High Strangeness: Hypno-UFO

Friday, July 11, 2014


When I recently visited UFO historian and blogger Michael Swords in Michigan, he lent me a big box of cassette tapes related to my work on the career of Dr. J. Allen Hynek; the deal is, I convert the tapes to mp3s then burn them to a cd and send the cd and original cassettes back to Michael. It's great for both of us, as I get access to priceless, and sometimes truly obscure, material for my book, and I'm able to help Michael in his efforts to digitize his huge collection.

The material on the tapes dates from 1952 up into the mid-1980s, and runs the gamut from radio shows to public speeches to interviews with UFO witnesses to loud, sometimes rowdy conversations with Hynek's "Invisible College" colleagues. The recordings are immensely valuable to me and to UFOlogy in general, and I feel very fortunate to have been granted access to them by their custodian.

One tape in particular really surprised me. The label reads "Charlie Hickson Hypnosis Session, Sprinkle & Harder." When I saw that title my pulse raced; I was holding in my hand an actual recording of a hypnosis session with one of the two men allegedly captured by floating robot-like beings and taken into a spaceship where Hickson was examined by a floating eye! Holy fucking shit! How did I get so lucky??
The Pascagoula "robot"

I have written extensively about the 1973 Pascagoula, Miss., abduction involving Hickson and his friend Calvin Parker, so there's no need to go over the story again in detail, but it was a really big deal when it happened. Dr. Hynek stated, after he had met and interviewed the two men and witnessed a first, unsuccessful attempt to hypnotize them, that he believed they had experienced something very real. When he made his statement at a press conference he told the reporters that these two men must not be made fun of... They didn't listen to him, of course.

So, to the tape. Hynek is not heard on the tape; only UFO researchers Dr. James Harder and Dr. Leo Sprinkle, and, of course, Hickson. It takes forever for Harder to get Hickson under, but when he does it doesn't take long for things to get freaky... Here is Dr. Sprinkle asking Charlie about the "eye" that came out of the wall and seemed to examine him as he was paralyzed on board the ship:

Sprinkle: What's happening now?
Hickson: They got Calvin, too. They got Calvin, too.
Sprinkle: Yea? (pause) What's happening now?
Hickson: They've taken me; they've taken me inside.
Sprinkle: Okay, they've taken you inside...
Hickson: (inaudible)
(Interruption as cassette is flipped over to side 2)
Hickson: (terrified) There's something in front of me.
Sprinkle: Can you describe what it is, what it looks like?
Hickson: (terrified) It's coming out of the wall! It's coming out of the wall! Oh, what are they going to do?
Sprinkle: What does it look like?
Hickson: (whimpering) It's getting close. It's getting closer.
Sprinkle: It's getting closer...
Hickson: (terrified) Closer... closer... closer... (pause) I can't close my eyes, I can't close my eyes...
Sprinkle: So you had trouble closing your eyes? (long pause) You'll be okay. Let your body relax. Just see those reflections as though they were from a distance... What's happening now?
Hickson: (calmer) It's going; it's going down under me.
Sprinkle: (inaudible)
Hickson: They's something; they's something in the wall in front of me.
Sprinkle: Something else, in front of the wall?
Hickson: (shaky) Yes, they's something else in the wall in front of me.
Sprinkle: Uh-huh. Can you describe it? How does it look?
Hickson: I can't see it clear. The light's too bright. Too bright, too bright... my eyes...
Sprinkle: Your eyes really, really feel it... (pause) That thing on the wall; does it look like it's a big thing or a small thing? Does it look...
Hickson: I can't see it. I don't know.
Sprinkle: But you know it's there.
Hickson. It's there. Yeah, it's there.
Sprinkle: Any sound, or...
Hickson: No sound.
Sprinkle: Does it look like it's moving? (pause) Does it look like it's moving? Is anything happening with it?
Hickson: There's something there.
Sprinkle: There's something there, okay.
Hickson: There's something inside the wall.
Sprinkle: Something inside the wall. Do you go over to it? Do you get closer to the something over there?
Hickson: I'm above it...
Sprinkle: So you stay where you are, but you see something over in the wall. Is anything happening with it?
Hickson: It's coming under me. It's coming under me but (inaudible).
Sprinkle: Okay.

At this point Harder takes over from Sprinkle and starts to ask Charlie about the robot creatures that kidnapped them; I'll cover that in a future installment, because, really, this is to be savored...

The recording is really quite awesome, and it gives me honest to God goosebumps every time I listen to it. Charlie is scared. The strong visual sense that he displays in describing the events -- being able to see to just enough to scare him out of his mind but not able to see everything that's going on -- because he was allegedly paralyzed right down to not being able to close his eyes -- makes it all very real and very terrifying to me. What an amazing tape.

Stay tuned for a vivid description of the robot creatures...


Captain Obvious said...

You do realize, don't you, that recorded testimony solicited by two very pro-ETH investigators using hypnosis is bound to be, at the very least, rather unreliable and likely confabulated, right?

Mark UFO'Connell said...

