Therapeutic Ideas for Coping
By John S. Carpenter, MSW, LCSW
During hypnotherapy there are opportunities for the use of cathartic and abreactive techniques which can safely release a great deal of the emotional tension much in the same manner pressure is released from a pressure cooker. The state of hypnosis can be a powerful tool in enhancing this process. For example, there are points at which the abductee is overwhelmed with feelings of anger or fear. At these moments the hypnotherapist can “freeze the actions,” stop the progression of events artificially, and directly request the abductee to envision some sort of immobilization of the beings - perhaps trapped behind glass, a “force field,” or under some type of paralysis where the abductee can at least believe temporarily that the roles have reversed. Now the abductee can safely vent his feelings of anger and confusion onto the magically-restrained aliens, stating feelings, shouting, or cursing the intruders if he so chooses. Although both the hypnotherapist and client know that this is a created, artificial scene, it nevertheless is highly effective in releasing pent-up feelings by utilizing the power of suggestion and the vivid quality of the hypnotic state of mind. Similarly, if we were to dream of beating up an old nemesis, we will likely awaken feeling refreshed, smugly content, and energized - as if we had actually gained revenge against an old foe - despite our conscious knowledge that nothing of the sort has actually happened.
If direct visual confrontation is too difficult for the client, one can use powerful metaphoric imagery to create symbolic scenarios and significant emotional release. For example, one could be told that all of the strange beings are contained inside of a large leather bag and cannot escape. One can then take a large club and beat the squishy bag until it is as flat as a pancake or pulverized into small particles that one could simply blow away with a breath of air or suck up into a vacuum cleaner easily. The subject’s mind will know what feels right and is satisfied via fantasy. Usually one can reassure and remind the abductee that no deliberate hostility or harm has been imparted, and that he/she is a survivor with many strengths. Most confusion or fear does diminish with the acquisition of more information which slowly transforms the unknown into the known which we can begin to sort and process.
After hypnotherapy another technique is to actually write a letter to the beings. This provides another safe outlet for expression of suppressed feelings without public display or disclosure. The tone could range from an angry blast to one of sincere inquiry listing many of those nagging questions such as, “Why me?, “Are you returning again?,” and “What do you need me for?” Although the abductee does not receive answers (usually!), it helps one to process and organize his/her thoughts and release them to paper where they can remain.
An ongoing journal is quite helpful for continued processing and working through a type of grieving. This “grief,” I believe, is over the loss of one’s former sense of reality and the forced adjustment to a new view of one’s entire existence and purpose. Committing these feelings to a letter or journal helps clear the client’s mind and formulate some organization of the experiential components. The stages of denial, anger, depression, bargaining, and acceptance outlined by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross in her research on death and dying are indeed relevant to what the abductee finds himself working through.
After an initial and private acceptance of the abduction phenomenon, there often occurs what I shall term the “second trauma.” This involves the abductee finding himself alone in a world that does not accept the idea of the first trauma as a real event. There can be cruel teasing and insensitive jokes springing from the disbelief of best friends, family members, bosses, and coworkers. A terrible sense of aloneness and depression can occur. This can turn into displaced anger toward the researcher. No matter how caring the researcher or therapist can be, the client seems to reap greater assistance and comfort from hearing another abductee at this sensitive and lonely point in the process.
Unfortunately, in many areas of the country there are absolutely no support groups. A phone network has produced incredible satisfaction and significant relief as the therapist and researcher work as a team to connect struggling newcomers with other participants who have already worked through many phases of the coping process and are able to assume a strong helping role as emotionally supportive persons. The emphasis is not on the swapping of stories, but rather on the ways to move forward and fit this bizarre scenario into an already disrupted daily routine. The integration of these opposing realities is not an easy task, but the best suggestions seem to come from those who have found various ways to cope effectively. The significant success of such phone calls and letter sharing is an important indication that these traumas are as real as a rape or death. People would not be able to connect so well and gain so much relief if these events were merely delusional or fantasized. Despite vast differences in backgrounds and interests, abduction participants come together emotionally as well as any other diverse group of humans who find themselves sharing a common trauma.
Eventually, enough abduction participants may come forth in a given locale to begin a support group in that area. The most important function of such a group is to be able to gather together and feel “normal” again, socializing with others in an accepting atmosphere and realizing that others can truly have the same exact fears, frustrations, and confusion and yet be “normal” and perhaps even fun people with which to have stimulating conversations and peasant relaxing evenings.
The main caution for such groups concerns that common yet devastating debate over whether the beings have either good or evil intentions. Everybody has a right to his/her feelings and own opinions; there is nothing gained from trying to convince someone that their feelings are wrong or misperceived. This only creates a great deal of hurt and resentment. The same results notoriously occur with religious or political debates; there are no absolute right answers, just strong and very emotional opinions.
In my own research, I have noted that the same basic components and descriptions repeat without a great deal of variance. An individual’s reaction seems more related to his or her personality rather than to something of any appreciable difference in the recalled events themselves. For example, if you sent 50 individuals to see the same movie at a theater, you would find a variety of reactions to the exact same stimuli; each person will focus on different aspects, remember different things, and form opinions based on his/her way of perceiving the data in the movie. Each is likely to respond differently in accordance with the range of life experiences already collected and integrated into each respective personality.
Therefore, I suggest that the differences in the beliefs are largely a product of the individual’s perceptual mindset and emotional predisposition rather than an actual variance of any significance in the experience itself. In other words, it seems there are a wider range of personal reactions than actual variance in the reported details of the abduction scenario. Support groups should remain supportive and socially healthy - not forums for heated and hurtful debates. Please give these considerations some careful thought. I look forward to sharing more therapeutic ideas with our readers in future papers. Please feel free to write and share your own suggestions and creative techniques.
This article is published with the expressed written permission of John S. Carpenter exclusively for publication on The Alien Jigsaw: alienjigsaw.com