Venturing From Shadows Into Light
They claim to have been abducted by aliens. A Harvard research psychiatrist backs them. Now
'experiencers' want society's respect.
The Los Angeles Times; Los Angeles, Calif.; Sep 4, 2001; MICHAEL P. LUCAS;
(Copyright, The Times Mirror Company; Los Angeles Times 2001 All rights reserved)
Camille James sometimes wishes she were the average, everyday Beverly Hills expectant mom she
appears to be. At 35, she's youthful and attractive with a girlish mop of chestnut hair and a sweet, fragile smile.
She breezes through life as a caterer-schoolteacher- painter-magazine-writer-sometime actress and--as she says
she discovered in hypnotherapy five years ago--a space alien abductee.
Under hypnosis during treatment for anxiety, she said, she recovered memories of a night in December
1995 when she was "taken out of my room through the ceiling in a blue beam of light" and brought aboard a
UFO, where she saw "beings that were tall; they had white robes, big black eyes." She also recovered memories
of aliens removing a fetus she was carrying--a hybrid alien-human fetus.
Life has never been the same for James, who learned to cope with her situation, met others like her and
now is at the forefront of a movement to bring abductees--or experiencers, as they prefer to be called--into the
mainstream of society.
Although they're treated by popular culture like castoffs from "The X-Files" and regarded by medical
experts as sleep-disorder victims, experiencers are drawing on the work of a controversial but respected
psychiatrist to claim a new identity that would enable them to live openly and free of discrimination.
"All we want is to be treated like normal, intelligent adults," agreed Jill (who asked that her last name be
withheld), an experiencer who said she was fired from a job as a script supervisor after confiding in co-workers.
If all this sounds too wild, then it's time to consult a psychiatrist--and that would be Dr. John E. Mack, a
71-year-old professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, a researcher, Pulitzer Prize-winning author and
the guiding light of UFO believers, more than 1,000 of whom turned out last month to hear him at the Mutual
UFO Network, an annual symposium in Irvine.
Mack, who has evaluated hundreds of experiencers, says this group of people should be treated with
respect; he considers them akin to shamans or religious mystics. Except that the alien-abduction phenomenon,
he explained in an interview, is "like an outreach program from the cosmos." Experiencers can take comfort in
Mack's work--and also in data showing that they're not alone. A January 2000 nationwide poll by Yankelovich