- This proposal of a new and emerging syndrome will attempt
to define the cluster of symptoms and behaviors that develop in some individuals
in response to the alien abduction phenomenon.
- Post Abduction Syndrome (PAS) (Westrum, 1986) is an anxiety
disorder that is closely related to Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (APA,
1994). It is characterized by the reexperiencing of abduction related
memories, fragments, or distortions of those memories and is accompanied
by symptoms of increased anxiety and by avoidance of stimuli related to
abduction memories or abduction related events. The affected person may
experience levels of anxiety that interfere with functioning in personal,
occupational, or social areas.
- Diagnostic Features
- The requisite feature of Post Abduction Syndrome is the
development of distinctive symptomatology in relation to the experience
of the alien abduction phenomenon which is often ongoing in contrast to
Posttraumatic Stress Disorder or Acute Stress Disorder (APA, 1994) where
the stressor is usually a discrete and time limited occurrence that is
not repeated in the individual's lifetime. PAS in most instances is the
result of the sense or memory of being taken away by force or without consent
by extraterrestrial or inter-dimensional entities and the associated physically
intrusive or invasive procedures by these alleged entities. The Abductee
will have a perceived fear of actual or threatened death, serious injury
(APA, 1994), threat to their physical integrity. They may witness the abduction
of another person, may learn about or have close association with the abduction
experiences of a family member or other closely associated person. The
person's response to the events must involve intense fear, helplessness,
or horror (APA, 1994). In a child or adult with underdeveloped personality
structure, the response may manifest as disorganized or agitated behaviors.
- Characteristic Symptoms
- Persistent reexperiencing of the traumatic event characterized
by flashbacks (APA, 1994)
- Persistent avoidance of stimuli associated with the trauma
- Denial of the event
- Labeling the event something else-"blackout",
being lost, etc.
- Phobic avoidance of areas or situations where contact
- Refraining from sleep at the time contact occurred-sleeping
in the daytime
- Emotional reaction to literature, pictures, or videos
about alien entities e.g. turning over books with a picture of an alien
or UFO which may include avoiding them. (Bryant, 1991)
- Numbing of emotions and responsiveness characterized
by inability to feel intimacy, pleasure, or to express emotions-emotional
anesthesia. (APA, 1994, Bryant,1991)
- Diminished interest or less participation in previously
enjoyed activities. (APA, 1994)
- May have a sense of foreshortened future -no expectation
of normal life events or normal life span. (APA, 1994)
- May fear abduction with no return or lengthy abduction.
- Anxiety symptoms that persist-hypervigilance, exaggerated
startle response, irritability, and panic attacks (APA, 1994)
- Note: PAS differs from PTSD in that as the abductions
may have occurred since early childhood it is difficult to determine precisely
when the trauma began as in PTSD where [in which]? there is a discrete
and identifiable traumatic event.
- Anxiety symptoms include but are not limited to:(APA,
- Sleep disturbances -- difficulty falling or staying asleep
Hyper vigilance Exaggerated startle response Sleepwalking Vivid nightmares
Panic attacks Alien phobia Restlessness Worry and rumination Difficulty
- Duration of the symptoms is longer than one month
- Specifiers-The specifiers may be used to specify the
onset and duration(APA, 1994).
- Acute: This specifier should be used when the symptoms
are present for less than three months.
- Chronic: This specifier should be used when the symptoms
last three months or longer.
- Delayed Onset: This specifier would indicate thatat least
six months have passed between the traumatic event and the onset of remembered
- Associated Features and Disorders
- In contrast to Posttraumatic Stress Disorder where survivor
guilt may be present, there may be guilt at being different, or of contributing
to the factors that cause the abductions to occur either to the subject
or to family members.
- The following manifestations of PAS may present:
- Reluctance to enter into relationships
- Phobic avoidance of situations that remind the person
of abduction such as: elevators, escalators, doctor's offices, physician's
procedures (many women avoid gynecological exams or become extremely anxious
when gynecological procedures are performed), dentist's chairs and procedures.
- Persons with PAS may engage in avoidance of medical care
to the detriment of their health.
- Avoidance of pictures and or books about UFOs and aliens
- Marital or relationship problems such as: guilt at the
possible involvement of their partner feelings of anger and resentment
by partner regarding the sexual/gynecological aspects of abduction and/or
feelings of guilt by partner related to inability to protect the abductee.
- Parents may experience guilt and anger at the possible
involvement of their children or grandchildren.
- Occupational difficulties-may have loss of job due to
constant obsession with remembered abductions activity and level of PAS
symptomatology. (conversation, Jacobs, 1999)
- Self destructive and impulsive behaviors Social withdrawal
Personality changes Panic disorders Agoraphobia Obsessive-compulsive Disorder
or repetitive behaviors or rituals Depression Somatization Disorder Substance
Abuse/Dependence-in an effort to self medicate to reduce anxiety or sleep
which may start at an early age Constant searching for answers to questions
they may not be able to voice(conversation, Jacobs, 1999) Abductees may
feel some part of their psyche is alienated from itself due to inaccessibility
of memory of abduction experiences or partial or distorted memory of abduction.
