Alien Abduction Phenomenon

Discussion in 'Psychiatry' started by HyperSpace, Jun 2, 2008.

  1. HyperSpace

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    I came across this article where Dr. John Mack a psychiatrist from Harvard University talks about the alien abduction phenomenon. I find it interesting that Dr. Mack believes that this is a true mystery. I was just wondering what your thoughts are on this phenomenon.


    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/aliens/johnmack.html
     
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  3. Anasazi23

    Anasazi23 Your Digital Ruler
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    I shouldn't be allowed to comment on this thread...

    My X-files bias runs too deep....and the years of listening to Art Bell.
     
  4. toby jones

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    One thought (extremely controversial to be sure) is that what used to be attributed to the demons is now attributed to the aliens.

    E.g., 'My daddy didn't shove things up my rectum - but the aliens did'.

    Extremely controversial... One theorist wonders whether it might be linked / related to dissociation / dissociative fugue etc.
     
  5. Roz

    Roz Junior Member

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    There is a pretty good book by Susan Clancy called "Abducted: How People Come to Believe They Were Abducted by Aliens" where she addresses the phenomenon in a pretty logical fashion.

    I am personally a fan of the sleep paralysis (with hypnagogic/hypnapompic hallucinations) theory!
     
  6. sunlioness

    sunlioness Fierce. Proud. Strong
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    #5 sunlioness, Jun 4, 2008
    Last edited: Jun 6, 2008
  7. Neurotica

    Neurotica Emotion Detector

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  8. HyperSpace

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    Yes I am a fan of the sleep paralysis theory. But this theory cannot account for all abduction reports since some people have reported being abducted while driving such as the famous Betty and Barney Hill case. There are also cases where mulitiple people have reported being abducted at one time such as entire familys. Could these people be experiencing mass hysteria?
    What I would like to know is what is the protocol for a psychiatrist if a patient comes in and he/she says they have experienced alien abduction if their is no obvious pathology. I imagine this type of scenerio is very rare but it is still interesting to know what a psychiatrist would do.
     
  9. grandslam521

    grandslam521 Junior Member

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    It seems that these subjective experiences may result from different and, perhaps, completely exclusive phenomena. Dissociations, sleep disorders, visual illusions, hallucinations, delusions, and others may all play a role. Because the idea of alien abductions and the aliens themselves have become well integrated into our culture and psyche both visually and psychologically, individuals may unconsciously elicit parts of the alien abduction archetype and confuse these with their own, unexplainable experience as a means of understanding. In the case of an entire family's experience, it may be a rare case of shared psychotic disorder.
     
  10. Doc Samson

    Doc Samson gamma irradiated
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    Here's my experience:

    Called to ED to see pt presenting to have "chip implanted in my brain by aliens who abducted me" removed. Discussed with pt that nothing seen on CT. Pt insisted chip present so that aliens could track him, showed me some polaroids of the sun and airplane vapor trails as evidence of UFOs. Evaluated him for danger to self/others. He had no wish to attempt self-removal of chip ("oh no, I'd want to be under anesthesia, it hurt when they put it in") and good ability to find food/clothing/shelter, so sent him on his way.
     
  11. chapaquito

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    This is one of the most fascinating topics,Dr Mack before passing did a documental movie called "Touched",where he presents all the different cases of alien abductions,the question is not wheter or not this phenomenom (the abduction) has taken place but when this is going to happen to us,and this is always related to UFOs.Even the Vatican said acknowledges the possibility of alien existence and presence,call them"brothers",years ago Monsignor Corrado Balducci wrote about them,this Vatican Monsignor is a catholic Demonologist,author of the best seller "Il Diavolo" or "The Devil".So we have to consider any possibility of Alien existence because there are many cases like Villas Boas abduction in Brazil,where the alien woman had an intercouse with Villas Boas,afterwards Dr.Fontes an MD certified that something out of this world experience happened to Villas Boas,also the famous case of Varinha in Belho Horizonte ,Brazil which is the Rosswell of Brazil".
    Viva Bolivia Unida.:cool:
     
  12. Anasazi23

    Anasazi23 Your Digital Ruler
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    You can't imagine how complex this becomes. There's mounds of pseudo-date and hundreds of art bell shows that can make at least a partial believer out of almost anyone.

