Recently, in the Australasian Ufologist, I had an article published titled “Waking paralysed:abduction or sleep paralysis?” In this article I pointed out that, to me, quite a few abduction accounts seemed more like attacks of sleep paralysis accompanied by hypnagogic/hypnopompic imagery, than anything extraordinary.
While undertaking the research for that article, I started to wonder whether or not there were accounts of paralysis associated with the UFO phenomenon before abduction reports emerged in the mid 1960’s? If so, what type of paralysis was reported, and were there any differences with the more recent abduction style paralysis?
A catalogue In order to look at these questions I decided to compile a catalogue of cases where paralysis was mentioned. I used my own library resources and arrived at a catalogue of 131 cases. What became readily apparent was that yes, there were paralysis cases outside of the abduction phenomenon.
The earliest cases I found were reported, and published, in 1954 and occurred during the massive wave of reports from that year. Indeed I collected 15 cases from between the 10th of September and the 20th of October 1954 from France alone. I’ll list these reports below, as they demonstrate a number of patterns.
(1) (Date)10 Sep 1954 (Time) 2230hrs (Location) Quarouble France (No. of witnesses) 1 (Gender) Male (Name of witness) Dewilde (Age of witness) 34 Marius DeWilde went outside and saw a dark mass was visible on railway tracks only 6m away. Two 1.3m tall creatures in one piece outfits were noticed. He approached these creatures and when only 2m away, was blinded by a brilliant light from the dark mass. he found himself paralysed. The beam of light went out, he could then move, and the object departed. (1)
(2) 17 Sep 1954 2230hrs Cenon France 1 Male David A cyclist, Yves David, felt a “prickling” sensation. He stopped the bike, and stood for a few minutes-he then felt paralysed. David saw a machine on the road ahead of him, then a little creature approached him and touched him on the shoulder and returned to the machine. The dark mass left, and the paralysis ceased. (2)
(3) 28 Sep 1954 Bouzais France 1 Male A vineyard owner saw a luminous mass 50m away. He was paralysed. Three beings came out. He lost consciousness. When he came to, the object and the beings were gone. He was crazy with fear. (3)
(4) 1 Oct 1954 Bry France 1 Male A man and his dog were paralysed as a UFO came down toward them. It took off with equal speed. (4)
(5) 1 Oct 1954 Bergerac France 1 Male A man was closing a gate when he was paralysed. He saw a disk, of some 3m diameter, resting on three legs, on the ground. It took off. (5)
(6) 5 Oct 1954 Near Clemont-Ferrand France Several persons Several persons saw an object approaching. When 150m away they felt strange sensation and found themselves unable to move. (6)
(7) 7 Oct 1954 0620hrs Le Mans France Multiple wits Several workmen were riding their bikes, when they felt a “prickling “ sensation. They saw greenish light coming from a luminous object near the road. Partially paralysed they got off their bikes. The object departed. (7)
(8) 7 Oct 1954 1430hrs Monteux France 1 Male Margaillan A man saw a landed object in the act of taking off from a field. He ran towards it. At take off point he suffered paralysis which lasted several minutes. (8)
(9) 9 Oct 1954 Lavoux France 1 Male A farmer on a bike saw a figure in a diving suit aiming a double light beam at him. The entity, after walking on the road for a minute disappeared into forest. The witness was paralysed throughout the incident. (9)
(10) 11 Oct 1954 0430hrs Sassier France 2 Male Gallois & Vigneron While driving they felt an “electric shock” through the body. The car motor stalled and headlights went out. They became paralysed. 50m ahead of them they saw a machine and three small figures. These figures went into object and the object flew off. The car headlights came on and the paralysis ceased, and the engine could be restarted. (10)
(11) 13 Oct 1954 Bourrasole France 3 people-Perano, Olivier +1 Three people saw a 4m diameter disk-shaped UFO with one small being. This being was 1.2m tall, wore a diving suit. One person approached the object within 20m and was paralysed. When the being entered the object and flew away, the immobilised person was thrown to the ground, and the craft left. (11)
(12) 16 Oct 1954 Night Baillolet France 1 Male Robert Dr Henri Robert was driving at night saw four objects in the sky and one approached his car. When it was about 100m away, he felt an “electric shock.” The car engine died, headlights went out, and he was paralysed. A 1m tall creature was visible in light from the object. After several minutes the headlights came on and the paralysis ceased. The car could then be restarted. (12)
