Why John Mack was wrong about Mental Illness and ET contact

Some of you will recall me saying that I don’t believe in the concept of mental illness. I see it as a form of social engineering, constructed on the basis of clustering of symptoms. In fact, for me, the idea of mental illness, seems to be about grouping symptoms and saying “these aspects of the human condition, taken to the extreme, are not normal, let us label them and treat them as if they were like physical illnesses”. Which of course begs the question of what is the human condition and what is normal. Now this is a huge subject and I could write a book on how the American Psychiatric Association and it’s bible The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diagnostic_and_Statistical_Manual_of_Mental_Disorders) has taken control of the human condition and fucked the world over. So for now I will just say that I don’t believe in the concept of mental illness but I do believe in a lack of self-awareness and cognitive disturbances. The fact that drug companies provide almost a third of the APA’s budget and support many of the interventions recommended by the APA/DSM, further demonstrates how the human condition has been commodified and supports some very dirty business, that I believe is being actively orchestrated from above and within. Of course many people who work with people in the mental health field are just doing their job as best as they can. They know little about alternative ways of seeing the human condition and have been conditioned to think that mental illness is as valid as physical illness. Personally, I wonder how we can even conceive of mental illness, when we can’t even clearly define what mental or mind is ! How can we categorize and define illnesses when we don’t even have a good understanding of the basis of mind or mental states ? I just don’t get it !

I remember somewhere in John Mack’s Passport to the Cosmos (the best book I know on ET contact) or on his website, I read about how they came to study the 200 odd abductees/experiencers who were part of their project and in it I recall a very interesting point that has been looked over. I think it was Roberta Colasanti, who was John Mack’s trusted offsider (and a very competent clinical social worker in her own right), who indicated how they screened out people who had obvious psychological problems. I wish I could find the exact details of that but I can’t. So I would like to talk to that point because I think it’s critical to the perception of ET contact and how we see the ETs.

So if I understand this correctly, John Mack’s research team went looking for people who claimed to have ET contact and they screened out people with obvious psychological problems. Then in one of the Program for Extraordinary Experience Research (PEER) studies, they looked at the prevalence of mental illness among the group of abductees/contactees they were working with, compared to the normal population. They discovered that 17 % had depressive symptoms, 1 % had schizophrenia and 1 % had bipolar disorder.  That seems like a reasonable finding to me. The question I suppose that begs to be asked, is do these so-called mental illnesses, represent distortions in how people perceive reality ? I don’t know the answer to that but I suspect that sometimes the answer is yes !

In Blowing the Western Mind (http://johnemackinstitute.org/1991/09/blowing-the-western-mind/) John Mack says :

“Psychiatric evaluations and psychological studies of abductees, including several of my own cases, have failed to identify consistent psychopathology. Abductees may, of course, suffer from mental and emotional distress as a result of their often traumatic experiences, and a few have been found to have accompanying psychiatric conditions. Many come from troubled family backgrounds. But in no instance has the emotional disorder provided an explanation for the abduction experience.”

I really respect John Mack but I am not sure how he reached the conclusion he states in that final line. I think sometimes a lack of self awareness/cognitive disturbances, can account for some experiences. Although I agree with him that no consistent psychopathology seems to present itself among abductees. 

In Why the Abduction Experience Cannot be Explained Away Psychiatrically (http://johnemackinstitute.org/1992/06/why-the-abduction-phenomenon-cannot-be-explained-psychiatrically/), John Mack says :

“With these basic aspects of the abduction phenomenon in mind let us consider once again the above diagnostic possibilities. Any form of psychosis can be ruled out simply on the grounds that abductees, with rare exceptions, are clinically quite normal, and, despite the stress related to their abduction experiences, generally function well in society. Three of my own cases that I have subjected to an extensive battery of psychological tests were diagnosed as mentally healthy. Psychoneurosis can be ruled out by the fact that abductees do not appear to suffer from the sorts of intense personal conflict that characterizes the neuroses. Similarly, the experiences cannot be explained as fantasies since they do not appear to relate to other aspects of the subjects personality or emotional life.”

