The Defamation Campaign

 

Over the past few months, the Internet has been filled with material from a woman who is on a campaign to defame me.  This has become an issue that will not go away, and there are false rumors about my competence. As a result of this woman's obsessive behavior, in which she relentlessly piles false allegations upon false allegations, I have no choice but to respond. I do so in the essay below.  I've kept it as short as possible to explain the situation adequately. If you intend to read my essay, you might want to read the following blog for background information first:  BPD Distortion Campaigns, also at BPD Distortion Campaigns (angiEmedia).

 

 

Since 1986 I have helped some 150 people who have reported suspected UFO abduction experiences recover their memories of these events. Most of these people have been grateful that they had the opportunity to gain intellectual and emotional control over situations that have intruded upon their lives since they were children. 

            I have met all of these people face to face, except one.  The one exception is the woman who is mounting the defamation campaign against me.  I call her “Alice” in this essay. I have never met her because she lives in another country, 8,000 miles away.    

 

The Beginning

Alice's therapist first wrote to me about his client in 2002.  He was convinced that quite unusual things had happened to her and he was writing on her behalf because she wished to remain anonymous.  She had wanted to get in touch with me or with Budd Hopkins to try to help her explain some of these events.  A few months later she contacted both Budd Hopkins and me directly.  After series of phone conversations with her in late 2004, she sent us large boxes of identical material on her case. There were over 700 pages covering in detail a vast amount of intimate information about herself and her unusual experiences.  The material spanned a period of years. Some of the material was typed, some was handwritten, and some was on scraps of paper. Upon Alice's request, her therapist had signed each description of an unusual experience in order to authenticate it. On some pages the therapist’s signature appears as many as five or six times. 

I had never received such an overwhelming amount of information. Apparently her habit of extreme information mega-sharing is an ongoing one, as anyone presently receiving her massive e-mail defamation campaign against me can attest. 

My first reaction to Alice's request for help was to be wary of working with someone so far away and who seemed overly obsessed with her possible UFO experiences. Still, I was sympathetic to Alice’s situation.  Because I knew no one who was familiar with the UFO abduction phenomenon where Alice lived, I decided to try to help her. I could conduct memory recovery via telephone. Hypnotists widely use the telephone to work with clients at a distance. Of course, telephone communication alone is not optimal because the hypnotist can't observe the person's facial expressions and deportment, both of which can help indicate emotional problems.       

Before I continue, it's important to explain how I work. I'm not a psychologist, psychiatrist, or psychotherapist. My work with UFO abductees is focused on helping them recover and understand their memories. I've been researching abductions and working with potential abductees since 1986. I spend many hours over a period of months, even years, with each person who seeks out my help. The possible abductee can stop seeing me at any point.  I don't charge for my services.  In fact, in some situations—Alice is one example--I've donated video and audio recording equipment to potential abductees. If the potential abductee is seeing a therapist, my standard procedure is to ask the possible abductee to talk to the therapist about whether there is potential for harm. Memory recovery of abduction experiences can elicit a great deal of emotional and psychological turmoil.

It's also important to understand Alice's circumstances. When I began to work with her in December 2004, she shared the information that she was 43 years old, divorced, and had no children, few friends, and virtually no social life. She lived alone in a two-room apartment. She didn’t work and was on disability for "allergies."  I assume she is still in this situation.

            As a first step, I normally require a person's therapist to agree to the process. In Alice's case though, her ex-therapist was aware of what was happening from the beginning and later wrote to me that doing hypnosis over the phone was, in his opinion, "unlikely to be harmful."  He did not monitor her formally, but if he noticed any harmful effects in the contact he had with her, he stated he would mention them immediately.

 

 Bizarre Behavior

When I started to work with Alice she seemed reasonable and intelligent, and she sounded articulate. But I gradually began to suspect that she was suffering from deep-seated emotional problems as her behavior became more and more bizarre.

