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The Phenomenological Problem of Alien Abduction

The phenomenon of alien abduction most fascinates me, if only due to the simple fact that if, and this is a mighty huge "if", UFOs are indeed real, if we are dealing with outside intelligence from a planet, or possibly solar system other than our own, abductions are easily the most disturbing facet of Ufology. Again, this all rests upon a volatile "if." Abductions, to be sure, readily serve as fodder for those canons that would, were they able, blow the notion of UFOs clear past the waters of credulity, into the same polis populated by faeries, vampires, witches and warlocks-in other words, the dredges of long since defunct superstitions no feasibly sane man or woman would entertain the existence of. The truth, they say, is very simple when you get down to it. Abduction either is solid proof of either the farcical or delusional nature of UFOs or it is, perhaps, a dangerous portent of things to come. Either, like the incubi and sucubi of old, alien abductions are resultant from a concoction of contemporary superstition coupled with psycho-sexual trauma or repression, or they are a contemporary account of a genuine reality existing either on the fringes of our own or entirely outside of its parameters.

The initial reason anyone entertains the possibility of alien abduction is, to be sure, an innate fascination with the prospect of abductions marking the beginnings of a certain cosmic doom. Some part of the human psyche naturally gravitates towards the prospects that not only is an alien intelligence here, they are taking away other human beings, neighbors, friends, relatives and the like, removing said human beings from their immediate surroundings on board a transgalatic ship of some variety, subjecting them to an examination and transposing them back to their natural habitat. And, the most appealing aspect by far, we can do nothing to stop it.

Budd Hopkins has authored many well-written books on the subject, taken from his own investigations with alleged abductees, Witnessed being the most provocative book to date on the subject. Witnessed details an alleged abduction of a single white female that took place in New York. Unique to this incident is the presence of witnesses (two police officers and an international diplomat) who saw the young woman being transported by a beam of light outside of her upper level apartment window. Assuming none of the personalities involved in Hopkins' investigation are guilty of deceit, this case provides the human species with grave new demarcation in the abduction phenomenon; now, the fact of alien abduction can be validated by third parties, and we can even find attestation to the extraordinary and unstoppable technology being employed for this nefarious task.

One must, before subscribing to the possibility of the above being remotely near true, ask what does this perspective of alien abduction reveal about the human psyche purporting its reality. Let there be no confusion, I wouldn't cast any dispersion on Bud Hopkins. Really, Hopkins isn't the one purporting the reality of the phenomenon, rather, he simply relays a report of what he is told. The party responsible is the alleged abductees and before offering credence to their ordeal, we ought necessarily ask, would anyone make this up? Or, better yet, would anyone want to make this up? Is there something in the human psyche that on some abnormal level gains a sense of comfort and certainty in the prospect of a personal alien threat, the existence of biological life who pose a threat to the individual's life itself as opposed to global society at large? H.P. Lovecraft would necessarily answer in the affirmative to both questions.

Lovecraft garnered himself a name in the canon of American Literature by both concocting stories of extra terrestrial menaces interjecting themselves into the lives of individuals under the grim shadow of enslavement. Lovecraft's success was wrought in his ability to keep the nemesis local as opposed to having the armies of nations aware of its presence. At the close of the modern age and initial conception of the post modern age, Lovecraft tapped into the latent fear of the unknown playing upon all of the new uncertainties the embryonic stages of our contemporary society offered, among those being the encounter with intelligent life aside from our in space. The popularity of the man in his life and death well attests to how deeply the culture was and is plagued by the unconscious fears Lovecraft exploited in his work. Yet, the numbers by which people read Lovecraft today suggest it is not only fear but largely a sense of security Lovecraft's tales elicit. People read Lovecraft not to engage in their reality but escape from it. Lovecraft makes no charged political or existential statement on the state of man and his society, rather, in the pressures of the age, Lovecraft provides the culture with a conduit of release with tales of an alien menace. There would seem to indeed be a facet of the human psyche that takes great comfort from the prospects of a phenomenon such as alien abduction. To uphold the menacing nature of many accounts lends the phenomenon reality requires one to ignore a substantial proclivity within the human mind.

Of course, Lovecraft never wrote exploits of his creatures performing strange sexual experiments on their humans. Since the hypnosis recordings of Barney and Betty Hill, the sexual component of the alleged phenomenon has been of increasing prominence, concluding with attestations of hybrid program being conducted by the extra terrestrial abductors. Immediately, most especially in the instances of abductees relating terror at the experience, one ought immediately recall the sucubii and incubi of old. Alleged abductees recount the intruders performing invasive sexual procedures on them, more often then not with the goal of retrieving sperm and eggs. Phenomenonlogically, this is little more than the medieval incubi or sucubi recast in a post-modern technological paradigm, substantiating a theory that sexual or reproductive violation is an unconscious fear latent in the human species. Recently, however, the sexual component to alleged alien abductions has taken a new twist. Increasingly, abductees report being controlled by the aliens to perform sexual acts on other humans themselves.

