Dr. Susan Clancy, in her book Abducted: How People Come to Believe They Were Kidnapped by Aliens, discusses how there were no reports of alleged alien abductions until science fiction books, movies, radio and TV shows about alien abductions started appearing. The first film in which people are abducted by aliens was the 1953 B-movie Invaders from Mars, followed by This Island Earth in 1955. With the 1960s came the TV series The Outer Limits that included some stories of alien abductions. In fact it was just 12 days after the airing of the 1964 “Bellero Shield” episode of The Outer Limits that Betty and Barney Hill “recovered” memories through hypnosis of their alleged 1961 abduction in the White Mountains. Following the Hill story the reports of these so-called abductions proliferated.
If alien abductions were real, why would these extraterrestrial space travelers wait until the 1960s to start abducting people for their own research? Why not in the 1700s or 1800s? Another interesting observation that Clancy makes is that there are virtually no reports of alien abduction outside the United States. Why wouldn’t these space travelers be interested in people from Asia, Africa, Europe and South America? Continue Reading
Spoiler Alert! If you are convinced you were abducted by aliens, please do not read any further. I have neither the desire nor the ability to change your belief. That said, the research shows that the event perceived as an “alien abduction” is an altered state of consciousness. The belief that one has been kidnapped by extraterrestrials is not.
I just finished reading an engrossing study called Abducted: How People Come to Believe They Were Kidnapped by Aliens by Susan A. Clancy, PhD, published by Harvard University Press. Dr. Clancy, a post doctoral fellow in psychology at Harvard, was doing research with people with “recovered” memories of childhood sexual abuse. She became frustrated because there was no way to know with certainty whether these people recovered memories of actual abuse or factitious events. She decided to “repeat the study with a population that I could be sure had ‘recovered’ false memories. Alien abductions seemed to fit the bill. (p. 20)” Continue Reading
In my two previous posts on the subject, I presented my conceptualization of the Daytime Parahypnagogia (DPH) hypothesis as well the data on how this altered state of consciousness is experienced. Today’s post presents the circumstances under which DPH is most likely to occur and the interference it has with cognitive functioning. Recall that the sample consisted of 164 clinical psychologists and 267 college students.
Sixty-four percent of the psychologists who acknowledged having experienced the described altered state said that it has occurred during psychotherapy! I was describing my DPH thesis to a colleague who was not a participant in the survey. He said that when he instantaneously recovers from these brief altered states, he has to make sure he responds to the content of what the patient just said and not to the content of the DPH event. Continue Reading
In a previous post entitled Have You Experienced Daytime Parahypnagogia?, I discussed my hypothesis of a previously undocumented altered state of consciousness, DPH for short. I conceptualized the experience as an extremely brief dissociative dreamlike episode occurring during waking hours that interferes with attention and alertness. It consists of a flash of an auditory or visual image, a thought, an insight and/or a spark of creativity. One is conscious of the event, but as in a dream, the memory of the content fades quickly as attention becomes refocused on the matters at hand. Following my publication in Medical Hypotheses, I conducted an empirical study to determine the extent and manner this phenomenon is experienced. I sampled two populations: clinical psychologists and university students. Continue Reading
Her name was not Sybil; nor was it Ting. But little did I know that Ting (a pseudonym) was to become the first of three patients whom I treated for Multiple Personality Disorder (MPD) now called Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID). Ting first visited me 15 years ago when she applied for a job as office manager. Although I did not hire her, she returned six months later as my patient. She presented with complaints of intense anxiety in response to work stress, panic attacks, migraine headaches and obsessive thoughts. The treatment plan was to include typical cognitive-behavioral therapy including relaxation training. It wasn’t until the sixth visit that I had not so much of a hint that she was suffering from DID. She began the session telling me that when she practiced the Relaxation Response (a breathing exercise), she didn’t like the empty feeling she felt. Then suddenly her face and voice changed dramatically and in front of me was a young child in absolute terror, crouched in the chair as if she were watching a horror movie on the wall (autoscopic hallucination). For not finishing her food, her mother was locking her in the bathroom in total darkness and telling her that cockroaches would come out of the toilet and crawl all over her. In front of me she was screaming and thrashing in her seat. My heart started pounding. “Was I dealing with my first case of MPD?” I wondered. Most psychologists go an entire career without ever seeing one case, no less three. Continue Reading
“Do you know what my mom did?” asked my 15-year-old former patient. “I asked her to buy me a pack of cigarettes and she did. Why couldn’t she just be the parent and say No?” I asked this high school sophomore how she would have reacted had her mother said no to her demand. “I would have gotten mad and stomped my feet. But why couldn’t she just be the parent instead of trying to be my friend?” In the next breath she told me that the family had just moved to another town. On her first day in her new high school, she went to the guidance office and told the counselor, “I’m not going to class.” He told her to just sit in the office, where she remained the rest of the day. She asked me, “Why couldn’t someone just tell me to get my ass back to class?” Continue Reading
While driving back from Philadelphia to northern NJ today, I listened to recent podcasts of two of my favorite radio shows: NPR’s Science Friday and Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me. On both programs, astrophysicist Adam Riess, one of two Americans (the other being Saul Perlmutter) to win the 2011 Nobel Prize for Physics, was the guest. The award was based on the 1998 discovery that the Universe is expanding at an accelerated rate, which might be accounted for by some unknown energy force called, for now, dark energy. Albert Einstein had hypothesized such a force and then called it his greatest blunder. He may have been right all along. What this means in layman’s terms is that the Universe will just continue expanding forever with little likelihood that it will ever contract to create another big bang.
