Matthew J. Graeber
Magonia 62, February 1998
In recent times the tragic suicide of 38 American UFO cult members has graphically illustrated the extremes that fixation and identification with alien life forms can have upon certain individuals. For not only did these troubled souls believe that by taking their lives they were also going to rendezvous with an extraterrestrial space ship that was skirting a comet’s tail, but several of them had even shaved their heads and castrated themselves (perhaps in an effort to mimic the purely cerebral, highly spiritual and, presumably, asexual appearance of the space creatures that they anticipated meeting).
All this at the insistence (and, in many instances, the direction) of self-proclaimed UFO abduction experts, who often lack any sort of medical training or certification in clinical or forensic hypnosis.
Other UFO-related cases of unusual human behaviour involve the complete abandonment of highly sensitive listening posts by several US military personnel in Germany, so they might meet with a flying saucer that they believed was coming to Earth to pick them up, as well as the planned radioactive assassination of local government officials in New York State by UFO aficionados who thought that the authorities were covering up information about a saucer that had crashed near Long Island.
Of course, these are extreme examples and it would be totally unfair of me to paint the entire UFO subculture with the same brush. For many saucer buffs are intelligent, hard-working and well-meaning folks and it is, in fact, precisely because of their good intentions and belief in the UFO phenomenon that they can be easily manipulated and exploited by charismatic, unscrupulous and deluded individuals who may be operating within the saucer movement itself.Interestingly, in the early days of UFO charlatanism, the schemes (much like the developing UFO phenomenon) lacked the sophistication of today’s technological-sounding scams, which not only include an array of bogus classified documents, photos, video footage and crashed saucer artifacts, but also the sanction of a growing number of credulous professionals who treat abductees and reportedly help them to deal with the post-traumatic stress and lingering anxiety of repeated experiences with alien beings that had kidnapped and abused them.
ASK NOT WHAT A SUPER-TECHNOLOGICAL ALIEN CIVILISATION CAN DO FOR YOU, ASK WHAT YOU CAN DO TO HELP STRAIGHTEN OUT THE MESS RIGHT HERE ON PLANET EARTH!
All this at the insistence (and, in many instances, the direction) of self-proclaimed UFO abduction experts, who often lack any sort of medical training or certification in clinical or forensic hypnosis.
The reported transformational effect of the abduction experience is believed to involve a spiritual, philosophical and intellectual heightening of the individual’s self awareness through a continuing process of contact and educational interaction with alien intelligences that have selected the abductees for some specific purpose.
Several experts believe that the purpose of abduction is grounded in the immediate wants and needs of the aliens who are, apparently, attempting to bolster their own faltering genetic pool through a clone-splicing technique that they have perfected in order to thwart their impending extinction. Several other UFO experts feel that the benevolent aliens are concerned about our own planet’s ever-mounting ecological, sociological and political woes; and that they have been visiting this world and covertly contacting some of its inhabitants in preparation for a kind of social reorganisation which will supposedly take place after the Earth goes through a period of dramatic changes (e.g. the result of a global catastrophe such as a nuclear holocaust, a complete ecological melt-down, a world-wide plague, or a bewildering series of natural disasters). In fact, it has even been suggested that the planet itself may be knocked off its axis by a rogue asteroid and entire continents might be swept away – beneath the angriest of seas.
Still other reported after-effects of contacts with the alien Greys, as they are commonly called in UFO circles, are said to include a sense of cosmic consciousness (or, the magnified awareness of one’s oneness with the universe), the occasional spontaneous cure or remission of various physical, immunological, emotional and psychological disorders, as well as the abductees experiencing marked changes in their career choices, personal interests and long-term goals.
But, beyond all of the above, human contact with the aliens has also produced marked alterations in the way the abductee perceives him or herself, even to the point of their experiencing sexual identity difficulties and/or gross distortions of self, which includes the questioning of their even belonging to the human race or feeling any sort of allegiance to it. That the abductees would identify, sympathise and voice open affection for their captors is not an unknown psychological phenomenon. But, that the abductees would so readily cast off their humanity and profess partial (i.e., hybrid) or total kinship with their alien captors does seem to open the door to much deeper contemplation.
