Continued from part 1: Sleep paralysis and alien abductions (part 1)


Gwen Farrell

Having worked with many Experiencers (ET contactee/abductees), studying the functions of the human mind as a therapist and looking into ET abduction/contact as an investigator, I've come to some solid conclusions about the existence of sleep paralysis and as a component of the ET contact/abduction phenomenon.

If you are an ET Experiencer, you may be have waked suddenly from sleep and observed or felt strange things going on in the room, beings standing at your bedside, touching you and possibly even verbalizing, while you are unable to physically react. It’s one of the most common and most terrifying aspects of the ET experience. 

Science declares that such experiences are not paranormal events, but actually sleep paralysis, a fairly commonplace, physiological function that everyone with a normal brain has experienced at least once, and in some cases, chronically.

So who's right, Experiencers or science? I think the answer is both.


Sleep paralysis (REM Atonia) is a natural phenomenon in which an individual awakens from sleep and temporarily experiences an inability to move, speak or react and which is sometimes accompanied by strange and terrifying hallucinations, including sensory effects.

Sleep paralysis appears to occur at a transitional state between wakefulness and sleep that roughly corresponds to the Theta level of brainwave activity (4-7 hz). Since you pass through Theta when you fall asleep and again when you wake up, it can occur at either point. When that happens, somehow your awareness of sleeping and waking can overlap – a state in which your mind thinks you are awake and your body thinks you are asleep.  You are aware, but unable to speak or move. 

While some Experiencers report being abducted or contacted during daylight, most such events occur at night. Why? A simple explanation is that ET visitors approach the subject at night when the individual is in deep sleep and unable to resist. In most cases, this works and the nocturnal visitors go about their business and then leave their subject unaware. But if, for some reason, the subject wakes up mentally but not physically, a classic case of sleep paralysis can result. In this case the individual is still physically asleep and unable to resist, but is aware of activities going on around him or involving him. 

So yes, scientists are right – certain Experiencers are experiencing sleep paralysis. At the same time, they are being abducted or contacted by ETs. Because an individual experiences sleep paralysis doesn't mean that they are not also experiencing an ET abduction.  The existence of one does not preclude the existence of the other.

Gwen Farrell, CHt, RT, is an Experiencer therapist, UFO investigator, CE5 researcher, and intuitive counselor in Phoenix, Arizona. 


Nadine Lalich

The following is a response to Christopher C French, of Goldsmiths, the University of London, explanation in an article for The Psychologist as to why people may be 'abducted' by aliens:

Dr. French: A rare form of the condition (sleep paralysis) which can involve hallucinations or the feeling of being dragged out of bed, may explain alien abductions that people sincerely believe happened but can't remember.

Rare: How rare is “rare?” 
In their 2011 paper Prevalence of Sleep Paralysis, Sharpless and Barber combined more than 30 studies on sleep paralysis prevalence from a variety of cultures and groups, giving them a sample size of over 36,000. They concluded that approximately 8% of ordinary people (with no extreme psychiatric illness) experience sleep paralysis. That would also conclude that approximately 8% of ordinary persons who are also ET contactees experience sleep paralysis. If, as Dr. French claims, sleep paralysis with hallucinations is rare, then the numbers of abductees that could attribute their experiences to sleep paralysis with hallucinations would be far less than 8%.

Dragged out of bed: Yes, there are some reports where experiencers may describe being “dragged out of bed,” but far more often, when it happens indoors it is a much more subtle experience, i.e., floating upward, walking out of the house, being wide awake when the event begins. Often times, an experiencer is overwhelmed with the desire to go outside or take a drive into a remote area where a contact later occurs. Contacts also happen outside in the daytime or evening, while driving a car and fully lucid, where two people are involved at the same time, and sometimes with mass sightings of the event. 

Can’t Remember: There is a large number of experiencers who DO remember an event spontaneously and immediately afterwards, without the aid of hypnosis. Certainly, as in all abduction/contact cases, whether recalled spontaneously or through hypnosis, an experiencer must always take into consideration the fact that portions of the memory could be distorted due to the fact that the abductors always attempt to mentally and emotionally subdue the abductee through unknown means. This includes stimulating false scenarios into the abductee's consciousness in order to more easily manipulate them, and also as an experimental tool to study human emotions. 

