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  • 1. The Best Selling Ufology Books Collection www.UfologyBooks.com
  • 2. GOLDSMITHS DEPARTMENT OF PSYCHOLOGY PS53020B: Anomalistic Psychology Lecture 7: The Psychology of Alien Contact and Abduction ClaimsRecommended Reading:French, C. C. (2001). Alien abductions. In R. Roberts & D. Groome (eds.). Parapsychology: The Science of Unusual Experience. London: Arnold. Chapter 8, pp. 102-116.French, C. C., Santomauro, J., Hamilton, V., Fox, R., & Thalbourne, M. A. (2008). Psychological aspects of the alien contact experience. Cortex, 44, 1387-1395 [Available for download from www.goldsmiths.ac.uk/apru].Holden, K. J., & French, C. C. (2002). Alien abduction experiences: Some clues from neuropsychology and neuropsychiatry. Cognitive Neuropsychiatry, 7, 163-178. [Reprinted in S. A. Spence & P. W. Halligan (eds.), 2002, Pathologies of Body, Self and Space. Hove, UK: Psychology Press.]Topics Covered:1. Introduction.2. Psychological approaches to alien contact and abduction claims.3. Related anomalous memory effects.4. Conclusion.1. IntroductionAlthough there have been sightings of UFOs (unidentified flying objects) throughout history, themodern era can be dated back to 24 June, 1947, when pilot Kenneth Arnold saw nine UFOswhilst flying near the Cascade Mountains in Washington. In 1952, USAF launched ProjectBluebook to investigate sightings. The investigation concluded that there was no evidence for theextraterrestrial hypothesis.Opinion polls show a widespread belief that UFOs are evidence of visitations from anotherplanet. Many people report having themselves seen UFOs. If by that they mean literally an“unidentified flying object,” then there is no problem. Most people, however, mean ETs of somekind. It goes without saying that it is a huge inferential leap to jump from lights in the sky ofunknown origin to aliens from another planet.J. Allen Hynek devised a categorisation system for “close encounters”. The most common typeof UFO experience consists of a sighting with no physical evidence of any kind. This is knownas a “close encounter of the first kind.” The vast majority of such sightings can be explained interms of the constructive nature of human perception and memory. Careful investigationfollowing a UFO report will usually reveal it to have a prosaic explanation. The most commoncause of UFO reports is the bright planet Venus. Other common UFOs include aeroplanes(especially those carrying advertising displays), rocket launches, meteorites, and weather 1
  • 3. balloons. It might seem ridiculous to claim that anyone could mistake Venus for a spaceship butnumerous accounts show that this happens frequently and that, furthermore, many elaboratedetails are added as a result of top-down processing (see Hines, 2003, for many examples).Close encounters of the second kind are those that involve some kind of physical evidence inaddition to a sighting. None of the evidence that has been produced provides convincingevidence of extraterrestrial contact. Photographic evidence can usually be explained in terms ofover-interpretation (e.g., of blemishes produced during processing or of naturally occurringphenomena that the photographer was not aware of at the time) or as hoaxes (Hines, 2003).Close encounters of the third kind are those in which contact is made between human and alien.The first report of contact between a human and an ET took place in 1952. George Adamskiclaimed to have met a visitor from Venus in the Californian desert. One of the earliest claims ofactual abduction, sometimes referred to as “close encounters of the fourth kind”, was the case ofAntonio Villas Boas in 1957 in Brazil. The case of Betty and Barney Hill contains many of theelements that characterise modern abductee claims. The couple claim that while driving fromMontreal to New Hampshire on the night of September 19, 1961, they spotted a UFO and later,under hypnosis, they reported that they had been taken aboard the spaceship and medicallyexamined by the aliens. Sceptics argue that: (i) the “UFO” was in fact the planet Jupiter, (ii) the“missing time” was reported inconsistently, was not noticed until weeks later (after questioningby UFOlogists) and, besides, the Hills had taken a tortuous route, (iii) hypnosis is mostemphatically not a reliable means for recovering memories, and (iv) a “star map” produced byBetty bears no close resemblance to any particular group of stars contrary to claims byUFOlogists.Communion, by Whitley Strieber (1987), was written as an allegedly true account of the author’sown terrifying experiences. Philip Klass (1989) has presented a critique of Strieber’s claims.Klass points out that Strieber reports a life filled with many bizarre experiences. Budd Hopkins’(1987) book, Intruders, claimed that alien abductions were much more common than generallybelieved and that sexual abuse is a common element of such