Fantasy Prone Personalities.
Peter Rogerson

left-frameOriginally published as Peter Rogerson’s Northern Echoes, Magonia 23, July 1986

This article may be seen as a continuation of  Taken to the Limits. If that may be seen as looking at the ‘why?’ for a range of paranormal phenomena, then this piece reviews one set of experiences which may give some clues as to ‘how?’

As readers of Magonia know, not all the most important literature in our fields comes neatly packaged in books labeled ‘paranormal’ or ‘UFO’. One particular piece of work which I think should be brought to our readers attention is a study by Theodore X. Barker and Sheryl C. Wilson on ‘fantasy-prone personalities’.

To summarise the work, the authors found that of twenty-seven women, rated as ‘excellent hypnotic subjects’ in a study, all but one had profound fantasy lives, the fantasies often being of an hallucinatory intensity. The authors suggest that there is a small percentage of the population (about 4%), who although otherwise perfectly normal, fantasise much of the time. They experience these fantasies ‘as real as real’, and exhibit syndromes such as an ability to hallucinate voluntarily and profound hypnogogic imagery, as well as presenting superb hypnotic fantasy related performances and vivid memories of life experiences. They also claim, at least, talents as psychics and sensitives.

It is worth looking at some of the findings in rather more detail: As children the girls lived in a make-believe world much of the time; those who played with dolls and toy animals felt that these playthings were alive and possessed unique personalities (not just the pretend personalities of children’s conventional play).

As children almost all the fantasists believed in fairies, elves, etc. Many claimed to have seen, heard or even played with them. Even as adults they either still believe in them, or are not absolutely sure they do not exist. About half (compared with 8% in a control sample) had imaginary companions who were experienced with hallucinatory vividness.

These companions would take on the role of characters in a book, or other fantasy characters, extending such roles far beyond playtime. One child who fantasised she was a princess felt that she was a princess pretending to be an ordinary child.

Although these fantasies caused initial problems, the subjects usually learned to cope with the real world, for example by asking adults if they saw the same things as themselves. All learned to be secretive, many not even telling spouses or close family, although they may tell fantastic stories to strangers, and may believe such fantasies while telling them. They found that they must learn to concentrate when in hazardous situations to block out their fantasy life.

There are a number of factors which seem to stimulate this fantasism. They include: encouragement by parents or significant adults, often the children were isolated or lonely, bedridden, and needing to escape from a closed environment, and special_ life-situations such as precocious involvement in the arts.

As adults they remain absorbed for much of the time in hallucinatory fantasies, and cannot imagine life without them. They can experience anything whilst in their fantasy states, and during the fantasy do not question its reality. In some cases their fantasy world is much more vivid than reality and memories of fantasy and reality can become confused. These fantasies have an involuntary, automatic quality absent in the comparison group; this can present problem when driving, for instance. In this manner they can escape the routine boredom of everyday reality.

Fantasy-prone subjects have since a very early age been acutely aware of, and have focussed on, sensory experiences. They have vivid memories of their childhood.

The fantasy world can produce physiological effects – sexual fantasies can produce orgasm, violence on TV makes the subject feel ill; they experience fantasy heat and cold as real. 60% of the subjects had experienced a false pregnancy. It appears that they may have a high degree of voluntary control over physiological responses.

No fewer than 92% of the subjects claimed to be psychic in one form or another, with claims of telepathy, clairvoyance, precognition, seeing ‘auras’, affecting electrical devices, dowsing ability, facility to discerne spirits, etc. The authors examined the biographies of several psychics and found they were all fantasists.

* * *

Fantasy-prone individuals can bring Magonia into our world and themselves enter into Magonia.

* * *

The vast majority of the subjects (88% as against 8% in the control group) have had out of the body experiences. Some claim profound shamanic roles. Half experienced automatic writing, two thirds claimed healing abilities, six had profound religious experiences. 73% (16% in control group) had impressive experiences with apparitions; 64% (as against 8%) had frequent hypnogogic imagery. All ghost percipients experienced frequent hypnogogic imagery, though some who had hypnogogic imagery had not seen ghosts. It should be emphasised at this point that fantasisers now occupy a broad band on the introvert-extrovert scale, and the majority do not suffer from classic psychiatric disorders.

The authors note parallels from earlier studies, especially Schatzman’s ‘Ruth’. The implications of this study for our subjects are clear, and its importance to investigators undertaking ‘anamnesis’ type research cannot be overstressed. Already- some predictions can be made:

* All contactees and abductees will be fantasy-prone personalities (FPPs).
* The vast majority of CEIII percipients will be FPPs.
• At least one person in a ‘haunted house’ will be a FPP.

The same study applied to the general run of UFO percipients, witnesses to mystery animals, etc. should produce some very suggestive results. If a consistently high proportion of of such witnesses are FPPs this would demonstrate that the major component of such experiences lay in the psychology of the witness.

The study clearly shows that, for FPP’s at least, consensus reality is learned, not a’given’. What happens if ‘significant adults’ do not cross-reference fantasy, but themselves confuse it with cogsensus reality? ‘Belief-oriented’ researchers, perhaps?

There seems little doubt that the fantasy prone personality shares many features with the classical shamanic personality as discussed by Eliade, and others. Like the shaman, the fantasy-prone individuals can bothe bring M agonia into our world, and themselves enter into Magonia – classical shamanic gifts.

Evaluating the FPP’s claims of wild talents, it is difficult to separate three possibilities:

1. The events took place in consensus reality, and could be independently verified.
2. The subjects really fantisised the experiences – the were ‘experienced’ when the subject says they were experienced.
3. The subjects fantisised to the interviewer that they had the experience: they are stories, believed in when being told.

Quite likely it is a mixture of all three, and here we see how the boundary fences between folklore and experience can easily fall



WILSON, Sheryl C. and BARBER, Theodore X. ‘The fantasy prone personality: implications for understanding imagery, hypnosis and parapsychological phenomena’  in: SHEIK, Anees A. (Ed.) Imagery: Current Theory, Research and Application (Wiley Series on Personality Processes  John Wiley, 1983.




Objections to the Birth Trauma Hypothesis.
Ian S. Creswell

From Magonia 11, 1982

While one must congratulate Dr Lawson for a most original and mentally stimulating piece of theoretical writing  [link here]  on the apparent similarity between relived birth image traumas and the reported observations of abduction percipients, a number of very clear and important objections to this theory come to mind.

Without completely rejecting the general ideas put forward in Dr Lawson’s paper, grave doubts enter the picture, both from the area of psychoanalytic psychology, from other more general sections of psychiatric medicine and from ufology itself. Although not wishing to be absolutely negative, upon careful thought the regretful opinion must be that there is no real basis for assuming that the images involved in close-encounter experiences of the third and fourth kinds are either partly or wholly the result of relived images associated with the so-called trauma of birth.

The results of so-called test situations we find unconvincing and the means by which these were brought to light in general highly unsatisfactory. While by no means denying the possibility that psychological processes are at work here, in fact quite the contrary, what we would rather suggest is that research and investigation is directed down other paths than images of birth trauma or other forms of psychopathology.

Before any particular theory is proved to be factual every part of the content of this group of ideas must be compatible with other valid knowledge and evidence in the area that one is writing about. Some amount of deviation is allowed, as no scientific subject can remain stationary for long periods of time without becoming stale. The very centre of Dr Lawson’s theory of a universal birth trauma is based upon the work of Otto Rank and the psychiatrist Stanislav Grof, a follower of Rank. Their theory of mental imagery reappearing later on in thF individual’s life as the cause of later neurosis and general behaviour disorders has now been almost completely rejected within psychoanalytic and psychiatric medicine. It is now mainly of interest for its historical place within psychological thought and is rarely if ever employed within the treatment of the psychoneuroses. (1)

Rank died in the United States in 1939, and outside America his theories are no longer the subject of discussion, although many of his suggestions have influenced others. Dr Nander Fodor, a New York analyst, makes use of the Rankian theory of the birth trauma, which he claims to have based upon clinical rather than philosophical foundations, in his extraordinary books, The Search for the Beloved and New Approaches to Dream Interpretation. Since nearly every aspect of human behaviour – not excluding constipation – is traced back in these books to the trauma of birth, it is a little difficult to see why they needed to be written at all.

But if Dr Fodor is somewhat lacking – in imagination as to origins, nobody can accuse him of lacking ingenuity in his interpretations. He informs us, for example, that children may start life with a handicap owing to prenatal influences, one of which is the violence of parental intercourse, the memory of which is said to be clearly apparent in the dreams of adult life. The fact that there exist no nerve connections between mother and unborn child does not trouble Dr Fodor, who postulates that communication takes place by telepathy. According to this theory, then, prenatal influences and the trauma of birth play a major part in the formation of character and determine mental health in adult life.

A more scientific exposition of this view has been put forward by Phyllis Greenacre, who believes that constitution, prenatal experience, birth, and the situation immediately after birth together play some part in predisposing the individual to anxiety. She notes that loud noises, maternal nervousness, and similar stimuli increase the rate of the foetal heart and the frequency of foetal movements, and supposes that these may fairly be taken as signs of anxiety. Such ‘anxiety’ is, of course, without mental content, but Dr Greenacre believes that it supplies an organic potential which may influence later anxiety reactions.

Turning now to one of the most highly critical reviews of birth trauma and its possible cause of future neurosis we have to turn to what Freud thought about this very speculative theory, bearing in mind that he had changed his own mind about the theory of birth trauma over the years, as can be clearly seen by reading some of Freud’s works. (2)

In the act of birth there is a real danger to life. We know what this means objectively; but in a psychological sense it says nothing at all to us. The danger of birth has as yet no psychical content. We cannot possibly suppose that the foetus has any sort of knowledge that there is a possibility of its life being destroyed. It can only be aware of some vast disturbance in the economy of its narcissistic libido. Large sums of excitation crowd in on it, giving rise to new feelings of unpleasure, and some organs acquire an increased cathexis, thus foreshadowing the objectcathexis which will soon set in. What elements in all this will be made use of as the sign of a ‘danger situation’?

