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Psychiatrist, Harvard University
Let's talk about your own personal evolution from perhaps skepticism to belief
MACK: When I first encountered this phenomenon, or particularly even before I
had actually seen the people themselves, I had very little place in my mind to
take this seriously. I, like most of us, were raised to believe that if we were
going to discover other intelligence, we'd do it through radio waves or through
signals or something of that kind.
The idea that we could be reached by some other kind of being, creature,
intelligence that could actually enter our world and have physical effects as
well as emotional effects, was simply not part of the world view that I had
been raised in. So that I came very reluctantly to the conclusion that this was
a true mystery. In other words, that I -- I did everything I could to rule out
other sources, or sexual abuse. Some of these people are abused. But they're
able to tell, distinguish clearly the abduction trauma from other forms of
abuse. Some forms of psychosis or people making up stories -- I could reject
that on the basis that there was no gain in this for the vast majority of these
.... I've now worked with over a hundred experiencers intensively. Which
involves an initial two-hour or so screening interview before I do anything
else. And in case after case after case, I've been impressed with the
consistency of the story, the sincerity with which people tell their stories,
the power of feelings connected with this, the self-doubt -- all the
appropriate responses that these people have to their experiences.
So tell us, please, how literally you intend people to take this? Are you
suggesting people are really being snatched from their beds by aliens and
experiments on board a spaceship?
MACK: Just how literally to take this, is one of the most interesting and
complex aspects of this. And I want to walk through that as clearly as I can.
There are aspects of this which I believe we are justified in taking quite
literally. That is, UFOs are in fact observed, filmed on camera at the same
time that people are having their abduction experiences.
People, in fact, have been observed to be missing at the time that they are
reporting their abduction experiences. They return from their experiences with
cuts, ulcers on their bodies, triangular lesions, which follow the distribution
of the experiences that they recover, of what was done to them in the craft by
the surgical-like activity of these beings.
All of that has a literal physical aspect and is experienced and reported with
appropriate feeling, by the abductees, with or without hypnosis or a relaxation
....There is a -- I believe, a gradation of experiences and that go from the
most literal physical kinds of hurts, wounds, person removed, spacecraft that
can be photographed, to experiences which are more psychological, spiritual,
involve the extension of consciousness. The difficulty for our society and for
our mentality is, we have a kind of either/or mentality. It's either, literally
physical; or it's in the spiritual other realm, the unseen realm. What we seem
to have no place for -- or we have lost the place for -- are phenomena that can
begin in the unseen realm, and cross over and manifest and show up in our
literal physical world.
So the simple answer would be: Yes, it's both. It's both literally, physically
happening to a degree; and it's also some kind of psychological, spiritual
experience occurring and originating perhaps in another dimension. And so the
phenomenon stretches us, or it asks us to stretch to open to realities that are
not simply the literal physical world, but to extend to the possibility that
there are other unseen realities from which our consciousness, our, if you
will, learning processes over the past several hundred years have closed us
I wonder, if in that vein, you can speak to what you think this experience is
MACK: ....There are several effects that these experiences have for those who
undergo alien abduction encounters. First is the most familiar aspect or fit,
which is a traumatic event in which a blue light or some kind of energy
paralyzes the person, whether they're in their home or they're driving a car.
They can't move.
They feel themselves being removed from wherever they were. They floated
through a wall or out a car, carried up on this beam of light into a craft and
there subjected to a number of now familiar procedures which involve the beings
staring at them; involves probing of their body, their body orifices; and a
complex process whereby they sense in the case of men, sperm removed; in the
women, eggs removed; some sort of hybrid offspring created which they're
brought back to see in later abductions. That's the sort of literal experience.
Now, the effect of that is -- or what seems to be going on there, in a number
of abductees -- not just people I see, but the ones Budd Hopkins and other
people see -- is to produce some kind of new species to bring us together to
produce a hybrid species which -- the abductees are sometimes told -- will
populate the earth or will be there to carry evolution forward, after the human
race has completed what it is now doing, namely the destruction of the earth as
a living system. So it's a kind of later form. It's an awkward coming together
of a less embodied species than we are, and us, for this evolutionary purpose.
However, that might not be literally true. It might be that that this is a
communication to us. That perhaps we need to change our ways. It may not be
that these are literally our babies. It may be a kind of expression of images
of babies; or it may be that these hybrids we're told is what will have to be.
It's a kind of insurance policy if the earth continues to be subjected to the
exploitation of its living environment to the point where it can't sustain
human and other life as it's now occurring. But it may not be literally what is
going to happen. So that's one area.
Another area is the whole visual environmental and informational aspect of this
in which people are shown on television screens a huge variety of scenes of
environmental destruction of the earth polluted; of a kind of post-apocalyptic
scene in which even the spirits have been routed from their environment because
they live in the same physical and spiritual environment that we do; and
canyons are shown with trees destroyed; pieces of the earth are seen as
breaking away -- portions of the East Coast or West Coast.
Alien hybrid. What does that mean?
MACK: Sometimes along the way, as you go deeper and deeper into the person's
consciousness, into their experience, they will discover....what is called a
dual identity. In other words, that they are both human -- in one dimension;
but they also are themselves, have an alien identity. That they are
participatory in this reproductive hybrid program, as if they were altogether
part of it. And that they may, in fact, even experience themselves as aliens.
