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The Terror That Comes in the Night: An Experience-Centered Study of Supernatural Assault Traditions [Paperback]

David J. Hufford
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
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Book Description

June 27 2002 Publications of the American Folklore Society
David Hufford's work deals with the so-called Old Hag experience, a psychologically disturbing event in which a victim claims to have encountered some form of malign entity while dreaming (or awake). Sufferers report feeling suffocated, held down by some "force," paralyzed, and extremely afraid. The experience is surprisingly common: the author estimates that approximately 15 percent of people undergo this event at some point in their lives. Various cultures have their own name for the phenomenon and have constructed their own mythology around it; the supernatural tenor of many Old Hag stories is unavoidable. Hufford, as a folklorist, is well-placed to investigate this puzzling occurrence.

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Review

His experience-centered methodology for dealing with strange phenomena is worth studying. -- Journal of Operational Psychology, Vol. 14 No.1, 1983

It's a provocative exploratory work with numerous firsthand accounts. -- The Book Review, Los Angeles Times, May 1, 1983

This is a scholarly book, but very readable by a person without a technical background. -- Choice, May 1983

From the Publisher

David Hufford's academic work, subtitled An Experience Centered Study of Supernatural Assault Traditions, deals with the so-called 'Old Hag' experience, a psychologically disturbing event in which a victim claims to have encountered some form of malign entity whilst dreaming (or awake). Sufferers report feeling suffocated, held down by some 'force', paralyzed-and extremely afraid. It is an experience which is surprisingly common, with Hufford estimating that approximately 15% of people undergo it at some point in their lives. Various cultures have their own name for the phenomenon, and have constructed their own mythology around it; the supernatural tenor of many Old Hag stories is unavoidable. Hufford, as a folklorist, is well-placed to investigate this puzzling occurrence.

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Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Service Sept. 5 2012
By Lisa
Verified Purchase
The shipping was very quick and easy to deal with. The book was in better shape than I had expected. An excellent product to say the least. Can't wait to start reading it.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Commendable, but needs an update Nov. 22 2003
I applaud Professor Hufford for this ground-breaking analysis
of Night Hag (Phantomania) attacks. Nothing else quite like
it since its original publication over 20 years ago.

Though it begins, and occasionally bogs down, in typically tiresome academic prose, Hufford has the courage to allow the facts to speak for themselves - with the benefit of his methodical and objective reasoning. This eventually delivers his subject from the tediousness of too much jargon and equivocating.
And though he (wisely) resists arriving at any certain conclusions,his courage to at least acknowledge most of the possible correlatives associated with pavor nocturnus is to his credit.
Most of the eyewitness accounts (which, I think, could have been
improved by some editting), actually make for some scary and unnerving late night reading. If you have read Grave's End,
you will know what I mean - only multiple, and more believable, examples of the same sort of experience.
I only wish that the Professor had more thoroughly described the different stages of sleep, including brain wave Hz rates, length and periodicity of cycles and degress of REM activity.
It seems to me that an all inclusive scientific study of nightmares should result in some truly surprising insights into the nature of consiousness itself.
Likewise, Professor Hufford is way overdue for an update considering the limited sources his research was conducted
from and based upon.
In that regard, allow me to recommend to whomever might be
interested in pursuing an understanding of the Night Hag:
Carlos Castaneda's The Active Side of Infinity, particularly
the chapters on Inorganic Awareness and Mud Shadows.
Skeptical? Just take a look, you'll see what I mean.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Eye-opening Study June 28 2004
David Hufford looks at a phenomenon called "The Old Hag" in this remarkable study of folklore. The "Old Hag" consists of a belief that a person is stunned by supernatural forces and ridden by a ghost, witch, or other supernatural being in the night. He became interested in the unified way in which people described eerie nightmares that froze people with fright. Hufford discovered that the experience was shared by people who had never even met, thereby challenging the idea that "The Old Hag" was merely a folk belief passed along in an oral tradition. The book provides an excellent way to understand belief from the point of view of a person who accepts it as part of reality. It also provides interesting ways to think about ways to reconcile belief with science. Finally, the book adds great insight into beliefs in alien abductions.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.2 out of 5 stars  9 reviews
60 of 62 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a great book for anyone suffering from sleep paralysis! Oct. 2 2000
By Aaron Anderson - Published on Amazon.com
If you have ever awoke to the sudden realization that you cannot move, and this experience has been accompanied by a convincing feeling that there is something with a sinister intention there with you in the room, or if you have felt, heard, or even seen something strange and haunting during this state of immobility, then this book is for you my unfortunate friend! I have suffered from sleep paralysis most my life, and this is the only book I have ever found that explores the subject. A very interesting read! Although I do not agree with some of the conclusions that the author suggests, it is nevertheless a well researched and informative book. By the way, if you do suffer from sleep paralysis or the "old hag" as Hufford calls it, it is completely harmless based upon my own experience, other than it can scare the bejeebers out of you. If you do suffer from the above mentioned symptoms, there are several BB's on the web where you can talk with others that suffer from SP, and don't get too worked up over it, it happens to a lot of us as this book skilfully demonstrates.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Wake Me Up When It's Over May 17 2006
By Brian E. Erland - Published on Amazon.com
Well, if the title 'The Terror That Comes in the Night' doesn't immediately spark your interest how about that secondary subtitle, 'An Experience-Centered Study of Supernatural Assault Traditions.' Doesn't it sound like a book you'd like to have resting on your lap while riding the subway, or sitting in a busy doctor's office. I just love those weird looks people give you when they see what you're reading.

