Abducted: How People Come to Believe They Were Kidnapped by Aliens / Edition 1

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Overview

They are tiny. They are tall. They are gray. They are green. They survey our world with enormous glowing eyes. To conduct their shocking experiments, they creep in at night to carry humans off to their spaceships. Yet there is no evidence that they exist at all. So how could anyone believe he or she was abducted by aliens? Or want to believe it?

To answer these questions, psychologist Susan Clancy interviewed and evaluated "abductees"--old and young, male and female, religious and agnostic. She listened closely to their stories--how they struggled to explain something strange in their remembered experience, how abduction seemed plausible, and how, having suspected abduction, they began to recollect it, aided by suggestion and hypnosis.

Clancy argues that abductees are sane and intelligent people who have unwittingly created vivid false memories from a toxic mix of nightmares, culturally available texts (abduction reports began only after stories of extraterrestrials appeared in films and on TV), and a powerful drive for meaning that science is unable to satisfy. For them, otherworldly terror can become a transforming, even inspiring experience. "Being abducted," writes Clancy, "may be a baptism in the new religion of this millennium." This book is not only a subtle exploration of the workings of memory, but a sensitive inquiry into the nature of belief.

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Editorial Reviews

New York Times

[Clancy] provide[s] a discussion of current research into memory, emotion and culture that renders abduction stories understandable, if not believable. Although it focuses on abduction memories, the book hints at a larger ambition, to explain the psychology of transformative experiences, whether supposed abductions, conversions or divine visitations.
— Benedict Carey

National Post

Having interviewed dozens of abductees, and found them likeable and honest, Clancy writes about them with compassionate but sceptical understanding...Clancy believes her subjects only in the sense that she believes they think they are telling the truth. And she doesn't abandon her sense of humour. She asks why mentally superior aliens haven't anything better to do than hang around North America stealing our genes.
— Robert Fulford

Booklist

In this informal and entertaining report on her research, Clancy shows that the group of abductees she studied in 2002 were more likely to create false memories in the lab and scored high on measures of fantasy-proneness and schizotypy (personality characteristics that include perceptual aberrations and magical thinking). Despite these traits, with one or two exceptions her subjects were what society classifies as normal. She speculates that an abduction memory, though horrific, is ultimately a religious experience that incorporates contact with a higher power, a convenient narrative that provides an explanation for odd personal episodes, and a transformative event that offers a meaning for human existence.
— George Eberhart

Fortean Times

[A] slim but engaging volume...Believers and sceptics alike have much to learn from this work.
— Stefan Beck

New Scientist

[Clancy] describes not only what she has learned about the psychology of this bizarre phenomenon but also what she has learned about herself carrying out her research. Her book is a delight.
— Chris French

Baltimore Sun

In this remarkable study of people who believe they've been carried off by little green men, Clancy's subjects are memory, personality and truth as each individual experiences it. Even if the idea of alien abduction is absurd, you will find her work fascinating and revealing.
— Clare McHugh

Washington Times

The study of this belief [that one has been abducted by aliens], unshakable in most cases, leads Ms. Clancy to make some compelling observations about recovered memory, fear, science, faith, reason, the human condition and, inevitably, aliens...Alien abduction is clearly a maddening phenomenon. Nevertheless, Ms. Clancy soldiered on—for the benefit of science, the subjects and now her readers. And apart from some brisk and debatable observations about religion that pop up at the end, she has done all a service. This book is something else.
— Carol Herman

Boston Globe

[A] snappy study.
— Amanda Heller

Science

Clancy is a skeptic who mounts a strong case for terrestrial rather than extraterrestrial explanations, but she does so while maintaining a steadfast compassion for her subjects. The story is told with great humor, often at the author's expense as she finds herself in unlikely predicaments. Despite these lighter moments, Clancy never loses sight of the serious questions raised by the alien abduction phenomenon, nor does she waver in her respect for the abductees. Having concluded that these people are not dismissible as ignorant or crazy, she is left with a more unsettling truth: under the right circumstances, normal people can come to hold very bizarre beliefs...Susan Clancy's study of alien abductees is a natural experiment that explores the outer limits of human belief and serves as a useful reminder of the importance of scientific thinking.
— Stuart Vyse

Charleston Post and Courier

This intriguing book should appeal to the 85 percent of Americans who believe in ET, while the rest of us will find it equally fascinating that ordinary people can believe such extraordinary things.
— Ros Smith

Science News
Clancy focuses not on whether her subjects were actually abducted but on why they believe they were.
Houston Chronicle

If one reads only one book on the subject of alien abductions and nighttime visits from extraterrestrials, it should probably be Abducted. Susan Clancy, a Harvard psychologist with the understanding ear of a bartender and the clear eye of a scientist, treats the subject frankly, fearlessly, intelligently, honestly and sometimes humorously. She avoids both the hysteria of believers out to prove that aliens visit our planet and the dismissiveness of skeptics who know they don't.
— Alcestis Oberg

