by Angela Hind

Pier Productions
BBC News

June 8, 2005

from UFODisclosure Website


This article is based upon a BBC Radio 4 radio program, Abduction, Alienation and Reason, originally broadcast June 8, 2005.


Abduction, Alienation and Reason

BBC Radio 4

broadcast June 8, 2005



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.


Hybrid offspring

"Have I questioned my own sanity"? says Peter Faust an experiencer and close friend of John Mack's. "Absolutely, every day to a certain degree because the majority of the world says you're crazy for having these experiences. But if it was just me who had contact with aliens, who had intimate experience with female aliens and producing hybrid offspring, I would say I'm certifiable, put me away, I'm crazy.

"And that's how I felt when I initially had these experiences. My wife thought I'd lost it. But then I began to look at the experience outside myself and realized that hundreds if not thousands of people reported that exact same experience. And that gave me sanity. That gave me hope. I knew I couldn't be fantasizing this."

The whole experience is often accompanied by a change in the experiencer's understanding of humanity's place in the universe.


And it was this that forced Mack to question who we are in the deepest and broadest sense.

"I have come to realize this abduction phenomenon forces us, if we permit ourselves to take it seriously, to re-examine our perception of human identity - to look at who we are from a cosmic perspective," he said.

Extraordinary work

In 1990 John Mack's book Abduction: Human Encounters with Aliens was published. It shot to the top of the best sellers list and John Mack appeared on radio and television programs. Harvard decided enough was enough.

Mack was sent a letter informing him that there was to be an inquiry into his research on alien abductions. It was the first time in Harvard's history that a tenured professor was subjected to such an investigation.


John Mack decided to fight back and hired a lawyer, Eric MacLeish.

"It was appalling that John had to go through this," says MacLeish now. "And we made it clear that if we were to have a full blown trial here, then we were going to have a very public trial and call on everyone who worked with John - all of whom had nothing but praise for his extraordinary work and dedication to his patients - and I don't think that's what Harvard had in mind at all."

There followed 14 months of stressful and bitter negotiations.

"They tried to criticize me, silence me - by saying that by supporting the truth of what these people were experiencing, possibly I was confirming them in a distortion, or a delusion. So instead of being a good psychiatrist and curing them, I was by taking them seriously, confirming them in a delusion and harming them," said Mack.

The inquiry made front page headlines all over the world and eventually Harvard dropped the case and a statement was issued reaffirming Mack's academic freedom to study what he wished and concluding that he "remains a member in good standing of the Harvard Faculty of Medicine".

He continued to work and write.


But Mack was killed in a car collision last year in north London after leaving a Tube station. He was visiting the city to deliver a lecture on the subject which had won him the Pulitzer Prize in 1977, T.E. Lawrence.

But Mack's work lives on with an institute which now bears his name; the hundreds of people who count themselves in "the experiencer community" still hold him in particular affection.

His search for an expanded notion of reality, which allows for experiences that might not fit traditional perceptions and worldviews, is one they, at least, will be hoping continues.




The above article is based upon a BBC Radio 4 documentary about John Mack, Abduction, Alienation and Reason, originally broadcast on Wednesday night June 8, 2005 on BBC Radio 4 at 2100 BST. (The broadcast is substantially longer than the above article).


The late John E Mack was a highly respected Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard University and a Pulitzer Prize winner for his work on TE Lawrence. In 1983 he founded the Centre for Psychology and Social Change (now the John Mack Institute) and was at the forefront of original research at Harvard Universityís Cambridge Hospital.


In the early 1990s, he turned the academic community worldwide upside down because he wanted to publish his research in which he said that people who claimed they had been abducted by space aliens may not all be crazy after all. Abduction, Alienation And Reason is the story of one manís battle with his academic colleagues to keep an open mind and his struggle to understand those who claim to have been abducted.


His plea was as much for them as for the future of psychiatry.


An editorial note from the John E. Mack Institute regarding the radio program Abduction, Alienation And Reason

We note with some dismay that on this BBC program Dr Richard McNally of Harvard Medical School again makes a claim, which in our view is inaccurate, that the alien encounter "experiencers" who McNally studied had "preexisting new age beliefs" which may help explain why they reported alien encounters.

Two of the ten subjects who participated in his study are heard in the BBC radio program, and neither one fulfills that criteria: Karin, who described herself as "a right wing Rush Limbaugh fan" at the time of her most memorable alien encounter, and Peter, who described himself as a "recovering Catholic" during his.

Beyond this factual contradiction, the suggestion is made by McNally that their stated belief in phenomenon such as esp/telepathy or being shown the future is evidence that these people were predisposed to report alien encounters.


That suggestion fails to note that the alien encounter experience itself (which seems to begin in childhood) involves telepathic communication from the purported "aliens" as well as visions of future environmental destruction, etc. To fail to note that the experiencers' subsequent beliefs in these and other extraordinary experiences may have arisen from the alien encounter experiencers themselves is, in our view, misleading.

Similarly concerning to us, a true but somewhat disingenuous assertion of McNally's is that the ten experiencers whom he studied had recalled additional details of their alien encounters after consulting therapists. While this is true (and while we appreciate that McNally did not attempt to dodge the fact that these people had conscious recollections of their alien encounters before seeing therapists) we find it is somewhat odd for him to note that the subjects had been to therapists in light of the fact that the John Mack Institute provided McNally with about a third of his subjects.


If McNally had wanted an honest random sampling of experiencers, without the certainty that they had been seen by a psychiatrist, he could have avoided skewing the sample by declining our referrals.

The more general question of why more elaborate theories of alien encounters are given short thrift by McNally is sufficiently addressed by participants in the BBC program ó including McNally himself, who comments that "I had no idea what he was talking about," in reference to John Mack's suggestion that Western concepts of reality are too restrictive for an understanding of the alien encounter phenomenon.

So with the above noted, we leave the rest to the listeners; it is an exceptionally well done program and we hope you will enjoy it.