Date: Sun Jun 27 1993 09:44:00 UFO - My stepmother is an alien Mass abductions or mass hys

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Date: Sun Jun 27 1993 09:44:00 From: SHEPPARD GORDON UFO ------------------------------- My stepmother is an alien Mass abductions or mass hysteria? Kidnapping tales breed skepticism in UFO circles THE WASHINGTON TIMES 04/27/92 You are driving along an empty, unlit stretch of highway, alone at night, when a hovering light that you first take for an airplane suddenly descends over the roadway ahead and you find yourself obeying an urge to stop the car. Light floods the interior, and you are scared. You sense somebody - or something - outside the vehicle, and the last thing you see before your consciousness fades is a silhouetted figure staring at you through the window glass. Its eyes are black. Some time later, you discover you are still inside your car, unable to account for two hours of lost time. And you can't shake off the nightmares that have disturbed your sleep ever since. Has this ever happened to you? If so, UFO researcher David M. Jacobs, author of "Secret Life: Firsthand Accounts of UFO Abductions" (Simon & Schuster), has a theory: You could be one of thousands - possibly millions - of Earthlings who have been abducted by alien beings and subjected to grisly examinations aboard their spacecraft. Worse, Mr. Jacobs believes, hypnosis might uncover repeated kidnappings over the course of your life, all part of a program to breed alien-human hybrids whose purpose is unknown to us, but whose existence becomes more difficult to reject as abduction accounts pile up. "What we see here is a program of systematic exploitation of one species over another, in which people are mined - or farmed, if you will - over and over and over again, over the course of their lives, from infancy to adulthood," Mr. Jacobs says during a visit to Washington to promote his new book, a collection of stories from the mouths of the abducted. Such claims are hardly new. For decades, people have been describing bug-eyed creatures that took them aboard saucerlike craft. UFO researchers like Mr. Jacobs and his mentor, Budd Hopkins, have hypnotized and interviewed scores of alleged abductees to discover what happened in those missing hours. Celebrity abductee Whitley Strieber tells his own tale in "Communion: A True Story," a 1987 best seller that became a 1989 movie starring Christopher Walken. But Mr. Jacobs' "Secret Life," with its claims of careful documentation and scrupulous research, is touching off new sparks in a still-raging intellectual firefight over alien abduction accounts. Though hundreds have sought the help of people like Mr. Jacobs, and some mental health professionals laud his work, some psychologists, fellow UFOlogists and skeptics have excoriated the man. Philip J. Klass, an unpopular fellow in UFO circles, dedicates his debunking text, "UFO Abductions: A Dangerous Game" (1989), to "those who will needlessly bear mental scars for the rest of their lives because of the foolish fantasies of a few." "If these {abduction} tales are simply fantasy, and I'm certain they are," Mr. Klass says in an interview, "then {abduction researchers} are condemning dozens, hundreds of people who participate in their cult to being psychologically disturbed or fearful for as long as they live." Mr. Klass says that with hypnosis, you can convince just about anybody he or she has been abducted. UFO research is a field with its share of frauds and cranks, Mr. Jacobs freely admits. There is a history of hoax and ridicule that has discouraged serious inquiry by mainstream science: Spirit channelers who say they also do megaphone duty for extraterrestrials. "Contactees" who claim to carry messages of benign concern from outer space. Anyone wading into these waters might expect to have his sanity questioned. What David Jacobs brings to the subject are serious credentials - he has a doctorate in history and is a professor at Temple University in Philadelphia - and a willingness to apply academic rigor and scrutiny to abduction accounts. He says there are only two possible answers to the phenomenon he charts: "It's happening as people are describing it, or it's psychological. There isn't any middle ground. You can't shade this." THE ACCOUNTS Considering the implications of alien abduction, discovering that abductees are simply crazy or using fantasy to suppress some earthly childhood trauma might come as a relief. Physical or sexual abuse in childhood are popular but unproven theories of late. "We have a whole host of material that does not fit any psychiatric or psychological model," says Mr. Jacobs, who adds that his forays into the alien have drawn ridicule from academic colleagues. Not to worry, he says. "I've got tenure." Mr. Jacobs is professorial, all right, white-haired and slightly mussed, even with a suit and tie, in the unkempt style of the obsessed computer hacker or science-fiction buff. The lid he keeps on his enthusiasm for the subject - he is a career academic - occasionally pops off when he is tackling a question. The "material" he describes are the accounts themselves, uncovered through hypnosis, of people who claim to have experienced variations on the same ghastly theme: One or more persons are plucked, from bedrooms, back yards, cars, and taken aboard spacecraft where small, smooth-bodied aliens with bulbous heads, large eyes and slits for nostrils strap them to examination tables. Abductees then have their skin smeared with laboratory stain. Their brains and bodies are scanned, and their genitals are painfully probed. Women are sometimes impregnated with alien brood; they later have strange and seemingly abortive pregnancies. Men have semen extracted. The abductees are released, with no outward memory of the episode, or with "screen memories" implanted by aliens to block true recall of the abduction. Victims are, in effect, tagged and tracked over several years. They will be abducted again and again, as children, teens and adults, and they are powerless