UFO UpDates
A mailing list for the study of UFO-related phenomena
'Its All Here In Black & White'
Location: UFOUpDatesList.Com > 1997 > Nov > Nov 6

Re: Solved Abduction Cases

From: Peregrine Mendoza <101653.2205@compuserve.com> [Peter Brookesmith]
Date: Thu, 6 Nov 1997 22:02:05 -0500
Fwd Date: Thu, 06 Nov 1997 22:49:05 -0500
Subject: Re: Solved Abduction Cases

The Duke of Mendoza present his compliments.

The following paper may be of interest to those who remember where
this thread started - with the matter of whether any abduction
cases in the literature had been solved.

It comes from:

Enjoy, and ponder!

Yours &c
Patacake D. Masterbaker
Mince Pie


REALL News, Vol 3 No 7 (July 1995)


Martin Kottmeyer

"Don't be afraid to believe. This is the most significant
development in the history of man." The words are those of a
visionary, the newest defender of the reality of alien
abductions. He is a psychiatrist addressing a group of
colleagues. They aren't buying it.

"With all due respect, doctor. Everyone knows there are people
who gravitate to this kind of thing. They read about it, see it
on TV, in the movies. This is the pathology of a space-age
psychosis. People don't see the Virgin Mary anymore -- now they
see alien baby snatchers."

The psychiatrist is prepared. "Robert Lifton's work on survivors
-- we've all studied Lifton -- the people that he writes about --
the survivors of Hiroshima, the Holocaust, Vietnam -- they all
have the exact same symptoms as the people I've told you about;
fear, anxiety, nightmares, suspicion -- suspicion especially of
the mental health community who consistently misdiagnose them.
These are reactions to real trauma. There's no fantasy here."

The exchange is from the 1992 mini-series Intruders. The
visionary and skeptic are fictional, but the argument is familiar
enough. John Mack, the Harvard psychiatry professor who authored
the controversial book Abduction was not the inspiration for the
Richard Creena character, but the writer admitted it "ends up
being more like John Mack than anybody." Mack said it was kind of
spooky how things in it happened to him, notably the credibility
questions. People in the production had sat in on his therapy
groups. One can find Lifton's name in the acknowledgments of
Mack's book.

This was not the first time that Lifton's name had been invoked
by defenders of the abduction phenomenon. Editorializing in the
January/February 1987 International UFO Reporter Jerome Clark
observed, "A milestone of sorts may have been reached on April
10, 1987, when Dr. Robert J. Lifton, one of this country's most
prominent psychiatrists, acknowledged on NBC's Today Show that
the UFO abduction phenomenon has yet to be explained and merits
serious investigation." In the October 1988 Fate, he regarded
Lifton's statement as emblematic evidence of "a quiet revolution"
that had taken place as scientific, medical-health professionals
displayed a growing involvement, believing the evidence pointed
toward "an extraordinary cause" and "a potentially explosive
payoff." Elsewhere, he also thought it indicated abductions
constituted now "a subject that could be discussed seriously
outside the pages of tabloids." (J. Gordon Melton's New Age
Encyclopedia, Gale Research, 1990, p. 473.)

An instructor at Yale, Lifton has unambiguously high status. He
authored Death in Life, an often cited study of the psychological
aftermath of Hiroshima. It won the National Book Award in the
Sciences and has had enduring respect among people in the social
sciences. Even his most derisive critic, Adam Garfinkel, who
lumps Lifton with Mack as Psycholeftists for their anti-nuclear
politics, grants he is a serious writer whose "views, unlike
Mack's, haven't departed from prevailing notions of reality, at
least not yet." Maybe not the highest praise, but you should have
seen the rest of the article. ("Psychobabble and Its Discontents"

I missed Lifton's appearance on the Today Show and have to admit
I didn't quite know what to make of this purported milestone.
There were no direct quotes and no details. It might have been
tact or deferring to the Slater study based on a casual reading.
How deeply into the subject he was could only be termed unknown.
I was curious about it in an idle way since I had read Death in
Life and knew he once regarded alien invasion films as a reaction
to the radical impairment of life-death balance and helplessness
spawned by the threat of nuclear annihilation. Japan had made a
number of such films in the Fifties. So, too, did America. Why he
should think any differently about the persecution fantasies of
UFO believers didn't quite make sense. I guessed it would only be
a matter of time before he wrote a paper or book on the matter.
Time passed; nothing appeared. I forgot about it.

Then, recently, I learned there was a sequel of sorts. Lifton had
written a book six years later called The Protean Self: Human
Resilience in an Age of Fragmentation (BasicBooks, 1993). The
book is a descriptive enterprise which details the psychological
adaptations that part of humanity has created to deal with the
amazing cultural transformations of the 20th century. It's a
good, solid work which strikes a fair balance with regard to the
implications of these adaptations. Neither utopian or dystopian,
it's a refreshing change of pace from the general run of
psychological tomes one encounters. Quietly waiting to be found
is half a paragraph devoted to the alien abduction phenomenon.

It's in a section titled "The Deracinated Self." Lifton
essentially considers alien abduction experiences part of the
dissociative constellation of psychological byproducts of our
rapidly changing times. The current era is "an age of numbing"
that has left the Self detached and disaffiliated from the
outside world. It displays impaired symbolization with a marked
separation of thought from feeling. He cites a paper on multiple
personality disorder that considers the abduction experience a
"mythic version of childhood abuse."

