The Objective Reality of the Subject (Psyche)
“Subjective conscious mind is an analog of what is called the real world. It is built up with a vocabulary or lexical field whose terms are all metaphors or analogs of behavior in the physical world. Its reality is of the same order as mathematics. . . . Like mathematics, it is an operator rather than a thing or repository. . . . If consciousness is this invention of an analog world even as the world of mathematics parallels the world of quantities of things, what then can we say about its origin? Consciousness comes after language! The implications of such a position are extremely serious. . . . In reality, consciousness has no location whatever except as we imagine it has.”
—Julian Jaynes, The Origin Of Consciousness In The Breakdown Of The Bicameral Mind
If I present the idea that the only way to be objective about the UFO (or anything else) is to approach it subjectively, then this idea also must be taken as a “belief” of the author, one that can only ever have subjective meaning or reality. So then, what’s my point? Only this: when approaching any subject at all, we need to be consciously creative, in order to avoid unconsciously fabricating. The first idea that must be sacrificed to this approach is the idea of “pure objectivity.” Trying to figure out if there’s a sound in an empty forest when a tree falls is the great McGuffin of philosophy, quantum mechanics, and the UFO. It keeps the plot moving forward—until you realize that anything else would do the same job. At which point, the mechanics fall down completely.
My present approach is case specific, and the idea of case-specificity is central to my argument: there is no such phenomenon as “alien abduction,” any more than there is such a thing as “schizophrenia,” “autism,” murder, rape, birth or death, in any general or universally agreed on sense, because every case is unique—as unique as the human psyche. The goal of objectivity then is at odds with and adverse to the nature of the phenomena itself.
My “Crucial Fictions” thesis is not that understanding the psychology of trauma can explain away the UFO and other paranormal phenomena, but that it can, and indeed does, make a great deal of sense of them. Firstly, it allows us to see them as experiences that arise out of an unconscious “dialogue” between the psyche and the body; and secondly, it opens up the question of a more far-reaching interaction between the psyche and external reality, including the hidden, so-called “psychic” aspects of reality.
Rightly understood, psychology (observation of the psyche) must encompass all human experience, at least up to total enlightenment or the discovery of absolute reality, free from psychic projections. If psychology has any value at all, it can’t be separated from any of the other, lesser disciplines, because the one thing we always bring to the table is our psyche. It’s the instrument of study which we are always studying, whether we like it, or know it, or not.
Returning to Jung:
He who would fathom the psyche must not confuse it with consciousness, else he veils from his own sight the object he wishes to explore. On the contrary, to recognize the psyche, even, he must learn to see how it differs from consciousness. It is highly probable that what we call illusion is actual for the psyche: for which reason we cannot take psychic actuality to be commensurable with conscious actuality.
Experiencers often complain, quite rightly, that their experience is being marginalized out of existence by skeptics. But that’s nothing compared to what’s being done to the psyche. It might be argued that the psyche is every bit as ephemeral or elusive as the UFO; to some extent that’s true—but only to the extent that we are not directing our attention to it. In recent times the institution of psychiatry and the prevalence of medications to treat psychological problems has gone hand in hand with a steady reduction of interest or awareness as to the question of the psyche. Ironically enough, the psyche is now in a similar position to the UFO, that of being roundly “debunked,” not only by science but by almost every other field as well. Even psychology has largely turned its back on it!
I think this has to do with the common mistake of equating psyche with mind, and the view that the mind is merely a by-product of the body and therefore can be treated as a chemical imbalance. This may be true of the mind but it is not true of the psyche, because the psyche corresponds not with the conscious mind but the unconscious or total self, which is equivalent to the idea of the soul—an idea which science has even less time for. Yet even those who believe in the soul have a tendency to overlook the unconscious—the nature of which, after all, is that it is overlooked.
My impression (especially since I began trying to communicate these ideas) is that ufology (among other fields) fears and resents psychology because it thinks it will be used to “explain away” the data. Of course it can be used this way, or rather misused, just as psychology can be misused to plunder someone’s nervous system with drugs and other technology. But it can also be used, more wisely, to deepen our understanding of what is happening, and maybe even to crack the code of the UFO. Properly applied, psychology won’t bring about the end of Ufology but a new departure point. This is the departure point put forward, as far back as 1959, by Jung in Flying Saucers: that, as a living archetype, the UFO speaks the language not of the mind but of the soul. If the UFO is trying to communicate with us, then its message is not coming from outer space but from inner space, from the realm of the psyche. The only way to understand the UFO, then, is to learn the language of the unconscious, a language not of words, or even concepts, but of symbols. More baffling still, this language is one that is particular to each individual psyche, and which can only be learned by entering into a fully subjective relationship with what we are studying—the psyche first, and only secondly the UFO.
