Some Comments On A Purely Medical Diagnosis For Sleep Paralysis.

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One of the things that people often do when they have repeated cases of sleep paralysis is to go to their doctor. Though many don’t want to go, because they feel like they’re going to just get referred to a psychatrist, some do go and accept their advice.  One of the great tragedies that medicine appears to be moving away from, is the phenomenon called “science is God”.  Physicians used to be trained to always find the right answer and when they don’t know something-make it up.  This is changing, but one of the many societal fallouts of this is an absolute abiding in what medical experts say, even when they speculate about something.

So lets say someone goes to his doctor and complains about…
“Waking up in the middle of the night and not being able to move, feeling the worst fear he’s ever felt in his life,seeing a dark figure or figures and sometimes sensing something grabbing him or something attacking him.”

The doctor would take all of this in and unless he had dealt with this before in some capacity, he would probably take all the information and ask a number of questions to build a case history. Typically these questions would be something like this:

•Employment history: some occupations are associated with certain health risks. To name a few, animal workers are at risk from brucellosis, health workers from hepatitis B and miners from pneumoconiosis.

•Drug history: it’s clearly important to know what medication, whether prescription or over the counter, the patient is taking since medicinal drugs can be responsible for a wide range of symptoms. The adverse health effects of recreational drugs, alcohol and tobacco are well known so it’s essential to know if these might be contributing to or causing the patient’s condition. Incidentally doctors always assume that patients understate their alcohol consumption.

•Family history: some diseases have a well-proven genetic link, haemophilia for example. Others are known to run in families but the direct genetic link is less clear. The list of these conditions is large and includes: diabetes mellitus, osteoporosis, depression and some cancers. If your mother and father have diabetes, it doesn’t mean that you will get it but it does mean you are at increased risk, something that the doctor will need to take into account when trying to determine your condition.
They would then set up what’s called a “screen” or systems review, which is really just a process to make sure that the doctor didn’t miss anything. They would include questions about:

how you were breathing (to see if perhaps you were suffering from sleep apnea,) religious history (to see if you were having some type of waking nightmare or just had gone “over the edge” with some type of pagan/new age/or other type of belief system.) and perhaps some informal questions about family and stuff to test their earlier conclusions in the earlier categories.They may go on and on to make sure that they were getting all the information that they could about what’s wrong with you.From there they would go and make a diagnosis, and either recommend drugs, changes in your sleep patterns or habits, or going to see a psychiatrist.

No surprisingly, there are some problems with a strictly medical diagnosis.

Scientists will readily admit that there has yet to be a practical way to study anything but the most physiological aspects of this phenomena.  That it has been a experienced throughout the history of man, with various people groups experiencing similar and in many cases, the exact same phenomenon only speaks to the fact that the phenomenon is emanating from a common source, and must either be something intrinsic to man, or in the case of a hallucinatory sleep paralysis experience that immediately stops when an experiencer calls on the name of Jesus, is coming from something outside the experiencer.
When coupled with testimonies of other people who emphatically describe seeing something hovering over a person afflicted with sleep paralysis, the idea of a source from inside man becomes difficult to embrace.
If you do research into peer reviewed papers on sleep paralysis you find that there is a lot of speculation out there, but very little that’s concrete. The main reason for the speculation is that – it’s psychosomatic – it has to do with neurons and the medical community doesn’t know that much beyond dissecting and naming when it comes to neurons  In fact the more they learn about the human brain and the nervous system, the more they realize its unclear at this time what’s going on.  For instance heres a quote pertaining to sleep from the medical textbook “Neuroscience.”
“The reason for the high levels of brain activity during REM sleep, the significance of dreaming, and the basis of the restorative effect of sleep are topics that remain poorly understood”

That is why Neurology is such an expanding field right now.  Neurology and Radiology are exploding in the number of subspecialities available.  As doctors gain technology they are making huge strides in understanding and realizing more and more that what we thought we knew – we really don’t have a clear understanding of.  And you can use either of the definitions for psychosomatic here – 1)  of or pertaining to a physical disorder that is caused by or notably influenced by emotional factors or 2) pertaining to or involving both the mind and the body – since both apply.  Anyone who tells you we understand nerves, the brain, neurology, etc. and this includes New agers/Occult books like the “secret” etc. – walk away – because we don’t know. There are numerous cases that show that people have had sleep paralysis experiences with only being asleep for a few minutes, and have not entered REM sleep.  One of the things that medicine speculates on is that the part of your brain that is responsible for dreaming gets turned on, and that this coupled with the impairment of REM sleep makes it possible for the body to be dreaming, while actually awake.  Now the problem with this, of course is that there are cases of sleep paralysis where someone has not completely fallen asleep, or awoken, used the bathroom, and laid back down again, and just as their drifting off to sleep, they get hit with a full on case of sleep paralysis.

Another place for concern, regarding a purely medical diagnosis for sleep paralysis is that some types of psychology, especially analytical, or Jungian psychology readily admit the reality of a “spirit world”. For instance;

-Carl Gustav Jung, the founder of Analytical Psychology (also known as Jungian psychology) believed that out of body experiences, lucid dreams, and other states of consciousness were in fact a “real” thing.  He describes an almost textbook case of near death experience in his book “Memories Dreams, Reflections” and goes on to clearly intimate that he believes that there really was a real spirit world out there.  This aligns with testimonies, tests, and even government programs wherein, people who are experiencing things like lucid dreaming, sleep paralysis, and out of body experiences exchange previously unknown code phrases and words in their dreams and compare them to find them accurately transmitted in the dream the next day, look at secret documents of enemy nations while in a dream state or out of body experience, etc.

-William James, one of the architects of psychopathology, delineates a very telling idea that tends to permeate both the culture at large and the field of psychology in general.  It’s that “truth is the expedient in the way of knowing. A statement is known to be true if it brings the right results. It is the expedient as confirmed by future experience.”
In other words, we can safely dispense with what is actually happening and go with whatever works.  This is in conflict with the idea of truth.
Finally, the whole idea of using drugs to treat sleep paralysis is flimsy, not because it doesn’t work, but because we don’t have a good understanding of why it works, and whats actually going on. some examples include things like:
-We have no ideas how neurons work, and therefore have no idea what drugs do to them.
-If you want to know if someone is really Bipolar, feed them Lithium and see if that helps.  Really.  And the medical community doesn’t know why Lithium works – they have no clue – the amount of money and time and articles out there trying to figure out why Lithium works in the treatment of Bipolar Disorder is really quite large. Yet, we only know one thing – it works.  If I gave you the same amount of Lithium to a non-bipolar person thats given to a person who was truly Bipolar, they would die.  Lithium toxicity is very, very serious and in order to stabilize a Bipolar person you make them sick first.  Kind of like cancer – Kill to Cure.

The medical community, though extremely adept at curing many things, appears to be still grasping a bit for what, exactly can help sleep paralysis.

It's just medical…no really it is…wink wink, nudge nudge…