UFO Conjectures

Friday, April 18, 2014

The UFO Fixation(s)

With the resurgence in Freudian psychology and the resurrection of Freud as one of the great thinkers [Discover magazine, April 2014, Kat McGowan, Page 54 ff.] one can reassert the idea that “ufologists” or UFO mavens have a fixation not unlike that listed by Wikipedia for the poet, Lord Alfred Tennyson:

Tennyson has been claimed to have a "romantic fixation...'a psychic fixation upon the days that are no more'."

In the UFO universe or community, resides those who are fixated upon flying saucers or UFOs nostalgically, as a psychic interest from their youth. (CDA and I might be in that group.)

Others are fixated on UFOs because they created a mechanism of notice or moderate fame at one time. (Kevin Randle and Jerry Clark fall into that category.)

Some fixate on UFOs because it gives them grist for attention that they normally wouldn’t receive. (David Rudiak and Lance Moody fit here.)

Some fixate on UFOs because they are semi-psychotic and the phenomenon attracts them because it too is psychotic (in nature).

A few fixate on UFOs because it is a real mystery for them, a curiosity that needs to be addressed. (Nick Redfern.)

And a certain few see UFOs as an entrée to some kind of fame that has eluded them in other arenas of life. 

Then there are subsets of fixation: Roswell, Socorro (my addiction), the Hill episode, supposed alien abductions, and alleged alien astronauts, to name a few.

But what it comes down to, no matter how UFOs are addressed, the topic and phenomenon attracts those who have fixations of various kinds, sublimated or repressed.

It’s a neurotic problem and sometimes a psychotic problem. But no matter what, it is an abnormality that is often ignored as such or set aside with a pretense of seeking an answer to something monumental in lieu of dealing with real problems and existential proclivities.



  • Rich:

    You say: "It’s a neurotic problem and sometimes a psychotic problem. But no matter what, it is an abnormality that is often ignored as such or set aside with a pretense of seeking an answer to something monumental in lieu of dealing with real problems and existential proclivities."

    I would (from my perspective, at least) strongly disagree with that. I get the feeling you think people involved in Ufology are defined as people by that involvement.

    Yes, there are the obsessives who eat, breathe and shit UFOs 24/7. Or who do nothing but spend their nights and weekends endlessly reading fortean books.

    But, you find obsessives in every walk of life - such as those nuts who have to check they have unplugged the kettle or locked the front door 30 times.

    As I see it, it's a stereotypical image: the nerdy, obsessive Ufologist with no life away from the subject.

    Most of the people I know and hang out with in Ufology, have regular lives and regular, healthy social lives that have zero to do with UFOs.

    If I go out with mates on a Friday night are we talking about UFOs? No, because most of my mates have no interest in it. We're far more likely be talking about the English football and the looming World Cup - or about the bird behind the bar.

    I've never really understood this issue of if you are interested in UFOs it somehow defines you.

    Well, if that's all people do all day, I guess it does. But those people are the ones the media loves to pick up on, and in doing so they have made it appear that this is how the entire field is.

    I like to build furniture, and I like to shoot guns. Greg Bishop loves to go flying in the desert in his airplane. Ken Gerhard (a good friend and author in the Fortean field) is a singer in a rock band. Etc., etc.

    You can find the classic stereotype everywhere in life, and whose lives are blighted by OCD and an unhealthy attachment to something they can't live without 24/7.

    They're not hard to find. But they are not unique to Ufology - and that's the problem: for some odd reason it's become assumed or accepted that a UFO researcher is that alone and nothing else, such as a husband, wife, dad, mom, etc etc.

    Ufologists are people first. And some people - in all walks of life - have odd flaws. And some Ufologists do. Others have incredibly down to earth lives, but they happen to comment on other people's blogs now and again and write a book or two a year ;)

    By Blogger Nick Redfern, at Friday, April 18, 2014  

  • Nick:

    You defend the indefensible.

    The fixations or obsessions I note are intrinsic to the topic (UFOs).

    Yes, there are other obsessions for humans, but I'm dealing with those that impact the UFO phenomenon.

    The fixations are harmless pretty much. (David Rudiak doesn't hurt anyone with his fixation, just as Lord Tennyson hurt no one with his romantic flare and fixation.)

    But there it is anyway: fixations, harmless or not.


    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Friday, April 18, 2014  

  • I would say the fixation issue becomes a problem when it defines and commands how the person lives their lives.

    If someone refuses a Friday night on the town because there's some new UFO documentary they can't bear to watch (or record to watch the next day), that is a problem.

    But an interest in a subject that doesn't affect someone's normal, healthy interaction with other people is fine.

    The problem is not the subject (Ufology or anything else). The problem is something in the brain of the person.

    By Blogger Nick Redfern, at Friday, April 18, 2014  

  • You are basically right, Nick.

    But there are degrees of fixation, some not as intense as others.

    But they are fixations nonetheless.

    I'm applying my psychological training here.


    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Friday, April 18, 2014  

  • I just realized I wrote "can't bear to watch." I meant: "can't bear to miss."

    Yes, there are degrees of fixation - but that's everywhere. It's nothing that is particularly relevant to Ufology.

    The stressed-out middle-aged businessman who can't switch off, the scientist obsessively seeking a cure for this or that, the person who collects stamps and constantly looking for the elusive one they can't fine etc etc - these are all fixations of human beings.

    For me, the key is balance. But, admittedly, for some in Ufology there is no balance.

    Unfortunately, those latter types have come to define (in the minds of the press and the public) what a Ufologist is - an obsessive, fixated loon.

    By Blogger Nick Redfern, at Friday, April 18, 2014  

  • Yes, Nick...

    I understand your discerning observation.

