The Truth About Abduction Enigma

An Exposé

By Keith Rowell,
Janet Colli, Ph.D. and Deborah Lindemann, CHT

...The Truth (?) behind the mass alien abductions of the late 20th century

by Kevin D. Randle, Russ Estes, and William P. Cone, Ph.D.

For many years now, Kevin Randle has been associated with CUFOS, The Center for UFO Studies, which took an unnecessarily skeptical line on abductions from the beginning. What we have in Randle, Estes, and Cone, are: a UFO investigator-writer, a sometime film producer, and a psychologist-therapist. Randle is only “qualified” because the academic establishment, as we well know, has failed in its duty to study this phenomenon. When the academic establishment wakes up from its long sleep, the Randles of ufology will be relegated to the back seat, and their research and opinions will be where they should by rights be.

Russ Estes, a sometime film producer, is not a qualified researcher by any stretch of the imagination. William Cone is a known CSICOP sympathizer. I heard him speak at the Seattle CSICOP get-together when John Mack and Eddie Bullard were there. Cone obviously has a debunking ax to grind and he has found a secure home in CSICOP.*

[CSICOP now refers to themselves as a so-called “Committee” for skeptical inquiry while at the same time associating with a site called]

It is fashionable to bad-mouth memory recall in amateur discussions of UFOs and abductions these days. I believe it is true that academics need to do more research into memory. However, among qualified academics and clinicians who work with PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) the basic parameters of how memory works in high stress situations is fairly well-understood. The basic rule of “accurate” memory recall is this: the more heightened your emotional state at the time events are happening, the deeper the memory impressions are. And, up to a point, recall is easier the more heightened your emotional state at the time of the events. However, as we all know, sometimes emotional states become so heightened that “accurate” conscious recall is made difficult.

If you have ever had an accident where you were close to panic, you know this. During PTSD, traumatic short-term or long-term event impressions are stored in a fragmentary state, and the time sequence may be out of order, too. The unconscious part of you always seeks to protect the conscious part of you so that you have maximum functional capacity in the ordinary, waking consciousness world. If it means that horrible memories must be fragmented and distorted to protect the psyche, the psyche will do this. People who suffer PTSD can usually function normally in ordinary, waking consciousness, but an observant PTSD psychologist can pick up on PTSD behaviors if they observe patients long enough. (For more information about this subject, see the work of Judith Herman and others.)

When hypnosis is used in a straightforward way in the hands of trained hypnotists (as with Budd Hopkins, John Carpenter, John Mack, David Jacobs, Yvonne Smith, et al), the accuracy of recall, whether in or out of hypnosis in the same person, is the same. In other words, hypnosis is just another way to obtain putative facts that must be checked for accuracy just like putative facts derived any other way. To determine facts and proper interpretation of recalled events, you always seek corroborative facts to build a case for “what actually happened,” which is what all the top researchers have always done. You also check to see that hypnosis-derived facts are internally consistent just like you do for non-hypnosis-derived facts.

There have been several studies by Dr. Eddie Bullard on the use of hypnosis by the top UFO researchers and these show that hypnosis, when backed up with independent corroborative methods, gives an accurate picture of what is happening to UFO abductees. Note that in interpreting the “proper” meaning of any “picture,” you must apply your best understanding and knowledge, which may be inadequate to an ultimately accurate and “satisfying” interpretation. This means that “aliens from outer space” may not be seen as the best interpretation of UFO abductions fifty years after the academic establishment has finally done justice to this field. Maybe it will be “aliens from inner space” or “aliens from human space” or “familiars from occult space” or “demons from Christian heaven or hell space.” Time will tell. It will not be “delusions from psychology space,” however. The debunkers and extreme skeptics are dead wrong on this. – Keith Rowell, MLSC

Correcting Abduction Enigma’s Scientific Inaccuracies
A response from Janet Colli, Ph.D.

The authors of Abduction Enigma state, “According to the experts and scientific evidence, there is no difference between a real memory and an induced memory.” (pp. 286-7) As memories of what appear to be alien encounters often are traumatic, this class of memories is certainly relevant. And there is growing evidence that traumatic memories of real events can be distinguished from neutral or induced memories, or imagination.

Scientific studies by Dr. Bessel van der Kolk using positron emission tomography (PET scans) clearly discern the difference between the traumatic memories of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)- and neutral memories. [1] For example, as people are exposed to reminders of their trauma, there is unilateral increased activity in the areas in the right hemisphere involved in emotional arousal, as well as in the right visual association cortex. The left hemisphere shows diminished activation of Broca’s area which suggests a decreased capacity to put the experience into language. These brain-imaging techniques can help elucidate the relationship between false or induced memories, and real memories of traumatic events, even alien encounters.

