Examining Memory

Memory is, shall we say, tricky. Normal memory is difficult enough without having abduction experiences. My own memory is poor. I take ginkgo biloba and vitamins by the truckload to improve it but I fear that it will never be what it was when I was younger. Remembering specific events in the past is also somewhat tricky. If one takes several people who were at the same event, say the senior prom, and have them all remember it, they might have slightly different memories of it, they might have forgotten different aspects of it, and they collectively might not remember important particulars within it. But, they all remember that it happened and they all are in agreement about its broader aspects. Without accurate memories civilization would have not been able to develop and proceed as it has. Everything we do depends on learning and learning is, for the most part, memory.

Remembering UFO and abduction memories is far more difficult. Abductees are not supposed to remember what has happened to them. Forgetting is part of a systematic attempt to keep the abduction program a secret. This tactic has been extremely successful. Most abductees have no memories of any abductions even though they might have had many during their lives. The abductees whom researchers see are only a tiny minority of people who consciously remember odd events happening to them that they have been able to relate to abduction activity.

When abductees consciously remember what has happened to them, their memories are often quite problematic. Because abductions constitute a clandestine program, the memories come out as fragmentary illogical, non-chronological pieces. Just as often, the abductee does not realize this and his or her brain automatically puts the bits and pieces of memories into a logical, chronological order. The abductee then tells a "story" of what happened to him which seems to make logical sense, and which seems as concrete as any other experience he remembers. The problem is that it is often wrong. Thus, people remember events that did not happen, they remember seeing people who were not present, they remember procedures administered to them that did not occur. They remember acting in ways that turn out not to be true. They can sometimes remember quite complex scenarios that did not happen.

This is a scenario that only gets worse. The brain can take memories of aliens and turn them into more commonly conceived of images. For example, people routinely remember seeing "owls," "raccoons," "monkeys," "snakes," and even "spiders" when they were actually seeing alien faces. Furthermore, during the abduction event itself, the aliens are quite accomplished at neurological manipulation which can result in the enervation of specific neurological pathways. By stimulating these pathways, the aliens can make people "see" things that are not there in objective reality. These "envisioning" procedures take place in people's minds and have the appearance of reality. Also, aliens can require people to watch extremely realistic "scenes" on screens for various purposes. All of this takes place within a framework of memory alteration which insures that the abductee will forget what he or she has experienced within seconds after returning from the abduction

What does all this mean? It means that recovering accurate memories can be far more difficult than simply relaxing and trying to remember. It means that it can be a mistake for abductees to get locked into memories without competent investigation to make sure that the memories are reflective of reality. No matter how certain abductees are of what has happened to them during abduction activity, the best stance to take for both the investigator and the abductee is to say, "Maybe yes, maybe no." Conscious memories, contrary to what is commonly believed, have turned out to be notoriously unreliable. Abductees are often stunned and amazed that what they thought had happened to them -- indeed, what they were absolutely positive about what had happened to them -- turned out upon examination not to be true.

It is also important to remember that some conscious memories are dead-on accurate. What people remember is exactly what happened to them. Many investigators had occasion to compare some memories retrieved with hypnosis with conscious ones and found very little difference. It is therefore of the utmost importance to go to an investigator who can help decipher what it all means, and sort the "signal from the noise." This, of course means that the investigator or therapist must understand the problems of memory retrieval both from the standpoint of hypnosis, and, more importantly, from the standpoint of the abduction phenomenon itself. Investigators who "jump in" and try to do it without proper knowledge often do a disservice to abductees. The urge to just "do it" for many investigators can be overwhelming. Sometimes the results are very good, but more than often the investigator and the abductee have an extremely difficult time understanding what has actually happened during the abduction event. When this happens the abductee and investigator can easily be led down wrong pathways.

What this also means is that one must be very careful with abductees who have not undergone competent hypnosis and investigation and who say that they have the "answer" to the UFO phenomenon or who claim that they have special knowledge about it. Sometimes the people who adopt New Age and spiritual stances to explain their experiences can be quite belligerent and aggressive towards other abductees who do not share similar "memories." In this situation it is best for all of us to take a step back and say, "Maybe yes, maybe no." Perhaps the abductee who is confirmed in his or her memories is correct, but because of the many complications of abduction memories, there is a good chance that he or she is not.


All content © David M. Jacobs and International Center for Abduction Research except as noted.