Thinking Clearly About the Abduction Phenomenon

Part 8: Common Mistakes - The Reliability of Conscious Memories

It is extremely critical to understand that abductees remember alien abductions without the aid of hypnosis. Their stories are very often consistent with other accounts and they are often relatively accurate. Over the years it has been a matter of faith for researchers that conscious recall is more accurate than recall accomplished with hypnosis. Therefore, consciously remembered incidents neatly sidesteps the problems, and criticisms, engendered by hypnosis.

It is unfortunately true that consciously recalled memories are very often unreliable. Abductees routinely take bits and pieces of abductions without remembering the variety of events and procedures that happened to them in between those fragments of memory, and fashion them into a flowing narrative. What they remember about the abduction is sometimes partially right, but more often it is wrong. This can be further complicated when the event happens at night and the abductee unwittingly incorporates dream material into the narrative. Moreover, abductees are subject to a variety of neurological manipulations during the abduction that can sometimes influence their memories. They may consciously remember events that were purposely placed in their minds but did not happen in reality. It is virtually impossible for the abductee to discriminate between these memories and those events that happened in objective reality. When they do remember narrative flows consciously, they are often heavily emotionally invested in them and they become part of their permanent memory record even though they are not accurate.

Time and again, hypnosis has shown that abductees memories can be flawed in surprising ways. Their memories are not usually wrong about the fact that they were abducted, but the neurological procedures that are performed on them, the altered state of consciousness that they all undergo, and the natural predilection to put memory fragments into logical order, all contribute to the unreliability of conscious memories. Thus, consciously recalled memories must be entered into evidence only with the greatest caution.


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