GV Art and Mind Symposium 17: Broks and MacKinnon

DEVIL IN THE ROOM: An excursion into the netherworld of sleep paralysis

23 July 2013

Dr Paul Broks and Carla MacKinnon

Sleep paralysis (SP) occurs at the borderlines of sleep and wakefulness. The person is awake but immobile, often in a state of extreme fear and prey to hideous hallucinations. It can be explained in terms of an overlap between REM sleep and wakefulness, two states of consciousness which are ordinarily quite distinct. Psychologically, SP represents a convergence of reality and fantasy. Carla will show her new short film on SP which combines animation and live action, and she and Paul will discuss the neuropsychological, personal and cultural dimensions of SP phenomena.

Paul Broks is a freelance writer with a background in clinical neuropsychology and neuroscience. He gained recognition with his first book, Into the Silent Land, which mixed neurological case stories, fiction and memoir in an extended meditation on selfhood and the brain. Paul has also written for the theatre including collaborations with the director Mick Gordon on two plays, On Ego and On Emotion, which premiered at the Soho Theatre and which have gone on to successful productions worldwide. He co-wrote and narrated Martino Unstrung, Ian Knox’s feature documentary about the recovered-amnesic jazz guitar virtuoso, Pat Martino, and recently collaborated with Hugh Hudson and Maryam d’Abo on a film about stroke survivors – Rupture: Living with a broken brain. Paul is also a regular contributor to WNYC’s Radiolab show. His next book will be published by Penguin and includes excursions into Greek mythology, madness and magic as well as brain science.

Carla MacKinnon is a filmmaker and interdisciplinary producer with a background in technology and education and recently completed an animation MA at Royal College of Art. In 2009 she founded Rich Pickings, live events bringing filmmakers together with practitioners in science and the humanities, aimed at broadening perspectives. A particularly brutal spat of sleep paralysis prompted her to initiate the Sleep Paralysis Project.

You can find out about the project athttp://www.thesleepparalysisproject.org/.