THE LANGUAGE OF THE UNCONSCIOUS
The problem, of course, is that few abduction experts have the requisite medical training to fully comprehend the dangers of hypnotically probing the unconscious mind of the individuals they matter-of-factly call the abductees – a term which automatically confirms as physically real the very confusing experiences which these perplexed individuals have sought out the experts for. But, even worse than that, the term sets them up for additional experiences, simply because it is common knowledge throughout the UFO community that the Greys always come back for the abductees, and their children too! Perhaps it was this expectation and fear that led a woman in the UK to kill her young grandchildren before they would be kidnapped by aliens?
Beyond this, the UFO ‘experts’ lack of perception regarding the marked psychical background of the so-called abduction experience (i.e., its mythopoeic make-up and dream-like contradictory content) means that the experts must keep coming up with new (and often ridiculous) explanations of how and why the aliens might do something that is obviously nonsensical in character (e.g., the little Greys can reportedly levitate at will, lift and carry the much larger and heavier humans that they have captured – yet, they often walk their victims to their waiting space craft and climb stairs into its hatchway, even though they reportedly filtered through the locked doors and brick walls of the abductee’s home only moments before).
Yet another obvious contradiction pops up in the reports when the dematerialising aliens use metallic instruments to perform invasive surgical procedures upon their human captives, especially when they are also alleged to be capable of inducing the abductees’ bodies to dematerialise as well.
Moreover, today’s medical practitioners can routinely perform similar gynaecological procedures to those that the aliens reportedly employ, but without producing the marked fear and pain which so frequently characterise the medical aspects of the abduction experience.
ENCOUNTERS WITH THE UNKNOWN
In many instances, man’s encounters with the unknown were believed to be real contacts with gods, spirits, or demons of various description, and often involved the experiencer being whisked off to magical realms beneath the Earth or sea, high upon a mountain, deep within the forest, or in the firmament above.
Today’s abduction reports often feature similar mythological settings in their scenarios (albeit with a technological accent) and we even discover reports of UFO interiors which have earthen floors and shag rug wall-to-wall carpeting (Indeed, dirt floors in a supposedly highly advanced and medically sterile space craft.) In fact, the UFO which reportedly kidnapped Linda Cortile (the central figure in Budd Hopkins’s book Witnessed) was said to have plunged into the Hudson River with all hands on board rather than flitting off into the starry sky with its cargo of human captives. So, the question immediately arises – was the craft a sub-UFO from Earth’s inner space or an ill-fated space craft from outer space?
While it seems perfectly normal for modern man to dismiss the idea that wee folks, fairies, leprechauns, and hobgoblins actually existed and occasionally interfaced with our forbears, a great many people living in very sophisticated societies as little as a century ago absolutely did believe that such tales were true. Indeed, some folks even believe it to this very day. The point is that, in a hundred years or so, it may be that our contemporary beliefs in UFOs and the pint-sized creatures that pilot them will also become a curiously amusing fact, especially when one considers that the UFO legend’s tales are so highly characteristic of our society and our times (i.e., an era in which our own space-conquering aspirations have been projected upon an array of alien intelligences that we assume to be flourishing somewhere in the cosmos – a fact that Dr C.G. Jung pointed out over forty years ago in his landmark book Flying Saucers: A Modern Myth of Things Seen in the Skies).
In short, we may be lifting our eyes, minds, hopes, and hearts to the skies in search of a super-technological deity instead of the supernatural god that our ancestors worshipped. We may be yearning for an answer to our tiny planet’s ever-mounting problems – fantasising and, in so doing, inventing a new-age panacea (or super-advanced technological response) to the dark side of our own sciences and technologies, and the nuclear/ toxic demons that we have unwit-tingly created and unleashed upon ourselves.
That this panacea should take the form of little creatures with swollen heads that are choc-full of intelligence and good will towards mankind (instead of a host of angels with blaring trumpets bursting through the firmament), informs us that a growing faith in advanced sciences and technology has woven its way into our culture’s unconscious, even to the point that UFOs (i.e., the symbol of the panacea) have been invested with the power of bringing salvation to mankind. A power which they do not possess and in no way deserve.
Man has always feared and revered strange and awesome things that he’s seen in the skies – he had recorded his perceptions upon cave walls, clay tablets, and video camcorders. Perhaps knowing what the signs in the skies actually were never was as important as what the observer believed they were, and the tremendous impact that such beliefs have had upon the human psyche.
