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Dr Baland Samal Jalal PhD

Dr Baland Samal Jalal , PhD

Harvard University, Department of Psychology

Cambridge University, Department of Psychiatry


Bio at Cambridge Neuroscience website. Details.

Dr. Baland S. Jalal is a researcher at Harvard University, Department of Psychology and visiting researcher at Cambridge University, Department of Psychiatry. He obtained his PhD at Cambridge University in the School of Clinical Medicine (Trinity College Cambridge) and was a Fellow at Harvard University (2016, 2018).  He is a close collaborator and co-author on 10 papers with the renowned neuroscientist VS Ramachandran (2011 TIME magazine 100 most influential people in the world).

He has published 45 papers and is co-author with Professor Devon Hinton at Harvard Medical School, on a book by Cambridge University Press, 2020 ("Transdiagnostic Multiplex CBT for Muslim Cultural Groups: Treating Emotional Disorders"). He has lectured worldwide including at Harvard University, Oxford University and London School of Economics and UCL.

The Telegraph described him as “one of the world’s leading experts on sleep paralysis”. He was ranked as the "top-rated expert in sleep paralysis in the world" on Expertscape based on scientific impact in the past 10 years. He was listed by Van Winkle (“sleep blog” by Casper Sleep) as one of the "15 Most Interesting People in Sleep" (list of researchers, writers, and cultural figures). 

His work has been featured in the press in over 30 countries including major media like The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Today Show, The BBC, Chicago Tribune, The Guardian, NBC News, New York Magazine, The Times, The Telegraph, Reuters, Fox News, Discovery, New Scientist, Discover Magazine, VICE, PBS (NOVA) and many more. He has appeared on TV and radio like BBC one and two, and the Pulse (NPR) and written about his research in outlets such as Scientific American


Email address: 

For research, media or other inquires please contact: drbalandjalal@gmail.com

Departments and Institutes


Research Interests

Dr. Baland Jalal's research focuses on neuropsychiatry including conditions like sleep paralysis and OCD. He has done research on sleep paralysis around the world (USA, Denmark, Egypt, Italy, Turkey and Poland). He  designed one of the first ever treatments for sleep paralysis: Meditation-Relaxation Therapy - MR Therapy (described in New York Magazine). 

With Devon E. Hinton (Harvard Medical School) he designed a mindfulness-based CBT treatment for anxiety and mood disorders. With Barbara J. Sahakian and colleagues he invented two smartphone apps to reduce symptoms of OCD. With VS Ramachandran (UC San Diego) and Richard J. McNally (Harvard) and colleagues he proposed the use of the rubber hand illusion to treat OCD.


  • experimental medicine
  • cognitive
  • behaviour
  • psychiatry
  • neuroscience

Key Publications

Jalal, B. (2021). “Men fear most what they cannot see.” Sleep paralysis “ghost intruders” and faceless "shadow-people"—the role of the right hemisphere and economizing nature of vision. Medical Hypothesis. Details.

Hinton, D. E. & Jalal, B. (2020). Transdiagnostic multiplex CBT for Muslim cultural groups: Treating emotional disorders.  Cambridge University Press. Details

Jalal, B, Moruzzi L, Zangrandi A, Filardi M, Franceschini C, Pizza F, Plazzi G (2020). Meditation-relaxation (MR therapy) for sleep paralysis: A pilot study in patients with narcolepsy. Frontiers in Neurology. Details.

Jalal B, Samuel RC, Robbins TW, Sahakian BJ (2020). Obsessive-compulsive disorder—contamination fears, features and treatment: Novel smartphone therapies in light of global mental health and pandemics (COVID-19). CNS Spectrums. Details.

Jalal, B., McNally, R. J., Elias, J., & Ramachandran, V. S. (2020). "Vicarious exposure”—"spooky action” at a distance in obsessive-compulsive disorder. Journal of Obsessive-Compulsive and Related Disorders. Details 

Jalal, B., McNally, R. J., Elias, J., Potluri, S., & Ramachandran, V. S. (2020). Contaminating rubber hands ("multisensory stimulation therapy”) to treat obsessive-compulsive disorder. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 13, 414. Details

Jalal, B., Eskici, H. S, Acarturk, Z. C., Hinton, D. (2020). Beliefs about sleep paralysis in Turkey: Karabasan. Transcultural Psychiatry. Details.  

