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Gifford, S. (1994). Abduction: Human Encounters with Aliens: By John E. Mack. New York: Scribner, 1994, 433 pp., $22.00.. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 42:1290-1298.

(1994). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 42:1290-1298

Abduction: Human Encounters with Aliens: By John E. Mack. New York: Scribner, 1994, 433 pp., $22.00.

Review by:
Sanford Gifford, M.D.

Dr. Mack's new book calls for a response from his fellow analysts, who see him as a friend and respected colleague, admired for his clinical work, his scholarly biography of T. E. Lawrence, and his activities for peace and international conflict resolution. In his new self-chosen role as Prince of Our Unreason, his book is easy to dismiss as a wide-ranging attack on Western European traditions of rationality and experimental science. Mack invites scientific consideration of his reports on extraterrestrial kidnappings, but he also rejects potential critics "who believe that the laws of physics, as encompassed by the Newtonian/Einsteinian system, are the full definition of reality." This excludes most analysts, who consider themselves children of the Enlightenment and subscribe—whatever their disputes about clinical theories—to a favorite quotation from "The Future of an Illusion": "The voice of the intellect is a soft one, but does not rest until it has gained a hearing" (Freud, 1927p. 53).

Right-wing attacks on analysis by neoconservatives like Frederic Crews can be met with further scholarship, but Mack's book, with his account of reported visitations from outer space, is a more subversive assault on psychoanalysis as a science. Mack begins with his initial skepticism about UFO landings and extraterrestrial humanoids, but then, after his encounter four years ago with Budd Hopkins and his own observations on "survivors" referred by Hopkins, Mack arrived at a kind of conversion experience.

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