Page 23 - The 'X' Chronicles Newspaper - Late January 2019
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Barney Hill’s “Racial Paranoia”                                                                                 23

              New Documents Offer

           Insight into Barney Hill's

             "Racial Paranoia" and

                  His Alleged Alien


                      by Jason Colavito

          It’s deeply satisfying to learn that a conclusion
          that I reached through one line of evidence finds
          confirmation through a new and unexpected line
          of complementary evidence. That’s one reason I
          was quite pleased to read a cache of forty-year-
          old documents related to the 1961 Betty and
          Barney Hill abduction that Robert Sheaffer
          released last week. In them, we find some      an African American married to a white woman Hill and race.
          additional confirmation of one of the          in an era that frowned on interracial marriage.        In a letter of March 1, 1976, Simon
          conclusions I reached in researching the       I have no desire to armchair psychoanalyze the seems to confirm my own supposition about
          abduction’s connection to The Outer Limits. The  deceased, but it strikes me as beyond Barney Hill’s attitude in explaining his
          evidence isn’t exactly new, but it is a slightly  coincidental that an episode featuring aliens involvement in a UFO investigation: “My
          different perspective on what we already knew  that match Barney Hill’s description in a interest in UFOs was almost entirely on the
          about the case.                                backwoods setting matching the abduction site phenomena of Barney Hill’s developing racial
                 Sheaffer has uploaded 48 pages of       also featured a love story that closely mirrored paranoia which seems to me to have been the
          documents, which include correspondence        Barney Hill’s own personal story of a love that best representation on the matter that I had seen.
          between Sheaffer, the Hills’ hypnotherapist Dr.  defied social convention and came about The ultimate impact on other events, such as a
          Benjamin Simon, and skeptic Philip J. Klass.   through the union of different races.”          probably UFO experience, served only to
          Simon’s hypnotherapy session transcripts               When I wrote the article, I had no way of amplify the situation, not to create an
          formed the basis for John Fuller’s 1965 account  knowing Barney Hill’s attitudes toward race explanation of UFOs or similar phenomena.”
          of the Hill abduction, The Interrupted Journey.  relations, and I could only offer parallels Later in the letter, he emphasized again that
          The correspondence was occasioned by the       between what Hill told Simon under hypnosis, “Barney’s paranoia” was responsible for his
          publicity surrounding the 1975 NBC-TV movie    what John Fuller wrote of it, and what I saw in interpretation of events, and “Barney’s racial
          based on the book, The UFO Incident.           viewing  The Outer Limits. Now, however, attitudes” were the governing motive in Simon’s
                 Regular readers will remember that in   Sheaffer’s cache of documents provides some treatment of Barney Hill.
          1990 skeptic Martin Kottmeyer proposed that    additional support for my supposition that Hill        In  The Interrupted Journey, Hill’s
          Barney Hill’s description of the aliens as having  internalized the narrative of “Spider County” psychosomatic symptoms were strongly implied
          slanted eyes derived from a 1964 episode of the  because of his own feelings about interracial to be due to the alien abduction, but Simon
          Outer Limits called “The Bellero Shield,” which  marriage.                                     suggests that Hill’s own race-based fears led him
          aired a few weeks before the hypnotic regression       In the correspondence, Dr. Simon to manifest physical symptoms until hypnotic
          session with Dr. Simon that yielded the famous  informs Klass that he believed that that regression allowed him to express and relieve
          abduction claims. Hill had sought the services of  “abduction” never happened and was instead the his racial anxieties by discussing them in
          a psychotherapist because he had been          result of dreams that Betty Hill had after she and symbolic and fantastic form. It therefore makes
          experiencing distress as well as psychosomatic  her husband saw a strange light in the sky. These all the more sense that Hill would reach for a
          symptoms, including genital warts, later       dreams were similar to 1950s-era science fiction nearly identical television narrative he had
          attributed to anxiety, during the first half of  movies, and included a medical exam using recently seen and which reflected what we now
          1962. He began seeing Dr. Simon after going    techniques familiar from the era (the famous know to be a preoccupation with racial anxiety.
          public with his UFO sighting story in late 1963,  needle in the uterus account is essentially In short, Simon’s letter provides a pretty good
          due to ongoing anxiety and distress.           amniocentesis, a then decade-old but frightening reason why Barney Hill happened to internalize
                 I proposed in 2012 that it was more     technique due to its risk of miscarriage before a narrative that resembled his own and
          likely that Hill’s hypnotically induced false  ultrasound became standard), but they lacked subconsciously spit its details back out to fill in
          memories were a conflation of three successive  many of the details that later emerged from the gaps in his recollection of his wife’s dreams.
          Outer Limits episodes (and one from the        Simon’s hypnosis sessions. (Her account of her         Oh, and ufologist Kathleen Marden
          Twilight Zone) that all aired in the weeks before  dreams, said to be from November 1961 but not (coauthor with Stanton Friedman of Captured,
          the hypnosis session that yielded abduction    published until 1965, described the aliens as the Hill abduction book soon to be a major
          details absent from earlier accounts and       having noses like Jimmy Durante and dressed in motion picture) is upset by the whole thing and
          hypnosis sessions. Most important for my       Air Force-style uniforms—very different from alleges that Betty Hill had declared Dr. Simon’s
          argument was the episode “The Children of      Barney Hill’s version.) Simon concluded that letters to be a hoax, even though they agree
          Spider County,” which not only featured aliens  Betty Hill’s dreams were the result of “anxiety” substantively with all of the information in The
          with slanted eyes but also featured a backwoods  and that Barney Hill likely developed his Interrupted Journey (including Simon’s doubt
          setting and narrative of interracial romance that  abduction narrative from hearing his wife retell about the abduction, fully acknowledged by
          closely   paralleled  Barney    Hill’s   own   the story of her dreams. This much we already Fuller) and differ only in the spin that Fuller put
          experiences. (Barney Hill was  African         knew from The Interrupted Journey.              on Simon’s analysis.
          American, and his wife Betty was white.)               The next part casts the material in the
                 At the time, I wrote the following:     book in a slightly different light. In  The About The Author: Jason Colavito is an author
                 “The thematic resemblance between       Interrupted Journey, Fuller makes scattered and editor based in  Albany, NY.  He is
          “The Children of Spider County” and the life of  reference to Barney Hill’s fear that backwoods internationally recognized by scholars, literary
          Barney Hill cannot go without notice. In the   people would exhibit hostility toward him due to theorists, and scientists for his pioneering work
          episode, Lee Kinsolving, as the alien leader's  his race, and Fuller writes that Simon felt that exploring the connections between science,
          son, plays a half-human hybrid who defies the  this fear might have led Hill to have a more pseudoscience, and speculative fiction. His
          society of his heritage to run away with a white  deeply emotional reaction to the events. investigations examine the way human beings
          woman who loves him deeply. Barney Hill was    However, Simon’s later testimony shows that create and employ the supernatural to alter and
                                                         this downplays Simon’s real conclusions about understand our reality and our world. []
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