One example is her telephone calls to me. Alice had an arrangement in which she could make calls to the United States for a very small fee. When we first started working together, she limited her calls to scheduled sessions; but as our time of working together neared the end, she called twice, three times, and sometimes five times a week; as her behavior deteriorated, she called as many as five times a day. It was difficult to get off the phone with her.  It seemed that she had boundary issues.  Alice finally agreed to limit her calls to two a week, but that limit didn't last very long and soon she started calling more frequently.  My family remarked on the inappropriateness of her behavior. I began to realize that her behavior indicated that she was growing more obsessed as time went on. I haven't experienced this kind of troubling behavior in all the years I've been working with men and women who describe possible UFO abduction experiences.    

            Another example of Alice's troubling behavior comes from her interactions with her alleged abductors. In the following section I provide some context to make this clear.  

 

Reported Threats from her Abductors

Some information is needed to fully understand the reported threats.

First, some background on Alice's abductors:  From the beginning of our sessions, she described human-looking aliens (“hybrids”) who were visiting her almost on a nightly basis. Abduction researchers have heard accounts of such hybrid beings since the early 1980s, and over the years a number of abductees have indicated to me that hybrid activity had increased dramatically.  

Second, some background on Alice's "Record," as she called it: For a number of years she had been regularly keeping a "diary" in which she wrote about her ongoing unusual experiences. Early on I invited Alice to put her Record on my website. I thought it would be instructive to others to learn how one person recovered memories through both conscious recall and hypnosis sessions. Alice accepted the invitation. I agreed to edit her material, and my website manager "Elizabeth," who empathized with Alice's situation, generously offered to do the necessary programming free of charge.  It was no small task dealing with her text, graphs, illustrations, and charts but we felt that we were helping.     

One set of threats was directed at writing her Record. According to Alice, the hybrids visiting her conveyed displeasure that she was keeping a record.  She told me that these hybrid beings wanted her to stop writing about her experiences. Of the 50 abduction events that occurred after we started working together, 32 of them included warnings from her abductors about writing her Record.   

            A second set of threats was directed at her working with me. Alice reported that when her abductors discovered she was talking to me, they showed serious concern and wanted to know everything about me.  They began to pressure her intensely to stop working with me.  She said her abductors threatened her with physical punishment if she did not comply with their wishes; later she described the actual physical violence they committed against her for not obeying them.  She also told me about threats that her abductors made against me directly; these threats included scenarios in which I was dead.  Of the 50 abduction events that occurred after we started working together, 24 of them included warnings from her abductors about working with me.  

            In October 2006 I began to receive aggressive e-mails from her e-mail address--Alice said she did not remember writing them.  In all, I received 31 e-mails with 12 different messages, all forceful and disturbing.  I also received hang-up calls in the middle of the night--nine in one early morning at 3:00 am and five in another early morning. Alice maintained that she did not know who was e-mailing or calling but she was able to trace the e-mails to her own computer and some of the phone calls to her phone.  Regardless of whether actual hybrid beings were the source, the situation was becoming intolerable for me.

            I felt in a bind. On the one hand, to Alice her Record was a lifeline; she told me that it was so important that if she had to stop writing it, she would simply give herself over to her abductors and stop mentally fighting to maintain her independence. On the other hand, there was my well-being and the ominous threats from the hybrids, if true.  It seemed to me that stopping our sessions might be the best thing for me and my family; yet I felt that I could not leave Alice without support.

 

Meltdowns—And Rage

            It was at this time (around October 2006) that Alice began to show signs of having an emotional breakdown, which I thought might be related to the e-mails and phone calls. She called these incidents “meltdowns.”  Because my family, my website manager, and I were feeling anxious, I told Alice that in order to calm things down, I had decided not to update her Record with new material for the upcoming week. She flew into a rage--crying and angrily accusing me of making decisions about her life without her input.  To me, her response was irrational: It was my website; I was trying to help both of us.  But she was so distraught that I acceded to her wishes and continued posting her Record as before.

            This exchange marked the beginning of a complex series of events concerning her Record and my website. Alice's meltdowns became more frequent. During a few of these incidents, Alice told me that she had suicidal thoughts. This led me to immediately contact her ex-therapist, relate what she had said, and ask him to look in on her even though she no longer had a professional relationship with him. He assured me she was not suicidal. But for me it was a worrisome new aspect of her mental state.