So here’s where I disagree with Dr Mac. Psychosis (lets call it a lack of self-awareness and cognitive disturbance) cannot be ruled out because John Mack’s team filtered out the people who were most appropriate to their research. So what about all the other people who claim to have abduction experiences or meet Reptilians training for war in underground car parks or Mantids that are actually their mother ? I’ve been on the ARNET/the internet since 1991 (maybe 92 ?), and remember talking to so-called abductees on news groups right back at the beginning. I’ve also worked with a diverse group of hundreds of people in psychotherapy and have heard many stories of abduction. I’ve also met many people in passing and people I know well, who tell stories of abduction. And to be honest, many of these people who tell these stories are clearly unwell and suffering from a lack of self awareness and some sort of cognitive disturbance. I mean, I have heard some real crazy stories from people you would not trust to be in the same room as your pet. Then I’ve met people with good jobs and normal families who are clearly missing something. Something is not quite right in their cognitive functioning ! And yet, there are many people also, who lack awareness and have cognitive disturbances and people who are perfectly healthy in their heads, who are having ET contact. Just because you have some problem in the psyche, doesn’t mean you’re not having contact. But it’s the quality of the narrative about the experience and the narrative about the person’s life, that to me, is the give away.

So lets imagine that everything we know about ET contact and ETs comes from personal experience and what other people tell us. There are people in real life and on the internet, who have wounded psyche’s, who are convinced they are having contact, totally oblivious to the distortions being created in their minds. These people’s stories are mixed in with everyone elses stories. And if you look at the themes which come through about ET contact and the nature of the ETs, you can recognize some of the themes that are coming through from people who lack self-awareness and who are deluded. They stand out a mile away. But then you add a little bit of disinformation, you add a lot of stupidity and lack of discernment and you add the different kind of fears that people hold in their hearts and the conditioning of certain religions and you have one big fucking mess !

So I think that if we are to investigate this subject and we really want to know about the prevalence of mental illness (lack of self-awareness/cognitive disturbances), we need to look honestly at the whole population of people claiming contact. Any research into the subject of mental illness among professed abductees/contactees, must develop a sense of looking at the whole picture because it’s the whole picture that’s creating many of the stories, ideas and myths that pass as true – whether they are or are not.

Taking John Mack’s side, I think it’s important we drop the label of mental illness and start looking at what the so-called ET contact experience says about the nature of real contact experiences and imagined contact experiences. And I think the best way to do that using the tools we have now, is through Transpersonal Psychology. Of TP wikpedia says (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transpersonal_psychology)  :

“Transpersonal psychology is a sub-field or “school” of psychology that integrates the spiritual and transcendent aspects of the human experience with the framework of modern psychology. It is also possible to define it as a “spiritual psychology”. The transpersonal is defined as “experiences in which the sense of identity or self extends beyond (trans) the individual or personal to encompass wider aspects of humankind, life, psyche or cosmos”.[1] It has also been defined as “development beyond conventional, personal or individual levels”.”

Normal psychological models are hopelessly inadequate and ill equipped to embrace the totally of the ET contact experience. They either pathologize the experience of the human condition or frame it in the context of what is considered normal or acceptable by societies standards. Further in Blowing the Western Mind Dr Mack says :

“The fact is that academic departments of psychology and psychiatry, and even therapeutic models, are dominated by a mechanistic, dualistic view of the psyche based on the Newtonian/Cartesian world view. Defenses and rigidly defined mental structures, compartmentalized divisions of the psyche, and self/other or self/object dichotomies are the stuff of everyday discourse in the psychology and mental health fields. However, change is occurring gradually, due to the influence of several factors: experiential and growth-promoting transformational models, the transpersonal psychology movement, the introduction of non-Western healing methods, a new emphasis on spirituality in therapeutic dialogue, and the feminist-inspired emphasis on relationship and connection. But fear of subjectivity and “mysticism,” confusion of spirituality with traditional religion, reliance on exclusively sensory/empirical or cognitive/intellectual knowledge, and habitual dependence on quantifiability for academic respectability and advancement have made the psychology professions particularly slow to move toward the new world view.

New psychological or, more accurately, psycho-spiritual, approaches are helping to accelerate the shift in world view within the psychology field. These techniques include meditation; various bodywork techniques; Grof breathwork; affectively powerful art, music, and dance; new forms of educational mentoring; men’s and women’s experiential workshops; and the judicious use of psychedelic agents. All share the healing and assumption-shattering power of nonordinary states of consciousness. By reaching affectively to the deepest levels of self-awareness, these methods release creative psychic energies and, most important, overcome the dualities that the Western mind has assumed are the only ways of experiencing reality. These techniques also bring us into contact with spiritual realities outside the material world, force us to confront the cycles of birth, death, and rebirth, cut through the intensity of our attachment to the material world, and allow us to discover our true place in the universe.”

So, as Dr Mack so elegant suggests, we do have the tools to understand this phenomenon. But what really matters is how the tools help us to interpret the phenomenon. When, for example, is a professed experience of ET contact, reflecting projections from within the psyche, in an attempt to express some deep inner need and when does it reflect an actual encounter with something outside the small self ? Or when, for example, does a professed experience of ET contact, suggest an encounter with something physically tangible in this reality or an encounter something equally real in another reality. And what about when an encounter suggests that something is both without and within ?

