What is a Phi Am?

Phi Am (ผีอํา) is a spirit being from Thai folklore, similar to a drude or a mare, as well as the medical term for sleep paralysis.


Thais believe in a kind of ghost called Phi Am, which sits on a person’s chest at night and causes sleep paralysis. The term “Phi Am” is also used in medical parlance for sleep paralysis. It is said that these spirits can cause severe discomfort and even lead to suffocation death.

Phi Am allegedly prefer to terrorize men rather than women. To protect themselves from them, men often apply lipstick or put on women’s clothes before going to bed. The Thais try very hard to avoid the attention of the spirits, and sometimes the tendency to dress up as a woman is seen as an excuse for this. The exact origins of this belief are unknown, but it remains an important part of Thai culture.

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