Alien Abduction Believer Syndrome

 Research Article 


A new interpretation of the UFO Abduction Syndrome, defined in the 1992 Unusual Personal Experiences booklet, in the context of subsequent research, suggests that there is a syndrome associated with belief in alien abduction that may manifest in false memories, paranoid thoughts, fear, anxiety, and PTSD.  This report defines the Alien Abduction Believer Syndrome (AABS) and identifies its cause in two epistemological fallacies: the myth of repressed memory and the monophasic bias.  AABS appears to affect two populations: abductees, now termed experiencers, and those who integrate abductee testimony into their worldviews. It is estimated there are tens of thousands of abduction reports. 60% of the population believes in the myth of repressed memory and nearly 80% believe the government may cover-up signs of alien visitation.  While the original abduction researchers advocated for the disempowering reality of abduction trauma, this report argues for empowering reality that abduction events are both dreamlike and real, thereby advocating that the experiencer is capable of mediating their ET/NHI encounter phenomena for their benefit.  Additional resources and research for further inquiry is indicated. This document is crafted as a literary satire on Unusual Personal Experiences and should not be considered a clinical argument. 


While the claim that UFO abductions occur in the objective sense is extraordinary, the claim that belief in UFO abductions has objective impacts is not extraordinary because there are scientific studies that demonstrate the belief in alleged alien abduction narratives as trauma has similar effects as genuine trauma, e.g., PTSD, anxiety, and disassociation (McNally et al., 2004 and Latorre and Vellisca, 2022).  Efforts to inform mental health professionals about the reality of long-forgotten traumatic encounters with aliens may have, ironically, created the very harm they sought to alleviate.  This report argues that the UFO Abduction Syndrome (UAS), defined within the 1992 Unusual Personal Experiences (UPE) booklet, may be a harmful pseudoscience (Mack et al., 1992).  This report mirrors that booklet in its presentation of a syndrome definition, the Alien Abduction Believer Syndrome (AABS), which is defined as the harmful belief in traumatic alien abduction narratives.

Claims related to the UFO Abduction Syndrome were derived primarily from first-person testimony generated directly through hypnosis or indirectly through interaction with researchers.  In either case, the hypnotist or researcher acts as an interlocutor, generating objective testimony regarding arguably subjective events.  The process of interlocution to generate legal testimony regarding supernatural events has its historic roots in medieval witch-hunts, in which priests would use complex epistemologies to convict innocent people of demonic interactions (Laycock, 2012).  The generation of false memories of alien abduction primarily occurs through hypnosis, but may occur outside of hypnosis within the context of relationship with an interlocutor like a therapist (Lynne and Kirsch, 1996).

While many researchers have written on alien abduction as a hypnotic false memory and reject the phenomenon as worthy of scientific investigation, this report documents the observations that alien abduction narratives may have real-world consequences and may be a misapprehension of real-world, albeit dreamlike, events associated with ET/NHI encounter intuitions.  First, this report observes that the adoption of the UFO Abduction Syndrome as an identity through the integration of alien abduction false memories may produce psychophysiological symptoms akin to genuine trauma like PTSD (McNally et al., 2004 and Latorre and Vellisca, 2022).  Second, this report argues that the alien abduction phenomenon may be an exotic dream phenomenon similar to sleep paralysis (Blackmore, 1998; Raguda, 2020), with potentially strange physical manifestations like stigmata or apports (see Krippner, 1994), the study of which may have been obscured by the absurdities of the abduction narratives.  This document is informed by its authors books Missing Time Found (Rekshan, 2023), which presents the shamanic dreaming hypothesis of missing time, and Galethog the Grey’s Field Guide to Anomalous Geometry (Rekshan, 2024), which is an integral inquiry into the use of anomalous body marks as physical evidence for alien abduction.


The UFO Abduction Syndrome (UAS) defined abduction primarily in terms of negative emotions about dreams and concern regarding missing time (Mack et al., 1992).  The UAS authors suggested that emotional dreams regarding strange figures, medical procedures, and experiences of paralyzation are symptoms of the syndrome.  The authors defined 10 indicators of the syndrome, which both skeptical and credulous researchers critiqued as inconclusive for abduction (Pritchard et al., 1994; Stires and Klass, 1993) and likely indicator of sleep paralysis (Blackmore, 1998).  Researchers like Hopkins (1981), Bullard (1987), and Mack (1994) identified similar stages typical of abduction such as kidnap, medical examination, and prophetic messaging.  All researchers associated with UAS observed that belief in alien abduction narratives is not typically associated with psychopathy, which is an observation confirmed by subsequent researchers like Clancy (2005) and Appelle et al. (2014).

