LOST IN TRANSLATION, II and III
by Iona Miller, c1995
A CLASSIC EXAMPLE
UFO lore has taken its place in this era among the other psychic phenomena, such as mythological themes, ghost stories and other apparitions, premonitions, foreknowledge, second sight, returns of the dead, etc. The nature of the "proof" of such so-called events must be examined squarely in depth without ignoring the interaction with the collective subconscious. Why are the same old stories experienced and repeated, over and over, without losing any of their prestige? What do these phenomena signify when examined for their symbolic content? Why is a twilight atmosphere so necessary to preserving these nocturnal, often numinous appearances? Do the participants vouch for the authenticity of their experience regardless of all interpretations?
The psychology of the unconscious can illuminate dark corners and the obscure world of wonder and mystery. The archetypal character of the experiences makes UFO manifestations qualify under this rubric. While they are certainly not, in most cases, simple fabrications, neither are they necessarily factual incidents. The fact that something is experienced as ubiquitous does not establish objective proof of the reported incidents, but can be regarded as proof of the psychological significance of the event. Archetypes, or "organs" of experience, appear differently in every individual life, as the one primordial form morphs through boundless changes and potentialities. Still the eternally recurrent archetypal basis remains the same.
Mankind has always harbored a capacity for "occult" or hidden types of experiences, where sub- and transpersonal numinous forces interact with the human dimension. They are part of the general experience of mankind, and correspond to the basic structure of the psyche.
Experience of the irrational is subject to interpretation in the icons of its culture and era, whether in religion, spiritualism, or ufology. That is why no one manifests the stigmata of Christ in India, nor do North American Christians see Krishna awaiting them in their Near-Death Experiences. Spiritual experiences make us more ready to submit to our fate because they provide a sense of specialness and meaning. But, as Ken Wilber points out, all that is irrational is not transrational. This confusion of domains leads to the persistence of superstitious beliefs even in sophisticated individuals.
Even immanent and painful blows of fate, such as abduction experiences are somewhat relieved if a purpose is imagined to exist within the trauma. Meaningful connections form a bridge between the known and the unknown. The same phenomenon happens in the visionary experience. Aliens are like the old notion of the daimon or guardian angel, heralding the meaning and purpose of our futures, yet still expressing the determining power of those fates. Inner "guidance" psychologically represents the innate urge for self-realization. But our superstitions can invent inner guidance that is not necessarily for our spiritual edification, and keeps us mired in self-delusions.
The issue of "abduction" as a life theme is reminiscent of the archetypal story of Persephone and Hades. She is seized out of everyday life, and abducted into an underworld of pleasures and terrors. She tastes of the fruit of that otherworld, the underworld dark reality which lies beneath the sunlight world of daily life. Periodically she is released back into ordinary life, and then seized again, chronically reinacting this core mytheme. Enacting this myth, or thinking and imagining one does indicates a strong unconscious identification of self-image with this theme, and psychologically represents a misunderstanding, literalization, or concretization of an inner truth.
Jung accounted for the empirical phenomenology of psychic events through the concept of synchronicity. It is the apparent simultaneity between the act of perceiving and the extrasensorially perceived event. A certain power to alter "reality" appears to dwell within the human soul, even if it appears as Other or alien to everday consciousness. Time and space can be "organized" by emerging archetypes.
These archetypes are not purely psychical, but also physical. This paradox clouds the issue. Sometimes a real "change of scene" from the conscious to the unconscious realm occurs spontaneously, and is frequently described in psychic literature as a state of rigidity or paralyzation, or hypnosis. It is not only a symptom of fear, but often indicates a condition of being half asleep, half awake, open to the realities of the supernatural, or subconscious.
Synchronistic phenomena are, by definition, unrecognizable or unconscious. This deeper level of reality does not always jive with the world of appearances. Therefore, we proceed to further examine the nature of reality and the reality of nature--our nature. The transcendent psycho-physical background of our experience is a formative factor in our experience and the unfolding of entities and values of the transcendental world.
Synchronicities are a curious merging of time, space, object, and psyche. They transcend the laws of logic and physical causality, and bring their own "inner logic" of the psyche, namely meaning. But, there is no debating that synchronistic phenomena are exceptional happenings.
These experiences are traditionally considered to be related to the development of consciousness. One can be immersed in the mythical or magical thinking of childhood, the rational, or the transrational states of awareness. The "truth" of consciousness depends on your relativistic viewpoint. The truth of the unconscious is not limited by space or time, but exists as a twilight world of bizarre and incomprehensible sensory impressions, open to a variety of interpretations.
To illustrate these and other points, I am going to quote, at length, a classic sighting. This incident occured in April of 1954, and being an early sighting is relatively free of subsequent types of contamination in the report. This account was written by Carl Anderson, as Two Nights to Remember, published by New Age Publishing Co., 1956, Los Angeles.
I would give the down-to-earth background of the party members, but it hardly matters, since similar stories have been reported by those with wide differences in personality. I have chosen this example because I am personally familiar with the general locations since childhood, including the year of the incident. What I know about this area in particular is that it is subject to frequent earth movements. It is a center of geothermal activity as well as riddled with faults.
Many times when I was in this desert I was awakened from sleep by earthquakes strong enough to disturb sleep. It is a common event. And it has now been proven that there can be a correlation between geological activity and temporal lobe disturbances, as well as the production of earth lights or free-floating plasmas from seismic activity.
The beginning of Anderson's account speaks of driving toward Desert Hot Springs, which is about ten miles north of Palm Springs, California. Even in 1954, they speak to one another about hoping to see a flying saucer, which produces the following sensations: "Suddenly, as if in answer to my question, a very strange feeling ran down my spine. It was not like a cold chill, but more like a series of electrical shocks. This happened three times in succession. Somehow, I felt that I had established mental contact with someone outside the boundaries of this earth."
He goes on to imagine their idealized civilization, the absence of war and poverty, and a lengthy lifespan. He fantasizes they must be more Godly than us, and speaks of the Bible and Angels. They continue up the steep grade that leads to the high desert. After a rendevous in Desert Hot Springs, they decide to find a place to camp -- easy back then in the unpopulated desert. Anderson finds himself mysteriously drawn to a certain road. "I started to pass it by when suddenly the strangest thing happened. It seemed that some uncontrollable unseen force started to turn the steering wheel." Then a voice whispers directions in his ear, which lead 3 miles past Joshua trees and jackrabbits. They camped and went to sleep.
Suddenly the whole party is awakened. "The tent slowly began to disappear until it became absolutely invisible, and looking out across the desert, I beheld a very priviledged sight. There, apparently hovering a few inches off the ground, was a large shining disc. There was no doubt in my mind that this was a flying saucer." He describes it as 60 feet across, and thirty feet high, with five windows or portholes. "The unearthly vehicle glowed all over with a dull florescent light. A sort of halo seemed to surround the entire craft. It appeared to hover in space about eighteen or twenty inches off the ground."
"I tried to move toward this object. I wanted to go over and touch it, but I found that I could not move an inch. I was completely paralyzed....we did not know at the time just how long we remained in this paralyzed condition while we continued to watch and listen. We do not know whether or not any people alighted from this craft. We did not see any. But we did hear voices."
Temporal lobe seizures can be caused by anomolies in the electromagnetic field of a local area, induced by piezoelectric effects of the friction along fault lines, tectonic strain. The stress factors that produce earth lights do not have to be strong enough to create perceptible earthquakes. The "skin" of such plasmas typically appear metallic due to reflection in the daylight, and glow in various colors at night. Sometimes these plasmas discharge beams or rays of light when they ground out. The typical results of such exposure are visual hallucination, hearing voices, and bizarre ideations, just as in temporal lobe epilepsy.
"After what seemed like hours, we began to hear a slight humming sound like a generator running. A low droning, pulsating hum. The dim glow surrounding the Saucer slowly took on an orange cast, then a bright red color. It glowed like a huge ball of red fire. Then it started to rise straight up, very slowly at first, then faster and faster as it got higher and higher. The red light changed to a brilliant bluish white." It then rapidly disappeared and their paralysis did, too.
The next morning he notices the clock in the car is 15 minutes faster than his watch. He identifies the saucer as being like Elijah's fiery chariot. He "felt sure that the occupants of these crafts were none other than the Angels of the Lord. . .I felt that my faith in their existence had been proven by their visit."
In October of 1955 they took another trip to Desert Hot Springs and up through the Morongo Valley. He found a dirt road, and again played a hunch and got that warm tingle signifying an "answer." The car stalled and they camped. After midnight, "Suddenly from over the top of Mt. San Gorgonio a brilliant bluish-white light came streaking straight toward us. It made no sound of any kind. It was now circling slowly overhead. The light turned to a dull green, then white, but this time more of faint glow like a halo. Slowly, very slowly, it started to descend.."
When it got within a hundred feet Anderson's wife became panic-stricken, and the saucer shot up higher, and hovered. Then the dull florescent glow around the rim brightened. "It turned to a brilliant white and then disappeared. The great Saucer had gone, exactly as if a light had been switched off."
He interprets this to imply that God's light beings are watching over us, and "I believe they will make certain that there is never an atomic war, for they will instill in the minds of all men the love and mercy of the Father," etc. etc. with more religious overtones. Would that it were true.
All the participants reported the paralysis. They described the "Saucer" as a large or huge shining or hovering object. No one describes it as specifically metallic, even though they imagine portholes, but not other features. In this account, it is not difficult to see the roles played by expectations, previous beliefs, and interpretations of phenomena in terms of desired pre-programmed symbolism.
INNER AND OUTER SPACE
The Journal of Abnormal Psychology published a paper in November, 1993, by Nicholas P. Spanos, with Cross, Dickson, and DuBreuil titled, "Close Encounters: An Examination of UFO Experiences." Their findings showed that UFO experiencers (at least those in their test) were not more psychopathological, hypnotizable, fantasy prone, or less intellectual than the comparison group.