    I'm only addressing ufologists as that is the nature of this blog.

    (I also contend something like this at my MediaWatch Facebook page, about media folks.)


    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Friday, April 18, 2014  

  • I read somewhere that Don Schmitt, in the early days of his association with K.Randle over the Roswell affair, was literally so obsessed by the case that it took over his mind almost 24/7. This would certainly constitute an obsession.

    But he is not unique. There must be plenty of others like him. Was Keyhoe one? As time goes by, most of these tend to moderate a bit. Others simply 'grow out of it' and give up ufology.

    Nick is right in that there are other fields that attract the obsessive devotee.

    Of course in recent times there are plenty (far too many) obsessed with their 'toys', i.e. laptops, cell phones, tablets, iPads, etc. These people just cannot ever be without their instant communication devices. But that is another matter entirely.

    By the way, does ufology pop up much on facebook or twitter, or the like? I never look to see.

    By Blogger cda, at Friday, April 18, 2014  

  • CDA:

    I haven't looked for UFO stuff at Twitter, but my one-time personal Facebook page was rife with UFO postings and comments, along with lots of selfies from Paul Kimball.

    At my MediaWatch page, I daren't mention UFOs or else I'd be laughed out of existence as a media maven.


    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Friday, April 18, 2014  

  • Can I be moved to the psychotic category, please? Putting me in with Rudiak is too low a blow.

    You are almost certainly right that my participation in UFO discussions is some sort of character flaw (at best) but I don't think it is some sort of need for attention (and I don't think it is for Rudiak either).


    By Blogger Lance, at Friday, April 18, 2014  

  • But Lance...

    What could your attention to UFO argumentation like Rudiak's be, other than a need to have some meaningful attention, as slight as UFO attention may be in the real world?


    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Friday, April 18, 2014  

  • I already suggested psychosis...jeeze do you have to rub it in?


    By Blogger Lance, at Friday, April 18, 2014  

  • One could say that behind fixation is a form of addiction based on focusing on a totem ( in this case, ufology) that lacks an arms length transaction or agnosticism in approach.
    A Venus Fly Trap of the mind.

    Pauls Kimball's recent essay on belief systems comes to mind as one's needs to avoid uncertainty and consequently create philosophic defense systems that suggest any answer is better than none.

    A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. But is it?

    One perhaps could say fixation relates to a form of addiction evidenced in a proverbial encyclopedia of belief systems.

    A driver in this is the ambivalent nature of the subject matter which seemingly acts as a perpetual motion machine based on inferences
    creating a proverbial tool to display personal projection bias as a promotional tool, rather than to say, alternatively, that one is drawn like a moth to the flame.

    Stirring the pot of ufo may be a consequence of being stirred by the pot as a alcoholic in a tavern
    of like minded individuals.

    I find it interesting that both believers and skeptics suggest that appearances cannot be trusted
    and they both seem to have a death grip lock on each others uber-skepticism.

    It could be a fixation on each other's ambivalence has a higher value than the subject matter itself. A fixation on faux positivism that comes from intoxication.

    By Blogger Bruce Duensing, at Friday, April 18, 2014  

  • I think your general and ongoing psych-oriented points about ufology are fundamentally correct, RR, but I also think your descriptions are as much about the human condition as not. Discovering inner self-truths through the exploration of what one eventually discovers was the projection of beliefs upon perceived outer circumstances and all that. Thus the frequent comparisons of ufology to religion. A lot could be explored about such circumstances, but, again, I'd say that does not discount the accuracy of your fundamental observations. True enough.

    Lance said, "Can I be moved to the psychotic category, please?"

    Hilarious, Lance. Top play nominee.

    By Blogger Jack Brewer, at Friday, April 18, 2014  

  • I think it's more complex. A fixation on ufology is not in and of itself a bad thing, especially if it would lead to some breakthrough in this inscrutable bamboozling topic (still forthcoming one hopes, against hope). Better a fixation on ufology than trying to fill the void of the soul with drink or facebook 24/7 and whatever else, reality TV, etc. Obsessiveness by our better scientists and artists with their subject matter is how they make breakthroughs or new innovations, as the case may be. There are no free lunches, no matter how talented or innately gifted, those who make their mark in furthering our knowledge (for the better) have to sweat at it, and make sacrifices.

    Of course one could object - yes obsessive pursuits are fine for geneticists and computer scientists, sociologists and particle physicists, but where does a fixation on the fairy dust that is ufology get you? Interesting that nobody mentioned, a fixation on ufology can get you laid! Well that's because we know it has the opposite effect; the one thing we don't do at a party, among some pretty unattached women, is to bring up ufology in any and all of its aspects, well unless you have Asperger's I suppose...

    By Blogger Lawrence, at Saturday, April 19, 2014  

  • Lawrence:

    Although there's an implied or subliminal criticism of fixations in my post, I didn't purposely mean to say fixations are bad....that's why I included the Tennyson quote.

    But UFO people are so defensive about their topic that I understand why anything that smells of censure gets the kind of responses found here.


    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Saturday, April 19, 2014  

  • Rich,

    You wrote:

    UFO people are so defensive about their topic that I understand why anything that smells of censure gets the kind of responses found here.

    That's because the vast majority of them are singularly lacking in a sense of humour. It's sad.


    By Blogger Paul Kimball, at Saturday, April 19, 2014  

  • It is the romantic -and religious- craving for 'another reality' that drives us.

    We are -all of us- so accustomed to struggling with the world of practical necessity- the triviality of everydayness- that many have come to accept that 'that is all that there is.'

    But it is not, of course...so we search.

    And man(kind) wants to know that he is not alone. We simply cannot be all there is...so we search...


    By Blogger Anthony Bragalia, at Monday, April 21, 2014  

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