1988 Psycho-Analysis of Whitley Strieber

Very surprising to find this, very close match with the psychological portrait which “The Prisoner of Infinity” is currently drawing of Whitley Strieber.

Abductions: The Boundary Deficit Hypothesis 1988

by Martin Kottmeyer

Strieber’s experiences resound with emotions of powerlessness. He speaks eloquently of the despair, extreme dread, crazed terror and panic inspired by his experience. The incident with the faecal probe is recognisably a pseudo-homosexual rape fantasy of the form discussed in Ovesey’s studies. (13) As the emotions prove, the incident has nothing to do with eroticism but everything to do with the expression of powerlessness. Psychiatrists would predict that Strieber was repressing resentment and hostility from having to be subordinate in an undesired social relationship. The incident with the mind wand — “You’ll ruin a beautiful mind” — is more interesting since it reflects the childhood fear of the dissolution of self. This was very much on Strieber’s mind at the time. We can see it in his story “Pain” where his narrator dreams of friendly tormentors with a high-powered rifle who he asks to hug him. The core of the narrator’s identity ebbs away and he suffers through the torture of the tearing down of his personality. (14) Strieber’s picture-drama of the world blowing up with horns of smoke streaking out from it similarly bespeaks the fear of dissolution, since world destructions commonly precede the onset of psychosis as the mind projects the internal catastrophe into the world at large. (15)

The evidence for thin boundaries in Strieber’s personality is highly convincing. Strieber’s curious assessment that he is “80% convinced” of the reality of his experiences immediately impresses one that his demarcation between reality and fantasy is rather fluid. Strieber’s memory is disturbingly fluid as revealed in his willingness to accept another person’s word that he wasn’t present at the historic bell-tower sniper incident at the University of Texas — an event he elsewhere discusses in gruesome detail. (16) The manner in which he strips away his memory of past anomalies and tosses them out as screen memory fictions covering alien encounters has an almost ghoulish self- mutilation quality like making his identity self-destruct before our eyes.

Strieber is an outsider. This is less indicated by his questioning of Catholic faith than by his seeking spiritual values in witchcraft, mysticism and Gurdjieff. Strieber’s wife volunteered the opinion that her husband has “a very unique head” and is openly distressed over the vulnerability he manifests at one point. Strieber confessed he contemplated suicide before contacting Budd Hopkins about his fears. Paranoid mentation is clearly evident in his book and has at times led to bizarre speculations. In a radio interview with Tom Snyder, Strieber wondered aloud if a gagster who was selling alien abduction insurance wasn’t a dishonest dupe of Cosmic Watergate because ridicule was a known MO of the UFO cover-up. (17) Strieber’s encounters with critics consistently show projective hostility and a thin character armour, probably best shown in his pre- emptive strike to Thomas Disch when he found he would be reviewing his book “Communion” for The Nation. Strieber’s success as a writer of horror fiction lastly clinches the argument that he is a boundary-deficit personality.

It is interesting to note, parenthetically, that Strieber also manifests a constellation of traits that object-relations theory explains as resulting from traumas early in childhood when the child is first developing the character armour during the phase of separation and individuation. Prominent among these traits are threats of inner fragmentation like those cited above; primitive emotional defences including paranoia and, most primitive of all, splitting; archaic narcissistic formations involving grandiosity; inability to integrate the hostile and living aspects of parental introjects; and a tendency to project hostility.

A couple of reviewers of “Communion” were quite confused as to how Strieber failed to be repelled by the prospect of communion with aliens who threatened his beautiful mind and caused such body terror as he described. The answer is found in the trait of splitting which allows the individual to hold contradictory emotional stances and not see the contradiction. Strieber never developed the higher forms of emotional defence found in those with thicker boundaries in adulthood. If Strieber has indeed suffered separation trauma as a child, it is apparent that is why communion is such a central concern to him. He never resolved the problem of separating his self from his parental object relations. The upshot of all these observations is that Strieber’s alien experiences form a unity with the issues of his unconscious. I am 0% convinced of the objective reality of his abduction. (18)

Full article.

8 thoughts on “1988 Psycho-Analysis of Whitley Strieber

  1. Wow. Almost identical to POI. It was published right near its release date as well. Brilliant.

    Is there any chance of you making a reach out to him for a possible podcast appearance?

  2. I second the Wow! The theme of this essay is very, very close to POI. An interview with the author would indeed be very revealing of more correlations. That being said…I still think your analysis is far more nuanced, more thoroughly explained and kinder to Strieber than this writer. I get the feeling he thinks of himself as “normal”, and seems judgemental of those with abduction experiences. Your exploration into the origin and true nature of infant/childhood trauma takes a reader to his conclusions on much firmer ground.

    The several paragraphs where he sets up the psychological factors leading to boundary dissolution and abduction experiences are interesting. He places it in the realm of schizophrenia, but the description mirrors that of autism as well in many respects. He must be old school psychology, because for decades autism was seen on the spectrum of schizophrenia disorders.

    He is looking from the outside in – your experience and writing is that of one experiencing similar things from the inside out. And you do it without judgment of what should be “normal”.

  3. As usual from the gut although i read the full article…..i do beleive the article writer brings a deal of skepticism to the ufo phenomena in general while i don`t think / beleive jason does ……as to the abductee part of his article i find very good although i do agree with debbie from the outside looking in and thus he is an out and out whitley that is liar /fantasy or both and/or a schizoid personality…………. whatever that be whitley has to be suspect…..yep jake it would great if we could get a dialogue going with martin ps to debbie sunmount10@yahoo.com http://www.sunmount.ca sabian symbols came into my life recently would apprciate recommened reading etc…..if you wish contact me at email website outdated.

  4. I added this paragraph to the post, missed it out before:

    Strieber’s experiences resound with emotions of powerlessness. He speaks eloquently of the despair, extreme dread, crazed terror and panic inspired by his experience. The incident with the faecal probe is recognisably a pseudo-homosexual rape fantasy of the form discussed in Ovesey’s studies. (13) As the emotions prove, the incident has nothing to do with eroticism but everything to do with the expression of powerlessness. Psychiatrists would predict that Strieber was repressing resentment and hostility from having to be subordinate in an undesired social relationship. The incident with the mind wand — “You’ll ruin a beautiful mind” — is more interesting since it reflects the childhood fear of the dissolution of self. This was very much on Strieber’s mind at the time. We can see it in his story “Pain” where his narrator dreams of friendly tormentors with a high-powered rifle who he asks to hug him. The core of the narrator’s identity ebbs away and he suffers through the torture of the tearing down of his personality. (14) Strieber’s picture-drama of the world blowing up with horns of smoke streaking out from it similarly bespeaks the fear of dissolution, since world destructions commonly precede the onset of psychosis as the mind projects the internal catastrophe into the world at large. (15)

  5. This kind of psychobabble clearly shows the limitations of psychiatry/psychoanalysis. You infer Strieber’s experience from his psychopathology, but how do you know the direction isnt actually the reverse – maybe the psychopathology resulted from the experience? In any case, not everybody with a psychopathology is abducted by aliens. Similarly, psychedelics may precipitate an altered state of consciousness but they cant explain it, any more than the electrochemistry of the brain can explain the phenomenon of consciousness.

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