    You can start here:
    coasttocoastam.com
     
  13. toby jones

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    > In contemporary America, many hundreds of people claim to have been abducted by aliens from UFO's. The abduction experience is not recognized as such at first, and is described instead as "missing time" for which the person has no memories. Under hypnosis, however, the subject typically recalls having been kidnapped by humanoid creatures who did harmful things to her or him - typically involving some kind of sex-related surgical operation (for example, sharp objects being thrust into the vagina). Are these people recounting a mythic version of an actual childhood experience? During the period described as missing time, was another personality in charge - a personality for whom the experience of abuse was all too real?

    http://www.astraeasweb.net/plural/speaking.html

    (I'm not at all sure that the webmaster has permission to reproduce the article in its entirety, however, there it is)...
     
  14. sunlioness

    sunlioness Fierce. Proud. Strong
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    To say there are a few problems with that article is a bit of an understatement. But I really don't feel like arguing about a balanced view of the dissociative disorders today. Though I do have a soapbox around here somewhere . . . :)

    Sorry for the multiple edits.
     
    #13 sunlioness, Jun 6, 2008
    Last edited: Jun 6, 2008
  15. toby jones

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    ?

    My intention wasn't to argue about dissociative disorders. It just occurred to me where I heard the UFO speculation and so I posted the link by way of providing a reference for people who were interested.

    I think there are some problems with the article, yes, but I also think there are many respects in which it is commendable (it was written a while ago now, remember, and 'the movement' was booming in certain areas and use of hypnosis etc was standard).

    But... I can save that for another occasion (or never).
     
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  17. toby jones

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    btw... I think I agree with grandslam that there probably isn't a single factor (e.g., dissociation) that can account for all cases.

    I guess it is a good thing that a clinician probably doesn't need to believe or disbelieve the patients experiences are veridical in the case of alien abduction anymore than they do in the case of physical or sexual abuse...
     
  18. whopper

    whopper Former jolly good fellow
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    One theory I got (and I am somewhat borrowing from Babylon 5--the episode where an evil psychiatrist unethically said a bunch of lies about the main character on the Earth News Network).....

    Its pretty much accepted that the human brain has a lot of circuitry for spiritual & religious beliefs. Humans may have replaced the belief of gods with aliens--(edit, I wrote the following backwards) substituting the supernatural for the superhuman alien (mysterious, superior technology etc).

    There may be something going on in the circuitry that explains this.

    It also falls very well into schizotypal people with the magical thinking. It seems to be a very profitable thing for people who have been able to cash in on it.
     
    #16 whopper, Jun 7, 2008
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2008
  19. OldPsychDoc

    OldPsychDoc Senior Curmudgeon
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    This is not far off--I once heard an attending remark that it had been a long time "since we've had a Jesus on the unit", but delusions about aliens were fairly common. I'm guessing that there's not near as much "technological psychosis" (radio waves, chips planted in the head, etc) in developing cultures as there is in technologically more advanced cultures. It would be interesting to know if places like India, for example, are beginning to see a shift in how their schizophrenics manifest delusions.
     
  20. whopper

    whopper Former jolly good fellow
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    Well, I am a B5 fan (though if anyone were to pan it, I'd understand, that show had really corny dialogue), and that particular episode really hit something that I thought on a psychological level was profound. Interesting since several other episodes dealt with medical issues & I thought those other episodes did not demonstrate an appreciation for medical knowledge. (I digress....)

    If a schizotypal or hyper-religious person from 2000 years ago might've done a rabbit sacrifice, how are those same circuits in the brain which are involved in that type of behavior now manifestating in our technological society where several believe that intellectually equal if not superior life forms may exist on other worlds?

    IMHO, the alien abduction phenomenon has something to do with it.
     
  21. Chrismander

    Chrismander Junior Member

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    I've always wondered, have any of you guys ever seen anyone with delusions of time travel? Some of my favorite sci-fi shows/movies (terminator, 12 monkeys) have time travelers ending up on psych wards, but so far I've never seen a schizophrenic with anything close to a delusion like that.
     
  22. OldPsychDoc

    OldPsychDoc Senior Curmudgeon
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    So if you ever do, chances are that they really are from the future! :D
     
  23. toby jones

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    The content of delusions has changed over time. The content of the Capgras delusion, for example (where people think someone close to them has been replaced by an impostor). A robot or a clone or as one author put it 'whatever extant technology would suggest'.

