Books by John E. Mack

Passport to the Cosmos

Human Transformation and Alien Encounters

For more than 10 years, John Mack explored alien encounter experiences deeply, revealing a world of meaning and power that can revolutionize our understanding of who we are and our place in the cosmos.

This is not, primarily, a book about aliens or abductions. But Dr. Mack asserts that these experiences reveal to us a universe which, far from being simply an empty place of dead matter and seething energy, is filled with intelligence and life, though this may not always take the densely embodied form with which we are most familar.

This book brings us to the edge of material reality and beyond, shattering the boundary that has separated matter and spirit and scientific or spiritual ways of knowing.

Dr. Mack asks us to move beyond the largely useless debate about whether UFOs or abductions are real in a purely material sense. He shows us the limited way that we have used ourselves in learning about the cosmos, and challenges the limitations of traditional science as a way to learn about the multi-dimensional world in which we reside.

Insights about the relationship between spiritual and physical energy; trauma’s role in transformation; information about the ecological crisis facing the planet and the urgency that we do something about it; the possibility that human beings are participating in the creation of some sort of interdimensional hybrid race; the expansion of human consciousness and our spiritual reawakening; and the apparent evolution of extraordinary relationships that some human beings may be developing beyond the earth plane — these are the matters this book includes.

Dr. Mack demonstrates that the investigations of a skilled clinician, exploring human consciousness through in-depth conversations, can reveal to us a multidimensional, apparently intelligent, cosmos whose nature is fundamentally consistent with the discoveries of leading scientists who have been gaining knowledge primarily through exploring the physical world.

Publisher: White Crow Books
Published January 2011
368 pages

Original Publisher: Crown
Published November 1999
320 pages

Reviews of Passport to the Cosmos

“John Mack and I became close friends when, in 1990, I first introduced him to the complexities of UFO abductions. By the time of his death, he had moved to a more spiritualistic view of these traumatic experiences, and Passport to the Cosmos remains an eloquent, insightful statement of his approach to an extraordinary phenomenon.”

—Budd Hopkins, author of Missing Time and Intruders

“Here is a fascinating foray into an exotic world. …As a serious investigation into a mystifying experience, Mack’s account poses questions begging for answers.”

Publishers Weekly

“…because of its conspicuous attempts to be even handed and the introduction of cross-cultural material, Passport to the Cosmos breaks new ground. …A credible work on an incredible topic and worth reading.”

— Albert A. Harrison, Ph.D.,
Professor of Psychology, UC Davis,
National Institute for Discovery Science

“Dr. Mack is one of the more credible writers and researchers in the UFO scene and a man who has earned the right to be accorded some consideration.”

—Tom Elliott, Mensa Bulletin: The Magazine of American Mensa

“In my opinion, Passport to the Cosmos is a monumental – I almost want to say, definitive – contribution to our understanding of the meaning of extraordinary experiences. It is also a very brave book, passionately written and deeply engaging. And more than that – its provocative thesis strikes me as being absolutely on target.”

—Kenneth Ring, Ph.D., author of The Omega Project, Lessons from the Light

Passport to the Cosmos provides the most sophisticated and insightful analysis to date about alien abduction phenomenon. [Mack deserves] thanks for holding his ground in the face of critics.”

—Michael Zimmerman, Ph.D.,
Chair of the Dept. of Philosophy, Tulane

“Dr. Mack is, in my opinion, now the world’s leading authority on alien abductions. Do not assume that [Passport to the Cosmos] is a sequel to Abduction. It is far beyond that. The close encounter experience as it really is. Dr. Mack is probably as close to the truth about this as anyone ever has been.”

—Whitley Strieber, author of Communion

“…a stunning breakthrough in our understanding of ourselves and our place in the larger cosmos. With a rare combination of empiricism, reason, and empathy, he skillfully guides us to reconsider our attachment to the bankrupt materialist worldview and open our minds to the possibilities of a universe of awesome diversity.”

—Ralph Metzner, Ph.D., psychologist and author

“What do people really want when they think about UFOs? According to John Mack’s newest book Passport to the Cosmos, the first thing they want is for their experiences to stop. Only after they realize they have no power to stop the experience do they begin to to accept a process that is informative and transformative – a process that propels them out of their narcissistic concerns and towards active involvement with environmental values, the survival of humanity and an exploration of spiritually-based consciousness. …Perhaps Wilber, the philosopher, might discover he has more in common with Mack than he realizes.”

The Vancouver Sun


Human Encounters with Aliens

Perspective by John E. Mack, M.D.

