The number one reason people give for why they believe in the supernatural is because of some form of personal experience. What could be more baffling than the bizarre episodes that take place each night in our heads when we are deep in REM sleep?
Yesterday I posted an item on UFO’s and mentioned that many “abductees” often believe they have been probed. Where could such a weird sexual belief come from? It transpires that belief in nightmare sexual encounters has a long history. For example, Henry Fuseli’s (1782), “The Nightmare” is a depiction of a malevolent creature known as an ‘incubus’ that was believed to visit female victims in the night and have their evil way. It was typically reported as a cat-like creature that sits on the sleeper’s chest making it difficult for them to breathe while the victim feels paralyzed. The most likely explanation is that this experience occurs when sleepers become conscious while they are still immobilized by the sleep mechanisms that temporarily paralyze our bodies every night.
In medieval times, the incubus (Latin: ‘the one lying above’) was believed to torment women while the succubus (Latin: ‘the one that lies below’) had their evil sexual way with men. I think that these little sleep demons are also responsible for alien probing, the modern version of the incubi and succubi.
However, such physiological explanations have little impact on how people interpret their dream experiences. In a recent study of students in the US, India and S. Korea, researchers found that most believed that dreams revealed hidden truths about themselves and the world.
Moreover, people follow their dreams. When asked to imagine one of four scenarios, a national terrorist alert, a report of an airline crash on the same route, dreaming about a plane crash or simply imaging a plane crash, it was the dream that was the most likely factor to deter people from flying!
Dr Carey Morewedge of Carnegie Mellon University also reported that people who believe in God were likely to consider any dream in which God spoke to them to be meaningful; agnostics, however, considered dreams in which God spoke to be more meaningful when God commanded them to take a pleasant vacation than when God commanded them to engage in self-sacrifice.”