Times Higher Education Supplement

[An] engaging book...It provides fascinating accounts of the way abductees use evidence in their reasoning, the effects of relaxation therapy and hypnosis in creating false memories and the importance of TV shows, films and books in creating the myth of the grey alien...Clancy writes in an easy-going and engaging way, describing the processes and the ups and downs of her research as well as her findings. This is a fun, readable and informative book that helps explain how and why alien abduction has become such a powerful myth.
— Susan Blackmore

American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis

This fascinating book takes a respectful stance with those who believe they were abducted and attempts to understand their experience through thoughtful analysis. In doing so, Clancy brings a needed scientific perspective to a subject that is usually the domain of tabloids and science fiction dramas.
— Robin A. Chapman

Wall Street Journal

In Abducted, [Clancy] describes how patients with a variety of vague and confusing symptoms, such as recurrent nightmares and sleep paralysis, found reports of alien abduction an interesting possible explanation for their troubles and were brought to believe in it through treatments that included hypnosis. Many of these patients, it turned out, were pleased by what they came to believe. Being abducted by aliens, they thought, meant that they were “chosen” or “privileged” as human representatives.
— Paul McHugh

Elizabeth Loftus
Abducted is an enormously brave, smart, original book. Susan Clancy's innovative study of why and how people come to believe that they've been abducted by aliens has become a gripping read, with keen insight into the emotional and spiritual lives of the 'abductees'--and how easy it is for anyone to remember things that never happened.
Michael Shermer
Twenty years ago I was abducted by aliens, or so I thought at the time. Actually, I had just gone without sleep for 83 hours. Now at last Abducted--brilliant, humane, and funny--gives a scientific explanation for how the mind concocts such remarkable experiences as being probed and impregnated by aliens, visiting the mother ship, or traveling to distant planets. Writing with sympathy and understanding for the abductees, Susan Clancy delves into their stories to offer a superb contribution to our understanding of human memory, mental anomalies, and how the mind works.
Carol Tavris
Susan Clancy's book bursts out of the chute right on page one and keeps going at full gallop until the end. It's fabulous! Anyone who thinks that scientists are cold and uncompassionate, or that people who believe they have been abducted by aliens are plain loony, should read this book. With warmth, humor, empathy and eloquence, Clancy illuminates the soul of science--and shows why everyone resists its revelations if they challenge our deepest beliefs.
Elaine Showalter
Susan Clancy's provocative study of the abductee population offers a thoughtful perspective on the spiritual and psychological elements of abduction stories--and is so entertaining that it reads like a novel.
New York Times - Benedict Carey
[Clancy] provide[s] a discussion of current research into memory, emotion and culture that renders abduction stories understandable, if not believable. Although it focuses on abduction memories, the book hints at a larger ambition, to explain the psychology of transformative experiences, whether supposed abductions, conversions or divine visitations.
National Post - Robert Fulford
Having interviewed dozens of abductees, and found them likeable and honest, Clancy writes about them with compassionate but sceptical understanding...Clancy believes her subjects only in the sense that she believes they think they are telling the truth. And she doesn't abandon her sense of humour. She asks why mentally superior aliens haven't anything better to do than hang around North America stealing our genes.
Booklist - George Eberhart
In this informal and entertaining report on her research, Clancy shows that the group of abductees she studied in 2002 were more likely to create false memories in the lab and scored high on measures of fantasy-proneness and schizotypy (personality characteristics that include perceptual aberrations and magical thinking). Despite these traits, with one or two exceptions her subjects were what society classifies as normal. She speculates that an abduction memory, though horrific, is ultimately a religious experience that incorporates contact with a higher power, a convenient narrative that provides an explanation for odd personal episodes, and a transformative event that offers a meaning for human existence.
Fortean Times - Stefan Beck
[A] slim but engaging volume...Believers and sceptics alike have much to learn from this work.
New Scientist - Chris French
[Clancy] describes not only what she has learned about the psychology of this bizarre phenomenon but also what she has learned about herself carrying out her research. Her book is a delight.
Baltimore Sun - Clare McHugh
In this remarkable study of people who believe they've been carried off by little green men, Clancy's subjects are memory, personality and truth as each individual experiences it. Even if the idea of alien abduction is absurd, you will find her work fascinating and revealing.
Washington Times - Carol Herman
The study of this belief [that one has been abducted by aliens], unshakable in most cases, leads Ms. Clancy to make some compelling observations about recovered memory, fear, science, faith, reason, the human condition and, inevitably, aliens...Alien abduction is clearly a maddening phenomenon. Nevertheless, Ms. Clancy soldiered on--for the benefit of science, the subjects and now her readers. And apart from some brisk and debatable observations about religion that pop up at the end, she has done all a service. This book is something else.
Boston Globe - Amanda Heller
[A] snappy study.
Science - Stuart Vyse
