The alien abduction experience is a term used to describe the many claims and assertions that beings from another planet are kidnapping individuals, termed abductees, for various medical or sexual procedures. Occasionally these reports involve demonic beings as well, but for the most part are interplanetary beings according to most stories and reports. Most of the encounters are presented as terrifying or humiliating and demeaning... but there are those that claim to have enjoyed the experience and speak of enlightenment and transformation. These reports have come from the four corners of the globe, although the majority of them are based in the United States. The many skeptics are quick to point out that the stories should not be taken literally, and give a wide range of alternate theories and opinions. In fact, more often than not, most skeptic place the tales under folk myth and not fact. One of the largest driving forces behind the phenomenon, has been the popular culture that has grown from it such as shows like the X-Files and the 4400
Although the great majority of scientists and researchers dismiss the reports as exaggerated or mistaken, there are those in the field that contend that what many of the people experience is genuine, at least in their eyes. With so many sincere and serious reports that appear time and again, and with the state of panic some people go through at some encounters, they believe this adds credibility to many of the experiences.
As reported in the Harvard University Gazette in 1992, Dr. John Edward Mack investigated over 60 claimed abductees, and "spent countless therapeutic hours with these individuals only to find that what struck him was the 'ordinariness' of the population, including a restaurant owner, several secretaries, a prison guard, college students, a university administrator, and several homemakers
'The majority of abductees do not appear to be deluded, confabulating, lying, self-dramatizing, or suffering from a clear mental illness,' he maintained. He has encountered only one person who showed psychotic features."
Research in the field is at best very loose, and slow moving. It is believed shame and self-doubt may be the obstacle to more a convincing and thorough investigation. Some abduction reports are quite detailed. An entire subculture has developed around the subject, with support groups and a detailed mythos explaining the reasons for abductions: The various aliens (Greys, Reptilians, Nordics and so on) are said to have specific roles, origins, and motivations. Abduction claimants do not always attempt to explain the phenomenon, but some take independent research interest in it themselves, and explain the lack of greater awareness of Alien Abduction as the result of either extraterrestrial or governmental interest in cover-ups. Others still are intrigued by the entire phenomenon, but hesitate in making any definitive conclusions. Emergency room physician Dr. John G. Miller asks, "How can a person have any firmly held belief about this when it's so mysterious? The opinions of the true believers are hard to swallow; and the opinions of the die-hard skeptics are not based on reality either. There is some middle ground ... It's clear that this is some sort of powerful subjective experience. But I do not know what the objective reality is. It's as if the evidence leads us in both directions." Similarly, the late Harvard psychiatrist John Mack concluded, "The furthest you can go at this point is to say there's an authentic mystery here. And that is, I think, as far as anyone ought to go."
Whether or not the phenomenon is real (at least in the eyes of the abductee) or imagined or even outright fabricated, it's popularity is not shrinking and can be easily understood. Professor Terry Matheson speaks of tales of abduction as absorbing and intriguing. In most horror films and stories, people are free to return to normal life after the story is done and told. Not so with abduction... where the safety of home is small comfort to forces that seem to know no boundary. The very myth and backbone of the abduction phenomenon is that there is no escaping if they want to take you. Of course it is not just the tales told or the reports read... even actual footage of victims or recordings of their experiences can be a harrowing experience for many. Hypnotic regression has brought out shocking details, and the attitude and the repeating of the experience often times leave little doubt to many observers or listeners as to the authenticity of the abduction itself. The abductee is believed to be either an incredible actor or at the very least has went the a very traumatizing situation. The reactions to such hypnotic studies vary from calm demeanors, to violent outrages or humiliation and shame. Crying and pleading is very common, and even cases of apparent sexual longing and desire.
Matheson writes that when compared to the earlier contactee reports, abduction accounts are distinguished by their "relative sophistication and subtlety, which enabled them to enjoy an immediately more favorable reception from the public."
General Encounter CharacteristicsEdit
Of the cases, many of the details are very much the same. In others there are details that seem to change, sometimes by location, sometimes by race etc... However, there are enough details that remain constant that many argue as the typical abduction experience. This experience is called a ==Close Encounter of the Fourth Kind==.