They also failed to report more alienation, distress, or maladjustment. This report declares "no support whatsoever for the hypothesis that UFO reporters are psychologically disturbed." Reporting UFO experiences is not associated with either social or intellectual marginality.
They suggest in their conclusion that "beliefs in alien visitation and flying saucers serve as templates against which people shape ambiguous external information, diffuse physical sensations, and vivid imaginations into alien encounters that are experienced as real events." Those UFO believers who were more fantasy prone and likely to experience unusual physical sensations tended to report more elaborate UFO experiences.
"UFO reporters who claim communication with aliens exhibited higher levels of divergent thinking and creativity and a stronger tendency to endorse unusual feelings and thoughts: than those who didn't claim communication. They concluded that "intense UFO experiences are more likely to occur in individuals who are predisposed toward esoteric beliefs in general and alien beliefs in particular and who interpret unusual sensory and imaginal experience in terms of the hypothesis."
They are more likely to be interpreted as real events in restricted sensory environments, like darkness, which contribute to confusion between internally produced images and sensations and external events.
However, the catch-22 here is that obviously the occurrence of a UFO experience most likely would strengthen any preexisting belief, or a seemingly distinct experience could produce a conversion. There are many examples of former skeptics who become convinced directly through their experience. Most of these individuals are not fantasy prone. This study doesn't address corroborated reports, or incidents with physical traces at all. Right or wrong, it merely examines only that portion of the phenomena that the researchers figured they could prove their hypothesis within.
The conclusions of the study seem to result from some lack of screening in test groups. They are valuable, but not very definative because of procedural flaws. Many of the subjects in the intense contact group reported only sleep-related phenomena and the single subject reporting being taken up in a spaceship had ingested large amounts of amphetamine and was sleep deprived, and certainly suspect for acute toxic psychosis.
Yet, these researchers remind us that in evaluating our own or another's experience we should take into account the known effects of two very-human phenomena -- sleep paralysis and dysfunctional temporal lobe activity. They can create vivid sensory experiences with a strong sense of meaningfullness which share many of the characteristics of encounter reports.
Michael Persinger, a neuroscientist at Laurentian University, Ontario is conducting experiments where he applies magnetic pulses across the brain, causing bursts of firing in the temporal lobes. Temporal lobe lability leads to reports of sensations of floating, flying, or leaving the body and mystic or psychic experiences.
Temporal lobe bursts are associated with intense religious experiences, reports of apparitions, hallucinations and visions, and belief that one has paranormal experiences. But the link may not be caused by the specific firing of neurons. A sociologist (Blackmore, 1994) reported her clinical experience.
"I was wide awake throughout. Nothing seemed to happen for the first ten minutes or so. Instructed to describe aloud anything that happened, I felt under pressure to say something, anything. Then suddenly my doubts vanished. I'm swaying. It's like being in a hammock. Then it felt for all the world as though two hands had grabbed my shoulders and were bodily yanking me upright...Then came the emotions. Totally out of the blue, but intensely and vividly, I suddenly felt angry--not just mildly cross but that clear-minded anger out of which you act--but there was nothing and no one to act on. And perhaps ten seconds, it was gone. Later, it was replaced by an equally sudden attack of fear. I was terrified--of nothing in particular."
Sleep paralysis occurs just prior to sleep onset or on awakening. Our skeletal muscles become paralyzed so we don't act out our dreams. It can provoke the sense of being squashed, strangled, or suffocated. It is accompanied by sensations of weight pressing on the chest or vivid and frightening hallucinations of a person, animal, or monster varying according to the sleeper's beliefs and expectations. In "false awakening" you dream you have woken up, eerie light is common and things don't look quite right or may be luminescent. It is a virtual reality.
Experiences which seem to lie between inner and outer space can be considered virtual realities. In virtual reality excursions, normal laws seem suspended, but it may be our rational disbelief that is temporarily suspended. Adventures in this virtual reality are trips through the looking glass into a hyperreality. We can create synthetic realities, since we all come equipped with our own virtual reality construction kit--our perceptual system and the belief system which filters what we perceive.
A multitude of research projects show that "people are credulous creatures who find it easy to believe and very difficult to doubt. In fact, believing is so easy, and perhaps so inevitable, that it may be more like involuntary comprehension than it is like rational assessment."
We all begin life essentially believing everything until our discrimination develops. Acceptance is psychologically prior to doubt, denial and rejection. The great fallacy of the human mind is believing too much in order to achieve information processing economy. For example, we don't question everything our eyes see, therefore we assume a lot.
Our perceptual systems play their parts quickly and well using the outputs of early stages of processing to guide urgent action. We immediately believe what we see and hear, questioning our perceptions only subsequently and occasionally. When we are tired, we question less. Perception generally faithfully represents reality. As perception constructs objects, so cognition construes ideas. In response to a stimulus (object or idea) these ideas are empowered to guide behavior as if it were true.
Research shows that when resource-depleted persons are exposed to doubtful propositions they would normally disbelieve, their ability to reject those propositions is markedly reduced. A fatigued or distracted person is more susceptible to persuasion. Acceptance occurs prior to or more easily than rejection, a shown by primitive credulity, judgemental innocence in which everything that is, is true. The rejection of false ideas is more complex than the acceptance of true ones.
The history of the control of the beliefs of large groups of people spans time through religion, politics, and philsophy. Brainwashing, Neurolinguistic Programming, and behavioral psychology reveqal just how vulnerable we are to subtle mental manipulation. Cognitive sciences are revealing the mechanisms by which this manifests. We are especially prone to believe what we see and hear, especially if it is repeated or validated in our own confirmatory search.
Gilbert (1991) asserts that "the temporary acceptance of a proposition is part of the nonvoluntary process of comprehension . . .Just as we are compelled to believe immediately that which we see, so too may we be compelled to believe that which we hear and say."
And in the case of UFO experience, belief cannot be unraveled by reason or confirmatory search. Even if one experiences the phenomenon, the experiencer is never sure of the specific reality of the perception. It could be layer upon layer of "mind control." Memory of the experience is embraced and rejected as the mind struggles to come to terms with the encounter.
Even assuming the validity of some close encounters, memory is subject to a variety of distortions of which UFO researchers and experiencers should be aware. False Memory Syndrome has had a lot of publicity resulting from biased therapy for a variety of recovery issues. They are generally reported as implanted memories resulting from suggestive or leading therapy or improper interrogatory procedures.
Members of the False Memory Syndrome Foundation think "abductees weave their strange tales based on the suggestions of overzealous therapists who may be unaware of the new studies on hypnosis and suggestibility."
There is some validity to this accusation since, even as practitioners, we tend to see or find what we believe. Also clients tend to respond to whatever form of therapy we suggest will work for them. This is the basis of experimenter bias in research. But the interesting hypothesis that false memories of abuse can be created by a therapist's occasional misleading questions remains to be scientifically proven (Brown, 1995). False beliefs about abuse can happen under very specific conditions, however they are the exception not the rule.
False memories are difficult to distinguish from true, since all memories are essentially representational constructs which are in some sense "false." There is no video taped storage of information we can retrieve to construct past events. We often recall our own retelling more clearly than an original experience. Or sometimes we dream about something that happened and then recall the dream clearer than the event. Or actually we recall our narrative of the dream.
Acceptance of a pseudomemory is a form of memory contamination. This is why "rewriting" of a memory in a hypnotic process, such as NLP's "Change History", is possible. In the modification of previously established memories, when the story changes, the attitudes associated with it also change.
If the image is recalled easily and is clear and detailed, it is likely to be remembered as "real." In research on bizarre imagery (Anderson and Buyuer, 1994) findings indicated that measures of imaging ability were related to vividness ratings, and negatively associated with recall.
So imagining interferes with rather than facilitates recall even though bizarre materials are remembered better than their common counterparts, because of their novelty. But, in general bizarre materials resulted in less vivid images and better recall than the common. Further, neither imaging ability nor image attainment had much to do with the recall of either the common or bizarre.
False memories (retroactive hallucinations) have been created experimentally with and without hypnosis. The occurrence of any hypnotic phenomenon can be influenced by the cue structure of a suggestion and by the beliefs, attitudes, motives, interpretive sets of the subject. Still, even false memories are generally built around some kind of core event.
That psychologically traumatic events can be repressed from conscious recall as a defensive mechanism is incontrovertible. Extremely emotional events, interpreted as life threatening on some level, can be actively repressed from conscious memory and can later be accurately recalled under hypnosis (Tayloe, 1995).
However, we should keep in mind that some researchers question whether false-memory work is applicable to abductees at all. Temple University historian David Jacobs is also an abductee researcher. His opinion (Omni, Nov. 94, p85) is that, "First of all, much of FMS is based on adult recollections of childhood events, while many abductees are trying to figure out what happened to them last week."
To complicate the matter more he add that, "abduction researchers have uncovered false memories of childhood sexual abuse that masked the memory of the abduction itself." Are we to interpret that as alien mind control? That idea may not be any more far-fetched than the notion that false memories are unconsciously implanted in clients by inept hypnotists.
Skeptic Robert Baker, professor emeritus of psychology at the University of Kentucky, asserts that almost all so-called UFO abductions are primarily a psychological phenomenon resulting from hypnotherapy. He points out that regressive hypnosis unlocks the patient's imagination. He points toward hypnogogic and hypnopompic hallucinations as sources of pseudomemories.