Philosophically, the thought that the Universe will never contract is very disturbing to me. Continue Reading
After reading David Pogue‘s (technology writer) New York Times post today entitled Steve Jobs: Imitated, Never Duplicated, I realized why I was unable last night to write about Steve Jobs from a psychological point of view. According to Pogue, Jobs was so unique that he defied any traditional model of success. This uniqueness leads Pogue to believe there is a zero percent chance of there ever being another human being with the all the abilities (and even liabilities that worked in his favor) that Jobs possessed. Jobs violated conventional wisdom and didn’t listen to others, all the while maintaining a maniacal focus on the future in spite of occasional failures. Says Pogue: Continue Reading
I wanted to write something about Steve Jobs from a psychological point of view. As I sit at my iMac, I have no idea where to begin. Certainly he was probably the greatest innovator and visionary of our generation. He was able to perceive our needs before we did. Perhaps more than anyone else, if there is such a thing as ESP, Steve would have been the one to possess it. Continue Reading
Whether you realize it or not, all the good domain names are taken! So, it took a bit of ingenuity, creativity, loose association and a tolerant wife to come up with a new name that is topical, catchy and flows. All of the above played a role in the name PsychMinder.
On one level, the word mind refers not only to one of the main functions of the brain, but also as a verb it means “to attend to.” As in, “Mind your own business” or “Mind the store.” Thus a minder is one who attends to, cares for, or looks after someone or something. My wife told me that in the United Kingdom a minder is a baby sitter or nanny. However, for this occasion, a PsychMinder is one who attends to or cares about psychology. I started this blog in an effort to help both my readers and myself stay current on new research, topics and ideas in psychology. Some of the ideas I will present are my own and others will be in reaction to what others have written, said or done. While I am a clinical psychologist, my interests in psychology are wide-ranging and my posts are just as eclectic. Continue Reading
Anyone who has been to college remembers what became affectionately know as “Freshman Comp” (English Composition 101). Rewind to first semester freshman year. I never before failed anything in my whole life, save for rope climbing in gym. This was until I got my first of five papers back in Freshman Comp. Continue Reading
While psychotherapist alertness is essential for effective psychotherapy, many therapists have anecdotally reported that sleepiness during psychotherapy sessions is problematic. To assess the extent of the problem, and the effectiveness of various coping strategies, I surveyed a random sample of clinical psychologists in New Jersey, USA and received responses from 165 participants about their experiences with maintaining wakefulness and alertness while seeing patients. Fifty-two percent sometimes or often have trouble with sleepiness, 32 percent sometimes or often struggle to stay awake, 52 percent have almost fallen asleep and 13 percent have fallen asleep during a session. Two-thirds of the participants believe that their alertness difficulties interfere with their therapeutic effectiveness. Continue Reading
What happens in the instant when we almost fall asleep? In this post I postulate a particular form of this unnerving and perhaps dissociative experience. A review of the literature suggests that this phenomenon that we are calling Daytime Parahypnagogia (DPH) appears to be a previously undescribed state of consciousness. Continue Reading
The other day a Facebook friend sent me (along with 60 or so other friends) a message that presented me with a bit of a conflict. Her daughter had entered a photograph in a contest and my friend asked her Facebook friends to go to the website and vote for her daughter’s photograph. What I found intriguing is that the successful winner of the contest would be judged not by the quality of her photographic submission, but rather by the effectiveness of her supporters’ online campaign. The reason this request represented a challenge is because of some of the newest psychological research into self-worth, success and happiness.
Would I be doing this child’s psychological well-being a favor by voting for her picture solely on the basis of her mother’s desire to see her daughter succeed? Continue Reading