, Volume 12, Issue 1, pp 45–59 | Cite as

Comparing the Content of Sleep Paralysis and Dream Reports

  • Jennifer D. Parker
  • Susan J. Blackmore


Hall and Van de Castle's method of content analysis, which has been extensively applied to dream content, was used to analyse SP reports. 64 males and 52 females each contributed one SP report. These were content analysed and compared with dream norms, revealing the similarities between dreams and SP. Findings indicate that, emotionally, SP is a more uniform state than dreaming, and that interactions between characters are more aggressive, with the “dreamer” being the victim of the attacks. SP reports contained more cognitive and auditory experiences, and four times as many references to parts of the body. Only one difference was found between males' and females' SP reports; that females reported more sexual activity. A description of a “typical” SP episode is presented, based upon the content analysis system. It was concluded that while SP and dreams share some subjective similarities, they can be identified as separate sleep states by the content of written reports. Furthermore, Hall and Van de Castle's system may provide the foundations for systematic comparisons of other sleep mentation and fantasy states.

sleep paralysis dreams content analysis 


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Copyright information

© Association for the Study of Dreams 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jennifer D. Parker
    • 1
  • Susan J. Blackmore
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of the West of EnglandBristolUnited Kingdom

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