One study (Sheehan, 1992) suggests a significant association between rapport with the hypnotist and pseudomemory in cued recall, strength of pseudomemory being lower when negative hypnotist rapport was reinforced. Rapport has also been called archaic involvement, transference, and participation mystique where client and therapist interrelate unconsciously. Rapport helps mediate the hypnotic response. However, Dr. John Mack of Harvard has considered and rejected the psychological mechanism of "folie a deax" as the source for abduction narratives.
The first study essentially concluded that demonstrating pseudomemory can come from unconscius attempts to please the therapist. Memory is complex and plastic, therefore subject to postevent misinformation. False memory is actually the report of an altered memory. This may be true for cued suggestions, but we should still question the creation of memories of abuse simply to please the hypnotherapist.
Faulty memory can occur for both a suggested real event and a suggested false event. False items are no more or less fixed in memory than real. Confusion or uncertainty ought to be seen as the absence of a pseudomemory. Research shows that high and moderately hypnotizable subjects will embrace suggestion for a false memory, while low-hypnotizable subjects reject it.
In one experiment (Barnier, 1992), hypnotizability proved to be the most important factor in the acceptance of false memory suggestion. Social context can influence whether there is a change in report of memory rather than actual change. Hypnotizability is related to a number of cognitive variables including absorption and a preference for an imagic style of thinking.
As avivid imagery state of consciousness, absorption is conducive to cognitive restructuring. Imaginative involvement can be so complete that the imaginings are sometimes perceived as real. In contrast to poor imagery, strong imagers easily generate more detail resulting in a memory trace that is similar in quality to the trace of a perceptual experience. Therefore, they are more prone to confusion as to origin, and memory creation.
Labelle, et al (1990) concluded that it is possible to use hypnosis to create an autobiographical pseudomemory, for which no competing memory previously existed, in highly susceptible subjects. Moderately-highly hypnotizable subjects gave evidence of memory creation. Low susceptibility subjects failed to exhib any form of memory distortion in this context. Therefore, those who possess both strong hypnotic abilities and high imagery preferences are particularly vulnerable to suggested distortions of memory given the appropriate context.
"If the cognitive operations required to identify an internally generated event are decreased by the effortlessness of the imagic experience, as well as by the vividness of the imaginings, the probabilitty that an internally generated event could be relabeled as externally generated increases. What appears to be aa misattribution process may be the end result of an interaction of a person's skills at becoming involved in the situation while imagining vividly and effortlessly with a context that legitmatizes such behavior. If such is the case, it bcomes possible to increase or decrease the incidence of pseudomemories by manipulating these variables."
Their conclusions are that the attributes of the person, such as hypnotic susceptibility, absorption, and preference for an imagic thinking style, are of paramount importance in determining the manifestation of created memories in the hypnotic context. The social-psychological variables include the subjects' metamemory assumptions, attitudes and beliefs about hypnosis, contextual manipulations, and individual's differences in hypnotizability, imagery, and absorption.
While it is possible to deliberately induce pseudomemories in hypnosis, where it happens easily through simple suggestion in the course of therapy is in question. Of the three types of suggestibility --hypnotizability, postevent misinformation suggestibility, and interrogatory suggestibility -- only the later poses significant risk for PM production, largely due to the effects of stress and coercion on memory. Brown (Jan. 1995) finds that the prevalence rate in therapy is far from epidemic, as the media has led the public to belive.
Studies show that memory for central actions associated with emotionally arousing events a compared to neutral events are more accurately remembered wwhile details are not. There is decreased memory accuracy or completeness in an emotionally arousing situation relative to a neutral condition. Very high accuracy, 70%+, is generally the case for emotionally significant central events.
There are two subgroups in the trauma population. One subgroup reports a persistent and relatively complete memory for the gist of the traumatic event, while another subgroup (RM group) initially reports a relatively incomplete memory for the traumatic event and may later rememmber iit more completely under certain conditions. Memory accuracy and memory completeness are not to be confused. A relatively incomplete memory is not necessarily an inaccurate memory; likewise, an elaborate false memory may not be at all accurate.
Brown shows that the pattern across all data suggests:
1. that probably up to 3-5% of individuals are highly suggestible to at least some types of postevent misinformation under most circumstances, and
2. that these and other less susceptible individuals may show considerably higher commission error rates if subjected to interrogatory suggestion.
Clinical trauma is defined in terms of posttraumatic symptoms, and no laboratory test or simulation can create such traumatic symptoms to study. Axiomatically, trauma implies disruption of normal memory processing. It has been suggested (van der Kolk, 1990) that normal memory processing uses a hippocampus-based verbal categorizing system, while traumatic processing uses an amygdala-based sensory processing system.
The amygdala is central to the neural circuitry of fear. It is implicated in stress (anxiety out of proportion or out of place), anger, emergency actions, emotional memory, as emotional sentinel, in empathy, harmonizing emotion and thought, impulsive reactions, neural alarms, as neural tripwire, in passion, taming overexcitability, and timidity, as well as traumatic memories. It primes anxious, impulsive reactions, and irrationality.
The amygdala receives direct inputs from the senses and starts a response before they are fully registered in the neocortex. This is an emergency route. As the repository for emotional memory, it conceals out-of-date neural alarms. Horror can be frozen in memory and require emotional relearning after trauma. When emotions are fast, they tend to be sloppy, rather than precise.
Research suggests (Kandel and Kandel, 1994) that "the action of endogenous opiates and noradrenaline in the amygdala and hippocampus could begin to provide a biological framework for examining how memories are repressed and later retrieved."
Both short- and long-term memories have two distinct forms: 1) Implicit - dealing with our unconscious knowledge of motor or perceptual skills, or "knowing how," and 2) Explicit - dealing with knowledge of facts, people, and places, or "knowing that."
Explicit memory is handled by the inside segment of the temporal lobes, located behind the ears, and an underlying region known as the hippocampus. Implicit memory invoves distinct motor or sensory pathways in the brain, the autonomic nervous system, the amygdala and the cerebellum. So, the temporal lobes and hippocampus play a role in explicit memory.
Generally there is cross talk between implicit and explicit memory systems, for example when we learn or experience something new. In fact, some types of explicit memories can be transformed into implicit memory by constant repetition.
Researchers note that, "This cross talk is particularly evident in memories of emotionally charged experiences such as sexual abuse, in which the emotion associated with the event, and the conscious recollection of the event are stored in separate systems." We can speculate that the same may be true for experiencers who feel abused.
Studies by neuroscientists indicate "that the conscious component of highly charged memories is initially stored in the hippocampus. But the unconscious, implicit component is probably stored in the amygdala, which links the brain's sensory and motor areas to the autonomic nervous system. In memories of very stressful events, the role of implicit memory may be particularly powerful."
Like all memories, highly charged memories require a period of consolidation to become long term. However, "the strength of long-term memory can be affected by the context in which the remembered event occurs. Some factors enhance memory consolidation, storage and recall; others inhibit them."
Studies suggest that implicit memories of fearful experiences are strengthened when the neurotransmitter (brain hormone) noradrenaline is released in the amygdala. But the release of endorphins (naturally occuring opiates) weakens memory storage. It has also been found that the explicit aspects of fear can be similarly modulated by brain chemistry.
Therefore, researchers conclude that "if an incident is so distressing that the brain makes opiates to dull the pain, the opiates may interfere with the memory-storing process." Conversely, weakly stored memory can be enhanced by injecting a stimulant drug like adrenaline.
Any experienced hypnotherapist also knows that regression will virtually recreate the emotional state of the client at the time of the experience. Such material then becomes easier to retrieve due to the phenomenon known as "state-dependent memory" as described by Ernest Rossi (1986). Regression recreates a similar chemical stew which makes retrieval easier.
State dependent learning demonstrates how both drugs and mood states have been shown to induce state-specific encoding operations and retrieval strategies, and provide specific cues for accessing previus experience. Information acquired in a given state remains available in memory, but inaccessible when remembering takes place under different retrieval conditions.
Milton Erickson demonstrated how amnesia caused by psychological shocks and traumatic events are psycho-neuro-physiological dissociations that can be resolved by "inner resynthesis" in hypnotherapy.
Weakly-stored memories and state-bound information most frequently return to consciusness first as bodily sensations or gestures. Therapists speak of muscle-memory and embedded tissue memory. Accessing state-dependent memory by-passes conventional hypnotic suggestions, making encoded information available for learning and problem-solving.
Abuse survivors describe their recovered memories as qualitatively different from other memories. They feel as if they actually reexperience the event, with all its textures, smells, and physical sensations. The intensity of these flashbacks compares with those of combat veterans. The strength of these memories is perhaps linked to noradrenaline release in response to extreme stress.
False memories are perceived as entirely real to those who experience them. This may be because the brain area involved in perceiving an image and storing it as a memory is also involved in imagining that image. Therefore, an imagined event might be mistaken for a perceived event since both use the same brain architecture.
In many ways, memory is like perception. Both are reconstructed events in the brain, creative elaborations that involve fillingg in details around a few solid visual landmarks. Much as the fine points of perception are fallible to illusion, the details of memory are fallible to suggestion.
Paradoxically, both sides of the repressed memory debate can be validated by research. Memory storage can be modulated and inhibited, and once inhibited it can also return. But memory can be unreliable and fantasy may be mistaken for reality. Therefore, the only way to evaluate any given individual case is infependent corrobarative evidence which supports the alleged victim's report.
Trauma processing disrupts normal memory processing and prevents re-working the memory and its resultant transformation were it to be processed in a normal way. By and large memory isn't fallible unless only peripheral details are considered. Central events are generally well remembered, though sometimes at the expense of less relevant details.
In the preferencial processing of emotional information, descriptions of characters are less well remembered--a finding relevant to indentification of perpetrators. Trauma survivors with recovered memories are more ikely to remember that they were abused and how than able to identify the characteristics of the abuser, and may misidentify the abuser.
