Date: Thu Mar 03 1994 10:39:54
From: Sheppard Gordon
The Harvard Professor & the UFOs
Byline: Jill Neimark
In a tiny, utilitarian office at Cambridge Hospital - a nondescript cubicle on
the third floor, overlooking a parking lot - Harvard psychiatrist John Mack is
seeking God. And the way this 64-year-old Pulitzer Prize winner is going about
it is truly unprecedented: He has become a kind of paterfamilias and healer to
a whole underground of Americans who claim they have been abducted by aliens in
They flock to him from around the country, these abductees, then lie down on
his office couch and are coaxed into a hypnotic trance. Under hypnosis,
sometimes weeping and shouting with agony and terror, they recover buried
memories of alien encounters. Many of them come to believe that they have been
kidnapped by extraterrestrials regularly since they were children, that they
are guinea pigs in an intergalactic hybrid-breeding program, and that, in a
close encounter of a truly original kind, they have had sperm and egg samples
taken, alien fetuses implanted and removed, and probes inserted in their
vaginas, anuses, and up their noses.
And here's the clincher: Most of them recall that after suffering the
indignities of lab animals in outer space, they are given a picture show that
aliens project onto the walls of their spacecraft - or directly into their
brains - images and movies of ecological disaster that terrify and ultimately
transform them into spiritual seekers hoping to save the polluted Earth.
"Some other intelligence is reaching out to us. It's the most exciting work
I've ever done," claims Mack. A few minutes later he admits, "I'm shocked in a
way to hear myself saying such things. But I've been as careful as possible to
exhaust conventional explanations. None of them begins to explain this
This alien invasion - subtle, shattering, mysterious - is really a form of
cosmic correction by beings more advanced than we, believes Mack, whose about-
to-be-published book, "ABDUCTION" (Scribners), details the kidnappings of 13
individuals by aliens and fits them into a new cosmology. It's a view of the
universe that's both high-tech and ancient, one that assumes intelligence can
take many forms and melds Eastern spirituality and Western science. Above all,
it's a cosmology eerily well adapted to our country's obsession with abuse,
confession, and transcendence.
Mack has long been one of the brightest minds at Harvard, a man whose prize-
winning "A Prince of Our Disorder" (1977) - a psychological study of T.E.
Lawrence - was hailed as one of the most remarkable biographies of its time.
Mack was one of the men who forged Harvard's Cambridge Hospital Department of
Psychiatry into a premier teaching hospital, a place where psychiatrists and
residents now vie for positions, and for four years he was its head. He's been
a member of the Boston Psychoanalytic Institute, certified as a child
psychoanalyst, and chairman of the Executive Committee for all five hospital-
based departments of psychiatry that make up the huge Department of Psychiatry
at Harvard Medical School.
He's also a high-profile idealist who has been at the forefront of efforts by
his peers for global peace and conservation. He is founding director of the
Center for Psychological Studies in the Nuclear Age and a member of Physicians
for Social Responsibility and International Physicians for the Prevention of
Nuclear War. He is an outspoken advocate of corporate and industrial policies
that sustain the environment. The list of accomplishments doesn't stop there;
Mack has published over 150 articles and books on subjects ranging from
nightmares to teenagers who kill their mothers to Russian children's feelings
about nuclear weapons. And so his excursion into the realm of ETs has elicited
an outcry of contempt, sorrow, bewilderment, anxiety, confusion, interest, and
even admiration from his fellow colleagues.
Is Mack legitimizing ufology, a pursuit that has until now found its warmest
reception on the pages of supermarket tabloids? Or has he, as one longtime
colleague laments, ruined his career?
More than the legitimacy of UFOs is at stake. The fact is that Mack - at least
to those who view him from the outside - is actually in the white hot center of
a controversy that has been raging around the country. It's a battle about the
essential nature of the human mind, really; a war over the nature of memory,
and access routes to it, particularly hypnosis. Can hypnosis recover repressed
memories of sexual abuse, satanic ritual abuse, past life abuse, and abuse at
the hands of aliens? In a tabloid culture, recovered memories have led to
accusations and court cases so damaging and sordid they've been compared to the
witch-hunts of another age.
John Mack's UFO work rests in great part on the validity of hypnosis as a tool
to recover memory. The cultural uproar over this modus operandi may not resolve
itself for years to come.
