The alien, the ghost and our consciousness

20th September 2020. Reading Time: 10 minutes General, Paranormal Theories. 1485 page views. 0 comments.

What is the connection between alien abduction and ghostly encounters both on a psychological level and on a consciousness level? When you compare experiences involving sleep paralysis and hypnotic regression revealing experiences, one has to consider, are accounts of alien abduction and ghostly encounters one and the same?

People tend to associate an alien abduction with a person being 'beamed' up into a craft where their body is subjected to physical testing, well at least that is what movies tell us.  An encounter with a ghost of spirit is quite often a feeling and a sighting and maybe an object moving, again this what television and movies have taught us.  Both are portrayed as something negative and something to be feared.  Because they are so sensationalized in this format, does this mean when someone comes forward with a report of an experience that we tend to think it didn't happen?  Before we do go a little deeper, I think it is important to approach a person's claims about alien abduction the same way you would with someone who says they have seen a ghost.  For some reason, a lot of people within the paranormal field will openly welcome the idea of spirits and ghosts but scoff at the idea of alien encounters and vice versa.  I find this quite puzzling as what makes one more plausible than the other?  There is evidence to suggest both could be possible yet nothing concrete to prove the existence of either.  What you are left with is the human experience.  You are taking the word of a person.  How valid is a person's word?  This is not to say that a person has not experienced as the experience is indeed very real to them.  Maybe it really happened?  Maybe it was a perception?  While we cannot prove that it did happen, we also cannot prove that it didn't.  We can only speculate either way.  What should be explored however is the common connections between both ghostly and alien encounters as there are a lot of similarities to consider.  Maybe the key to both is within our consciousness?  What if in the case of an alien abduction it is just a person's consciousness that is abducted?  What if in the case of haunting it is a projection of our own consciousness?

Common psychological traits that are associated with alien abduction

According to psychology today, there are 5 common psychological traits that are commonly associated with alien abduction.  When I look through the below list, I would argue that these are not exclusive to alien abduction, they are also commonly associated with reported experiences with a ghost or spirit as well.

1. Regularly experiencing sleep paralysis and hallucinations when awakening: Many people who have reported alien abduction suffer episodes of early morning sleep paralysis. On awakening from this paralysis, their terror gives rise to hallucinations of flashing lights and buzzing sounds. Some experience feelings of ‘floating’ around the room or seeing figures in the room. While many people interpret these post-sleep paralysis experiences as dreaming, some people interpret these experiences as seeing figures, ghosts, or aliens.

2. A tendency to recall false memories: In an elegant set of experimental studies, McNally and colleagues found that individuals who claimed to have been abducted by aliens were prone to what is known as “false memory syndrome." That is, 'alien abductees' regularly claimed to recall words, items, sentences, etc. in memory tests that they had never actually seen before. If this “false memory” effect can be generalized to autobiographical memories, then individuals who claim to have been abducted by aliens would be twice as likely to “falsely remember” things that had never happened to them than would non-abductees.

3. High levels of “absorption”: Alien abductees also score significantly higher than most people on the mental characteristic known as absorption. This is a trait related to fantasy proneness, vivid imagery, and susceptibility to hypnosis and suggestion. Because of this, it is probably not surprising that many alien abductees recall their experiences under hypnosis, where memories of abduction can be induced through suggestibility—especially if the person leading the hypnosis session asks particularly leading questions about abduction.

4. New Age beliefs: Being whisked up into spaceships by tractor beams or light sources is not something that happens every day—nor is it something that is easily explainable within our existing knowledge of physics. Similarly, being subjected to imaginative medical procedures requires a tendency to accept unusual and non-mainstream ideas. This is also a trait possessed by alien abductees. They score highly on measures of magical ideation and endorse New Age ideas that encompass beliefs about alternative medicines and healing, astrology, and fortune telling. Such beliefs would certainly allow the individual to accept things happening to them that would be dismissed by existing scientific knowledge.

5. Familiarity with the cultural narrative of alien abduction: As a cultural phenomenon, alien abduction has entered folklore and the images and descriptions of aliens and their spacecraft have become familiar to many people. Alien abductees tend to be very familiar with this cultural narrative which is one possible reason why their descriptions of aliens and their spaceships are so similar—being fueled as they are by sci-fi films and numerous books about aliens and alien abduction.

If we break it down and compare it to an experience people report having with a ghost or spirit, there are a large number of similarities.