- Some remedies abductees may employ are:
- Joining fundamentalist religious groups (Bryant, 1991)
New Age spiritual groups Self-help programs Altered states therapies Repeatedly
returning to areas where abductions occurred (Bryant, 1991) The person
may develop an obsessive interest in aliens and UFOs. (Bryant, 1991) The
person may seek help from the psychotherapeutic community only to be labeled
as mentally ill. (Jacobs, 1992).
- Evaluation of PAS
- Suggested laboratory tests(APA, 1994) Serum glucose,
calcium, phosphate levels, thyroid studies and electrocardiogram Urinary
catecholamine levels may help exclude other disorders Urine drug screen
may be useful
- Examination Findings
- Insomnia, trembling, muscle aches and soreness, muscle
twitches, clammy hands, dry mouth, generalized tachycardia and subjective
sense of palpitations, dizziness, hyperventilation or difficulty breathing,
urinary frequency, dysphagia, abdominal pain, diarrhea, possible hypertension,
in females gynecological problems, possible positive pregnancy tests with
unexplainable missing fetuses, unexplainable appearance of strange lesions,
scars, bruises, or burns (especially genital) (conversation, Jacobs, 1999),
abdominal tenderness, abdominal adhesions, malposition of ovaries, joint
or back pain without memory of physical injury, sinus problems, and possible
- Specific Culture and Age Features
- Young children may vividly recall monsters who come into
their bedroom at night. Children, adolescents, and adults may develop
fear of going to bed at night and fear sleeping in their own bedroom. (conversation,
- Children might express their abduction experiences in
their art work or style of play. (Bryant, 1991). Children also might express
the fear that they might be taken away from their parents by the aliens.
There exists also the real possibility the children could be taken from
their parents by social service agencies if parents openly divulge their
own abduction experiences. Often children report that they have been told
by the aliens that the aliens are their real parents. (This has been frequently
reported by children and adults reexperiencing childhood memories and in
fact may be a ploy to gain the child's cooperation as children of a young
age are more difficult for the aliens to control.) (conversation, Jacobs,
1999). Children might harbor the belief that they will not grow up to
be adults. Children might also be exposed to witnessing the abduction of
their parents generating feelings of shock, intense fear, and anger that
their parents are unable to protect them. They may also harbor the belief
that they in some way caused their parents or siblings to be abducted.
Children may grow up with a strong sense that they do not belong there
and that the earth is not their "real" home, or that one or both
of their parents are not biologically related to them. (conversation,
- It would be difficult to assess cultural variables as
this phenomenon has not been studied in mainstream psychology and in the
Western World persons who report their abduction activity are usually regarded
as having psychopathology (Jacobs, 1992). [For] [In the case of omit?]
indigenous peoples, abduction reports are regarded as a sign of contact
with the spirit world or magical phenomena.
- PAS may occur at any age and the length of the disorder
may vary from three to six months to several years. The frequency of abductions
and the variable of conscious memory of abductions may influence severity
and resolution. The disorder can develop and often does in the absence
of other psychopathology.
- Reduction of anxiety and treatment of depression are
primary considerations. In those individuals for whom denial is not essential
for the maintenance of a functional lifestyle restoration of memory may
lead to normalization of their lifestyle.
- Hypnotic regression must be approached with great caution
utilizing appropriate screening and with an attempt to minimize confabulation
(Jacobs,1992). Currently hypnotic regression with a competent hypnotist/therapist/researcher
is the method of choice (conversation, Jacobs, 1999).
- A support system is an essential factor in the resolution
- Individuals with frequent and intense abduction activity
may approach normalization, however when activity is intense symptoms of
PAS may increase (Jacobs, 1992).
- An important factor is sleep. Sleep disorders are a common
occurrence in the abductee population caused by sleep phobia and very active
abduction activity. Sleep deprivation when prolonged can result in decreased
serotonin levels predisposing the person to clinical depression and compromise
of the immune system (conversation, Jacobs, 1999).
- Most abductees are unaware of their abductions and those
with partial awareness regard their experiences as spiritual or occult
phenomena. In the population of abductees that are aware of or suspect
that abductions are occurring, some will regard their experiences as spiritual
events and another portion of abductees will view their experiences as
traumatic and a portion of those will develop clinical symptoms of PAS.
- American Psychiatric Association. Diagnostic and Statistical
Manual of Mental Disorders. Fourth Edition, Washington, D.C.: American
Psychiatric Association, 1994.
- Posttraumatic Stress Disorders: A Handbook For Clinicians.
Edited by Tom Williams Psy.D. Cincinnati: Disabled American Veterans, 1987.
- Healing Shattered Reality: Understanding Contactee Trauma.
Alice Bryant and Linda Seebach, M.S.W. Tigard, OR: Wildflower Press, 1991.
- Secret Life: Firsthand Accounts of UFO Abductions. David
M. Jacobs, Ph.D. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1992.
- The Threat. David M. Jacobs Ph.D. New York: Simon &
- " Rose Hargrove
- SIGHTINGS HOMEPAGE
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