Jalal, B., Kruger, Q., & Hinton, D. E. (2020). Culturally adapted CBT (CA-CBT) for traumatised indigenous South Africans (Sepedi): A randomised pilot trial comparing CA-CBT to applied muscle relaxation. Intervention 18(1), 61-65. Details.

Jalal, B., Romanelli, A., & Hinton, D. E. (2020). Sleep paralysis in Italy: Frequency, hallucinatory experiences, and other features.  Transcultural Psychiatry. Details.

Wróbel-Knybel, P., Karakuła-Juchnowicz, H., Flis, M., Rog, J., Hinton, D. E., Boguta, P., Jalal, B. (2020). Prevalence and clinical picture of sleep paralysis in a Polish student population. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 17, 3529. Details.

Jalal, B.,  Bruhl, A., O'Callaghan, C., Piercy, T., Cardinal, R. N, Ramachandran, V. S., &  Sahakian, B. (2018). Novel smartphone interventions improve cognitive flexibility and obsessive-compulsive disorder symptoms in individuals with contamination fears. Scientific Reports, 8, 14923Details.

Jalal, B. (2018). The neuropharmacology of sleep paralysis hallucinations: Serotonin 2A activation and a novel therapeutic drug. Psychopharmacology, 235(11), 3083-3091. Details.

Jalal, B. & Ramachandran, V. S. (2017). The twin vantage point paradox: a thought experiment. The Journal of Mind and Behavior38(2), 111-118. Details

Ramachandran, V. S. & Jalal, B. (2017). The evolutionary psychology of envy and jealousy. Frontiers in Psychology8, 1619. Details.

Jalal, B., Kruger, Q., & Hinton, D. E. (2017). Adaptation of CBT for traumatized South African indigenous groups: examples from Multiplex CBT for PTSD. Cognitive and Behavioral Practice, 25(2), 335-349. Details.

Jalal, B. & Ramachandran, V. S. (2017). Sleep paralysis, "the ghostly bedroom intruder" and out-of-body experiences: the role of mirror neurons. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 11:92. Details.

Jalal, B. (2017). Response: "Commentary: How to make the ghosts in my bedroom disappear? Focused-attention meditation combined with muscle relaxation (MR therapy)—a direct treatment intervention for sleep paralysis". Frontiers in Psychology8, 760Details.

Jalal, B. & Ramachandran, V. S. (2017). “I feel your disgust and relief”: can the action understanding system (mirror neuron system) be recruited to induce disgust and relief from contamination vicariously, in individuals with obsessive–compulsive disorder symptoms? Neurocase, 23(1), 31-35. Details.

Jalal, B. (2016). How to make the ghosts in my bedroom disappear? Focused-attention meditation combined with muscle relaxation (MR therapy)—a direct treatment intervention for sleep paralysis. Frontiers in Psychology, 7:28. Details.

Jalal, B. & Hinton D. E. (2016) Lifetime presence and rates of sleep paralysis in Denmark of ethnic Danes and non-ethnic Danes. Psychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences, 70(6), 253-253. Details.  

Jalal, B., Samir, W. S., & Hinton D. E. (2016). Adaptation of CBT for traumatized Egyptians: Examples from culturally adapted CBT (CA-CBT). Cognitive and Behavioral Practice, 24(1), 58-71. Details.

Jalal, B., Krishnakumar, D., & Ramachandran, V. S. (2015). “I feel contaminated in my fake hand”: Obsessive-compulsive-like disgust sensations arise from dummy during rubber hand illusion. PLoS one, 10(12), e0139159. Details.

Jalal, B., Romanelli, A., & Hinton, D. E. (2015). Cultural explanations of sleep paralysis in Italy: The pandafeche attack and associated supernatural beliefs. Culture, Medicine and Psychiatry, 39(4), 651-664. Details.

Jalal, B. & Hinton, D. E. (2015). Sleep paralysis among Egyptian college students: Association with anxiety symptoms (PTSD, trait anxiety, pathological worry). The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 203(11), 871-875. Details.

Jalal, B. & Ramachandran, V. S. (2014). Sleep paralysis and the shadowy bedroom intruder: The role of the right superior parietal, phantom pain and projection of body image. Medical Hypotheses, 83(6), 755-757. Details.