Sleep Paralysis

While many people who suffer from sleep paralysis (a common parasomnia) report seeing the flashing lights and because they are paralyzed feel like they may be in an alien craft or experiencing an abduction, many people also associate this with a negative experience with a ghost or even a demon.  The common trait in both experiences is often seeing a large skinny shadow figure at the foot of the bed.  Some perceive this to be an alien.  Some perceive this to be a shadow person.  Is what a person sees in these circumstances based on their beliefs and interests?  

False memories

We know that the most unreliable thing about the paranormal is ourselves.  Our ability to recall things accurately is quite flawed.  We exaggerate things or sometimes even remember something that didn't happen to us at all.  It becomes problematic when we are asked to recall a paranormal encounter.  Often people will go under hypnosis to recall information be it an experience with a ghost or an experience with alien abduction.  How accurately can we rely on what is called 'regressed memories'?  Studies indicate that just the words used in a question asked can cause a person to remember an event differently and that it is even possible to implant a memory of something that didn't happen.  The way we ask a question or coach a person to remember an event can influence the way the memory recalled takes shape.  The study Construction Rich False Memories of Committing Crime  found:

With suggestive memory-retrieval techniques, participants were induced to generate criminal and noncriminal emotional false memories, and we compared these false memories with true memories of emotional events. After three interviews, 70% of participants were classified as having false memories of committing a crime (theft, assault, or assault with a weapon) that led to police contact in early adolescence and volunteered a detailed false account.

Familiarity with the cultural narrative

Whether it is an alien abduction or a ghostly encounter, usually the person involved has some sort of knowledge or interest in the area.  Many people who report alien abductions are people with an interest in ufology.  It could just be someone that likes Sci-Fi movies through to someone that researches it in depth.  The same can be said about those interested in ghosts and spirits.  Maybe they just like scary movies or maybe they actively go out there looking for it.  Once a seed is planted, it doesn't take much for it to grow.  When we go back to the beginning of this article where we talked about the way these areas are portrayed in movies and television, a lot of things people report mirror a lot of the things shown on these platforms.  When we look at ghost hunting as a specific example, a lot of people learn what they know from reality paranormal television shows.  It means someone who is even a casual viewer of the X Files or Ghost Adventures has a familiarity with the cultural narrative.  This can influence how they perceive what are sometimes normal events.  

The above doesn't however account for the reverse situation.  There are many in the paranormal field who started their search for answers because they randomly had an experience with an alien abduction, ufo sighting, or visit from a spirit that spurred their interest in the paranormal.  It is often from quite a young age.  While we have looked at the psychological side which must always be considered when looking into any claim, what if a person really did see a spirit or ghost?  What if they really were abducted?  These things could be possible, but we often connect them to what television and movies tell us a haunting or abduction should look like and therefore automatically discount it.  What if it happened, but it just doesn't look the way we expect it to?  What if it all has to do with our consciousness?

What about our consciousness?

It is hard to say what our consciousness is really capable of.  Does it live on after we die?  Can it communicate with another consciousness telepathically?  We seem to think so.  Parapsychology for decades has been testing the abilities of everyday people and if they are capable of projecting or gaining knowledge using telepathic means.  Psychic mediums claim they can receive messages from spirits on a telepathic level.  There are some mediums who claim they can communicate with higher beings or for a better word aliens on a telepathic level as well.  In Alien lore if you want to call it, Aliens are said to not speak, they are said to communicate telepathically.  Are we noticing a bit of a trend here?  How do you know when you are on a paranormal investigation and you are communicating with something that it is a ghost?  How do you know it isn't an alien or some kind of higher being?  While many people may scoff at the idea, why is one more possible than the other?  Some people even believe that aliens are in fact us but many centuries in the future where we have truly evolved.  What happens to our consciousness when we go to sleep?  Many paranormal claims both with aliens and ghosts occur when people are sleeping.  Is this another connection?

When it comes to alien abduction, why do they need to beam a person up to a space ship?  Is this just what television tells us?  What if it is something happens on a telepathic level involving our consciousness?  What if a ghost is not a person who was once living but is in fact the consciousness of a person who is still very much alive?  Maybe time is not what we think it is?  Many physicists argue that time doesn't exist and that it is an illusion made up of human memories.  They claim that everything that has ever been and ever will be is all happening now.  Think about that for a moment!

While this is all a bit confusing, I promise there is a point.  We often are telling people that they need to be more open-minded when it comes to accepting claims about ghosts or aliens.  People tend to be quite loyal to one area of research.  While this is a generalization, you will find that most people in the paranormal field stick to a certain area be it ghosts or aliens, or even cryptozoology.  They don't often actively search for it all as a whole.  Maybe that is why we haven't got any real answers yet?  Maybe we are not looking at things broadly enough?  Is there a lot more we should be considering?  Are we the ones who are being too close-minded?

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