The little corroborative data avaiilable suggest that trauma survivors who always remember and those who forget and later remember are not significantly different in the accuracy of what they recall. Refreshing memory doesn't automatically cause distortion. And there is really no evidence that hypnotic procedures contribute directly to false-memory production.
Furthermore, well trained hypnotherapists are probably less at risk for creating false memories in their clients than are nonhypnotic psychotherapists. Hypnotherapists are trained to recognize hypnotizabiity as a risk factor in treatment. Suggestions in interrogation arise from interviewerr bia, systematic misleading, and interpersonal pressure. Still, it is a serious overstatement to speak of memory alteration, "creation" or "implanting" of memories.
In summary, false beliefs in psychotherapy are likely to occur when an interaction of four primary risk factors are present: 1) high hypnotizability; 2) uncertainty about past events; 3) clear evidence of interrogatory suggestive influence; and 4) extratherapeutic social influences, for example, peer and family influences, self-help group experience, and available sociocultural beliefs.
PTSD AND ANXIETY DISORDERS
PTSD is a limbic disorder (Goleman, 1995, p.204). Its main symptoms can be accounted for by changes in the limbic circuitry, focusing on the amygdala. Key changes in the locus ceruleus change the brain's secretion of catecholamines (noradrenaline and adrenaline), which mobilize the body for emergencies and actually strengthen memories. In PTSD, this system is hyperactive and dumps huge doses of brain chemicals in response to perceived cues from the original trauma.
Changes in the circuit which runs from locus ceruleus to amygdala, hippocampus and hypothalamus, and the effect of catecholamines on the cortex, underlies the symptoms of PTSD. Symptoms include anxiety, fear, hypervigilance, mood disorders, fight-flight syndrome, and obsessive rumination on intense emotional memories.
The limbic system is also linked to the pituitary gland, which regulates CRF, the main stress hormone that regulates the fight-flight syndrome. It can signal the hormone to be oversecreted to the amygdala, hippocampus, and locus ceruleus, creating the physiology of an emergency that is not there. Any misinterpreted cue can set off chills, shakes, sweating, or flashbacks. And the jumpy responses do not habituate with repetition--they cannot be systematically desensitized.
The opiate secreting system also becomes hyperactive in PTSD, and this leads to "numbing out," and an extremely high tolerance for pain. Endorphin changes numb certain feelings also (anhedonia, inability to feel pleasure); this can cut one off from life or concern about other's feelings. It appears as indifference or lack of empathy, but is really dissociation, including inability to remember crucial time surrounding the traumatic event ("missing time").
Neural conditioning of PTSD makes one more susceptible to further traumatization. It creates vulnerability. The amygdala is primed to find danger, and the alarm is a hair-trigger. This chemistry works under duress, but not in daily life, for it creates emotional and physical exhaustion from overreactions And it numbs the importance of otherwise disturbing events. It means being stuck in high gear, living life on the edge, on the verge of a neural hijacking.
In PTSD spontaneous relearning fails to occur. But it can lift with time if the prefrontal cortex actively suppresses the amygdala's command to the rest of the brain to respond with fear. But learning to let go is not easy. It requires systematic reeducation of the emotional brain for recovery. The prefrontal cortex and related zones learn new, healthier responses to cues of a feared event. Emotional lessons can be reshaped in this manner.
Posttraumatic Stress Disorder is characterized from other anxiety disorders by the subject's increased physiological reactivity to events resembling the traumatic event. However, a proportion of PTSD patients (about one-third) do not appear to be physiologically responsive to imagery of their past trauma.
Phase-oriented treatment of severe dissociative disorders and PTSD is fairly standardized:
1) stabilization (management of intrusive reexperiencing of symptoms, coping enhancement, etc);
2) systematic uncovering (graduated process of integrating memories, associated affect about the trauma into consciousness, using primarily free recall and secondarily memory integration methods under certain conditions);
3) postintegrative relational and self-developmental psychotherapy.
Most trauma experts agree that classic abreaction and the use of memory recovery techniques ass a main focus of treatment are contraindicated. Why? Because they retraumatize the client by throwing them into a virtual reality of the original trauma. Therefore, memory recovery comes only after stabilization.
Affect regulatory methods help establish the emotional state through which memories come forth in a way that minimizes leading. Memory recovery is not always indicated, but it often is associated with treatment gain in behavioral treatment of PTSD, and in the psychodynamic treatment of severe dissociative disorders.
To assess false memory risk factor, if a client presents with PTSD without an identifiable traumatic stressor and has few or no memories of abuse, the therapist should assess hypnotizability and interrogatory suggestibility in some standardized way, such a the Standford or the Gudjohnsson Suggestibility Scale.
With respect to the therapeutic relationship, less suthoritarian, more egalitarian therapists, like permissive hypnotherapists are likely to reduce memory confabulation in therapy. In terms of countertransference, overidentification with abuse by the therapist is the main risk factor. Outside consultation or supervision can manage this risk.
False belief production occurs in the context of distress and uncertainty about what might have happened. Identifying premately with a self-help trauma community might increase suggestibility through contagion. Working on memory recovery without adequate stabilization puts a client at grave risk for generating false beliefs.
Stress is the energy that feeds the disorder. Anxiety is stress out of place. When the arousal of fight-flight intrudes into another situation where there is no present threat, it becomes anxiety, which sabotages an appropriate response. During an anxiety state, attention clings to the source of the threat, narrowing the range of awareness available for other things.
Intrusion is the active force creating anxiety. Psychiatrist Mardi Horowitz catalogued these intrusions, and Goleman lists them in Vital Lies, Simple Truths (1985). They refer to unbidden ideas and pangs of feeling which are difficult to dispel, and of direct or symbolic behavioral reinactments of the stress event. They are unbidden thoughts and feelings impinging on awareness. Every variety of intrusion is some aspect of the stress response taken to an extreme. These include:
PANGS OF EMOTION, waves of feeling that well up and subside rather than being a prevailing mood.
PREOCCUPATION AND RUMINATION, a continued awareness of the stressful event that recurs uncontrollably, beyond the bounds of ordinary thinking through of a problem.
INTRUSIVE IDEAS, sudden, unbidden thoughts that have nothing to do with the mental task at hand.
PERSISTENT THOUGHTS AND FEELINGS, emotions or ideas which the person cannot stop once they start.
HYPERVIGILANCE, excessive alertness, scanning and searching with a tense expectancy.
INSOMNIA, intrusive ideas and images that disturb sleep.
BAD DREAMS, including nightmares and anxious awakening, as well as any upsetting dream. The bad dream does not necessarily have any overt content related to a real event.
UNBIDDEN SENSATIONS, the sudden, unwanted entry into awareness of sensations that are unusually intense or are unrelated to the situation at the moment.
STARTLE REACTIONS, flinching or blancing in response to stimuli that typically do not warrent such reactions.
Anxiety swamps attention; denial can erase anxiety. The forms of denial include:
AVOIDED ASSOCIATIONS: short-circuiting expected, obvious connections to the event that would follow from the implications of what is said or thought.
NUMBNESS: the sense of not having feelings, appropriate emotions that go unfelt.
FLATTENED RESPONSE: a constriction of expectable emotional reactions.
DIMMING OF ATTENTION: vagueness or avoidance of focusing clearly on information, including thoughts, feelings, and physical sensations.
DAZE: defocused attention that clouds alertness and avoids the significance of events.
CONSTRICTED THOUGHT: the failure to explore likely avenues of meaning other than the obvious one at hand; an abbreviated range of flexibility.
MEMORY FAILURE: an inability to recall events or their details, a selective amnesia for telling facts.
DISAVOWAL: saying or thinking that obvious meanings are not so.
BLOCKING THROUGH FANTASY: avoiding reality or its implications by fanciful thoughts of what might have been or could be.
The operative principle that unites these forms of denial is that they are all ways of blanking from awareness a troubling fact. These tactics are countermoves to the intrusions listed previously. Denial and intrusion are the two sides of attention, the one an avoidance, the other an invasion.
Self deception involves forgetting and forgetting we have forgotten. Repression creates no trace when it is in progress--it is the sound of a thought evaporating. These are secrets we keep even from ourselves. There are not only "Close Encounters of the Third Kind," but "Secrets of the Third Kind"--things we would admit only to friends, only to ourself, and not even to ourself.
Secrets from oneself are retrievable only under extraordinary circumstances, since the essence of repression lies simply in the function of rejecting and keeping something out of consciusness. It suppresses the single class of items which evoke psychological pain. This pain can be of many varieties: trauma, "intolerable ideas," unbearable feelings, anxiety, guilt, shame, etc.
Repressions lessens mental pain by creating a blind spot as does its cousin denial. It protects a core of forbidden information. The nearer to that core one probes, the greater the resistance. The deepest schemas encode the most painful memories, and are the hardest to activate.
DEFENSIVE POSTURES include:
REPRESSION: forgetting and forgetting one has forgotten.
DENIAL AND REVERSAL: What is so is not the case; the opposite is the case.
PROJECTION: What is inside is cast outside.
ISOLATION: Events without feelings.
RATIONALIZATION: I give myself a cover story.
SUBLIMATION: Replace the threatening with the safe.
SELECTIVE INATTENTION: I don't see what I don't like.
AUTOMATISM: I don't notice what I do.
A potential source of ambiguous experience which might be interpreted as an ill-defined contact experience comes from the nonrepresentational activity of the psyche. Images alone without any mental elaboration can lead to nervous excitement, frustration, or other emotional reactions.
Amorphous cognition occurs without representation--without being expressed in images, words, thoughts, or actions of any kind. It remains internal, and is therefore termed the endocept to distinguish it from the concept, a mature cognition. The endocept (Arieti, 1976) is nonverbal, unconscious, or preconscious cognition.
