Coming to believe in ETs: The Betty Hill Syndrome
When a person submits a story (or report) that they encountered a UFO and suggest, sometimes even stating overtly, that the encounter was with extraterrestrials, why do some ufologists or UFO buffs readily accept the ET idea or suggestion?
The psychological mechanisms for coming to believe what is inherently an unbelievable account by, sometimes, a psychologically unstable individual are many.
The explanations for tying into a fantasy, hallucination, or outright lie cane be found in the psychiatric literature (especially psychoanalytic theory) and The Theory of Mind concepts.
Some UFO proponents empathize with someone like Betty who presented a honest persona and motherly stereotype.
That is, some believers in the Hill scenario came to accept the Betty Hill abduction account because they liked Ms. Hill, and harkened back to their childhood and identified with Betty as a mother-type, their mother-type.
Some UFO buffs just liked the story because it resonated with their childhood fantasies about space beings and other worlds: the Sci-Fi scenario.
(This Sci-Fi belief is the psychology that underpins the ongoing and obsessive Roswell saga.)
Then there is the “fright factor” – the appeal (as warped as it may be) of frightening stories, as presented in many fairy tales (and real life).
Some UFO enthusiasts like to be frightened, hypothetically, and identify with the anxiety and fear offered by tales such as the Pascagoula and Travis Walton abductions, along with the Hill experience.
When a UFO report or story surfaces, persons inclined to gullibility or worse will jump on the story if it impacts them at some level, unconsciously and/or consciously.
Objectivity is hard to come by, in any human arena, but UFOs and ufology are arenas that attract those at the edge of psychosis or something a bit less but still mentally challenging: Asperger’s for example. (There are several UFO notables that have or had Asperger’s, and many more on the cusp of mental derangement.)
It not only is incumbent for UFO “researchers” to look at core UFO reports but also to check out those who are furthering such reports.
(The same applies to skeptics: their psychological make-up needs as much, or more, scrutiny as those reporting a UFO experience or sighting.)