UFO Conjecture(s)

Friday, October 19, 2012

Betty Hill’s descent into subdued madness: mania mitis (hypomania)?

Copyright 2012, InterAmerica, Inc.


Jerome Clark interviewed Betty Hill for the January 1978 edition of UFO Report [Page 40 ff.]


Mrs. Hill’s responses to Mr. Clark took place almost seventeen years after her encounter (or alleged abduction) in 1961.

She was lucid and engaging, but at one point she related her ongoing rendezvous with UFOs at what she called her “landing area”:

“On several occasions, while I was parked at my 'landing area,' UFO would hover over the roof of my car. It would be so close I could have thrown a rock up and hit the bottom of it."

“The ‘new’ UFOs aren’t friendly as the ‘old’ ones were…now they sometimes shoot beams, and darts at cars in menacing fashion…

I was out there one night with a military officer and his wife. When he saw the UFO, he got out of the car and started walking toward it. Suddenly, a large swirling mass shot out from the object…it looked like a red ball rolling over and over and heading directly toward him.

I jumped out and tried to film this with my movie camera. But then – I know this sounds incredible – a green light hit my camera and burned out the switch and the circuitry so that my camera wouldn’t work. When the officer saw this red ball coming at him, he turned and ran back to the car. The red ball stopped, rolled back to the craft, and disappeared.” [Page 43]

Clark doesn’t pursue this intriguing story, but goes on with this:

“Have you had any contact with UFO beings since your abduction?”

Mrs. Hill says, “No, not even a fleeting glimpse of the aliens….”

Clark, as usual, misses the import of the exchange.

Skeptic Robert Sheaffer wrote a letter to the magazine which appeared in the May 1978 issue.

He felt offended by Mr. Clark noting his (Sheaffer’s) analysis of the Hill story, citing time discrepancies, Clark not acknowledging that Mrs. Hill didn’t get back to Mr. Sheaffer with explanations or correctives.

Neither Clark or Sheaffer noticed -- or they ignored – Mrs. Hill’s bizarre account(s) of UFOs at her “landing area,”

This has always been the problem with “ufologists” – they ignore the trees for the forest, as it were.

Mr. Clark’s interview was centered, pretty much, on Mrs. Hill’s reaction to the 1975 NBC movie “The UFO Incident” with James Earl Jones and Estelle Parsons.

I liked Mrs. Hill, and I don’t think she consciously hoaxed her “abduction.”

She, like Socorro’s Lonnie Zamora, was a plain, normal person. Was is the operative word here.

It seems that the account she gave Mr. Clark, which he errantly ignored, indicated Mrs. Hill’s mental state had become infused with imaginings of a bizarre, and totally UFO-related kind.

But there is the possibility that what Mrs. Hill reported was what she actually experienced: the original abduction and the episode at her “landing area.”

However, one has to lean toward a mental malfunction, primarily because no one else (outside Barney Hill) witnessed the 1961 abduction and the military man in the “landing area” incident never came forward. Mrs. Hill never provided, as far as I know, his name so that he could verify what she said happened to him.

Also, in the Clark interview, Mrs. Hill said she empathized with Parker and Hickson of the Pascagoula abduction, knowing things that confirmed, for her, the reality of that event.

She wouldn’t disclose what those confirmatory things were, and Mr. Clark didn’t press the issue or follow up.

Mrs. Hills antedated interest in science fiction items, and her exploitation by ufologists after her 1961 story was made public increased her mania.

The evidence for mania is palpable. The evidence for an extraterrestrial abduction and that later UFO encounter at her ‘landing area” is nil.

Can we dismiss the Hill abduction story? Yes, but with a caveat: things, as she supposedly experienced them, are not outside the realm of possibility.

As Arthur C. Clarke wrote in his book, Profiles of the Future, “When a scientist states that something is possible, he is almost certainly right. When he states that something is impossible, he is very probably wrong.”



  • "Jerome Clark interviewed Betty Hill for the January 1978 edition of UFO Report"

    ..and just why would you believe anything by Jerry Clark?

    By Blogger Kurt Peters, at Saturday, October 20, 2012  

  • Rich, I can't help but notice how the photo of Betty Hill has an uncanny similarity to that of Mary Todd Lincoln. Both showing a sense of forlorn sadness and hidden despair.

    By Blogger Tim Hebert, at Saturday, October 20, 2012  

  • Tim:

    I found several others that I wanted to use, but wasn't sure about the copyrights.

    Mrs. Hill's comments, in the interview - besides the few I used - indicate a person joyous and sad at the same time.

    Mrs. Hill seems to have experienced something that caused her mental anguish right to her core.

    What that was is open to debate I think.

    That she was exploited and used by ufologists is blatant.

    At some level I think she knew that she was a foil.

    (Lonnie Zamora came to the same conclusion his wife told me.)


    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Saturday, October 20, 2012  

  • I've never taken her later claims as particularly telling one way or another regarding her initial experience for one reason. She was, as you say, a very ordinary, one suspects not especially bright person. Having lost Barney she was pretty much left adrift in the twilight world of ufo cultists. The only experience that had brought a kind of distinction to her life, and drew attention upon herself, was ufolgoical in nature. So it seems to me natural enough that later in life she would want that one special, noteworthy thing or connection to continue, even at the expense of veracity or reality. We are all inclined to cling to the things which might have made us special in our youth, even if they have long since gone elsewhere. I'm probably protesting too much on behalf of the Hills, but I've always found their story oddly affecting. I believe them, in so far as I think they believed themselves, and while a folie a deux is the most logical explanation, the case seems different in character from most other examples of that condition I have encountered.

    By Blogger Tristan Eldritch, at Saturday, October 20, 2012  

  • Yes, Tristan, there is something affectingly unique about the Hills incident.

    Whether a real "abduction" or a psychological episode, despite my belief (and that of others) that many elements of the "abduction" tale are psychological in nature, the core story remains open and unusual.

    What caused the event to unfold as it did is grist for scrutiny, even at his late date.

    Mrs. Hill's later years are as you cite them.

    But I don't think she was conning anyone, except herself perhaps.


    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Saturday, October 20, 2012  

  • Tristan wrote: "She was, as you say, a very ordinary, one suspects not especially bright person." - - -

    How does anyone know that Hill wasn't a "bright person"? Her occupation was a Social Worker. Usually that requires not only an undergraduate degree but a masters level degree (to be licensed). [Back in the 1950s/60s I'm not sure is the masters degree was a requirement.]

    Hill seemed to me to be very sincere and naive. And she was probably lonely after her beloved husband died ( I think his death from uncontrollable hypertension had something to do with their encounter and subsequent PTSD) - thus her falling into the love & light newage contactee crowd. But, I never doubted her intelligence.

    I saw Hill for what she likely was - a close encounter experiencer from a very early age (she's mentioned and others have written about previous sightings and encounters) and that fits a life-long pattern with 'abductees' (except for Travis Walton, who I think was a hoaxer with his brother's help).

    ~ Susan

    By Blogger Brownie, at Tuesday, October 23, 2012  

  • I think they owe Mrs. Hill an apology for doubting her star map. I am sure that the map she drew is totally right and the conversation she had with the aliens identified an important fact and the question they asked her first that if she did not know how to answer their questions about where she was...made it clear to the aliens that she could not comprehend their answer. I can say for sure that their answer identifies the state of comprehension from their experience aligns with ours relevant to order and disorder. though ti comphend that answer one has to learn from the start or beginning...just a clue for you...

    By Blogger Ron Baker, at Monday, April 21, 2014  

  • It would have been beneficial to deal with this in 2012.


    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Monday, April 21, 2014  

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