Advertisement

Culture, Medicine, and Psychiatry

, Volume 33, Issue 2, pp 266–289 | Cite as

The Nightmares of Puerto Ricans: An Embodied ‘Altered States of Consciousness’ Perspective

  • C. Jeffrey JacobsonJr.Email author
Special Section: Trauma and Dreams

Abstract

This article examines nightmare narratives collected as part of a person-centered ethnographic study of altered states of consciousness (ASCs) and supernaturalism in a mainland Puerto Rican community in the late 1990s. Utilizing a descriptive backdrop informed by cross-cultural studies of ASCs and highlighting the relevance of recent insights from the cognitive sciences of religion and from the anthropology of embodiment or cultural phenomenology, I examine the lived experience and psychocultural elaboration of diverse Puerto Rican nightmare events. Taking the nightmare to be a trauma in its waking-nightmare sense (i.e., through the extreme fright caused by sleep paralysis) as well as an intrusive, traumatic memory in its posttraumatic sense (i.e., a reliving of trauma themes in dreams), I show how the perceptual and interpretive processes evoked by intensely affective ASCs both inform and are informed by Puerto Rican religious and spiritualistic orientations and values.

Keywords

Nightmares Altered states of consciousness Puerto Ricans Dreams Spiritualism Embodiment 

Notes

Acknowledgments

The research reported here was supported by NIMH Grant 5 F31 MH11773-02. I would like to thank the three anonymous reviewers for their very thoughtful and constructive criticisms of an early draft. I would also like to express my gratitude to Devon Hinton for his editorial encouragement and helpful feedback.

