High Strangeness: Possible Abduction, Or Something

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Possible Abduction, Or Something

Well, the Men In Black haven't shown up yet, and I'm kind of pissed. The guy who warned me/threatened me with a visit from the intimidating MIB said it was guaranteed that they would be making an appearance, because everyone he talks to about his UFO experiences gets a visit from the MIB. It almost makes me wonder whether he was telling me the truth.

Moving on, this week has become the week I work for CUFOS, the J. Allen Hynek Center for UFO Studies in Chicago. First, I was asked to write Hynek's bio for CUFOS' new website, which I was honored to do, but which turned out to be really hard. I've been writing so much about the good Doctor for such a long time that it was a terrific challenge to write a brief account of his life that didn't feel as though I was skipping over anything important. Because, of course, it's all important.

Then last night, just as I was about to finish up the short-ish yet long-ish Hynek bio, I got an email from Mark Rodeghier, the Scientific Director of CUFOS, asking if I would be willing to follow up on a UFO sighting report. In his email, tantalizingly titled "Possible abduction, or something," Mark said that a woman had called CUFOS wanting to talk to someone about "some odd events" she had experienced. "Whenever people leave a message like that," he explained, "it invariably means that they think that at some point they may have been abducted, or had some type of very close encounter."

Because she now lived fairly close to me, Mark thought it would make sense for me to call the witness, and I was intrigued enough to agree. I got her on the phone, and as so often happens, she was completely surprised that someone was responding to her report. Which, as always, I found kind of charming. She asked a few questions about my background and experience, and we talked about the kinds of things other people report and why they report them, and in time she felt comfortable telling me about her experiences...

Turned out Mark was absolutely right about her. The witness had a history of close encounters to tell me about, and I found her story very compelling. Her immediate issue is that she regularly has prophetic dreams, but the prophecies seem to center on odd, unimportant things, like what's going to be on TV that night or something a friend is going to say. On the surface it doesn't make much sense, nor does it seem very extraordinary. But then she went on to tell me that she has a long history of sleep paralysis, and that her mom used to tell her that it meant she had "a witch riding her back," which has got to be the greatest creepy folk term ever. That's when I really got interested...
"The Nightmare" by John Henry Fuseli. Did this guy nail it or what?

The first significant event she recalled was a dream, that maybe wasn't a dream, that she had when she was very young. In the dream or not dream, her whole family woke up in the middle of the night and silently walked downstairs to the living room, where there was a big picture window looking out at the front lawn. They stood there staring expectantly out the window, and then a disc of light came down in the front yard and "things" started coming out of it and approaching the house. They were humanoid with "weird heads" and they seemed to wear some kind of coveralls. They started coming into the living room, and there the memory ends. She doesn't remember where or when she woke up...

The second event took place some years later. She woke up in her bed in the middle of the night and found she couldn't move or speak. A being appeared in her room, and she described it as being transparent but with a glowing blue outline that gave it form and depth. She was terrified... The entity moved in an odd staggered manner towards her bed, then touched her arm. He fear immediately vanished, and she felt "like a teacup being filled with hot water."  A sense of peace and well-being swept over her, and she sensed the entity telling her that she was ok and shouldn't be afraid... She told me it felt as though the entity was downloading the message to her, or as thought her head was "tuning into a radio station."

Now, there's no way to prove or disprove any of this. It all happened many years ago, and the witness can't say with any certainty whether these were dreams or real events; and, to her credit, she's not trying to claim that the events were anything but dreams. But... but... there's no denying that she recalls the events with astonishing detail, and, she has a striking talent for expressing her feelings and sensations associated with the events. I'm going to echo Dr. Hynek here and say that I believe the witness experienced something real, but I can't say what it was.

I'll be reporting in to Mark later today, and it will be interesting to see how CUFOS handles a case like this versus how MUFON would handle it. MUFON would have this woman inside a Faraday Cage in minutes, but what will CUFOS do? This seems like a likely candidate for time-regression hypnosis, but I'm not the guy to make that call.

More to come... I hope.

14 comments:

Terry the Censor said...

> This seems like a likely candidate for time-regression hypnosis

Oh, man.

Read this post that features Betty Hill warning against these type of stories.
http://thebiggeststudy.blogspot.ca/2014/04/abduction-and-hypnosis-letter-from-past.html

Mark OC said...

That's a good article, and you can't fault Betty Hill's opinions on alien abductions, but the kind of contactee she's describing isn't entirely like the witness I talked to. She was not "insisting" that she was "a contactee" at all; the events she described took place around 20 years ago.

Terry the Censor said...

Yes, she doesn't insist, but neither is she certain what is a dream and what is a memory. The inability to distinguish internal mental events from external reality is a very specific problem called a "source monitoring error." A person like that will only be harmed by regression hypnosis if she is assured her dreams are memories and that confabulations are also memories -- and they're all memories of aliens.

That is how abduction investigators have tended to proceed and Betty Hill was strongly against their practices.

Mark OC said...

Mark R. and I are in agreement that the best way to handle this person's report is to just leave it alone and see if she remembers any new details on her own over time. Her story does seem to fit in with a pattern of similar situations that were prevalent in the '90s, which is interesting from a historical perspective. According to Mark, CUFOS has traditionally taken a 'wait and see' attitude towards this type of case, which seems the prudent thing to do. Now that the witness has had a chance to share her story with someone who didn't ridicule her, she may not need to go any further with it.