One of the men in my book actually was an active participant in taking a woman
from Texas up into the ship and being, and acting the reproductive function of
the alien being, and felt he was himself alien. And often the abductees will
feel that their job, developmentally, is to integrate these two dimensions or
these two aspects of themselves: the human and the alien. And that the alien
dimension is a part of ourselves, our souls, if you will even, from which we
were or have been cut off over the centuries of human beings living on this
earth in this densely embodied form.
You and others have said that there is no other psychological explanation. But
that there is some reality to it. What do you think of the work of people like
Michael Persinger and Robert Baker who have these complicated theories about
neurology or they charge that hypnogogic hallucinations being at the root of
these perceived -- these experiences?
MACK: These experiences often occur in literal consciousness. Not in a
hypnogogic or dreamlike state. The person may be in their bedroom quite wide
awake. The beings show up. And there they are and the experience begins. That
they're not occurring in any dreamlike state. Now sometimes they do occur when
a person is dozing off or in a hypnogogic state. But very frequently not.
Also, any theory that is going to look upon this as a purely endogenous
phenomenon, by which I mean generated purely from the psyche of the person
themselves. Which is a kind of arrogance too, really. Because it means that we
just can't accept the notion there could be another intelligence at work here.
Which is a much more economical explanation. But if we must find a theory
within ourselves, then we should keep in mind that any theory that's going to
even begin to address this, has to take into account five factors:
Number one, the extreme consistency of the stories from person after person.
Which you would not get simply by stimulating the temporal lobes. You would get
very variable idiosyncratic responses that would differ a great deal from
person to person.
Number two, you would have to deal with the fact that there is no ordinary
experiential basis for this. In other words, there's nothing in their life
experience that could have given rise to this, other than what they say. In
other words, there's no mental condition that could explain it.
Third, you have to account for the physical aspects: the cuts and the other
lesions on their bodies, which do not follow any psychodynamic distribution,
like the stigmata associated with the identification with the agony of Christ.
Fourth, the tight association with UFOs, which are often observed in the
community, by the media, independent of the person having the abduction
experience, who may not have seen the UFO at all, but reads or sees on the
television the next day that a UFO passed near where they were when they had an
And finally, the phenomenon occurs in children as young as two, two and a half,
three years old. And any theory that simply attributes this to the activity of
the brain, does not take into account at least three of those five fundamental
Aren't you really at risk of losing quite a bit, personally and professionally,
because of ...criticism?
MACK: I think that, in some ways, I've gained more than I've lost in terms of
inviting people into this mystery, having a dialogue with all kinds of very
wonderful, open, intelligent, brilliant people from many different fields. It's
been quite exciting. I mean I've been attacked, but the attacks have not been
really nearly as serious to me as the openness that I've found among many
people throughout the culture and internationally, who are saying: Yeah, I
always suspected something like this was going on, and I'm glad you were
willing to come forward and report about it.
......It's often said that I'm a believer and sort of have gone and lost my
objectivity. I really object to that. Because this is not about believing
anything. I didn't believe anything when I started, I don't really believe
anything now. I'm come to where I've come to clinically. In other words, I
worked with people over hundred and hundreds of hours and have done as careful
a job as I could to listen, to sift out, to consider alternative explanations.
And none have come forward. No one has found an alternative explanation in a
single abduction case.
Many say that this is just really a function of cultural images.
MACK: ...I have been looking at this phenomenon as it manifests in indigenous
people, in Native Americans -- the Cherokee, the Hopi, who know these beings as
the star people. We've looked at this in South Africa, particularly in
interviewing in depth a leading South African sangoma, or medicine man, who
calls these beings "mandingdas".
We've investigated it in Brazil with a farmer in -- outside Belo Horizante who
had identical abduction experiences to what have been reported in this country.
I'm getting recent -- I received a letter about abduction experiences from a
person in Malaysia today. In other words, this is -- as far as we can tell -- a
worldwide phenomenon. This is not restricted, as some people have thought, to
Western or particularly American culture.
....I found that the higher or the greater the stake that a person has in this
society, in their position or their job, the more reluctant they are to admit
that they've had abduction experiences......When abductees went on television
with me during the spring of 1994, during my book tours, and wanted to
communicate and educate about it, a number of them received threats to their
jobs. Some of them lost them....we have one man in management consultation,
lost an important contract. A woman that worked for the federal government, who
was an abductee, was threatened with loss of her job. In other words, this is
not something that is regarded as acceptable.
I've interviewed airline pilots who have had sighting-- close up sightings of
UFOs. They will not report it, because they will be removed from their work.
Even if they've had abduction experience, they will not talk about it. And 25
to 30 percent of airline pilots, according to a survey that one of the people
I've talked with did, have had close up sightings, but will not discuss it.
This simply is not something that is accepted as OK to talk about or -- And
that may be changing. I recently saw a Harvard Divinity School student, and I
asked him these questions. I said: Do you talk about this among your fellow
students? And he said: 'Oh, yes.' And it turned out several of them had also
had abduction experiences. And even the ones that had not, were fascinated,
interested, didn't ridicule 'em. So maybe the climate is changing.