Will Bueche of PEER raised some issues about my thoughts on the transforming nature of UFO abduction events in a recent posting. This report serves as a more detailed explanation of my perspective as well as an opportunity to share some additional personal thoughts about my late friend and colleague, John Mack. Dr. Mack, the creator of PEER, is well known in the UFO research world for having a slightly different perspective on the abduction issue than I do. Simply put, I’ve always felt that the abductors—the UFO occupants—had a self-serving goal, which I’ve detailed in several published books, and that their behavior was neither intentionally evil nor benevolent. Throughout our many meetings over the years, it was evident that John Mack preferred to believe that the aliens’ program had a good aspect to it. However, in a less speculative divergence between us, I saw the good changes in the lives of the abductees we both met and worked with as owing purely to human reasons rather than spiritual infusions from the aliens. The people’ personal spiritual resources, the love and support of their families and friends, and the sensitivity and talents of the therapists/investigators they worked with appear to me to be the agencies that bring about their good transformations when taken together.

However, in John Mack’s opinion, the aliens endowed many abductees with a great sense of profound, transpersonal love, as well as a powerful desire to fight for the betterment of our endangered environment. This would be a joyful conclusion if true, balancing the unavoidable pain of abductions, but the evidence is firmly against it. The long-established patterns of UFO abductions clearly reveal that these experiences begin in childhood and continue at irregular intervals throughout decades, yet there is absolutely no evidence that abductees have been more ecologically sensitive throughout their lives than non-abductees. (In fact, I was usually disappointed by how many attendees were heavy smokers or showed evidence of other hazardous substance-abuse disorders at the early support groups I facilitated.) The comprehensive study of the individual’s abduction experiences, often employing hypnosis, and, unfortunately, in some cases, the ideological influence of therapist/investigators, seemed to stimulate ecological sensitivity later on.

Years ago, for example, John Mack told me that he was working with three abductees who had come to him miserable, despondent, and working in uninspired occupations. However, he claimed that after three months of assisting them in exploring their abduction experiences, they had all realized that the aliens intended them to be concerned about environmental issues. He told me that all three of them had resigned their occupations and were now working in jobs that had a significant environmental impact. “But John,” I countered, “who gets the credit if the aliens had them for twenty or thirty years and the three of them were depressed and in dead-end occupations, and you had them for three months and changed their lives for the better?”

The essential difference between John’s and my perspectives on these developments might be summarized as follows: his was a more mystical perspective – some could even call it “religious” in the broad sense – whereas mine was more typically humanistic. I believe that the abductee alterations we seek are brought about by simply human means, rather than by the abductors’ benevolent outside influence. I’ll use a simple analogy to illustrate my argument. Let’s pretend that a small town has two competing hardware stores, one of which is owned by a devoted, conservative Christian and the other by a hardworking Buddhist. The Christian fervently believes that his store is doing better because the Christian God is answering his prayers and assisting him, whereas the Buddhist is well aware that his competitor’s store is doing better for three mundane reasons: it is in a better location, has a larger parking lot, and has a larger stock.

When it should be evident that we are only invoking our belief systems, religious or otherwise, we often opt to attribute both terrible and good fortune to “invisible” outside influences.
Thus, in my case, John Mack preferred to attribute his own success and his clients’ spiritual growth to outside alien intervention, to a “gift from above,” rather than to a combination of his undeniable therapeutic skills and the personalities, spiritual resources, and opportunities of the abductees he worked with.
Another issue undermines the concept that aliens are to blame for these alterations. The omnipresence of alien deception: the systematic blocking of abductees’ memories, the creation of screen memories – false images forced upon innocent subjects in order to hide disturbing aspects of the abductions – and, perhaps worst of all, repeated alien claims that “we are your real parents, you came from the stars, you belong to us,” and so on. All of this should serve as a warning to anyone who believes alien promises, declarations of “deep spiritual love,” or even basic assurances such as “Don’t worry, this won’t hurt.” Despite this, some abductees opt to believe the aliens’ blandishments, a tendency that is likely attributable to our human urge to always believe the best, as well as the aliens’ demonstrated capacity to control human emotion.

Having said that, I believe that a dramatic series of personal encounters, such as intermittent, life-long alien abductions, whether consciously recalled or not, will inevitably cause genuine transformations in any life’s developmental trajectory, and I have written extensively about such transformations.
Anyone who works with abductees, including John Mack, has become aware of the negative consequences of their experiences: PTSD, depression, low self-esteem, elevated distrust scores, and so on. In my over thirty years of working with hundreds of abductees, I’ve witnessed a number of suicide attempts, some of which were successful, as well as a number of emotional breakdowns and hospitalizations, none of which is surprising. However, as I previously indicated, after abductees have began to discuss their experiences with objective therapists/investigators and have begun to engage with other abductees through friendships and support groups, a positive aspect to their experiences frequently emerges. Despite their traumas, many people believe that their lives have been broadened in some ways, that their sense of connectedness with all living things has deepened, and that their respect for our planet’s beauty and fragility has been stirred. But, once again, the essential question is whether these beneficial outcomes are a gift from the aliens or simply a facet of the human spirit’s inherent generosity and resilience when confronted with extraordinary encounters.

It seems self-evident to me that anyone who is temporarily taken from the familiarity and safety of our home planet to an unearthly environment will have an emotionally altering experience. Fortunately, we have a number of reactions to such experiences on file, in which the participants remarked on their improved sympathies for the earth’s beauty and endangered state upon their return to their home planet, and pledged their renewed commitment to environmental causes. Some spoke eloquently on the profound spiritual and intellectual changes that their extraterrestrial encounters had brought about. I’m not talking about abductees from UFOs; I’m talking about NASA astronauts, men and women who have deliberately left the area of Earth, momentarily relinquishing their regular autonomy, and then returned to our beleaguered planet with grief and worry.

These “NASA abductees” serve as a control group, allowing scientists to observe how people respond when they are taken away from their usual surroundings.
They resemble the reactions of people who were unwittingly apprehended and taken away by UFO occupants in certain aspects. So, if one were to ask, “What might the average human think after such an unearthly adventure?” the NASA astronauts provide at least a partial answer: such a space traveler is likely to return more concerned about ecological issues and the endangered state of our planet – not because of alien emotional infusions, but because of human inborn hopes and concerns.

Given all of these considerations, it appears to me that John Mack’s portrayal of aliens as benevolent presenters of spiritual riches and environmental concern to abductees is essentially a question of mystical faith, with no convincing evidence to back it up. Worse, it provides a reassuring alibi for the aliens’ kidnapping of innocent men, women, and children and subjecting them to a succession of coldly horrific treatments that ostensibly benefit the aliens but invariably leave humans with significant emotional scars.

Finally, and perhaps most depressingly, this “benevolent” view of the manipulating aliens ascribes to them spiritual energies that rightfully belong to the wounded, even heroic abductees. I recall having a conversation with the wife of an abductee with whom John had worked extensively a few years earlier. Her spouse, she added, was completely absorbed by his “foreign family,” to the point that she felt discouraged and alienated. I questioned if she believed her husband’s claims of a truly love relationship with his captors, as well as his spiritual growth and environmental sensitivity, were true.