Strangely enough, he shrugs off the controversy. "I have such long
relationships here at Harvard, they just tolerate me. Of course, I don't know
what they say behind my back. But the abduction phenomenon, " insists Mack,
"gets at the core of who we are. It's traumatic for me as well as others, but
it expands us into a different universe."
I'd been chasing John Mack for months before he agreed to an interview. One of
his assistants, Karen Wesolowski, at a branch of The Center for Psychology and
Social Change, his own private umbrella organization for UFO research, had been
stonewalling me, supposedly because he was under crushing pressure to finish
his book, for which Scribners had reportedly paid him a handsome $200,000. But
it was easy to detect another reason: fear of a hatchet job in the press. Mack
himself has confessed, "The experience of taking on a subject which has been
fare for the tabloids and the seamier side of the mass media has been a story
The first time I spoke with Karen on the phone, I heard the clacking of
computer keys: she was taking down every word I said. She asked more
preliminary "who are you and what do you want" questions than I'd encountered
in a decade of reporting. She called PSYCHOLOGY TODAY and asked to see samples
of my work. She instructed me not to speak to Dr. Mack's department head, Malka
Notman, M.D., until he had had a meeting with her first. She told me that in
part she and Dr. Mack were simply protecting the abductees. Karen likened
individuals who did not believe these victims' stories to people who tell
holocaust survivors that Nazi atrocities never happened.
When I finally faced Mack A DEUX, I found a tall, lank man with eyes like
cobalt glass. He was wearing a slightly wrinkled button-down shirt of the same
startling blue, khaki pants, and loafers. He had a boyish, baffled sincerity
about him, an almost bedazzled helplessness that would both endear him to me
and irritate me throughout the interview.
It was lunchtime and we shared Mack's typical fare: peanut butter from a
gallon-size plastic container stored in his secretary's adjacent office,
bagels, and Mars bars. As we ate, he told me how he'd arranged at his fixation
on UFOs as agents of cosmic correction of our Earth-destroying ways. Although
the press, when credulous, recounts his story as if he simply woke up one day
and was confronted with irrefutable evidence that aliens are kidnapping and
experimenting on humans, the truth is far more complex and intriguing.
First, Mack has never been your garden-variety shrink. He openly admits that he
has always felt a bit like Georg Simmel's "The Stranger," the marginal man who
participates in the culture but is not part of it. He was raised in a
rationalist, German-Jewish, New York household, where his father read him the
Bible not because he believed in God but because the stories were fascinating.
From Oberlin he went to Harvard Medical School and set out to become a
psychoanalyst. He continued his internship and residency training at Harvard
institutions, and was accepted at the Boston Psychoanalytic Institute, then at
the pinnacle of its reputation, where he underwent both personal and and a
training psychoanalysis. He went on to specialize in child psychoanalysis. He
also trained at the Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts Mental Health Center when
it was leading psychiatry to alternatives to institutionalization for the
mentally ill, and was chief resident there. Mack was on brilliant trajectory
in Harvard's prestigious embrace.
Coming to Cambridge Hospital was his first major departure from the beaten
track: At the time "it was a derelict community hospital. It was not the place
to fast-track." He was its head of psychiatry until 1977 and was instrumental
in crafting a community mental health program that today is the centerpiece of
a citywide network of clinics and hospitals.
His biography of T.E. Lawrence was another departure: though psychobiography is
an honored tradition among analysts, Lawrence was an unusual choice. Mack was
fascinated by this man who himself was a stranger, a troubled hero caught in
the fate of a culture not his own.
Later he began to work on issues of nuclear disarmament, global peace, and
conservation. He has traveled the world attending conferences on ecology and
the Earth, mingling with everyone from scientists to philosophers,
philanthropists, and economists.
He also began to explore alternative approaches to consciousness. In the 1970s,
Mack was taken with Werner Erhard's EST and assorted mind-altering techniques.