Clancy is a skeptic who mounts a strong case for terrestrial rather than extraterrestrial explanations, but she does so while maintaining a steadfast compassion for her subjects. The story is told with great humor, often at the author's expense as she finds herself in unlikely predicaments. Despite these lighter moments, Clancy never loses sight of the serious questions raised by the alien abduction phenomenon, nor does she waver in her respect for the abductees. Having concluded that these people are not dismissible as ignorant or crazy, she is left with a more unsettling truth: under the right circumstances, normal people can come to hold very bizarre beliefs...Susan Clancy's study of alien abductees is a natural experiment that explores the outer limits of human belief and serves as a useful reminder of the importance of scientific thinking.
Charleston Post and Courier - Ros Smith
This intriguing book should appeal to the 85 percent of Americans who believe in ET, while the rest of us will find it equally fascinating that ordinary people can believe such extraordinary things.
Houston Chronicle - Alcestis Oberg
If one reads only one book on the subject of alien abductions and nighttime visits from extraterrestrials, it should probably be Abducted. Susan Clancy, a Harvard psychologist with the understanding ear of a bartender and the clear eye of a scientist, treats the subject frankly, fearlessly, intelligently, honestly and sometimes humorously. She avoids both the hysteria of believers out to prove that aliens visit our planet and the dismissiveness of skeptics who know they don't.
Times Higher Education Supplement - Susan Blackmore
[An] engaging book...It provides fascinating accounts of the way abductees use evidence in their reasoning, the effects of relaxation therapy and hypnosis in creating false memories and the importance of TV shows, films and books in creating the myth of the grey alien...Clancy writes in an easy-going and engaging way, describing the processes and the ups and downs of her research as well as her findings. This is a fun, readable and informative book that helps explain how and why alien abduction has become such a powerful myth.
American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis - Robin A. Chapman
This fascinating book takes a respectful stance with those who believe they were abducted and attempts to understand their experience through thoughtful analysis. In doing so, Clancy brings a needed scientific perspective to a subject that is usually the domain of tabloids and science fiction dramas.
Wall Street Journal - Paul McHugh
In Abducted, [Clancy] describes how patients with a variety of vague and confusing symptoms, such as recurrent nightmares and sleep paralysis, found reports of alien abduction an interesting possible explanation for their troubles and were brought to believe in it through treatments that included hypnosis. Many of these patients, it turned out, were pleased by what they came to believe. Being abducted by aliens, they thought, meant that they were “chosen” or “privileged” as human representatives.
Benedict Carey
… Dr. Clancy, a psychologist at Harvard, manages to refute and defend these believers, and along the way provide a discussion of current research into memory, emotion and culture that renders abduction stories understandable, if not believable. Although it focuses on abduction memories, the book hints at a larger ambition, to explain the psychology of transformative experiences, whether supposed abductions, conversions or divine visitations.
— The New York Times
Publishers Weekly
If you're going to read just one book about alien abductions, make it this one. And if you think alien abduction stories aren't worth considering seriously, Clancy will convince you otherwise. A postdoctoral fellow in psychology at Harvard, she follows the dictum of William James to "take `weird beliefs' seriously but not literally." Thus, she considers that the belief that one has been abducted by little gray beings with large, black catlike eyes, subjected to intrusive and painful physical examinations and exploited to create hybrid human/alien babies serves the deep human need to find meaning in one's life. She presents clear explorations of what most mainstream experts believe are the sources of the abduction story, such as sleep paralysis and the dubious use of hypnosis in "recovering" forgotten memories of the abduction. Her more original contribution, based on her own research, is that abductees score high on measures of schizotypy (they're far from schizophrenic, but are prone to fantasy and "magical" thinking) and, more speculatively, experiencing what in the 19th century was called hysteria. Writing in a nonacademic and witty style, Clancy offers an intelligent and compassionate look at people whose "weird" belief usually elicits derision, and argues convincingly for the need to look deeper into its significance. (Oct.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780674024014
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press
  • Publication date: 4/15/2007
  • Edition description: ANN
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 192
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Susan A. Clancy is a postdoctoral fellow in psychology at Harvard University and a Visiting Professor at INCAE, the Central American Institute for Business Administration.
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Table of Contents

Introduction

1. How Do You Wind Up Studying Aliens?

2. How Do People Come To Believe They Were Abducted by Aliens?

3. Why Do I Have Memories If It Didn't Happen?

4. Why Are Abduction Stories So Consistent?

5. Who Gets Abducted?

6. If It Didn't Happen, Why Would I Want To Believe It Did?

Notes

Index

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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 9, 2006

    Excellent, exciting book.

    This is a fascinating and clearly written book about what really happens during an alien abduction. The author succeeds in showing that scientific reality is actually more exciting and complex than anything the aliens have done. This is one of those lovely books that gives you delicious explosions of understanding as you read it.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 2, 2006

    Don't get this book!

    Although good intentions are there, this book tries to discredit and disprove something without taking into account all of the evidence, and by making too many generalizations.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 28, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted November 24, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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