What I discovered in writing the first part of Prisoner of Infinity is how the experiences of alleged alien abductees like Whitley Strieber, whether phantasy, reality, or some little understood combination of the two (the model I lean towards), are filled with very clear “symbolic” elements. These symbolic elements point towards early childhood trauma (possibly universal) that the psyche is attempting to address and integrate through psychic re-enactments. This requires re-experiencing trauma in an unconscious attempt to make conscious the original experience. If psychology is accurate about this, then early trauma is the basis, the driving factor, not merely behind UFO encounters but all human history and experience, at least until that early trauma is made conscious and can be integrated.
It’s here that the alien abduction lore overlaps with that of the infamous intelligence programs such as MK-ULTRA, which often entail, or at least hint at, the conditioning-via-abuse of children (which Strieber also believes he was subjected to). Such programs are aimed at tapping into the psychological survival mechanism of dissociation, by which the psyche summons “daimonic complexes” from “the Beyond” (the deeper unconscious) to bring about some kind of healing intervention for the child. If so, it may be that Strieber, along with thousands of others similarly interfered with (and not necessarily only by government programs), has unwittingly summoned his own “visitor” phenomena, one which is both highly personal and, paradoxically, universal—since the human psyche reacts to trauma in more or less the same way.
The danger in this is obvious. People who have suffered such early fragmentation, by whatever outside agencies (I include myself in this camp), and who are then exposed to the alien abduction literature, are likely to reframe their trauma within the new context, as a way to re-experience it “safely.” As a result, the phenomena will then, over the generations, become “viral” and generate its own proofs. If abductees on the whole seem closer to what we’ve seen or heard about victims of mind control than shamanic initiates, the “aliens” must be deduced to be closer to CIA agents than to shamans or “spiritually evolved” beings.
Suppose we juxtapose reports of alien abductions, and the widespread belief in them, with the question of institutionalized child abuse (ritual or otherwise). There is growing evidence all around us for the latter; it is a largely overlooked part of human history (see Lloyd de Mause’s The Emotional Life of Nations for a starting point). In contrast, there is relatively little evidence for alien abduction as an actual, physical occurrence (as compared to an insufficiently understood psychic one). Yet belief in alien abduction—while not yet embraced by the so-called “intelligentsia”—is far more widespread than belief in (or rather awareness of) systematized child abuse (though this is changing fast, in the UK at least). There may be different reasons for this, but the one that interests me relates directly to the psyche, and that is that stories about alien abduction, though no less preposterous than stories about institutionalized abuse of children, are considerably more palatable to most people.
As Martin Cannon wrote in his classic, unpublished work The Controllers:
Many books have been written about abductees, yet few exist about the victims of mind control. I cannot understand this situation; the reality of UFOs is still controversial, yet the existence of mind control was verified in two (heavily compromised) congressional investigations and in thousands of FOIA documents. Nevertheless, the abductees find many a sympathetic ear, while those few who dare to proclaim themselves the victims of known government programs rarely find anyone to hear them out. Our prejudices on this score are regrettable, for if we listened to the “controlees” we would hear many details strikingly similar to those mentioned by UFO abductees.
As a one-time believer in Strieber’s Communion narrative and the “magical,” nonhuman nature of his experiences, I have been surprised how, through the course of my investigations, allowing for extremely sophisticated human manipulations as a possible explanation has been sufficient to account for most if not all of the evidence. Admittedly, the human explanation itself requires allowing for methods and technologies that might be indistinguishable to many people from magic, and specifically from occultism, ancient and modern. It isn’t really either/or, however, even if generally these subjects are kept apart because serious UFO researchers (if that’s not a complete oxymoron, George P. Hansen and John Michael Greer come to mind as exceptions) tend to stay away from deep, parapolitical analysis and social engineering (unless it is by nonhuman agencies). But what about the possibility of social engineering that goes back as far as history, and so might in some sense encompass the UFO phenomena entire, and faerylore too? This is not to suggest that it was all fabricated as a folktales for the masses (though I think it was partly that), but that “psychic-hacking”—which relates to inducing trauma within ritual context—could conceivably have created it. This might have occurred first unwittingly and then, on being observed over time, intentionally, reaching its apotheosis, the state of the art, with MK-ULTRA, which coincided with the first modern UFO wave and contact phenomena.
At the very least, if it can be shown beyond reasonable doubt that childhood sexual trauma informs at least some of these experiences, we now have a new element to bring to the table when considering all the other cases. It may be that “the ET hypothesis,” and even that of a nonhuman presence, is entirely unnecessary based on the evidence (that’s my position, I believe it was once Jacques Vallee’s too). Of course that doesn’t rule out some other, human unknown; but again, the sensible way to proceed would be first of all to see if we can account for all the evidence without resorting to “magical” hypotheses. The fact that, to some people, the psyche is a magical hypothesis itself makes it doubly ironic that it’s not being allowed into the debate, because it may be that all the magic and mystery which we are projecting onto the UFO is already here, at the center of our lives, in the form of the psyche.
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