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Whitley Strieber and Communion: a truth stranger than fiction?

May 12, 2009

In “Communion,” Strieber tells us a tale that is both terrifying and powerfully imaginative. What was behind those nightly visitations? Many common explanations for his encounters with the visitors are, at first glance, merely psychological: sleep-paralysis, temporal lobe epilepsy, hallucinogenic visualizations. Yet, after reading through the encounters in detail, many things do not add up. What sticks out the most, arguably, is the fact that Strieber did not have temporal lobe epilepsy. The blinding white light, followed by visual hallucinations – is a common order of symptoms. That would be a psychologist’s first choice. Another possibility might be some sort of childhood trauma resurfacing through elaborate pathologies.

While this is still on the table, the experiences illicit such strange patterns and archetypes, they seem to transcend any known mental disorder, and instead go into the realm which better resembles psychotropic experiences.

Dissociation with the body, intense visual and profoundly supernatural encounters plague Strieber’s experiences. Whatever these beings are, they appear to be most interested in psycho-emotional tests, and whatever experimentation is done resembles more a dark shaman’s work than a doctor’s. With strange needles that go up the nose and prod particular areas associated with consciousness, these beings appear to be some sort of phenomenon of consciousness, some strange dream-like state which cannot be easily discounted by sleep-paralysis, epilepsy or other disorders, but somehow includes and transcends them, slipping through the cracks of what we know today about the mind. Are they true, conscious beings, existing in an alternative reality – one that is more based upon consciousness then physical presence? Or are they a bizarre creation of our own minds? If they are our own minds, then a strange, continuous story seems to be playing over in people much like Strieber. A bizarre process by which these beings seem to come through into our world, changing and transforming the “spiritual” and mental self into something- different.

If they are real beings, then the story is the same, but it’s not just us playing with ourselves. It’s something more. The experiences appear to be “triggered,” in which people can go through trance like, dissociative states. There is little physical evidence for their presence, save witnessing them appear in the house, and occasionally moving the bedroom door. What seems most abundant for us to study is their subjective presence. What people claim to see, sometimes together, usually alone, and what they undergo. This, if anything, is the most telling, and can help us dissect the disorders from true abduction encounters. A “true” encounter, by definition is not claiming to be an extra-terrestrial abduction, but the experience of something like one. Whether this is a psychic abduction, where these beings are psycho-spiritual kidnappers and experimenters, or a bizarre disorder which creates the experience of a psychic-abduction- this is yet to be determined with any confidence by the current knowledge of the human mind.


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