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Bizarre Behavior & Culture-Bound Syndromes: Aliens Are Among Us

It's not beyond the realm of possibility that Shirley Maclaine, Dennis Kucinich and Sun Ra know something many don't

Kate Gosselin believes that “Aliens have taken him (Jon) away.” Miyuki Hatoyama, wife of Japan’s prime minister-elect, wrote in her book, Very Strange Things I Encountered, that she was abducted by aliens 20 years ago and taken in a triangular-shaped UFO to Venus, a green beautiful place.

Neil Rocklin
Neil Rocklin

Well besides Gosselin and Hatoyama, others believe that they, too, have met aliens. Sun Ra, a jazz musician who pioneered the playing of Moog synthesizers, claimed he was sent to Earth from outer space to save humanity and bring harmony to the world.

He said he was born on Saturn and explained, “I’m a spirit master. I’ve been to a zone where there is no air, no light, no sound, no life, no death, nothing. There’s 5 billion people on this planet, all out of tune. I’ve got to raise their consciousness, tell them about the wonderful potential to bypass death.” He once wrote:

“In some far off place
Many light years in space
I’ll build a world of abstract dreams
And wait for you”

Sun Ra’s sources of inspiration included the Kabbalah, Rosicrucianism, channeling, numerology, Freemasonry and black nationalism. Now Sun Ra may have used his extraterrestrial birth as a metaphor to help us earthlings, who are restricted to our listening shackles by our very existence on this planet, expand our auditory perceptions as well as our planet-linked prejudices with his Moog synthesizers, two upright basses, African rhythms and exotic costuming, or maybe he was from Saturn.

Well, two people, one a past presidential candidate, Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, and the other, the noted actress and channeler, Shirley MacLaine, are convinced of the presence of aliens and their contact, albeit distant, with them. Maclaine is Kucinich’s daughter’s godmother, and he says he saw a UFO while at her home in Washington state that was triangular, silent and hovering. Maclaine says Kucinich characterized the experience as “a connection to your heart” and that he “heard directions” in his mind.

During a campaign debate, Kucinich admitted he had indeed seen a UFO. When asked about the incident he replied, “Jimmy Carter saw a UFO.” No matter that this sighting subsequently was identified as the planet Venus. According to commentator Tim Russert, in that same debate, 14 percent of Americans have viewed a UFO.

All three Apollo 11 astronauts believe there is “life beyond earth.” Well, yeah! Apollo 14’s Ed Mitchell, the sixth man to walk on the moon, said in a radio interview, “I happen to have been privileged enough to be in on the fact that we’ve been visited on this planet and the UFO phenomenon is real.” He added that NASA sources who had had contact with aliens described the beings as ‘little people who look strange to us.”

In her book, Abducted: How People Come to Believe They Were Kidnapped by Aliens, Susan Clancy, a Harvard psychologist who studies recovered memories, interviewed about 50 people who claimed to have been abducted by aliens. She said her subjects were not crazy, but instead had “a tendency to fantasize and to hold unusual beliefs and ideas.”

In a review of Clancy’s findings, William Cromie wrote:

“Abduction stories are strikingly similar. Victims wake up and find themselves paralyzed, unable to move or cry out for help. They see flashing lights and hear buzzing sounds. Electric sensations zing through their bodies, which may rise up in levitation. Aliens with wrap-around eyes, gray or green skin, lacking hair or noses, approach. The abductee’s heart pounds violently. There’s lots of probing in the alien ship. Instruments are inserted in their noses, navels, or other orifices. It’s painful. Sometimes sexual intercourse occurs. Then it’s over, after seconds or minutes. The intruders vanish. Victims are back in their own beds and can move again ... Measurements of sweating, heart rate and brain waves showed that those claiming to be abductees show the same symptoms of post-traumatic stress syndrome as combat veterans.”

This is exactly what one would expect to find in a victim who was abducted by aliens, but Clancy prefers to think that alien abduction is related to sleep paralysis. Her conclusion is that so-called abductees have created or altered their memories to bring meaning to their lives.

On the other hand, psychiatrist John Mack, also of Harvard University, concluded that the 200 alien abductees he interviewed showed no sign of mental illness and that their abduction could not be explained. He wrote extensively about spiritual transformation related to alien abduction phenomena. Mack was criticized for taking alien abduction reports at face value.

While he never claimed that alien abduction was actually taking place, he did say, “I would never say, yes, there are aliens taking people. (But) I would say there is a compelling powerful phenomenon here that I can’t account for in any other way, that’s mysterious. Yet I can’t know what it is but it seems to me that it invites a deeper, further inquiry.”

Possibly prompted by the publication of his book, Abduction: Human Encounters with Aliens, Harvard Medical School, where Mack was tenured as a full professor, initiated an investigation of his work and clinical practice with the goal of stripping him of his position. With the help of friends like Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz, however, the investigation concluded that Mack’s inquiries were protected by academic freedom and there were no grounds to dismiss him. Mack was killed by a drunken driver during an after-dinner walk in England in 2004. More information on his work can be found at the John Mack Institute.

So, what to make of all of this? If you read the top 12 things you need to know in Newsweek magazine (Aug. 24 and 31, 2009) you would discover that “Aliens Exist” is numero uno! Newsweek editor Fred Guterl writes that, “some astronomers ... estimate that perhaps half of the 200 billion or so suns in the Milky Way support terrestrial, Earth-like worlds.”

Bill Borucki heads up the NASA Kepler mission that will search for these habitable earth-like planets. He claims many such planets will be discovered by 2013. In the meantime, it is possible to watch Alien Earth and see potentially habitable planets, like Gliese 581c, which were unknown until a few years ago.

If we were to stretch our minds and step out of our anthropocentric worldview, could we imagine Earth-like worlds with sophisticated and advanced life forms curious and inclusive enough to reach out and “touch” one of our brethren?

— Licensed clinical psychologist Neil Rocklin is a psychology lecturer at CSU Channel Islands. For the past 30 years, he has treated children, teens and adults with a host of psychological disorders, and currently teaches college students about personality development, abnormal behavior and criminal behavior. He writes the Bizarre Behaviors & Culture-Bound Syndromes blog with CSUCI colleague Kevin Volkan.

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