2. "I Know
This Sounds Crazy, But..."
It is the abductees themselves who have the answers to questions
about alien intentions. But it is not easy for them to speak about
their abduction experiences. They have learned to remain silent. As
a child, for example, an abductee may have told her mother and
father about the little "people" in her room who came through the
closed windows and took her away. Her parents probably reassured her
that this was only a dream, and the child's insistence that it was
real—"I was awake!"—did no good.
Eventually the abductee stopped
telling her parents.
In school, she may have confided in a friend and talked about seeing
ghosts, perhaps aliens, in her bedroom. The friend may have held the
secret for a short time, but it was not long before all the other
children knew and the teasing grew mean and merciless. The abductee
learned to tell no one else.
As an adult, she probably kept quiet about her experiences. If she
told anyone, it was within a protective, humorous context that
allowed her to have a good-natured laugh— usually accompanied by the
vocalized "woo-WOO-woo" of 1950s science fiction Theremin music. But
she secretly wished someone would say, "You know, that happened to
When she married, she did not tell her husband about her experiences
and continued to keep them secret. She did not want him to think she
was crazy, and she knew he would not accept the reality of the story
and be supportive. Thus, most abductees learn over the course of
their lives that the best method of protecting themselves against
ridicule and further victimization is to tell no one. They live
their lives harboring their secrets and hiding their fears.
Contacting an abduction researcher like me is an act of bravery.
People who suspect that something unusual is happening to them begin
their letters with plaintive phrases:
"I know this sounds crazy, but..."
or "I know you'll laugh when you read this," or "I've written
this letter a hundred times in my mind."
They desperately want someone to believe
them, but they know they are telling an inherently unbelievable
story and opening themselves up to more ridicule. Most abductees
come to me with the basic question, "What has been happening to me?"
Some have a specific triggering incident that has propelled them to
"In 1979 my boyfriend and I saw a UFO close up and it
swooped down low toward us. All I remember was running, and then we
found ourselves in our car and it was six hours later. I have
thought about this incident every day of my life since then."
During the subsequent hypnotic sessions with me, the abductees
recall events that can be profoundly disturbing, bizarre, and
frightening. When asked if they would undergo hypnosis and relive
their experiences if they had a choice to do so all over again, they
are often ambivalent. While most say yes and some are uncertain, a
few say no—they would rather not know what has been happening to
They all realize that they have traded one set of problems for
They have been freed from constantly wondering about what
has been happening to them, but now that they know, they are scared.
Most acknowledge that becoming aware of their plight transforms them
psychologically. They feel more integrated, less confused about
their situation, and emotionally stronger. They also feel frightened
and powerless in the face of unwelcome sudden physical intrusions
into their lives.
I approach abductees individually in search of some new and perhaps
revealing information about the phenomenon, although nearly all
contribute confirmatory information. For example, in over 700
abduction investigations I have conducted using hypnosis, I have
been told of egg-taking procedures almost 150 times, physical
examinations about 400 times, Mindscan (staring) procedures about
375 times, and baby and toddler contact 180 times. Some experiences
I have heard only occasionally. If I hear anything only once, and I
am not yet certain of the thoroughness and veracity of the person
who is telling it to me, I withhold a conclusion pending
confirmation from other abductees.
Virtually everything I will describe in later chapters has been
confirmed many times over.
I have interviewed abductees from North
and South America, Europe, Africa, and Asia. I have used transcripts
of the hypnotic sessions I have conducted with over thirty of the
110 individuals in my population. They come from all walks of life,
cutting across ethnic, racial, educational, cultural, economic,
political, and geographical boundaries. Brief descriptions of a few
of these brave people indicate the broad human dimension of the
Allison Reed was twenty-eight when she called me in June of 1993.
She and her husband operated a successful home-based business. She
reached me while my family and I were on vacation on Long Beach
Island, New Jersey. She was worried about odd things that had been
happening to her throughout her life. She had learned to cope with
them silently, but now her eight-year-old son and five-year-old
daughter had been telling her of strange and frightening things
happening to them, too. She grew increasingly alarmed as her
children's descriptions of their experiences seemed to be confirmed
by physical marks on their bodies.
When her children independently drew pictures of what was happening
to them, Allison decided to act.
First she came across amateur UFO
buffs who were convinced that the government was covering up a UFO
crash on the East Coast. Eventually she found me. I do not work with
children because we do not understand the effect that knowledge of
an abduction experience might have on their psychological
development. But I agreed to look into Allison's strange
When Allison found that she, too, was
involved with abductions, she became fiercely determined to find out
as much as possible in order to do something to stop this threat to
her self and her family. The accounts she gave in her regression
sessions were as precise as any I have ever heard. We uncovered
abductions that ranged from neutral and procedural to traumatic and
even physically harmful. It was not until we had had sixteen
sessions together that she told me about an event that had happened
to her, her husband, and her ten-month-old baby in 1986. The event
took place over a five-day period. Together we examined it in
meticulous detail over the next eight sessions.
