Some people even have PTSD-like symptoms.

There are thousands of people worldwide who are convinced that they were once abducted by aliens. But while their testimonies are usually taken with a grain of salt by society, we should be cautious about downplaying the impact the alleged kidnapping has on these people. Because it can be sincere and far-reaching, say researchers in an unpublished but already peer-reviewed report. study which will be in the magazine soon Explore appears.


The researchers base their conclusion on a study of 51 people, 19 of whom claimed to have been abducted by aliens. It concerns 9 women and 10 men, with an average age of almost 48 years. Although they all reported experiencing an alien abduction, their experiences with the kidnappers varied widely. Some saw strange lights in the sky shortly before their abduction, others reported that electronic devices – such as radio and television – had been disrupted after the abduction. Most had been abducted overnight, but two people were abducted in broad daylight and four people were in the company of someone else. And for three of the 19 people, it wouldn’t have ended with just one alien abduction. A large proportion of the people abducted by aliens also reported a memory gap: they had no memories of some of the abduction. What is also striking is that some people did not even experience the kidnapping as very unpleasant.

Control group

In addition to 19 people abducted by aliens, the study also included 32 people who had never been abducted by aliens. They formed the control group. This consisted of 15 women and 17 men, with a mean age of 47.3 years.

To test

All subjects then underwent three tests. The first test determined the extent to which they exhibited symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This was followed by a suggestivity test. This test determined the tendency of the subjects to quickly and blindly embrace the ideas, beliefs, attitudes or actions of others. And during the last test, it was then examined to what extent the subjects were familiar with dissociation (this is the case when people, as it were, detach from reality for a while and certain thoughts, emotions, memories or perceptions temporarily do not enter, are recallable or show less cohesion). . After the tests, the study authors – both clinical psychologists by profession – interviewed all subjects to identify any serious psychological problems (from psychosis to personality and dissociation disorders). The experiences of people abducted by aliens were also discussed in detail.


The study found that PTSD-like symptoms were slightly more frequent – ​​but not significantly more frequent – ​​in the abductee group than in the control group. Nine out of 19 people who were convinced they had been abducted by aliens could be diagnosed with PTSD. That is 47.3 percent, which makes PTSD – based on this small-scale study – slightly more common among aliens abducted than among people who have been kidnapped by members of the same species (and who end up with PTSD in almost 46 percent of the cases). . Seven others also showed PTSD-like symptoms, but not enough to meet the criteria for PTSD. Only three subjects did not show any PTSD symptom.

According to the researchers, it shows that the alleged kidnappings have a far-reaching impact at least for some of the abductees. “The affected individuals often suffer influential, real-world consequences (that the kidnapping has) on their mental health,” the researchers write.


Another striking conclusion is that the control group scored significantly higher on the suggestivity test. Apparently the people in this group took things for granted more quickly than the people abducted by aliens. It suggests that suggestiveness cannot be used to help explain the experiences of aliens abducted, the researchers say. Because these people – at least based on this small-scale study – are actually more critical about what they see and hear than others.


The alien-abducted people then scored higher — but not significantly higher — on the final test, suggesting that these people are slightly more familiar with dissociative experiences than the control group. In some test subjects we see this clearly in the descriptions of their experiences. For example, when they report a gap in their memories of the kidnapping. “But we didn’t see this phenomenon in all people, which further emphasizes how diverse the characteristics of our subjects and their experiences are,” the researchers write.

Follow-up research

More research is desperately needed. Even after this investigation, it remains unclear where the alien abductions originated. Most researchers are convinced that in the hunt for answers, we should not so much look upwards, but rather look at ourselves. “The testimonials of people who claim to have been abducted by aliens are incredibly fascinating, but often they have more to do with the human psyche than with life on other planets.” According to the researchers, this is underlined, among other things, by the fact that the memories of the alleged kidnappings – although they are often not taken seriously by society – are nevertheless taken very seriously by the ‘victims’. “It is a strong indication that memory is both malleable and complicated.” But exactly how that leads to real-life memories of something many of us consider improbable remains shrouded in mystery.

Scientists have tried to find explanations for the memories of extraterrestrial experiences. For example, psychoses, personality disorders and dissociative disorders can lead to delusions, such as alien abductions. But data suggests that such serious disorders are not more common among people who believe they have been abducted by aliens. The hypothesis that all alien abductions are hoaxes also seems untenable. Because hoaxes like to be exposed by their creators and many people abducted by aliens prefer not to talk about it publicly. But there are also hypotheses that seem to make sense even after further research. The sleep paralysis hypothesis is one of them. Sleep paralysis is a fairly common sleep disorder in which the muscles in the body are paralyzed shortly before falling asleep or shortly after awakening and often accompanied by hallucinations, and in which people sometimes feel anxious and may feel that they are floating. “Such an experience can be interpreted as an alien abduction,” the researchers said, who also cite various explanations for the alien abductions in their study.

So the last word has not yet been said about the nature of the experiences of people who have been through an alien abduction. But for now we can assume that these kidnappings – regardless of their nature – can have negative consequences for the health of the victims. “Abductees may exhibit an emotional response similar to PTSD because – regardless of whether their memories are correct or not – their fear is real.”