02 November 1994

Abducted in their Dreams

We are such stuff as dreams are made on. — William Shakespeare,The Tempest, 1611
In the middle of the night you find yourself paralyzed, lifted into a spaceship, and probed. You hear voices inside your head. The next thing you know, you are back in your car or bed, hours missing from your memory. Under hypnosis you recall fragmentary experiences, as if from a dream. You have had (if UFO abduction experiencers can be believed) a close encounter of the fourth kind.

Now I doubt such reports, because I doubt aliens could or would want to find a small needle like us in our enormous galactic haystack. But let's play Star Trek for a moment. Suppose aliens have found us, and have bridged the communication barrier natural to beings evolved on different worlds. Then we must ask why these encounters are the way they are — which is like our dreams.

Our dreaming consciousness has many of the attributes of a close encounter all by itself. Active brain mechanisms suppress movement and memory — otherwise we would all sleepwalk and recall dreaming ninety minutes each night. Though language occurs frequently in dreams, we rarely remember details of what is said or written. Our dreams shift from one paradox to another, as if we had no sustained attention span and little contact with reality. We enter a state of consciousness that Freud thought similar to a hypnotic trance (which may be why hypnosis can help us remember dreams), and which some modern researchers think similar to schizophrenia — that is, schizophrenia's characteristic hallucinations may be waking dreams.

Since dreams are so much like close encounters, perhaps the aliens deliberately induce a dreamlike state of consciousness in their abductees. That way they can interact meaningfully with semi-conscious individuals while using humans' natural dream mechanisms for suppressing movement and memory. This may allow them to cautiously study humans before "coming out" to us as a whole. But why so many encounters, and why don't they cover their tracks better?

Consider that UFO experiencers frequently report some kind of "telepathic" communication with their captors. Perhaps the mental state in which humans are most capable of telepathy happens to be the one in which we dream. Maybe the aliens induce this state in humans so as to facilitate communication, or maybe the dreamlike state is a simply a byproduct of their attempts at telepathy. If the aliens don't have dreams themselves, they may not realize that they are impairing humans' normal functioning. They may even think that humans reflexively become paralyzed, forgetful, and crazy whenever we experience anything new. Perhaps they repeat the same encounter many times with particular individuals hoping that some humans might get used it and react less strongly. Too bad their way of talking to us seems literally to put us to sleep.

Maybe the aliens try different experiments to find out what's going wrong. Though they keep trying to communicate we forget all about it, or act as if our encounters were unreal when we remember them, because dreamlike experiences don't connect with the world we know in our waking state. On their part, if the aliens are naturally telepathic, they may think all intelligent species are, and that contacting one human contacts us all. Perhaps they wonder why we don't get the message. So if you're a repeated UFO experiencer, try to remember to tell them (it's called lucid dreaming by sleep researchers) that if they're trying to communicate, they're blowing it. Tell them to write, instead.
Of course, the simplest and, to my mind, most likely explanation is that UFO abduction experiences aren't merely like dreams, they are dreams. Still, you never know.

Editor's Note:  See for example Passpost to the Cosmos - Human Transformation and Alien Encounters and/or Abduction, by the late John E. Mack, M. D.

No comments: