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 me, too!"

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 contact me:

"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 them.


They all realize that they have traded one set of problems for another.


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 abduction phenomenon.

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 experiences.


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 worker.

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 experiences.

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 business.


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 novels.

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.


Like Pam 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 experiences.

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 it.

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 cannot do.

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 phenomenon.2


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