Belief in alien abduction narratives has been associated with fantasy proneness, suggestibility, and schizotypy by researchers.  Newman and Baumeister (1996) hypothesized that alien abduction narratives may be adopted for similar reasons as masochistic fantasy, pointing to the trait of fantasy proneness as explanatory.  Lynne and Kirsch (1996) argued that abduction memories may be adopted for complex reasons within the context of therapy, not just hypnosis and argued against the importance of fantasy proneness in the adoption of false memories while also noting its link to UFO narratives. Clancy et al. (2002) observed links between those reporting abduction with hypnotic suggestibility, depressive symptoms, and schizotypal features through false recognition and recall. McNally et al. (2004) reported that abductees scored higher than controls on absorption, dissociation, and magical ideation measures.

Belief in alien abduction narratives has also been associated with demonstrable psychophysiological effects.  McNally et al. (2004) found that the belief that one has had a traumatic abduction may produce similar psychophysiological effects as those produced by remembering trauma like combat.  Latorre and Vellisca (2022) surveyed a group of 19 abductees, observing that their emotional reaction to implausible experience is similar to a genuine traumatic event.  Further, if the underlying experience of alien abduction is dreamlike, then we may expect that attitudes towards the experience may predict subjective well being measures just like attitudes toward dreams (Selterman, 2016).  Therefore, one may argue that the consolidation of alien abduction false memories as trauma that informs a person’s identity may actually prevent well-being and cause PTSD.  

Epistemological Fallacies

It is natural for professionals to assume that alien abduction reports are either veridical testimonies or else false memories.  The phrase “too real to be a dream, yet too dreamlike to be real” expresses the paradox of abduction testimony, which may explain the polarized response of the scientific community to the UFO Abduction Syndrome.  The paradox may arise from a complex interaction of two epistemological fallacies.  First, the myth of repressed memory describes the fallacy that hypnosis or other therapy techniques may reliably recover repressed memories of long-forgotten trauma like alleged abduction events.  The myth was exposed by Ketcham and Loftus in their 1994 book and confirmed by Otgaar et al. in their 2019 review article.  Second, the monophasic bias, which unduly privileges the waking phase of consciousness as the only “real” phase, as opposed to sleeping, dreaming, and altered states of consciousness (Laughlin and Rock, 2014).  The monophasic bias is similar to Wilber’s quadrant absolutism (2000), which is a fallacy that gives undue privilege to subjective, objective, individual, or collective aspects of knowledge.

The statement “too real to be a dream” represents the monophasic bias, which suggests that the potent dream experiences causing abduction intuitions must be explained through waking-phase events, in turn establishing the expectation that a waking-phase historical event must have occurred that was subsequently forgotten.  The statement “too dreamlike to be real” represents the myth of repressed memories in that the testimony derived from hypnosis has fantastic and nonveridical aspects that skeptics rightly observe discredit such testimony as physical evidence.  Therefore, it is essential for skeptical researchers to become familiar with the monophasic bias and credulous researchers to become familiar with the myth of repressed memory.  If both fallacies are addressed in research, then the underlying phenomenon causing abduction reports may be directly studied.

AABS Sufferers

AABS has two typical sufferers: abductees and those who integrate their testimonies into their worldviews.  First and most obvious are those who believe they were abducted by aliens.  Most researchers suggest that inexplicable events like UAP sightings or intense and strange dreams inspire experiencers to seek explanations, which they typically seek through missing time regression therapy or alien abduction literature.  The abductees, now typically called experiencers, adopt their identities through the integration of recovered memories or worldviews involving alien abduction.  Some experiencers share their testimony of alien abduction to inform the public about the possibility of abduction and the efficacy of hypnotic regression.  All reported cases of alien abduction obviously involved both an experiencer and an interlocutor like a reporter or researcher.  Scholars of religion like Pasulka (2019) have noted the similarity of abduction testimonies with religious testimony including themes of conversion, visitation, dreams/visions, prophecies, and miraculous appearance of supernatural light.

While their testimonies are often supported with documentation and corroborated witnessing, they rarely present the physical evidence one would expect for a physical encounter. Given the examples of shared hallucination and dream-reality confusion, it would appear that the physical aspect of abduction is not supported by evidence or literature review.  Therefore, the adoption of the physical abduction hypothesis must be considered like a doctrine of faith within a religious community.  The resolution of abduction tales into inexplicable experiences interpreted through belief is aptly characterized by Clancy’s (2005) book title Abducted: How People Come to Believe They Were Kidnapped by Aliens.  This type of sufferer may be regarded as a first generation AABS victim, typically involving first person subjective perspectives.

