Mack's credentials are impressive; he's a Pulitzer Prize winner and professor of psychiatry at the Harvard Medical School's Cambridge Hospital. He has investigated 76 UFO abduction cases over the past four years and here summarizes 13 of them, also offering his scholarly comments and controversial conclusions. These narratives involve scenarios that are sexually explicit, terrifyingly gruesome, and mind-numbingly chilling in their implications for the nature of reality. The individuals Mack portrays have experienced deeply traumatic events that have transformed their lives--for the worse at first, but ultimately for the better. According to Mack, the aliens are objectively real and seem to be abducting people for two purposes: (1) changing human consciousness to prevent the destruction of Earth's ecosystems and (2) creating offsping from aliens and humans. What sets Mack's book apart is his willingness to deal with some of his clients' assertions that they themselves are half-human and half-alien, at least psychologically or spiritually; his acceptance that the laws of physics can be broken (many abductees claim that the aliens can "float" them through solid objects such as doors and closed windows); his seemingly routine procedure to hypnotically regress abductees into previous incarnations; and his emphasis on spiritual transformation as the nexus of the abduction (even likening it to a shamanic expansion of consciousness). How much you agree with all this may depend on where you're coming from to begin with. Nonetheless, Mack has shown the psychiatric community that the UFO abduction syndrome is a real problem that deserves serious clinical attention. George Eberhart
From Kirkus Reviews
Mack (Psychiatry/Harvard Med.) won a Pulitzer Prize for his life of T.E. Lawrence (A Prince of Our Disorder, 1976); more recently he teamed with Rita S. Rogers for the superb The Alchemy of Survival (1988). Here he tackles a subject that pushes the very boundaries of rational discourse: the case histories of patients who claim to have been abducted by aliens. Mack has been working with abduction ``experiencers'' since early in 1990 and has interviewed over 100 people of various ages and backgrounds, most of whom show no obvious signs of mental illness. The bulk of the book consists of the narratives of 13 subjects told in almost stupefying detail. Their stories have many features in common: the physical descriptions of the aliens (most frequently, short, gray beings with pear-shaped heads and large, dark eyes); intrusive quasi-medical procedures aboard alien ships; and the ``message'' that the aliens are deeply concerned about the future of the Earth. These people are, quite understandably, deeply unsettled by their abductions and often come to Mack for assurance that there is some rational explanation for what has happened to them. Unfortunately, Mack cannot offer them anything beyond assurance that their situation is not unique. He recognizes that, if taken at face value, these accounts call into question basic premises of Western science. Yet as a psychiatrist, he has little choice but to accept that their stories reflect some kind of psychological reality, arguing that strict rationalism needs to make room for his patients' experiences. Abduction leaves the reader with very little solid ground to stand on. In the end, despite Mack's impressive credentials and his sophisticated interpretation of the abduction phenomenon, he leaves a reader still reluctant to discard several centuries of accumulated knowledge in order to accomodate a persuasive psychological--if not an objective--truth. (8 pages of photos-- not seen) -- Copyright ©1994, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.