(13) 17 Oct 1954 1430hrs Cabasson France 1 Male (65) A hunter, with dog, saw a disk-shaped object land and two helmeted beings emerged. The hunter fled, but his dog approached and then retreated, walking awkwardly for some time as it partially paralysed. (13)
(14) 18 Oct 1954 1730hrs Auvergne France Male-Bachelard (42) A man, who was driving a light truck on a clear, sunny day, suddenly felt himself to be half paralysed. Vehicle slowed down by itself. In a nearby field was an elongated object 10m long, hovering 1.2m above the ground. He continued driving. (14)
(15) 20 Oct 1954 1830hrs Turquenstein France Male-Schoubrenner Driving along saw a luminous body on the road ahead, and he slowed as he approached. 20m away from it he felt paralysed, and the car engine stopped. There was a sensation of increasing heat. Then the object flew away and the symptoms ceased. (15)
In these 15 cases, there was a reported paralysis of the witness or witnesses when they were within a certain distance of a low-level UFO. What distances were mentioned? They were 6m (1 case), 20m (2), 50m (2) 100m (1) & 150m (1). There seems little doubt about a relationship between the UFO and the paralysis, as the paralysis commenced upon observing the UFO and then ceased when the UFO left.
After the French wave So, in these early days, the catalogue reveals that paralysis was associated with observations of low-level UFOs by witnesses who are outside the home, often when travelling in a vehicle. These cases were unlike the ones occurring on the sleep/awake interface which are so commonly found in the much later abduction accounts.
The first bedroom paralysis case in my catalogue was documented in 1980 in a work by Druffel and Rogo. They described a series of event to one individual dating back to 1955 in the USA. However, a reading of the original material indicates that these seemed more like sleep paralysis than abductions.
However, by the mid to late 1970’s, paralysis cases came more to be associated with bedroom intrusions than with low-level UFOs outside the home. I’ll list three catalogue cases as examples:
(1) Feb 1976 Night Keighley West Yorkshire England 1 Male An ambulance driver was paralysed in his bed by two beings and taken up through the ceiling into a hovering UFO. He went through a lot of medical tests including having his body scanned by a large purple eye-like device. (16)
(2) 20 Jun 1977 2355hrs Coeur d’Alene Idaho USA 1 Female “Jones” ‘Rachel Jones’ woke unable to move, to hear the sound of someone coming upstairs. She saw a figure in the room and felt herself lifted then an instant later she was fully awake and ran to another room The time was now 62 minutes later. Under hypnosis she remembered the being took her to another place. She was examined and communicated telepathically with other beings. Finally she found herself sitting up in her own bed. (17)
(3) Aug 1979 0400hrs Gateshead Strathclyde UK 1 Female Carol Amidst a number of occurrences, one morning Carol woke to feel a tingling sensation, then found herself completely paralysed. A “saucer” was seen. Still paralysed she found she could turn her head and saw a group of small beings beside the bed. They were less than 1m. tall, with their heads disproportionately large. After a while the beings vanished and the paralysis went. (18)
1990 onwards From 1990 to date the catalogue contains 10 cases, of which 9 of these are bedroom visitations. An example is:
1993 Victoria Australia 1 Female (a) During sleep she dreamed of a presence in the room. There was a telepathic message not to be afraid, then she felt as if a suction device on her chest was draining some kind of energy from her. She became frightened. She felt terrified and woke up and opened her eyes. Very close to her she saw a tall, black figure-black face and big red eyes. She was paralysed with fear. She could sense and see this figure was solid. Suddenly it vanished.
(b) She woke from sleep to feel something pulling on her ankles. She felt as if something was turning her over slowly so that her legs were hanging off the bed. She was terrified and couldn’t open her eyes. Her body was paralysed and she couldn’t move the lower half. The upper body felt like lead. The presence pulling her ceased. She opened her eyes and noted her body in its normal position. However, she then saw a tall, black figure to the side of the bed and noted its eyes. (19)
Out of the 131 cases in the catalogue, 94 occurred outdoors and 37 indoors. The 37 indoor cases almost all took place in the bedroom on the interface between sleep and awake.