abductions. Hopkins places a lot ofsignificance upon the phenomenon of “missing time” and frequently uses hypnotic regression to“uncover” memories of alien abduction.The following is a typical account of an alien abduction, a composite produced by Blackmore(1994, p. 30) based upon many accounts she has collected: I woke up in the middle of the night and everything looked odd and strangely lit. At the end of my bed was a 4 feet high grey alien. Its spindly, thin body supported a huge head with two enormous, slanted, liquid black eyes. It compelled me, telepathically, to follow and led me into a spaceship, along curved corridors to an examination room full of tables on which people lay. I was forced to lie down while they painfully examined me, extracted ova (or sperm) and implanted something in my nose. I could see jars containing half-human, half-alien fetuses and a nursery full of silent, sickly children. When I eventually found myself back in bed, several hours had gone by.There is less variation in the accounts given recently than in the early days before this scenariohad become so culturally embedded. These days, the aliens are usually “greys” and the accountinvolves being taken on board the aliens’ spaceship and being medically examined. Other 2
  • 4. common elements in the classic scenario include tours of the aliens’ ship, trips to otherplanets, and the receipt of messages to humanity. The late John Mack, a professor ofpsychiatry at Harvard and Pullitzer Prize winner, published a book declaring that “theseaccounts are not hallucinations, not dreams, but real experiences.”Whitley Strieber (1998) claimed to have received almost a quarter of a million letters fromindividuals claiming alien contact. It is often claimed that many more people haveexperienced alien abduction than actually report it. There are two reasons for this. First,people may reasonably conclude that they will not be believed and will be ridiculed if theytell others of their bizarre experience. A second reason is that it is claimed that the aliens areable to erase the memories of the abductees for the experiences. It is further argued thathypnosis is effective in releasing the victims’ memories from this amnesic block.A random sample of around 6000 American adults was surveyed by the Roper organisationregarding unusual experiences (Hopkins, Jacobs, & Westrum, 1992). Included in the itemspresented were five which Hopkins et al. claimed were often indicative of an alien abductionexperience (the percentages in brackets indicate those who said it had happened to them atleast once):• Waking up paralysed with a sense of a strange person or presence or something else in the room. [18%]• Experiencing a period of time of an hour or more in which you were apparently lost, but you could not remember why or where you had been. [13%]• Feeling that you were actually flying through the air although you didn’t know how or why. [10%]• Seeing unusual lights or balls of light in a room without knowing what was causing them or where they came from. [8%]• Finding puzzling scars on your body and neither you nor anyone else remembering how you received them or where you got them. [8%]Hopkins et al. claimed that positive responses to four or more of these items indicated probableabduction by aliens. Extrapolating from the 2% meeting this criterion in their own sample, theyargued that 3.7 million Americans had been abducted by aliens, the vast majority of whomwould have no conscious memory of such an episode. As Philip Klass (1997) points out, if 3.7million Americans had been abducted between 1961 (when the first such case is alleged tohave occurred) and the time the survey was carried out, the rate of abductions must be about340 Americans every single day of the year! Such a figure must strain credulity somewhat.However, it probably is the case that several thousand people worldwide do have consciousmemories of being the victims of alien abduction. Apart from a minority of cases (e.g., TravisWalton), the claimants appear to be sincere.Many commentators and much media coverage take the abduction accounts at face value andoffer them as evidence of extraterrestrial contact. It is often claimed that the reason behind theabductions is that the aliens are engaged in a sinister cross-breeding project, the aim of whichis to produce hybrid creatures which are half-human, half-alien (e.g., Hopkins, 1987; Jacobs,1998). Many researchers claim to have several records of so-called Missing Embryo/FoetusSyndrome in their files. Despite this, not one single convincing documented case has ever 3