The following characteristics are the most oftentimes reported in any abductee claim. This is not to say they are all reported in each one, but of the various stories and retellings, these are in the most abundant. There is of course a great amount of skepticism over these, but the fact remains they appear again and again throughout tales of close encounters.
The following events are placed in the order they most often are reported in whether or not they are always related.
- Capture (Abductees taken from room/area and find themselves in the "ship")
- Examination (a seeming medical or physiological exam)
- Conference ("Aliens" speak with abductees)
- Tour (Not always described but some abductees claim to be shown the ship)
- Loss of Time (Many abductees suffer from periods of time removed from their memory, often coming back to them later)
- Return (Returned, sometimes with environmental changes)
- Theophany (a profound mystical experience, a feeling of oneness with God or the universe)
- Aftermath (Sickness, new phobias, ridicule, etc.)
It must be stated that most of these types of retellings are usually associated with the small grey or green shaded aliens people have labeled as "greys". Their appearance is short, with large black eyes and overly large heads. They are the most common alien appearance reported.
Dr. Mack goes in his papers to discuss the similarities in many of the abduction cases including paralysis or immaterial transportation. This is a common sensation among many claimants, and the beam or shaft of light is a great part of many of these tales as well. Surgical probing is often reported, and many come back with stories of implantations or devices placed within their bodies. Missing time is of course a constant as well. And finally there are the less common reports of sexual contact, whether exploratory and examining or outright copulation. This is not reported nearly as much as the others characteristics, but it seems to be on the rise more. Many of these later cases seem to be cases of attempted hybrid reproduction. With these theory comes an entire load of many claims mostly within the conspiracy genre. Of course there are cultural differences to be looked at. It is recorded that most of the "malignant abductions", the sexual attacks and the violent examinations, take place mainly within the United States. Where as the rest of the world records mostly peaceful or beneficial encounters. Indeed, most people claim to come away comfortably and having learned something rather than the nightmarish and terrifying encounters more often reported here. This raises many questions as to the actual encounters themselves, and what there exact truthful origins are. Although the greys are the most often reported, they are hardly the only species reported. Some tales speak of their captors as not even remotely humanoid. However, most of these reports are again, are more constant in the USA than any other place. Outside of the US, aliens species are much more various and sometimes imaginative. In fact, many of these so called alien encounters are often times seen as demonic, or more underworldly instead of otherworldly. Depending upon the location, reports can be oddly shaped by the local culture, and although the tales often contain the same sort of mind and body control, the helplessness, the examination and sexual reproductivity... they are often described as the work of demons, monsters or other magical creatures. Many see them as the work of the devil, or in some cases God himself. Many stories are passed about such encounters by family members.
In many abduction reports, the individual or individuals concerned are often travelling by automobile at the time of the incident, usually at night or in the early morning hours, and usually in a rural or sparsely populated area. A UFO will be seen ahead, (sometimes on the road) and the driver will either deliberately stop to investigate, or the car will stop due to apparent mechanical failure. Other forms of mechanical failure and interference are also common, such as a car radio producing static or behaving abnormally. In the occasions when they have been present, animals such as dogs usually also display a heightened fear response. Upon getting out of the vehicle, the driver and passengers typically will experience a blank period and amnesia, after which they will find themselves again standing in front of their car. While they very often will not consciously remember the experience, either subsequent nightmares or hypnosis will reveal an often harrowing and invasive medical examination, sometimes involving the removal or insertion of reproductive material. In some older cases, there were also occasional reports of abductees exhibiting symptoms consistent with nuclear radiation sickness. Dr Don C. Donderi writes that "In many of these abduction accounts, there is independent confirmation of missing time--emotionally stable people arriving hours late after long or short automobile journeys. There is independent confirmation of abduction events reported under hypnosis, sometimes by non-hypnotized observers and sometimes by other hypnotized witnesses"
Antonio Villas was one of the first recorded abductions that occurred in a more modern time period. Taking place in 1957, the 23-year old Brazilian was taken from his field while plowing in the early morning of October 16th. The other famous case was the Hill abduction, which was the more famous of the two, due to its more publicized reports. Betty and Barney Hill claimed to have been abducted by unearthly beings September the 19th in 1961. This story they shared caught the world ablaze and has since been called The Hill Abduction and sometimes The Zeta Reticuli Incident.