Unfortunately, far too little is known about the mental make-up of a newborn baby to make a direct answer possible. I cannot even vouch for the validity of the descriptions I have just given. It is easy to say that the baby will repeat its effect of anxiety in every situation which recalls the event of birth. The important thing to know is what recalls the event and what it is that is recalled.

All we can do is to examine the occasions on which infants-in-arms or somewhat older children show readiness to produce anxiety. In his book on the trauma of birth, Rank has made a determined attempt to establish a relationship between the earliest phobias of children and the impressions made on them by the event of birth. But I do not think he has been successful. His theory is open to two objections. In the first place, he assumes that the infant has received certain sensory impressions, in particular of a visual kind, at the time of birth, impressions, the renewal of which can recall to its memory the trauma of birth and thus evoke a reaction of anxiety. This assumption is quite unfounded and extremely improbable.

It is not credible that a child should retain any but tactile and general sensations relating to the process of birth. If, later on, children show fear of small animals that disappear into holes or emerge from them, this reaction, according to Rank, is due to their perceiving an analogy. But it is an analogy of which they cannot be aware. In the second place, in considering these later anxiety situations, Rank dwells, as suits him best, on the child’s recollection of the traumatic disturbance which interrupted that existence – which leaves the door wide open for arbitrary interpretation.

There are, moreover, certain examples of childhood anxiety which directly contradict his theory. When, for instance, a child is left alone in the dark one would expect it, according to his view, to welcome the re-establishment of the intrauterine situation; yet it is precisely on such occasions that the child reacts with anxiety. And if this explained by saying that the child is being reminded of the interruption which the event of birth made in its intrauterine happiness, it becomes impossible to shut one’s eyes any longer to the far-fetched character of such explanations.

I am driven to the conclusion that the earliest phobias of infancy cannot be directly traced back to impressions of the act of birth and that so far they have not been explained. A certain preparedness for anxiety is undoubtedly present in the infant-in-arms. But this preparedness for anxiety, instead of being at its maximum immediately after birth and slowly decreasing, does not emerge till later, as mental development proceeds, and lasts over a certain period of childhood. If these early phobias persist beyond that period one is inclined to suspect the presence of a neurotic disturbance, although it is not at all clear what their relation is to the undoubted neuroses that appear later on in childhood.

Only a few of the manifestations of anxiety in children are comprehensible to us, and we must confine our attention to them. They occur, for instance, when a child is alone, or in the dark, or when it finds itself with an unknown person instead of one to whom it is used – such as its mother. These three instances can be reduced to a single condition – namely, that of missing someone who is loved and longed for. But here, I think, we have the key to an understanding of anxiety and to a reconciliation of the contradictions that seem to beset us.

Where the theory for birth trauma appears to fail as the cause of all future anxiety in a purely psychological sense is that a newborn baby just can’t function in a very developed conceptive-perceptive mode. The newly born infant, we assume, can only experience its environment by way of sensations of different types and sensory impressions of one sort and another, and by no other means. The sense of self is not present at birth to any great extent, with the young child not aware of the fact that he is a separate personality. His outward world is totally mixed in with his inner world. There is no ego state of personality, for this is still to come.

We just don’t know what kind of mental images are present (if any) in the newly born child. This being the case, logically we can’t say what is in the mind of the developing child in the womb either. Therefore to even hint at the possibility that the conceptive contents of the CE (close encounter) reports are nothing more than relived flashbacks to the area of time before, during and after birth on the part of the percipients is just assuming far too much.

Another factor that we are not very happy about is the part that hallucinations are being made to play in this particular theory. If a person is suffering from any of the different forms of sensory hallucinations then he or she is in a state of very serious mental confusion in which the borders of reality become totally obscured. This is mainly a state that is associated with psychoses rather than neuroses (although the line between them can become very thin in certain cases). A person suffering from a psychotic disorder is usually pretty obvious, as hallucinations don’t exist in a state of vacuum but along with other serious symptoms of psychosis.

Hallucinatory states do not occur just once or twice and then never again but rather recur pretty frequently, usually matching in with whatever particular individual delusional element is present at any given time in the mind of those so disturbed. Yet another feature of most psychotic states is that normal life becomes nearly impossible as the person gets more and more out of touch with reality. How many close-encounter percipients can really be classed as being in this particular category?

We are not happy either with the manner in which the comparison material was collected from artificially created situations involving the use of hallucinogenic drugs, hypnosis or sensory deprivation. Just how often are close-encounter experiences of the third and fourth kinds of this nature?

It is not very unusual to see all kinds of strange entities while under the influence of various hallucinogenic drugs. Pain-killing drugs also at times produce hallucinations of a visual nature when patients suffering from serious illnesses are given large amounts of certain kinds of these drugs. To suggest that these people are reliving images associated with the trauma of birth is far-fetched indeed. These people are not psychotic but only display hallucinatory indications when under drugs and not at other times.

In cases of loss of sensory impressions hallucinations frequently occur but, once again, they don’t when the person is again fully aware of his or her external environment. To assume, as Dr Lawson does, that the images assoicated with these particular states and the close-encounter images are all of a birth-relived image state is very hard to accept. It appears more like science fiction than the close encounters do.


To suggest that there is any likeness between a human foetus and the type of entity that Betty Andreasson saw during her experiences is taking the imagination to its limit.


We would also view very doubtfully the apparent similarity between the humanoid and the human foetus. There does not appear to be any real link here at all, which becomes only too clear if one checks out the relevant books on gynaecological medicine. To suggest that there is any likeness between a human foetus and the type of entity that Betty Andreasson saw during her experiences is taking the imagination to its limit.

We can find no confident proof in Dr Lawson’s statement: “It is beyond question that there are extensive similarities between perinatal imagery and UFO abduction narratives, as the presentation of parallels from both areas and an analysis of a prominent abduction have shown”. Dr Lawson’s theory, mainly based upon the work of Grof, fails to explain the category of reports known as CE4, rather it makes an understanding of these human experiences harder to form. It is not a very good practice to take a minor and mainly discarded theory from its original subject and then transfer it into the field of another subject which is itself highly controversial, to say the least.

Dr Lawson’s speculative arguments against multiple witness CE3 and CE4 reports ~, seem to be very strange indeed. Firstly, he quotes Allan Hendry’s excellent book on UFOs, but appears to make the mistake that Hendry classifies CE cases involving multiple witnesses as being very doubtful. It appears to me that Hendry is meaning this to apply to mass sightings of a low-definition variety, which are much more likely to have conventional explanations than ufological ones.

To regard encounters involving more than one person as being due to such causes as multiple hallucinations (I have not yet been able to find out just what this means in a psychiatric sense. I have not come across any cases that feature this unusual symptom of mental disorder in literature dealing with hallucinations), folie a deux, imaginary companions and mass hallucinations (really more like mass hysteria which is due to the spread of rumour and the desire to believe something to be true and which correctly belongs in the study of human behaviour) is bordering on the ridiculous.

To further make the point, as Dr Lawson does, that testimony of this type is no guarantee or proof of an objective event, but rather of its subjective psychological validity for those experiencing it is of course fair up to a point, but if taken too far is again illogical. If this is so then no one should ever be trusted who gives evidence in a court case on behalf of someone else in support of them because of possible subjective motivation.

Dr Lawson’s theory appears to pay very little attention to any sort of physical factor involved in close-encounter reports, dismissing them too casually and seeing no link between the events experienced and the physical factors involved. No doubt a great deal of so-called physical evidence is rather ambiguous and can indeed be open to many interpretations. But to make the sort of statement which follows is going to far:

“The inescapable fact is that no abduction case has thus far presented unambiguous physical or physiological evidence which compels us to conclude that a UFO landed in that spot, or left that mark on the abductee’s skin, or abducted that family. I am speaking not of probabilities or possibilities but of certainties.”

There are a number of close-encounter abduction reports which do appear to have a clear physical result, either to the environment or to the percipient, and other closeencounter reports show the same thing. Just what this might mean as to the nature of the experiences we are dealing with is another matter.

Dr Lawson does not seem to distinguish between close encounters of the third and fourth kinds but tends to regard them as being the same thing, which they may not be at all! There does appear to be, however, a subjective factor present in most closeencounter reports of all types, but I don’t feel that this subjectiveness is at all pathological. Rather, it may be more the result of some natural process of the human psychical structure interacting with the electromagnetic-chemical fields of energy both within the percipient’s brain and the environment to produce a manifestation
which is both objective and subjective in its cause and effect.

Again one must question the validity of Dr Lawson’s contention that in CE3 reports the dominant creature type is humanoid and that it resembles the human foetus, especially such entities as observed by Betty and Barney Hill, and Travis Walton. It is true that there are more reports of humanoid entities than of other kinds, but the latter are not rare and one must have very good imaginative ability to see any likeness between them and the human foetus. What would Dr Lawson make of a report of the fourth kind that involved more than one type of entity, we can only wonder?

No doubt taking the full range of ufological manifestations into account only tends to lead one to conclude that there is more than just a single cause at work here. I am classing only reports (all across the board) that are unexplained, with the cause of unexplained low-definition reports beina different from that of medium reports and so on, with perhaps the cause of the closeencounter cases being something else again. These ufological manifestations can not be put down to images associated with birth trauma. They are world-wide and are reported by all social groups, and are generally not the result of any pathological syndrome of either a physical or psychological nature.

Dr Lawson’s theory poses more questions than it answers, leaving too many strands untied and open. He admits that “a causal nexus between specific events of one’s biological birth and particular images has yet to be established”, and that “we cannot yet explain what stimulates the sequence of visual imagery and events which makes up an abduction”.

