By Angela Hind
This article is based upon a BBC Radio 4 radio program, Abduction, Alienation and Reason, originally broadcast June 8, 2005.
Abduction, Alienation and Reason
Not many scientists are prepared to take tales of alien abduction seriously, but John Mack, a Harvard professor who was killed in a road accident in north London last year, did. Ten years on from a row which nearly lost him his job, hundreds of people who claim they were abducted still revere him.
Professor John E Mack was an eminent Harvard psychiatrist, psychoanalyst and Pulitzer Prize winner whose clinical work had focused on explorations of dreams, nightmares and adolescent suicide.
Then, in 1990, he turned the academic community upside down because he wanted to publish his research in which he said that people who claimed they had been abducted by aliens, were not crazy at all. Their experiences, he said, were genuine.
They were not mentally ill or delusional, he said, and it was the responsibility of academicians and psychiatrists not only to take what they said seriously, but to try to understand exactly what that experience was.
And if reality as we know it was unable to take these experiences into serious consideration then what was needed was a change in our perception of reality.
“What are the other possibilities?” said Mack. “Dreams, for instance, do not behave like that. They are highly individual depending on what’s going on in your sub-conscious at the time.
“I would never say, yes, there are aliens taking people. [But] I would say there is a compelling powerful phenomenon here that I can’t account for in any other way, that’s mysterious. Yet I can’t know what it is but it seems to me that it invites a deeper, further inquiry.”
For many people who claimed they had been abducted, John Mack was a lifeline. He worked with more than 200 of them, including professionals, psychologists, writers, students and business people.
Many had never told anyone else of their experiences apart from Mack for fear of ridicule from colleagues, friends and family. Here at last was a highly respected psychiatrist who was not only prepared to listen – but also take what they were saying seriously.
An abductee – or “experiencer” as they prefer to be known – says that alien encounters begin most commonly in their homes and at night. It can however happen anytime, anywhere. They say they are unable to move; they become extremely hot and then appear to float through solid objects, which their logical mind tells them can’t be happening.
Usually the experiencer says they are accompanied by one or two or more humanoid beings who guide them to a ship. They are then subjected to procedures in which instruments are used to penetrate virtually every part of their bodies, including the nose, sinuses, eyes, arms – abdomen and genitalia.
Sperm samples are taken and women have fertilized eggs implanted or removed.