               If the situation Alice reported was true and actual “hybrid beings” were threatening her, I felt I had to try to protect her from them. And obviously if Alice's reports were true, I had to try to protect myself as well.  If abduction research can be trusted, alien beings have telepathic abilities and know what people are thinking; therefore, protecting both Alice and myself was a major challenge.   

               I thought long and hard about what, if anything, I could do. I decided that one approach would be, during hypnosis, to give Alice ideas to think about that would throw "mind-readers" off my trail.  I explained my thinking to her before I acted. Then at one point during a hypnosis session I told her that as a researcher I was interested not in abductions but in multiple personality disorder. I chose this because it is believable--the disorder has characteristics in common with the effects of abductions. I hoped that she would be able to keep this idea in her mind and convey it to her abductors, thereby relieving some of the pressure both she and I felt.  At no time did I think that Alice had multiple personality disorder, and of course neither did she.  She knew exactly what was happening and why.  

               In hindsight, I realize that Alice's reports of alleged alien threats and physical abuse resulted in a heightened sense of urgency that led me to act quickly, perhaps too quickly. As it turned out, the multiple-personality-disorder ploy I invented as a defense was useless.  Although the ploy was an ineffective defense against her alleged tormentors, ironically it has become an effective weapon against me. Through selective editing and misleading claims, Alice has turned it on its head and is using it to defame me.

 

My Decision

               By January 2007, Alice was beginning to become more erratic, more fragile, and even paranoid.  She was acting in a way that was well beyond my expertise, and she seemed to be spiraling out of control.  Even though I still wanted to help her, I knew that I couldn't and had to extricate myself from the situation. We stopped working together in February 2007. 

               I told the story of my work with Alice to a mental health professional, who advised me to stop all communication with her immediately.  Unfortunately, I didn't take that advice because I failed to understand at the time the destructiveness that would ensue. I continued to answer her calls for a few more months, not conducting hypnosis sessions but talking with her about her situation. It was a grave mistake.

            During those few months before our work together ended, Alice came to believe that Elizabeth had duped me and turned me against her.  In fact, I had been duped—not by Elizabeth but by Alice. During the last few calls that I had with Alice I learned that she had been secretly taping every private phone call she made to me outside of the hypnosis sessions. She tried to wiggle out of the revelation by proclaiming--falsely--that she had asked me if it was okay and I had said yes.  Although I was amazed and angry that she had done such a thing, I foolishly talked with her at least two more times.  

            I investigated the legality of the secret tapes. The attorneys advised me that the legal methods available were expensive, lengthy, and would yield almost nothing, even if I prevailed. I decided the best way to proceed would be to finally take the mental health professionals’ advice and never, ever, communicate with her again.  I have not responded to her phone calls or e-mails since June 2007.  I have never revealed her real name or even her pseudonym in public.  In fact, I have never spoken in public about the problems I had with her. Yet since 2007 Alice has dedicated herself to destroying my reputation by writing defamatory letters and essays about me.     

           

Cyber-Stalking

Alice started her defamation campaign in late 2007 or early 2008 by joining Internet UFO forums and urging the members to visit her new website against me (she abandoned one I had bought for her in late 2006).  She also began cyber-stalking me. She discovers when and where I'm to be interviewed or speak in public. She then sends the host of the show or the directors of the organization a defamatory e-mail in which she accuses me of being irresponsible, unethical, and a dupe. She outlines my alleged crimes and misdemeanors, along with those of my website manager. She falsely charges that I even threatened her family!  She manipulates interviewers into e-mailing her if I should ever mention her name.   Her e-mails have evolved from several pages into diatribes that are twenty pages long or even longer.

 

Escalating Her Campaign

After a year of limited success in convincing people to visit her new website on which she posts her diatribes against me, Alice escalated her campaign in October 2008 by writing a formal complaint to Temple University, my employer of 35 years.  In her complaint she not only charged that I had threatened her family but that I had psychologically abused her as well.  She included a large number of materials and a list of questions for the Temple investigators to ask me.  Nearly all of the questions focused on whether I had mentioned her name at talks I had given, to friends of mine in private conversations, to acquaintances of mine, to colleagues of mine, to my literary agent, and so forth.  She also wanted to know whether I had a manuscript or a book about her. Because the complaint was formally filed, Temple University was forced to investigate.   I was called in and answered the questions.   Temple found no improprieties and sent Alice a letter saying so.  Her response was to conclude that Temple was engaged in a “cover up.”    