Another weakness, we feel, lies in the unproved assumption of Rank and others that the presence of birth trauma elements are universal in their manifestations, that it has always been present, that it is something which sets the pattern for future anxiety. Yet not everyone is affected? If what Dr Lawson writes is correct then we all should be having CE4 encounters, yet this is not so. Nor are the percipients of these strange images repeating their subjective manifestations time and time again, which they should be doing if these images really are the long-lost memories of life in the womb, of birth and just afterwards.

Turning to reports of CE3 and CE4 which involve EM effects. Just how can the birth trauma theory fit in to try to explain them, because a birth memory of great anxiety can not stop a motor car’s engine, put out its lights and cut out radio reception?

Turning lastly to historical factors associated with UFO manifestations and the possible appearance of birth trauma effects, we must pose the question: Why did not the present-day images of CE3 and CE4 encounters occur to the extent they do today, taking as true the age-old and universal nature of the birth trauma?

Why did people see airships, mystery aircraft, ghost rockets, all of which do appear to be prototypes of present-day ufological manifestations, instead of just seeing UFOs and their occupants? There can’t have been all that many airships present at birth to give rise to early infant anxiety, or strange unmarked aircraft flying about in the womb prior to birth to cause pre-birth nightmares to the unborn child!

Lastly, a question: how is it possible for the unborn child in the womb to know just what its own appearance is, in order for this to be later superimposed in adult life as part of a close-encounter abduction experience?



1. Brown, J.A.C. Freud and the Post-Freudians, Pelican Books, 1971, pp. 54-55.
2. Freud, Sigmund. Inhibitions, Symptoms and Anxiety. pelican Books, 1979, pp.291-293





“Why Have All the UFOs Gone?”
A Second Look
Hilary Evans

This article, published in Magonia 8, 1982, was written in response to THIS piece by Peter Rogerson


‘A Modern Myth of Things Seen in the Skies’ – thus did Jung sub-title his astonishingly perceptive book on UFOs (1) and even today, nearly a quarter of a century later, we could not easily better his description.

During that quarter century, a great many people have reported seeing a great many more UFOs; a great many people have written books and articles about them; cults have sprung up around them, some to persist and others to fade back into oblivion; theories have been constructed to account for them in terms technological, sociological, psychological – religious, political, millenaristic – fervently affirmative, paranoically rejective, wonderingly speculative. How justified Jung was, in his later years, in recognising the significance of this new myths how gratified he would have been, had he lived a little longer, to see that myth grow and proliferate to a complexity unmatched by any other phenomenon of the kind.

If UFOs are a construct of the human creative imagination, then they are our masterpiece. If they originate elsewhere, then how profoundly perceptive the mind that could devise a device which would dazzle, baffle or intrigue so many sorts and conditions of men. Some of us study them, some chart them on graphs and others feed them into computers; some of us worship their creators, accept them as gurus, look to them for solace and salvation; some of us hail them as harbingers of scientific breakthroughs, space shuttles on whose lacks we can ride into tie cosmic future.

And others of us study those who study them — with the consequence that articles like the one Peter Rogerson wrote in the last issue of Magonia get written; and for that matter, this one.

It is the special wonder of UFOs that they can be all things to all persons. You have only to look across the room at your bookshelf to see the variety of response mankind has made to the phenomenon. If UFOs were deserving of our intrest on no other grounds, they would still warrant an inquiry to find out what sort of phenomenon could call forth such a diversity of response. No other mysterious anomaly – not ghosts or sea-monsters, not falls from the sky or visions of the Virgin, not psychic healing or poltergeists – appeals to so many different kind of people in so many different ways. No wonder that, of all the branches of science, it is the sociologists who have taken the UFO most seriously.

And, of course, human beings being what they are, we start looking for patterns. Somewhere, we feel sure, in the amorphous polyfaceted data-lump we call ‘the UFO problem’ there is a vital clue we can hold onto and which will lead us through the twisting twin els of the labyrinth to the heart of the matter.

We read the Bible and say ‘Aha!’, we read fairy stories and wonder ‘Mmmm?’, we discover the millenarists of the middle ages and start speculating about them, we read accounts of solar phenomena and detect correlations… and of such speculations, such tentative theorisings, such doubts and wonders, are our articles made.

Peter Rogerson’s exercise in pattern making deserves book-length treatment, raising so many fascinating issues which the narrow confines of Magonia are inadequate to house. So often, too, one would like chapter and verse for his sweeping statements – statements we do not necessarily wish to question, simply that, as they stand, naked and unreferenced, they do not carry too much weight or conviction. For example, Peter asserts that “evidence from French experience suggests that the UFO was already becoming a symbol of the transforming power of technological progress”. I don’t riecessarily argue with that, but I would like to know what French experience he means, to what extent was that experience typical of other French views, and to what extent it was peculiar to the French as compared with, say, the Russians oi the Australians.

The other thing lacking is dates. The pattern Peter is endeavouring to impose on the material is largely a chronological one: he is trying to make out that interest in, and attitudes towards, ufology have shifted in correspondence with events political, social, economic and cultural. In this most readers will surely agree that he is right. But are we so happy about his presenting it in a linear sequence, in which one attitude fades to be succeeded by another, because of fading imperialism or Watergate or the rise of the standard of living or the decline of employment levels? I for one, am not.

To prove his point, what Peter would have to do would be to draw us a multistream graph, showing how one kind of attitude to ufology fluctuated as compared with the others, and all arranged along a chronological time scale which also indicated traumatic causative factors such as presidential assassinations, moon landings, World Cup victories and other events capable of transforming cultural attitudes on a massive scale. Not an impossible task, given Peter’s impressive range of reading. But even then he would have to convince us that his attitudes and trends were really such. For it is only too easy to take as your straw in the wind an isolated wisp that isn’t really all that significant – using a single sentence from Arthur Constance (hardly an opinion shaper of global significance) or from Girvan Gibbons (ditto) as though they characterised a whole generation of ufologists.

Again, let me insist, I am not saying that Peter is necessarily wrong, just that we really need more documentation.

If we can get it, then I think this approach could be immensely illuminating. For then a second graph would show us a whole spectrum of cultural trends rising and falling with the passing years – millenarianism fading into settle-for what-you-can-get, Christian values insisted on with Festival-of-Light intensity as church attendance slumps even lower than cinema ditto, respect for science rising as it lands us on the Moon and falling as it covers our beaches with tar, acceptance of elitism dying with each successive Tory scandal, only to be revived whenever a Prince gets married, along with all the multifarious parameters of our cultural pilgrimage.

And yet, even if such a survey could be carried out, and even if it confirmed what Peter asserts, it would be something less than the whole UFO Story. It might indeed register the broad trends; but that might actually obscure the fact that UFOs are simultaneously all things to all persons. Just because people are not reporting UFOs does not mean that they are not using them for their own particular purposes: as objects of worship, as bogeys (sent by the Devil to lure us into evil ways), as saviours, as escapes, as scapegoats, as dream vessels laden with whatever cargoes our cult desires.

Of all my UFO literature; there are few books I value more than a slim volwue entitled Letters to the Air Force on UFOs (2). It contains just what the title says. Here, taken almost at random, are some quotations:

“This is to advise the Secretary of the Air Force that I have been in possession of the breakthrough to the Cosmos ever since May 1952, which can and should be added to the Air Force, Navy or the Army. This is what I can do for the Air Force and for our country. President Kennedy deleted the best part of my recommendations that would have caused Mr Khrushchev to wonder why the Communist Party was invented in the first place…”

“You are really silly and whitewashed about shooting down the flying saucers. You are crazy and cruel to them. Do you hear me? Now don’t try to disturb the flying saucers again or trouble with them will come. All we want is peace…”

“Dear Sir, I am an inventor and I am eleven years old and now I have the plans and sketches of how you can make a flying saucer…”

“What brought me to my conclusion that the genuine UFO is nothing more than spirit messengers on reconaissance are the
two facts that you did not pick them up on radar, nor has there been any report of a sonic boom accompanying their reported high speed…”

“The complete price for one flying saucer is one million dollars. This is, if my theory works. Until I build a working model I merely want a laboratory and enough money to live on, around $5,000 per year. However there will be a few other things thrown in. One: I get to go along when you shoot for Mars…”

“The saucers are neither from outer space or earth, they are from the interim state. The ‘beings’ that captain these saucers number 79, each has his own saucer. The 79 pass as earth men. Before 1983 the saucers will land en masse in the area of Egypt…”

I would love to go on, but you must read the book for yourself. It only relates to the American experience, and all were written within a 12-month period 1965-1966; yet the letters cover an astonishing range of attitudes. If so restricted a sample – restricted in place, and time, and in its make up, confined as it is to ‘the kind of people who write letters to the US Air Force’ – can give indication of such a wide range of response, any pattern-making process would run the risk of over-simplifying.

Faced with so complex a problem as the UFO problem, of course we all want to simplify it. And the ideas Peter juggles so dazzlingly are fruitful ideas, and we neglect those ideas at our peril. But pattern-making is perilous too.



1. JUNG, C G, Flying Saucers, Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1959 (repr. 1977)
2. ADLER, Bill (editor) Letters to the Air Force on UFOs, Dell paperback. 1967.



A Fatal Illusion.
Matthew J. Graeber

From Magonia 62, February 1998

In recent times the tragic suicide of 38 American UFO cult members has graphically illustrated the extremes that fixation and identification with alien life forms can have upon certain individuals. For not only did these troubled souls believe that by taking their lives they were also going to rendezvous with an extraterrestrial space ship that was skirting a comet’s tail, but several of them had even shaved their heads and castrated themselves (perhaps in an effort to mimic the purely cerebral, highly spiritual and, presumably, asexual appearance of the space creatures that tthey anticipated meeting).

Other UFO-related cases of unusual human behaviour involve the complete abandonment of highly sensitive listening posts by several US military personnel in Germany, so they might meet with a flying saucer that they believed was coming to Earth to pick them up, as well as the planned radioactive assassination of local government officials in New York State by UFO aficionados who thought that the authorities were covering up information about a saucer that had crashed near Long Island.

