by Donovan Condon
The claims of being abducted by aliens have been happening in the United States since the mid-20th century. People claim to be taken into alien ships and used for many types of research. Wide varieties of people believe these phenomena happened to them or others ranging from regular citizens to even some psychologists. Since the first claim of an abduction in 1961, accounts have risen greatly even to this day. Information on alien abductions and UFO sightings can be found all over the internet, including websites like ufoabduction.com, mufon.com, and maar.us, along with many others as it is has a huge following across the globe. These claims are important to the world of psychology because it can show us how people can be swayed by types of practices and social influences, especially media into genuinely believing the improbable.
The basis of these claims lies mostly with multiple, vivid hypnotic therapy sessions. Mainly the fact that so many accounts were emotionally painful and strikingly similar has become the sole focus of those who study and vouge for these abductions being real. The people who undergo hypnosis to find repressed memories tend to have very emotional and surreal details to their stories that is hard to believe it didn’t happen. Top that off with the amount of people who have similar stories down to descriptive details, how could it not be true? Unfortunately, there is little to no physical evidence of these abductions other than those stories and memories.
Budd Hopkins is a famous author who “helps” a lot people who claim to have been abducted by aliens. He meets up with many victims and performs hypnotic therapies on them to try and find their memories of the encounters. The problem with hypnosis is when performed wrong by someone who is not a professional, such as Budd, false memories can be formed or strengthened. In many of his cases, he leads and pushes them to possibly create more details than they would’ve normally. The people see him as an authority figure and with his instigation of their stories, it may hurt rather than help their fears and bad memories. He also has group therapy sessions, in which, he pushes the victims to connect their stories with others, reinforcing their beliefs of the encounters. I believe the biggest cognitive problem is the therapists interpretations of the phenomena. By giving assumptive interpretations, the victims confirm their beliefs and are further traumatized by them. This is mainly due to the therapists and is less of a fault of the victims.
Another issue with alien abductees is how the media influences them. After the first encounters, tv shows and movies started to arise which portrayed imaginative situations involving aliens capturing people and performing procedures on them. These shows and movies like The Stranger Within or Close Encounters of The Third Kind, have given people a basis of which to base their claims. Since these type of media have come out the number of cases has risen exponentially, along with the vividness of those cases. Many of the memories told by victims draw a striking resemblance to pictures seen in movies and tv, from aliens with wide black eyes to bright lights and futuristic technology on the ships. I believe this is the cause for the large amount of similar cases that have been recorded, so the claim that this would be proof of alien abductions does not hold as true. These media sources immensely help to sustain the beliefs of abductees and provide guidance for their memories.
The combination of alien abduction media and hypnotic therapy both help to account for this phenomenon. By getting a basis of what the aliens and UFOs can look like through shows and movies, the victims can create stories and false memories of what everything look and sounded like. After reaching out for help with the wrong people, through hypnosis, these memories can be distorted, which will hurt the victim overall. People tend to believe in the interpretations of the authority figures due to the appeal to authority and confirm the beliefs they are looking for because it is easier, rather than find alternative non-supernatural conclusions. Alien abduction stories will continue to emerge as long as there are media sources giving them life and authority figures helping them to confirm those claims.