Looking at the number of witnesses per event is most illuminating, as 108 were single witness (86 male, 19 female, 3 gender unstated) while 23 had multiple witnesses.
51 cases gave the age of the witness at the time of the event-the age group with most reports was the 20-29, 2nd was 10-19 followed by 30-39. From my observations, this age distribution would parallel that found in all abduction cases.
Although there are numerous Australian entries in my catalogue, rather surprisingly there are none which related to temporary paralysis in a non-abduction style account.
My previous article discussed paralysis associated with the abduction phenomenon, so what have UFO researchers said about the cause of other than abduction paralysis over the years?
One of the earliest views I found was set down after the massive 1954 French wave, by veteran researcher Aime Michel. Michel noted the numerous instances of individuals reporting immobilisation after feeling “prickling” or “electrical” sensations. He observed that on other similar occasions that there were no such symptoms. He commented that there seemed to be a “paralysis distance” and observed:
“Moreover, this paralysis effect, is not, so to speak automatic…Dewilde, stated definitely that the paralysis came on him, when he was already standing quite near the craft, but not moving towards it-just as if a defensive device had suddenly been ‘turned on’.” (20)
Another researcher arguing that it was a directed effect, was Raymond Fowler. US researcher Raymond Fowler in examining encounter cases wrote:
“Observational evidence in such cases seems to indicate that the paralysis and electrical interference associated with UFO events are directed rather than just being a non volitional by-product of UFOs.” (21)
Another early view was that instead of being a defensive device the effect could be due to a weapon. Dr. Fontes was APRO’s Brazilian representative and a Professor of medicine at the National School of Medicine. Fontes wrote about his views on cases where vehicles and aircraft encountered apparent electromagnetic effects resulting in such things as vehicle engines stalling. He felt that the evidence indicated “…a high frequency long-range electromagnetic beam…” (22) weapon was involved. He speculated that this was a “microwave ionizer.” He noted the incidents where witnesses reported heat, electrical-like sensations and paralysis among such cases.
Other researchers were also interested in the microwave angle, including James M. McCampbell. McCampbell was an American UFO researcher who studied, among other things, how UFOs and motor vehicles interacted. After studying the effects associated with some UFO sightings he wrote: “The pulsed radiation is clearly responsible for the occasional paralysis that is suffered by the witnesses. They do not normally lose consciousness nor the ability to see, hear, breathe or talk. Only the trunk and limbs are immobilised until the UFO has gone away. Even then, some disruption of muscular control may linger for several minutes “ (23)
Twelve years later, after his article in the 1975 MUFON UFO Proceedings, James McCampbell set out his current thinking.
“Previous studies by the author and others have converged upon microwave radiation from UFOs as a candidate cause for many of these effects.” (24)
As regards paralysis, his views were that microwave pulses of a certain rate would produce a sustained contraction of muscles which would “…freeze them in rigid opposition, that is, paralyse the body.” (24)
As late as 1995, English researcher, Albert Budden, described an English case where a green beam of light shone from a UFO and immobilised a female witness. Budden commented that “The muscular paralysis can be obtained by an ELF frequency of about 90 to 110Hz…” (25)
Other researchers did not see the need to invoke an external factor in these cases. Perhaps the explanation lay with the witness? Jaques Vallee in one of his earlier works discussed secondary effects to UFO encounters. One of these effects was listed as “(6) inhibition of the voluntary motions of the witnesses.” (26) Vallee commented that some authors had attributed the paralysis to a psychological effect.