The final break with tradition came when Mack met Stanislav Grof, a Russian who
had developed "holotropic breathwork," a technique of rapid breathing that
allegedly accesses nonordinary states of consciousness. The first time he tried
it, Mack not only "reexperienced" his mother's death when he was eight months
old, he also felt "my father's grief at the time. There was also a businessman
in the room screaming his head off because he was reliving the time when HIS
mother tried to choke him as an infant. I got more out of one session than I
had in all my years of analysis." Later in the session, "I became a Russian
father in the 16th century, a man whose four-year-old son was decapitated by
Mack In Time
Mack begs the question of past lives here. He says that at the time he was in
Russia as part of an exchange program, sponsored by Easalen, to talk about the
impact of the nuclear arms race on children. His consciousness, he told me,
"traveled in time to identify this Russian man. After that experience I felt
great empathy for the Russians I was working with. "
He took a three-tear training program in Grof's breathing technique, which
concluded in 1988. A year later, a psychologist who also practiced the
technique urged him to meet Budd Hopkins, a New York artist who had published a
best-selling book, INTRUDERS, about UFO abductees.
Mack claims that "nothing on my 40 years as a psychiatrist prepared me for what
he had to say. I was impressed with his sincerity, depth of knowledge, and deep
concern for the abductees. But what affected me even more was the internal
consistency of the highly detailed accounts [of abduction] by different
individuals who would have had no other way to communicate with one another."
He cites the specific, consistent information abductees give about the inside
of spaceships, procedures, medical instruments, and more, as absolute evidence
of the veracity of their reports. He notes the interesting but inconclusive
physical "evidence" of abductions - strange "scoop" marks, nodules, and cuts
(in one case, on a quadriplegic man who would have been unable to self-inflict
them); and the fairly common experience of waking upside down in the bed or
sometimes outside the house, with clothes removed or lost.
Today he calls himself "co-investigator and co-creator" in the abduction
phenomenon. Mack has scaled down his private psychiatric practice and his
teachings to focus on exploring this field. He has now hypnotized and
"regressed" nearly 80 abductees and, in his home, where he encourages them to
talk about their experience, holds monthly support group meetings. Mack's
abductees undergo a remarkably uniform transformative shift in consciousness
and become committed to preserving the Earth; they report dreams of floods and
other destruction that will otherwise occur. "I have no way to explain this
except as some sort of robust emergence of an intelligence reaching out to us
in some way. The hybrid[-breeding] program may have something to do with the
state of the Earth at this time.
Mack's history, he admits, has prepared him exactly for this work. One almost
wonders if he could have ever resisted it, for it so perfectly occupies his
clinical, mystical mind. Abductions allow him to be far more than a
psychiatrist. He is now an explorer of consciousness, at play in the fields of
the universe itself, a participant in an ecological and global transformation
that he sees as part of a cosmic plan.
But what's really going on? I decided to retrace Mack's steps.
Take a visit with me to the New York City home of Budd Hopkins, the man John
Mack dedicates his book to, the one who "led the way." Hopkins is an abstract
expressionist who has brushed elbows with many of the great painters of our
day, and has the look of a slightly disheveled but friendly Phil Donahue. He's
an ingenuous guy, happily showing off his studio and his upstairs home, where
original art by Degas, Franz Kline, and Frank Stella grace the walls. Hopkins'
free time these days is spent conducting free hypnotic regressions and support
groups for abductees, traveling constantly to lecture on the subject, and
preparing a third book for publication.
Hopkins sat with me in his studio, which was filled with a series of brightly
painted, wooden wall hangings he calls "the guardians," and rattled on
enthusiastically about UFOs. He brought out a notebook of pictures of people
with indeterminate "marks" from space-alien probings, which seemed unremarkable
to me, garden-variety abrasions and minor bruises. He then showed me drawings,
made by victims, of what they had seen on the inner walls of spaceships. He
requested that I not describe them in print; yet they are generic and primitive
enough to also seem unremarkable.
It was when he began to talk about other "proofs" that he began to lose me -
and I wondered how he had been able to retain Mack's interest. For example, the
problem with clothes. Hopkins mentioned one abductee who woke up wearing
lavender underwear, and she OWNS no lavender underwear because she hates the
color. Others wake up with pajama bottoms several sizes too small - clearly not
their own; or with bottoms and tops reversed.
Picture this: We've got aliens who are smart enough to travel light-years
across the universe, whisk us up into spaceships that move at unthinkable
speeds, communicate telepathically and transform our consciousness, and yet
they're so disorganized that when they're ready to drop us down again they
dress us in the wrong clothes. (Mack has made equally amazing statements; he
told me, "They can't do anything they want. Apparently they can take you
through a window or a door but not walls of a certain thickness. But I'm not
one to talk about that kind of TECHNICAL stuff.")