Being one of those people who have a long history of suffering from "Night Terrors" I had a personal interest in purchasing this book. I wanted to compare my own nightmarish encounters with what others had endured during those long and dreadful hours preceding dawn. For me it was a cathartic and affirming endeavor. Therapy you might say.

Since my primary attraction to this book was the first-hand accounts provided by the participants in this study, not the research or conclusions drawn by Mr. Hufford, it turned out to be a worthwhile read for me. However if you're looking for some world shattering conclusions or monumental breakthroughs you'll probably be disappointed.

An overall intriquing read for those fascinated by nightmares and the realm of dreams.
17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Commendable, but needs an update Nov. 22 2003
By M. Packo - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
I applaud Professor Hufford for this ground-breaking analysis of Night Hag (Phantomania) attacks. Nothing else quite like it since its original publication over 20 years ago.

* As of 2013, I notice several other books have been published concerning this topic. Unfamiliar with their content, so unable to comment on their quality.

Though it begins with, and is occasionally bogged down by some typically tiresome academic prose, for the most part Hufford has the courage to allow the facts - meaning testimonies - to speak for themselves. With the benefit of his methodical and objective reasoning, this approach eventually delivers his subject from the tediousness of too much jargon and equivocation.

And though he wisely resists arriving at any certain conclusions, his courage to at least acknowledge most of the possible explanations - physio/psychological or supernatural - associated with pavor nocturnus is much to his credit.

Many of the eyewitness accounts (which, I think, could have been improved by some editing), actually make for rather scary and unnerving late night reading. If you are familiar with the lackluster Grave's End, you will know what I mean. Likewise, similar examples of such "entity" encounters can be found in numerous other allegedly true haunting accounts. The resemblances and similarities are remarkable and, I submit, establish a pattern of credibility rather than imitation. T

I only wish that the Professor had more thoroughly described the different stages of sleep, including brain wave Hz rates, length and periodicity of cycles and degress of REM activity. It seems to me that an all inclusive scientific study of nightmares should result in some truly surprising insights into the nature of consiousness itself. At the very least a more complete and rigorous background explanation of what we currently understand about sleep would do much to bolster the bona fides of this specific inquiry.

Likewise, Professor Hufford is way overdue for an update considering the limited sources his research was conducted from and based upon. Considering the fact that he has pioneered this topic, his further investigations ought to be of even greater value and objectivity.

* I have found at least one somewhat decent documentary about Night Hag/Shadow People, from @ 2008 which includes Hufford's comments. It is available on YouTube. He wisely maintains an objective, agnostic opinion, though does not indicate whether or not he is still involved in research.

Regarding the entity hypothesis - which I obviously find the most reasonable (yes, that's the right word!), allow me to recommend a perusal of Carlos Castaneda's The Active Side of Infinity, particularly the chapters on Inorganic Awareness and Mud Shadows.

Skeptical? Just take a look, you'll see what I mean.
Not necessarily THE explanation, but there certainly are many interesting correlations!
11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A thorough investigation of a fascinating phenomenon Jan. 6 2005
By Daniel J. Benor - Published on Amazon.com
There are reports from people around the world that they have wakened in the night with a sense of terror, unable to move, and aware of the presence of a frightening old hag.

David Hufford brings us a thorough investigation of this fascinating phenomenon. Hufford is Professor in the Department of Humanities at the Penn State College of Medicine (Hershey Medical Center. He has had a long-standing interest in traditional healing and parapsychology, both of which serve him will in his analysis of the old hag reports, which have not been included in much of the literature on psychic and spiritual experiences.

Hufford gathered 93 reports from students at Memorial University in Newfoundland, clarifying their experiences with a detailed questionnaire. Hufford investigates and writes with great clarity. Here are some of his conclusions:

1. The phenomena ... constitute an experience with a complex and stable pattern, which is recognizable and is distinct from other experiences.

2. This experience is found in a variety of cultural settings.

3. The pattern of the experience and its distribution appear independent of the presence of explicit cultural models.

4. The experience itself has played a significant, though not exclusive, role in the development of numerous traditions of supernatural assault.

7. The frequency with which the experience occurs is surprisingly high, with those who have had at least one recognizable attack representing 15 percent or more of the general population.

8. The state in which this experience occurs is probably best described as sleep paralysis with a particular kind of hypnagogic hallucination.

10. The contents of this experience cannot be satisfactorily explained on the basis of current know1edge.

This book does much to clarify an interesting element in the spectrum of transpersonal experiences.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent Nov. 16 2010
By evilsgindsitributor - Published on Amazon.com
an excellent exposition of the folklore and phenomenology of this unique and disturbing experience. i, too, have experienced the teror by night, and until i read this book i never suspected it was so common and so ancient. hufford's tracing of the vampire legends and even the salem witch trial to this is eye opening. after reading it, i found other, independent references to the same experience in ancient mesopotamian texts. i highly recommend this book!!!
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