The study of the minds of those who claim to have had “alien abductions” is far more interesting than the claims themselves.
These extraordinary claims are made from individuals for whatever reasons (and under certain circumstances) only known and kept by the claimants.
From a psychological, sociological as well as cultural viewpoint (and from an angle of human behaviorology) the study of the minds of such claimants certainly deserves more scrutiny and should not be underestimated.
UFO skeptics such as the late Phil Klass (as well as the overwhelming majority of those in the mainstream, including myself) have made some quite logical sounding comments regarding the claimants of “alien abductions”, such as “despite the fact that we humans are great collectors of souvenirs, not one of these persons (claiming to have been aboard a flying saucer) has brought back so much as an extraterrestrial tool or artifact, which could, once and for all, resolve the UFO mystery”.
But there is an interesting book written by Susan A. Clancy titled: ABDUCTED: HOW PEOPLE COME TO BELIEVE THEY WERE KIDNAPPED BY ALIENS (Harvard University Press)
Rob Hardy gives a good commentary about her interesting book:
“In the past few decades (and significantly, not before that time) there have been stories from people who have been abducted by aliens, probed, sampled, and disgorged back to try to figure out what happened. There have been those who have taken these stories at face value, most famously the late Harvard psychiatrist John Mack, who said that there was no evidence that such abductees were telling anything but the truth. Skeptics and most of his fellow academics scoffed.
Now Susan Clancy, a Harvard psychologist, has written about her own researches into participants in the phenomenon.
ABDUCTED: HOW PEOPLE COME TO BELIEVE THEY WERE KIDNAPPED BY ALIENS (Harvard University Press) explains such abductions in a way that skeptics will appreciate. However, Clancy also shows respect for the abductees she investigated, appreciating their viewpoints and explaining without condescension how such ideas came to be. The book will convert few abductees from their belief system (and Clancy shows why such a belief system is so satisfying and firmly held), but it goes far to show that they are not stupid or psychotic and they are not just seeking publicity.
As far as the physical reality of such abductions, Clancy (unlike Mack) is firmly in the skeptics’ corner, and gives reasons to be sure that no such events are happening, and if they are happening, extraordinary evidence is needed make the events credible; no one has come close to producing such evidence.
But she points out, the proper scientific response is not, “Why investigate abduction since it is not really happening?” but rather “What sort of people are reporting being abducted, and why?” And it was this she set out to do; after she got approved by Harvard’s Institutional Review Board to do the research, she started running newspaper ads: “Have you been abducted by aliens?”, and giving a number which abductees could call.
She describes the fifty subjects as “generally warm, open, trusting, and friendly”; they liked fantasy, tarot, and astrology. But there are plenty of people who have such characteristics. Why do some become convinced they have actually been abducted? The startling answer is that they have first hand experiences of abduction that registered in their minds as surely as last night’s dinner registered in yours. In the abductees’ cases, the memories seem to come from sleep paralysis, a limbo state between sleeping and waking that is not at all uncommon. Before flying saucer films, there was sleep paralysis, and those suffering from it reported interacting with Satan, witches, or dragons; nowadays, it’s extraterrestrials.
But why would someone want to foster memories that are so obviously painful? “The contact these people have had with aliens doesn’t just feel real – it feels transformative.” The abductees reported that their abductions were the most traumatic experiences in their lives, but also the most positive. They felt changed, improved, more at peace, more at one with the universe as they experienced it. All of them denied they would choose not to be abducted, if they could go back again. In a provocative final section, Clancy demonstrates that Saint Teresa’s account of her encounter with an angel is very close to accounts abductees give of their own encounters. She shows that abductees get the same benefits of meaning, reassurance, and spirituality that believers in ordinary religions do. ABDUCTED is a small book, a wonderful primer for those who have never had the abduction experience themselves but are interested in the often strange inner experiences of their fellow humans. Clancy writes with wit and with genuine sympathy and understanding of her subjects, and readers will find them far less strange than they had initially seemed.”
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