Hopkins' reliability began to crumble like an old cake when he told me about
the case of the decade, if not the century, which is the subject of his next
book. A woman, Linda N., was abducted from her high rise in November of 1989 in
lower Manhattan; Hopkins claims the abduction was witnessed by a woman driving
over the Brooklyn Bridge a quarter of a mile away, and by two security officers
driving former U.N. Secretary General Javier Perez de Cuellar (who refuses to
admit this; nor are there records of his car stalling that night, as Hopkins
Hopkins told me about this case at length. However he managed to leave out a
remarkable series of details, all of which are revealed in a 25-page study of
the "incident" published by three independent UFO researchers, including a
former special agent for the U.S. Army and a former security police specialist
for the U.S. Air Force. According to the information they gathered from papers
Hopkins wrote and talks with him personally, Linda said that the two security
officers who supposedly witnessed her abduction later kidnapped her, asked her
to remove her shoes to find out if she was an alien (they claimed aliens lacked
toes); and that one of the officers drove her to a beach house, asked her to
put on a nightgown, and requested she have sex with him. She says he also tried
to drown her and that at one point he wrote her saying he was in a mental
hospital. Yet Linda never made an official complaint or contacted the police.
The investigators note that these bizarre details of Linda's story - none of
which Hopkins told me - turn out to be uncannily similar to a science fiction
novel, NIGHTEYES, published a few months before Linda claimed to be abducted.
If Mack accepts Hopkins wholeheartedly as the pioneer in whose path he has
followed, what are we to conclude? This question haunted me simply because the
distinction between Mack and Hopkins is enormous. Hopkins is an artist, but
Mack is a high priest at a most sanctified temple of science: Harvard Medical
School. He also happens to be a man with a halo of perfection about him, an
honorable man given to just causes, a man with a reputation for kindness. Mack
more than anybody needs to be rigorous in his research. Otherwise he may become
a kind of Pied Piper, seducing and perhaps terrifying us with visions of a
world that may not exist. Can Mack corroborate his own findings?
I asked him about the physical evidence: "Why aren't the ETs showing up on the
White House lawn?"
His answer sounded like better sleight of hand than Freud himself, who invented
the term "resistance" to fend off naysayers. "Is it real? Did it happen? That
looks like an irreducible question. But the answer is, in what reality? Ours,
or another reality? My hunch is that this is some new kind of entity that
exists in a marginal place between the physical and the nonphysical. I would
almost say this phenomenon, by its very nature, is trying to get us off the
pure reliance on physical artifacts.
I asked him how he responds to the criticism that he is "leading" his clients
to the stories he wants to hear - a criticism not leveled solely at Mack but at
many of those who rely on hypnosis to provide proof of any sort. Mack admits
that not every UFO researcher gets the same powerful information he does about
ecology and Earth changes. In fact, the field is rent by disagreement and
argument about the meaning of UFOs. Early researchers, who were interested in
the flying saucers, have trouble believing there are creatures inside who are
performing experiments on us. Many of those who do believe feel, like Hopkins,
that "the aliens' agenda is not focused on us particularly, we're incidental."
And other researchers find the aliens are more body snatchers than angelic
guides to a purer Earth.
Nonetheless, Mack insists, "I do not lead people. We look together at a shared
mystery, but they are not alone in the strange, reality-shattering matter here.
" When I asked him what percentage of abductees come up with a new "Earth
consciousness," he said percentages were not valid. "If I said half did, the
other half may still come up with it. We just may not have gotten that far with
I asked about his contention that these people lack pathology. He has given
only four of nearly 80 clients any kind of psychological testing. No
independent clinician has verified his statements of his patients' mental
However, in a recent study of 49 people reporting encounters with UFOs, four
Canadian psychologists found them free of psychopathology. What did set them
apart from others, the researchers, led by Nicholas P. Spanos, Ph.D., state in
the JOURNAL OF ABNORMAL PSYCHOLOGY, was "a belief in UFOs and in the existence
of alien life forms." Most of their experiences took place at night, and the
team attributes them to temporary sleep paralysis, a condition associated with
vivid hallucinations. Under these conditions, believers tend to confuse
"internally produced images and sensations" with external reality.
