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Big DreamsThe Science of Dreaming and the Origins of Religion$
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Kelly Bulkeley

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780199351534

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199351534.001.0001

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Demonic Seduction

Demonic Seduction

(p.213) 13 Demonic Seduction
Big Dreams

Kelly Bulkeley

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines the cross-cultural religious phenomenon of demonic seduction in dreams. The prevalence of these kinds of strangely intense, sexually tinged dreams has elicited fear and condemnation from religious authorities throughout history. This chapter looks at demonic seduction in the context of scientific research on big dreams. The discussion includes a detailed case study (“Sana,” a young Muslim woman in contemporary Jordan, possessed by a jinn), references to other religious traditions around the world, and theories from cognitive science and the psychology of religion. Special attention is given to the psychological notion of the unconscious and its role in dreaming and religious experience. The argument is developed that religious beliefs about demonic seduction in dreams have a basis in real psychological experience and legitimate biological concerns about potential threats to procreation.

Keywords:   dreams, dreaming, big dreams, demons, demonic seduction, sexual dreams, cognitive science of religion, psychology of religion, procreation, unconscious

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