The alien abduction story and non-physical reality

William C. Treurniet, July, 2007

Summary. Analysis of the alien abduction story suggests that the sequence of events is comparable to some experiences of the shamanic spirit world as revealed by DMT, a hallucinogenic drug. In the trance state, some people see beings similar to those reported by abductees. Therefore, it is possible that abductees involuntarily manufacture excessive endogenous DMT, which then opens the door to the spirit world. Further, the physical evidence associated with some abductions suggests that happenings in the spirit world can manifest in the physical world. Finally, since the alien abductors appear in the DMT visions, they are inhabitants of the spirit world and likely are not directly responsible for the UFOs seen in the physical world.


Many people recognize the presence of unidentified flying objects (UFOs) in the skies around the earth. However, there is little physical evidence available to the public that would help to identify their origin with any degree of certainty. Their nature is further confused by stories about alien abductions. These have created a modern myth that puts a face to the extraterrestrials and attributes motives that may or may not be correct. This paper offers a useful distinction between the abductors and other extraterrestrials that may be visiting our world. It also expands our notion of reality to include an objective spirit world familiar to shamanic traditions.

What we know about UFOs has been gained by consistent observations over the years, and these allow us to list a number of accepted facts regarding the nature of these objects.

Facts from UFO sightings:

A possibly related phenomenon is the repeated temporary abductions of people by beings unknown. See a previous paper for a brief overview. The abductees describe their captors as alien to this earth, and often describe the place where they are taken as an alien spacecraft. Occasionally, a UFO is seen in the vicinity of an abduction and, sometimes, abductees report being transported off the earth in a spacecraft. Consequently, the abductors are often thought to be the occupants of the mysterious UFOs. However, there is little evidence for this conclusion. An excellent description of a typical abduction event is provided by David Jacobs who has spent many years investigating this phenomenon. Reports from many different abductees allow us to list a number of consistent observations associated with this phenomenon.

General characteristics of abductions:

Private observations:

Supporting evidence:

The private observations are from the viewpoint of the abductee, and are entirely subjective. Abduction reports consistent with the list of private observations do not necessarily include any supporting evidence. The supporting evidence is occasionally noticed after the abduction experience. For example, physical aftereffects from the medical procedures may be found, and there are occasional reports of shared abduction experiences, where two different individuals recall similar details in separate interview sessions.

Floating through walls does not happen in normal physical reality, and a medical procedure during a dream does not leave physical aftereffects. Yet, both phenomena are said to occur during some abductions. What kind of reality can accommodate these seemingly impossible events? To simplify the issue, I propose that we distinguish between two types of abduction scenarios - Type A and Type B. In the Type A abduction, the activity takes place entirely within the psyche of the abductee and there is no "supporting evidence". In the Type B abduction, physical effects or bystander observations occur as well.

The Type A abduction

The Type A abduction by itself might be attributable to a vivid dream if it were not for the fact that so many people appear to have had the same basic experience. The explanation quickly expands to include the Jungian concept of the collective unconscious, the source of archetypal imagery appearing in different people's dreams. Consistent with this idea is a more active description of reality that comes primarily from shamanic traditions practiced for thousands of years in many places around the world. For a shaman, reality consists of the physical world we know, as well as a spirit domain accessible via altered states of consciousness. Surprisingly, the imagery of the abduction experience is not unique in that it appears in this spirit world as well.

Several books have been written describing this more comprehensive understanding of reality. Of particular interest is Graham Hancock's book, Supernatural, David Pinchbeck's book, Breaking Open the Head: A Psychedelic Journey into the Heart of Contemporary Shamanism, and Rick Strassman's book, DMT: The Spirit Molecule. These authors describe drug-induced altered states where powerful archetypal imagery exists in a world far removed from normal reality. Strange beings are encountered with the ability to behave independently of the experiencer. The experiences are said to be as real as any in the physical world, and range from fearful violence to the mystical.