to stop it. The only physical trace of trauma might be skin rashes, splotches and small scars. Mr. Hopkins, an artist by trade and author of "Missing Time," a 1981 chronicle of abduction, claims a few cases have yielded "implants" - tiny, ball-like objects retrieved from the nostrils of abductees. Extensive study of the devices has offered nothing conclusive about their origin, he says. CORROBORATION Mr. Klass, who has spent 25 years examining and debunking UFO sightings and encounters, challenges the existence of such objects. "No one has come up with a single piece of physical evidence," he says. "No one has come back with a physical artifact." Whatever the truth about physical traces, it is the psychological scars - in the form of nightmares, depression, dread of places where abductions supposedly occurred - that apparently run deepest. Abduction stories are told by lawyers, doctors, secretaries, nurses, homemakers and even newspaper reporters, according to Mr. Jacobs, who uses pseudonyms to protect the identities of his interviewees. "I've done to date 350 {hypnotic} regressions {with more than 60 self-described abductees}," Mr. Jacobs says, "and people from all over the country - black, white, Jewish, gentile, young, old, rich, poor, educated, uneducated, across ethnic groups, intelligent, unintelligent - all say the same thing in precise detail." Many of those corroborative details - specifics about examinations, about alien behavior and the innards of their spacecrafts - never have been publicized even in the most esoteric UFO-buff journals, says Mr. Jacobs, who also wrote "The UFO Controversy in America" (1975) as well as a doctoral dissertation on UFOs. One skeptic says, however, that corroboration is the most damning thing about abduction tales. "It's not that hard to do," says James Randi, professional magician and debunker-at-large, who says self-described abductees like Whitley Strieber have refused his invitations to debate PUBLICITY OR RELEASE? As Mr. Klass wrote in a recent edition of his UFO skeptics newsletter, "In UFO abductions, plagiarism is not a sin; it's a required virtue." Skeptics say many abductees might "plagiarize" for the same reasons: "Most of them are looking for something in the way of a transcendent experience," says psychologist Robert A. Baker, a retired University of Kentucky professor. "They really want to feel something important has happened to them." But Mr. Jacobs insists abductees want no part of their experience, just release from the pain it inflicts. "These people need help," he says. "They need someone to listen to them." Mr. Jacobs says he has learned through trial and error, and detailed screening interviews, to weed out true victims from fakes or wannabes. He tests conventional explanations for abduction claims, the historian says, and finds they all come up short. FANTASY AND TRAUMA The Jacobs approach has won admirers. "I found his work very thoughtful and careful," says Harvard University psychiatrist John Mack, who wrote the introduction to "Secret Lives." Dr. Mack will not say whether he believes in alien abductions - "I have to be more cautious" - but he confirms that he, too, has seen patients who manifest the symptoms described by Mr. Jacobs and others, "and there's no conventional explanation for this." Others disagree. Dr. Baker calls Dr. Mack naive and says abduction fantasies mask real trauma that "abductees" will never properly confront as long as people like David Jacobs continue to preach abduction. "When someone goes to you and tells you you were abducted by aliens, that's much easier to accept than believing you were raped as a child by your father," Dr. Baker says. Author of "Hidden Memories: Voices and Visions from Within" (1992), Dr. Baker says an "abductee" is someone who is likely to mingle personal trauma with a tendency to fantasize; past exposure to vivid science fiction, including abduction tales; and an easy suggestibility toward people who present themselves as authority figures - such as Mr. Jacobs. PANIC BUTTON Dr. Baker accuses Mr. Jacobs and others of worsening the anxieties of already disturbed people, pointing to one case in which an alleged abductee committed suicide. "The saddest thing is that these amateurs like Hopkins and Jacobs and so on are alarming the public," Dr. Baker says. "They're spreading all kinds of rumors. Jacobs says he hopes {alien abduction} isn't true, but {says} that these people need someone to talk to them, because psychiatrists and psychologists won't help them. . . . "This is absolute nonsense," he adds. "This is what we call an `iatrogenic disorder,' one that's being created by the therapists themselves." But Mr. Jacobs says he actively discourages people who come to him, and warns them of the dangers of uncovering abduction experiences. Michael Shea, a government lawyer who went public with his own abduction account four years ago in The Washington Post Magazine, applauds Mr. Jacobs' book and calls the author "a legitimate guy." "I think it's one more hammer strike on a kind of Berlin Wall," Mr. Shea says. "But I just don't think in my lifetime there's going to be a dramatic change in {public perception of} this." THE QUESTION One basic question remains unanswered: If aliens exist, why are they abducting us? "That is the ultimate question in UFO research," Mr. Jacobs says. "What are they doing with those {human-alien} hybrids? Where are they taking them? {Aliens} probably have manufactured, in a way, tens of thousands of them over the past several decades - 40, 50, 100 years. "Now, if this were psychological," he continues, "if this were internally generated, if {abductees} were making it up, we'd know the answer. They'd just make up the answer. And we have a model for that: . . . the `contactees' of the 1950s. They made up answers to every question you asked. Channelers do that, too. "But with this subject, we simply don't know. And the abductees don't know. And that is extraordinary." Or maybe just clever?

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