Tonight Ancient Aliens returns after a one-week hiatus with a depressing episode in which they take Talbot Mundy’s fictional group of Nine Unknown Men, equate them with the Greek account of the Egyptian Ennead, and make them into a real galactic council. While we wait for them to transform science fiction into pseudoscience, I wanted to share a bit of Nick Redfern’s latest article for Mysterious Universe, in which he discovered that many of the people involved in Fortean research range from obsessive to mentally ill.
Redfern describes his own work on Fortean subjects, which by his own account runs from 8 AM to 5 PM five days per week, around 45 hours devoted to monsters, ghouls, little green men, etc. But he expressed his shock and upset that some of his colleagues in the field of Fortean research are obsessive to the point of having no other interests than feeding their obsession with one particularly small subfield of fringe studies.
He describes the case of one Phoenix-based ufologist who had organized his entire life around researching UFO events that occurred on September 19, a day he felt was key to understanding the aliens’ agenda. Redfern described him as having “Obsessive Compulsive Disorder,” though he did not mean it as a clinical diagnosis. He then described another young man he met at a UFO conference who had become fixated on the time 11:11 and had filled notebook after notebook with ramblings about the number, which he saw as the sign of supernatural powers that were controlling his mind:
Over the 20 or so minutes that we chatted, it became disturbingly clear to me that this man’s life was being directed by (as he saw it) invisible entities that lurked in his home and who endlessly tormented and manipulated him with that now near-infamous number. My suggestion that he got out a bit more and made some friends – which might have taken his mind off sitting alone and constantly waiting for 11:11 to come around every twelve hours – was not what he wanted to hear. It was, however, absolutely all I had to offer.
There isn’t really much that one can do in these situations, but telling the man to go out and make friends probably wasn’t the most effective approach. From Redfern’s description, it would seem that man has a mental illness and needs professional help.
I encounter many of the same types of unhinged comments and painful obsessives. I received at least a few emails each week that seem to come from people who are mentally ill. They talk about how aliens or ghosts are haunting them at night, how they can’t sleep because of their fear of monsters, or how they have devoted every waking moment of their lives to a highly specific and quite wrong hypothesis about the real forces that control the world or manipulated history, or whatever.
It’s always sad, but one thing I have learned is that engaging with these types only feeds into their obsessions. I wish there were something I could do for them, but there isn’t really. Unfortunately, ignoring them is often the best thing. I’m sure every group has its share of obsessives and the mentally ill, but fringe history and Foretana seem to attract a larger, or at least more visible, share. Perhaps it is because the development of whacky ideas requires a certain degree of obsession (if not actively concocting falsehoods for cash).
“All I’m doing is pointing out that when UFOs become the dominating factor in a person’s life, it’s not a good thing,” Redfern said.
I am an author and researcher focusing on pop culture, science, and history. Bylines: New Republic, Esquire, Slate, etc. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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