Jalal, B. & Ramachandran, V. S. (2014). A pilot investigation of “metaphor blindness” in a college student population. Medical hypotheses82(6), 648-651. Details.

Jalal, B., Settlage, B. L., & Ramachandran, V. S. (2014). Science, epistemology, and future prospects for psychoanalysis. Neuropsychoanalysis16(2), 115-127. Details.

Abuhamdeh, S., Csikszentmihalyi, M., & Jalal, B. (2014). Enjoying the possibility of defeat: Outcome uncertainty, suspense, and intrinsic motivation. Motivation and Emotion39(1), 1-10. Details.

Jalal, B [Baland], Simons-Rudolph, J., Jalal, B [Bamo], & Hinton, D. E. (2014). Explanations of sleep paralysis among the general population in Egypt and Denmark. Transcultural Psychiatry51, 158-175. Details.

Jalal, B. & Hinton, D. E. (2013). Rates and characteristics of sleep paralysis in the general population of Denmark and Egypt. Culture, Medicine and Psychiatry, 37, 534-548. Details.

Jalal, B. & Amir, N. (2013). Semantic priming and interpretation bias in social anxiety disorder. Cognitive Therapy and Research, 38, 23-32. Details.


Other Publications

Acarturk, C., Alyanak, B., Cetinkaya, M., Gulen, B., Jalal, B., Hinton, D., E. (In press). Adaptation of transdiagnostic CBT for Turkish adolescents: Examples from Culturally Adapted Multiplex CBT (CA Multiplex CBT). Cognitive and Behavioral Practice.

Hinton, D. E. & Jalal, B.  (In press). Dimensions of culturally sensitive CBT: Application to Southeast Asian populations. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry.

Acarturk, Z., C., Abuhamdeh,, S., Jalal, B., Unaldi, N, Alyanak,, B., Cetinkaya, M, Gulen, B, Hinton, D.E. (In Press) Culturally adapted transdiagnostic CBT for SSRI-resistant Turkish adolescents: A pilot study. American Journal of OrthopsychiatryDetails.

 Jalal, B., Romanelli, A., & Hinton, D. E. (In press). Sleep paralysis in Italy: Terrifying ghosts and witches and symptoms of psychopathology (PTSD and Depression). Psypag Quarterly.

Becker, M., Vignoles, V. L., Owe, E., Easterbrook, M., Brown., R Smith, P. B.,...& Abuhamdeh, S. (2017). Being oneself through time: Bases of self-continuity across 55 cultures. Self and Identity, 1-18. Details.

Vignoles, V. L., Owe, E., Becker, M., Smith, P. B., Easterbrook, M., Brown., R...& Bond, M. H. (2016). Beyond the 'East-West' dichotomy: Global variation in cultural models of selfhood. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 145(8), 966. Details.

Smith, P. B., Vignoles, V. L., Becker, M., Owe, E., Easterbrook, M. J., Brown, R…. Harb, C. (2016). Individual and culture-level components of survey response styles: A multi-level analysis using cultural models of selfhood. International Journal of Psychology, 51(6), 453-463. Details.

Jalal, B. (2016). Sleep paralysis. In World Book studentDetails.

Jalal, B. (2016). Lucid dreams. In World Book studentDetails.

Jalal. B. (2015). Further thoughts on “metaphor blindness”: Implications and future avenues of research. Medical hypotheses, 85(6), 1044. Details.

Hinton, D. E. & Jalal, B. (2014). Parameters for creating culturally sensitive CBT: Implementing CBT in global settings. Cognitive and Behavioral Practice, 21, 139-144. Details.

Hinton, D. E., Ojserkis, R., Jalal, B., & Hofmann, S. G. (2014). Loving kindness to treat traumatized refugees and minority groups: A typology of mindfulness and nodal network model of affect. Journal of Clinical Psychology69, 817-828. Details.

Hinton, D. E. & Jalal, B. (2014). Guidelines for the implementation of cultural sensitive CBT among refugees and globally. Intervention, 12, 78-93. Details.

Jalal, B. (2014). Evidence for tai chi as a therapeutic mind-body intervention for sleep: A commentary on Raman et al.  Journal of Sleep Disorders and Therapy, 3, 2167-2177. Details.

