could literally break free of it, which instantly caused me to wake up as if from a dream...

Whatever it is, has happened maybe 20 or 30 times, but not since about 1995.. after it happened the first few times, and then after that when it happened I would be instantly aware of it and think, "oh not this crap again" as if I was actually fully awake and conscious, but I seemed to also know I was in some sort of altered reality..

I have never actually been unable to break away from it like so many others report they are unable to move.. I just break out of it from anger and adrenaline somehow..

posted on Jan, 17 2012 @ 03:51 PM
These things described is also the classical definition of a nightmare. Never heard it referred to as "old hag syndrome" before..

posted on Jan, 17 2012 @ 05:49 PM
Yeah I've experienced it once before, when I was a kid. Probably one of the scariest moments of my life, not because I couldn't breathe or move, but because I was convinced I was being touched by something physical. I've met half a dozen people who've experienced exactly the same thing and had the same reaction.

Heavy sh*t that's for sure. No idea what it could be, because it's never happened since and I was a gromit at the time and a kid's mind is very impressionable with all the fear-themed entertainment around back then (and now). could be purely an innocent subconscious psychological reaction to waking up paralyzed with no explanation

or... it could be a f***ing ghost? who knows

posted on Jan, 17 2012 @ 07:34 PM
reply to post by NuclearPaul

Oh wow. Yeah, that is strikingly similar to what happened to me.

Keep in mind though guys, I do not normally have anxiety attacks. In fact, that was the first time that I have ever felt something akin to an anxiety attack. It freaked me out, but there was a lot more to it than just feeling the way that I did. I felt an actual presence in the room with me and on my chest for the duration and I had scratch marks on my chest as well.

It was freaky and freaked me out.

posted on Jan, 17 2012 @ 10:14 PM
The only genuine old hag experience you will have in this thread is with me.

Sleep paralysis, look into it more.

posted on Jan, 17 2012 @ 11:30 PM
Last week I had a bizarre experience and this 'Old Hag' syndrome seems to be a possibility.

I never remember my dreams and am a very sound sleeper. I do occasionally wake up though with scratches or marks on my back, (as I tend to sleep on my stomach)

What was bizarre was that I had woken up one morning last week and it felt like someone had beat the living snot out of me. Every muscle and tendon in my body ached. The weird thing is that I had a large bruise on my abdomen (I do NOT bruise easily at all) and a large red scratch just above it.

I asked my wife if she beat me senseless while I slept in jest

I hurt enough to miss work that day though and since I hadn't done anything unusual or strenuous in the previous days, it made me really mystified and somewhat creeped out.

posted on Jan, 17 2012 @ 11:34 PM
My concern now is why would such an entity attack someone while sleeping and what defenses are there against such blatant deviance?

new topics

top topics

<<   2 >>

log in