The second type of AABS sufferers are those who integrate abductee testimonies into their worldviews but do not adopt the abductee identity themselves. Contemporary UAP crash retrieval and disclosure narratives may exemplify this second type of AABS sufferers.  The contemporary UAP disclosure narrative appears to be directly informed by alien abduction epistemologies.  Contemporary disclosure narratives are defined by two news articles.  First, a 2017 New York Times article (Cooper et al.) established UAPs as a legitimate subject of serious conversation. The article reported on the secret government UAP study with Bigelow Aerospace under the AATIP program.  Second, a 2023 Debrief article (Blumenthal and Kean) introduced Grusch, the so-called UFO Whistleblower who alleged under oath that the government has UAP craft and bodies in their secret possession.  

Both articles were written by Kean, a former lover and protege of abduction researcher Hopkins (Rainey, 2011), and Blumenthal, the biographer of abduction researcher Mack.  Further, claims made by Mack’s former lawyer, Sheehan, suggest that Sheehan directly influenced the drafting of the UAP Disclosure Act of 2023 and that he was unaware of the myth of repressed memory epistemological fallacy (see Jones, 2024).  Therefore, one may argue that all those impacted by contemporary UAP disclosure narratives suffer from AABS.  This type of sufferer may be regarded as a second generation AABS victim, typically involving third person cultural perspectives.

Both types of AABS sufferers integrate identities characterized by disempowerment and victimization caused by external mysterious others.  Abductees are victimized by space aliens who have control over their bodies and minds, as well as their memory.  Contemporary disclosure narratives assume that there is a hidden faction of the government that is actively controlling many aspects of society in order to keep ET/UFO narratives hidden, while using advanced technology reengineered from UAPs to maintain victimizing control over the public. 

Given that script-driven imagery of trauma causes similar psychophysiological effects as genuine trauma (McNally et al., 2004) and that attitudes about our dreams impact our wellbeing (Selterman, 2016), one could argue that the disempowering themes of alien abduction produce unnatural and undue harm.  The FREE Survey (Hernandez et al., 2018) observed that while some experiencers initially view their experience as negative, most experiencers of ET/NHI contact come to view their experiences as positive.  Therefore, the themes of victimization and disempowerment may be understood as a religious doctrine, not scientific observation, which may cause harm through its interpretation of natural experiences that may otherwise be neutral or positive.

A Typical History

It may be useful to discuss typical AABS history.  Most abduction researchers discuss typical histories from their unique perspectives.  For example, the credulous authors of Unusual Personal Experiences focused on dreams, memories, and trace evidence of abduction episodes, while skeptical researchers focus on the generation of false memory through hypnosis like Lynne and Kirsch (1996).  Rainey (2011) described several cases from Hopkins and Jacobs that clearly violated research ethics and integrity, which may be seen as extremely acute cases of AABS.  A typical experiencer’s history may have several phases: 1) anomalous experience, 2) seeking for explanation, 3) adoption of alien abduction belief systems, and 4) production of alien abduction testimony.  

While the typical history of a first generation AABS sufferer (an abductee or experiencer) is well documented, the typical history of a second generation AABS sufferer (a believer) is not well documented for at least two reasons.  First, the connection between early 1990s alien abduction research and UAP disclosure narratives is not yet well known (see Farley and Greenstreet, 2023).  Second, abduction narratives arose along with TV and internet technologies, which created an unprecedented situation.  AABS involves unconscious epistemological fallacies, therefore it is impossible to fully understand the phenomenon until retrospection occurs by which the fallacies become conscious.  Since UAP disclosure narratives are prevalent in media and government, it may be argued that our culture is as of yet unaware of the fallacies.  Therefore, the presentation of a typical history for the second generation or cultural sufferer of AABS will occur only after a period of collective retrospection. 

How widespread is the Alien Abduction Believer Syndrome?

There are several ways to estimate the prevalence of AABS.  First, one could count the number of published abduction tales in literature or reporting centers.  Appelle et al. (2014) observed that Bullard included 270 tales in his 1987 survey and found that the major abduction researchers in 1994 held over 1,700 case files.  A search of for the word “abduction”, which indexes all reports from major UFO reporting centers, yields around 3,900 total reports with around 1,000 in the last ten years.  Appelle et al. (2014) also noted that Streiber received over 55k letters in response to his book Communion before 1995.