Of course, these are extreme examples and it would be totally unfair of me to paint the entire UFO subculture with the same brush. For many saucer buffs are intelligent, hard-working and well-meaning folks and it is, in fact, precisely because of their good intentions and belief in the UFO phenomenon that they can be easily manipulated and exploited by charismatic, unscrupulous and deluded individuals who may be operating within the saucer movement itself.Interestingly, in the early days of UFO charlatanism, the schemes (much like the developing UFO phenomenon) lacked the sophistication of today’s technological-sounding scams, which not only include an array of bogus classified documents, photos, video footage and crashed saucer artifacts, but also the sanction of a growing number of credulous professionals who treat abductees and reportedly help them to deal with the post-traumatic stress and lingering anxiety of repeated experiences with alien beings that had kidnapped and abused them.

All this at the insistence (and, in many instances, the direction) of self-proclaimed UFO abduction experts, who often lack anysort of medical training or certifica-tion in clinical or forensic hypnosis.


The reported transformational effect of the abduction experience is believed to involve a spiritual, philosophical and intellectual heightening of the individual’s self awareness through a continuing process of contact and educational interaction with alien intelligences that have selected the abductees for some specific purpose.

Several experts believe that the purpose of abduction is grounded in the immediate wants and needs of the aliens who are, apparently, attempting to bolster their own faltering genetic pool through a clone-splicing technique that they have perfected in order to thwart their impending extinction.Several other UFO experts feel that the benevolent aliens are concerned about our own planet’s ever-mounting ecological, sociological and political woes; and that they have been visiting this world and covertly contacting some of its inhabitants in preparation for a kind of social reorganisation which will supposedly take place after the Earth goes through a period of dramatic changes (e.g. the result of a global catastrophe such as a nuclear holocaust, a complete ecological melt-down, a world-wide plague, or a bewildering series of natural disasters). In fact, it has even been suggested that the planet itself may be knocked off its axis by a rogue asteroid and entire continents might be swept away – beneath the angriest of seas.

Still other reported after-effects of contacts with the alien Greys, as they are commonly called in UFO circles, are said to include a sense of cosmic consciousness (or, the magnified awareness of one’s oneness with the universe), the occasional spontaneous cure or remission of various physical, immunological, emotional and psychological disorders, as well as the abductees experiencing marked changes in their career choices, personal interests and long-term goals.

But, beyond all of the above, human contact with the aliens has also produced marked alterations in the way the abductee perceives him or herself, even to the point of their experiencing sexual identity difficulties and/or gross distortions of self, which includes the questioning of their even belonging to the human race or feeling any sort of allegiance to it. That the abductees would identify, sympathise and voice open affection for their captors is not an unknown psychological phenomenon. But, that the abductees would so readily cast off their humanity and profess partial (i.e., hybrid) or total kinship with their alien captors does seem to open the door to much deeper contemplation.


The problem, of course, is that few abduction experts have the requisite medical training to fully comprehend the dangers of hypnotically probing the unconscious mind of the individuals they matter of factly call the abductees – a term which automatically confirms as physically real the very confusing experiences which these perplexed individuals have sought out the experts for. But, even worse than that, the term sets them up for additional experiences, simply because it is common knowledge throughout the UFO community that the Greys always come back for the abductees, and their children too! Perhaps it was this expectation and fear that led a woman in the UK to kill her young grandchildren before they would be kidnapped by aliens?

Beyond this, the UFO ‘experts’ lack of perception regarding the marked psychical background of the so-called abduction experience (i.e., its mythopoeic make-up and dream-like contradictory content) means that the experts must keep coming up with new (and often ridiculous) explanations of how and why the aliens might do something that is obviously nonsensical in character (e.g., the little Greys can reportedly levitate at will, lift and carry the much larger and heavier humans that they have captured – yet, they often walk their victims to their waiting space craft and climb stairs into its hatchway, even though they reportedly filtered through the locked doors and brick walls of the abductee’s home only moments before).

Yet another obvious contradiction pops up in the reports when the dematerialising aliens use metallic instruments to perform invasive surgical procedures upon their human captives, especially when they are also alleged to be capable of inducing the abductees’ bodies to dematerialise as well.

Moreover, today’s medical practitioners can routinely perform similar gynaecological procedures to those that the aliens reportedly employ, but without producing the marked fear and pain which so frequently characterise the medical aspects of the abduction experience.


In many instances, man’s encounters with the unknown were believed to be real contacts with gods, spirits, or demons of various description, and often involved the experiencer being whisked off to magical realms beneath the Earth or sea, high upon a mountain, deep within the forest, or in the firmament above.

Today’s abduction reports often feature similar mythological settings in their scenarios (albeit with a technological accent) and we even discover reports of UFO interiors which have earthen floors and shag rug wall-to-wall carpeting (Indeed, dirt floors in a supposedly highly advanced and medically sterile space craft.) In fact, the UFO which reportedly kidnapped Linda Cortile (the central figure in Budd Hopkins’s book Witnessed) was said to have plunged into the Hudson River with all hands on board rather than flitting off into the starry sky with its cargo of human captives. So, the question immediately arises – was the craft a sub-UFO from Earth’s inner space or an ill-fated space craft from outer space?

While it seems perfectly normal for modern man to dismiss the idea that wee folks, fairies, leprechauns, and hobgoblins actually existed and occasionally interfaced with our forbears, a great many people living in very sophisticated societies as little as a century ago absolutely did believe that such tales were true. Indeed, some folks even believe it to this very day. The point is that, in a hundred years or so, it may be that our contemporary beliefs in UFOs and the pint-sized creatures that pilot them will also become a curiously amusing fact, especially when one considers that the UFO legend’s tales are so highly characteristic of our society and our times (i.e., an era in which our own space-conquering aspirations have been projected upon an array of alien intelligences that we assume to be flourishing somewhere in the cosmos – a fact that Dr C.G. Jung pointed out over forty years ago in his landmark book Flying Saucers: A Modern Myth of Things Seen in the Skies).

In short, we may be lifting our eyes, minds, hopes, and hearts to the skies in search of a super-technological deity instead of the supernatural god that our ancestors worshipped. We may be yearning for an answer to our tiny planet’s ever-mounting problems – fantasising and, in so doing, inventing a new-age panacea (or super-advanced technological response) to the dark side of our own sciences and technologies, and the nuclear/ toxic demons that we have unwit-tingly created and unleashed upon ourselves.

That this panacea should take the form of little creatures with swollen heads that are choc-full of intelligence and good will towards mankind (instead of a host of angels with blaring trumpets bursting through the firmament), informs us that a growing faith in advanced sciences and technology has woven its way into our culture’s unconscious, even to the point that UFOs (i.e., the symbol of the panacea) have been invested with the power of bringing salvation to mankind. A power which they do not possess and in no way deserve.

Man has always feared and revered strange and awesome things that he’s seen in the skies – he had recorded his perceptions upon cave walls, clay tablets, and video camcorders. Perhaps knowing what the signs in the skies actually were never was as important as what the observer believed they were, and the tremendous impact that such beliefs have had upon the human psyche.

Perhaps UFOs have always played a part in the living experience of man. Perhaps they have been called soul-sparks by the ancients and space ships by today’s observers. Perhaps, too, their operators have been known as angels, demons, wee-folks, and Greys. Are these creatures from outer space, inner space, or a space and time existing somewhere in between these divisional concepts? Do they seek to contact us consciously, unconsciously, or on a spiritual level?


Like many great artists, Leonardo Da Vinci was fully aware of the inner mind’s ability to well up images, and we find that even his friend and colleague Piero Di Cosimo commented in his writings on how many wonderful creatures could be found hidden in the stains of masonry work. Of course, we’ve all had some personal childhood experience with seeing various animal shapes in cloud formations; and, if one tries hard enough, quite a few other imaginary things can be spotted lurking in the shadows of leafy trees too.

In the early 1900s, Dr Hermann Rorschach (a Swiss psychiatric pioneer) effectively demonstrated that extraordinarily meaningful material buried deep in an individual’s subconscious could be brought to the surface by having that person attentively mull over a series of ink blots in an effort to describe what they saw in them.

In most instances, just about everyone tends to see the same kind of things in fluffy clouds and Dr Rorschach’s ink-blot plates simply because the general shape of the visually perceived external object that they are gazing at does bear some degree of similarity to a mentally stored image of some other object that they are comparing it to. But, it seems that after one’s initial comparative or reductive processes have been exhausted regarding Rorschach’s ambiguous ink blots, some unusual things start to happen to a person’s perceptive abilities. This also appears to be the case in many UFO observations, and may even play an important role in the close-encounter experiences that occasionally follow them.

As any seasoned field investigator can tell you, quite often the play of reflected sunlight or cloud shadowing upon an otherwise easily discernible abject (such as a commercial airliner’s fuselage) may create false optical cues that can cause a person to misidentify the aircraft and call it a UFO. What’s more, because the startled UFO observer does not have the opportunity to replay the incident and, therefore, cannot possibly verify his or her observation, they may not ever realise that they have mistakenly identified a fixed-wing aircraft for an unidentified flying object.

Interestingly, it seems that even though an individual undergoing Rorschach testing has the opportunity to take a good long look at a particular Rorschach plate, nevertheless the general shape and even the coloration of the ink blot tends to play an important role in the mental formulation of the kind of things that he or she will see in it. This may be a very important factor for UFO researchers to consider because the changing size, shape and coloration of a fleeting UFO or its pulsating lighting may produce (or induce) similar effects upon the experi-encer’s perceptive skills.

Considering the adverse effect that shadow, distance, darkness, and poor weather conditions might have upon an individual’s optical acuity at the time of their sighting – it seems reasonable to suspect that UFO watching, much like ink-blot gazing, primarily involves the observation of a strange object or some pattern of ambiguous lights that are usually seen against the backdrop of a night-time sky.