The endocept is a primitive organization of past experiences, perceptions, memory traces, and images of things and movements. These previous experience, which are repressed and not brought back to consciousness, continue to have an indirect influence.
The endocept goes beyond the cognitive stage of the image, but does not reproduce anything similar to perceptions, sot it is not easily recognizable. It doesn't lead to immediate action, and cannot be transformed into a verbal expression. Although it has an emoptional component, it does not expand into a clearly felt emotion.
Awareness of experiencing an endocept is extremely vague, uncertain, or partial, at least. It is a disposition to feel, to act, to think. Subjective awareness is much lower than that for a clear image. It is felt as an atmosphere, an intention, a "global" experience or "oceanic" feeling. Subliminal, vague, primitive feelings, very diffuse and abstract. Empathy is a type of communication based to a large extent on primitive understanding of one another's endocepts.
No test of validity, no dialogue with oneself is possible at the endoceptual level. These endoceptual phenomena also occur in dreams into which language does not enter. Or conversely, unconscious iddeas that were kept in the psyche in mute and invisible ways may become transformed in dreams into predominantly visual representational forms.
MUTANT MESSAGE: UFO-ET DREAMS
Loan someone some hard-corre UFO tapes and you can be fairly sure in short order they will be telling you that their dreams have become disturbed. They may become moody and reflective. A far-away look comes over them as their attention goes internal and the mind tries to make sense or comprehend the nature of the information which has infected it.
It demands a great deal of consideration if the UFO scenario is a living reality. Humanity has never faced such a multi-dimensional threat, which not only intrudes on normal physical life, but penetrates right into our imagination with the most pernicious kind of attack--that which come from within our own minds--the enemy within.
Apparently researchers, UFO dreamers, and experiencers share the notion that dreamlife and contact are somehow connected. Researchers have included the simple dreamers in their population of "experiencers." UFO dreamers seem to flirt with the idea that more is going on within them than ordinary dreams, and experiencers report an altered state of reality or quasi-reality perhaps best characterized by the concept of a waking dream.
What is the difference between an ordinary dream and a UFO experience? McClanahan offers a theory which is fairly vague, unsubstantiated by anything except the tangential statement that Jung apparently believed in flying saucers. "When dreaming sleep and waking consciousness are regarded as a 'focus-of-attention' it becomes possible to accept dreams and dreaming as reality at another dimension or level of existence. Is it not possible for one dimension or level to impinge upon another?"
Skipping right over the plausibility, he move on to declare that, "It is highly probable that alternate realities are breaking through into waking consciousness as well as during the sleep state. I believe that some dreams can be accepted as experiences at a different level or dimension or reality and may be referred to as 'dream -experiences,' which indicates their basis of origin is the sleep state."
He concludes, "These types of dream experiences transcend human logic and reason. They life beyond psychological concepts, have no basis in religions and are rejected by science. As the weight of evidence continues to grow, it shall become evident that our concepts of what constitutes 'reality' must be drastically revisioned.."
Actually there is some research which might help substantiate McClanahan's romanticized idea. Stanley Krippner and Montague Ullman conducted original reearch on sleep and dreams at the Maimonide Dream Lab. Their findings were reported in DREAM TELEPATHY: Experiments in Nocturnal ESP (1973). Their notion of telepathic dreaming can also help substantiate the hypothesis that alien contact is a contagious notions which could show up in dreamlife.
The found evidence for spontaneous telepathic dreaming, and "dreams coming to life." Their study was suggestive of symbol transformation and psychdynamic interplay mediated by psi. During the year and a half that the pilot experiments at the Parapsychology Foundation ran, there was an enormous range in the sensitivity of the subjects to incorporate telepathic elements in their dreams. They ranged from great ability to those who showed no paranormal sensitivity.
What did emerge was that some subjects with no previously known psi experiences began to dream paranormally. Further, a positive attitude toward ESP and the dream experiment, coupled with a good ability for dream recall, "seemed to be suffiicient requirements for successful subjects, even though individual sensitivity would be expected to vary considerably." Is this again the notion of contagion, participation mystique, or experimenter bias?
They also did studies of hypnotic suggestion for specific dream theme or content and to see if dreams could influenced by external stimulation. Some things were incorporated into dreams in a distorted way, others drew a blank. In a study by Charles Tart, half of the test group responded to the suggestion to dream about a threatening situation, with results ranging from very low to quite high incorporation.
The nightmarish nature of UFO abductions apparent, and begs the question of how they might be related to nightmares. So far no inquiry has been done. But one study on nightmares (Wood and Bootzin, 1990) concluded that nightmare frequency and anxiety were uncorrelated. Findings indicated that nightmares were more prevalent when reported from a daily dream log than retrospective self-reports. They are more prevalent than we usually remember, but their frequency is unrelated to self-reported anxiety.
Some researchers have asserted a relationship between artistic interests and nightmares, arguing that artists often have weak "psychological boundaries" that predispose them to nightmares. Some researchers have concluded that chronic nightmare sufferers tend to be more creative and have more artistic interest than general, while others found no correlation between nightmare frequency and artistic interests.
In the past it was generally thought that frequent nightmares were indicative of anxiety and general psychopathology. Nightmares had been used to diagnose anxiety disorders on the assumptions that they are uncommon among normal adults and that they reflect general elevated anxiety. Nightmare frequency is slightly correlated with trait anxiety, although probably not with state anxiety.
A survey of college students showed many reports of one nightmare per month, and an annual mean of 5 to 10. Two surveys of the general public measured the prevalence of nightmare "problems" rather than frequency. These surveys indicated that 5-8% of the general population report a current problem with nightmares, with an equal number reporting problems in the past.
There is a difference between having frequent nightmares and having problems with nightmares. Frequency and distress are not the same thing. About 1/3 of nightmare dreamers report distess over them. Interestingly, distress is more strongly correlated with retrospective reports of nightmares (over 1/2) than with daily logs. Distress is related to other factors, such as nightmare intensity.
Or perhaps the expressed distress iis more a function of personality than of nightmare content, which may explain earlier reports linking psychopathology and nightmares. Bear in mind that these subjects were recruited through media announcements seeking individuals suffering from frequent nightmares, and these respondents are not representative of all those with frequent nightmares.
It is interesting to not that Dr. Mack wrote a book on the nature of nightmares prior to his involvement in abduction phenomena. Therefore, he ought to be well-versed in any differences he finds in abductees nightmare patterns. He has discounted the role of nightmare activity in abductions except as a natural by-product of post-event stress.
Another very human phenomenon, the waking dream, was reported by Jung and described extensively by Mary Watkins (1976). Waking dreams are facilitated in Jungian psychotherapy as a means of psychological processing and transformation. In daydreams the ego is not transformed, as it can be in waking dreams through experiential therapy.
The waking dream shares similar characteristics with abductee's reports of "dreams which are more than dreams," "dreams more real than dreams." It is a conscious experiencing of image. The direction is away from the perceptual and material toward the imaginal and psychological. It is a paradoxical state between sleeping and waking where apparent action is experienced through non-action.
Watkins reports that these states are equated with real experience. "The half-dream state appeared either to give one accesss to a realm other than that of the nightly dream, or to give one new means of approaching the imaginal phenomena of dreams that in itself changed their nature. To approach this new realm or manner of relating, one could try to become aware while dreaming [known as lucid dreaming] or try to evoke dreaming while being aware. The former often gave rise to various meditative practices while the latter approach was frequently incorporated in symbolic rituals of vision questing."
In experiential therapy, metaphor plays an important role in helping us describe what feelings and experience are like for us. Imagination expresses itself through metaphor. It is the nonsubstantive basis of imaginal reality. Watkins tells us the following:
"The intermediary nature of metaphor is mirrored by the state of consciousness most often used to strengthen man's connection to the imaginal. The metaphor uses matter in order to convey the immaterial. In doing so it creates a third realm which lies between the other two. The state of consciousness being described uses the ego to record and to observe the non-ego."
This non-ego can manifest as a variety of common and bizarre images all of which are considered Other. In THE I AND THE NOT-I, M. Esther Harding has detailed this archetypal interaction. Watkins continues, "The body is relaxed until it nears sleep, and yet awareness is sistained. As the world of images appears, as if from dreams, they are recorded and remembered, and at times interacted with." This half-dream states creates an intersection between two worlds--as the symbol itself does.
Traditionally, this conjunction has been regarded as sacred--the world of godss, spirits, demons, and ancestors. "Whether dreams came from gods, demons, or the soul, there is common to these dieas the notion that the dream and the dreamlike are connected with a force beyond the mind and body of the dreamer. The dreamlike has a quality of 'otherness' of dissimilitude to the material world."
"THROUGH THE WAKING DREAM A JOURNEY WAS MADE POSSIBLE."
What do abductees dream when they dream? Reporting their journeys, they rarely speak of divine benefactors. Abductees dream of contact, alien sex, alien hybridization. Some people could be considered breeders and others are confronted with the self-alienating thought that they are already mutant hybrids, the result of a long-established intergenerational breeding program. Others report seeing duplicates of themselves, cloned from their genetic material--yet different.
In some of these experiences the dreamer is more or less lucid, half-aware, or in a waking dream state. Paralysis frequently is an accompanying sensation to this twilight sleep, adding to the rage and terror of an unearthly invasion of psychic space. Compounding the situation, the nature of this phenomena acts as a "hook" for a variety of archetypal projections such as Wisdom Figures, the Adversary, the Shadow, Trickster, and Magical Child archetypes, masking the basic experience with overlays difficult to sort out.
The sense one is being abducted sets up a virtually permanent "no boundaries" situation. It's worse than incest in the sense that experiencers have no assurance that it won't happen again and again, and perhaps to their own children also, whom they feel powerless to protect. And even when it is not "happening" the dreams come to plague them nightly. There is "No Exit," no sanctuary in virtually any state of consciousness.
