Note: The late Isabel Davis drafted this book review in 1980.
insights about the UFO abduction phenomenon are still worth reading
today. It is a fine example of her clear, logical analysis of anomalous
events and her marvelous writing skills. R.H.)
The Tujunga Canyon Contacts,
by Ann Druffel & D. Scott Rogo. Prentice-Hall, 1980. $9.95.
can’t believe impossible things!” Alice said to the White Queen.
you haven’t had much practice,” said the Queen kindly.
“When I was your age, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why, sometimes
I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast!”
This book reports the quite
impossible stories of five “UFO abductees” and the investigation conducted
from 1975 to 1979 by Ann Druffel, a UFOlogist of long standing, joined
in the autumn of 1978 by Rogo, a parapsychologist who has researched
and written widely in his field.
The abductions and related events described occurred as follows (the
book presents them in the order in which they developed during the investigation,
which is sometimes a little confusing): (1) Sara Shaw and Jan Whitley,
March 22, 1953; (2) Sara alone, 1955; (3) Emily Cronin and Jan, June
1956; (4) Emily alone, May 10, 1957; (5) Lori Briggs alone, 1970; (6)
Lori and Jo Maine, 1975.
The first, third, and fourth of these incidents took place in or near
the Tujunga Canyons, an isolated region outside Los Angeles that Druffel
describes as a “flap area” for UFO sightings and other phenomena. The
witnesses were linked by more or less intimate personal relationships,
which leads to Druffel’s theory of “contagion” between such cases.
Four of the experiences involved medical examinations aboard a UFO.
The many details supplied by the “ abductees” (some familiar from other
abduction cases, some new), include being alerted to the arrival of
strange entities by a painful high-pitched sound, paralysis, time lapses,
the entrance of the beings into a room through solid substances, being
“floated” into the vehicle by some mysterious power of light, surprise
and excitement caused by Sara’s surgical scar, and “visitations” by
the aliens for years after the original event. Sketches drawn by Sara,
Emily, and Lori, showing the creatures, their craft, and the “examination”
tables are reproduced.
Each witness underwent at least two hypnotic regressions, with widely
varying success. In four sessions with four hypnotists, Jan remained
almost completely blocked, while Lori was an excellent subject in her
three regressions, besides having conscious recall of many details.
In all, five hypnotists were used. Two of them, William McCall and Rogo
himself, each conducted five sessions. Unfortunately, both used methods
that have been severely criticized by other practitioners in that they
“lead” the witness, suggesting ideas, actions, and other features of
the event under recall, and thus cast doubt on the origins of the responses
Many segments of the transcripts of these sessions are quoted verbatim.
I found it rather disturbing that these quotations are so often surrounded
by Druffel’s comments, comparisons, analyses, and interpretations, as
if the dialogue between hypnotist and subject could not speak for itself.
Another disturbing feature of the book is Druffel’s frequent reference
to the case of The Rev. Harrison E. Bailey, which she investigated during
about the same period as the Tujunga cases. Other researchers regard
this case with grave suspicion. Druffel does not seem to be aware of
these criticisms, and at one point she showed Emily Bailey’s highly
controversial photographs of aliens and asked her how the photographs
compared with her own visitors.
Undoubtedly, the strangest part of Sara’s story is the “cancer cure.”
This remedy (acetic acid, or ordinary vinegar) was revealed to Sara
in “visions” in 1955. She did not then associate it with her 1953 “abduction,”
but after her first regression she was convinced, and still is, that
it had been given to her when she was taken on board the UFO and examined.
The suggestion is made that she fantasized the message because she had
telepathic foreknowledge that Jan was to develop cancer, as she later
did, but this idea seems extremely far-fetched.
If, on the other hand, one starts from the premise that the message
was actually given as reported, other questions arise – in addition
to the fact that the “cure” appears to have no value. For example, all
the on-board medical examinations so far reported to occur (with such
inexplicable repetitiveness) describe the “aliens” studying the bodies
of healthy human beings, with no evidence of interest in disease. When,
where, and how, then, did these aliens make this cryptic therapeutic
Druffel’s summary chapter on the UFO phenomenon is written from a religious
viewpoint. The UFO occupants may be beings of “pure energy.” They may
be interdimensional. Their interest in human beings, evident since prehistoric
times, may indicate that they are following our evolutionary development
and thus are concerned with our reproductive functions.
Perhaps they are carrying on some sort of training program with humanity.
Druffel sees a pattern in their interactions with us: they have appeared
progressively in physical, psychological, and now psychic aspects. Will
they proceed to the philosophical and the cosmological? She divides
the creatures described by the various witnesses into a benevolent and
a malevolent group, who seem akin to the angels and demons who are part
of the Western monotheistic religions, being intermediate between God
In any event, UFOs and their occupants “are an essential part of God’s
creation,” superior to us both intellectually and in not being bound
by our physical laws.
Rogo’s answer to these riddles is quite different and calls upon a strange
mixture of ideas. He reviews the major theories about UFOs advanced
since the extraterrestrial hypothesis became unfashionable, and discusses
the one he prefers. This postulates a supermind called The Phenomenon,
located somewhere out there, which abstracts from human minds certain
important symbols and projects them back to us in the form of UFOs and
their occupants, which are also physically real “at least temporarily.”
When Rogo applies this concept to the Shaw-Whitley case (curiously,
he does not discuss the others, although four of the five regressions
that he conducted were with Lori and Jo), another element is added:
psychoanalytic ideas. Enter that obliging witness, the unconscious,
who will testify to anything. Rogo thinks that for Sara her “abduction”
may have been a rape fantasy, yet at the same time objectively real.
When he tries to explain why the after-effects of the episode of March
1953 differed so much in Sara and Jan, things get really complicated.
The Phenomenon, he thinks, molded the experience from material
in Sara’s mind, but projected it into our dimension through Jan’s mind.
The event “made no permanent impact” on Jan, he suggests. But it was
Jan, not Sara, who suffered disturbing encounters with “aliens” for
years after the original event, and it was Jan, not Sara, who found
it so difficult to face her memories through hypnosis.
What are we to make of these stories and the others like them? There
are too many to ignore. Commonsense tells us that they cannot possibly
be true – as it told us a while ago that the earth is flat and as it
tells me today that the table I write on is solid matter. Yet it seems
just as impossible to say that nothing happened to these women at all
except some grotesque masquerade inside their brain cells. And if we
say that some of these events are “real” and some are not, we are no
better off. How to separate the fabric from the embroidery?
The trouble is that no explanation for UFOs, their occupants, or abduction
cases is satisfactory. Sooner or later, each one fails to explain some
facet of a case. Perhaps we speculate too much, searching for roots,
reasons, causes for these reports. After all, the White Queen said only
that one could learn to believe six impossible things before breakfast.
She said nothing about learning to understand them, and perhaps it is
too early for us to try.