So, it is not surprising that one’s best attempts to positively identify the object (or the distant lights) are going to become embellished with subjective (apperceptive) phenomena that form around the object, or may tend to fill in the empty space that is situated in between the mysterious points of light – investing them with not only a structural configuration, but also volition and, in some cases, even questionable intent. Naturally, these attributes are projected upon the unknown object by the observer as a result of their emotional and intuitive responses to the situational and confrontational character of their UFO encounter; and, once that happens, their UFO experience broadens and deepens, taking on a subjective tone which may also in-clude the active influence of very primitive introjective processes (i.e., assuming that the object is intelligently guided or that the UFO operators have specifically selected the observer for some reason).

All of these factors must be seriously considered by the objective UFO researcher simply because one cannot be certain which percentage of UFO reports are generated by the observation of space craft from another world (or holographic imagery that is transmitted by an alien civilisation), as opposed to those that may have their origin in the depths of man’s inner space – that is, his unconscious mind. And, of course, there is also the distinct possibility that the UFO experience is both objective and subjective in nature, and that separation of the two is simply beyond our investigative skills.

This appears to be the case where a physically real airborne object (be it a misidentification of some sort, or a real UFO) is observed and then the observer projects his or her own psychical contents upon it – very much like what happens during Rorschach testing experiences.

In his landmark psychological exploration of the UFO phenomenon, Dr C.G. Jung identified the basic discoidal (or round) UFO configuration as being similar to that of a meditative mantra and several other symbolic manifestations of the self which, as we know from our studies of depth psychology, is a very important archetype that tends to spontaneously appear to individuals when there is a profound emotional need present in their lives, or when they are caught up in a seemingly hopeless or overwhelming situation. Both of these prerequisites seem to fit the above mentioned UFO experience model which speculatively describes the UFO encounter as being a kind of display or the symbolic equivalent of some internal conflict that is unconsciously troubling but, nevertheless, affecting the observers at the time of their UFO encounter.

I am not alone with this estimate of the UFO situation, for several other researchers have come to similar conclusions regarding a display factor in UFO events and, quite recently, Dr R. Leo Sprinkle (noted psychologist/ufologist of Laramie, Wyoming) has presented a paper on the psychical analysis of UFO experiences which echoes Dr C. G. Jung’s assertion that the UFO may be (at least in part) a symbolic representation of the observer’s self. But these guestimates are based upon present-day UFO reports and the investigative data that today’s researchers are gathering. It would also bee interesting to attempt to determine what impact the presence of such ambiguous aerial objects may have had upon our forebears.



Curiously, UFO-like shapes and forms have been discovered amidst the human and animal forms depicted in Palaeolithic and Neolithic cave art which is generally thought to have been created during the time when man’s consciousness was first developing (i.e., roughly one million years ago). These, too, are believed to have been produced while early man was involved with welling up mentally stored images of the many animals that he hunted and feared. But, unlike the beautiful deer, bison and horses that appear to have been repeatedly drawn in the same area of the caves and were apparently used for some kind of hunting magic ritual, these unusual circles, braces and chevrons were not drawn in layers and are believed by many experts to have had an independent mythology connected to them. Interestingly,squares, chevrons, and a series of circles and dots commonly called recall-benders frequently pop up in Rorschach testing too.

Although there may be a number of possible explanations for the existence of the UFO-like cave drawings, two seem to be the most plausible. Either the cave man recorded his real-world encounter with such objects, or he dreamed of such forms and the dreams had such a profound impact on him in the waking state that he wanted to share his experience with his contemporaries.

In either case, it appears that these UFO-like shapes were considered important enough to merit separate space upon the cave walls, for they are not pitted and marred like the animal depictions which have obviously been subjected to many missile impacts that probably occurred during a hunting magic ritual. In other words, the UFO-like drawings have been afforded a separate space within the caves, and they probably had an entirely separate mythology associated with them.

The experts on cave art seem to be somewhat perplexed by these drawings and, of course, opinions vary quite a bit regarding their possible meaning. The so-called brackets are often thought to be a stylised version of the female form about to receive male sexuality, while some experts feel that the brackets may be related to the sexual aggression of the cave man himself.

One thing seems certain. These forms are totally unlike anything that is thought to have existed in the cave man’s natural environment. They appear to be symmetrical, possibly aerodynamic in design, and they also have a modern-day technological look about them. While they may not actually be depictions of UFOs, one must admit that they certainly do look a great deal like sketches that today’s observers produce regarding their en
counters with alien space vehicles.

Dare we ponder the notion that contact with alien intelligences could be channelled through the vast reaches of man’s inner space (i.e., his unconscious mind) and that such contacts may have been going on since mankind’s conscious dawning? Dare we believe that human inner space is just as vast, wondrous and awesome as outer space and that we have barely touched the surface of the mysteries and wonders that lie within its depths? Indeed, depths from which the UFOs themselves may hail?

No matter how far we reach out amongst the stars, we must always bear in mind that in our outreaching lies a human motive, and that the further we reach the deeper the want, the need, the fear, or the desire is to touch the face of the unknown.

As we are about to enter the 21st century, we might do well to note that despite our new sciences and great technological advance
ments we are still linked to our distant ancestors and carry the essence of their being within us. Have we become so estranged from this primal fabric that signals from it are thought to be attempted communications from an alien world? What is the signal in the noise of UFO reports? And, even more importantly, why is it being picked up by so many people at this particular point in human history?


Although Hermann Rorschach’s work with the phenomenon of human perception (its alteration or distortion) is generally applied to the diagnosis of pathology, some experts feel that it might be an error to assume that it is not also a viable method for studying the workings of perceptual phenomena in normals too. Dynamic UFO Displays may be one of many such phenomena, for the sudden and oft-times riveting perception of a Dynamic Display or close encounter may trigger a projection function that displaces some of the excess psychical energy (libido) assigned to an internal conflict that may be adversely affecting an individual. Thus, the Dynamic Display variety of UFO experience may bethought of as a self-regulating function of the psyche which is induced into activity by intrusive sensory stimulation (i.e., the impact of encountering a UFO) as opposed to the tranquil meditative process of Rorschach plate scrutiny.

Even in cases where the UFO investigator is completely unable to resolve the UFO report as a misidentification of a conventional airborne object (or perhaps an atmospheric anomaly of some kind), he or she is still left with the opportunity to examine the observer’s recollection of what the unidentified flying object looked like, how it appeared to operate and, of course, how it may have interacted with them.

This is most valuable information because, if we are correct about the UFO’s image and its interactive performance being dramatic representations of the observer’s self condition , we can learn something about the UFO experience’s meaningfulness in regard to the observer’s wants, needs, fears and expectations, along with something about the general make up of their defensive shielding. Indeed, we might consider a Dynamic UFO Display as a form of self-perception and communication that is triggered by the UFO’s presence in our skies – and even more importantly – in ouy lives.


In order to interpret the symbolic materials that well up during the subject’s observation and interaction with the UFO, the investigator must attempt to determine what the UFO (as an image) may actually represent on the one hand (e.g., a misi-dentification of some physical and external airborne object/s, or perhaps a totally unknown anomaly) and how that object’s image and behaviour might be symbolically linked to the psychology of the observer/s on the other hand. It is also apparent that what is observed during a UFO experience and how it is emotionally perceived and responded to is not solely determined by the observer’s conscious estimation of his or her UFO encounter, but also by the active influence of a mixed bag of intrapsychical forces that come into play during the event.

Since we suspect that the primary sensory stimulation (which is visual in most UFO cases) and the observer’s logical estimation of the experience concerning the size, shape, colouring and nearness of the object, is also backed up by emotional, intuitive and instinctual inputs that quickly flow across intrapsychic structures during the event, the UFO researcher should be on the look out for any bits and pieces or archetypal and/or instinctual debris that may be clinging to the observer’s account of their encounter with an unidentified flying object or its occupants.

In regard to this process, it seems that the altered or distorted form of perception which is instigated into activity by the ambiguity of the ink-blot plates in the case of Rorschach testing, and the often-times equally ambiguous, though obviously much more shocking, process of UFO watching primarily involves the subject’s complete fixation with the object, and a general falling away (or perhaps the total absorption) of their reality testing during the experience (e.g., Well, it was quite dark that night and at first I thought it was an aeroplane, or maybe a helicopter … but, then, as it hovered just above my head, I slowly realised that it was something unlike I’d ever seen before ).

Dynamic UFO Display case studies graphically illustrate that UFO researchers do have the ability to identify the symbolic contents in UFO reports which relate to both the observer’s personal life conflicts and even those that may be considered to be far more rudimentary (or archetypal) in character.


If certain visually perceived imagery such as that found in Rorschach’s plates and some UFO configurations do have the ability to deeply penetrate the human psyche and induce the displacement of archetypal symbols, subconscious contents, and psychic energy, we are obliged to further examine this remarkable phenomenon in an attempt to determine if there may be some therapeutic application for such a process.

Perhaps the cinematic replication (i.e., animation or computer animation) of UFO-like imagery which may be custom-designed from the information gathered by the therapist during counselling sessions with his or her patients might be as effective a tool as the purely mentally generated images that guided imagery practitioners presently attempt to direct at an array of physical, emotional and immunological disorders. Perhaps the sudden impact on perceiving a Dynamic UFO Display may enhance or surpass the effectiveness of the passive guided imagery techniques because of its highly confrontational character and deeply penetrating impact on the observer(s).

Perhaps, too, this same sort of psychical shock was the driving force that first nudged early man to conceive of things that did not yet exist, but surely would some day, simply because he could create them.


The Myth of the Authorised Myth.
Hilary Evans

From Magonia 16, July 1984

By ‘authorised myth’ we understand a belief or set of beliefs which, despite inadequate scientific evidence for its existence, obtains the sanction of widespread acceptance within the prevailing culture. In unsophisticated Catholic communities it may be the prospect of a visit from the Virgin Mary, for the tribespeople of New Guinea an aeroplane bringing cargo, for an ascetic saint in the desert a tempting demon; and so forth.

