Saturday, April 10, 2010

Origins of the fantasy-prone hypothesis

Dear readers

Well, autumn has arrived in Adelaide. Since the last post, average maximum temperatures have dropped to the low twenties centigrade, and we have had a nice drop of rain! In fact, last week, one day we had more rain in a day than any other day since 2007 which is good for us. The government may now lift the water restrictions which have seen many household lawns die.

Now, on to today's post. I have often wondered where the idea of UFO abducteees/experiencers as possible fantasy-prone personalities, came from? I couldn't really find a definitive answer on the net, but recently was re-reading a book which provided the exact answer, and the fantasy-prone story started right her in little old Adelaide!

The book was "UFOs:a report on Australian encounters" by Adelaide researcher Keith Basterfield. Reed Books. 1997. Kew, Victoria. ISBN: 0-7301-0496-6. As the book is now out of print (click here for Amazon copies) I will post the relevant pages 120-123.

"In the early 1980s, two American psychologists, Sheryl C Wilson and Theodore Barber, stumbled over a new type of personality which they came to call the fantasy-prone personality (FPP)(click here for more information ). Among their findings from a group of women who rated as excellent hypnotic subjects were:

* 60 per cent of FPP subjects reported that they had had a false pregnancy at least once. Not only did they believe they were pregnant but typical symptoms of pregnancy occurred. Two women went for abortions, at which time they were told that no foetus had been found. In a control group only 16 per cent of the women experienced false pregnancies, but there was no "missing fetus" report

* With their eyes open, 65 per cent of the FPP subjects experienced their 'imagery' as 'real as real' in all sense modes. The other 33 per cent found most sense modes as 'real as real'

* The fantasises had a life of their own; they were not directed or controlled by the subject

*Of all FPP subjects 75 per cent could achieve sexual orgasm by mental fantasy alone

* As children the FPP subjects lived in a make-believe world of their own construction

* When they were children, almost all of the subjects believed in fairies, leprechauns and elves, and other such beings

* of the FPP subjects, 58 per cent had childhood imaginary companions, whom they described as 'real' to them. This was in contrast to just 8 per cent of the control group

* Most FPP subjects had an incredible memory recall for childhood events, beyond the memory recall of most of us

*Of the FPP subjects 92 per cent saw themselves as psychic and reported numerous telepathic and precognitive experiences. This contrasted with 16 per cent for the control group

*Of the FPP subjects 50 per cent reported out of the body experiences (control group: 8 percent)

* Of FPP subjects 50 per cent reported an ability to perform automatic writing (controls: 8 per cent)

* Of FPP subjects 66 per cent reported a perceived ability to perform healings, which none of the control group reported

* Reports of seeing apparitions: 73 per cent of FPP versus 16 per cent controls

* On the question of hypnagogic imagery: 64 per cent FPP versus 8 per cent controls reported frequent imagery when falling asleep.

It should be noted here that all the FPP subjects were socially aware, happy, normal, healthy people, free from mental disorder...

Having come across this research by Wilson and Barber I mentioned the possible relevance of it to Robert E Bartholomew, (click here for books by Bartholomew) an American PhD student in Sociology at Flinders University, South Australia, whom I knew. We saw that:

* Many experiencers who have undergone regression hypnosis were rated by the person performing the hypnosis as 'excellent' hypnotic subjects. This fact is in itself interesting, in that only a small percentage of the general population are in fact 'excellent' subjects

* Female experiencers were reporting pregnancies then 'missing foetuses.' This unusual claim closely matched the experience of two non-experiencer FPP subjects

* If abductions were internally generated FPP imagery, then they could appear as 'real as real"

* My own research revealed that local experiences were reporting having above average memory recall for very early childhood events

*Many experiencers reported that they were either psychic before their abductions or that their psychic abilities blossomed after the abduction

We therefore felt that there were enough parallels between the FPP and abductions to warrant further research."


Reading the above I can see why Keith and Robert thought that the work of Wilson and Barber had relevance to abductions. Keith had by this time interviewed a number of local Australian abductees and made observations which fitted the FPP. (Click here for a 2005 Australian abduction catalogue.)

So, this is the origin of the suggested link between the FPP and abductees/experiencers. My earlier post indicated that following Keith and Robert's suggestion, which they published in a couple of articles in the International UFO Reporter published by the US Based Centre for UFO Studies, at least seven studies set out to look at whether or not there was a link.

Dear readers, what do you think of the FPP?

1 comment:

  1. There are some papers pre-1997 that study abduction and FPP.
    Psychological Inquiry, 1996, Vol. 7 Issue 2, is dedicated to alien abduction. The lead paper discusses fantasy proneness and cites various articles by Spanos, Ring and Rodeghier that specifically deal with FPP and abductees. Some of the other papers in PI shoot down FPP as an explanation, especially paper 6 by Richard Hall.
    I'm still working through this issue of PI and haven't read any of articles cited in it, but I did not find the pooh-poohing very persuasive, in light of my own reading on hysteria and DID (Hall's article has particularly naive). has posted the entire PI issue, though it takes some poking around to get at all the papers. (Try the "site" command in google.)


"A Special National Intelligence Estimate" - 1961 - Part 2

Introduction Yesterday, I posted a piece about "A Special National Intelligence Estimate" - 1961, which has recently resurfaced...