References

  1. American Psychiatric Association 1994 Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. 4th ed. Washington, DC: APA.Google Scholar
  2. Basso, E. B. 1987 The Implications of a Progressive Theory of Dreaming. In Dreaming: Anthropological and Psychological Interpretations. B. Tedlock, ed. Pp. 86– 104. New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  3. Benca, R. M 2007 Narcolepsy and Excessive Daytime Sleepiness. Diagnostic Considerations, Epidemiology, and Comobidities. Journal of Clinical Psychiatry 68 (Suppl. 13):5–8.Google Scholar
  4. Bourguignon, E. 1972 Dreams and Altered States of Consciousness in Anthropological Research. In Psychological Anthropology. F. Hsu, ed. Pp. 403–434. Cambridge, MA: Shenkman.Google Scholar
  5. Cheyne, J. A. 2001 The Ominous Numinous: Sensed Presence and “Other” Hallucinations. Journal of Consciousness Studies 8(5–7):133–150.Google Scholar
  6. Cheyne, J. A. 2003 Sleep Paralysis and Structures of Waking-Nightmare Hallucinations. Dreaming 13(3):163–179.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Csordas, T.J. 1994a The Sacred Self: A Cultural Phenomenology of Charismatic Healing. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  8. Csordas, T.J., ed. 1994b The Body as Representation and Being in the World. In Embodiment and Experience: The Existential Ground of Culture and Self, pp. 1–23. London: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  9. De Jong, J. T.V. M. 2005 Cultural Variation in the Clinical Presentation of Sleep Paralysis. Transcultural Psychiatry 42(1):78–92.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Fukada, K., R. D. Ogilvie, L. Chilcota, A. M. Vendittelli, and T. Takeuchi. 1996 The Prevalence of Sleep Paralysis among Canadian and Japanese College Students. Dreaming 8(2):59–66.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Hallowell, A.I. 1967 The Self in Its Behavioral Environment. In Culture and Experience (Chap. 4). New York: Schocken Books.Google Scholar
  12. Hartmann, E. 1984 The Nightmare: The Psychology and Biology of Terrifying Dreams. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  13. Hartmann, E. 1996 Who Develops PTSD Nightmares and Who Doesn’t. In Trauma and Dreams. D. Barrett, ed. Pp. 100–113. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  14. Harwood, A. 1977 Rx: Spiritist as Needed: A Study of a Community Mental Health Resource. New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  15. Hinton, D.E., D. Hufford, and L. Kirmayer, eds. 2005a Sleep Paralysis in Cross-Cultural Perspective. Transcultural Psychiatry 42(special issue): 5–145.Google Scholar
  16. Hinton, D.E., D.J. Hufford, and L.J. Kirmayer 2005b Culture and Sleep Paralysis. Transcultural Psychiatry 42(1): 5–10.Google Scholar
  17. Hinton, D.E., V. Pich, D. Chhean, and M.H. Pollack. 2005c ‘The Ghost Pushes You Down’: Sleep Paralysis-Type Panic Attacks in a Khmer Refugee Population. Transcultural Psychiatry 41(1): 46–77.Google Scholar
  18. Hinton, D.E., V. Pich, D. Chhean, M.H. Pollack, and R.J. McNally 2005d Sleep Paralysis among Cambodian Refugees: Association with PTSD Diagnosis and Severity. Depression and Anxiety 22: 47–51.Google Scholar
  19. Hollan, D. W., and J. C. Wellancamp 1993 Contentment and Suffering: Culture and Experience in Toroja. New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  20. Hufford, D. J. 1982 The Terror that Comes in the Night: An Experience-Centered Study of Supernatural Assault Traditions. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.Google Scholar
  21. Hufford, D. J. 2005 Sleep Paralysis as Spiritual Experience. Transcultural Psychiatry 42(1):11–45.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Jacobson, C.J. 2001 Spirits, Demons and Nightmares: Moral Images of Self and Other in Puerto Rican Life History and Religious Discourse. Unpublished Ph.D. dissertation. Case Western Reserve University.Google Scholar
  23. Jacobson, C. J. 2003 ‘¿Espirtus? No. Pero la Maldad Existe’: Religious Change and the Problem of Evil in Puerto Rican Ethnopsychology. Ethos 31(3):1–34.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Law, S., and L. J. Kirmayer 2005 Inuit Interpretations of Sleep Paralysis. Transcultural Psychiatry 42(1):93–112.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Leder, D. 1990 The Absent Body. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  26. Levy, R. I. 1972 The Tahitians: Mind and Experience in the Society Islands. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  27. Lincoln, J. S. 1935 The Dream in Primitive Cultures. Baltimore: Williams and Wilkins.Google Scholar
  28. Merleau-Ponty, M. 1962 Phenomenology of Perception (trans. Colin Smith). New Jersey: The Humanities Press.Google Scholar
  29. Ohaeri, J. U., A. O. Odejide, B. A. Ikuesan, and J. D. Adeyemi 1987 The Pattern of Sleep Paralysis among Nigerian Medical Students. Journal of the National Medical Association 81:805–808.Google Scholar
  30. Paradis, C.M., and S. Fiedman 2005 Sleep Paralysis in African Americans with Panic Disorder. Transcultural Psychiatry 42(1):123–134.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Qualitative Solutions and Research 1997 QSRNUD*IST 4 User Guide. Thousand Oaks, CA: Scolari.Google Scholar
  32. Tedlock, B. 1987a Dreaming and Dream Research. In Dreaming: Anthropological and Psychological Interpretations. B. Tedlock, ed., pp. 1–30. New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  33. Tedlock, B. 1987b Zuni and Quiche Dream Sharing and Interpreting. In Dreaming: Anthropological and Psychological Interpretations. B. Tedlock, ed., pp. 105–131. New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  34. Wallace, A.F. 1959 Cultural Determinants of Response to Hallucinatory Experience. Archives of General Psychiatry 1(1):58–69.Google Scholar
  35. Whitehouse, H. 2006 Terror and Religion. In The Oxford Handbook of Religion and Emotion. J. Corrigan, ed. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  36. World Health Organization 1994 International Classification of Diseases. 10th rev. Geneva: WHO.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of CincinnatiCincinnatiUSA

Personalised recommendations