Ha! Seems like all the comments I get these days start out with "You do know, don't you...?"
I DO know that Harder was involved in the first, spectacularly unsuccessful attempt to hypnotize Hickson and Parker, and his action may have led to Parker's subsequent mental breakdown, so it's fair to question his motives and ethics. Nonetheless, the recording is compelling; are you saying that Charlie Hickson was complicit in some sort of "confabulation?"

Some Guy on the Innernets said...

The idea that aliens visit here with unknown agendas and inscrutable technology just scares the shit out of a lot of people. Given the common human habits of denial and rationalization, the whole study is biased from the beginning, one way or another. Honest researchers take all that into account. Unfortunately, those are rare. Know-it-all commenters on the internet are seldom even aware of their own biases, and of course will never admit to them if they are. It gets very tiresome very quickly.

Mark UFO'Connell said...

Amen to that.

Terry the Censor said...

Mark, keep a close eye on Harder's questions to Hickson.

Kevin Randle on James Harder:

First is Pat Roach, the Utah woman who said that she and a number of her children had been abducted. She said that she awakened, believed there had been an intruder in the house, then called the police. Over the next two years she became convinced that the intruders had been alien creatures.

It is quite clear to me that Roach was led into her more detailed descriptions by Dr. James Harder who was looking for some validation of the Hill abduction. It is also clear that Roach took cues from the magazine article I had written about another abduction. [Randle knows this because Roach wrote him a letter about the article.] Her descriptions of the interior of the craft, for example, mirrored those in that article.

Between sessions, Harder discussed with Roach other abduction cases. Just before the session in which Roach revealed that she had been "medically" examined on the craft, Harder told her about Betty Hill’s examination on board a craft. Harder’s leading questions took her into other arenas.


Randle published a transcript of Harder's hypnosis sessions with Roach in his book Abduction Enigma. Randle makes it clear that Harder coached Roach to describe her "experience" as frightening. In UFO books, strong emotions are taken as a marker of sincerity (a common theme in Incident at Exeter and Interrupted Journey). It seems Harder was goosing the "data."

Mark UFO'Connell said...

Hey Terry, as I stated earlier, I agree that it's fair to question Harder's motives and ethics. However, when you support your point with the writings of someone who is at this very minute being lambasted by many in the UFO community for his apparent duplicitiness in the "Roswell slides" affair, you're not doing yourself any favors.
By the way, how did KR get his hands on the transcripts of this woman's hypnotic sessions with Harder?

Unknown said...


The discovery of the Hickson session is huge. Keep up the awesome work! I am looking forward to your next blog!


Anonymous said...

"...when you support your point with the writings of someone who is at this very minute being lambasted by many in the UFO community for his apparent duplicitiness in the "Roswell slides" affair, you're not doing yourself any favors."

You mean, "lambasted" by debunkers, pseudo-skeptics, and other duplicitous individuals, with many of their own ethical lapses, narcissistic personal agendas and dishonest dealings, don't you?

Mark UFO'Connell said...

Oh, right, you mean people who haven't lost their objectivity.

Anonymous said...

"People who haven't lost their objectivity"? That is truly absurd.

You really don't have a clue about the real story behind the "Roswell slides" controversy, Mark. It's been unfolding for almost two years now.

Maybe that story will be told one day. But this is not the venue for that.

In the meantime, you really should learn not to obliquely parrot the slanderous lies of others on the outside (who've clumsily inserted themselves into other people's private business) to bolster your false impressions, based on minimal information and the ongoing deception of those outsiders. You do not know of the facts to which you refer to, and are speaking from ignorance.

If anything, Randle was too honest, and confided in someone who was primed to harm him viciously, and who betrayed Randle in a reprehensible effort to boost his own meager reputation amongst his rabid fellow debunkers. There's a lot more that's transpired behind the scenes than you know. Don't drink the kool-aid -- it's poisoned.

There are a large number of camouflaged piranha in the very small pond of online ufology. You haven't been around long enough to realize just how deceitful, psychologically disturbed, and nasty some of these very small fish really are. Caveat emptor.

Some Guy on the Innernets said...

Sometimes ufology reminds me of a bunch of drunks sitting around arguing about whether the Dodge Dart or the Ford Pinto is the world's fastest car. Other times, the fuss has no connection to any reality at all.

That's really cool that you are digitizing those tapes, Mark. Thank you. You are probably familiar with the efforts of Wendy Connors over the years to save all the old ufo related recordings she could. She did a bang up job, too. I bought most if not all the CDs she offered, and it's invaluable stuff. Most people have not heard of those recordings, and I'm sure very few who have are aware they can now be downloaded for free. With permission, I understand.


There's just nothing like hearing the actual people involved in some amazing events telling their stories in their own words. Everyone who ever reported on these events framed the story to suit themselves or their employers, so getting it straight from the witnesses' mouths is fascinating and sometimes very entertaining.

Now I will be accused of being a silly bleever because Wendy was too slow that one time to disavow any agreement with that one goofball...

Mark UFO'Connell said...

Thanks, Some Guy! I consider it an honor and a privilege to be able to preserve these recordings. Someday soon I need to blog about the unsung hero who recently digitized Michael Swords' entire basement full of priceless documents; now that's a story!