"A Bleak Cold Account"

Ann Andrews and Jean Ritchie. Abducted - The True Story of Alien Abduction in Rural England. Headline, 1998.

Of all the sad pantheon of books about allegedly abducted individuals, this probably demonstrates the persuasiveness of the abduction mythos most clearly. A bleak, cold account of the difficult life of a child who was still only fourteen when the book was published, and his mother - co-author of the book - offered him up for media publicity, it was widely reported on, and was uncritically serialized over four days in the Sun. I understand that the mother wouldn't speak to any known sceptic in the course of the publicity. The Mail on Sunday suggested that the family might have received £60,000 for the book and serialization.

You'll expect me to summarize the story of this child and his experiences, and I can to the extent that it includes the typical elements of the abduction mythos. Mysterious disappearances, journeys through locked doors, strange powers, knowledge, and communications. Unexplainable, if shortlived, injuries to the child, and disease, mutilation, death, and unexplained disappearance for animals on the family smallholding. All that you could believe or disbelieve, depending on your attitude.

But it isn't as simple as that. There are two distinctly different, contradictory versions of this story, one published here, in 1998, the other written by Tony Dodd for the March/April 1996 issue of UFO Magazine. They differ in several vital respects, most importantly that in the earlier account the child had no strange experiences till he was eight, in the later they started - in a big way - when he was just four.

Its impossible for both versions to be true. I've written to Tony Dodd - who is much praised in the book as its primary investigator - and to the publishers, asking for answers to a set of very specific questions, but both have avoided any endeavour to resolve these contradictions. Consequently, although the accounts allegedly deal with the same events, and derive from the work of the same investigator, both are rendered useless for any serious reader. We cannot tell which, if either, is in any way true. And I wonder if the publishers actually know any more in that respect than me.

Both versions describe a child who had/has serious behavioural problems at home and school, problems which warranted psychological and psychiatric intervention. We are told little of any diagnosis that was made, but the professional view is generally dismissed: the story is that, three years or so ago, this child saw a TV programme featuring a man who had produced, under hypnosis, 'memories' of being abducted by aliens. The family decided that their child, too, was an abductee, read UFO books and magazines, and found a UFO investigator to assist them. While the family's active search for publicity and its material advantages may undermine any serious analysis of the development of this case, it seems that they were happy to find what appeared to be a plausible explanation - excuse, even - for the child's problems. Indeed, despite a strangely uninvolved account of the child's decision to end his own life at one stage, the family seem to have taken to their status.

Tony Dodd, himself both an abductee and old-style contactee, said of the child that "Having been selected for multiple abductions, I feel the aliens will follow him for many years to come, probably all his life. But he will come to terms with it He'll find a way of coping. I think he may, eventually, prove to be a very important abductee. Some of the experiences he has had make me think he is being groomed as a 'teacher', a human who is entrusted by the aliens with messages for the whole of mankind."

Since Dodd's involvement, the child's experiences have continued, and his elder brother has recalled a range of anomalous experiences. The mother has found that she has been an abductee since childhood, and believes she may have found a reason for a lost pregnancy. One of the book's strong, but undiscussed, assertions is that "...she began to look again at the circumstances of her father's life, and to see a pattern there which suggests he, too, was an abductee. It is not a case of lightning striking three times in the same place... abductees pass on a devastating legacy to the next generation. Abduction runs in families."

If a professional, objective investigation of this case were possible, it could become the most important study of the development of an ET-based belief since When Prophecy Fails. There, it was a group of believers who chose each other in the context of the contactee movement of the Fifties, with strong overtones of Theosophy. Here, we have a case in the context of the X-Files mythos of the Nineties, actually involving just one family. Although the close involvement of other believers is certainly important, these are not just people brought together by their beliefs: instead, the family members have gradually emerged as experiencers, convinced, presumably, by the interpretations placed on their life experiences by outsiders.

Hypnosis has not been necessary: the cultural and social context of this family's search for a solution to various of its problems, some perhaps more material than others, has been quite enough to produce this unsatisfactory account of unlikely events. Events which seem destined to remain hidden behind the kind of shroud of secrecy that abduction investigators - Tony Dodd included - generally purport to deplore.  -- Reviewed by Kevin McClure. Published in Magonia 64, August 1998

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