Memory In The Musculature
Mack insists that his patients are able to provide detailed accounts of
abduction because of his use of Grof breathwork. "I tell the person about the
breath, that it gives them power and connects them to the life-giving forces of
the cosmos." He believes that traumatic experiences are held in the body's
tissues and that, using the Grof method, pressure in the "blocked area of the
musculature will bring the stored emotions forth and discharge the tensions
that have been out of reach until this time, stuck in the body. As strong
emotions are coming to the surface, I can feel, for example in the client's
neck or back, in a place where he feels the alien instrumentation once
occurred, a powerful tightness or spasm in the muscle."
The most unwieldy question is that of hypnosis. All roads to UFOs always seem
to lead back to hypnosis. It is when patients are under hypnosis that Mack
witnesses extremes of emotion. Patients thrash, cry, shout. Stories pour out of
them. The drama is so great it's hard not to be convinced.
Mack, who "taught myself to do hypnosis in this work," here stands on shaky
ground. Though scores of therapists around the country are happily in this camp
- fully believing in repressed memories, and regressing patients who then come
up with never-before-remembered stories ranging from ritual torturing of babies
to copulation with aliens - a furious backlash has begun. Many professionals
are concerned that such work is a misuse of the power of the therapist. They
are also alarmed that innocent individuals are being accused of unthinkable
crimes, by patients who themselves have been utterly terrified by hypnotic
"memories" they believe are real. Mack's use of hypnosis enrages some
psychologists, because it opens a very dark Pandora's box.
Perhaps the most outspoken is Berkely social psychologist Richard Ofshe, who
share a Pulitzer Prize in 1979 for his work in exposing the Synanon cult in
California. Ofshe, with his olive-dark eyes and majestic beard, looks a bit
like a feudal king you wouldn't want to mess with. He's become a crusader
against what he calls extreme forms of influence - from coerced police
confessions to therapist-induced false memories retrieved in trance. He sees a
direct and dangerous bridge between them, and doesn't exempt John Mack for a
"If there's a certain brilliance in backing the trendiest wrong horses
available, then John Mack has it," he comments. "He has made a stellar,
absolutely impressive, world-class series of mistakes. First he was in bed with
Sigmund Freud, and we are already beginning to see the obituary of Freud. Then
he was in bed with Werner Erhard, another big-time loser. Now he's in bed with
ET's evil brother."
Ofshe points out that nobody has proved the concept of "robust" repression of
memory, which is far different from traumatic amnesia (forgetting a single,
horrendous event) or normal memory's denial and whitewashing. Robust repression
requires that one repeatedly forget a recurring event - whether it's that your
father kept raping you or aliens abducted you from the time you were three.
"That's like forgetting you went to high school."
"John Mack's use of hypnosis runs counter to all we know about it," agrees Fred
Frankel, M.D., psychiatrist-in-chief at Boston's Beth Israel Hospital, a
professor at Harvard Medical School, and editor of the INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF
CLINICAL AND EXPERIMENTAL HYPNOSIS. Frankel tells a story that seems to put
Mack in questionable light: a woman was referred to Frankel for disturbing
dreams. "I explained to her that hypnosis does not necessarily provide accurate
recall. I told her that in hypnosis fantasy and suggestion play a major role.
Her response to hypnotic induction was minimal." Not much happened.
But the woman then found her way to Mack, and "he got a major response." She
recalled her abduction experiences in great detail. Mack describes her reaction
in his book: "Her fear seemed to reach a crescendo as her body writhed in awful
contortions. 'They take control of you and you don't have the energy to fight .
. . .'"
Mack called Frankel and they talked for two hours about their different
results. This past September, they presented the case at a Grand Rounds, a
standard teaching event for residents and other doctors, whose comments are
always openly invited. The subject was a fairly big draw as these things go.
Seventy people came. "It was done in a cooperative spirit," says Frankel. A
third doctor presided and monitored the discussion of explanations for why
hypnosis could yield two such opposite responses.
"But [Mack] incorporated none of what was said there into his book," reports
Frankel. "In fact, Mack has devoted an entire chapter to this woman's case and
entitled it, 'Personally, I Don't Believe In UFOs.'" The woman claims that
Frankel himself said this, which he indignantly denies. "Look, I don't know
enough to ever make that statement. I have enough problems with THIS planet!"
Although Mack acknowledges Frankel's denial in the book, he makes his bias
stunningly clear by using the disputed statement as the chapter title.