This is not exactly the same as calling it a "space-age
psychosis," but there a radical presumption here of pathology
that mirrors the skeptic in Intruders. Both share the suspicion
that this is fallout of the times we are living in; for Lifton,
however, the dissociation started decades before Sputnik and
Apollo. Curiously, Lifton is proposing a pathology that seems
more disturbing than the explanations proposed by most of the
debunkers and psychosocial adherents on record. Ironic indeed,
when you consider Lifton was being pointed to as an authority
demonstrating how wrong-headed the skeptics were in thinking
abductees shouldn't be believed. Turnabout being fair play,
shouldn't we now wonder if Lifton's stance represents a milestone
in a heretofore silent counter-revolution pointing to ordinary
causes and a potentially boring outcome of this program of

I'd counsel against it. Frankly, Lifton's stance shows no deep
acquaintance with the abduction phenomenon. It is rooted entirely
in a paper by Nicholas Humphrey and Daniel C. Dennett titled
"Speaking for Our Selves: An Assessment of Multiple Personality
Disorder" (Occasional Paper # 8, Center on Violence and Human
Survival, John Jay College of Criminal Justice: The City
University of New York). The paper is a philosophical meditation
on the multiple personality problem rooted in interviews with
multiples and their therapists. The authors deal with the
abduction myth in only one paragraph in a section explicitly
admitted to be random speculation. Here it is in its entirety:

'In contemporary America, many hundreds of people claim to have
been abducted by aliens from UFO's. The abduction experience is
not recognized as such at first, and is described instead as
"missing time" for which the person has no memories. Under
hypnosis, however, the subject typically recalls having been
kidnapped by humanoid creatures who did harmful things --
typically involving some kind of sex-related surgical operation
(for example, sharp objects being thrust into the vagina). Are
these people recounting a mythic version of an actual childhood
experience? During the period described as missing time, was
another personality in charge -- a personality for whom the
experience of abuse was all too real?'

No interviews with abductees are cited and their knowledge of
abduction lore can only be termed as hearsay in form. They are
asking questions, not arguing positions. As it happens there are
known cases of abductees with multiple personality disorder, but
if anyone has come forward to reveal an alien-ascribed missing
time was confused with a personality shift in which the person
was doing things with other people, it hasn't been mentioned. The
involvement of childhood abuse was noted by several workers,
notably Kenneth Ring and Susan Marie Powers, but the linking of
specific motifs to documented episodes of abuse has yet to be
demonstrated. There are good reasons to be cautious in accepting
this as a blanket explanation. Dreams and fantasies tend to be
more closely related to ongoing mental conflicts in the
individual rather than his early life. Some of D. Scott Rogo's
work is more supportive of this life crisis view of abductions.
Early abuse may only predispose the person to paranoid styles of
expectation and interpretation in a vague way. The specific
motifs may be borrowed from a variety of sources; lore about
other abductees, distorted memory residues from earlier in the
day, movies, TV, creative imagining, and the vast pool of
transpersonal imagery we ascribe to the human unconscious. Recall
the material Stanislav Grof described in his LSD studies.

What is amusing here is not so much that Lifton was wrong, but
that he didn't care enough about the abduction phenomenon to give
it more than a few seconds' thought. Lifton, after all, was truly
into bigger business. Protean adaptations are something all of us
encounter in people we know, perhaps even in ourselves. Abductees
are a fringe phenomenon which matter to a tiny percentage of
people. Contrary to the visionary in Intruders, he blatantly
doesn't consider them the most significant development in man's
history. They rate half a paragraph, which sounds about right for
a Yale man. I can certainly respect that.

I wonder though whether ufologists will appreciate what it means.


Excerpt from The Protean Self

Editor's note: The following is full text of the paragraph that
Kottmeyer referred in Lifton's latest book:

"Historical forces may also be contributing to a dissociative
constellation that includes: multiple personality and borderline
states as clinical syndromes; a general increase in child abuse,
especially sexual, and particularly by parents and other
relatives; and a very different social manifestation, the
dramatic expansion of the UFO (unidentified flying object)
phenomenon in the form of sightings and descriptions of "missing
time" attributed to "abductions" by extraterrestrial creatures.
There is at least the possibility that these three elements are
interrelated. Nicholas Humphrey and Daniel Dennett raise the
possibility that much of the UFO experience, particularly its
component of medical or surgical procedures ostensibly performed
on abductees by humanoid creatures, could be a "mythic version"
of actual child abuse. There is some evidence of increased
incidence of child abuse in people reporting such abductions;
but even if this correlation is uncertain, all of these states
and our ways of talking about them could be greatly influenced
by the vast dissociative trend in our time. Also related to the
dissociative constellation could be the massive expansion of
cult formation and of contemporary fundamentalism; and the
increasing evidence of a "false memory syndrome," in which
accusations of early parental abuse are made by adult children
on the basis of claimed recovery of memories that had ostensibly
been repressed for decades, the memories sometimes including
satanic rituals -- the entire sequence considerably influenced
by therapists and support groups focused on such repressed

- Robert J. Lifton, The Protean Self: Human Resilience in an Age
of Fragmentation. New York: BasicBooks, pp. 210-11.


Search for other documents from or mentioning: 101653.2205

[ Next Message | Previous Message | This Day's Messages ]
This Month's Index |

UFO UpDates Main Index

UFO UpDates - Toronto - Operated by Errol Bruce-Knapp

Archive programming by Glenn Campbell at Glenn-Campbell.com