Jalal, B., Taylor, C. T., & Hinton, D. E. (2013). A comparison of self-report and interview methods for assessing sleep paralysis: A pilot investigation in Denmark and the United States. Journal of Sleep Disorders: Treatment and Care, 3, 9-13. Details.

Owe, E., Vignoles, V. L., Becker, M., Brown, R., Smith, P. B., Lee, S. W… & Jalal, B. (2013). Identifying the belief component of individualism-collectivism: Contextualism across 36 national groups. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 44, 24-45. Details.

Haddara, N., Jalal, B., Anderson, G. D., Amer, M. M., & Simons-Rudolph, J. M. (2012). Profile and predictors of voluntary civic engagement at a private university in Egypt. The Global Journal of Community Psychology Practice. Details.

Amer, M. & Jalal, B. (2011). Individual psychotherapy/counseling: psychodynamic, cognitive behavioral and humanistic-experiential models. In Ahmed, S. & Amer, M. (Eds). Counseling Muslims: Handbook of Mental Health Issues and Interventions. New York, NY: Routledge, pp. 87-117. Details.

Jalal, B. (2011). [Review essay of the film Rushmore]. Fort da 17, 104-109. Details.


Magazine articles and literature 

Jalal, B. Sleep paralysis and the Monsters inside your mind. Scientific American. Details.

Jalal, B. The Neuroscience of Sleep Paralysis (2017). Thrive GlobalDetails.


Selected Press 

University of Cambridge Research News - Meditation-Relaxation Therapy may Offer Escape from the Terror of Sleep Paralysis, August, 2020. Details

BBC – OCD: Rubber Hand Party Trick Could Help Sufferers, New Study Ways. January, 2020. Details.

The New York Times – Feces-smeared fakes: Scientists use rubber hands in OCD therapy, January 2020. Details.

New Scientist - Illusion involving fake poo and rubber hand tested on people with OCD, January 2020. Details.

University of Cambridge Research News - Contaminating a fake rubber hand could help people overcome OCD, study suggests. January 2020. Details.

NBC News - What your jealous feelings are telling you (and what you should do about them), May 2019. Details.

The Times - Videos on app help patients resist obsessive compulsions, November 2018. Details.

British Psychological Society - New intervention using a phone app may help people with OCD, November 2018. Details.

BBC two (Victoria Derbyshire Live) - Smartphone App for OCD, October 2018. Details.

The Week - Who is the Hat Man? The Nightmare Shared by Dreamers Across the World, October 2018. Details.

The Telegraph - Are You Suffering from Sleep Paralysis? October 2018. Details.

Chicago Tribune - New Hope for Those with OCD Who Scrub Their Hands until They Bleed, October 2018. Details.

The Washington Post - Obsessive-Compulsive disorder: The Simple Videos that Researchers Hope Will Help People who Scrub Their Hands Until They Bleed, October 2018. Details.

University of Cambridge Research News - Brain Training App Helps Reduce OCD Symptoms Study Finds (Researcher Profile: Baland Jalal), October 2018. Details.

ABC news - Obsessive Compulsive Disorder: Handwashing Video App Could Help Treat Those with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, October 2018. Details

PBS (NOVA) - The Nightmare of Sleep Paralysis, August 2018. Details.

Newstalk (Futureproof) - Body Identity Integrity Disorder (radio/podcast interview), March 2018. Details.

New Scientist - Watching Others Wash Their Hands May Relief OCD Symptoms, August 2017. Details

The Pulse (NPR) - Sleep Paralysis: How a Deep-Sleep Glitch Can Conjure the Boogeyman, July 2017. Details.

New York Magazine - A Neuroscientist Tried to Help Me Overcome My Sleep Paralysis, July 2016. (On MR-Therapy for sleep paralysis). Details.

Business Insider - A Researcher May Have Found a Way to Treat Sleep Paralysis, The Terrifying Experience of Waking Up Unable to Move, January 2016. (On MR-Therapy for sleep paralysis). Details.

Discover Magazine - To Study OCD Scientists get Their (Rubber) Hands Dirty, December 2015. (On OCD and the rubber hand illusion). Details. 

The Guardian - Vampires, Ghosts and Demons: The Nightmare of Sleep Paralysis, October 2015. Details.