In a four part journal, Peter Rogerson would later write:
"the growth of the abduction stories is a far more tangled affair than the 'entirely unpredisposed' official history would have us believe."
However, although extraterrestrial kidnapping did not start gaining major notice until the 60's, there were tales that were much older floating around. Some of these stories were even decades older than the Hill and Villas cases. Ufologists call these ancient cases "paleo-abductions". The term was penned by Jerome Clark. Several of the accounts make notes on some of the many cases that occurred before the more modern Hill case and such. Some of these cases even predate the reports made by Kenneth Arnold back in 1947 with his first sighting of a UFO.
- In 1896, Col. H.G. Shaw, a former editor of the Stockton, California 'Evening Mail', claimed that he and a friend, Camille Spooner, had encountered three tall, thin beings, 7 feet tall and nude, with small delicate hands and hairless except for a soft downy fur on the skin, as they were traveling near Lodi, California. The creatures had large eyes, but small mouths and ears. They carried bags with nozzles which they held to their mouths as if to breathe, and bright egg-shaped lamps. Shaw tried to converse with them, but the creatures did not understand him and only responded with a warbling, monotonous chant. The aliens tried to grab the two witnesses and drag them toward a nearby cigar-shaped airship, but because each weighed less than an ounce, they lacked the strength and finally retreated. Shaw believed that the creatures had come from Mars.
- A little over a decade later, we have the famous case of the landed craft with human-looking occupants speaking a foreign language seen by itinerant puppeteer Mr, Lithbridge in Caerphilly, Wales, on May 18, 1909. Mr. Lithbridge's sighting was just one of many reported of mysterious lights and crafts seen flying over England, Wales, and also far-away New Zealand in 1909.
- In Hamburg, Germany, at 4 AM early one morning in June 1914, Gustav Herwagen opened the door of his house and saw a shining cigar-shaped object with illuminated windows in a nearby field.
- Near Marseilles in the summer of 1921, an eight-year-old boy, "G.B.", was "abducted" by two beings in the first recorder 20th century UFO abduction, according to his letter years later in the October 23, 1954 Paris-Match. Two tall, slender "men" in flexible metal diving suits and "pliable helmets" had allegedly dragged him into an "oddly shaped tank." Then "after a while an opening appeared in the ceiling of the cabin, and in a few seconds I found myself on the ground. However, I had to walk most of the afternoon until I found myself near the road I had left five minutes before."
- The 1951 case of Fred Reagan, which was publicized by Flying Saucer Review in the late 1960s based on news clippings from 1952. Bizarre even by alien abduction standards, Reagan claimed to have been piloting his small airplane, which was struck by a UFO; the occupants (who resembled metallic stalks of asparagus) apologised, and tried to cure Reagan's cancer. Reagan reportedly died of a brain disorder not long after the alleged UFO encounter.
- A 1958 letter to NICAP asserted that two U.S. Army soldiers witnessed two bright red lights near their base. The soldiers had a strange sense of dissociation, and found themselves in a new location, with no memory of how they arrived there.
- Rogerson writes that the 1955 publication of Harold T. Wilkins's Flying Saucers Uncensored declared that two contactees, (Karl Hunrath and Wilbur Wilkinson) had disappeared under mysterious circumstances; Wilkins reported speculation that the duo were the victims of "alleged abduction by flying saucers".
- The so-called Shaver Mystery of the 1940s has some similarities to later abduction accounts, as well, with sinister beings said to be kidnapping and torturing people. Rogerson writes that John Robinson (a friend of ufology gadfly Jim Moseley) made a 1957 appearance on John Nebel's popular overnight radio program to tell "a dramatically spooky, if not very plausible, abduction tale" related to the Shaver Mystery: Robinson claimed that a friend of his had been held captive by the evil Deros beneath the Earth, and to have been the victim of a sort of mind control via small "earphones"; Rogerson writes that "in this unlikely tale that we first encounter the implants ... and other abductionist staples."
