Friday, May 30, 2014

Supernatural Friday: Alien Abduction

The term, alien abduction or abduction phenomenon describe "subjectively real memories of being taken secretly against one's will by apparently nonhuman entities and subjected to complex physical and psychological procedures, making them abductees.".  

Due to a paucity of objective physical evidence, most scientists and mental health professionals dismiss the phenomenon as "deception, suggestibility (fantasy-proneness, false memory syndrome), personality, sleep paralysis, psychopathology, psychodynamics [and] environmental factors. Prof. John E. Mack (October 4, 1929 – September 27, 2004), a respected Harvard University psychiatrist, devoted a substantial amount of time to investigating such cases and eventually concluded that the only phenomenon in psychiatry that adequately explained the patients' symptoms in several of the most compelling cases was posttraumatic stress disorder. He was a Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer, and was a leading authority on the spiritual or transformational effects of alleged alien abduction. Mack had a world view inspired by elements of spiritual and philosophical traditions which hold that people are all connected to one another; this theme of "connection" was taken to a controversial extreme in the early 1990s when Mack commenced his decade-plus study of 200 men and women who reported recurrent alien encounter experiences. Such encounters had seen some limited attention from academic figures (R. Leo Sprinkle perhaps being the earliest, in the 1960s). Mack, however, remains probably the most esteemed academic to have studied the subject.

Post traumatic stress disorder, also known as PTSD, may develop after a person is exposed to one or more traumatic events, such as effects of war, sexual assault, serious injury, or the threat of death. The diagnosis may be given when a group of symptoms, such as disturbing recurring flashbacks, avoidance or numbing of memories of the event, and hyperarousal continue for more than a month after the traumatic event. With abductees going through probing and more by their alien captors, this would be in line with them developing PTSD.

The first alien abduction to be widely publicized was the Betty and Barney Hill abduction in 1961. Reports of the abduction phenomenon have been made around the world since then. An entire subculture has developed around the subject, with support groups and a detailed mythos explaining the reasons for abductions: The various aliens (Greys, Reptilians, "Nordics" and so on) are said to have specific roles, origins, and motivations. Abduction claimants do not always attempt to explain the phenomenon, but some take independent research interest in it themselves and explain the lack of greater awareness of alien abduction as the result of either extraterrestrial or governmental interest in cover-up. 

Greys: Typically depicted as dark grey-skinned diminutive humanoid beings that possess reduced forms of, or completely lack, external human organs such as noses, ears or sex organs.  Their bodies are usually depicted as being elongated, having a small chest, and lacking in muscular definition and visible skeletal structure. Their legs are shorter and jointed differently from what one would expect in a human. Their limbs are often depicted as proportionally different from a human's; their humerus and thighs are the same lengths as their forearms and shins. Around half of all reported alien encounters in the United States describe Grey aliens. Such claims vary in every respect including their nature (ETs, extradimensionals, demons, or machines), origins, moral dispositions, intentions, and physical appearances (even varying in their eponymous skin color). A composite description derived from overlap in claims would have Greys as small-bodied sexless beings with smooth grey-colored skin, enlarged head and large black eyes. The origin of the idea of the Grey is commonly associated with the Betty and Barney Hill abduction claim which took place 1961, although skeptics see precursors in science fiction and earlier paranormal claims. The Grey aliens are also famous from the Roswell UFO incident from 1947. Greys are seen in movies like Close Encounters of the Third Kind and depicted in television in Stargate SG-1.

Reptilians: Also called reptoids, reptiloids, or draconians are reptilian humanoids that play a prominent role in science fiction, as well as modern ufology and conspiracy theories. The idea of reptilians on Earth was popularized by David Icke, a conspiracy theorist who says shape-shifting reptilian people control our world by taking on human form and gaining political power to manipulate our societies. Icke has claimed on multiple occasions that many of the world leaders are, or are possessed by, reptilians ruling the world. One of the earliest reports of an abductee encountering one of these type of aliens was that of Ashland, Nebraska police officer Herbert Schirmer, who claims to have been taken aboard a UFO in 1967 by humanoid beings with a slightly reptilian appearance, who wore a "winged serpent" emblem on the left side of their chests. Maybe Star Trek had it right with the Gorn?

Nordics: Nordics are typically described as six to seven feet tall (about two meters) with long blond hair and blue eyes, and are commonly reported as being male. Their skin is said to range from fair colored to tanned, they are reported to be in excellent physical shape, and they are sometimes described as wearing skintight clothing. During the 1950s, many contactees, especially those in Europe, reported beings fitting this description. Such claims became relatively less common in subsequent decades, as the grey alien supplanted the Nordic in most accounts of extraterrestrial encounters, but Nordic aliens are still occasionally reported. Some sources, such as UFO Contact Center International, refer to Nordic-type aliens as Pleiadians, referring to the Pleiades star cluster. They have been described as benevolent or even "magical" beings who want to observe and communicate with humans. Contactees have said that the Nordics are concerned about the Earth's environment or prospects for world peace, and may transmit messages telepathically.

Though the Hills were the most televised abduction case, if one looks back in history, one could find a possibility in mythology, with people and children taken by fairy and coming back years later hardly aged. Fairies steal babies, leaving a changeling in the child’s place. Fairies stole young women as brides, or perhaps for other, less honorable purposes. In the aptly named tale “Stolen Bride,” a gang of fairies carries off a young woman, and something similar happens in "Jamie Freel and the Young Lady.” In both cases, the women are put under an enchantment that leaves them mute and confused. Sounds somewhat like alien abduction, doesn’t it?  And sometimes the women are left pregnant—like in fairy stories—only to lose the child one night after abduction.

Next time you out alone in the country, looking up at the stars scattered across the night sky and one of them moves too oddly to be a plane, make sure it’s not heading your way. You never know, you might get abducted.

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