Post Abduction Syndrome (PAS)
Description of an Emerging Syndrome
Proposed by Rose Hargrove, RN
February 14, 2000
This proposal of a new and emerging syndrome will attempt to define the
cluster of symptoms and behaviors that develop in some individuals in response
to the alien abduction phenomenon. Post Abduction Syndrome (PAS) (Westrum, 1986)
is an anxiety disorder that is closely related to Posttraumatic Stress Disorder
(APA, 1994). It is characterized by the re-experiencing- of abduction related
memories, fragments, or distortions of those memories and is accompanied by
symptoms of increased anxiety and by avoidance of stimuli related to abduction
memories or abduction related events. The affected person may experience levels
of anxiety that interfere with functioning in personal, occupational, or social
The requisite feature of Post Abduction Syndrome is the development of
distinctive symptomatology in relation to the experience of the alien abduction
phenomenon which is often ongoing in contrast to Posttraumatic Stress Disorder
or Acute Stress Disorder (APA, 1994) where the stressor is usually a discrete
and time limited occurrence that is not repeated in the individual's lifetime.
PAS in most instances is the result of the sense or memory of being
taken away by force or without consent by extraterrestrial or inter-dimensional
entities and the associated physically intrusive or invasive procedures by these
alleged entities. The Abductee will have a perceived fear of actual or
threatened death, serious injury (APA, 1994), threat to their physical
integrity. They may witness the abduction of another person, may learn about or
have close association with the abduction experiences of a family member or
other closely associated person. The person's response to the events must
involve intense fear, helplessness, or horror (APA, 1994). In a child or adult
with underdeveloped personality structure, the response may manifest as
disorganized or agitated behaviors.
- Persistent re-experiencing of the traumatic event characterized by
flashbacks (APA, 1994)
- Persistent avoidance of stimuli associated with the trauma (APA, 1994)
- Denial of the event
- Labeling the event something else-"blackout", being lost, etc.
- Phobic avoidance of areas or situations where contact occurred.
- Refraining from sleep at the time contact occurred-sleeping in the daytime
- Emotional reaction to literature, pictures, or videos about alien entities
e.g. turning over books with a picture of an alien or UFO which may include
avoiding them. (Bryant, 1991)
- Numbing of emotions and responsiveness characterized by inability to feel
intimacy, pleasure, or to express emotions-emotional anesthesia. (APA, 1994,
- Diminished interest or less participation in previously enjoyed
activities. (APA, 1994)
- May have a sense of foreshortened future -no expectation of normal life
events or normal life span. (APA, 1994)
- May fear abduction with no return or lengthy abduction.
- Anxiety symptoms that persist-hypervigilance, exaggerated startle
response, irritability, and panic attacks (APA, 1994)
Note: PAS differs from PTSD in that as the abductions may have occurred since
early childhood it is difficult to determine precisely when the trauma began as
in PTSD where [in which]? there is a discrete and identifiable traumatic
Anxiety symptoms include but are not limited to(APA, 1994):
- Sleep disturbances -- difficulty falling or staying asleep Hyper vigilance
Exaggerated startle response Sleepwalking Vivid nightmares Panic attacks Alien
phobia Restlessness Worry and rumination.
- Difficulty concentrating
- Duration of the symptoms is longer than one month
- Specifiers-The specifiers may be used to specify the onset and
- Acute: This specifier should be used when the symptoms are present for
less than three months.
- Chronic: This specifier should be used when the symptoms last three months
- Delayed Onset: This specifier would indicate that at least six months have
passed between the traumatic event and the onset of remembered symptoms.
Associated Features and Disorders
In contrast to Posttraumatic Stress Disorder where survivor guilt may be
present, there may be guilt at being different, or of contributing to the
factors that cause the abductions to occur either to the subject or to family
The following manifestations of PAS may present:
- Reluctance to enter into relationships
- Phobic avoidance of situations that remind the person of abduction such
as: elevators, escalators, doctor's offices, physician's procedures (many
women avoid gynecological exams or become extremely anxious when gynecological
procedures are performed), dentist's chairs and procedures. (Jacobs, 1992)
- Persons with PAS may engage in avoidance of medical care to the detriment
of their health.
- Avoidance of pictures and or books about UFOs and aliens
- Marital or relationship problems such as: guilt at the possible
involvement of their partner feelings of anger and resentment by partner
regarding the sexual/gynecological aspects of abduction and/or feelings of
guilt by partner related to inability to protect the abductee. (Jacobs, 1992)
- Parents may experience guilt and anger at the possible involvement of
their children or grandchildren.
- Occupational difficulties-may have loss of job due to constant obsession
with remembered abductions activity and level of PAS symptomatology.
(conversation, Jacobs, 1999)
- Self destructive and impulsive behaviors
- Social withdrawal
- Personality changes
- Panic disorders, Agoraphobia, Obsessive-compulsive Disorder, or repetitive
behaviors or rituals
- Somatization Disorder
- Substance Abuse/Dependence in an effort to self medicate, to reduce
anxiety or sleep which may start at an early age
- Constant searching for answers to questions they may not be able to voice(
conversation, Jacobs, 1999)
- Abductees may feel some part of their psyche is alienated from itself due
to inaccessibility of memory of abduction experiences or partial or distorted
memory of abduction.
