The UFO As Trauma
“When trauma strikes the developing psyche of the child, a fragmentation of consciousness occurs in which the different ‘pieces’ (Jung called them splinter-psyches or complexes) organize themselves according to certain archaic and typical (archetypal) patterns, most commonly dyads or syzygies made up of personified ‘beings.’”
—Donald Kalsched, The Inner World of Trauma: Archetypal Defense Systems of the Personal Spirit
I have written about the connection between early trauma and alien abduction experiences in great depth elsewhere (for an on-going web-site project, “The Prisoner of Infinity,” at www.crucialfictions.com), so I will merely sum up briefly my position here before going on to qualify it. All that we know of the UFO and the alien—outside of any direct experiences we might have—come from stories, i.e., from accounts of eye witnesses and experiencers, some of whom have, I think beyond all doubt, experienced something. What they have experienced is unknown, but what we can be sure of is that they have perceived something and that they have then done their best (or at least made a cursory effort) to describe their perceptions accurately. These partial descriptions of unclear perceptions have then been collected, organized, and interpreted by researchers and, over time, been turned into hypotheses and, in most cases, articles of belief.
My own investigations lead me to the following hypothesis: it is not possible to separate the faculty of perception from the element of belief, because we not only develop beliefs based on our perceptions, but our perceptions are, likewise and to an unknown degree, limited, directed, and shaped by our beliefs. Both perception and belief develop in human beings at an early age, at a pre-rational stage of development. During this early stage of development, there is a primary experience of powerlessness and of the corresponding potential for trauma. There is also the inevitability of at least some degree of trauma informing our psychological development, limiting our abilities to perceive and giving rise to a certain set of beliefs. To an unknown degree, both our perceptions and our beliefs are shaped, then, to protect us from the full brunt of early trauma, and from being overwhelmed by a feeling of powerlessness.
The depth psychological view sees early trauma, and the resulting psychic fragmentation and dissociation, as at base of all our subsequent experiences, perceptions, and beliefs. This is most unmistakably evident in the way we encounter divine or transcendental realities, for the simple(?) reason that the way we deal with early trauma is via dissociation, by calling upon and/or withdrawing into the realm of phantasy. Through phantasy, the greater, more transcendental part of the psyche intervenes and rescues us from intolerable reality by “abducting” us into its realm. This is not an unreal realm (the psyche is real), but it is a dissociated one. An experience of the psyche that isn’t grounded in the body cannot become fully real, because it will always be diluted, or polluted, by the defensive fictions that have arisen to keep the trauma out of our awareness. This is what I have termed “crucial fiction,” and while I extend such fictions to every aspect of our existence (starting and ending with the ego itself), once again, I think the UFO is a perfect opportunity to map the ways in which such fictions are created and made “crucial,” i.e., become articles of faith, fanaticism, irrational conviction, and out-and-out obsession.
What I discovered in the writing and dialogues for “The Prisoner of infinity,” and which I hope is being communicated to at least some of its reader and listeners, is how the experiences of Strieber (and by extension other abductees), whether phantasy, reality or some little understood combination of the two (the model I lean towards), are filled with very clear “symbolic” elements. These symbolic elements point towards early childhood trauma (which may be universal) which the psyche is attempting to address and integrate through psychic re-enactments. This requires re-experiencing trauma in an unconscious attempt to make conscious the original experience. If psychology is sufficiently accurate about this, then early trauma is the basis, the driving factor, not merely behind UFO encounters but all human history and experience, at least until that early trauma is made conscious and can be integrated.
The purpose of the UFO experience, then, like all other traumatic/transcendental encounters, is a re-experiencing of trauma to bring about healing in a conscious, contained fashion. This can be compared to the many types of initiation through trauma found in shamanic traditions, and even in Masonic and other western forms. However, it’s essential to point out that it is not the trauma per se that allows for integration, but the erasing or dissolving of previous “traumata” trapped in the body, by way of the “traumatic reenactment.” If this subtle distinction is missed, new trauma is caused, and what occurs is merely a new layer of conditioning to override the old, which is likely only to bury it still deeper in the unconscious. This can appear to be effective, however, because experiencing a new trauma will sometimes re-activate the dissociative mechanism developed in childhood to escape the original trauma. The person may then have a “transcendental experience,” but if so, the danger is that it will take them further from embodiment and not closer to it.
I have come to see Strieber as a clear example of this in the way that his later trauma at the hands of human agencies and/or “the visitors” can be mapped onto (and feeds into) his earlier Catholic conditioning. (And many of Strieber’s experiences, both early and later, entail out of body journeys, which seems to mirror the early experience of dissociation.) In the case of many other abductees also, I would suggest there’s more evidence for the experience being unbalancing and deranging than “initiatory.” It may activate “psychic potential,” as many experiencers report, but activating psychic potential, also from what I’ve seen, is as often as not deranging, rather than conducive to a person’s psychic wholeness or embodiment.
It’s here that the alien abduction lore overlaps with that of the infamous intelligence programs such as MK-ULTRA, which often entail, or at least hint at, the conditioning-via-abuse of children (which Strieber also believes he was subjected to). The evidence would suggest that such programs are aimed at tapping into the psychological survival mechanism of dissociation, by which the psyche summons “daimonic complexes” from “the Beyond” (the deeper unconscious) to bring about some kind of healing intervention for the child. If so, it may be that Strieber, along with thousands of others similarly interfered with (and not necessarily by government), has unwittingly summoned his own “visitor” phenomena, one which is both highly personal and, paradoxically, universal—since the human psyche reacts to trauma in more or less the same way every time.
The danger in this is obvious. People who have suffered such early fragmentation, by whatever outside agencies (I include myself in this camp), who are then exposed to the alien abduction literature are likely to reframe their trauma within this new context, as a way to re-experience it “safely.” As a result, the phenomena will then, over the generations, become “viral” and, as already suggested, generate its own proofs.
This may all be part of the larger plan, and it’s certainly worth looking into for anyone who wants to get to the bottom of the UFO bottle. But what’s more interesting to me, at this stage in my life, is how all of this can be seen to demonstrate the way the psyche works.
Because if the UFO is evidence not of outer but inner space, then the psyche, not quite literally perhaps but very nearly, becomes the creator and destroyer of worlds.
 If abductees on the whole seem closer to what we’ve seen or heard about victims of mind control than shamanic initiates, the “aliens” must be deduced to be closer to CIA agents than to shamans or “spiritually evolved” beings.