Ufologists and experiencers can assign all the objective reality they like to UFOs and aliens, but our experience of them is still going to be subjective and it’s naïve to suggest otherwise. (Or rather, it’s only possible by ignoring the reality of the unconscious.) We don’t even experience our spouses or children as they actually are, how much less so an entity that belongs to a separate order of existence and that may not even have fixed physical form?! In General Aspects of Dream Psychology, C. G. Jung clearly describes the mechanism of projection:
Just as we tend to assume that the world is as we see it, we naïvely suppose that people are as we imagine them to be. . . . All the contents of our unconscious are constantly being projected into our surroundings, and it is only by recognizing certain properties of the objects as projections or imagos that we are able to distinguish them from the real properties of the objects. . . . Unless we are possessed of an unusual degree of self-awareness we shall never see through our projections but must always succumb to them, because the mind in its natural state presupposes the existence of such projections. It is the natural and given thing for unconscious contents to be projected.
While a Ufologist might assume my approach to be reducing his or her field to something less real, I would argue the reverse. By giving the psyche its due as the primary, maybe even the sole, creative force in our experience—not counting God, of course—we are granting to the UFO a far more vital role than that of a mere nuts-and-bolts “miracle.”
The argument rests, not on whether one believes in the objective reality of alien abduction or not, but on whether one is aware of the reality and potency of the psyche. If I am questioning the objective reality of UFOs, I am also questioning the objective reality of everything. The UFO is a good place to start, however, because almost everyone agrees that it can’t be pinned down to an “object” (flying or otherwise). That unknowing generates a quasi-religious frenzy of belief and disbelief around it, and so the question of whether what we are perceiving is objectively real or not has progressed from being a merely philosophical one to one of practical urgency and social import. Because belief not only moves mountains—it builds and destroys empires.
The problem we are faced with when we enter into the realms of the paranormal is the literal-mindedness that insists that, for something to be real, it has to have concrete objective existence which others can agree upon. This is a problem precisely because, when we think this way, we are unable to recognize the reality of the psyche or to understand the nature of our experience, and instead we are interacting with our own phantasy narratives. Ironically, the insistence on such phenomena having an objective reality is itself a symptom of disconnection from psychic reality, which can only ever be subjective, that, in fact, must become fully subjective in order to be objectively real to the experiencer.
Admittedly, this is a difficult concept, one that has to do with embodiment: to be fully present, in our bodies, is to be fully in the position of subject. Yet if the psyche is the true subject or self, it can only experience the objective reality of the body by being fully aligned with, or centered within, the body.
Therefore, to see reality as totally and inescapably subjective is, paradoxically, the only way to know objective reality.
 McGuffin is the term which the film director Alfred Hitchcock used for whatever element drove the action of his thrillers, the object all the characters were chasing after and fighting over. The word is taken from a story about two men in a train. One man says “What’s that package up there in the baggage rack?”, and the other answers, “Oh, that’s a McGuffin.” The first one asks “What’s a McGuffin?” “Well,” the other man says, “It’s an apparatus for trapping lions in the Scottish Highlands.” The first man says, “But there are no lions in the Scottish Highlands,” and the other one answers, “Well, then that’s no McGuffin!”
 One obvious question about the UFO material is, if trauma is somehow informing and even generating the abduction experience, and if trauma is a universal occurrence, why aren’t more people reporting abductions? According to Strieber and others, the phenomena does touch on all of our lives, but only some of us recall it. I would put some credence to the idea that the abduction experience is, like trauma, in some sense universal; but if so, there are obviously different degrees and different ways of dealing with it—both trauma and abduction—or of not dealing with it and pushing it all the way into unconsciousness.
 Ibid, p. 73.
 C. G. Jung, Dreams (From Volumes 4, 8, 12, and 16 of The Collected Works of C. G. Jung) (New in Paper), trans. R. F. C. Hull, Princeton University Press, 2012, p. Page 507