The most widely accepted of contemporary myths – as evidence such reliable indicators of prevailing cultural beliefs as TV commercials – is the possibility of extraterrestrial intervention on Earth. This comes in two forms. The simple form, authorised by our own space ventures, envisages surveillance and even visits by extraterrestrial spacecraft. The more elaborate form, authorised by the failure of orthodox religion to provide a convincing basis for belief, envisages direct contact with cosmic guardians.

The role of the authorised myth in ufology

It was Michel Monnerie who explicitly specified the authorised myth as a rational explanation for irrational UFO repurts. He proposed that the sighting of an inexplicable object induces the witness, conditioned by the prevailing myth, to exclaim Mon Dieu, perhaps it’s one of those UFO things? and this triggers a waking dream in which his mind constructs a fantasy in which the external sensory stimulus is modified in accordance with the fashionable myth.

Monnerie’s proposals came at a time when some such hypothesis was needed. A few diehards continued to see UFO sightings as a wholly objective phenomenon – subject to misinterpretation, no doubt, but not to unconscious mental modification. But a growing number of ufologists were ready to accept that the mind of the witness plays a more creative role in the sighting experience, and were consequently disposed to entertain a hypothesis which linked an objective stimulus to a subjective psychological process. Monnerie offered just such a hypothesis.

Force est de conclure,” he said, “que le fond émane des themes universels, des archétypes fondamentaux d I’humanité, tandis que la fame est donnée par les acquis inconscients de chacun des sujets, l’ensemble se developpant dans le mythe modern, credible, acceptable.” [Naufrage, 215] (We must conclude that the basis of the sighting derives from the universal themes, the fundamental archetypes of mankind, while the form is supplied by the contents of the subject’s unconscious, the two forming an ensemble which develops within the parameters of the modern myth, credible and acceptable.)

How tempting to nod our heads and murmur, But of course: We know all about archetypes, they have all the blessing of holy writ. We know too about private fantasy and how it can substitute for reality. These are known psychological concepts, it is reasonable to find them operating in the UFO context. All we have to do is say Oui, M. Monnerie, to as raison…

And there is a wonderful bonus. Subscribe to my hypothesis, says the tempter, and you can give up ufology with a clear conscience and go back to being a normal person. For says he, “il devient parfaitment clair qu’on ne peut, a partir d’une construction illusoire de l’esprit, batir use science, l’ufologie, digne de ce nom:’ [Naufrage, 56] (It’s obvious that a science of ufology worthy of the name cannot be built on a foundation of mental illusions)

I shall resist the temptation to argue Monnerie’s logic, beyond questioning his assertion that fantasy is not suscepible to scientific analysis. What concerns us is whether his neat package is really valid?

According to him, a UFO report comprises two elements. First, the basic form, dictated by an archetype of some description. This is no place to discuss the whole notion of archetypes, so I will simply state my opinion that Jung’s concept, however stimulating, has in practical terms only very limited application. True, many UFO sightings can be matched with his archetypes – spheres, eggs, discs, etc. But not every sphere-shaped object is to be interpreted as an archetype: a football is round for physical, not metaphysical, reasons, because it is the ideal shape for kicking and rolling, not because it echos something deep within our psyches.

Well, however he establishes its basic form, the UFO witness – according to Monnerie – proceeds to modify it according to the contents of his unconscious mind. It could well be so. But he them goes on to say that these modifications are dictated by the modern myth, credible and acceptable.

Well now, are they?If a myth is to have a meaning, it must have coherence. If this myth of extraterrestrial spacecraft is to mean anything, then the objects reported should be more or less like what people accept extraterrestrial spacecraft to look like. But if there is one aspect of ufology more than another which drives us all to despair, it is the reluctance of one UFO to resemble another, and for more than a handful to look anything like what we would expect an extraterrestrial spacecraft to look like.

True, the reality – if there is any – is liable to transcend our expectations; but it is with those expectations that Monnerie’s myth is concerned. And the fact is that for every logically shaped UFO there is one that is a shapeless jelly, or a Christmas tree, or a wineglass, or a transparent box like a TV screen – you name it, somebody’s seen it.

The shapeless jelly may be, indeed, what an extraterrestrial spacecraft looks like; it may be what the extraterrestrials choose for us to see; or it may derive from deep down in the witness’s unconscious. But neither way, I submit, does it derive from any authorised myth.To explain why a witness sees a strange object and immediately starts thinking in terms of UFOs, the concept of the authorised myth may be useful. But when it comes to understanding why the sighting experience took the form it does, the concept is quite inadequate, and we must look elsewhere.


MONNERIE, Michel. Et si les OVNIs n’existaient pas?, Les Humanoides Associes, Paris 1977.
MONNERIE, Michel. Le naufrage des Extra-terrestres, Nouvelles Editions rationalistes, Paris 1979.

Magnetism and its Influence on Humans
Paul Tinman

From Magonia 26, June 1987


We are all magnetic fish in a magnetic sea; we move through and partake of constantly changing magnetic currents and breezes which are not only geological in origin, but geophysical, solar and interplanetary as well. Like all creatures on earth, we’ve evolved for millions of years in this magnetic environment. Our bodies are riddled with magnetically sensitive molecules, tuned to minute changes in this sea, just as fish are tuned to minute changes in currents.

Medicine recognises the crucial importance of some of these – the K+ and Na+ ions in the blood, for example, the so-called electrolytes. Minute variations in these can result in bodily functions going dangerously wrong and brain functions being impaired. And it doesn’t take much genius to see that such particles (which can be viewed as standing waveforms anyway) may be disturbed by fluctuations in the magnetic climate. Indeed, chemical changes in the blood have been shown to vary under magnetic influence; for example the famous albumin flocculation experiments of Professor Takata. Blood cells, which have a high iron content, can also be made to rotate by application of magnetic fields.

Experimental work showing the sensitivity of living creatures to magnetism has been well documented, from Frank Brown and his fiddler crabs back in the ’40s right up to the recent work of Dr. Barker at Manchester University, showing that humans use geomagnetism for direction finding (seen recently on BBC’s Horizon programme). Professor Rocard at the Ecole Normale in Paris showed that humans can detect magnetic changes down to the order of 10-1 gauss – almost below the recordable limit. You could fill pages with this sort of evidence.

The result of magnetic disturbance can be chemical disruption of brain functions – anything from moodiness and depression to seizures (epilepsy?) or hallucinations. Statistics of suicides and road accidents apparently rise during periods of sunspot activity, which cause geomagnetic disturbances.
I’m saying two things here: first, that magnetic fluctuations are not solely geological in origin; second, that humans are far more sensitive to them than is generally accepted. Animals too, which vacate an area pretty sharpish when earthquakes are imminent. Devereux mentions that case of Kasper Hauser, the Nuremburg foundling who could distinguish blindfolded between different metals by passing his hand over them. Like all our faculties, this would be sharpened by use, blunted by neglect, but it would remain latent, whatever, and be more pronounced in some individuals.

So it’s not too big a jump to say that magnetic disturbance, through electromagnetic change, might cause certain sensitive individuals the same sort of visions as those caused under different circumstances by LSD or extreme asceticism. Some people, in proximity to magnetic disturbance might have visions of UFOs, the Virgin Mary or MIBs. There is a well-known psychological mechanism by which such a subject will use a physical object – a ball of light, maybe – as a cue, and then the unconscious takes over, projecting its drama onto reality. In this respect the similarity to the hypnotic state seems marked, down to the importance of such a cue or trigger.

Paul Devereux objects that this causes problems if the physical trigger then behaves in a manner inconsistent with the ‘vision’. It doesn’t, because the subject simply disregards it. The trigger events merely serves to disrupt the consciousness and set the inner drama in motion. Again, such behaviour can be observed in hypnotic subjects. You can even set such dramas in motion post-hypnotically in some subjects, merely on the appearance of a predetermined cue. The subject will thereupon suddenly diverge from reality, perceiving and acting according to a pre-set and totally unconscious script. The subject’s memory of what they saw and did during this period will afterwards differ remarkably from that of other witnesses.

So, while having a lot of respect for Paul Devereux’s opinions, I don’t see that the phenomenon necessarily involves any externalization of the imagery onto ionized plasmas or such. It’s east to accept that idea in the case of simple manifestations like Paul’s original ‘universal man’ vision, but problems arise applying it to the many extremely complicated UFO abduction dramas, with their time-loss and other components.

Of course, the objection will be that many such cases involve multiple witnesses who all share essentially the same experience. So if the whole thing is just a magnetic barn dance in the brain, how does more than one individual see it?

The answer to that may have something to do with the relationships between the people involved, and with the fact that the same magnetic disturbance will presumably affect them all: they will all be immersed in the same field at the time of the experience. In several of the more complex multi-subject contact/abduction dramas (the Hills , Tujunga Canyon, etc.) it appears that one individual is dominant or seems to be the catalyst for the events experiened. Such individuals are also often in various stages of inner crisis, to which the events can be seen to relate (see John Rimmer’s The Evidence for Alien Abductions).

In this regard, it may be fruitful for investigators to ask: a) is hypnotism easier within a magnetic field, and b) are telepathy, telekinesis, etc. easier within a magnetic field? One can think of reasons why this may be so: fluctuations at one point in a field will resonate throughout the field, and mental activity is basically electrical fluctuation. measurable by EEG.

There may be a purely biological function to all this. At the basic level, simply a warning of impending disaster registered by our unconscious magnetic sense and passed to the waking mind via some scary image. At a higher level, a dramatization of personal, cultural or racial problems in which the individual is just a medium. The ways of the brain are strange and complicated, and there won’t be a straightforward answer, I’m sure. But maybe we’d do well to look again a the unfashionable ideas of Julian Jaynes in this context. Maybe the old bicameral mind wasn’t so daft after all!