  • 5. been presented to the wider scientific community (Randle, Estes, & Cone, 1999).It is also claimed that the aliens frequently implant small devices into the bodies of theirunwilling victims. Despite repeated promises from UFO researchers, no such implant hasever been produced. On occasions, items which abductees sincerely believed to have beenalien implants have been analysed. They have turned out to have mundane explanations – forexample, in one case, an “implant” turned out to be a dental filling (Blackmore, 1999)! Thereis no strong evidence in support of the ET hypothesis as an explanation of UFOs. This doesnot mean that there is no intelligent life elsewhere in the universe.2. Psychological Approaches to Alien Abduction(i) PsychopathologyAlthough data are limited, those which are available suggest that major psychopathology isno more common amongst those claiming alien contact than among the general population(e.g., Bartholomew, Basterfield, & Howard, 1991; Bloecher, Clamar, & Hopkins, 1985;Mack, 1994; Parnell & Sprinkle, 1990; Rodeghier, Goodpaster, & Blatterbauer, 1991;Spanos, Cross, Dickson, & DuBreuil, 1993).Having said that, the data do suggest that abductees are not psychologically representative ofthe population as a whole. In the study by Parnell and Sprinkle (1990), those who claimed tohave communicated with aliens “had a significantly greater tendency to endorse unusualfeelings, thoughts, and attitudes; to be suspicious or distrustful; and to be creative,imaginative, or possibly have schizoid tendencies” (p. 45). Rodeghier et al. (1991) reportedrelatively higher levels of loneliness, unhappiness, and poorer sleep patterns. Mack (1994)reported high levels of childhood trauma, as did Ring and Rosing (1990). The latterinvestigators also reported that, as children, abductees were more sensitive to “non-ordinaryrealities”. Stone-Carmen (1994) found that a staggering 57% of her sample of abducteesreported suicide attempts.(ii) Fantasy-pronenessGiven the overlap between the characteristics of the fantasy-prone personality and the typicalabductee, it is often asserted that fantasy-proneness plays an important role in explainingreports of alien abduction (e.g., Bartholomew & Howard, 1998; Nickell, 1997). The evidencesupporting such a link is, however, mixed at best (Appelle, Lynn, & Newman, 2000;Newman, 1997; Newman & Baumeister, 1996a, 1996b). Studies which present datasupporting the link tend to be based upon biographical analysis (e.g., Bartholomew et al.,1991; Nickell, 1997). However, attempts to test the hypothesis directly by measuring fantasyproneness with questionnaires have not offered much support (e.g., Spanos et al., 1993;Rodeghier et al., 1991). A recent study by French et al. (2008) did find evidence of adifference in scores on a fantasy proneness questionnaire between a group of participantsclaiming alien contact and a matched control group.Ring and Rosing (1990) reported that their UFO experiencers were not, in general, morefantasy-prone than controls. However, they reported that as children they were more sensitiveto “non-ordinary realities”. 4
  • 6. (iii) Dissociation and Childhood TraumaDissociative tendencies (i.e., the tendency for some mental processes to temporarily “splitoff” from the normal stream of consciousness) have been shown to be higher in thoseclaiming alien contact than control groups (e.g., Powers, 1994; French et al., 2008).Tendency to dissociate is known to be associated with histories of childhood trauma(including sexual, physical and emotional abuse) which in turn are correlated with fantasyproneness. It has been argued (see, e.g., Lynn, Pintar, & Rhue, 1997) that the tendency todissociate is a defensive mechanism which allows traumatised children to escape theunbearable reality of their lives by entering a more acceptable fantasy world.Several studies have noted that the incidence of reported childhood trauma appears to behigher amongst abductees than amongst the general population (e.g., Mack, 1994; Ring &Rosing,1990). Research into paranormal belief in general shows that paranormal belief isassociated with both fantasy proneness and reported childhood trauma (e.g., Irwin, 1991,1993; Lawrence, Edwards, Barraclough, Church, & Hetherington, 1995). There are severalpossible interpretations of this reported pattern of correlations.(iv) Hypnotic RegressionThe widespread use of hypnotic regression by investigators such as Hopkins (1987) andMack (1994) has been condemned by many critics as being responsible for the formation offalse memories of alien abduction rather than the retrieval of repressed memories of actualevents (Baker, 1992, 1997a, 1997b; Klass, 1989; Newman & Baumeister, 1996a, 1996b,1998; Randle et al., 1999).Lawson (1984), in collaboration with McCall, hypnotised eight participants and asked themto simply imagine that they had been abducted by aliens. Not only did they “readily respondto an initial suggestion with an elaborate and detailed story, with little need for proddingalong the way, but the contents bore striking similarities to alleged real abductions, both inmore obvious matters and in odd, minute details” (Bullard, 1989).