            Getting no satisfaction from Temple University, Alice apparently decided to escalate her vengeful defamation campaign further. She put together a package of materials that is staggering in its quantity.  I was told that the dossier has over 150 pages.  It contains out-of-context snippets of illegally recorded phone conversations, out-of-context sections of confidential hypnosis sessions, and any other false information that would put me in a bad light.  In October 2009 she went so far as to send the dossier and a complaint to the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)!  In this complaint she added a new accusation—that I led her to false memories. Because it was a formal complaint, the HHS was required to begin an investigation at Temple University.  Ultimately, the HHS found that the situation was not within its jurisdiction and took no further action.

            After being unsuccessful with Temple University and the United States Department of Health and Human Services, Alice took a more personal approach.  In late January 2010, she e-mailed the dossier to every member of the Temple University Department of History, even including retired members.  The Chair of the History Department forwarded her material to the University’s legal department (her e-mails fit the Pennsylvania criminal harassment statutes).  Temple also sent her a letter saying it would no longer respond to her.

            Gaining no satisfaction from HHS, Temple, or the History Department, Alice expanded her campaign even further in early 2010 by sending her dossier to every member of the UFO and abduction community that she could find in the English-speaking world.  I do not know how many dossiers she sent out, but it seems to be hundreds.

 

Breaking My Silence

This is the first time that I'm publicly addressing Alice's destructive behavior. I'm doing so upon the urging of friends and colleagues and because of her false allegations impugning my competence and even my sanity.  Although I could write a multitude of pages, provide broad documentation, and prove without a shadow of a doubt that her charges are defamatory, it would most likely lead to more defamation on her part.  The truth is not her goal. 

What is Alice's goal? Why is she deliberately trying to discredit me?  To find an answer to these questions, I've consulted confidentially with a variety of psychologists, psychiatrists, and therapists.  The overwhelming consensus is that Alice's stalking and obsessive behavior is consistent with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), although these medical professionals cannot, of course, make a formal diagnosis without seeing her.  According to the experts and the medical literature, people who have this emotional disturbance can be “persuasive blamers” who sometimes engage in “vilification campaigns” in which they try to defame and even psychologically destroy the object of their obsessive hatred through information that is specifically selected for that task.  An obsessive person with perceived psychological injuries often plays the victim while victimizing his or her target—and in my experience with Alice, this is exactly what she has been doing.  I do not know whether she has BPD or not.  What I do know is that I am the target of her obsession.   

            The only motive I had when I worked with Alice was to help her make sense out of what she says are painful and disturbing experiences and to learn from them.  I worked with her as long as I could, but in the end I was unable to help her.  Her problems ultimately went beyond my abilities.  Other researchers, including abduction researcher and Harvard psychiatrist John Mack, have had their own seriously problematic people, although this seems to be a very small population. 

This is the first time in my work with possible abductees that I have experienced anything like this.  I know that as a consequence of writing this essay, Alice will most likely find a way to take every word out of context and twist its meaning, send out yet more e-mails, and stalk me more intensely than she did before. If she does have a severe emotional disorder, I will probably be the target of her obsession for many more years.  Alice's constant attacks, built upon a wonderland of defamatory accusations and coupled with selective “evidence” from secretly taped phone conversations and from hypnosis sessions, are extremely distressing to me and to my family.  We personally are all suffering because of her.  I think that, sadly, Alice has done a disservice to abduction research and to abductees everywhere.   

            I sincerely hope that Alice will one day receive the help she so obviously needs.  This is my last word on the subject. I will have nothing more to say about her again.

 

This is a very short account of my working relationship with Alice.  Issuing this statement is contrary to the advice I've received from the many mental health professionals I've consulted on the subject: They have told me not to respond to her in any way. For more information on vilification campaigns, please see Stop Walking on Eggshells, by Paul T. Mason and Randi Kreger.

April, 2010

   
 
All content © David M. Jacobs and International Center for Abduction Research except as noted.