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Transcult Psychiatry. 2014 Apr;51(2):158-75. doi: 10.1177/1363461513503378. Epub 2013 Oct 1.

Explanations of sleep paralysis among Egyptian college students and the general population in Egypt and Denmark.

Author information

1
University of California at San Diego.

Abstract

This cross-cultural study compared explanations of sleep paralysis (SP) in two countries and two groups with different levels of education in one country. Comparisons were made between individuals having experienced SP at least once in a lifetime from Cairo, Egypt (n = 89), Copenhagen, Denmark (n = 59), and the American University in Cairo, Egypt (n = 44). As hypothesized, participants from the general Egyptian population were more likely to endorse supernatural causal explanation of their SP compared to participants from Denmark; participants from the American University in Cairo were less likely to endorse supernatural causes of their SP compared to participants from the general Egyptian population. Moreover, participants from the American University in Cairo were marginally significantly more likely to endorse supernatural causes of their SP compared to participants from Denmark. Additionally, we explored which culturally bound explanations and beliefs about SP existed in Egypt and Denmark. We found that nearly half (48%) of the participants from the general Egyptian population believed their SP to be caused by the Jinn, a spirit-like creature with roots in Islamic tradition, which constitutes a culturally bound interpretation of the phenomenology of SP in this region of the world. Case studies are presented to illustrate these findings.

KEYWORDS:

cross-cultural psychiatry; cultural interpretation; sleep paralysis

PMID:
24084761
DOI:
10.1177/1363461513503378
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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