Look Into My Eyes!
By Nina Pendred, Deputy Ed. Alien Encounters
Hypnotic regression has been acclaimed by many UFO researchers as a useful tool for uncovering the truth about alien contact experiences. But does the technique also run the risk of planting false memories?
Within ufology, much has been made of the accounts given by alleged abductees through the use of hypnotic regression. By this, hidden memories are accessed through hypnosis to reveal, amongst other things, accounts of abduction and experimentation. Travis Walton, the famous abductee, used hypnotic regression to fill the blanks he had in his memory, following his alleged abduction in 1975.
Unsurprisingly, this technique has been the topic of much heated debate, with many people arguing whether these hidden memories are really of aliens or just the mind’s way of covering for child abuse. Dr. Benjamin Simon used hypnotic regression on Betty and Barney Hill - one of the more famous abductee cases - and has stated that the use of hypnosis can reveal fantasy as well as hidden memories.
Another criticism leveled at the use of hypnosis is that the individual doing the regression may well be influencing the stories of the abductee. There have been similar stories told by people under hypnosis by the same regressionist. For instance, Budd Hopkins’s witnesses claim to have seen more Greys than Dr. Leo Sprinkle’s - critics say the reason for this is that Hopkins wants to hear stories of Greys, as this mirrors his personal beliefs.
Incidentally, it is interesting to note that many people have been critical of Budd Hopkins due to his lack of medical background. The fear amongst many medical observers of the process of hypnotic regression is that it may be resulting in a similar condition to “false memory syndrome,” where the regressionist, whether by accident or by design, leads the subject into giving answers that conform to what the regressionist expects.
Without a doubt, hypnosis is a powerful tool that can be used to help people, but it can just as easily be used to cause harm. In a bid to counteract misuse, BUFORA (British UFO Research Association) introduced a code of practice upon all its members, effectively banning hypnotic regression without medical supervision.
Some people are quick to categorize all UFO researchers that use hypnotic regression under the same banner, declaring that they misuse the procedure, but would they be as quick to categorize all medical doctors in the same light as one unethical MD?
The following are profiles of famous hypnotic regressionists and the cases they have worked on.
Dr. Leo Sprinkle and The Judy Doraty Case
Dr. Leo Sprinkle, a psychiatrist, is considered to be the first abduction researcher. Sprinkle carried out hypnosis on officer Herb Schrimer at the University of Colorado in 1968, and since then has conducted many experiments.
Sprinkle hosts an annual gathering of abductees, feeling that they are playing a part in humanity’s spiritual progression. To back up his theory, Sprinkle points to the positive ethos of his abduction cases, stating that the aliens appear to be giving us a helping-hand up the evolutionary ladder. This theory would seem to support the idea that mankind has had its evolution tampered with throughout the centuries.
In 1979, Dr. Sprinkle hypnotized Judy Doraty who, after a night out with some of her family, experienced headaches and feelings of anxiety. Under hypnosis, it was revealed that Judy had apparently been abducted aboard an extraterrestrial spacecraft. Judy went on in detail, describing how a cow was taken up into the craft and methodically mutilated by two “small entities.”
During the hypnotic regression, Judy described the unusual sensation of being in two places at once. She said that she was still standing beside her car after they stopped to watch the strange light in the sky. However, Judy also said that at the same time, she was in a strange chamber watching the gruesome experiment unfolding before her eyes. Footage of this regression was included in Linda Moulton-Howe’s award-winning documentary Strange Harvests.
AJ is an experienced abductee who understands the trauma that can be involved when unraveling buried memories of contact with aliens. Although AJ underwent regression sessions herself, seven with a Ph.D. forensic clinical psychologist and two with Budd Hopkins, she would not recommend everyone who has an inkling of alien contact to rush out and book sessions without considering the consequences. Being hypnotized is not a matter to be taken lightly.
Anyone who agrees to undergo hypnosis is ultimately placing themselves in a vulnerable position. Some people can be led to answer questions in a way the hypnotist wants them to, accidentally or not, even if this means deviating from the truth [confabulation]. AJ therefore advises those who do decide to visit a hypnotherapist to only contact those who are highly qualified and experienced in the field of alien abduction.
According to AJ, the most important point to remember is that hypnosis is not a cure. Once abduction memories do come flooding back, the person concerned may have to come to terms with some rather disturbing events. It is then up to them to seek support from family, close friends or a professional [to help them better cope] with their experiences.
This can be a long and painful process, which may include rejection from those who refuse to accept the alien concept. Not many people are sympathetic to those who claim to have been abducted by aliens, and the abductee may face a certain amount of ridicule from work colleagues and friends.
John Carpenter, MSW, LCSW
A psychiatric hypnotherapist, John Carpenter is a licensed clinical social worker working in Springfield, Missouri. He was involved in the case of Leah [Haley] an American Abductee who claimed that she was subjected to military interrogation following one of her alleged alien abductions.
After conducting a number of tests on Leah, Carpenter [head of MUFON’s abduction research at the time] decided that because of the extreme hardship experienced throughout Leah’s life, she was now suffering from a condition known as post traumatic stress disorder. Carpenter claimed that during her sessions of hypnosis, Leah was not totally hypnotized.
John E. Mack, M.D.
Dr. John Mack founded the psychiatry department at Cambridge Hospital, one of Harvard’s teaching units, and is director of the Program for Extraordinary Experience Research at the Harvard affiliated Center for Psychology and Social Research. [Now known as JEM: The John E. Mack Institute.] Mack was the center of media attention in 1995, after Harvard launched an investigation into his studies of alien abductees. After much debate, Mack was told that no action would be taken against him, as long as his enthusiasm for UFO research did not steer him away from the path of professionalism. Mack has made a study of 120 abductees and concluded that aliens have “invaded our physical reality and [are] affecting the lives of hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people.”
Budd Hopkins is perhaps the most widely known UFO researcher to use regression as a tool for the release of abduction memories. Although Hopkins is not qualified in psychology, he worked with hypnotists for seven years before conducting sessions himself. His most famous case involves the witnessed abduction of Linda Cortile. Several witnesses, including a world political leader, saw Linda and three alien beings emerge from a 12th story apartment window and be carried by a blue beam of light to a waiting UFO. When he’s not regressing abductees, Budd Hopkins spends his time as a professional artist and sculptor. His work has won many awards and is displayed in art museums throughout America.
This article is reprinted with permission by Nina Pendred and was featured in Alien Encounters (no longer in business) © 1997
This article is published with the expressed written permission of Nina Pendred for publication on The Alien Jigsaw: alienjigsaw.com