Perhaps UFOs have always played a part in the living experience of man. Perhaps they have been called soul-sparks by the ancients and space ships by today’s observers. Perhaps, too, their operators have been known as angels, demons, wee-folks, and Greys. Are these creatures from outer space, inner space, or a space and time existing somewhere in between these divisional concepts? Do they seek to contact us consciously, unconsciously, or on a spiritual level?
UFOS AND INKBLOTS
Like many great artists, Leonardo Da Vinci was fully aware of the inner mind’s ability to well up images, and we find that even his friend and colleague Piero Di Cosimo commented in his writings on how many wonderful creatures could be found hidden in the stains of masonry work. Of course, we’ve all had some personal childhood experience with seeing various animal shapes in cloud formations; and, if one tries hard enough, quite a few other imaginary things can be spotted lurking in the shadows of leafy trees too.
In the early 1900s, Dr Hermann Rorschach (a Swiss psychiatric pioneer) effectively demonstrated that extraordinarily meaningful material buried deep in an individual’s subconscious could be brought to the surface by having that person attentively mull over a series of ink blots in an effort to describe what they saw in them.
In most instances, just about everyone tends to see the same kind of things in fluffy clouds and Dr Rorschach’s ink-blot plates simply because the general shape of the visually perceived external object that they are gazing at does bear some degree of similarity to a mentally stored image of some other object that they are comparing it to. But, it seems that after one’s initial comparative or reductive processes have been exhausted regarding Rorschach’s ambiguous ink blots, some unusual things start to happen to a person’s perceptive abilities. This also appears to be the case in many UFO observations, and may even play an important role in the close-encounter experiences that occasionally follow them.
As any seasoned field investigator can tell you, quite often the play of reflected sunlight or cloud shadowing upon an otherwise easily discernible abject (such as a commercial airliner’s fuselage) may create false optical cues that can cause a person to misidentify the aircraft and call it a UFO. What’s more, because the startled UFO observer does not have the opportunity to replay the incident and, therefore, cannot possibly verify his or her observation, they may not ever realise that they have mistakenly identified a fixed-wing aircraft for an unidentified flying object.
Interestingly, it seems that even though an individual undergoing Rorschach testing has the opportunity to take a good long look at a particular Rorschach plate, nevertheless the general shape and even the coloration of the ink blot tends to play an important role in the mental formulation of the kind of things that he or she will see in it. This may be a very important factor for UFO researchers to consider because the changing size, shape and coloration of a fleeting UFO or its pulsating lighting may produce (or induce) similar effects upon the experi-encer’s perceptive skills.
Considering the adverse effect that shadow, distance, darkness, and poor weather conditions might have upon an individual’s optical acuity at the time of their sighting – it seems reasonable to suspect that UFO watching, much like ink-blot gazing, primarily involves the observation of a strange object or some pattern of ambiguous lights that are usually seen against the backdrop of a night-time sky.
So, it is not surprising that one’s best attempts to positively identify the object (or the distant lights) are going to become embellished with subjective (apperceptive) phenomena that form around the object, or may tend to fill in the empty space that is situated in between the mysterious points of light – investing them with not only a structural configuration, but also volition and, in some cases, even questionable intent. Naturally, these attributes are projected upon the unknown object by the observer as a result of their emotional and intuitive responses to the situational and confrontational character of their UFO encounter; and, once that happens, their UFO experience broadens and deepens, taking on a subjective tone which may also in-clude the active influence of very primitive introjective processes (i.e., assuming that the object is intelligently guided or that the UFO operators have specifically selected the observer for some reason).
All of these factors must be seriously considered by the objective UFO researcher simply because one cannot be certain which percentage of UFO reports are generated by the observation of space craft from another world (or holographic imagery that is transmitted by an alien civilisation), as opposed to those that may have their origin in the depths of man’s inner space – that is, his unconscious mind. And, of course, there is also the distinct possibility that the UFO experience is both objective and subjective in nature, and that separation of the two is simply beyond our investigative skills.
This appears to be the case where a physically real airborne object (be it a misidentification of some sort, or a real UFO) is observed and then the observer projects his or her own psychical contents upon it – very much like what happens during Rorschach testing experiences.
