Date: Mon May 23 1994 21:30:14
From: Sheppard Gordon
Subj: Mack Book Review-Independent
Byline: ANTHONY STORR
JOHN MACK is a professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical
School, a faculty member of the Boston Psychoanalytic Society,
president of the International Society for Political Psychology,
and the author of a prize-winning biography of T E Lawrence, A
Prince of Our Disorder, which I read with admiration. Since many
people will find this new book incredible, it is important to
emphasise that the author's credentials are impeccable.
Mack claims to have interviewed more than a hundred people who
say that they have been abducted by aliens. Of these, 47 females
and 29 males, including three boys of eight and under, have
convinced Mack that their accounts of being abducted are genuine.
In this book, he presents 13 selected cases, eight men and five
The usual pattern of an abduction is that the abductee is at
home or in a car. He or she sees a bright light, sometimes blue,
which emanates from a spacecraft or UFO to which the abductee is
taken by "floating" through walls or the roof of a car. Further
transportation to a larger spacecraft follows. "Communication
between aliens and humans is telepathic, mind to mind or thought to
thought, with no specific common learned language being necessary."
Most victims describe aliens as small, grey, and hairless, with
large heads and long arms. The captive usually feels unable to move
any part of the body except the head. The aliens then conduct
experiments on the abductee's body, often using instruments which
remove eggs from females and sperm samples from men. These
experiments are usually felt as intrusive, but there are also
reports of rewarding sexual intercourse with aliens. Many abductees
believe the aliens have an interspecies breeding programme, and say
they have seen hybrid infants in spacecraft.
Aliens are generally regarded as "more advanced spiritually and
emotionally than we are", which makes it hard to understand why
they should want to interbreed with humans, whose misuse of the
earth they usually condemn as wicked or stupid. For not all the
habits of aliens are nasty: they also issue timely warnings. When
in the spacecraft, the captives are given information about the
fate of the earth, which may include scenes of devastation
following a nuclear explosion, lifeless polluted landscapes and
"apocalyptic images of giant earthquakes, firestorms, floods, and
even fractures of the planet itself". Some lucky abductees are
given glimpses of their previous incarnations, as, for example, a
tomb-painter in ancient Egypt.
Abduction experiences often run in families. Mack states that
his subjects are free from psychiatric illness or psychological or
emotional conditions which could account for their abductions. Yet
examination of his 13 cases reveals that all reported strange
experiences, neurotic symptoms or preoccupation with the paranormal
from early childhood onward. One subject had been seeing a
psychiatrist for seven years. Another had seizures, migraine-like
headaches, visual hallucinations and a temporarily abnormal
electroencephalogram. Some have been searching for enlightenment in
a variety of sects throughout their lives.
Mack used hypnosis to induce regression to childhood and recover
memories of abduction experiences. He states that "abductees are
peculiarly unsuggestible". If so, one would expect that they would
be hard to hypnotise. Yet he also writes that "abductees seem to
move readily into trance" and shares with readers his impression
"that the reports provided under hypnosis are generally more
accurate than those consciously recalled".
Mack's technique of inducing the hypnotic state includes deep,
rapid breathing. He reports that, at the end of the session, his
subjects often experience cramps in the muscles of the hands.
Overbreathing interferes with calcium metabolism and may cause such
cramps, which are known as tetany; but Mack does not mention this.
Nor does he consider the possibility that his form of therapy is
creating a new, crazy sect whose members try to outdo each other's
fantasies. We have enough interplanetary societies already.
Mack learned the breathing technique from the work of a
psychiatrist called Stanislav Grof. It is said to facilitate travel
through history and the establishment of "transpersonal
relationships". Mack told Esquire that, when he practised it
himself, he found that in one of his past lives he had been a
16th-century Russian who had to watch a band of Mongols decapitate
his four-year-old son.
I wonder if aliens are as credulous and gullible as human
beings? They could hardly be more so. John Mack, of course,
realises that he has put his reputation as a professor of
psychiatry on the line. If he is eventually professionally
discredited, his $250,000 American advance will hardly constitute