A Psychotherapeutic approach to Ufology
Sheryl Gottschall ©
Every movement has it’s psychological dimension. Persuading people to alter their thinking and behaviour always involves probing motivations and debating values. Political activism begins with asking what makes people tick. What do they want, fear, love, and care about? How do we get and hold their attention? How much can people take in, and in what order of priority? Have we overloaded them with anxiety? How do we make credible what we are talking about?
Movements that fail to think carefully about this may fail to persuade. Movements that go about their work organising, educating and agitating safe beliefs and behaviours with little regard for the fragile psychological complexities of the public may find they actually achieve the opposite in the hearts and minds of those they seek to win. As intensely aware as some of us are of the huge complexities of the UFO phenomenon, when it comes to human behaviour our approach is simplistic in the extreme. I believe that many researchers today approach the general public with the results of their research from too narrow a range of strategies and motivations. We should also show caution against the emotional toll that results from the exclusive reliance on the public’s fears of what will become of them if they don’t become involved with our cause. Could we be presenting a “damned if you do and damned if you don’t” situation to them?
When you call people’s entire belief systems and way of life into question, what you are apt to produce is defensive rigidity which many of us have experienced. It is elemental psychology that those who wish to change the world for the better should not begin by vilifying the public they seek to persuade, or by confronting it with a task that appears impossible. As all therapists know, step one in therapy is about building rapport with their clients. Perhaps as researchers we should be thinking of our “work” paralleling a therapeutic situation. We are the therapists and our clients are the general population who are living in denial of a greater truth they are not yet prepared to take on board.
If we want the general public to reach out to other life in the universe and embrace the UFO phenomenon, we must find a way to motivate people to do so based on a positive response from them. Perhaps a more creative solution would be to open people’s souls to having an adventure with the cosmos, rather than being scared of what may exist in it. To forget that our “adventure” into Ufology is such a very large part of this mystery could prove damaging to ourselves, our cause and those we proclaim to serve. As researchers, if we really want some answers, then maybe spending some time on behavioural research into the questions I mentioned earlier may reveal untapped resources which may provide new territories to map. After all, without the human involvement in the UFO phenomenon, it really holds no meaning for us.