Abducted: How People Come to Believe They Were Kidnapped by Aliens

Susan A. Clancy, Author . Harvard Univ. $22.95 (179p) ISBN 978-0-674-01879-2

If you're going to read just one book about alien abductions, make it this one. And if you think alien abduction stories aren't worth considering seriously, Clancy will convince you otherwise. A postdoctoral fellow in psychology at Harvard, she follows the dictum of William James to "take 'weird beliefs' seriously but not literally." Thus, she considers that the belief that one has been abducted by little gray beings with large, black catlike eyes, subjected to intrusive and painful physical examinations and exploited to create hybrid human/alien babies serves the deep human need to find meaning in one's life. She presents clear explorations of what most mainstream experts believe are the sources of the abduction story, such as sleep paralysis and the dubious use of hypnosis in "recovering" forgotten memories of the abduction. Her more original contribution, based on her own research, is that abductees score high on measures of schizotypy (they're far from schizophrenic, but are prone to fantasy and "magical" thinking) and, more speculatively, experiencing what in the 19th century was called hysteria. Writing in a nonacademic and witty style, Clancy offers an intelligent and compassionate look at people whose "weird" belief usually elicits derision, and argues convincingly for the need to look deeper into its significance. (Oct.)

Reviewed on: 08/15/2005
Release date: 10/01/2005
Genre: Nonfiction
Ebook - 192 pages - 978-0-674-02957-6
Paperback - 179 pages - 978-0-674-02401-4
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