They may not find sactuary in therapy either, in that some therapists have their own agenda with this population. Dr. Mack has been accused of "strip mining" the stories of his patients, and then not doing follow up work. Even if Mack is not guilty of this accusation, it is certain to be the case for a percentage of investigators interested in these stories for their own reasons.
Some people report their contacts in a positive light, but those claiming physical interaction with the grays rarely do. The grays behavior is not only emotionally toxic, but criminal. Yet, in the most bizarre sense, It -- the Other -- seeks to meld with us, to create the most intimate of connections.
Dr. Mack has put a positive spin on abduction phenomena by evolving some "message" from them for mankind to get its environmental act together. Some abductees have accused him of only accepting for treatment those who would see it in a positive way. Maybe, if he believes the hybridization notion, they should learn to get along, since they are apparently one big family, genetically speaking.
Putting a positive valance or value on any experience has the effect of sublimation, and is one way of protecting against being overwhelmed, by adopting a higher, more objective perspective--an overview. Perhaps Dr. Mack, is not being naive, but trying to help them find a deeper meaning in the experience.
The abductees are like Persephone, grabbed, raped, and seized down into the Underworld, caught helplessly in an unearthly rapture. Torn from one world, their souls are held captive by another for a great percentage of the time. In this case, psychologically that which goes down must come up to ordinary consciousness again. Sublimation might be useful in this regard.
What could be a possible physical mechanism for these spontaneous, intense waking dreams? One possible origin has been theorized by Rick Strassman, M.D. Between 1990 to 1995, he conducted DEA-approved clinical research at the University of New Mexico. His protocol called for injecting sixty volunteers with DMT, an extremely powerful, fast-acting psychedelic. He noticed a marked therapeutic potential in this drug which consistently produces out-of-body, near-death and mystical experiences. Participants also report convincing encounters with nonhuman yet intelligent presences: angels, spirits, aliens.
What does this have to do with abduction experiences? His research connects the pineal gland which naturally secretes DMT. Strassman believes that alien abduction experiences are brought on by accidental releases of DMT. He now runs a private psychicatric practice in Port Townsend, Washington. His research is recounted in DMT: THE SPIRIT MOLECULE, Park Street Press, January 2000, (ISBN 0-89281-927-8; $16.95)
SAVE THE HUMANS
The most radical of the Ufologists are convinced that not only the aliiens among us, there is a governmental conspiracy to distort and supress this information from the public. Aliens and the National Security Agency are colluding in this cenario, each moving toward widely separated agendas. Meanwhile, back on the ranch, the alien resistance forces are circling their wagons.
This contingent alleges that the grays worship technology, and don't give a rip about humanity, except as a source of glandular secretion and genetic crossbreeding. The radicals also consider all channelled Space Brother material as propaganda for the grays, smokescreen for a horrific holocaust going on largely unnoticed since it targets street people and missing children.
True or not, this Machiavellian manuevering has all the ingredients of a good paranoia party. As William Cooper, arguably the most radical Ufologist, puts it : "it's all over but the screaming." The bottom line of this scenario is not good. It is reminiscent of the old Twilight Zone episode, where the humans try to translare the alien text, "How to Serve Man." Of course, much to their consternation, it turns out to be a cookbook.
If that isn't bothersome enough, any self-respecting amateur Ufologit also has to contend with a cast of characters whose crredibility can't be ascertained without a scorecard, and then it still pretty much comes down to a crap-shoot concerning who is telling the truth. Many of the main players in the field accuse each other of hoaxing, disinformation, and blatent lying.
Phil Klass, a member of CSICOPS, is accused of debunking for the government cover-up, allegedly begun begun at the Roswell crash in 1947. Stan Friedman, a nuclear physicist, slams the credibility of Bob Lazar, who claims to have been reverse-engineering saucers in the infamous Dreamland at Nellis Airforce Base. The estranged son of the inveentory of the Lear jet, John Lear has created a Dark Side Hypothesis, composed largely of recycled disinformation he seems to have honestly believed.
When he subscribed to PARANET, a UFO bulletin board, he found a friend in Bill Cooper, and they decided to test the UFO community with faked government documents about aliens. These documents were filled with inconsistencies, and when the jig was up, both Lear and Cooper were banned from Paranet and their friendship broke down. Cooper accused Lear of being a government agent and Bob Lazar of being a fraud.
In the world of Ufologists, Cooper gets the Paranoia Prize, and his notions are summarized in a document called THE SECRET GOVERNMENT. This document is psychologically toxic to any credulous person who happens across it, being a mishmash of truth and paranoid delusion. The same applies to his later effort, BEHOLD A PALE HORSE, 1991.
An article by Martin Kottmeyer was reprinted in UFO, Vol. 7, No. 3, 1992 from Cyberbiological Studies of the Imaginal Component in the UFO Contact Experience, Archaeus Project, 1989. It is a psychosocial view of "Ufology As An Evolving System of Paranoia." He points out that...
"No one would question that this or that individual ufologist is paranoid, but the collective enterprise has somehow managed to escape the notice of the diagnosticians. By faulting the reality-testing processes of ufology, orthodox science has implicitly exiled it among the psychoses."
"It never bothered to explain the ufologists' delusion, however. The oversight is regrettable at least from the humanitarian point of view that one should try to understand those he opposess and gain, if not empathy, perspective and depth. But science has also missed the philosophical pleasure of forming an aesthetic gestalt of the history of UFO belief."
Kottmeyer hypothesizes that UFO belief behaves like other systems of paranoia. The paranoid mind-set reflects a sense of powerlessness. He goes on to point out that paranoid beliefs are not static facets of personality, but evolve through a well-defined progression of stages. He draws a correspondence between this progression and the history of Ufology. The schematic runs as follows:
A precipitating factor--a social set-back or a slight humiliation.
A sensitivity to external contacts.
An asocial withdrawl of some kind.
Hypochondriasis--the search for medical verification of illness and the failure to find it.
Increased concern, even obsession, with bodily functions.
Increasing worry--why? What? When?
Irrational revelation--the formulation of manufactured insight into how the illness happened.
Somatic delusions and retrospective falsifications of the origins of the physical complaint.
Projection--the belief that the illness is caused by an external factor.
Systematization of the delusion, clarification, shift of anxiety and consequent reintegration of personality.
Conspiracy logic (interpretation of events as links in a conspiracy) with widening circle of persecutors worldwide.
Puzzlement about why persecution has focused on self.
Delusions of grandeur and increasing grandiosity.
Recognition of an important mission such as saving the world or being a messenger of God.
Cosmic identity--belief that "I am the universe" or "I am God."
The later aspects may reveal a delusionary system about aliens as misplaced religious fervor. Some have suggested that the entire UFO phenomena is a weak modern substitute channel for the religious drive of mankind, our perennial search to connect with what is out there or deep inside ourselves, seen as synonymous in the unconcious.
Kottmeyer cites examples of each phase in an admittedly "cooked" history which isn't necessarily representative of any one individual. He mentions the withdrawl of early ufologist, the Dark Age when ufologists spent more time amassing recordss on one another, the fear of invasion of the mid-1960s, Congressional hearing demands.
Then came the ransacking of history and mythologies of the world for parallel experiences, mind-influencing machine fantasies, the 1974 "businesslike" ufology, Vallee's postulate of government manipulation of UFO belief, the government conspiracy of Cosmic Watergate, and the New Age philosophy of cosmic identity fusing humanity and the cosmos or man and god or some act of unification.
He links "the abductee cycle of fantasy being developed by Budd Hopkins" to the hypochondriasis stage and considers them "ripe for an irrational revelation." This proposition is based on the gestalt of the major trends in ufology.
Based on this theory he predicts that "the circle of conspirators will continue to expand to ever m,ore ridiculous proportions, implying motives far more dire than hypothetic social panic." In 1989 he predicted a bumper crop of Ufo cults with epic visions and epic manuscripts (ala The Urantia Book, and Beelzebub's Tales to His Grandson), a resurgence of the demonic interpretation, and eventually a philosophy of cosmic identity.
The years since Kottmeyer's publication have brought us the certainly epic visions of Richard Hoagland's MARS MISSION and Zecharia Sitchin's EARTH CHRONICLES series, not to mention the ubiquitous X-FILES. Their verdict? "We have met the aliens, and they are us!"
"Quaero non pono, nihil hic determino dictans; coniuncio, conor, confero, tento, rogo..."
"I inquire, I do not assert; I do not here determine anything with final assurance; I conjecture, try, compare, attempt, ask..."
THE SKEPTICAL INQUIRY
The counterpoint to invasion hysteria comes from those who consider themselves the voice of science and reason. Many of these largely humanistic scientists are members of the international organization, Commitee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal (CSICOPS).
The Skeptical Inquirer is their official journal. They are the self-styled "psi-cops," or in other words, the "brain police." They are the champions of scientific reductionism and have attacked everything from Jung's notion of archetypes, crop circles, catastrophism, etc. They lump them all together as pseudoscience.
Ted Goertzel, a sociologist from Rutgers University revealed his latest reasearch findings on UFO phenomena in the Spring 1994 SKEPTICAL INQUireer. In "Measuring the Prevalence of False Memories: A New Interpretation of UFO Abduction Survey," Goertzel concludes that UFO abductions are a false-memory phenomenon.
Based on 697 interviews with New Jersey reesidents, he found that people who reported UFO abduction experiences were also likely to believe in conspiracy theories of various kinds, to receive extrasensory messages from deceased relatives, to see halos around people's heads, and to believe in astrology. He characterized them as gullible--people who persist in beliefs that go against objective evidence.