(iv) False MemoriesClancy, McNally, Schacter, Lenzenweger, and Pitman (2002) compared three groups ofparticipants in terms of susceptibility to false memories, assessed using Roediger andMcDermott’s (1995) word-list paradigm. Clancy et al. showed that participants withconscious memories of alien abduction were more susceptible to false memories using thistechnique, in comparison to a control group of participants who did not believe themselves tohave been abducted by aliens. They were also more susceptible to false memories comparedto a group who did believe they had been abducted, but had no conscious memories of theevent, believing themselves to be suffering from amnesia for the event.French, Santomauro, Hamilton, Fox, and Thalbourne (2008) compared 19 “experiencers”(i.e., individuals who claimed to have had contact with aliens) with an age- and gender-matched control sample. They found that the experiencers had significantly higher scores onmeasures of tendency to dissociate, absorption, fantasy proneness, and paranormal belief andexperience, all of which have been shown to correlate with susceptibility to false memories.However, no significant difference was found between the groups in terms of susceptibility to 5
  • 7. false memories as assessed by the DRM task.(v) Sleep ParalysisThe most frequently endorsed item which Hopkins et al. (1982) claim is evidence of an alienabduction is, “Waking up paralysed with a sense of a strange person or presence orsomething else in the room”. This is a concise description of the experience of sleep paralysis(see French, in press; French & Santomauro, 2007; Santomauro & French, in press), which isa standard symptom of narcolepsy but can occur quite commonly in the general population(e.g., Everett, 1963; Dahlitz & Parkes, 1993). The muscles of the body are paralysed duringREM-sleep, presumably to prevent one from performing the movements associated withone’s actions in a dream. During sleep paralysis, however, one is consciously aware of thefact that one cannot move. Furthermore, there is often a terrifying sense of a malign presence.Fortunately, sleep paralysis is a transient state. Approximately 25% to 40% of the generalpopulation report some experience of it. It may be an isolated or repeated occurrence.Sleep paralysis is likely to be accompanied by hypnagogic and hypnopompic imagery, whichconsist of anomalous sensory experiences that occur either preceding sleep or uponawakening, respectively. These sensations include both auditory and visual hallucinations(often of lights or strange figures in the bedroom), pressure on the chest, and floatingsensations. Cheyne, Rueffer, and Newby-Clark (1999, p. 319) proposed a neurological modelof sleep paralysis and associated imagery involving three factors: One factor, labeled Intruder, consisting of sensed presence, fear, and auditory and visual hallucinations, is conjectured to originate in a hypervigilant state initiated in the midbrain. Another factor, Incubus, comprising pressure on the chest, breathing difficulties, and pain, is attributed to effects of hyperpolarization of motoneurons on perceptions of respiration. These two factors have in common an implied alien “other” consistent with occult narratives identified in numerous contemporary and historical cultures. A third factor, labeled Unusual Bodily Experiences, consisting of floating/flying sensations, out-of-body experiences, and feelings of bliss, is related to physically impossible experiences generated by conflicts of endogenous and exogenous activation related to body position, orientation, and movement.The same core experience has been reported throughout history in many different cultures,although the interpretation of the experience may vary (Hufford, 1982). In bygone centuries,such experiences were likely to be explained as attacks by demons who came in the night andhad their wicked way with their helpless victims. The incubus was the male version and thesuccubus, the female. Strieber’s experiences often appear to be descriptions of sleep paralysisepisodes.Sufferers may well present themselves for hypnotic regression with the strong suspicion thatthey have been abducted by aliens. A full and detailed account of the standard alienabduction scenario is the most likely outcome. Sleep paralysis is at the heart of many alienabduction claims (e.g., Baker, 1997b; Blackmore, 1994; Newman & Baumeister, 1996a;Randle et al., 1999). French, Santomauro, Hamilton, Fox, and Thalbourne (2008) found 6
