The Case for UFO Abductions as Physical Events

Part I

By Budd Hopkins

“I can personally attest to the fact that at least a dozen abduction cases were officially reported to the FBI in 1987, to no avail. For public consumption the FBI states – as do the Air Force and other official agencies – that it has no curiosity about such reports. This well-publicized position has meant, to no one’s surprise, a decline in the number of abduction cases reported…to Federal agencies.”


The reports we are considering may very well disclose evidence of the most important event on our planet since the beginnings of sentient life. Either we are being visited by some kind of alien intelligence, equipped with a technology and purpose beyond our present-day understanding - or the power of human invention, delusion and self-deception is, in the language of another earthly issue, reaching critical mass. Do these thousands of reports of UFO abductions and subsequent medical experiments describe actual events, or are they some new, pervasive, world-wide form of fantasy?

Those who recall their own UFO abduction encounters are convinced that what happened to them is real, while those who have not experienced such traumatic events usually reject the idea that such things are even possible. Experience, our surest and most persuasive teacher, provides each group a convincing but contradictory lesson, waiting patiently in the wings, however, is a more formal and obviously more learned tutor - recorded history - always ready for an instructive dialogue with the present. And history does, in fact, provide a specific parallel with the issue I have posed: the problem of separating fantasy from reality in the case of UFO abduction reports. Naturally the current circumstances are different from those of an earlier time - they always are - but the historical analogy nevertheless has something important to tell us.

In the last decade of the nineteenth century, in Vienna, Sigmund Freud was treating his neurotic patients by a slowly evolving personal therapy which included hypnosis as part of the technique. As the months and years passed Freud found that most of his patients recalled, both consciously and through hypnosis, disturbing incidents of childhood sexual molestation, seduction and abuse. He therefore posited the eminently reasonable theory that these incestuous childhood sexual incidents had led to the later neurotic - hysterical - problems from which his patients suffered. It was a sensible theory that, for a number of reasons, he was soon to abandon.

Obviously it had been difficult for Freud to accept the idea that incestuous behavior was widespread among the good bourgeois Catholic and Jewish Viennese who were his patients, neighbors and peers. And in the meantime he had also begun to realize that children and even infants possessed their own form of developing sexuality - surely Freud’s most significant discovery. For these and other, apparently more personal reasons too complex to discuss in this paper, Freud made a drastic change of mind. He decided that these commonly reported memories of childhood sexual abuse - recollections which often came to light through the process of hypnotic regression - were nothing more than elaborate fantasies invented by his neurotic male and female patients. These sexual seductions and molestations had never happened; they were merely the wishful dreams and imaginings of hysterical people, originating inside their heads rather than in the actual, physical world. Though this explanation required the acceptance of the idea that a child’s mind was a steamier and more complex place than previously imagined, on another level we could all breathe easier; incest and the sexual abuse of children was largely imaginary.

In An Autobiographical Study of 1925, Freud described his view of his admittedly disturbed patients this way:

“ ... I must mention an error into which I fell for a while and which might well have had fatal consequences for the whole of my work. Under the influence of the technical procedure which I used at that time [hypnosis], the majority of my patients reproduced from their childhood scenes in which they were sexually seduced by some grown-up person. I believed these stories, and consequently supposed that I had discovered the roots of the subsequent neurosis… My confidence was strengthened by a few cases in which relations of this kind with a father, uncle or elder brother had continued up to an age at which memory was to be trusted. If the reader feels inclined to shake his head at my credulity, I cannot altogether blame him…”

Freud was obviously deeply embarrassed at having temporarily believed that childhood sexual abuse might be relatively common in repressed nineteenth century Viennese families. We know, now, that Freud was right to feel that way, but not for the reason he stated. We know that incest, childhood seduction and sexual abuse are common at the present time and undoubtedly were common then, when Freud decided that these traumatic accounts were mere fantasies. The psychological problems many of his patients faced were more likely the result of real events rather than artifacts of wishful, self-generated fantasies. Freud, it must always be remembered, was a therapist and a theoretical, analytical thinker, not an investigator. Since his theories led him to discount automatically a patient’s sexual molestation memories, he apparently made no effort to examine the possible objective reality of these claims. Naturally he never visited the patient’s house to conduct interviews with other members of the family, nor would he attempt in any way to ascertain if his patient might have actually been the victim of adult depravations. He was a physician, a healer, not a detective, and for him the problems began and ended inside the patient’s damaged psyche.

It has only been in the last few decades that trained psychiatric social workers, sociologists and other mental health professionals have - unlike Freud - actually begun to investigate the event-level reality of these reports. They have come to the conclusion that childhood sexual molestation, seduction and abuse are rampant in the real world, and probably always have been. Furthermore, contemporary psychoanalysts and writers such as Jeffrey Masson, Milton Klein, David Tribich and others have attacked Freud’s position that the neurotic problems he was treating had their sole origin inside the heads of his patients, that they were due to “developmental mechanisms” and were not the result of real events. Masson in particular claims that Freud’s theory that his patients were merely fantasizing such childhood traumas in effect blames the victim and often deepens a sufferer’s problems. (In a parallel way, if UFO abductions are actually taking place as event-level occurrences, labelling them as fantasies is immensely destructive to those who suffer their after-affects). The more investigators have raised valid questions about Freud’s monolithic theories, the more the number of strict Freudian analysts has shrunk. Other therapies, more oriented to real, event-level problem solving, are clearly in ascendance.

What are the lessons that history, our silent tutor, would have us learn from these revisions of basic Freudian doctrine? First, that any theory of human psychology unconnected to solid, objective information about the subject’s actual experience and family background is a flimsy reed indeed. The isolated examination of a person’s feelings, memories and beliefs apart from the hard data of his/her life can be dangerously misleading, and investigation into fact and circumstance is essential if objective truth is to be arrived at. Freud’s sudden change in attitude about childhood sexual abuse also teaches us how easily disturbing information can be shunted aside, even by highly intelligent people. Above all, we should learn to be wary of labeling as fantasy any consistent, widespread body of felt experience. Serious, objective inquiry must precede any such glib pronouncements, whatever our private, subjective doubts. It is all too easy to be wrong.


Continue Reading Part II: Re-location of Automobile and Missing Hours, Entire Family Unmoving, Missing Hours, No Tire Tracks Leading to Vehicle, Surgeon’s Daughter Abducted, “Impossible” Military Exercise, Locks on Doors / Windows Securely Bolted From the Inside

This article is published with the expressed permission of Budd Hopkins for publication on

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