Strassman describes medical research into the effects of dimethyltryptamine (DMT), a fast-acting, endogenous psychedelic molecule. The subjective experiences of his research volunteers are related in detail in his book. Strassman emphasizes the importance of "set and setting" on the subjective effects of the drug. Nearly all volunteers commented on powerful vibrations or pulses of energy accompanying the onset of the drug, followed by a loss of body awareness and time perception. One type of experience was floating or flying through exotic spaces, a feeling of oneness with the universe and of love, joy, and acceptance. Another volunteer found himself on an operating room table with tubes attached to his body, but there were positive feelings toward humans in the room. Another found himself accompanied by a vaguely humanoid being who was interested in him and his fear. Another was surrounded by insectoid beings who consumed his feelings of love and surrender. Strassman commented on the strong similarity between DMT session reports and the scenarios reported by alien abductees.

DMT is also a component of potions used by indigenous peoples in some parts of the world to induce altered states of consciousness. Hancock and Pinchbeck describe their own personal journeys into the spirit world after drinking such potions. According to Hancock, an experienced shaman is master of all he encounters in the spirit world. He will have his own "spirit animals" who act as his guide and protector, and assist him in achieving his desired objectives. It appears that proper assistance in the spirit world can improve the quality of the experience.

With a sufficiently high dose of the potion, the typical user is propelled rapidly into a world of stunning visual effects followed by interactions with various strange beings. Hancock describes some as reptilian in appearance, while some are half human and half animal. Beings were encountered who dismembered the body and put it back together again with some alterations. Or, the body was impaled by sharp objects. Pinchbeck describes entities as "porcupine-quilled, tusked, multi-tongued, amoebic, but even those words are only approximations of entities". Of particular interest to us, a few of the beings encountered by both Hancock and some of Strassman's volunteers closely resemble the aliens described by abductees. Hancock's interactions with these beings suggested the possibility of imminent abduction into a metal spaceship much like a flying saucer. He describes one entity as an insect-like humanoid with a heart shaped face and slits for a nose and a mouth. The entity is accompanied by several smaller, less intelligent beings. Besides the similarity to the alien abducters, the seeming hierarchical social structure is typical of that observed during the abductions.

The DMT experience and the Type A abduction experience seem to have a number of elements in common. Perhaps the Type A abduction is a direct result of excess DMT release. DMT is an endogenous chemical and, according to Strassman, is part of the chemistry of the pineal gland situated just below the brain. It is conceivable that, under certain conditions, DMT production is accelerated and it is released into the brain environment. The result could be an abduction experience in the spirit world involving some of the beings described by Hancock and others. John Mack, a psychiatrist who studied the abduction phenomenon, learned that many abductions from people's homes take place in the early morning hours. Strassman notes that this is when the pineal gland is most active. Perhaps early morning DMT production facilitates alien encounters in predisposed individuals.

The Type B abduction

The concept of experiencing a separate spirit world by the appropriate adjustment of brain chemistry seems sufficient to explain the Type A abduction experience. So far, we have assumed that the physical or its proxy intrudes into the spirit world, and that the elements of the spirit world return no further into the physical world than the impact on the viewer's memory. Is it possible to extend this concept to also account for the additional effects that define the Type B abduction experience? In particular, could the physical aftereffects of the medical procedures be caused by the events experienced in the spirit world? Also, could it be possible to experience events in the spirit world jointly with another person?

According to Pinchbeck and Hancock, the spirit world is a place where new things can be learned. Further, it appears to be a reality where different people can simultaneously experience the same thing. For example, Pinchbeck entered this space with the assistance of a shaman and two elders, and felt the company of the others. Two of his acquaintances shared a vision of being observed by a small owl. Three others watched dolphins swimming. Therefore, if the abduction experience also occurs in the spirit world, two people abducted together should be able to independently describe the same events afterwards.

Pinchbeck believes that activity in the spirit world can directly impact the physical world. He gives the example of a shaman emerging from a long trance holding a new seed or plant needed for healing others. This suggests that consciousness operating in the spirit world can cause changes in the physical world. In his words, "The energy of conscious or unconscious beliefs and the willpower of human beings may create actual physical manifestations that take on a level of independence from any individual consciousness". Therefore, we should allow for the possibility that the abductees' implants and nicks on the skin are side effects of the activities in the spirit world. That is, they may emerge into the physical world prior to the return to a normal state of consciousness.

The remaining aspects of the Type B supporting evidence are more difficult to explain as direct effects of interactions with the spirit world. This evidence concerns observations of other people not directly involved in the abduction. For example, family members have missed abductees for the duration of the abduction, and other people have observed abductions in progress. In such cases, there is clearly physical displacement of the abductee from one location to another. The most parsimonious explanation is that there actually were abductors acting in the physical world, perhaps using unfamiliar technology. For example, in one case an abductee was seen to be moved to a UFO outside her apartment.

