Friday, February 25, 2011


Abductions and Aliens

The firestorm that was touched off by Budd Hopkins' wife recently has sent ufology into a tizzy. Essentially, his wife, who was with him while he did his investigations and hypnotic regressions, is "whistle-blowing" that he and other abduction researchers have been sloppy and/or unprofessional in many, if not all cases.

Supporters of both sides of the debate have been lining up to add their comments about the current state of abduction research. I'm staying out of it.

Well, until now. Back in 1999, my book Abductions and Aliens was published, giving my take on the field at that time. In the book, I was not overly optimistic about how abduction research was going. I had been involved in dozens of abduction cases by that time, and had formed my own theories are to what was really going on.

The book is still in print and available at:

Here is an excerpt from the book:

The Abductee Problem

One of the strongest arguments against abductees "really" being in receipt of direct (and often physical) alien contact is the greatly conflicting nature of the experiences they recall. In very few cases are the aliens described exactly alike (with identical planets of origin, identical spacecraft, identical medical instruments, identical relayed intent, etc.). Admittedly, some abductee researchers are attempting to identify matching symbols observed by some abductees on board the ships, and there are some cases that have some similar characteristics, but for the most part, each abductee case possesses some unique facets. This may be partly explainable due to differing recollections by disparate abductees and deliberate interference by the aliens themselves, but these could be considered arm-waving exercises. (One ufologist even has suggested that, because the abduction stories are so bizarre and incredible, abductions are proof that aliens have their own warped sense of humour.)

Although most abductees seek help from ufologists, it is increasingly apparent that ufology is ill-prepared to deal with them. An abductee case is far more complicated than an ordinary sighting of a UFO. Even though abductions are often considered the fourth category of close encounters, they are extremely different from the lesser three categories and should be placed in a category or series of categories of their own.

It is usually recognized that UFO investigators do not investigate UFOs, but the reports made by the witnesses themselves. Already, ufology is once-removed from pure scientific investigation and could be considered more analogous to memorate studies by anthropologists. Abduction cases are even more humanistic; there is often no definite "time" of an event, and it might not "take place" in a precise location. They are extremely subjective and may represent something beyond our investigation.

This is why psychologists are more suited to abduction studies. Researchers often have found that abductees have emotional and psychological problems that may or may not be directly related to their experiences. Some appear to have a history of sexual or domestic abuse, and others exhibit symptoms of stresses within their lives. (It is possible that it is because of such backgrounds that they are "chosen" or otherwise sensitive to abduction-like encounters. It is even possible that lifelong abductions are the cause of the psychosocial problems.) Regardless of the cause and effect, however, an abductee seeking help from a UFO buff is asking for trouble. Simply put, few ufologists have the therapeutic tools and expertise required to properly unravel an abductee's experiences within a framework of personal problems.

Alien Abduction Syndrome (AAS)

I've stopped counting how many people have come to me asking for help or guidance in understanding their abduction experiences. Not only that, I've come to identify the "usual" story:

"I had this dream, well at least I thought it was a dream, that these little creatures were in my room and I could understand them even though they weren't really talking and it hurt when they touched me and then I seemed to be floating somewhere not in my room and they told me some things I couldn't understand and then I was suddenly back in my room. But I think they are still around."

I've read John Mack's epic case study Abductions and I tend to see the points of many of his critics. Far from the aliens preparing his clients for some future use and teaching them about ecology and spirituality, I think some of those in his group have problems in dealing with our reality.

Not that that's such a bad thing, mind you.

Now, I'm not a psychologist by training, nor a psychiatrist, so I'm sure my diagnosis is going to draw some flames. But I think that what we have here is something I might call Alien Abduction Syndrome (AAS).

For some reason, certain people appear to think they have been contacted by aliens. This could be because of various contributing factors: dissatisfaction with life; stress; domestic problems; family problems; peer pressure; rape trauma; chemical imbalances; or child abuse. Perhaps any one of these or any combination of them. I believe that thorough studies might help to understand AAS. (It's even possible that aliens are actually doing some abductions, but that's another matter.)

Let me backtrack, however. First of all, I don't think that all people who report such experiences have AAS. Secondly, in most cases, AAS is not a "problem."

The real problem, though, is how to deal with such cases. Most ufologists are woefully inadequate as abduction therapists/counselors. Investigating a nocturnal light and counseling an abductee are two very, very different things. You just don't "file" an abductee case away as you would a daylight disc case. Furthermore, ufologists are not trained as psychologists (generally), though John Musgrave published a paper in the late 1970's or the role of the UFO researcher as a counselor and healer. It was ignored at the time.

However, there's another side to this issue, and more questions. Who is appropriate and/or adequate as a counselor/investigator of abductee cases? What relationship should there be between a clinical psychologist and a UFO researcher?

Want to read more? Check out my book.


When looking at any of the 'abduction questionnaires,'I'm struck by how many of the questions I can say yes to. In my case, I look elsewhere for the explanations for morning nose-bleeds and figures around the bed(epistaxis and sleep paralysis). If I was predisposed to attribute these occurrences to aliens; to whom would I turn to? If it was any of the abduction researchers, I'd rapidly find myself confirming their belief system and my own.

A difficult business...
I've read your book. A very open and sensible analysis, derived from facts as you found them. Then I read David Jacobs' "Secret Life." Clearly, this man should be in jail.
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