However, it seems that he may be ignoring the fact that a study showing that those reporting abductions have other possibly related weird beliefs does nothing to eliminate the evidence of hundreds of corroborated video tapes, such as those from the 1991-1995 Mexico City flap where no abductions have been reported.
As in the case of False Memory Syndrome, many false reports of sexual abuse created by hysterical contagion do not negate the fact that incest and molestation do occur to some people, whether they are gullible or not.
Researchers are therefore cautioned to keep an open mind, not overlooking the fact that even though abductions may be over-reported for a variety of sociological reasons, it says nothing final about the UFO phenomenon itself. Studies isolating aspects of the overall phenomenon may give misleading impressions about the broader scenario.
The apparant sociological fact that many people reeport falacious UFO abductions for whatever reaons would seem to coorborate the infection "viral" nature of the notion. However, neither Goertzel's "gullible" theory nor an information viirus hypothesis can account for such documented events as the relationship betweeen cattle mutilationns and UFO siightings, or simultaneous videotaping of disks in the sky. Are we to assume that the camcorders are also "gullible."
Goertzel wanted to debunk the notion that virtually millions of people are being abducted by aliens. He's probably right, at least in New Jersey. Howevver, if only one human is genuinely abducted, that person serves a fair hearing, uncontaminated by experimenter bias.
IIf the repressed memories of UFO abductees are induced through alien mind control techniques there is no research we can produce on the etiology of this syndrome. But for those who falsely, if sincerely, claim this experience the only explanations lie within the domain of cognitive psychology.
The creation, construction, storage and retrieval of memory can tell us much about an unconscious process which erupts from beneath the threshold of consciusness. Most of this research on the creation of false memories involves images of sexual or satanic ritual abuse, coincidentally common theme in mental delusions.
Another Fellow of CSICOPS is Elizabeth Loftus, a professor of psychology at the University of Washington. Her research specialty is False Memory Syndrome. In fact, she is virtually a High Priestess of Skepticism, and through her numerous articles and appearances in the media, she is spreading the work through her own mission.
In her SKEPTICAL INQUIRER article (1995), "Remembering Dangerously," she draws a parallel between the witch-hunt trials of old and accusations of alleged abusers by their victims, based solely on flashbacks and dreams. She is motivated by the hope that this work will short-circuit the mass hysteria which is leading to superfluous lawsuits and family estrangment.
As a cognitive psychologist, she is highly critical of the "repressed-mmemory folklore," pointing out that case "proofs" often leave out critical information. With no other evidence of guilt, people have been convinced of the most heinous crimes. The False Memory syndrome is so powerful that even innocent individuals have "confessed" as if they were guilty, under the tremendous pressure.
Among the forms of "de-repressed" memories, she includes abduction: "Sometimes memories incompass past-life memories (Stevenson, 1994) or take an even more bizarre, alien twist (Mack, 1994)."
"The repression theory is well articulated by Steele (1994:41). It is the 'theory' that we forget events because they are too horrible to contemplate, that we cannot remember these forgotten events by any normal process of casting our minds back but can reliably retieve them by special techniques, that these forgotten events, banished from consciusness, arrive to enter it in disguised forms, that forgotten events have the power to cause apparently unrelated problems in our lives, which can be cured by excavating and reliving the forgotten event."
Loftus questions: "Is it not time to admit that the repression folklore is simply a fairy tale? The tale may be appealing, but what of its relationship to science? Unfortunately, it is partly refuted, partly untested, and partly untestable. This is not to say that all recovered memories are thus false. Responsible skepticism is skepticism about some claims of recovered memory. It is not a blanket rejection of all claims."
"People sometimes remember what was once forgotten; such forgetting and remembering does not mean repression and de-repression, but it does mean that some recently remembered events might reflect authetic memories. Each case must be examined on its merits to explore the credibility, the timing, the motives, the potential for suggestion, the corroboration, and other features to make an intelligent assessment of what any mental product means."
She reminds us that Yapko agrees symptoms by themselves cannot establish the existence of past abuse. Loftus quotes Briere's criticism that "extended and intense effort to make a client uncover all traumatic material is not a good idea since this is often to the detriment of other therapeutic tasks, such as support, consolidation, desensitization, and emotional insight."
These dangers of false-memory are endemic to psychotherapy and its existing paradigm. Loftus is bringing the foundations of that paradigm into question and calling for a shift toward new techniques. But she never really details them, except as "enhancement of functioning."
She seems to have a little witch-hunt of her own going on. She eis leveling an accusation not only at the repressed memory "cult," but indicting the entire basic theory of psychotherapy--its metanarrative. In leveling accusations at her own profession of psychology as well as the "false accusers" are her own projections or rational typological biases showing?
Not to say that Loftus isn't diligent. In American Psychologist (May 1993, 518-537), she outlines her argument very systematically. She begins with a landmark case of a trial in Redwood Ciity, California where a defendant was accused of a murder, which had happened 20 years earlier. The accuser was the defendant's daughter, who had "depressed" the memory. As of Spring of 1995, the trial was thrown our of court based on FMS. Yet, the trial got a lot of press, and to make a long story short, Loftus seems to present it as a ort of "Typhoid Mary" of the repressed memory syndrome, because she declares:
"Soon after the Franklin case, a string of others involving newly emerged distant memories appeared in the media. People accused by the holders of repressed memories wrote letters asking for help. Lawyers found themselves being asked to represent parties in legal cases involving represssed memories."
So Loftus wanted to find out just how common claims of repressed memories are for not only sexual abuse but other types of traumas. She criticized studies for wide-ranging findings of 18%-59% for sexual abuse, revealing that claims about repressed memories are far too freely made by therapists and legal scholars based on flimsy research. In one study the respondents were all in therapy. The vast majority of those abused remembered it their whole lives.
Loftus concludes that, "it is misleading to assume that simple failure to remember means that repression has occurred. If an event happened so early in life, before the offset of childhood amnesia, then a woman would not be expected to remember it as an adult, whether it was abuse or something else."
People (14-25%) routinely fail to remember significant life events, such as auto accidents or hospitalizations, as little as a year after their occurrance. These studies are hard to conduct because they inquire about a memory for forgetting a memory.
If massive repression is a mechanism for coping why don't children who witness murders suppress the memory for this most horrific event? What could be more traumatic? In a study by Malmquist in 1986, "not a single child aged 5 to 10 years who had witnessed the murder of a parent repressed the memory. Rather, they were continually flooded with pangs of emotion about the murder and preoccupation with it."
Psychotherapists have assumed for years that unconscius memories are waiting to erupt into consciousness, but a wide variety of hormonal and neuronal systems can also create distress. In some cases, suggestive probing may make the theory a seeming reality.
TEMPORAL LOBE SEIZURES AND EARTH LIGHTS
VIRTUAL REALITY CHECK
FMS is only one phenomenon associated with memory, there are others. Riccio, et al (1994) examined the nature and purpose of forgetting in "Memory: When Less is More." Research shows that for animals and humans, forgetting of stimuli as a distinct memory can lead to increases in behavior. There are consequences for this pervasive type of memory impairment.
Forgetting of stimulus attributes is the failure to remember the particular features of an episode. It means increasing loss of discriminability among perceptually distinguishable events, as memory representations homogenize.
It bears on our discussion because it provides a systematic framework for undertanding the phenomenon of reality monitoring and monitoring information about sources. "A number of human cognitive phenomena are attributable to impairments in source monitoring." reflecting loss of memory for the stimulus attributes of the original cue. This results in the false positives of faulty memory.
"Put casually, both humans and animals can often remember how to respond while forgetting the particular condition under which they should respond. As a consequence, they come to respond to a broader range of stimuli than would have been the case shortly after learning." This is the phenomenon of generalization. In tests, subjects tended to respond fearfully to a broader range of stimuli.
Forgetting the stimulus feeatures with subsequent errors in reconstruction is the single process that can also include behavioral phenomena ranging from the misleading information effect in eye-witness memory, to the "sleeper" effect, familiarity effect, and temporal shifts.
What boundary conditions lead to the increased malleability of memory? Loftus notes that with a long interval between the event and the misinformation, the injection of misinformation becomes relatively easy. It is increasingly easy to distort memory after the passage of time. NLP has an axiom: "Every access is a reframe." Everytime a memory is called up it is subject to associative changes. And those changes are axiomatically related to attitudes associated with the incident.
When therapists use the "Change History" protocol, they know that if you change the outcome, you also change the attitudes linked to those cues.
In cognitive confusion, we cannot keep memories of perceived events separate from those of imaginal episodes, or reality monitoring. Though input is compartmentalized, these compartments are permeable, creating hybrid representations. Representations tend to converge as more details are forgotten. For reality monitoring, it is important not to confuse information based on valid sources with those from imaginal sources.
We also have a pervasive tendency to view past events as inevitable. People believe that events reported have to have happened and to have happened that way, and that the outcomes ( in retrospect) could not have been otherwise. In the natural world loss of memory for specific details of earlier events and choice points help give rise to the perceived inevitability of today's known outcome.
Also, contextual clues for retrieval are related to support retrieval of the target. Because the functional similarity of cues increases as attributes are forgotten, the degree of interference from other episodes could also increase. Familiar attributes are forgotten more slowly than other attributes.
The notion of familiarity has been proposed in UFO literature. It has been repeatedly suggested that UFOs and abduction stories are elaborated in terms conceivable for the times. Thus, more archaic stories, such as that of Ezekiel, contain less technical interpretations of the phenomenon. Charles Fort recounts the stories of a Welsh man, Mr. Rhys, who claimed to be abducted by fairies, and that of Travis Walton, whose abduction was the basis of the movie, FIRE IN THE SKY.
One man had been brought up in the age of faeries, while the other was a child of the sci-fi era. Fort concluded that they both went through the experience of abduction and each explained it, as Fort noted, "in terms of the familiar."