None of this pretends to be any sort of Theory I’m just putting two-pennorth in, and it all stands up to be knocked down. My main point is that the extent and nature of our susceptibility to geomagnetic influences is greatly underestimated, despite ample evidence, and that proper research in this area will in the future open all sorts of doors on our understanding of ourselves and our world.

One thing I’m sure we’ll all agree on – we are more than we think we are!


Psychological Theories: A Reply to Rogerson.
Carl Grove

In a recent article in this journal, Rogerson (1) reviewed a critique of psychological theories of UFOs in which I had suggested that, as a rule, such types of explanation were inadequate (2,3,4). He concluded that the critique contained “a number of unfounded statements and over-generalisations and thus has not established its case”.

It seems to me that Rogerson has somewhere lost sight of the central point of the critiques which was finding an answer to the question: can conventional psychological facts and theories be used to explain UFO phenomena? I stress conventional. because Rogerson is perfectly willing to make use of ‘paranormal’ concepts within a general explanatory framework and, despite his assertions to the contrary, such ideas do not have “a wide measure of acceptance in psychological circles”. Nor– as I hope to show — is their introduction into UFO debates to be encouraged, since they carry with them multiple problems of methodology and metatheory which Rogerson neglects even to mention, although he is quick to point out similar defects in my own logic.

In many single-witness cases of alleged UFO sightings it may be logically impossible to rule out the hypothesis of ‘conventional’ hallucination (i.e., hallucination due to drug intake, sensory restriction, psychosis, etc.), no matter how implausible such an interpretation may appear on the surface. In regard to the special hypothesis of ‘normal’ hallucination, therefore, single-witness cases unaccompanied by information about the witness or physical evidence of some sort remain a matter of controversy. Certain statistical considerations indirectly counter this proposition (5), but empirical evidence, for or against, is notable for its absence. Much of the relevant argument can be found in Hall (6,7), Grinspoon and Persky Johnson (9) and the various papers of Schwarz and others.

When it comes to multiple-witness cases the theory of simple hallucination becomes irrelevant, because shared hallucinations are unrecognised by psychology. This has nothing to do with the question of whether such events have ever occurred of course, nor does it throw much light upon problems concerning the validity of using such a concept as an explanation.If we rule out the hoax theory at the outset — a convenience which might find some objections, inasmuch as it is the only explanation capable of relating all UFO phenomena — we are left in a situation in which as Rogerson argues, we shall have to throw down at least some of our generally-accepted ideas about the structure of the universe. The question being, which?

There are two major alternatives: reports of UFOs can be attributed to:
1, extramundane intelligence, which includes the ETH as well as some of the more exotic possibilities, or

2, some sort of parapsychological interaction.

Rogerson supports the second alternative. In deciding between them, it should be kept in mind that the criteria by which we judge theories of UFOs must be identical to those employed in the evaluation of less dramatic notions. The most important of these are the requirements that theories should be based upon the minimum number possible of inferred or unobservable concepts; and that they they should be advanced in sufficient detail as to be capable of generating testable predictions preferably quantitative in form. Theories which fail to measure up to those yardsticks are not satisfactory.

In fact, neither of the two alternatives defined above are truly satisfactory, on these terms. Both make assumptions hard to verify outside of the UFO evidence; neither make precise predictions. It is a poor choice, in regard to methodology. It is true that whereas extramundane intelligence is supported by no hard evidence, astronomical or otherwise, there is a corpus of recognised, if controversial evidence relating to ‘paranormal’ phenomena. On the other hand, it would probably be true to say that the scientific community views the concept of extraterrestrial life with less dismay than it experiences when the concepts of ESP or psi are touched upon. It is not hard to see why. Paranormal concepts reflect a fundamental break with most of our models of reality; even in the absence of direct observation it is reasonable to posit the existence of extraterrestrial life via a process of simple extrapolation. All we can conclude here is that both possibilities are equally ridiculous.The main weakness of the ESP approach lies in its total inadequacy as a concept. It is in no sense a unitary concept –rather,
it is a rough way of classifying a heterogeneous moss of puzzling events. ‘Paranormal’ merely means — so far as I can see — anything which present-day science cannot explain. Imagine what this same concept would represent to an ancient Greek, to a medieval monk, an Elizabethan sailor;, just about anything. It is not an explanation but a description; and if science ca. 1972, cannot explain UFO phenomena, there should be no argument against classifying UFOs as paranormal. But isn’t that just playing with words? Does it help us to understand anything?

Even the most naive form of the extraterrestrial hypothesis is is more constrained, better defined. We may dismiss the logic employed by Smiley (10) in ‘disproving’ that UFOs come from Mars but at least here is an example of the scientific method: a formal statement of basic assumptions, the production of specific (even quantifiable) predictions and he testing of those predictions. The Mars Cycle observed in some UFO data could clearly provide some support for an extramundane hypothesis, if we wore to relax the rather puritan assumptions made by Smiley in regard to the capabilities of possible alien technologies. Rogerson’s answer is that people may tend to have more hallucinations when we are closer to Mars. An argument that I don’t accept.

This example indeed highlights the weakness of the parapsychological approach. Rogerson makes no attempt to describe the mechanisms involved in the transmission of an hallucinatory UFO experience from one person to another. The vagueness which characterises ESP-type concepts relieves him of the need to do so. Thus the following questions, and many others remain unanswered:

1. If a single ‘experience’ is shared by several persons why do UFO events typically obey the laws of perspective? Why don’t UFO witnesses report totally identical stimuli as would TV viewers?

2. Admitting that question 1 raises a valid point, what mechanism is there inside the human information processing system capable of calculating the perceptual effects of change-of-perspective for each of a number of individual and instantaneously transmitting the appropriate image

3. If question 2 is left unanswered would this not logically force the parapsychologist to accepts the possibility of intervention by a superior, nonhuman intelligence?

4. It is easy to imagine visual images being ‘injected’ into the witnesses’ perceptual systems just as a signal enters a TV set and produces an image on the screen. but human sensory processes in general, and the visual system in particular, are remarkably complex. We have only a very vague idea about how they work. To To put it crudely: if we can’t explain how normal perception operates, what chance is there for a model of some even more exotic process?

None of this argument should be thought of as disproving or dismissing the parapsychological theory. Rather, the aim is to demonstrate the dangers inherent in a chain of reasoning which runs: paranormal phenomena cannot be explained, therefore any phenomena which cannot be explained are paranormal, therefore UFO phenomena can be explained paranormally. The weakness of this logic is glaringly obvious.

5. Is there any puzzling or inexplicable event or set of events which a ‘paranormal’ theory could not explain?

My personal feeling is that if the extramundane theory is weak (in methodological sense), the parapsychological theory is weaker still. It may not be very enlightening to claim that “people see UFOs”; but is our curiosity any more satisfied by the assertion, “people parapsychologically transmit UFO experiences to each other”?

Rogerson’s closing argument is that contemporary psychology is in a primitive state, therefore novel theories which attack psychological laws are in some way more satisfactory than are theories, such as the ETH, the acceptance of which would imply the violation of known physical laws. The argument contains one or two flaws, depending on one’s philosophy: monists would maintain that all psychological laws are ultimately physical, anyway; less committed thinkers night point out that telepathy and clairvoyance, for example, provide no less profound a challenge to recognised physical concepts than does any physical UFO.

In sum, I think that the parapsychological theory as statedby Rogerson is still not powerful enough to explain UFOs, primarily because of its lack of clear definition and the absence of any specified means of disproving it. But the extramundane theory is, so far, insufficiently developed, although it is a somewhat better choice than the more specific extraterrestrial model. The best thing to do would be to adopt a less contentious inductive approach, but UFO researchers, unable or unwilling to resist the lure of speculation, rarely accept this alternative. Proponents of rival theories blandly neglect inconvenient data. Thus Rogerson would be happy to explain away reports of physical traces and radar sightings; Sharp (11) is careful to dismiss reports involving paranormal or religious manifestations; and Menzel, Condon, et al. dismiss the whole lot. In all cases there are some perfectly rational reasons for rejection; the mistake made lies not in rejection but selection. As Fort pointed out on many occasions, if you reject what you can’t explain’ you should be able to explain everything, It merely depends what you mean by ‘everything’.

Some progress be made if ufologists seek to maintain a theoretically neutral position recognising that UFO reports such as the cases of Rita,Malley, ‘Dr X’, the Welsh wave of 1905, frequently involve phenomena which, at face value lie beyond most of our current physical and psychological concepts. A search for patterns which involved the systematic neglect of these phenomena would violate most of the requirements of statistical sampling. If the final answer is a completely novel concept, the deductive approach would necessarily fail.



  1. GROVE, C. UFOs: Psychological Theories and their Defects. BUFORA Journal 1970, 2, (11), 3-5.
  2. GROVE, C. Hoax and Hallucination: The Evidence. BUFORA Journal, 1970, 2, (12) 3-5.
  3. GROVE, C. Jung and the UFOs. BUFORA Journal, 1970, 3, (2), 3-5.
  4. GROVE, C. A Note on Black’s Hypnotic Theory of UFO Generation. In press.
  5. HILL, R.L. Prepared statement. Symposium on UFOs: Hearings before the Committee on Science and Astronautics, U.S. House of Representatives, 90th Congress, 2nd Session. Washington: USGPO, 1968.
  6. HALL, R.L. Sociological perspectives on UFO reports. Presented at the AAAS Symposium on UFOs, December, 1969. In press.
  7. GRINSPOON, L & PERSKY, A.D. Some psychiatric considerations about reports of unidentified flying objects. Presented at the AAAS Symposium on UFOs, December, 1969. In press.
  8. JOHNSON, D.M. The ‘phantom anaesthetist’ of Mattoon: A field study of mass hysteria. Journal of Abnormormal Social Psychology, 1945, 40, 175-186.
  9.  SMILEY , C.H. Arriving from Mars by UFO? Project Blue Book, 1960. Washington: SAFOI, 1968.
  10.  SHARP, A.W. The New Ufology – a critique. MUFOB, 1971, 4, 55-72.