However, after repeated contact the fear level drops, allowing many abductees to retain consciousness longer after a contact begins, thus improving attention and comprehension. Many of these experiencers are quite discerning and demonstrate a high degree of intelligence and competency in the management of their ordinary lives. Certainly in such experiencers these same attributes would also come into play when reviewing anomalous events. In analyzing their experiences they recognize that a good portion of these events occur under varying degrees of altered states, yet still find that portions of these experiences remain valid and worthy of investigation. Also, over time the intelligent and discerning experiencer instincts and intuition corroborate credibility. 

Dr. French: He noted that most of the people making these claims are clinically sane, but their belief in life in outer space may influence what they see or feel in strange situations.

If that is true, then wouldn't it also be true that Dr. French’s lack of belief in life in outer space is also determining his inflexible view that all abduction claims have no basis in reality?

Dr. French: …some people suffer from rare forms, which cause them to 'feel' an evil presence or hallucinate by seeing lights or grotesque faces, hearing voices…

Again the use of “rare.” Regarding the “evil presence,” although many contactees are initially frightened of what is happening to them, there are also many accounts of abduction where the abductees do not see the experience or the abductors as evil.  Regarding “hearing voices,” most, if not all abductees agree that ETs do not speak out loud (hear voices), but rather employ a form of telepathy for communication.

Dr. French : …hypnotic regression therapy may be responsible for planting false memories in people's brains.

Personally, having conscious recall of the many contact/abduction events that have occurred throughout my life, I have only experienced a half dozen regressions. Although the hypnotherapist in each case was unaware of my initial conscious recollections, the regressions never negated my original interpretation, but only served to expand slightly on the information. 

How can we tell sleep paralysis and abductions apart?

As a lifelong experiencer of anomalous contact, I have also experienced sleep paralysis on several occasions in my life, specifically, when I was physically ill. During those episodes my eyes were open, I was unable to move my body in any fashion, and I did feel fearful as though an unknown presence might be in the room. I had no visuals nor heard any sounds, and the feelings passed in a couple of minutes. Analyzing the two types of events, in no way did the sleep paralysis episodes mirror my experience of what I do consider ET contact.


Andrew Hennessey

A couple of initial comments need to be made.  First, the article begins with describing the stories of 'abductees' as "experiences of alien contact that people don't remember." In fact, they remember enough to tell their story and often with singular clarity and detail, sometimes with no prior belief in aliens whatsoever and with nothing to gain from telling it but possible ridicule. 

Secondly, the psychologist, a specialist in the psychology of paranormal belief and experiences, writing from the standpoint of an eminent university researcher for a prestigious magazine, has a lot more to gain in the publish-or-perish culture that exists at many universities than a traumatised abductee, namely, prestige and another publication notched up. 

Moreover, to assume that the abductees may have been influenced by a prior interest in aliens or by media stories about aliens and then build a theory around this assumption by then associating it with a known sleeping state is totally assumptive. It is not good science and should not be admissible as part of any theory that puts itself forward as 'scientific' or sound.  

It can also be said that the author needs to apply the same criteria of self-reflection on himself as he does on his subjects. He states: "their belief in life in outer space may influence what they see or feel in strange situations." One indeed needs to keep an open mind as to whether or not an individual has been influenced in some way by his or her prior belief in aliens or alien culture from the media or otherwise. At the same time, there can be no doubt whatsoever that this psychologist is strongly influenced by a strictly held positivist belief and bias within the scientific community where the ‘psyche’ is little more than some sort of chemical response to stimuli, in this case sleep phenomena. He adheres as well to a non-belief in aliens which seems simply too far-fetched given the little observable evidence. He then applies this scientific bias to one of the few remaining areas within scientific research that still carries a lot of unknowns, i.e. 'sleep'.  Whereas this move is clever, it is not clever enough. He builds a theory on a dubious assumption, i.e. that these abductees, all of them, in some way have been extraordinarily influenced by their own or others’ belief in aliens, enough to sink into their psyche to a profound degree as though hypnotised. Then, he dismisses the actual events they have relayed outright, and ties this to a bad night’s sleep, thereby creating a comfortable, and importantly, acceptable take on 'alien abduction'. 

French has no special insight here. His theory does not adequately include or even touch upon the experiences themselves of the abductees, except to dismiss them outright and then slot their thought processes and physical responses to these processes within a new theory associated with ‘sleep’ that has more unknowns and biases than the alien world that has been rejected.