Frankel's main point is that Mack continually claims to be neutral but is in
fact totally supportive of abductees and thus must be skewing his results. For
instance, Frankel observes, before beginning hypnosis, Mack often gives people
a pilot interview during which he indicates that he believes in abduction. If
Mack has so clearly cast his lot, that is a stance far removed from balanced
scientific research. The issue is not whether Mack is right or wrong, but that
he has abdicated scientific objectivity; his methods preclude us from ever
getting an answer.
Hypnosis expert Michael Yapko - whose textbook, TRANCEWORK (Brunner Mazel), is
the leading book in the field - has equally strong words of caution. Yapko
recently surveyed nearly 900 psychotherapists and found that "they are grossly
misinformed about the nature of hypnosis." The great strength of hypnosis, says
Yapko, is that under trance "you can accept and respond to a suggested reality.
Therapists like Mack may be oblivious to the fact that they're creating the
experiences they then have to treat. These phenomena are not arising
independent of his influence."
Even therapists who are intrigued by and half-convinced of the reality of UFOs
concede this fact. "Expectations of the observer have a tremendous amount to do
with what's produced," explains Jim Gordon, a clinical professor of psychiatry
at Georgetown Medical School who published an article on UFOs in THE ATLANTIC.
"Patients in Jungian analysis have Jungian dreams, and in Freudian analysis
they have Freudian dreams. That's why therapists with different approaches to
UFOs produce different reactions in their patients."
Mack responds to all these protests with the helpless shrug of a man who is
simply convinced of what he is seeing. "I know this sounds like hedging, but we
don't know in what reality this occurs. False and true memory don't apply. This
is powerfully real, but in what reality?" I asked him where he felt he belonged
in the raging controversy over memory and abuse. Does he think memories of
satanic abuse might be happening in an alternate reality? He postulated that
indeed they might: "Perhaps those memories are experientially true but they
didn't factually happen in this reality." What does this mean? In the fourth
dimension - or perhaps the sixth dimension?
Mack is the most frustrating type of true believer: congenial, intelligent, and
absolutely impenetrable. "People say you may be influencing them, there must be
childhood trauma, memory is not reliable. I could say all those things but it's
not like that. It's authentic."
But what does he mean by authentic? I interviewed one of Mack's prime
abductees, Peter Faust, a Boston acupuncturist and spiritual healer, a man
Mack says the aliens simply won't let rest. Faust is as handsome as a soap-
opera star, with dark hair and dimples. He and his wife were in the Caribbean
when he remembers saying, "You little fuckers get out of here!" The next
morning he had some odd bites behind his ears. It was years and several
dreams later that he "realized" what might have happened to him and went
to Mack for hypnotic regression.
Peter told me with absolute sincerity how he recalled under trance that during
his abductions, sperm had been suctioned from him with a funnel device and that
he had been bred with a particular alien female. I turned to his wife at that
point and asked her how she felt about this.
"Well," she admitted, "it's hard. Sometimes I wonder if I should pack up and
leave. It's like the affair that never ends. And I can't do anything about it."
I turned to Peter. His eyes were burning with a believer's intensity. "They're
coming in our lifetime, I guarantee it."
Waiting For A Verdict
The jury on UFOs may forever remain out - floating somewhere in the cosmos
among spaceships and alien breeders. Yet perhaps the most interesting aspect of
John Mack and his work is not whether it is valid, but the intense furor
surrounding it. Carl Sagan, the foremost astronomer of our time, wrote an
impassioned cover story for PARADE magazine about our national obsession with
aliens. (Mack wrote him a nine-page letter in rebuttal, but it went
unpublished.) Sagan contends that there is no hard evidence of ETs on this
planet, and that so-called abductions are most likely hallucinations.
Nonetheless "we have before us a matter of supreme importance - touching on
our limitations...the fashioning of our beliefs and perhaps even the origins
of our religions."
So, when Mack says this phenomenon gets at the very core of "who we are" and
"makes us question all realities," he is right. We will always wonder about our
place in the universe, and the form that wonder takes will always reflect the
age. Ours is an age of rockets and radio waves, an era mesmerized by the
pleasures of purging and confession, caught by the belief in widespread abuse,
and both troubled and inspired by questions of consciousness itself. If anyone
is an emblem of our age, John Mack is. The real disappointment is that he
brings us no closer to the truth - even though he could.