Psychological Theories of UFOs
Peter Rogerson

Originally published in Merseyside UFO Bulletin,
volume 4, number 4, September/October 1971

During the past 2-3 years there has been a growing interest in, and discussion of, possible psychological interpretations of UFO phenomena, this being provoked by the growing ‘strangeness’ of the ever accumulating body of evidence. It is only natural that this departure should have provoked strong criticism, not to say scepticism in some quarters.

The most serious critique of psychological theories advanced to date is the series of three articles by Carl Grove in BUFORA Journal: ‘Psychological Theories and their Defects’, (hereafter PT) (1); ‘Hoax and Hallucination – the Evidence’, (HH) (2); and ‘Jung and the UFOs’, (JU) (3). In these articles Grove raises a number of specific criticisms of the psychological theories that have been advanced to date, and also any that May be advanced in the future. It is hoped in this article to answer each point specifically.

Grove is quite right in rejecting pseudo-psychological hypotheses which regard UFO phenomena as journalistic sensations, and percipients as alcoholics. Such ideas are not however those that serious proponents of psychological theories are talking about. We can limit discussion in the main to the possibility of hallucination as a cause of UFO experiences. This can be done under two heads:

  • (a) Can hallucination take place under the conditions under which UFO percipience allegedly takes place, and can psychologically normal people be hallucinated?
  • (b) Is there anything in the accounts of UFO percipience that would automatically eliminate hallucination?

With regard to (a) Grove tends to suggest the answer is ’no’, on the grounds that hallucinations are uncommon, and occur in definite psychological states – sensory restriction, sleep deprivation, psychotic and neurophysiological abnormality, drug intake and deep hypnotic trance. (PT) These views are only partly correct. In fact hallucination of a simple and undramatic kind probably occurs at least once in everyone’s lifetime, With some people hallucinations may occur several times and with a small proportion of the population hallucinations are more or less frequent – ostensible clairvoyants and trance mediums, for example, Here, of course, we are approaching the boundaries of psychosis. The evidence collected by psychologists suggests that about 15% of the population tend to be hallucinators. It would be interesting to know if high hallucinator subjects are also deep trance hypnotics.

The hallucinations that ‘normal’ people experience tend to be fleeting affairs, they do not have the complexity and behavioural changes that are associated with psychotic conditions.  The closest comparison between UFO percipience and acknowledged hallucinations occurs in the field of apparitions which are generally reported by psycholocically ‘normal’ people in the course of everyday activity. The evidence collected by parapsychologists discounts the view that hallucinations are confined to extreme psychological conditions. But even if this were not the case, the criteria suggested by Grove are capable of a far more liberal interpretation than may be envisaged at first glance. Sensory restriction hallucinations are by no means confined to ‘black room’ restriction (such as that used in astronaut training) though hallucinations in total sensory restriction are  extremely vivid and complex. Motorists driving through monotonous scenery or at night often experience very vivid hallucinations; indeed they may enter completely trance-like states, a fact which is recognised as a significant cause of major accidents. Such a condition, especially in a deep trance subject, may be the cause of many of the dramatic UFO reports involving night drivers.

Hallucinations can be produced by a variety of chemical substances. Carbon monoxide in trace amounts, if inhaled over a long period can produce hallucinations and psychotic reactions; reduction in oxygen supply can produce similar results. It is also true that no definite opinion on the cause of schizophrenia exists. There seems to be as much evidence that it is caused by chemical changes in the body as by emotional causes. It may thus be that pollution is as significant a cause of the rapid growth of mental illness as is the ‘pace of modern living’. It may be that some flaps in agricultural areas are the results of some very unpleasant side effects of modern insect sprays.

There can be little doubt that the ‘silent contactees’ described by Keel and others are psychotic subjects. The symptoms described are classic symptoms of paranoid schizophrenia. Keel has claimed that the majority of Type I percipients he has interviewed are suffering from these after effects. If this claim can be substantiated it would indicate that either the percipients have experienced a traumatic event which has caused a psychotic reaction, or that Type I percipience may be a preliminary sign of psychosis. Therefore we would be justified in concluding that hallucination can take place under conditions described by UFO percipients.

Specific Objections to the Psychological Hypothesis

  • That collective percipience rules out hallucination as collective hallucination is impossible (PT).

While the evidence for mass hallucination is not conclusive, it is by no means negligible. The Fatima case is a striking example. It would be almost impossible to envisage any objective thing which would be visible to only a certain number of a contiguous group. Cases of collectively perceived apparitions are by no means a complete rarity. Tyrrell (4) counted 130 such cases and gave a number of examples. He and most other parapsychologists have regarded such cases as hallucinations generated by parapsychological interaction. Alternatives to such a viewpoint have never had much success, and were often little more than meaningless phrase. The notion of parapsychological interaction has a wide measure of acceptance in psychological circles, and has far more evidential blacking than the claims of ETH ufology.

  • That physical traces, photos radar tracks etc., rule out hallucinations (PT, HH).

Despite Groves’ statement that such traces occur in a significant number of cases, they are in fact quite rare. Alan Sharp has given convincing alternative explanations for several crater reports. In view of this, ground effects, unaccompanied by visual reports can be automatically discarded. In the case of visual/ground effect reports a general sequence takes place. The witness ostensibly perceives an object; later he finds curious marks at the spot. It is a natural reaction to suggest that the ‘object’ caused the marks, but there is often no convincing evidence for this. It is equally likely that the ground markings were already there, subconsciously noted, and later woven into a hallucinatory experience.

Of the 2000 plus photographs probably loss than twenty are of any interest at all. ‘Totally convincing’ UFO photographs have been convincingly explained as fakes, at such a rate as to make us wonder if any photographs are of evidential value. Even the McMinnville photographs have had serious doubts cast on their authenticity. My only conclusion is that unless photographs are taken under the most stringent and well documented conditions, such as have not, to my knowledge, yet been met such evidence can not be regarded as worthy of serious consideration. Radar tracks are of a similar nature, they are few in number, but puzzling. There seems little reason to believe that they must represent the same phenomenon as say, landings. It does not seem totally unreasonable to suggest that curious radar tracks may themselves be the result of hallucination.

  • That UFO reports predominate in rural areas, whereas it would be expected that psychological stimuli would predominate in urban areas (HH).

Grove’s prediction is quite incorrect. Hallucinatory conditions are more likely in relaxed rural atmospheres, where there is less sensory stimulation, leading to dreamlike states, than in noisy urban conditions. In this respect the UFO phenomenon is entirely consistent with the hallucination hypothesis.

  • That periodicity, especially the Mars synodic period cycle, is incompatible with the hallucination hypothesis (HH)

D. Knight (5) has shown that Fortean phenomena show a relationship with the Mars cycle. A variety of natural phenomena seem to show similar cyclical variations. Perhaps minute changes in the earth’s electromagnetic field can catalyse hallucinations in certain people. As for other statistical evidence, this writer is not a mathematician and will forbear comment.

  •  That no proven case of hallucination in reliable UFO witnesses exists

A number of clearly hallucinatory cases exists, though the percipients may not be regarded as reliable by Grove. Both Schonher (6) and Keel (7) have pointed out evidence suggesting that Type I cases are of a hallucinatory nature. Several of Vallée’s cases (8) are not capable of an objective explanation. As such witnesses can always be regarded as unreliable such cases tend to got ‘swept under the carpet’. Vallée now also concludes that entity reports do show regional/temporal variations. (8)

Jung and the UFOs

Jung suggested that UFOs are archetypal, symbols in a collective unconscious (9). Grove criticises this (JU) on the grounds that archetypes cannot be inherited genetically. There is little reason to suppose that Jung ever thought that they were, in a literal sense. Jung always regarded the ‘collective subconscious’ as an immaterial in a dualistic sense. Similarly the importance of archetypes in no way relates to their ultimate origin. However laboratory experiments on rats suggest that under certain conditions learning may be inherited. Tradition handed down from the earliest clan communities of Homo Erectus, until the advent of mass media may well have modified genetic structure. Jung’s hypotheses were not created to ‘explain’ the UFO phenomenon as was the ETH; thus one could say that the ETH violates Occam’s Razor. To say that a hypothesis is ‘suspect’ because it explains a phenomenon, yet  violates commonsense, is a curious novelty. It is difficult to see how the theory ofrelativity, for example, could have emerged under such a principle.

A significant number of psychoanalysts still adhere to  Jung’s ideas,The psychologists however have no such set of accepted views; enormous controversies still surround all psychological theorising.


Any general interpretation of the UFO phenomenon will have to violate the generally accepted ‘laws’ of physics, psychology, or both. At the present psychology is much less rigid than physics, therefore novel psychological theories are more plausible than any concept which jolts the laws of physics. The only serious critique of the psychological hypothesis, that of Carl Grove contains a number of unfounded statements and over generalisations, and thus has not established its case.



  1. Grove, Carl. ‘UFOs, Psychological theories and their defects’. BUFORA Journal, vol. 2, no. 11, spring 1970, pp. 3-5
  2. Grove, Carl. ‘Hoax and hallucination, the evidence’. BUFORA Journal, vol. 2, no. 12, summer 1970, pp. 3-5.
  3. Grove, Carl. ‘Jung and the UFOs’. BUFORA Journal, vol. 3, no. 2, winter 1970, pp. 3-5
  4. Tyrell, G.N.M. Apparitions, 2nd ed., Duckworth, 1953.
  5. Knight, Damon. Charles Fort, Prophet of the Unexplained, Gollancz, 1971.
  6. Schoenherr, Luis. ‘Question of reality’, FSR, vol. 17, no. 3.
  7. Keel, John. ‘A perfect apparition’, FSR, vol. 17, 3.
  8. Vallée, Jacques. Passport to Magonia. Regnery, 1969
  9. Jung, Carl. Flying Saucers, a Modern Myth of Things seen in the Skies.

 Carl Grove responded to this article HERE