UFO Conjectures

Friday, October 03, 2014

The Betty/Barney Hill Story: Does it matter?

Something happened to Betty and Barney Hill in 1961 but it surely wasn't a UFO abduction.

That ufologists persist in portraying the episode as a bona fide UFO event goes to the heart of why UFOs, generally, are dimissed by more rational minds.

For instance in these two paragraphs from the official newsletter of the Rational Examination Association of Lincoln Land, Volume 2, Number 7, July 1994 resides a premise which would disqualify Betty Hill's account of her experience as a genuine UFO event:

It was during the showing of the episode "The Bellero Shield" that I felt the uncanny frisson of deja vu. The eyes of the alien were unusually long and wrapped around the side of the face. It quickly hit me these eyes were just like the wraparound eyes that were drawn in The Interrupted Journey -- and the later more detailed drawing the Hills did in collaboration with the artist David Baker.[2] Though I couldn't articulate it at that instant, there were other similarities which had contributed to the sense of a close relationship: no ears, no hair, no nose, and a cranium shaped like a bullet tilted backwards 45 degrees. I was excited by the possibility of a match because I was reasonably sure there were few or no other examples of aliens with wraparound eyes in science fiction cinema. Moments later however my excitement became subdued. It dawned on me that The Outer Limits was a series of the mid-Sixties and the Hill case dated to the early Sixties-- 1961 or 1962. "The Bellero Shield" couldn't have been an influence. Still, the book came out in 1966. Could the lag be significant?

After the program ended, I dug into my library for a round of late night research. "The Bellero Shield" aired February 10, 1964. The Hill's UFO encounter happened in the morning of September 20, 1961. That probably should have killed the idea of any kind of influence, but the resemblance was just so compelling I couldn't shake the feeling there had to be a relationship. I reread The Interrupted Journey. To my delight I discovered there was no mention of wraparound eyes in the earliest account. Betty's dreams, written down a matter of days after the UFO sighting, mention men with Jimmy Durante noses, dark or black hair and eyes and a relaxed human appearance that she said was "not frightening." This is all quite different from the final product. The changes emerge in the hypnotic regression with Dr. Simon. The most salient issue was to know when the wraparound eyes were first described. That turned out to be during a hypnosis session involving Barney dated February 22, 1964. Not only did "The Bellero Shield" precede Barney's first mention of wraparound eyes, it did by only 12 days! I was immensely pleased.

The writer provides what has been dismissed (intentionally?) by those hoping to use the Hill's account as a template for UFO abductions: her description(s) of the beings who allegedly kidnapped her and her husband.

The Hill episode, in toto, is tantamount to a fictional rendering of a psychotic event.

It should be looked at as a psychological or neurological episode, not as a true account of an alien abduction.

Its value lies in its rather interesting psychic breakdown that is detailed in many ways over a long period of time.

Doctors dealing with mental illness that doesn't involve a totally disabling break with normal reality should be looking at the Hill case for clues to borderline psychoses that go unrecognized in the population, and how those psychoses infect "normal" persons (ufologists, in this case), causing them to suspend common sense in order to support a bias, in this instance, that aliens beings are visiting the Earth and sometimes abducting humans for bizarre experimentation.



  • I would agree except for what I consider the nature of a transitory psychosis versus the norm which is pernicious due to biochemical abnormalities located in the brain. What I am suggesting by a suspicion that there is an external equally transitory energetic and environmental cause as suggested by Persinger, who, so far, has explored this possibility without tangible results if you discount the results of his "God Helmet" experiment.
    As you say, once the event has lapsed they return to a functionally normal state which to me is striking.

    By Blogger Bruce Duensing, at Friday, October 03, 2014  

  • Who is this writer? I recall Martin Kottmeyer bringing up the very same subject in MAGONIA issue 35 (Jan 1990) in an article entitled "Entirely Unpredisposed", where he examines this abduction case for possible cultural influences on the Hills.

    The same dates, both of Barney's hypnosis session and the TV series "The Outer Limits", are given in his article.

    By Blogger cda, at Friday, October 03, 2014  

  • Martin Kottmeyer was the writer CDA.


    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Friday, October 03, 2014  

  • "Doctors dealing with mental illness that doesn't involve a totally disabling break with normal reality should be looking at the Hill case for clues to borderline psychoses that go unrecognized in the population, and how those psychoses infect "normal" persons..."

    Rich, in a sense, doctors do, ie, Depression with psychotic features. The psychosis tends to be transient, not long lasting.