Some remedies abductees may employ are:
- Joining fundamentalist religious groups (Bryant, 1991), new Age spiritual
groups, self-help programs, altered states therapies
- Repeatedly returning to areas where abductions occurred (Bryant, 1991)
- The person may develop an obsessive interest in aliens and UFOs. (Bryant,
- The person may seek help from the psychotherapeutic community only to be
labeled as mentally ill. (Jacobs, 1992).
Evaluation of PAS
- Suggested laboratory tests (APA, 1994)
- Serum glucose, calcium, phosphate levels, thyroid studies and
- Urinary catecholamine levels may help exclude other disorders Urine drug
screen may be useful.
- Insomnia, trembling, muscle aches and soreness, muscle twitches, clammy
hands, dry mouth, generalized tachycardia and subjective sense of
palpitations, dizziness, hyperventilation or difficulty breathing, urinary
frequency, dysphagia, abdominal pain, diarrhea, possible hypertension
- In females: gynecological problems, possible positive pregnancy
tests with unexplainable missing fetuses, unexplainable appearance of strange
lesions, scars, bruises, or burns (especially genital) (conversation, Jacobs,
1999), abdominal tenderness, abdominal adhesions, malposition of ovaries,
joint or back pain without memory of physical injury, sinus problems, and
possible eye irritations.
Specific Culture and Age Features
Young children may vividly recall monsters who come into their bedroom at
night. Children, adolescents, and adults may develop fear of going to bed at
night and fear sleeping in their own bedroom. (conversation, Jacobs, 1999).
Children might express their abduction experiences in their art work or
style of play. (Bryant, 1991). Children also might express the fear that they
might be taken away from their parents by the aliens. There exists also the real
possibility the children could be taken from their parents by social service
agencies if parents openly divulge their own abduction experiences. Often
children report that they have been told by the aliens that the aliens are their
real parents. (This has been frequently reported by children and adults
re-experiencing childhood memories and in fact may be a ploy to gain the child's
cooperation as children of a young age are more difficult for the aliens to
control.) (conversation, Jacobs, 1999).
Children might harbor the belief
that they will not grow up to be adults. Children might also be exposed to
witnessing the abduction of their parents generating feelings of shock, intense
fear, and anger that their parents are unable to protect them. They may also
harbor the belief that they in some way caused their parents or siblings to be
abducted. Children may grow up with a strong sense that they do not belong there
and that the earth is not their "real" home, or that one or both of their
parents are not biologically related to them. (conversation, Jacobs, 1999).
It would be difficult to assess cultural variables as this phenomenon has
not been studied in mainstream psychology and in the Western World persons who
report their abduction activity are usually regarded as having psychopathology
(Jacobs, 1992). [For] [In the case of omit?] indigenous peoples, abduction
reports are regarded as a sign of contact with the spirit world or magical
PAS may occur at any age and the length of the disorder may vary from three
to six months to several years. The frequency of abductions and the variable of
conscious memory of abductions may influence severity and resolution. The
disorder can develop and often does in the absence of other
Reduction of anxiety and treatment of depression are primary considerations.
In those individuals for whom denial is not essential for the maintenance of a
functional lifestyle restoration of memory may lead to normalization of their
Hypnotic regression must be approached with great caution
utilizing appropriate screening and with an attempt to minimize confabulation
(Jacobs,1992). Currently hypnotic regression with a competent
hypnotist/therapist/researcher is the method of choice (conversation, Jacobs,
A support system is an essential factor in the resolution of PAS.
Individuals with frequent and intense abduction activity may approach
normalization, however when activity is intense symptoms of PAS may increase
An important factor is sleep. Sleep disorders are a
common occurrence in the abductee population caused by sleep phobia and very
active abduction activity. Sleep deprivation when prolonged can result in
decreased serotonin levels predisposing the person to clinical depression and
compromise of the immune system (conversation, Jacobs, 1999).
Most abductees are unaware of their abductions and those with partial
awareness regard their experiences as spiritual or occult phenomena. In the
population of abductees that are aware of or suspect that abductions are
occurring, some will regard their experiences as spiritual events and another
portion of abductees will view their experiences as traumatic and a portion of
those will develop clinical symptoms of PAS.
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Mental Disorders. Fourth Edition, Washington, D.C.: American Psychiatric
Association, 1994. Posttraumatic Stress Disorders: A Handbook For Clinicians.
Edited by Tom Williams Psy.D. Cincinnati: Disabled American Veterans, 1987.
Healing Shattered Reality: Understanding Contactee Trauma. Alice Bryant and
Linda Seebach, M.S.W. Tigard, OR: Wildflower Press, 1991. Secret Life: Firsthand
Accounts of UFO Abductions. David M. Jacobs, Ph.D. New York: Simon &
Schuster, 1992. The Threat. David M. Jacobs Ph.D. New York: Simon &