Only hours ago, I was wrapping up a radio appearance with Nick Redfern and Raven Meindel on their program “Exploring All Realms.” During the show, my friends and interviewers-for-the-evening were asking a variety of insightful questions about every manner of unusual strangeness, which becomes rather usual as I recount it on this blog. Among the subject matter addressed, at one point we discussed some of the otherworldly and nearly dreamlike descriptions of alien abduction described over the last several decades.
I have long felt that there is more to the alien abduction phenomenon than meets the eye, and though it may not be fair to completely dismiss the tangible aspects of what abductees relate, it would be silly to discount the less-tangible elements that begin to emerge with some consistency when studying the available literature. Many abductees report strange, archetypical imagery in their experiences, such as Betty Andreason’s encounter with an enormous, smoldering phoenix that spoke of itself with Christian overtones, or the appearances of certain animals, as reported by Whitley Streiber. Another grouping of experiences that also bear similarities to UFO abductions are the wide varieties of mystical states of altered consciousness, such as out of body experiences and, namely, sleep paralysis.
Writing for Psychology Today, Matthew Edlund, M.D., recounted recently how he came to draw a similar parallel, while discussing alien abductions during an interview in the early 1990s. “I offhandedly remarked that much of what ‘abductees’ described sounded like sleep paralysis: states between REM sleep and waking where people have bizarre and frightening out-of-body experiences,” Edlund wrote. “Uncanny human events are actually very common; about half the population experiences sleep paralysis.” Half the population does not report UFO encounters, however, much less abduction sequences.
Still, considering Edlund’s rational approaches toward the subject, it is interesting to consider whether, if we were to try and look at sleep paralysis as a purely medical phenomenon, we might learn anything different about the nature of what seems to be occurring. In truth, this could also be applied more broadly to a variety of elements associated with abductions, too. Let’s take a look at just one of them.
There is quite a bit of information available that involves the removal of strange objects that appear mysteriously in people’s bodies. These are sometimes metallic, sometimes glass-like, and sometimes are merely little amalgamations of organic matter. There is little recorded literature supporting a medical condition that coincides with the presence of these foreign objects in the body, which, to some researchers, might be evidence of an extraterrestrial device implanted in these individuals. After all, one of the more compelling pieces of data associated with these kinds of reports is the lack of any kind of surgical scars or “entry wounds” though which the objects could have entered. Occam’s Razor might suggest that the simple explanation here involves an advanced technology, capable of inserting the object so carefully that virtually no evidence of its existence would be left on the host’s exterior; but in spite of the extraordinary circumstances, the possibility that science might still be useful in helping solve the mystery has not yet been removed.
There are in fact medical conditions which could present circumstances similar to the appearance of a “foreign object” somewhere within the body of an alleged abductee, such as what is called a channelopathy. In this circumstance, a disease results from the disturbed function of ion channels in the body, or in some cases the proteins that regulate them. In other words, certain substances such as minerals taken into the body while eating, drinking, etc, may not process correctly, and hence they do not arrive for distribution throughout the body through the proper ion channels. Different variations of channelopathy result in different symptomatic conditions; for instance, Cystic fibrosis can result from a Chloride channelopathy. In the lesser known instance of, say, an iron channelopathy, iron deposits in the food one consumes are not properly absorbed into the body, and eventually a metabolic pathway is relegated within the body where they may be deposited over time.
In one such instance I recently heard of, related to me by a friend in the medical profession living in Alabama, an individual undergoing x-rays was found to have a small, metal ‘slug’ in his leg, which after removal, resembled a bullet that had ricocheted off a hard surface and entered the subject. No entry wounds existed, however, prompting one of the specialists on hand to recommend that tests be performed on the metallic object. Though it appeared to be iron, the object was found to be of unknown composition, and test results appeared inconclusive on most fronts. After a good bit of speculation, the man was tested for a rare form of channelopathy in which iron or other minerals may not be breaking down consistently in the body. Not to anyone’s surprise, the patient did indeed suffer from the channelopathy, which had apparently caused the strange iron relic to form naturally within his body! As far as test results showing that the object was of “unknown,” origin, this was due to years of various grades of iron, consumed naturally in the patient’s diet, being amassed together over time to form one singular lump of iron that appeared in his leg.
As this case illustrates, to understand the deeper nature of the alien abduction phenomenon, arguably, would have to call for a reconsideration of medical and environmental factors which perhaps only certain individuals experience. The point here is not to attempt to “debunk” alien abductions, but to have an honest dialogue about how certain circumstances in the UFO literature might bear similarity to natural phenomenon. In the long run, medical conditions that remain largely-unknown to science may provide insight into not only what occurs during an alien abduction, but also the conditions (like sleep paralysis) which are so often associated with the phenomenon. But what will be the end result? Will we finally have scientific explanations for one branch of phenomenology that remains hotly-contested, or will such revelations only widen the doors of perception that appear to indicate that a global–if not universal–awareness of strange phenomenon exists already?