Alvin Lawson, an English professor at Cal State Long Beach who spent decades studying unidentified flying objects and questioning the beliefs of people who said they had been abducted, has died. He was 80. Lawson died Sept. 8 at Western Medical Center in Anaheim from complications of pneumonia, said his daughter, Leslie Dirgo.
Over the years, he developed “a personal kind of fascination” with UFOs, his daughter said. Lawson taught a class on the subject at Cal State Long Beach, started a telephone hotline about UFOs and became convinced that people who said they had been abducted actually were using memories of their birth to describe encounters with extraterrestrials.
“Do I think there are unidentified flying objects, things that people can’t explain what they are or why they’re there? Yes,” he told the St. Paul Pioneer Press in 1996. “Do I think little green men are inside abducting people? No.”
With an Anaheim doctor, William C. McCall, Lawson used hypnosis on people who said they had been abducted. Lawson started becoming more skeptical of the accounts, and he and McCall decided to hypnotize people who made no claims about space aliens. They were asked to imagine being abducted so the accounts could be compared to reported abductions. Lawson was struck by the similarities."
In a briefing to the US Supreme Court, Professor Richard McNally from Harvard University described the theory of repressed memory as “the most pernicious bit of folklore ever to infect psychology and psychiatry”.
He maintains false memories can easily be created by inept therapists. “The stress hormones that are released during a trauma tend to consolidate the memory, make it rather strong and sometimes even intrusive, as you see in post-traumatic stress disorder,” he said.
But Professor McNally says some abuse victims do suffer when they reassess childhood experiences much later. “Seeing the event through the eyes of adult, they realise what has happened to them and now they experience the emotional turmoil of trauma,” he said.
Soldiers returning from war zones, victims of violent crime and sexual abuse, can now be helped by cognitive behaviour therapy, where they learn to assign terrible memories to the past, instead of them crowding their present and future."
The paper details three different experiments in which participants read about or actually performed a series of simple actions, such as shaking a bottle or shuffling a deck of cards. Then they watched videos of someone else doing simple actions - some of which they had done and some they had only seen being done.
Two weeks later, they were asked which of as many as 30 actions they had done themselves. Researchers found the subjects were much more likely to falsely remember doing an action if they had watched someone else do it.
Echterhoff says the research controlled for the common situation of thinking you had done something because you do it yourself every day. And, he says, participants had false memories even when cautioned about the possibility."
Consultants from the addiction centre at St George’s Medical School, London, have published a case report of a British man estimated to have taken around 40,000 pills of MDMA, the active ingredient in ecstasy, over nine years. The heaviest previous lifetime intake on record is 2,000 pills.
(…) he still suffers from severe physical and mental health side-effects, including extreme memory problems, paranoia, hallucinations and depression. He also suffers from painful muscle rigidity around his neck and jaw which often prevents him from opening his mouth.
His condition deteriorated and he began to experience recurrent tunnel vision and other problems including hallucinations, paranoia and muscle rigidity.
For 10 years, MDMA has been suspected of causing these kinds of effects in heavy users. It is thought to be due to its disruption of the regulation of serotonin, a brain chemical believed to play a role in mood and memory."