I don’t believe any research into the ET contact phenomenon, has any real value, unless we look back at ourselves and ask “How do I interpret this, why do I interpret it this way and what does this mean to me ?”. Tools like TP show us that we live in a far greater reality than we are led to believe.A reality that is both subjective and objective. A reality that is within and without. The real difficulty for those interested in learning the truth, is how to discover when experience is purely subjective and when experience is both subjective and objective – in some discernible way. Perhaps this is where the greatest difficulty lay, in that ET contact often takes us beyond ordinary states of consciousness and outside the realm of what is believable or accessible to others. Somewhere in all of this, there is a fine line between real and unreal, actual and imagined.

Although I disagree with the fundamental conclusion John Mack had about the prevalence of so called mental illness, I believe that he was a pioneer in thinking about how we could approach the phenomenon of ET contact. If only John Mack was still here to light the way !

Further reading here :


About brightgarlick

Ecclectic kinda guy, who loves life and saviours each day as it is.

Posted on February 25, 2015, in Other Peoples ET Contacts, Rants, Researchers, Spirituality, Symbology and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. I like these questions, and I think they are a great start to where we can start to head. I also have a bit of a sensitive spot to this idea of mental illness, and have strong thoughts pertaining to it. Mostly because I have perceptions that are close to me that support it, and from what you have shared I would imagine that you can relate.

    One thing I can say for now, is that I did eventually end up finding your testimony (funny thing is, I was not even looking), and I think that “truth,” or perhaps we say “universal truth” to keep it non relative, can have an opportunity to be noticed. In this case, I “believe” that is what occurred with me. Of course I can not be 100% certain of what you or anyone else says (I include myself in that, but can anything have 100% certainty?), however at least I can accept and acknowledge “your” perception and always keep it as a possibility, and I think pretty much everyone who visits this blog can relate.

    I am going to think about this topic some more, because it smells like good food for thought. Thank you for sharing

    • I like your honesty MN. Have you heard of the anti psychiatry movement – not including Scientology ? Thames Szaz and Wiiliam Glassner are two good pioneers in this field. And of course Transpersonal Psychology has lots of people who have contributed other models. Thinking and questioning is a great place to begin.

      I studied the DSM and went to seminars by leading EXPERTS in the mental illness field and what I saw was blindness to the full gamet of the human condition. And people I worked with who were married to their diagnosis. Gotta be carefull of how we wear any label in society or it shapes who we let ourselves be !

  2. Just looked up anti psychiatry movement. Very interesting. People have made some good points, and I agree that perhaps the whole pharmaceutical industry needs to be questioned.

    I feel like I can safely say that I witnessed such a marriage as well. It is very intriguing.

    I think there are some great psychiatrists out there, but also I am not sure that all of them are aware of the power that the patients unknowingly give to them.

  3. Hey (VERY BRIGHT) Bright–

    As usual great blog entry with lots of terrific cogitation goin’ on! Just checking in with my latest (subjective lay person) perception of individual consciousness.

    To preface I am on a low dose of anti-depressant medication and have been for sometime. Subjectively I know that whatever biochemical interaction in my brain as a result of taking the medication has resulted in my having “events” during stages of sleep, particularly when I am very tired and/or very relaxed (guess they could be considered the same thing, although sometimes when I am tired I am not very relaxed but can become agitated and uptight).

    Two consciousness “events” over the past two weeks have me wondering how the heck the interactions in my brain (electromagnetic/neurotransmitter, etc.) are able to produce such effects (or is it a combination of only internal physiological working or a combination of internal with data reception? or what!)–

    A) for some reason the pineal gland/mind’s eye (okay I close my eyes and focus in between my eyes and the image while eyes closed becomes one gigantic eye) has been “receiving” some interesting images; woke up one morning to find myself as if I were an outside observer looking at the “big eye” with the night sky contained within the “big eye” (beautiful!) and

    B) Last night I could physically feel myself receiving/seeing dots of light and then faces of “aliens” and then a very small “tv screen with snow” and on the tv screen with snow it had words displayed. The only words I can remember reading–“We have arrived”. And finally I had my very lucid “streaming images” display with thousands of faces going by for me to look at (some recognized, some not) streaming horizontally this time (makes sense; we look back and forth/up and down).

    Okay, okay, so I’ve dramatized my very individual states of consciousness while asleep. But what the heck. Thanks for listening, thanks for reading, and thanks always for such good thinking Down Under!!

    Best regards,
    Lisa from the East

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