- In the 1960's Dr. R. Leo Sprinkle began researching the alien abduction claims. For years he was one of the only academic members surrendering any time to the studies. Over his research, he grew certain that the accounts told by so many were factual. He is also suspected by many to be the first to link cattle mutilation to reports of alien visitation. Sprinkle would later believe he himself had been an abduction survivor.
- Budd Hopkins became a figurehead in the 70's. A former sculptor and painter, his interest in the phenomenon, led him to use hypnosis to get more details from victims of abductions.
- The 1980's brought even more to the field. Works by Budd Hopkins, Whitley Strieber, John Mack and David M. Jacobs engrossed America. Much of the information was presented as genuine abductions, and the population devoured it. With Hopkins, Jacobs and Mack, several shifts occurred in the nature of the abduction narratives. There had been earlier abduction reports (the Hills being the best known), but they were believed to be few and far between, and saw rather little attention from ufology (and even less attention from mainstream professionals or academics). Jacobs and Hopkins argued that alien abduction was far more common than earlier suspected; they estimate that tens of thousands of North Americans had been taken by unexplained beings. Furthermore, Jacobs and Hopkins argued that there was an elaborate scheme underway, that the aliens were attempting a program to create human–alien hybrids, though the motives for this scheme were unknown. There were anecdotal reports of phantom pregnancy related to UFO encounters at least as early as the 1960s, but Budd Hopkins and especially David M. Jacobs were instrumental in popularizing the idea of widespread, systematic interbreeding efforts on the part of the alien intruders. Despite the relative paucity of corroborative evidence, Jacobs presents this scenario as not only plausible, but self-evident. Hopkins and Jacobs have also been criticized for selective citation of abductee interviews, favoring those which support their hypothesis of extraterrestrial intervention. The involvement of Jacobs and Mack marked something of a sea change in the abduction studies. Their efforts were controversial (both men saw some degree of damage to their professional reputations), but to other observers, Jacobs and Mack brought a degree of respectability to the subject. Also of note in the 1980s was the publication of folklorist Dr. Thomas E. Bullard's comparative analysis of nearly 300 alleged abductees.
- The 1990's introduced the X-Files, which made alien abduction and conspiracy theories a house hold discussion in the pop culture genre.
The belief in alien abduction is wide and varied with sometimes seemingly no two beliefs matching. From vehement denial to open acceptance, and from skeptical disbelief to intense hope. Both researchers and causal collectors find something in the field to take note of, while others just document the cases, and take an armchair involvement in the overall study. Many believe it is a literal phenomenon, aliens taking humans from their homes to experiment or breed with them for unknown purposes. Although it is one of the more fascinating explanations, it is also the most poorly received, showing little to no support from mainstream science. Skeptics have argues hallucination, schizophrenia, epilepsy and parasomnia. Sleep paralysis is very often reported along with hallucinations and sudden and unexplainable fears of something stalking or menacing you. There are also some cases where repressed memories from childhood such as sexual abuse are blamed as the culprit. It is possible that some alleged abductees may be mentally unstable or under the influence of recreational drugs, though, as noted above in one sampling of abductees studied by Mack, most abductees were "ordinary" people from all walks of life, and without obvious mental illness. One of the hardest hit "proofs" of alien abduction when it comes to reliability, is hypnosis. Despite many doctors claims that it is a proof positive method, it has also be proven that it is very easy to create a false memory created by ones own fears and desires. Furthermore, not only is it believed false, but that in fact the very act of hypnosis can aid in making the truth that much more outrageous and unbelievable.
Bub Hopkins writes this however...
" ... the Hill case bears upon one popular theory which has been widely but uncritically accepted by many skeptics: the idea that such accounts must have been implanted by hypnosis, consciously or unconsciously, or by manipulative practitioners who 'believe in' the reality of such events. Simon, who hypnotized the Hills, was avowedly skeptical about the reality of the Hills' abduction recollections. Yet the Hills stubbornly held to their interlocking, hypnotically recovered accounts despite Simon's suggestions at the end of treatment that their memories could not be literally true. It can therefore be concluded that the bias of the hypnotist had nothing to do with the content of their hypnotic recall."