Allison has become resigned to being involved in the abduction
phenomenon. She has tried to prevent the abductions by using a video
camera, which is trained on her all night, but with only limited
success. She, like all abductees, has sought to find a psychological
accommodation with the abductions so that she can get on with her
life without having to think continually about what is happening to
her and her family.
I first saw Christine Kennedy in 1992. A woman of twenty-nine with
three children, she had had a lifetime of unusual experiences,
"dreams," and episodes. As a young girl, she had used alcohol to
block out her "night terrors." She had been in recovery and sober
for a number of years before she saw me, and she continued to go to
recovery meetings. Christine often woke up with bruises on her body.
When she was six years old, she woke up and "knew" about sexual
intercourse. She had seen UFOs; she had seen beings in her room.
When she was pregnant with her first child, she remembered arguing
with someone that the baby was "hers" and not "theirs." She had read
an article about me in OMNI magazine and sought me out.
Like Allison, Christine resisted her abductors. She never
surrendered to what was happening to her and tried to fight back as
best she could whenever she could. She eventually used video and
magnetic equipment in her room to try to detect the presence of
aliens and to try (vainly) to deter them from taking her and her
children. She hates the beings and has tried but failed to protect
herself from them.1
Pam Martin has led an even more unusual life. She was born in 1944
and lived for a few years in an orphanage. She grew up in New Jersey
living a marginal and nonconformist existence for many years. An
eighth-grade dropout, she was basically self-taught with talent in
both writing and art. As a young woman, she worked as a "taxi
dancer," a waitress, a truck driver, and later a home healthcare
As a result of her UFO experiences, Pam had come to believe over the
years that she was leading a "charmed" life with "guardian angels"
helping her overcome life's difficulties. She became a devoted
member of a "New Age" ministry. After one particularly vivid
abduction experience, she decided that aliens were actually
wonderful beings visiting her from the Pleiades constellation. She
felt certain that she had been given "powers" that enabled her to
manipulate time and reality to her benefit. For example, when she
drove somewhere, she would sometimes arrive there much earlier than
she should have.
I have had over thirty sessions with Pam, and during that time she
has come to have a less romantic idea about what has been happening
to her. She was initially disappointed that what she remembered
under hypnosis were not the pleasant experiences she had imagined,
but she now accepts the reality of what has been happening to her.
She realizes that neither guardian angels nor the Pleiades have
anything to do with her experiences, and that she cannot manipulate
time and reality.
Now she wants to be able to confront the beings
without fear and force them to answer questions about their
activities. Her husband has been supportive and feels that he also
might be an abductee, although he does not want to look into his
Claudia Negron was born in Puerto Rico in 1941 and came to the
mainland when she was six years old. She raised two children as a
single mother after her divorce in the mid1970s. At the age of
thirty-two, she began college. She has graduated and now works as an
executive secretary. Fascinated by the UFO phenomenon as an adult,
she joined a local UFO group. She has had a lifetime filled with
abductions and has become sensitized to their occurrence. When the
particulars of her abductions were revealed under hypnosis, she
wanted to learn as much as possible about them. Yet she is
ambivalent. As much as she feels intensely curious about the
phenomenon, she wants it to stop.
Susan Steiner was born in New York in 1950, graduated college, and
began her career as a photography technician at a New York studio.
She married in 1987 and has since begun her own marketing consulting
At first, Susan was extremely skeptical
about what was happening to her. Like many abductees, she had
developed alternative explanations for her lifelong experiences, but
she had a major triggering event in 1985 that eventually propelled
her to seek me out. She and a friend were on a camping trip and saw
a UFO close up. A period of fear and confusion followed, and when it
was over she could not account for several hours of missing time.
She thought about that incident continually for years before finally
coming to me for hypnosis. She has decided that her husband would
not be supportive if she told him she is an abductee.
Terry Matthews wrote to me about her unusual experiences in October
1994. She was born in a small town in Pennsylvania and grew up in an
upper-middle-class family with an abusive father. She assumed that
her lifetime of unusual dreams and experiences was in some way
related to her father's actions. This was seemingly confirmed by a
therapist who, during hypnosis, uncovered "repressed memories" of
abuse, both emotional and sexual. She became convinced that she had
been sexually abused and underwent years of therapy for it.
Always emotionally "grounded," she
angrily broke off with one therapist when he began to introduce
ideas about her "past lives." Even though she is a very religious
person, it was difficult for Terry to associate her unusual
experiences that seemed unconnected to her father with religious
visitations. She found an outlet for her inner turmoil in creative
writing, and when I met her she was seeking a publisher for her
As the daughter of a clergyman, Michelle Peters thought that some of
her experiences were religious in nature. Like Terry, she copes with
her memories by writing about them and is the author of an
unpublished novel. Possessed of a charming, self-deprecating sense
of humor, she never felt victimized by the phenomenon.