In the sleeper effect, evidence is disregarded or discounted for the moment but comes to have an impact on decision making as the discounting cue but not the message is forgotten. Other recall tests show that situational details are forgotten (behavior) whereas dispositional information (traits) remains more constant.
The forgetting of stimulus attributes leads to generalized responding to a broader range of stimulus situations, and may become more extreme or polarized. So, fear or trauma can lead to more generalized fearful reactions in unrelated situations. In such a "trance" state, we fail to recognize the absence of relevant information. Hardened attitudes create more extreme inferences based on global evaluations.
The exemplar model of memory suggests that we compare a target stimulus with its similarity to the memory representations of exemplars. The current target of memory elicits retrieval of representations in memory of particular stimuli or episodes that share similar attributes with the target item.
We can speculate that this model has definite implications especially for distant, ambiguous UFO sightings in a culture that is steeped in that imagery. This model implies that if we see an unusual light in the sky, we will immediately access and reference that image against stored images of UFOs from various cultural sources. Listen to a child tell about a sighting, and they note, "it wasn't the moon, it wasn't a tree, it wasn't an airplane or helicopter, it wasn't this or that or the other," constantly referencing and comparing to known potentials.
In the general dynamics of memory, when a particular response is retained but the specific circumstances associated with it are forgotten, important shifts in cognition, attitudes, and judgements can result. Perceptions can be altered. Contextual features and source boundaries are among the least enduring attributes in memory.
These phenomena are part of the essential nature of the background from which false memories arise. The qualities of memories which filter back vary tremendously from detailed and vivid to very vague. Their clarity shows little relationship to the remoteness of the reported events.
When events are reported for pre-verbal experience, the phenomenon of childhood amnesia sshould be considered in evaluating their validity. Studies show that childhood memories for under 3 years old are very rare, and only the birth of a sibling or hospitalization was remembered at age 2. But this type of thing can be heard from others and incorporated later.
Memory is malleable even for life's most traumatic experiences. It can be influenced by exposure to others who truly experienced the trauma. Memories for personally experienced traumatic events can be altered by new experiences, and events that never happened can be injected into memory. Reported false memories range from the trivial to the bizarre.
Loftus suggests that for abuse memories, popular writings have been so fully absorbed into our culture that they could be the source -- abuse may be real, but it also functions as a contagious social virus -- a meme. The same is true for UFO information which is in books, movies, television, and radio. yet, memories are detailed and confidently held, and some of them (or some parts of them) are real.
Is it necessarily true that people who dream about or visualize abuse are actually getting in touch with true memories? Initial wonderings supported by therapist's affirmation can become fixed beliefs.
Loftus concludes that "Zealous conviction is a dangerous substitute for an open mind," but, we should be very careful how we probe for horrors on the other side of some presumed amnesiac barrier.
PROCESS ORIENTED THERAPY
We all naturally seek some form of guidance in navigating the turmoil of life. Professional help is held out as a panacea for psychosocial life. But obviously not all guides are created equal.
Abductees are not generally warmly met by therapists unexperienced in therapy with this subject and unaffiliated with any UFO group. One experiencer, after being given Prozac and Xanax by his medical doctor, sought therapy with this result: "When I tried to discuss this with a counselor, the counselor freaked out and said that the insurance company would not pay him for discussing UFOs."
"As far as I'm concerned, that's an admission that they exist: If I wwas hallucinating them, wouldn't he WANT to discuss them with me and help me? He seemed actually terrified when I brought it up. Another time when my wife and I were seeing a counselor, I told her about our experiences, and she said, "a lot of people have those experiences, so what?' It was apparent that the psychology community is not into discussing these matters and simply avoids them whenever possible."
There are three styles of denial present in psychological concepts: 1) nominalism, or focus on classifying, naming, diagnosing; 2) nihilism, or archaic denial which finds shelter in existentialism; and 3) transcendence, which would refuse psychopathology by standing above it, which might be said of humanistic psychology, and the upwardly striving orientation of the human potential movement.
As a secular philosophy, Humanism is based in existentialism and provided an ethical base for atheistic scientists in its early days. Later when the countercultural shift happened, there was a split between the non-theists and the theistic acknowledgement of a generic Higher Power by the Transpersonal psychologists who came from the humanistic background.
Gestalt, Transactional Analysis, Humanistic and Transpersonal psychologies all share this background. The notion of being responsible for and to oneself comes from existentialism and gestalt; that of a higher responsibility or accountability appears in transpersonalism.
The humanist Abraham Maslow noted that mankind has a basic need for "peak experiences," which transcend the banlity of normal experiences. Transpersonal psychology hold much in common with the Jungian school of psychotherapy, but Jungians are more apt to embrace the darker side of life without judging it "sick." Most psychotherapists these days are ecclectic in their approach and try out various techniques from time to time.
Both observe and classify various typical behavior patterns as dynamic processes and use processes or protocols in psychotherapy. Thus, gestalt will prescribe the "two chair technique" for any number of polarized conflicts, while transpersonal psychologies routinely prescribe meditation or inner work for increasing an overall sense of harmony, in addition to body work, art therapy, etc.
In all of these therapies, the psychotherapist is considered as more or less of a guide for the unfolding process of the client. The unique unfolding of each therapeutic session is a co-creation of both parties involved.
So it is easy to see that any therapist with a hidden agenda could subconsciusly steer the therapeutic process in virtually any direction. This is especially true where hypnosis or quasi-hypnotic techniques are employed. Incidently, any method which emphatically claims to be non-hypnotic probably is just that.
There is alot of tacit suggestion going on in these special relationships. Otherwise, how can be we account for the fact that Freudian clients report typically Freudian dreams, Jungian clients get Jungian dream content, and other clients automatically conforms to the form of therapy they are pursuing.
With these obvious influences in motion, there is a tremendous responsibility on the part of the so-called guide to maintain an unbiased attitude toward the phenomenology of the client, even while having to choose some basic assumptions and modalities within which to work.
Literalism is the main trap which lies within the experiential reports of therapeutic subjects. Therapy can be done in the historical dimension, but it is fraught with the danger of misinformation which can be incorporated into memory and self image, creating different adjustment problems than assumptions about original experience.
The practitioner who takes this material literally and historically may have failed to see through to the metaphysical nature of thee imaginal journeys. It is metaphysical only in the sense that its reality extends beyond that of the concrete and wholly physical.
Pathologizing to a greater or lesser extent is part of the subtext of all of our lives. Pathologizing, according to James Hillman, reveals "the psyche's autonomous ability to create illness, morbidity, disorder, abnormality, and suffering in any aspect of its behavior and to experience and imagine life through this deformed and afflicted perspective." Thus, the abductee finds his life framed within this twisted model of reality.
Pathologizing is not necessarily "sick." These imaginal elaborations or distortiions of inner and outer life speak to us in a metaphorical language. It is not obsessed with Why? What? How? and Who? James Hillman hass suggested that they are healing fictions, whose essence we absorb by moving more fully into them.
Mystery is the alternative to literalism. Truth comes to us in veiled, symbolic form. This mystery is not a different class of events than literal events, but those literal events are regarded differently, rather than narrowing their multiple ambiguity of meanings into a single definition.
By "sticking to the image," more is to be revealed than by defining, interpreting, translating, or concretizing it. Rather, it calls for elaboration, amplification, deepening. The image itself is the best guide to processing experience any therapist can offer.
Deep journeys into these images, like any voyage of discovery, repeat the mythic cycle of the heroic quest. There is a parallel between the phases of the heroic quest and the process of personal transformation encountered in therapy. It is a cycle of departure and return which is a metaphor for the growth and maturation of the ego in it spiritual quest.
Waking dreams can be approached by letting the dreamer choose an image that opens the work and leads the way. The guide does not lead, but rather follows the experiencer's process to their own definition of satisfaction, their own sense of flow and closure for the session.
Yet, the guide must lead into and through places of fear and pain because that is essential for transformation or healing. It is the guide's responsibility to provide a sense of safety and trust while the experiencer navigates the stream of consciousness. The guide encourages staying within the flow of ever-transforming imagery, while deepening the process.
Watkins (1978) cautions us that, "We cease to discover to allow ourselves to be open invention and suggestion. We fall into the mistaken habit of doing the right thing in the wrong place. What makes the guide so needed in our culture--our ignorance of the imaginal--also makes the notions of guide and guiding particularly dangerous. A way of moving in imaginal space or being with threatening image are more eagerly accepted and welcomed as the way. Once this process begins we can all too easily find outselves dealing with an unknown as if it were a known."
"We cease to discover or allow outselves to be open to invention and suggestion. We fall into the mistaken habit of doing the right thing in the wrong place because we treat a unique image as a stereotyped one. The subtlety of relation that we could discover with each different image is thereby lost, and the imaginal is homogenized with our good intentions and psychological technocracy."
She continues with her concerns: "the prejudices and misunderstandings we have that keep us away from the imaginal must be clarified, so that we have some way to begin a relation to the imaginal; and that we do not take our manner of relating for granted and, in so doing, unknowingly obscure the imaginal's reality. For just as oon as one tries to be helpful and set down "how" one might go about doing womething, a mexture of good and evil is evoked. The evil lies in the fact that every way to do something may tacitly exclude other ways which might reveal other things."
Her cautionary note continues: "We must get in the habit of questioning and requestioning what each of us is saying about the imagination in order to discover the assumptions which abscure by their mere presence."
"Once one can remain with the image (whether it comes from a waking dream, dream, or one's activities, thoughts, or feelings) the image itself can teach and disclose its nature and its world through its own being. Our listening to it (in ways that its nature, not our theory call for) develops a sensitivity in us towards the imaginal, so that its movement and echoes in life can be more readily and truly felt and followed."
Skeptical Inquirer (CSICOPS)
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