Page 18 - The 'X' Chronicles Newspaper - Late January 2019
P. 18

18             Alien Abduction or Accidential Awareness

                Alien Abduction or

           “Accidental Awareness”?

              Scientists report on a long-
                     ignored problem

                   By Anne Skomorowsky

          “So then they roll me over on my back, and the
          examiner has a long needle in his hand. And I
          see the needle. And it’s bigger than any needle
          that I’ve ever seen.” So testifies Betty Hill, of
          her experience inside a flying saucer near
          Franconia Notch, New Hampshire, in 1961.
          Betty and her husband, Barney Hill, are the
          earliest known victims of alien abduction, and
          the 1966 bestseller  The Interrupted Journey
          describes how they recalled the event under
          hypnosis.  Their story includes nude medical
          exams and invasive probing—an alien
          abduction scenario many of us recognize from
          the TV shows and movies of the past 50 years.
                 But in 2008 a Columbia University
          psychoanalyst published “Alien  Abduction:  A
          Medical Hypothesis” which suggested that what
          is known as “accidental awareness under general
          anesthesia”—in which a patient awakens on the
          table during surgery—might lie behind stories of
          alien abduction. The analyst, David V. Forrest,
          noted the similarity of the classic alien
                                                         awareness never claim they were abducted by     memory has been at the heart of controversial
          abduction    scenario—bug-eyed       greenish
                                                         aliens—none of the hundreds of patients         claims of childhood sexual abuse, satanic cults,
          humanoids surrounding the subject as she lies on
                                                         interviewed for the new report did—but the      and other disturbing and difficult-to-prove
          an examining table under a bright light—to the
                                                         Royal College report documents the potential    allegations by one family member against
          operating room situation, where surgeons in
                                                         for lasting, perhaps permanent, psychological   another. The difficulty of distinguishing between
          scrubs and masks hover over the patient and
                                                         damage to afflicted patients.  While half the   recovered memories and so-called false
          enter her body with tools. Asked if being probed
                                                         patients in one survey experienced pain, two-   memories has troubled psychiatrists and patients
          by aliens felt like his prior tonsillectomy, Barney
                                                         thirds experienced helplessness and panic. Over  alike.
          Hill agreed: “Like that, but my eyes are closed,
                                                         40 percent of the patients studied for the report      What can anesthesia awareness teach us
          and I only have mental pictures. And I am not in
                                                         experienced moderate to severe psychological    about recovered memory? For one thing, the
          pain. And I can feel a slight feeling. My groin
                                                         harm, with some incapacitated by post-traumatic  report discusses different types of memory,
          feels cold.”
                                                         stress disorder.                                including    “trauma    memory.”    Everyday
                 While in a hypnotic trance, Barney Hill
                                                                 One awareness patient describes a       memories are not terribly descriptive. Intense
          told his psychiatrist, “I don’t want to be operated
                                                         flashback: “It struck again days later as       emotional states, such as those experienced
          on.” He described a spacecraft lit by blue
                                                         horrifying images and terror that rose from the  during awareness, create memories that are rich
          fluorescent light, which didn’t cast any shadows,
                                                         depths of my being. I was once again in the grips  in sensory detail and tend to burst out
          as in a surgical suite.  The aliens had oddly
                                                         of horror, again not comprehending, again       inappropriately, as in a flashback.  Trauma
          shaped heads with large craniums, and indistinct
                                                         trapped, again struggling to survive, yet wishing  memories are not encoded as logical narratives,
          lips and nostrils; they were all foreheads and
                                                         for death.” Alien abduction seems almost restful  but as globs of sensation.  Thus a sensory
          eyes. Though he was terrified, he felt sluggish.
                                                         in comparison.                                  experience—like seeing a hospital worker in
          He was struck by the all-business, professional
                                                                 Assuming Barney Hill wasn’t actually    scrubs—can cause an awareness survivor to feel
          bedside manner of the alien “doctors,” and
                                                         brought aboard a spaceship that night in 1961,  overwhelmed with panic and to relive the
          impressed by their determination to do whatever
                                                         he may have experienced a flashback to his      sensation of paralysis she suffered through while
          it was they meant to do.
                                                         tonsillectomy. He was cold. His eyes were       anesthetized.
                 He could have been describing the well-
                                                         closed. He didn’t want to be operated on. Then
          intentioned members of the Royal College of
                                                         he woke up under general anesthesia, to full-                          (Continued on Page 21)
          Anaesthetists, who have just released the largest
                                                         blown terror, surrounded by distorted beings,
          collection of data on accidental awareness ever
                                                         squinting in the blue light of the OR. Perhaps the
          assembled. Awareness during general anesthesia
                                                         pain and horror of awareness overwhelmed his
          first attracted interest in the late 1990s, when
                                                         mind, or maybe it was the anesthetic drugs, but
          patient/activist Carol  Weihrer publicized her
                                                         somehow the experience disappeared from his
          own awareness experience. Awareness has since
                                                         working memory--until he and Betty came to
          spawned support groups, Facebook pages, a
                                                         believe they had crossed paths with an
          horror movie, and an episode of Grey’s
                                                         unidentified flying object on a dark and lonely
          Anatomy, but is only now being generally
                                                         New Hampshire road.
          recognized by the medical community.  The
                                                                 Alien abduction has been considered a
          Royal College notes that one purpose of the
                                                         fantasy, a hoax, and even to some, a fact; but it
          report is “to present an apology on behalf of the
                                                         is now clear that it may also represent a
          profession to all those patients who have
                                                         recovered memory. Recovered memories are
          hitherto been let down by a collective failure to
                                                         frequently astounding and implausible—if they
          understand or accept the condition.”
                                                         were orderly and digestible, we would not have
                 Of course, most patients who experience
                                                         forgotten them. Most famously, recovered
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