Another way to estimate AABS prevalence would be to count membership in social groups related to abduction.  As of March 2024, the r/AlienAbduction subreddit has around 20k members, r/experiencers has around 50k, r/aliens has around 857k, and r/ufo has 2.8mil members. The Experiencer Group, which has an application and vetting process, has over 1k members.  Contact in the Desert is said to be the largest UFO conference, with around 3k attendees in 2019 (Rose, 2019) and in 2024 appears to have 70 presenters.

Polls and surveys provide another way to estimate prevalence of AABS.  The FREE Survey questioned around 4k experiencers (Hernandez et al., 2018). Unusual Personal Experiencers surveyed around 6k people, estimating that 2% of the population may suffer from UFO Abduction Syndrome. A National Geographic survey in 2012 found that around 10% of people reported seeing a UFO, that around 36% believe alien spacecraft have Earth, 77% believe there are signs of alien visitation on Earth, and 79% believe the government could hide signs of alien life (, 2012).  A repeated Gallup poll found in 2019 that 33% of people believe some UFOs are alien spacecraft, which increased 8 points to 41% in 2021 (Saad, 2024).


It is clear from the continued prevalence of abduction and UFO tales, along with the growing belief in the myth of repressed memory (Otgaar et at., 2019), that AABS may be an emerging and persistent syndrome within Western culture.  The Unusual Personal Experiences authors recommended hypnosis in the context of therapy, with special attention to not deny the reality of hypnotically induced recollections of long-forgotten trauma of space alien abduction and sexual violations.  If most alien abduction experiences may resolve into dreamlike phenomena, then it is unreasonable and unnecessary to make therapy recommendations.  Under the shamanic dreaming hypothesis of missing time (Rekshan, 2023), it is understood that every dreamer is universally capable to mediate their own dream encounters for their benefit, which is a principle of shamanic dreaming (Laughlin and Rock, 2014).  

If AABS is caused by the two epistemological fallacies of the myth of repressed memory and the monophasic bias, then it may be alleviated through research and education from perspectives that address these fallacies, namely integral theory and dream studies.  The alleviation of these fallacies may change our language, such as shifting the term “regression” to “dreamwork” and removing the metaphor of memory from hypnotic testimony. ET/NHI encounters may still be reported and hypnosis may still be used to provide insight and resolution to these experiences.  The shift of language and concepts may help the abductee integrate a view of themselves that is empowering, rather than disempowering.  The shift of language and epistemology may build trust between the public and the government because it would no longer necessitate a cover-up conspiracy to explain the live experience of ET/NHI contact and the surprising lack of physical evidence for it.  

More research on AABS is needed to make a clinical description or therapy recommendations.  This document is a literary emulation or satire of the UFO Abduction Syndrome article in the 1992 Unusual Personal Experiences booklet and does not constitute a clinical or therapeutic statement, although its references may be useful in such a statement. While some research associates belief in alien abduction narratives with the adoption of PTSD akin to memories of physical trauma, the degree of harm, if any, caused by AABS has not been estimated or measured.  Most research up to this point has assumed that alien abduction was either a dream or it was real, but not both.  If the shamanic dreaming hypothesis is accurate, then ET/NHI encounters may be both dreamlike and real, therefore may respond to both intention (see Barrett, 2001) and attitudes (Selterman, 2016).  The author (Rekshan, 2024b) has produced a proposal for a research institute that would produce an accredited dissertation on the subject and a program to engage mental health professionals regarding the dreamlike reality of ET/NHI encounters. Consequently, it may be expected that research and education regarding epistemological fallacies in alien abduction and UAP crash retrieval narratives may have a direct impact on the individual experience and cultural understanding of the phenomenon.

About the Author

DANIEL REKSHAN, MA, CHt, author.  Daniel Rekshan is a PhD student in Integral Noetic Sciences at the California Institute for Human Sciences.  He has a master’s degree in East-West Psychology from the California Institute for Integral Studies and is certified in the spiritual counseling modality of Depth Hypnosis.  He is the author of Missing Time Found, which presents the shamanic dreaming hypothesis of missing time, and Galethog the Grey’s Field Guide to Anomalous Geometry, which examines body marks as physical evidence for alien abduction.  He is an experiencer of many of the key indicators of the UFO Abduction Syndrome and is a survivor of Alien Abduction Believer Syndrome. He can be contacted by writing to


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