In a later study spoken of by Jenny Randles, several people who had no connection to any abduction stories, nor had ever claimed to be abducted and in fact had little knowledge of such things, were asked to create in their minds and describe how they felt an alien abduction would go. The theory was that if these imaginary accounts were the same as the proposed stories of real abductees, then perhaps a pattern could be identified and the stories could be proven as fraudulent. However, the studies had little in common with the reported claims, and many of the imaginary fabrications were wildly different than what is universally reported. Randles findings were significant to many, in that people asked to describe an account that was totally fabricated were completely different than actual accounts by suspected abductees. The biggest missing element from the imaginary tales, was the medical examination.
Still aliens have been around in popular media since the 1930's, and possibly longer. Pulp magazines and sci-fi tales have written fascinating stories, with very far reaching tendencies. This skeptics claim easily influences many of the story tellers, giving them all the data they need to prefabricate a believable abduction story. In 1935, an Issue of Amazing Stories had the classic grey on the cover of one of their issues restraining and examining a woman. It is this cover that could easily led many people to start claiming to have encountered such a being over the next couple of years they contend. And since the magazines features such things has only grown, there is no shortage of information to continue to create such fantasy they claim. Still, Thomas E. Bullard asks, "If Hollywood is responsible for these images, where are the monsters? Where are the robots?" In answering Bullard's question, monsters and robots in fact are reported by abductees. In abduction cases investigated by UK UFO researcher Jenny Randles, "none involved the traditional gray figures conducting medical examinations seen in the United States. What entities did appear were mostly human or Nordic. But there was a range of others, from monsters to robots."
Another element not often mentioned as a possibility is satanic ritual abuse. Gwen Dean noted many parallels between the two types of tales and both saw a dramatic increase in the late 70's. Hypnosis was widely used in both types of cases to recover missing memories and both mysteries were common to people in their youth. Furthermore, the studies showed they both had sexual examinations, rape and breeding as a focal point and that both types of witnesses found themselves with missing time and viewing most of this in and out of consciousness. In The Demon-Haunted World astronomer Carl Sagan wrote about the theory that the alien abduction experience is remarkably similar to tales of demon abduction common throughout history. "...most of the central elements of the alien abduction account are present, including sexually obsessive non-humans who live in the sky, walk through walls, communicate telepathically, and perform breeding experiments on the human species. Unless we believe that demons really exist, how can we understand so strange a belief system, embraced by the whole Western world (including those considered the wisest among us), reinforced by personal experience in every generation, and taught by Church and State? Is there any real alternative besides a shared delusion based on common brain wiring and chemistry?"
Finally there is the theory that the entire alien among us mystery, is merely a secret government plot in studies on mind control and subliminal messaging.
Information from The Harvard University Gazette
Article located on Wikipedia
Article by Dr Don C. Donderi
More Information on Antonio Villas
Four Part article by Peter Rogerson
Several UFO Mailing List Entries
Statement by Dr. R Leo Sprinkle
Sharenet file from ParaNet concerning the works of Dr. R Leo Sprinkle
Relationships between alien abductions & OBE's
An examination of the Roper Poll
Jenny Randles My View Of Abductions from The Anomalist
Alien Abductions: Creating a Modern Phenomenon by Terry Matheson
The Ufo Experience: A Scientific Inquiry by Joseph Allen Hynek
Faces Of The Visitors: An Illustrated Reference To Alien Contact by Kevin D. Randle & Russ Estes
New Lands by Charles Fort
Close Encounters of the Fourth Kind: A Reporter's Notebook on Alien Abduction, UFOs, and the Conference at M.I.T. by C.D.B. Bryan
Abducted: How People Come to Believe They Were Kidnapped by Aliens by Susan A. Clancy
UFOs & Abductions: Challenging the Borders of Knowledge by David M. Jacobs
E.T. Culture: Anthropology in Outerspaces by Debbora Battaglia, Christopher F. Roth, David Samuels, Mizuko Ito
The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark by Carl Sagan
The Complete Book of UFOs: 50 Years of Alien Contacts and Encounters by Jenny Randles
Alien Abduction Experience and Research
Malevolent Alien Abduction Research Web Site
Australian UFO Research Network
Information on the Zeta Reticuli Incident
Ufology Information on the Roper Poll
UFO casebook Online
The John E. Mack Institute