David Jacobs more so than any other investigator sounds the alarm on this facet of the phenomenon although Jacobs, like any rational human being, ought to listen to the accounts slowly and see what the alleged victims are relating, however disguised it might be, about the human psyche. Jacobs provides accounts of one woman being psychically manipulated by an alien to perform oral sex on a nervous male (they took control of her head, neck and mouth), of a man being forced on top of a woman to have sex with her, being removed only at the moment his semen is about to enter her, and another account of various human-alien hybrids staring into the eyes of suburban housewives and causing immediate orgasm. One must necessarily wonder how much of this is the repressed sexual psyche from members of a lethargic suburban middle class. The first example is easily recognizable as a woman who yearns to be dominant over a submissive male. The second example is an all too typical male fantasy-sex with a stranger without any consequences. And the third reads all too close to the sexual depression all too common among the American middle class-house wives starved for a satisfying sex life. Plainly, at the substance of these alleged abductions, there is nothing out of the realm of jaded lovers looking for some fantasy by which to reach a certain satisfaction.

Some abductees purport a uniquely spiritual experience. These apparently spiritual communications range from a general sense of content the alleged abductees have regarding the occurrence, a certain sense of having been "chosen" by apparently higher intelligence, to intimations of spiritual knowledge, more often than not confirming a contemporary new age spirituality. According to some abduction researchers, those who take the phenomenon at face value, these are often smoke screen memories, induced either by the abductee in an instant of cognitive dissonance or by the aliens themselves to further conceal details of their operation. Immediately, such accounts ought to encourage a scrupulous examination on the motivations involved. In this instance, an increasing number of abduction researchers are displaying some erudition, or at least leaning in such a direction, in proposing the smoke screen memory hypothesis.

The very fact we can entertain the prospect the alleged abductees are subject to self-induced delusion, although there remains a spectre of ET induction, necessarily liberates the phenomenon from previous shackles binding it to frayed ends of possibility. It is now permissible to acknowledge abductees themselves may have some role in creating the event they describe so far as concerns the recollection thereof. However, given that abduction is an after the fact event-there is no investigation nor report of an abduction while it's in action-such a prospect, that abductees play a role in creating their memory of the event, ultimately effects the phenomenon itself. It may or may not be just memory, the abductee may very well play a role in creating the admittedly tenuous reality of the phenomenon, from memory to the apparent psychological effects providing the unique characteristics of their lives. Accounts of spiritual communication in the phenomenon greatly enhance the probability of as much. Invariably, the abductee purporting a spiritual dimension to these encounters feels himself to be in a pride of place among humanity; he or she is chosen and as such is somehow qualitatively different from his or her surrounding humanity.

Equally invariably there is a set of (typically) new age doctrine they bring with them, charged by the aliens to teach other human beings to one of two ends: the aliens habitation among us or our own advance in knowledge so we can leave this planet in harmony and join the races of space. Within the allegedly spiritual aspect of alien abduction, all of the tenants of religious gnosticism, as opposed to the early philosophical movement in the pre-common era, are clearly discernable. A chosen few who receive hidden knowledge and teach it to those wise enough to see they are indeed chosen belies one of the oldest forms of ego fulfillment in human culture. Dissatisfied with the predominate religious paradigms of the culture, often because such paradigms ultimately create a class of members who are recognized as possessing unique spiritual, religious, and philosophical authority and perceptions distinct from other members, certain members crave to attain the same status though when told for a host of sociological, political and intellectual reasons they cannot receive the same status a certain existential vacuum develops. Their most coveted aspirations have been thwarted by conventional means and the individual typically seeks some other phenomenon in the culture to utilize as an impetus to circumvent the existing paradigms without necessarily breaking away from it. Gnosticism, as a religious moment, did just this, utilizing, through its various incarnations, Platonism, neo-Platonism, Greek and Egyptian mythology, Judaism, Christianity and now, from my perspective, post-modernism, within which exists Ufology.

In my own reading of the phenomenon of alien abduction, the elements of ego fulfillment are too readily present to ignore, at least as alien abduction is so presented by Ufology. This is not to dismiss the phenomenon entirely. Like the Condon Report, there is a certain percentage composite of unknowns. However, abduction, like Ufology in general, is seriously discredited by insisting upon an extra-terrestrial intervention. A general abduction phenomenon, sans the small gray beings, could indeed be possible; fundamentally, for all my skepticism I've not ruled out the possibility of the general phenomenon, although the probability of aliens appears extremely low.

While one can sympathize with the lot of a Ufologist or abduction researcher, one cannot bay one's sense of higher criticism toward the ET hypothesis. No such reliable evidence exists for us to hang our hat on, so to speak. The phenomenon may indeed contain veracity of some degree or another, but too many phenomological problems exist to uphold the veracity of alien intervention. The individual human consciousness is not always the most reliable indicator of reality, most especially when said individual human consciousness is subjected to criticism by other individual human consciousnesses. An individual's interpretation of reality, though quite vivid, may not necessarily be true and, in fact, more often than not has little veracity whatsoever. Humans, as finite beings, are incapable of ascertaining and retaining all of the causality behind and event, there will always be some component of reality unbeknownst to an individual, hence the individual's interpretation of his reality will be imperfect by some degree.

Rumaging through the Roswel debrees field, this has been The Wrath of Joe.