In the same year English researchers Jenny Randles and Peter Warrington having also taken a look at the same type of cases commented:
“Fear of an extreme degree is to be expected when something strange and unknown seems to be taking a personal interest in one-for that is the way most witnesses view a close encounter. The often reported paralysis is probably attributed to this fear. The muscles of the body go taut and legs and arms seem immobilised.” (27)
A third view was perhaps it wasn’t a weapon, nor came from within the witness, but came instead from the beings involved in the encounters. The 1965 Valensole, France event included the witness Masse reporting being unable to move after a being pointed an object at him. Aime Michel and Charles Bowen wrote: “Aime Michel has suggested that he was immobilised by a form of hypnotic suggestion. If it had been a muscular paralysis, Masse would have died.” (28)
Paralysis effects have been reported following beams of light from UFOs, but sound and paralysis featured on a number of occasions in the multiple episodes described in The Tujunga Canyon Contacts. One of the authors, Ann Druffel, talked about the piercing sound which was reported by witnesses Emily and Jan in their 1956 encounter. “The purpose of the sound seemed to be to produce temporary paralysis.” (29)
• There are paralysis reports associated with the UFO phenomenon which precede those described in the abduction phenomenon
• The witnesses of these earlier cases do not describe themselves as on the wake/sleep interface, as do many who relate abductions. This implies that the paralysis is not caused by the intrusion of rapid eye movement (REM) sleep into waking consciousness
• Many of the non-abduction reports involve individuals travelling in a motor vehicle which also experiences effects
• The limited number of researchers who have mentioned the paralysis effect in their writings do not agree as to the possible cause of such paralysis
• This subject would benefit from a more extensive global collection, particularly of the non-English UFO literature and is worthy of someone’s time and effort to gather together additional information to that given here.
(1) Michel, A. 1958. Flying Saucers and the Straight Line Mystery. New York Criterion Books. pp44-47 (2) Michel, A. 1958. Flying Saucers and the Straight Line Mystery. New York .Criterion Books. p58 (3) Bowen, C. 1969. The Humanoids. Neville Spearman. London. p33 (4) Bowen, C. 1969. The Humanoids. Neville Spearman. London. p33 (5) Bowen, C. 1969. The Humanoids. Neville Spearman. London. p34 (6) Bowen, C. 1969. The Humanoids. Neville Spearman. London. p37 (7) Michel, A. 1958. Flying Saucers and the Straight Line Mystery. New York. Criterion Books. p143 (8) Michel, A. 1958. Flying Saucers and the Straight Line Mystery. New York Criterion Books. p145. (9) Bowen, C. 1969. The Humanoids. Neville Spearman. London. p40. (10) Michel, A. 1958. Flying Saucers and the Straight Line Mystery. New York. Criterion Books. p158. (11) Bowen, C. 1969. The Humanoids. Neville Spearman. London. pp44-45. (12) Michel A 1958 Flying Saucers and the Straight Line Mystery. New York Criterion Books.pp184-185. (13) Bowen, C. 1969. The Humanoids. Neville Spearman. London. p48. (14) (1) Michel, A. 1958. Flying Saucers and the Straight Line Mystery. New York .Criterion Books. p198. (2) Rodeghier, M. 1981. UFO Reports Involving Vehicle Interference. CUFOS. Chicago. p3. (15) Michel, A. 1958. Flying Saucers and the Straight Line Mystery. New York .Criterion Books. p204. (16) Randles, J. 1988. Abduction. Robert Hale. London. pp84-85 (17) Bullard, T. E. 1987. UFO Abductions:The Measure of a mystery. Maryland. FUFOR. case 142 citing “Idaho Abduction Case” APRO Bulletin 26/5 Nov 1977 pp1-3. (18) Budden, A. UFOs:Psychic Close Encounters. Blandford. London. 1995 p237 (19) Personal interview-Keith Basterfield (20) Michel, A. (1958). Flying Saucers and the Straight Line Mystery. New York. Criterion. P120 (21) Fowler, R E (1979). UFOs:Interplanetary Visitors. New York. Bantam. P144. (22) Lorenzen, C & J (1966). Flying Saucers and the Startling Evidence. New York. New American Library. P158 (23) McCampbell, James M. (1975). “Interpreting reports of UFO sightings.” UFO Symposium Proceedings. Seguin TX. MUFON.p87. (24) McCampbell, James E. Effects of UFOs upon people. In Evans, H (ed). (1987). UFOs:1947-1987. London. Fortean Tomes. p208. (25) Budden, A. (1995). UFOs:Psychic close encounters. London. Blandford.p88. (26) Vallee, J & J. (1967). Challenge to Science. London. Neville Spearman.p189. (27) Randles, J & Warrington, P. (1979). UFOs:A British Viewpoint. London. Hale.p112. (28) Bowen, C. (ed.) (1977). Encounter Cases from Flying Saucer review. New York. New English Library.p58. (29) Druffel, A & Rogo, D S. (1988). The Tujunga Canyon Contacts (Updated). New York. Signet.p227.