    It appears to me that the issues that tends to sink abduction accounts is the use of hypnosis that is used years later...the story, theme, plot always has a tendency to change.

    Plus, research has shown that abduction stories tend to mask an underlying psychological trauma that the abductee had experienced years before.

    Yes, I know that you and I had discussed this issue a while back, but...

    By Blogger Tim Hebert, at Friday, October 03, 2014  

  • Yes, Tim, a repressed incident from one's past seems to be the core instigator of abduction events; generally child molestation, or in the Hill case, maybe a racial incident.

    As for hypnosis, that is a precedure fraught with errant consequences, the reason Freud and pyschoanalysis eschewed it, as you know.

    But it would seem some enterprising researcher should have pursued the Hill's psychological situation when the discrepancy noted by Kottmeyer and others was cited.


    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Friday, October 03, 2014  

  • The Outer Limits explanation for the Hill case is ludicrous. First of all, it cannot be proved that Barney or Betty saw The Outer Limits episode "The Bellero Shield" the night it was broadcast on ABC, and when asked Betty denied seeing it. So... innocent until proven guilty, I'd say. Second of all, even if the Hills did see the episode, the simple, basic, easy-to-prove fact is that the alien from the TV show does NOT have wrap-around eyes. Do a google image search shows or actually watch the episode, people. The creature actually has very normal human eyes located in the normal places, but with the addition of some fleshy wrap-around eyebrows... And wrap-around eyebrows are not the same as wrap-around eyes, folks. Thirdly, that same night ABC TV broadcast an episode of The Lawrence Welk Show immediately after The Outer Limits, so why didn't Barney and Betty hallucinate being abducted by a spaceship full of aging German-American accordian players?

    By Blogger Mark OC, at Friday, October 03, 2014  

  • Unless we are referring to acute stress, bipolar disorder or acute and chronic depression, transient psychosis is highly unlikely. The only transient which is not short lived in relation to the experiences reported but could fit is acute chronic depression. Recurrent reported experiential anomalies such as those studied by science do occur with it but other very profound symptoms coincide with this that effect normal functioning. It could be so but I am doubtful as an explanation for all cases.

    By Blogger Bruce Duensing, at Friday, October 03, 2014  

  • BTW..Don't forget False Memory Syndrome that can be confabulated by hypnosis which the Hills underwent and that a certain abduction experts
    use as their main technique.

    By Blogger Bruce Duensing, at Friday, October 03, 2014  

  • Bruce, transient psychosis need not be linked to actual psychotic disorders. The psychotic feature may be covert, yet readily seen by a professional, but it is short lived. The psychosis is a by-product.

    I deal with it everyday in my line of work...

    By Blogger Tim Hebert, at Friday, October 03, 2014  

  • Tim
    Can you provide an example or two? Sounds interesting.

    By Blogger Bruce Duensing, at Friday, October 03, 2014  

  • Bruce, forgive me, but I'm soon to be out the door for work. With your patience, I'll be happy to provide examples.

    Quickly, the issues of depression with psychotic features...delusions present is one example. Depression is not a psychosis, but a mood disorder.

    Anxiety NOS may have a sublime psychotic feature, again centering on delusions of various content.

    The depression and anxiety are not psychotic by nature, but the follow on delusion, which is a by product, is by definition a psychotic feature.

    Got to go for now...

    By Blogger Tim Hebert, at Friday, October 03, 2014  

  • Psychosis,biochemical abnormalities,anxiety, delusion. Is it that hard to believe what two (!) grown up educated people are telling ? One sceptic even thought that Betty and Barney mistook the moon for a ufo.What next?

    By Blogger Alien, at Friday, October 03, 2014  

  • Thanks Larry.
    Depression as a mood disorder also falls into ( at times) what are called spectrum disorders as a effect rather than a cause, for which I should have been clearer.
    The same as it has been studied in cases of reported anomalies (non-ufo)that are precipitated by stress include a string of bad luck, personal loss, or other deconstructive events. However, no psychosis was present. I do understand the concept of delusions without psychosis, but...the origin of the Hill's abduction scenario seems to fall outside of simply a delusional form of critical thinking.

    By Blogger Bruce Duensing, at Friday, October 03, 2014  

  • Sorry Tim about the name mix up..My wife was broadcasting in the near vicinity and a name glitch occurred while I was in the midst of an episode of divided attention, and no I am not delusional in terms of who you may be.

    By Blogger Bruce Duensing, at Friday, October 03, 2014  

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