[Paleopsych] NYT: Explaining Those Vivid Memories of Martian Kidnappers
Thrst4knw at aol.com
Thrst4knw at aol.com
Mon Aug 15 20:21:13 UTC 2005
It has long been established that alien abductee reportees are not usually
psychotic or gullible. The research goes back decades. Even the
anti-paranormal publications like Skeptical Inquirer eventually picked up on this, as much
as they probably would rather have been able to refer to these people as
crackpots or lunatics. It simply isn't true. On the other hand, it also doesn't
appear to be true that they are reporting veridical events in most cases. The
psychological explanations in the literature have for years been more in terms
of fantasy proneness or other forms of imaginative talent rather than
pathology or chicanery.
The history of this 'abduction' topic parallels the history of hypnosis in
some interesting ways. Hypnosis itself was considered first miraculous, then
mysterious, then paranormal, then fakery of various kinds, and finally now a
valid way of studying normal if somewhat less well understood and still
fascinating psychological processes like dissociation, absorption, fantasy, and role
taking. Today, abduction experiences are generally considered by researchers to
be real, non-pathological, emotionally intense, imaginative experiences
rather than psychotic hallucinations, alcoholic tales, the effluent of a weak mind,
or deliberate fakery. The mainstream view is consistent with the author
quoted in the NYT articles, and vice versa, from what I understand.
So it turns out that there is, remarkably, already a fairly good sized
scientific literature on the psychology of human exceptional experiences: exploring
the relationship between hypnotic responding talent, fantasy proneness talent,
dissociation talent, memory, confabulation, expectancy, involuntariness, and
so on. There are even scientific explorations of the spiritual side of these
experiences, by people like Kenneth Ring. The "spiritual" variations focus on
how meaning is attributed in exceptional experiences and how people's lives
are changed by them, rather than on how and why the experiences are produced.
Overall, there are some pretty reliable findings in the former area, although
the latter is somewhat less amenable to study. For an example of the former,
talented people don't even need hypnosis or relaxation to produce the
characteristic experiences of hypnotic responding.
I don't believe in abductions, but I cannot explain their reactions any other
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