- Hardcover: 162 pages
- Publisher: Harvard University Press; First Edition edition (October 31, 2005)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0674018796
- ISBN-13: 978-0674018792
- Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.9 x 0.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12.3 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 62 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,173,103 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Abducted: How People Come to Believe They Were Kidnapped by Aliens Hardcover – October 31, 2005
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From Publishers Weekly
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.)
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From Scientific American
One dark night in 1961 an event occurred that opened a new chapter in paranormal psychology: two Americans were, they later claimed, abducted by aliens. Similar claims have been coming ever since. Susan A. Clancy, a Harvard psychologist who describes herself as "a reluctant scholar of alienology," has investigated many of them and written this short, insightful and often funny description of abductees and the psychology behind their experiences. Clancy is never condescending toward the 50 subjects she interviewed; she simply asks questions, listens and then presents her own carefully reasoned explanation for why they might believe they were abducted. Fortunately, Clancy is well equipped to understand strange events. She has not only studied hypnosis but experienced it and the false memories it can "recover." She has also awoken to the terror of "sleep paralysis," an unusual state in which an individual perceives senses as if she is awake but is unable to move because parts of the brain are still asleep; hallucinations are common. Clancy believes this phenomenon, which typically lasts about a minute, is behind most of her subjects narratives. Many share the same basic storyline: the person awakens in the dark with aliens moving around her and is transported to a spaceship, where she is subject to medical or sexual experiments. Abductees may be able to recall every detail or instead only "know" that it happened. In quests to make sense of the traumatic experience, they usually read up on abductions and seek therapists who will help them recover and understand their memories of the eventoften through hypnosis. Frequently they associate with fellow abductees, either in person or online. Clancy gained access to this faith-based community in the simplest possible way: she put an ad in the newspaper asking, "Have you been abducted by aliens?" She interviewed her subjects at length and gave those who volunteered various tests to reveal any mental health problems (only one person qualified) and how susceptible they were to false memories. The book explains how individuals can have memories of events that never occurred and describes the types of people who are more likely to become believers. In a nutshell, they are fantasy-prone and are often unhappy and trying to make sense of their lives. The abduction provides a touchstone. At the very end, and with obvious reluctance, Clancy concludes that abduction beliefs provide "the same things that millions of people the world over derive from their religions: meaning, reassurance, mystical revelation, spirituality, transformation."