January 21, 2007
There are just a few more entries for 2007 and we will finish up that section of archived cases. However, this leaves the most difficult cases left until last for analsysis and review. This month, we look at an early case done in 2007: Fieldstone . This investigation is one that falls to the category of "controlled study" -- it was a non-haunted house utilized to test member reliability. The theory is that since we get called in on cases, members eventually begin to assume that all such calls are from haunted locals. To avoid assumptions and keep investigator neutrality, the SPIRITS of St. Petersburg keeps an open call for non-haunted investigations. These are added, at random, to our normal case load. Naturally, as a control investigation very little showed up at Fieldstone.
One aspect that is important to the SPIRITS of St. Petersburg team, however, is that all members are responsible to file reports for every case attended. This does allow for a wider variety of perspective and sometimes alights upon an unusual topic to discuss even for the run of the mill case. For purposes of this case, the subject of the month is the old hag syndrome.
The home owners reported little activity in this house, though the wife believed that there was, on occasion, a presence that watched her. The family did report living in a home prior to this one that did have ghostly activity, including unusual dreams and old hag syndrome. Old Hag Syndrome, as described by most, happens primarily at night during the sleep cycle. An individual wakes up, and though conscious, cannot move. Some reports include a restrictive feeling in the chest area, difficulty breathing, or the sensation of being pushed into the bed. Several reports include the actual visitation of an entity -- usually an old woman, hence th term -- near them at the time. Visual phenomena has included everything from human manifestation to shadow forms in the room, dark clouds or orbs hovering over the bed, or simply sensing someone hovering, sitting, or leaning over the bed. Early records taken of this paralysis attached the paralysis to witches who would ride the chest of the victims in an attempt to scare or kill them. In the Old English, the term for a hag (or incubus/demon) was "mare", hence the term becomes the ancestor to our own word, "nightmare."
The issue is that there is a form of sleep paralysis that can occur. The general idea is that the body-mind connection is very strong during sleep. As an individual goes through REM sleep, the body undergoes a form of paralysis as the mind/brain run through the cycle. On occassion, an person can awaken from REM sleep. While the mind becomes active, it takes a few moments for the brain to reactivate the body. Thus, the person has the sense of being trapped and unable to move. The causes for sleep paralysis are currently unknown, though there are several theories on what can trigger the event. These include sleep deprivation, unusual sleeping patterns (including naps or sleeping in), unusual sleeping positions (one study indicated that sleeping in awkward positions can cause pressure on the brain leading to a chemical imbalance that causes the paralysis), and increased stress. Lucid dreaming is sometimes thought to bring on paralysis, as is stress from sudden lifestyle changes. Of course, health conditions, such as sleep apnea and narcolepsy, may also trigger an event.
A study at the University of Waterloo is currently collecting data on sleep paralysis. Having taken the survey, the questions asked of participants are likely types of sleep paralysis experienced by various individuals. Additional symptoms can include:
*Believing that one has awakened and either sat up or gotten out of bed, only to find oneself still frozen again
*Sensations of floating, viewing oneself from outside the body, flying or falling
*Sensations of cold or vibrations in the body
*Erotic feelings, the sensation of feeling touched by an outside presence
Upon completion of the study, a participant survey shows that approximately 25-30 percent of the population experiences sleep paralysis. Links may be made between medication and the lack of sleep paralysis, particularly in cases of anti-depressants and anti-anxiety pills.
Stanford University advises the following remedies to avoid sleep paralysis:
*Reduce stress levels
*Exercise regularly (but not close to bedtime)
*Make sure one gets enough rest (do not 'sleep binge')
*Keep a regular sleep schedule
Those interested in participating in a sleep paralysis study via Waterloo University, please check the following link:
Here are some web resources available for additional research:
About.com: Sleep Paralysis: http://paranormal.about.com/cs/ghosthunting/f/blfaqs_ghosts08.htm
Stanord University, "Sleep Paralysis": http://www.stanford.edu/~dement/paralysis.html
Skeptical Inquiry: Waking Up to Sleep Paralysis
Note: I arrived late during the first walk thought. The others did a complete first walk through, then I re-did parts of it once I arrived.
Note: EMF was high here. Had a hard time keeping and maintaining the frequency. Tried to keep it on 0-3, though the average was a 1.5 - 2.0.
3.0 EMF, dropped to 1.5
Upstairs neighbors have wireless Internet; this can be used in the downstairs apt that we were investigating. With such high EMF and the intro of wireless, most of the EMF readings will be negated.
0 - 100 scale
Spike by doorway, but that lead to light switch.
2 small spikes by bed.
Investigator heard taps in the bathroom, but the hot water heater is in the closet behind the bathroom. Also, noises from upstairs filter through. EMF also pegs when I point the meter up due to wiring.
Least amount of EMF
Felt a coolish draft
We decided to take images of the kitchen and living room, and then go back to MA bedroom.
Bedroom we also tried an EVP with no results.
Homeowners had prior phenomena in another place (dreams, old hag syndrome). One homeowner felt watched in the house -- as if someone was about to speak with her but no one was around her. However, she didn't seem to regard it as a strong reading. Homeowner sometimes sees images in her peripheral vision but believes it is natural.
The only other issue with the home was weather or not someone died in the house. One homeowner had heard that some neighbors thought that an old couple might have died in the home of natural causes around 2000. However, no other verified information could be found, and the neighbor's belief was speculative upon not seeing the old couple, then the apartment going up for rent again.
Conclusion: This was another "base" or "test" house. Nothing was in the home.