What's Behind Reports of Ghost Sex?

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Last year it was pop superstar Kesha; now it’s actress Natasha Blasick — star of “Paranormal Activity 2″ — coming forward to talk about her sexual experiences.

With ghosts.

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In an interview on UK’s “This Morning” show and quoted in the “New York Daily News,” Blasick described her paranormal paramour: “I could feel that somebody was touching me and the hands were pushing me against my will and I could feel the weight of the body on top of me. I couldn’t see anybody but I could feel the pressure, the energy, the warmth pushing in different directions.”

While many might consider this sort of experience terrifying, Blasick described it as “really pleasurable” and was delighted when the unseen entity made a return visit a month later.

A History of Supernatural Sex

Claiming to have sexytime with ghosts is rare but not unheard of. In his book “The Terror that Comes in the Night,” folklorist David J. Hufford estimates that about 15 percent of people experience being assaulted in their sleep by an unknown entity at some point in their lives, often with a sexual element. In a 2012 radio interview with Ryan Seacrest, pop star Kesha talked about the inspiration for her song “Supernatural,” which involved “having sexy time with a ghost.”

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Reports of supernatural lovers can be found in folklore dating back thousands of years. In his book “Satanism Today,” James R. Lewis, professor of religious studies at the University of Wisconsin, notes that “While condemned to hell, [Catholic saint] Thomas Aquinas asserted that demons would float in the air until the day of judgment in the form of incubi (male demons) and succubi (female demons)… Aquinas believed that demons could seduce human beings, particularly in the dream state. He further speculated that should a succubi conceive after having intercourse with a man, the result would be a giant, like the Nephilim mentioned in Genesis 6:4.”

Others believe that the succubus is neither ghost nor demon but instead a fairy. Folklorist Carole Silver, writing in “Strange and Secret Peoples: Fairies in Victorian Consciousness,” writes of a particularly evil type of fairy, the “Lhiannon-shee of Ireland and the Isle of Man, a figure that fascinated William Butler Yeats among others… that  simultaneously embodies the male fear of the female as dominating and anarchic and the widespread anxiety about women as parasites. Best known of the Manx fairies… she is really a succubus, draining the life and energy of the man to whom she attaches herself.”

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For many this is not merely myth but instead a very real experience; Silver describes one supposedly real-life account of “one brazen lhiannon-shee, in 1898, followed a farmer right into his house and was thought, by the man, to be his wife. Puzzled when she did not answer his questions, he asked his actual wife if she saw the fairy woman, at which, with a hideous grin, the shee walked through the door and vanished.”

While it’s impossible to know what, exactly, Kesha, Blasick, and others experienced, some psychological phenomena can give the impression of a sexual ghostly lover. These experiences—sometimes scary, sometimes sexy, but always realistic to the person experiencing them—are the result of normal brain misperceptions and illusions.

Often the sexual feeling happens late at night in bed (instead of, for example, while commuting or raking leaves). Many people feel these sensations either while sleeping, or going into or out of sleep. Psychologists know that this is a time when people are vulnerable to common (and harmless) hallucinations—including sexual experiences. Few people who are visited by these seductive specters complain about it, so if you experience it, there’s little to fear.

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