Martin, she had a strong sense that she was being visited by a
"guardian angel." She thought that the visitations had stopped when
she married at age twenty in 1982. But when she was thirty-two, she
woke up in the middle of the night to see bright blue lights coming
into her house from the outside. She tried to wake her husband but
could not. She walked into the living room and looked out the
window, but the light was too bright to make out details.
The next thing she knew, she was awake the next morning feeling
sick; her nightgown was off, and her robe was on backward. This
frightening event compelled her to find the origin of her
Reshma Kamal was born in India and moved with her family to
Minneapolis when she was a young girl. She eventually married a man
from India and proudly maintains a traditional Indian household.
When she realized as a teenager that bizarre things were happening
to her, she embarked on a quest to discover their origin. Her mother
took her back to India, thinking that traditional healers might rid
her of these experiences, but Reshma found their attitude
infuriatingly naive. The village doctor and other friends of the
family decided that she was fabricating these experiences to attract
attention to herself because she wanted to get married.
Years later, Reshma's desire to
understand her experiences grew stronger as she realized that they
were also happening to her five children. She consciously remembered
many details and, through the years, kept a detailed journal. Her
husband is extremely supportive of her and their children's plight
but, as with other abductees, the family has felt powerless to stop
I met Kathleen Morrison when she sat in on my "UFOs and American
Society" course at Temple University. She had returned to college
after a long absence to receive her doctorate. As the course
material turned toward the abduction phenomenon, she became
uncomfortable and could no longer attend my class. She told me that
a few years earlier she gone to a play that contained a scene in
which an actor seemed to be floating in air. The scene triggered
vague memories that caused her to panic, and she became so
frightened that she had to escape to the lobby.
There she hung on to a banister to
steady herself while hyperventilating with raw fear. We eventually
had twenty-six sessions together, during which she learned the
reason for her fear response as she became aware of the many alien
intrusions into her life. Despite her marriage of twenty years, she
has not told her husband, fearing that the sexual aspects of the
abductions would be too difficult for him to handle.
Jack Thernstrom was a graduate student studying for his Ph.D. in
physics at an Ivy League university. He came to me to examine
puzzling events in his life, some of which he had at first
interpreted to be of a religious nature. He also had confusing and
disturbing memories of being in the basement and seeing a small
being "coming out of a radio," of "snakes" following him, and of
being "molested" in the woods. His hypnotic sessions were difficult.
He would clench his teeth, tighten his muscles, and literally shake
violently with anxiety during each session.
After ten sessions he
suddenly felt strongly that he should not be telling me about his
experiences because it was a violation of some sort. He discontinued
hypnosis, although he still comes to my support group meetings.
Both Budd Hopkins and I have worked with Kay Summers. She is
thirty-one, lives in the Midwest, and has had perhaps more hypnosis
sessions than anyone else. She has experienced the full range of
abduction procedures, but hers have been more violent than most.
Although she has often suffered a series of physical injuries in her
abductions, including, upon two occasions, broken bones, her resolve
in the face of adversity is extraordinary.
She insists on leading a normal life and
refuses to give in to the depression that she often feels. Her
parents are hostile to the reality of the phenomenon and give her no
support, and she has not told the man with whom she lives for fear
of alienating him. Because of her predicament, Kay leads an
emotionally isolated existence—except for talking to Hopkins and me.
She is totally resigned to her lot, and in her more depressed
moments she tells me that she wishes the beings would kill her so
that she can be free of them once and for all. I do all I can to
lift her spirits and channel her depression into more productive
areas of resistance. I must admit, however, that depression is a
frequent and predictable response to the phenomenon.
All the abductees in this study are united by the desire to
understand what has been happening to them. They share the common
bond of being involved with a phenomenon that at first they could
not understand, then could not believe, and now cannot control.
They are all determined to gain intellectual and emotional mastery
over their experiences.
As they have recounted their abductions, they have often described
neutral or sometimes even enjoyable experiences. By far, however,
the most prevalent type is disturbing and traumatic. I can only
listen and encourage them to cope. My responsibility is to be as
honest and knowledgeable as possible; amateur—and misleading
—speculation can be found anywhere. I help them understand both what
has been happening to them and how they can get on with their lives
in the face of it. This is all I can do.
I know that the only way to
help them permanently would be to stop the abductions, and this I
During the process of remembering their experiences, many abductees
realize their special situation. They are on the front lines of
investigating this monumentally important phenomenon. They are the
"scouts" who come back and report what they have seen and
experienced. As "participant/observers," they have the most
important role of all. They bring researchers like me the pieces of
the puzzle so that we can put them together.
They are not just the victims of
abductions, they are also the heroes, without whose accounts we
would have no meaningful insight whatsoever into the UFO
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