  • 8. higher levels of self-reported sleep paralysis in a group of experiencers than in a controlgroup.(vi) Temporal Lobe Activity and Tectonic Strain TheoryAn interesting hypothesis has been advanced by Michael Persinger to account not only for someUFO abduction experiences, but for a variety of other ostensibly paranormal experiences (e.g.,Persinger, 1990; Persinger & Valliant, 1985). He believes these weird experiences may be due toabnormal activity in the temporal lobes. Such activity is thought to be associated with a varietyof mystical and unusual perceptual experiences. At the extreme end of the continuum oftemporal lobe activity are temporal lobe epileptics, who sometimes report that a seizure ispreceded by odd sensations, deja vu, hallucinations, out-of-body experiences and mysticalfeelings.Persinger has developed a technique whereby he claims he can induce such abnormal bursts offiring in the temporal lobes of volunteer subjects. Reports of weird bodily sensations haveresulted (e.g., Blackmore, 1994). Persinger and colleagues have reported that they were evenable to induce the subjective appearance of an apparition in a susceptible volunteer using thistechnique (Persinsinger, Tiller, & Koren, 2000).The only attempt at direct replication ofPersinger’s work to date (by Granqvist et al., 2005) failed to replicate such results and Granqvistet al. suggested that the most parsimonious explanation of the findings was in terms ofparticipant suggestibility and poor double-blinding in Persinger’s studies.It has similarly been claimed that the presence of infrasound may be associated with atendency for susceptible individuals to report mildly anomalous sensations typicallyassociated with “haunted” locations. The “Haunt” project (French et al., in press) involved anattempt to construct an artificial “haunted” room by systematically varying EMFs andinfrasound. Participants (N = 79) were required to spend 50 minutes in a speciallyconstructed chamber, within which they were exposed to infrasound, complexelectromagnetic fields, both or neither. They were informed in advance that during thisperiod they might experience anomalous sensations and asked to record on a floor-plan theirlocation at the time occurrence of any such sensations, along with a note of the time ofoccurrence and a brief description of the sensation. Upon completing the session in theexperimental chamber, they were asked to complete an EXIT scale, the Australian Sheep-Goat Scale and Persinsinger’s Personal Philosophy Inventory, although only the items thatconstitute the Temporal Lobe Signs Inventory (TLS) sub-scale were scored. These items dealwith psychological experiences typically associated with temporal lobe epilepsy but normallydistributed throughout the general population. Although many participants reportedanomalous sensations of various kinds, the number reported was unrelated to experimentalcondition but was related to TLS scores. The most parsimonious explanation for our findingsis in terms of suggestibility.Even more controversially, Persinger (1990) claims that in susceptible individuals, temporal lobeoveractivity can result from magnetic effects produced as a result of the movement of tectonicplates in the earth’s crust. Stresses and strains produced preceding earthquakes would beexpected to produce a high level of such magnetic effects and Persinger claims that reports ofUFO activity correlate with earthquake activity. Furthermore, it is possible that such activityproduces strange luminous effects which explain some UFO reports (Devereux, 1989; 7
  • 9. Devereaux & Brookesmith, 1997).It is too early to assess fully the validity of Persinger’s innovative theory, but it will beinteresting to see how many of his ideas stand up to critical scrutiny by others. In support of thegeneral claim that abduction experiences result from unusual mental activity rather thanreflecting reality, there are several cases on record of people reporting full-blown abductionexperiences whilst other witnesses could see that the individual in question had not physicallygone anywhere. Instead, they appeared to have either lost consciousness or to be in a trance state(see, e.g., Schnabel, 1994, for such cases).(vii) Content of Alien Abduction NarrativesThe history of folklore strongly suggests that the alien abduction narrative is simply the latestcultural interpretation of core experiences which can be found in many societies throughouthistory (see, e.g., Evans, 1998; Nickell, 1995; Randle et al., 1999; Schnabel, 1994). Taleshave always been told of strange nocturnal visitations, of abduction, of transformation, and ofreturn with strange new powers. Strange experiences have always been interpreted within thepredominant cultural framework of the particular time and place. Hence, in times past,angels, spirits, fairies and demons were held responsible. In modern Western culture, beingsfrom advanced technological societies are blamed.Jung (1959) was probably the first commentator to attempt to interpret the UFO sightings insymbolic terms. The content of actual abduction narratives has also been interpreted invarious symbolic ways. These include Lawson’s (1984) suggestion that alien abductionnarratives reflect memories of birth, Newman and Baumeister’s (1996a, 1996b, 1998) claimthat they are fantasies with sado-masochistic roots, and Matheson’s (1998) hypothesis thatthey reflect ambivalent attitudes