Mark OC said...

Mark R. and I are in agreement that the best way to handle this person's report is to just leave it alone and see if she remembers any new details on her own over time. Her story does seem to fit in with a pattern of similar situations that were prevalent in the '90s, which is interesting from a historical perspective. According to Mark, CUFOS has traditionally taken a 'wait and see' attitude towards this type of case, which seems the prudent thing to do. Now that the witness has had a chance to share her story with someone who didn't ridicule her, she may not need to go any further with it.

Saucerspud said...

Interesting case for sure. From your description of the witness, she seems like a level-headed, "normal" person. The one thing I do find puzzling is that her current situation concerns prophetic dreams, possible sleep paralysis and nothing more? That her only memories of encountering beings and strange lights may or may not be dreams from many years ago?

Personally I'm in the camp of the wait and see approach. Perhaps her just relating these experience to you may jar her memory more. From what I've read, regression hypnosis isn't exactly reliable. Still, some very intriguing stuff.

So when will your new Hynek bio go like on the CUFOS site?

Mark OC said...

Yea, that's the funny thing: the things she's experiencing now seem so trivial and benign next to her earlier experiences that it doesn't seem they could possibly be troubling to her! But to me that added to her credibility; she wasn't making any of it out to be anything bigger that it was.

I don't know the timetable for the launch of the new website, but I'll put up a notice as soon as I hear anything!

Terry the Censor said...

> that added to her credibility; she wasn't making any of it out to be anything bigger that it was.

That would be an interesting blog topic for another day: witness reaction as a measure of credibility.

The abduction literature is rife with the notion that fear indicates a true event (because who would fantasise about horrible things happening to them?). Yet if an experiencer keeps it together and seems rational, that too is taken as a sign of credibility.

I'm reading Incident at Exeter -- which does not involve abductions -- and I see Fuller having it both ways there too.

Mark, since you interview witnesses (I only read about them), I bet you have to grapple with witness credibility all the time. Sometime in the future, I'd be interested to read a post all about your evaluation methods. It can't be easy!

The Ghost of John Mack said...

Whether it's termed "time regression" or "regressive" hypnosis, both are serious mistakes for anyone not clinically trained and medically certified to attempt on a UFO and/or abduction witness. Very big mistake.

It would be a serious, egregious error in judgment because UFO researchers and investigators, of any stripe, are not normally trained in the subtleties of "hypnotic regression" in any any attempt to either "recover" lost, forgotten, or repressed memories, since to do so implies the possibility of leading the witness, leading to confabulation, and thus to permanent, implanted memories being so synthesized.

BUFORA has had a standing ban against hypnosis of UFO or abduction witnesses going on now almost 25 years. It was included into their standard ethical and proceedural rules for a very good reason.

The true scandal of Jacobs, Hopkins, and many other amateur "hypnotherapists" still operating today, often with MUFON blessing, who are allegedly treating UFO or alien abduction reporters, is that it is often a positive feedback loop of sorts, giving the witness and the investigator what they are seeking, more than an effective or productive or reliable tool and technique to surface genuine details of real, but either forgotten (due to time passed)or suppressed (due to various factors, such as psychic trauma or deeply negative experiences) artifacts of memory.

It is dangerous. Anyone using such psychological techniques with board certification, peer review, clear, written protocols made known to the witness, etc., carries a hazard that is essentially insurmountable and that can lead to irreversible false memories if used improperly or by amateurs (especially UFO "hypnotists"), IMHO.

It is wrong. Immoral. Damaging.

It should be stopped, and made illegal.

Before further damage is done.

Remember Carol Rainey and especially Emma Woods!

The Ghost of John Mack said...

"Anyone using such psychological techniques with board certification, peer review, clear, written protocols made known to the witness..."

Correction:

Meant "without board certification"

saucerspud said...

Very well spoken for a ghost. I agree wholeheartedly!

The Ghost of John Mack said...

"...or something" (else) would be my guess, rather than alien abduction, by comparison of probabilities.

But then, that's just me... ;-)

Mark OC said...

My mistake mentioning hypnosis in the first place. Good on you all for pointing out how dangerous and unethical that would be. It reminds me the 1973 Charlie Hickson and Calvin Parker abduction case in Pascagoula, MS. James Harder of APRO wanted very much to hypnotize the two men, and Hynek was ok with that, but the two men were afraid of the procedure. The investigators called in a local psychiatrist William Bridges, hoping he could persuade the two witnesses to go under. When the two men finally went under and Harder brought them back to the abduction event, they both became hysterical and Bridges demanded that Harder stop before he caused the men any psychic damage... Harder had little choice but to comply, but the damage, apparently, had been done. As we all know, Calvin Parker has had numerous breakdowns since then, and has been institutionalized off and on over the years.

Terry the Censor said...

James Harder had an agenda. In their book Abduction Enigma, Kevin Randle, Russ Estes and William Cone make it clear that Harder coached Patty Price (aka Pat Roach) to report her experience as a fearful one. This fits what I wrote above, that strong emotional reactions are equated with truth-telling.