    I'm a little puzzled about the religious experience module... Religious experience has been found to be correlated with TLE - but that would suggest that religious experience is to do with a malfunction rather than the result of a properly functioning brain.

    One thought is that it might be an over-extension of a 'theory of mind' module. The existence of a theory of mind module in the brain is extremely controversial. (I don't think there is such a thing. I think our capacity to theorize about / simulate the mental states of others is likely to be the consequence of many lower level mechanisms that might well be more appropriately regarded as modular - e.g., a shared attention mechanism and so on).

    So... In Aristotelian times people explained that the rock fell to earth when dropped from a height by saying that it wanted to be reunited with mother earth. There was intentionality / will in all kinds of things - animate and inanimate substances alike.

    One thought is that the above kinds of explanations are due to the theory of mind capacity being over-extended (applied to more things than it needed to be). Our theory of mind capacity is exceedingly useful for predicting the behavior of objects in our social environment (people, animals) it is of considerabe less utility in predicting the behavior of inanamate objects - and so on with the march of science...

    It could be that belief in UFO's are over-extensions of the theory of mind capacity once again. In the same way that religious belief is thought to be.

    Here would be a couple predictions that would follow from that:

    - People with autism are commonly regarded to have deficiencies in their theory of mind (that is meant to be the nature of the disorder)

    If religious belief and belief in UFO alien abduction were mediated by an overactive theory of mind capacity then we would expect autistic people to believe in God and UFO's less than the rest of the population

    Also... I'd be interested to know about the UFO experience / TLE correlation to know whether we are best to regard 'belief' in UFO's as an experiential thing (kinda like religious experience) or a capacity thing (with respect to evidence gathering and confirmation bias and the like)

    Is that the case? Dunno...

    Here is another theory for the increase in beliefs in UFO's (In the USA): Why do we need nuclear weapons and so much money poured into the arms race? Do we want to destroy the earth? - of course not!!! We need to protect ourselves from the aliens. I wonder how much the defence budget is accepted and not challenged in virtue of belief in UFO's????? ;-)
     
    #21 toby jones, Jun 7, 2008
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2008
  24. whopper

    whopper Former jolly good fellow
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    I have never personally had any patients that had any complex sci fi like delusions.

    However one of my professors-Atwood (forgot his first name) at Rutgers, when I was working on my bachelor's in psychology mentioned that one of his psychotherapy patients kept on talking about a galactic war that was going on & gave a complex detailed story of it to the psychologist. The psychologist mentioned it was complex & dramatic enough to be a good sci fi series. (Bear in mind this memory is from over 10 years ago)

    Then after months of mentioning this war, he just stopped talking about it, and had no problems. Aside from him mentioning he believed in this supposed interstellar war, he had no apparent psychotic symptoms & when he stopped talking about it, he said he no longer believed in it.

    This really didn't fit into any conventional DSM diagnosis I could think of. Dr. Atwood didn't mention much about him except for that.

    Most of my patients with bizarre delusions usually got some type of cognitive dysfunction--> to the point where any bizarre delusions that were described to me could've fit into a coherent sci fi story.
     
  25. toby jones

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    > Then after months of mentioning this war, he just stopped talking about it, and had no problems. Aside from him mentioning he believed in this supposed interstellar war, he had no apparent psychotic symptoms & when he stopped talking about it, he said he no longer believed in it.

    You mean... He decided he was sick of hospital and he wanted to go home and he was smart enough to figure that that is what you say in order to get out???
     
  26. whopper

    whopper Former jolly good fellow
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    No. The guy was pure outpatient. Dr. Atwood mentioned this guy had to mention how he knew of some type of galactic war & needed therapy over it.

    I've never heard of a case where someone needed psychotherapy over a bizarre but complex sci fi delusion & had no other DSM IV sxs. I'm not sure what the guy's angle was with this since I can't think of anything.

    Maybe the guy took some type of drug & believed this for a few days. I don't know. I contacted Dr. Atwood to host a grand rounds at UMDNJ a few months back but he never responded to my calls or emails so I guess I'll never hear more about that case.
     

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