There are also very real clinical markers that trauma leaves - which help to distinguish such memories. That is what the diagnosis and treatment of post-traumatic stress is all about. Psychiatrist Rima Laibow and other professionals such as myself have diagnosed PTSD that has seemingly been triggered by terrifying memory fragments of alien beings. [2] Yet PTSD has not been reported in patients whose overwhelming stress is due solely to internally generated states such as psychosis, delusions or sleep paralysis. Nor is there a single confirmed case of PTSD arising from “false memory.” Given the absence of ordinarily identifiable stressors, Laibow formulated Experienced Anomalous Trauma (EAT), a PTSD-like condition due to non-ordinary traumatic events such as close encounters. The Center for Treatment and Research of Experienced Anomalous Trauma (TREAT) was founded by Laibow as a not-for-profit organization in 1989.

The researcher Randle, Estes, and Cone seem to be relying on for their misstatements, is probably Elizabeth Loftus. However, while Loftus has done some work on inducing false memories, these are by no means traumatic memories, i.e., memories of traumatic events that induce PTSD. My own doctoral dissertation contains quite a bit on this very issue.

I also wish to comment on the following statement of Randle, Estes, and Cone: “A well-trained therapist knows that traumatic memories are not repressed....” (pp. 216-7) Traumatic memories are often dissociated and may be inaccessible to verbal recall or processing. Such memories are often re-experienced somatically as sensations and affect. In other words, memory processing and recall for traumatic memories differ from that of non-traumatic memories. This accounts for their delayed recall (which is NOT the same as the Freudian notion of repression - a misunderstanding that has further muddied the waters of debate). But even in one of Loftus’ own research studies 19% of a sample of sexually abused women had lost all memory of their abuse at some time in their lives, and another 12% had large gaps in their memories. [3]

Judging by the selected portions that I have read, I believe Abduction Enigma is a half-baked affair so far as its assessment of psychological issues. Books such as Randle’s serve as distractions from the all-too-real effort of people like my clients who hold trauma and its transformation in their very real physical bodies.

By Keith Rowell with comments from Janet Colli, Ph.D. and Deborah Lindemann, CH.T © 2000

[Our sincere thanks to Dr. Colli and Deborah Lindemann for contributing to this article.]


[1] Rauch S., van der Kolk B.A., Fisler R., Alpert N., Orr S., Savage C., Jenike M., Pitman R (1996). “A symptom provocation study of post-traumatic stress disorder using Positron Emission Tomography and Script Driven Imagery.” Harvard Medical School, Boston. Arch Gen Psychiatry, 53 (5), 380-387.

[2] Huyghe, P. (1993, November). “Dark side of the unknown.” Omni, 15, 34-39.

[3] Loftus, E.F., Polensky, S. & Fullilove, M.T. (1994). “Memories of childhood sexual abuse: Remembering and Repressing.” Psychology of Women Quarterly, 18, 67-84.

This article is published with the expressed permission of Keith Rowell, Deborah Lindemann and Dr. Janet Colli for publication on

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Keith Rowell

Keith Rowell has been researching the UFO phenomenon and government secrecy for over 30 years. Mr. Rowell holds a masters degree in library science from the University of California at Berkeley. He is a former MUFON investigator and a former board member of NUFOG, formerly PUFOG, the Portland UFO Group. Mr. Rowell currently writes and maintains the Oregon MUFON Web site.

Articles by Keith Rowell:

1947: The Beginning of an Era, a summary of newspaper articles dating from the very beginning of the era of UFOs - the Summer of 1947

An Exposé on Abduction Enigma, A Debunking Book

Are Some Skeptics Debunkers in Sheep’s Clothing?


John E. Mack, M.D.



 Global-ET-Research: David-M-Jacobs-PhD-Alien-Abduction.jpg

David M. Jacobs, Ph.D.






Janet Colli, Ph.D.


John Carpenter, MSW, LCSW



A Response from Deborah Lindemann, CHT

“It is one thing to implant false memories, but it is another to say you can implant traumatic memories and have the person believe them as true. Here are a couple of clips from a study written up in my article at my Web site:

Putting False Memory Syndrome To Bed

“A study on FMS was completed by graduate psychology student Wendy Hovdestad under the direction of Professor Connie Kristiansen, at Carleton University’s department of Psychology in Ottawa, Canada. Although the paper dealt with FMS in general, and did not focus on abduction memories, the research still holds value for this field. The research paper appeared in Journal of Psychiatry and Law, Winter: 1996.”

“The latest report from Carleton University cites two researchers, Nelson and Simpson, who in 1994, worked with twenty “retractors.” These are people who have recovered memories of abuse that they now denounce as pseudo-memories, or memories which are not true. Although the FMS Foundation states that ‘FMS is characterized by strongly believed false memories,’ according to the Carleton study, ‘all of the twenty retractors studied by Nelson and Simpson reported that they regularly doubted their pseudo-memories....’ This suggests that false or implanted memories are not that readily accepted or believed.”

“Contrary to FMS theory, the Carleton study has shown that ‘respondents with at least one recovered memory believed less strongly in the validity of their memories than did participants with exclusively continuous memories.’ These results help demonstrate that recovered memories are questioned by the participant, which is healthy.”


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