In his landmark psychological exploration of the UFO phenomenon, Dr C.G. Jung identified the basic discoidal (or round) UFO configuration as being similar to that of a meditative mantra and several other symbolic manifestations of the self which, as we know from our studies of depth psychology, is a very important archetype that tends to spontaneously appear to individuals when there is a profound emotional need present in their lives, or when they are caught up in a seemingly hopeless or overwhelming situation. Both of these prerequisites seem to fit the above mentioned UFO experience model which speculatively describes the UFO encounter as being a kind of display or the symbolic equivalent of some internal conflict that is unconsciously troubling but, nevertheless, affecting the observers at the time of their UFO encounter.
I am not alone with this estimate of the UFO situation, for several other researchers have come to similar conclusions regarding a display factor in UFO events and, quite recently, Dr R. Leo Sprinkle (noted psychologist/ufologist of Laramie, Wyoming) has presented a paper on the psychical analysis of UFO experiences which echoes Dr C. G. Jung’s assertion that the UFO may be (at least in part) a symbolic representation of the observer’s self. But these guestimates are based upon present-day UFO reports and the investigative data that today’s researchers are gathering. It would also bee interesting to attempt to determine what impact the presence of such ambiguous aerial objects may have had upon our forebears.
CAVE ART AND UFOS
Curiously, UFO-like shapes and forms have been discovered amidst the human and animal forms depicted in Palaeolithic and Neolithic cave art which is generally thought to have been created during the time when man’s consciousness was first developing (i.e., roughly one million years ago). These, too, are believed to have been produced while early man was involved with welling up mentally stored images of the many animals that he hunted and feared. But, unlike the beautiful deer, bison and horses that appear to have been repeatedly drawn in the same area of the caves and were apparently used for some kind of hunting magic ritual, these unusual circles, braces and chevrons were not drawn in layers and are believed by many experts to have had an independent mythology connected to them. Interestingly,squares, chevrons, and a series of circles and dots commonly called recall-benders frequently pop up in Rorschach testing too.
Although there may be a number of possible explanations for the existence of the UFO-like cave drawings, two seem to be the most plausible. Either the cave man recorded his real-world encounter with such objects, or he dreamed of such forms and the dreams had such a profound impact on him in the waking state that he wanted to share his experience with his contemporaries.
In either case, it appears that these UFO-like shapes were considered important enough to merit separate space upon the cave walls, for they are not pitted and marred like the animal depictions which have obviously been subjected to many missile impacts that probably occurred during a hunting magic ritual. In other words, the UFO-like drawings have been afforded a separate space within the caves, and they probably had an entirely separate mythology associated with them.
The experts on cave art seem to be somewhat perplexed by these drawings and, of course, opinions vary quite a bit regarding their possible meaning. The so-called brackets are often thought to be a stylised version of the female form about to receive male sexuality, while some experts feel that the brackets may be related to the sexual aggression of the cave man himself.
One thing seems certain. These forms are totally unlike anything that is thought to have existed in the cave man’s natural environment. They appear to be symmetrical, possibly aerodynamic in design, and they also have a modern-day technological look about them. While they may not actually be depictions of UFOs, one must admit that they certainly do look a great deal like sketches that today’s observers produce regarding their encounters with alien space vehicles.
Dare we ponder the notion that contact with alien intelligences could be channelled through the vast reaches of man’s inner space (i.e., his unconscious mind) and that such contacts may have been going on since mankind’s conscious dawning? Dare we believe that human inner space is just as vast, wondrous and awesome as outer space and that we have barely touched the surface of the mysteries and wonders that lie within its depths? Indeed, depths from which the UFOs themselves may hail?
No matter how far we reach out amongst the stars, we must always bear in mind that in our outreaching lies a human motive, and that the further we reach the deeper the want, the need, the fear, or the desire is to touch the face of the unknown.
As we are about to enter the 21st century, we might do well to note that despite our new sciences and great technological advancements we are still linked to our distant ancestors and carry the essence of their being within us. Have we become so estranged from this primal fabric that signals from it are thought to be attempted communications from an alien world? What is the signal in the noise of UFO reports? And, even more importantly, why is it being picked up by so many people at this particular point in human history?