towards technology in modern society. The fact that threesuch differing interpretations can be offered highlights the difficulty in providing any kind ofdefinitive interpretation of this multifaceted phenomenon.To summarise, a number of factors in are seen by sceptics as actually or potentially beingimportant in accounting for alien abduction and contact experiences in those cases where theclaimants are sincere: (i) personality factors, such as fantasy proneness and dissociativity, (ii)false memories, (iii) sleep-related phenomena, such as hypnagogic and hypnopompic imagery,and sleep paralysis, and (iv) possibly temporal lobe overactivity. There is also strongcircumstantial evidence in some cases that deliberate hoax was involved (see Klass, 1989, fordetails).5. Related Anomalous Memory EffectsSome believers in reincarnation believe that it is possible to hypnotically regress individuals notonly back to childhood, but back to previous incarnations. A small minority of psychotherapistsbelieve that current psychological problems can be traced back to traumas suffered in previouslives.In the cases of Bridey Murphy and Jane Evans (and many other similar claims), it is generally 8
  • 10. believed that no deliberate hoax was involved. Instead, these are seen as being cases ofcryptomnesia (literally, hidden memories). It is argued that an individual can store awayinformation from a variety of sources during his or her life, such as from novels, films, andhistory books, without later being aware of the source of the information.Spanos and colleagues (1994) summarise some of their own studies of past-life regression.Among other findings, it appears that a particular type of personality is very prone to producingdetailed accounts of past lives under hypnosis. Such individuals score highly on measures offantasy-proneness. Spanos has reported the results of studies in which individuals werehypnotised and regressed into past lives and then asked for details of their past life. Informationof which any individual living at the time would be aware is usually not known by the subject.Whether or not participants subsequently accept their past-life memories as evidence ofreincarnation depends upon whether they believe in the possibility of reincarnation and theexpectations built up by the experimenter.The similarity between past-life regression and dissociative identity disorder (DID; formerlymultiple personality disorder, MPD) is obvious. In each case, the individual appears to become adifferent person, often with a completely different personality. In the case of MPD, the differentpersonas may or may not appear to be aware of each other’s existence. DID is another allegeddisorder that, in the large majority of cases, only becomes apparent during therapy, usually as aresult of highly leading hypnotic interviews. Once again, a strong case can be made that DID issocially constructed. Modern DID cases report a high level of childhood sexual or physicalabuse, often satanic ritualised abuse. While it is held by many psychotherapists that such abusecauses DID, Spanos et al. (1994) question this, pointing out that the claims of childhood abusemay well be false memories.Regarding claims of satanic ritual abuse, there is no convincing objective evidence to support theclaims of widespread and powerful satanic cults engaging in systematic torture and murder ofchildren and adults (see Hicks, 1991). Therefore it is extremely likely that any reports of suchabuse are fantasy-based constructions. However, the idea that such abuse is widespread has beenactively pushed by the Evangelical Christian movement in America. A book entitled MichelleRemembers (Smith & Pazder, 1980) has been influential in this. It tells the story of a woman’srecovery of horrific memories of satanic abuse during therapy.Several aspects of the diagnosis of DID/MPD lend support to the claim that it is the therapiststhemselves that are responsible for the generation of the satanic ritual abuse claims and theadoption of the DID/MPD role. Firstly, whereas the majority of therapists report never havingcome across such patients, a small minority report a large number of cases. Secondly, thepercentage of such cases reporting ritualised abuse rose from 25% in the mid-1980s to as high as80% in some centres by 1992, as the idea caught on that such abuse causes DID/MPD. Finally,such cases are still relatively rare in the UK compared to a much higher reported incidence in theUS.In conclusion, we can see that hypnotically induced false memories can arise in a variety ofcontexts. False memories of childhood sexual abuse, both satanic and non-satanic, UFOabductions and past-life regressions share a common core in that they all often involve theelicitation of fantasy-based accounts in response to hypnotic procedures and non-hypnotic 9