If we can accept the possibility that implants and marks on the skin are transported from the spirit world to the physical during the trance state, we might consider also that the entire abduction scenario has migrated from the spirit domain to the physical domain. Pinchbeck argues that UFOs and their occupants may be material thought forms that popped into existence in the physical world when a sufficient number of people believed in them (somewhat like Tinkerbell in the Peter Pan story). The UFOs and their occupants are both "imaginal" (in that they are created by believers) and real, in that they possess an independent existence. He argues that there is precedence for this kind of phenomenon in the Tulpa thought forms created from the psychic energy of Tibetan Buddists. So, the few abductions that have involved other people as observers may have been the work of physical thought forms bent on carrying out the script usually experienced in the spirit world.

Another argument in favor of a spirit world locus

The recognition that alien abductions take place in the spirit world sidesteps the problem raised by Craig Lang in the first issue of the Journal of Abduction Research (2007). He notes that, given the estimated number of people who have been abducted, there should be about 16 abductions per day in a large metropolitan area. Worldwide, there should be about 32000 abductions per day. This rate of abductions using physical craft and crew would be a severe logistical challenge from several points of view, and secrecy would be hard to maintain. On the other hand, the rate of abductions taking place in the spirit world would have no limit. Thus, the logistics argument further supports the reality of the spirit world as the locus for the abduction experience.

Human involvement in alien abductions

Although the evidence is slim, some abductees believe that a group of humans with their own agenda are collaborators in the abduction phenomenon. Some have reported seeing humans in military uniform participating in activities during the abduction experience. Some also suggest that unknown technological devices are used to control their mental processes. What kind of technology might be used to control a person's volition, thoughts, and awareness?

Michael Persinger, a neuroscientist at Laurentian University, found that when the right brain hemisphere of volunteers is stimulated with a particular electrical pattern, mystical feelings are often elicited such as the "sensed presence". He also found that altered perceptions and dream-like states are more likely to occur in conjunction with electromagnetic effects resulting from geophysical activity. Further, he suggests here that it may be technically feasible to affect large populations of people by artificial modulation of the geomagnetic field.

Wilbert Smith, a Canadian government scientist, described another technology that may interact directly with human mental activity. He claimed to have received, via channeling, a description of a tensor beam from extraterrestrial visitors. He understood the tensor beam to be a means for communicating with the aliens, although he never mastered it. He described its use as something like "wiggling one's ears". However, the tensor beam may not be a communications channel as we understand it, but a device for inducing a brain state in the user appropriate for contacting beings in the spirit world. The latter is consistent with the way the technical information was obtained; that is, by channeling a being in the spirit world.

Nefarious humans, for some unknown reason, could conceivably be using either form of electromagnetic stimulation to exercise control over the consciousness of a target population. However, it is unlikely that such technology alone would be able to produce the complex imagery of the abduction experience. Therefore, the apparent military abductions would need to involve human participation and physical props. If these were the cause of all abductions, we would again have the logistical problem outlined by Craig Lang. So it is possible that some abductions were perpetrated by humans, but most must still have taken place in the spirit world. It should be noted that David Jacobs' investigations convinced him that the agents of military abductions are adult alien hybrids in uniform.

Control over the abduction experience

The realization that the alien abduction experience may take place in the spirit world offers therapists a possible means to stop it from happening. They might want to consider the possibility of chemical intervention to prevent the release of excessive DMT from the pineal gland. Medication designed to control the level of endogenous DMT should limit undesired entry into the spirit world. Alternatively, administration of additional DMT might generate the abduction experience on demand in susceptible people so that it can be studied scientifically.

Are aerial UFOs a separate phenomenon?

The majority of aerial UFOs observed over the years do not necessarily participate in the alien abduction script. Their occupants may just be extraterrestrials visiting earth from other physical worlds. If so, it is unlikely that they will resemble the "Grays" since these are observed in the spirit world. If physical entities are seen that have the appearance of the Grays, we should entertain the possibility that their origin is non-physical. They may be either thought forms that have spilled over from the spirit world when conditions were right, or creations of other physical beings inspired by their own forays into the spirit world.