Date: Mon May 09 1994 01:28:00
From: Sheppard Gordon
Subj: Abductions=trick of sleep
Alien abductions a trick of sleep?
05/03/94 THE FRESNO BEE
Q: Why do some people think they've been abducted by aliens from space?
A: Normally, being calm and rational types, we greet tales of alien
abduction with hoots, sneers and guffaws, then quickly return to our previous
work on behalf of the Zorgon Empire.
But lately the alien thing has gotten out of hand. Getting abducted by
little gray men with large eyeballs is to the '90s what disco dancing in white
suits was to the '70s.
The alien-abduction stories recently got a big boost with the publication
of a book by a well-known, Pulitzer Prize-winning Harvard psychiatrist, John
Mack, who says he believes that these stories, however far-fetched, are
Maybe so. How can you disprove it? The aliens are doing it secretly,
remember, so the absence of footprints, photographs, or direct alien
confessions merely corroborates the scenario of a covert UFO operation.
There are probably many factors at work here. Some stories are probably
hoaxes. Some are probably the result of madness. A few may be artifacts of
There's another explanation that we find particularly intriguing: the
theory that some abduction fantasies are a function of a sleeping disorder
called sleep paralysis.
It so happens that a key Why staffer has this very disorder, and, indeed,
the symptoms match up with some of the symptoms of alien abduction.
The aliens usually strike at night while people are in bed; so too does
sleep paralysis. The abductees report that their first sensation is
apprehension, the sense that someone is in the room; that is precisely what
happens with sleep paralysis.
Sleep paralysis is a screw-up of the brain's normal awake-asleep mechanism.
Normally people lose muscle tone only when they are asleep.
But if you have sleep paralysis this loss of muscle tone can kick in too
early, before your brain is asleep, or persist after you've woken up. It's
creepy! In fact it's a lot like being zapped with a suspended-animation ray
from the Mother Ship. You have to shake yourself out of it, no easy task.
All the while you tend to have auditory hallucinations or dream-like
thoughts, usually with menacing overtones. In Whitley Streiber's book
"Communion," he describes waking up, being unable to move, seeing strange
beings, then, incredibly, going back to sleep. Sounds just like sleep
Our Why staffer has never imagined himself abducted. But he has felt,
during these sleep paralysis attacks, that they were being done to him by
someone else, some Other. It's all the more frustrating then to realize, when
the attack goes away, that it is just one's own self that is doing this, that
the Other is just one's own brain.