Although Hermann Rorschach’s work with the phenomenon of human perception (its alteration or distortion) is generally applied to the diagnosis of pathology, some experts feel that it might be an error to assume that it is not also a viable method for studying the workings of perceptual phenomena in normals too. Dynamic UFO Displays may be one of many such phenomena, for the sudden and oft-times riveting perception of a Dynamic Display or close encounter may trigger a projection function that displaces some of the excess psychical energy (libido) assigned to an internal conflict that may be adversely affecting an individual. Thus, the Dynamic Display variety of UFO experience may bethought of as a self-regulating function of the psyche which is induced into activity by intrusive sensory stimulation (i.e., the impact of encountering a UFO) as opposed to the tranquil meditative process of Rorschach plate scrutiny.
Even in cases where the UFO investigator is completely unable to resolve the UFO report as a misidentification of a conventional airborne object (or perhaps an atmospheric anomaly of some kind), he or she is still left with the opportunity to examine the observer’s recollection of what the unidentified flying object looked like, how it appeared to operate and, of course, how it may have interacted with them.
This is most valuable information because, if we are correct about the UFO’s image and its interactive performance being dramatic representations of the observer’s self condition , we can learn something about the UFO experience’s meaningfulness in regard to the observer’s wants, needs, fears and expectations, along with something about the general make up of their defensive shielding. Indeed, we might consider a Dynamic UFO Display as a form of self-perception and communication that is triggered by the UFO’s presence in our skies – and even more importantly – in ouy lives.
IS THE SIGNAL SYMBOLIC?
In order to interpret the symbolic materials that well up during the subject’s observation and interaction with the UFO, the investigator must attempt to determine what the UFO (as an image) may actually represent on the one hand (e.g., a misi-dentification of some physical and external airborne object/s, or perhaps a totally unknown anomaly) and how that object’s image and behaviour might be symbolically linked to the psychology of the observer/s on the other hand. It is also apparent that what is observed during a UFO experience and how it is emotionally perceived and responded to is not solely determined by the observer’s conscious estimation of his or her UFO encounter, but also by the active influence of a mixed bag of intrapsychical forces that come into play during the event.
Since we suspect that the primary sensory stimulation (which is visual in most UFO cases) and the observer’s logical estimation of the experience concerning the size, shape, colouring and nearness of the object, is also backed up by emotional, intuitive and instinctual inputs that quickly flow across intrapsychic structures during the event, the UFO researcher should be on the look out for any bits and pieces or archetypal and/or instinctual debris that may be clinging to the observer’s account of their encounter with an unidentified flying object or its occupants.
In regard to this process, it seems that the altered or distorted form of perception which is instigated into activity by the ambiguity of the ink-blot plates in the case of Rorschach testing, and the often-times equally ambiguous, though obviously much more shocking, process of UFO watching primarily involves the subject’s complete fixation with the object, and a general falling away (or perhaps the total absorption) of their reality testing during the experience (e.g., Well, it was quite dark that night and at first I thought it was an aeroplane, or maybe a helicopter … but, then, as it hovered just above my head, I slowly realised that it was something unlike I’d ever seen before ).
Dynamic UFO Display case studies graphically illustrate that UFO researchers do have the ability to identify the symbolic contents in UFO reports which relate to both the observer’s personal life conflicts and even those that may be considered to be far more rudimentary (or archetypal) in character.
THE UFO SIGHTING AND ITS POTENTIALLY BENEFICIAL EFFECT?
If certain visually perceived imagery such as that found in Rorschach’s plates and some UFO configurations do have the ability to deeply penetrate the human psyche and induce the displacement of archetypal symbols, subconscious contents, and psychic energy, we are obliged to further examine this remarkable phenomenon in an attempt to determine if there may be some therapeutic application for such a process.
Perhaps the cinematic replication (i.e., animation or computer animation) of UFO-like imagery which may be custom-designed from the information gathered by the therapist during counselling sessions with his or her patients might be as effective a tool as the purely mentally generated images that guided imagery practitioners presently attempt to direct at an array of physical, emotional and immunological disorders. Perhaps the sudden impact on perceiving a Dynamic UFO Display may enhance or surpass the effectiveness of the passive guided imagery techniques because of its highly confrontational character and deeply penetrating impact on the observer(s).
Perhaps, too, this same sort of psychical shock was the driving force that first nudged early man to conceive of things that did not yet exist, but surely would some day, simply because he could create them.