I am not a ufologist per se. I am a psychiatrist and a consciousness explorer, a clinician and a co-investigator in this grand mystery called “alien abduction.” This book is my perspective as experienced by my work with thirteen individuals, given my background and interest in political and transpersonal psychologies. I am not attempting to explain the entire UFO field, nor should this book be read as such. There are many others who have been studying the field far longer than I. I am presenting the piece I have experienced with all my senses and intuition. It is one piece of the puzzle offered to shed light on a much larger whole.

I was asked recently at a conference, “What do the aliens think?” I don’t know what they think. This is not an attempt to tell you that.

I am telling the story of thirteen individuals with whom I have worked closely. This book is as much or more about the human psyche and its potential for extraordinary experience as it is about alien beings.

Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Originally Published April 1994 (republished 2009)
Revised Edition Published 1995 (republished 2014)

Note: The revised text is the author’s preferred version. The original text was presented in the 1994 hardcover. For the subsequent paperback edition, Dr. Mack revised the text to make it explicit that he does not presume the reality of these experiences before he offers his interpretation.

An example of a typical wording change: “The leader or doctor is slightly taller…” became “The leader or doctor is reported as slightly taller…”. These re-phrasings appear on nearly every page of at least eight chapters. Additionally, a new preface was added and the beginning of the book was restructured, with much of the content of Chapter One deposited into a pair of appendixes. “In order to improve the book’s readability,” Mack explained, “the historical and cross-cultural sections have been moved to the back, and the opening sections that contain my introduction and first reactions to learning about the abduction phenomenon have been streamlined.”

From 2009 to 2014, Simon and Schuster accidentally made available the original text for its Kindle and print-on-demand editions.

In late 2014, the John E. Mack Archives worked with Simon and Schuster to return the revised 1995 edition to print, and it is this version which is now available. Simon and Schuster does not identify this as the “Revised Edition”, but you can recognize it by the foreword in which Mack discusses the critical response to the original edition.

New cover art was prepared in 2014 (featuring a wintery forest, intended to complement the springtime cover of Passport to the Cosmos), but it only appears on electronic editions; the physical editions continue to use the much-despised “blue hand” cover.

See a gallery of foreign editions cover art:
Foreign editions

Reviews of Abduction

“Fascinating, suggestive, and even inspiring.”
The New York Times Book Review

“Only once in a great while does a scientist encounter evidence that challenges our fundamental understanding of the cosmos and humankind’s place in it. Dr. Mack’s extraordinary research with alien abductions represents just such a phenomenon, and he has engaged that challenge with singular courage and integrity. Abduction is a landmark work.”
—Richard Tarnas, Ph.D., author of The Passion of the Western Mind

“Controversy. Clarity. Courage. These three qualities permeate every page of Abduction by Dr. Mack. The current psychological and spiritual paradigms that define the nature of being Human and probe the potential of our capacity are under challenge and change. This work is mind-provoking, awakening and a compass point in the search for new directions to understand ourselves and our place in the environment and the Cosmos.”
–Gurucharan S. Khalsa, Ph.D.

“A transcendent, landmark work. …An extraordinarily rich and strange mind-expanding book.”
Boston Herald

“In the history of science, radical progress has always required individuals of extraordinary foresight and integrity who had the courage to ignore the intellectual taboos of their times and to explore phenomena that challenged current belief systems. John Mack’s research into the phenomenon of UFO abduction is a ground-breaking work that belongs in this category. His book Abduction: Human Encounters with Aliens is a major contribution to modern psychology and psychiatry; however, its importance reaches far beyond that. His study has profound implications for the philosophy of Western science and the power to radically change the worldview of our generation.”
—Stanislav Grof, M.D.

“John Mack has written a gripping and fascinating book. As with Frazier’s The Golden Bough and as with William James’ Varieties of Religious Experience, and perhaps as with the Brothers Grimm, Abduction is a book that repeatedly leads the reader to psychologically important sources of wonder about worlds beyond our ken.”
—George E. Vaillant, M.D.