  • 11. structured interviews providing strong cues as to the expectations of the therapists. The accountsproduced are then pronounced as genuine by the therapist and this is accepted as an expertopinion by the vulnerable patient. The acceptance of the memory is often further reinforced bysupport groups of individuals with similar experiences.Further Reading:Appelle, S., Lynn, S. J., & Newman, L. (2000). Alien abduction experiences. In E. Cardena, S. J. Lynn, & S. Krippner (eds.). Varieties of Anomalous Experience: Examining the Scientific Evidence, pp. 253-282. Excellent review, emphasising the need for further research into this puzzling phenomenon.Baker, R. A. (1992). Hidden Memories: Voices and Visions from Within. Chapter 2, pp. 78-110, and Chapter 8, pp. 304-331. Baker considers crytomnesia and UFO abduction claims, respectively, within the general context of memory distortion.Bartholomew, R. E., & Howard, G. S. (1998). UFOs and Alien Contact: Two Centuries of Mystery. Amherst, NY: Prometheus. Comprehensive survey of past and present UFO sightings. Part 2 of this book, dealing with the psychology of UFOs, is particularly relevant to this course.Blackmore, S. (1994). Alien abduction: The inside story. New Scientist, No. 1952, 19 November 1994, 29-31. Blackmore summarizes the research behind the making of a Horizon programme on abductions, discussing hypnosis, false memories, sleep paralysis, and Persingers ideas relating to temporal lobe activity.Brookesmith, P. (1996). UFO: The Government Files. London: Blandford. This comprehensive survey of ufology does not deal extensively with the psychology of abductions as such but does convincingly demonstrate the generally poor quality of evidence in UFO cases. It also provides an excellent historical perspective on the development of this modern myth with particular reference to conspiracy theories.Clancy, S. A. (2005). Abducted: Why People Come to Believe They Were Kidnapped by Aliens. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Clancy argues that “abductees are sane and intelligent people who have unwittingly created vivid false memories from a toxic mix of nightmares, culturally available texts […], and a powerful drive for meaning that science is unable to satisfy.”Clancy, S. A., McNally, R. J., Schacter, D. L., Lenzenweger, M. F., & Pitman, R. K. (2002). Memory distortion in people reporting abduction by aliens. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 111, 455-461. Reports results suggesting that people with conscious memories of alien abduction are more prone to false memories as assessed using a standard experimental task (the DRM paradigm).Devereux, P., & Brookesmith, P. (1997). UFOs and Ufology: The First 50 Years. London: Blandford. Beautifully illustrated and informative review by two leading experts in the field.Frazier, K. (ed.). (1991). The Hundredth Monkey and other Paradigms of the Paranormal. Buffalo, NY: Prometheus. This collection of articles from the Skeptical Inquirer contains several relevant chapters. In particular see Baker on alien abductions and hypnotic regression, Ellis on the varieties of alien experience, Spanos on past-life hypnotic regression, Thomason on claims that, under hypnosis, certain individuals speak in languages which they have never learned in their current lives, and Klass on crashed flying saucer claims. 10
  • 12. Frazier, K., Karr, B., & Nickell, J. (eds.). (1997). The UFO Invasion: The Roswell Incident, Alien Abductions, and Government Coverups. Amherst, NY: Prometheus. This collection of articles from the Skeptical Inquirer contains several relevant chapters. In particular see Part Five on alien abductions. Some of these articles also appear in Frazier, K. (ed.). (1991). The Hundredth Monkey and other Paradigms of the Paranormal. Buffalo, NY: Prometheus.French, C. C. (2003). Fantastic memories: The relevance of research into eyewitness testimony and false memories for reports of anomalous experiences. Journal of Consciousness Studies, 10, 153-174. Comprehensive review including some discussion of alien abduction claims and hypnotic past-life regression.French, C. (2008-2009). What is sleep paralysis, and is it rare? Scientific American Mind, 19(6), December 2008/January 2009, 86.French, C. C. (2009). The waking nightmare of sleep paralysis. http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2009/oct/02/sleep-paralysisFrench, C. C. (2009). Close encounters of the faked kind. http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2009/nov/09/the-fourth-kind-sleep-paralysisFrench, C. C., Haque, U., Bunton-Stasyshyn, R., & Davis, R. (2009). The “Haunt” Project: An attempt to build a “haunted” room by manipulating complex electromagnetic fields and infrasound. Cortex, 45, 619-629. An attempt to test Persinger’s notion that susceptible individuals will report anomalous sensations if exposed to complex electromagnetic fields.French, C. C., & Santomauro, J. (2007). Something wicked this way comes: Causes and interpretations of sleep paralysis. In S. Della Sala (ed.). Tall Tales About the Mind and Brain: Separating Fact from Fiction. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Pp. 380- 398. Comprehensive review of sleep paralysis.French, C. C., & Wilson, K. (2006). Incredible memories: How accurate are reports of anomalous events? European Journal of Parapsychology, 21, 166-181. Update of French (2003).Gardner, M. (1957). Fads and Fallacies in the Name of Science. Chapter 26, pp. 315-320. This chapter deals with the case of Bridey Murphy, but the whole of this classic book is well worth reading.Harris, M. (1986). Sorry, You’ve Been Duped! The Truth Behind Classic Mysteries of the Paranormal.London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson. Chapters 16-18, pp. 148-162, deal with Harris’s revealing investigations of alleged cases of reincarnation, including Bridey Murphey and the Bloxham cases. (Note that this book was subsequently revised and re- published by Prometheus Books with the title Investigating the Unexplained and that chapter and page numbers may be different in the latter.)Hines, T. (2003). Pseudoscience and the Paranormal. 2nd ed. Amherst, NY: Prometheus. Chapters 7 and 8, pp. 235-302. Critical assessment of the evidence relating to close encounters of the first, second and third kinds.Hoggart, S., & Hutchinson, M. (1995). Bizarre Beliefs. London: Richard Cohen Books. Pp. 19- 43. Two chapters dealing with UFOs and alien abductions, respectively.Klass, P. J. (1989). UFO Abductions: A Dangerous Game. Buffalo, NY: Prometheus. In-depth analysis of the recent epidemic in America of apparent abductions by aliens and the personalities behind the claims.La Fontaine, J. S. (1994). The Extent and Nature of Organised and Ritual Abuse: Research Findings. London: HMSO. Brief report concluding that there is no convincing evidence 11
  • 13. for widespread and organised ritual abuse in the UK.Matheson, T. (1998). Alien Abductions: Creating a Modern Phenomenon. Amherst, NY: Prometheus. This review of the literature, by a professor of literature, “reveals the crucial role that abduction researchers and authors, from John Fuller and Whitley Strieber to David Jacobs and John Mack, have played in shaping the abductees’ stories.”Newman, L. S., & Baumeister, R. F. (1996). Toward a explanation of the UFO abduction phenomenon: Hypnotic elaboration, extraterrestrial sadomasochism, and spurious memories. Psychological Inquiry, 7, 99-126. The authors review evidence relating to false memories with particular reference to UFO abduction claims and also propose that the specific content of abduction claims is linked to sadomasochistic fantasies. Like most of the commentators on this target article, I found the first part of the paper more convincing that the alleged link with sadomasochism. (The authors reply to the commentaries in the same issue, pp. 185-197).Randi, J. (1982). Flim-Flam! Psychics, ESP, Unicorns and other Delusions. Buffalo, NY: Prometheus. Chapter 4, pp. 55-92. Randi tackles UFOs in his own inimitable style.Randle, K. D., Estes, R., & Cone, W. P. (1999). The Abduction Enigma: The Truth Behind the Mass Alien Abductions of the Late Twentieth Century. New York: Forge. Good coverage of the role of shared culture, hypnosis, sleep paralysis, and support groups in creating false memories of alien abduction, along with strong criticism of some ufologists.Rutkowski, C. (2000). Abductions and Aliens: The Psychology Behind Extra-Terrestrial Experience. London: Fusion Press. Thoughtful review, emphasising once again the need for better standards of investigation.Santomauro, J., & French, C. C. (2009). Terror in the night: The experience of sleep paralysis. The Psychologist, 22(8), 672-675. Overview of sleep paralysis.Schnabel, J. (1994). Dark White: Aliens, Abductions, and the UFO Obsession. London: Hamish Hamilton. Quirky, but highly readable, account focusing as much on the personalities behind the debate as on the phenomena under discussion.Showalter, E. (1997). Hystories: Hysterical Epidemics and Modern Culture. London: Picador. Chapter 13, pp. 189-201. This chapter deals with alien abductions but the book as a whole also considers a range of other "hysterical epidemics" including recovered memory, multiple personality syndrome, and satanic ritual abuse.Spanos, N. P. (1996). Multiple Identities and False Memories: A Sociocognitive Perspective. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association. Chapter 10 deals with UFO abduction claims, but this whole excellent book is well worth reading. The main focus is on “multiple personality” and false memories.Spanos, N. P., Burgess, C. A., & Burgess, M. F. (1994). Past-life identities, UFO abductions, and Satanic ritual abuse: The social construction of memories. International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, 42, 433-446. Brief overview of experimental studies on these topics. 12