Categorizng Madness….in Ufology
The noted anti-psychiatry doctor, Thomas Szasz, railed about mental illness claiming that there was no such thing – sort of like Zoam Chomsky who dismisses UFOs as a palpable canard.
For Dr. Szasz, mental illness is a metaphor for the vicissitudes of normal, daily living with its accompanying stresses.
Two books that outline his thesis are The Myth of Mental Illness (1961) and The Manufacture of Madness (1970) and I’m reading his Insanity: The Idea and Its Consequences [John Wiley & Son, NY, 1987]. (His book Schizophrenia: The Sacred Symbol of Psychiatry is on my Amazon buy list.)
Wilipedia about Dr. Szasz:
Now it’s obvious that I’m a fan of Dr. Szasz, having been taught by and worked with psychiatrists, knowing that most of them (all of them?) are as loopy or loopier than their patients.
But there are workable categories that do define mental misbehavior or “illness” and some of those categories seem to apply to members of the UFO community, all of whom can be categorized as loopy, in my estimation….even me, as most of you would agree.
In Ufology we find a hefty element of the paranoid types: those claiming that the government and/or military has been covering up the truth about UFOs, mostly that they are a vanguard of alien species, who’ve been arriving on Earth for years, and even crashing near Roswell in 1947.
Within Ufology one can find a raft of schizophrenics: the hebephrenic, the paranoid (a more severe form of the malady noted above), the schizothyme, and the most common of all, the compensation schizophrenic, those with feelings of inferiority that show up as delusions of grandeur, as the core of their psychosis. [Psychiatric Dictionary, Fourth Edition, Hinsie/Campbell, Oxford University Press]
Of course, everyone knows or should, even those afflicted themselves, that UFO abductees (experiencers) suffer from or employ a psychoanalytic-defined mental condition: Abreaction (German: Abreagieren), a psychoanalytical term for reliving an experience to purge it of its emotional excesses—a type of catharsis. Sometimes it is a method of becoming conscious of repressed traumatic events; the release of emotional tension achieved through recalling a repressed traumatic experience.
Psychiatrists see the traumatic event(s), sought to be purged, as primarily sexual in nature.
Then there is the delusional crowd, almost everyone who thinks they have seen a UFO.
Such persons are not mentally debilitated but have had or are prone to have an hallucinatory experience, brought on by drugs, averse stimulants, alcohol or like substances that cause neurological malfunction(s).
These kinds of madness are often transitory and covered amply in the writings of the late Oliver Sacks.
Most Ufologists would likely admit neurotic feelings that often envelop them in their concern about the UFO phenomenon, but few, if any, would see their despair or enthusiasm as a kind of manic/depression, bi-polar “disease.”
That UFO ET believers are prone to wish-fulfillment is obvious and thus a category in the Madness realm.
And like Dr. Szasz about psychiatry, many of you will not see your attraction to ufology or the UFO phenomenon as real madness, let alone outright insanity, but there it is.
UFOs may be a myth or a phenomenal metaphor, but those attracted to UFOs, often submersed in the topic, are beyond the madness metaphor; they are mentally aberrant in ways that skitter close to the psychiatric extremes noted above.