“Provocative…This book is a challenge to any reader. It raises questions about how we live on this planet and with each other that the Western mind and culture will not be able to ignore for too much longer. It also raises questions about the nature of reality; of time, space, energy and the true nature of humanness. It opens the door to a very serious redefinition of life as we know it.”
Los Angeles Times Book Review

“Where Mack’s report differs is in its emphasis on the purported spiritual aspects of the abduction experience. Many of his patients reported deep personal growth and heightened awareness of human destructiveness and of Earth’s ecological crisis. Some abductees seemed to relive past lives during therapy sessions; others became open to contact with spirit-entities; still others said they possessed a ‘dual identity’ as both alien and human. Unlike Hopkins and Jacobs, who tend to view such phenomena with skepticism … Mack wishfully embraces them as signs that a higher intelligence is attempting to intervene in humanities destructive course. Whether that intelligence involves extra terrestrial humanoids or multidimensional spirits is a question Mack leaves open.
His searching inquiry is among the most credible and thought-provoking of this genre.”
Publishers Weekly

A Prince of Our Disorder

The Life of T. E. Lawrence

When this Pulitzer Prize-winning biography first appeared in 1976, it rescued T. E. Lawrence from the mythologizing that had seemed to be his fate. In it, Harvard professor of psychiatry Dr. John Mack humanely and objectively explores the relationship between Lawrence’s inner life and his historically significant actions.

Extensive interviews, far-flung correspondence, access to War Office dispatches and unpublished letters provide the basis for Mack’s sensitive investigation of the psychiatric dimensions of Lawrence’s personality. In addition, Mack examines the pertinent history, politics, and sociology of the time in order to weigh the real forces with which Lawrence contended and which impinged upon him.

Harvard University Press
5 x 7 3/4 inches, 27 halftones
608 pages
Originally Published 1976
New foreword April 1998 

Table of Contents
Preface, 1998
Family Background and Childhood
Chapmans and Lawrences
Childhood and Adolescence
Lawrence and His Family: The Burden of Illegitimacy
Literary Influences
Crusader Castles
Lawrence at Jesus College, 1907-1910
The First Trip to the Middle East, 1909
Lawrence at Carchemish
The Epic Dream and the Fact of War
The War Years, 1914-1918
The Background of the Arab Revolt
Two Years in Cairo, 1914-1916
The Course of the Arab Revolt
The Capture of Damascus
The Achievements of “Aurens”
The Question of Motivation
Lawrence the Enabler
The Conflict of Responsibility
The Heroic Legend and the Hero
The Shattering of the Dream
The Political Years, 1918-1922
Arab Self-determination and Arab Unity
Leaving Damascus Behind
At the Paris Peace Conference
Return to England: London and All Souls
Lawrence and Churchill: The Political Settlements in the Middle East
The Years in the Ranks, 1922-1935
The Service Years: An Overview
Ross: The First RAF Enlistment
The Years in the Tanks
Mount Batten
“Boats, Boats, Boats”
Retirement and Death
Further Dimensions
Intimacy, Sexuality and Penance
Lawrence Assayed
Appendix: Twenty-Seven Articles
Chapter Notes
Copyright Acknowledgments

Reviews of A Prince of Our Disorder

“We are not likely to get as thorough and judicious a biography of T. E. Lawrence for some time.”
New York Times Book Review

“A great book which honors its subject, its form, and its author.”
Boston Sunday Globe

“Mack’s handling of this information is a model of sensitive psychoanalytical expertise.”

“A hugely admired, and Pulitzer prize-winning, biography which concentrates on the relationship between Lawrence’s inner life and the actions and events which grew out of them. It is easy to warm to a biographer who, while drawing on his training as a psychiatrist, is never deceived into thinking that theory can ‘explain’ his Lawrence. The more Mack discovered about the social contexts of Lawrence’s actions and the demands on a public man, the more he understood Lawrence’s psychology. The result is a resounding confirmation of this approach to his subject.”
— Desmond Christy, The Guardian

“Unlike many ‘psycho-biographies’, this was written by a trained psychologist who had also done his biographer’s homework: it remains the best biography of T.E. Lawrence.”
Contemporary Review

“Takes us closer to the core of Lawrence than any previous biography.”

Nightmares & Human Conflict

Nightmares and Human Conflict has several purposes. One of them naturally is to provide a general survey of the subject, to try to understand why these particularly disturbing dreams occur, and to set forth the various determinants of the overwhelming anxiety experienced in them. Since the nightmare is the principal condition in which dreaming and severe anxiety occur simultaneously, it affords an excellent opportunity to study the relationship between these two universal human phenomena. Finally, consideration is given to the relationship that nightmares may have to certain forms of creativity and to various pathological states, especially acute psychoses.

This book is based primarily on my own clinical experiences, and actual case examples from child and adult patients in psychoanalysis and psychotherapy form the principal documentation. Other appropriate material from experimental research, literature, biography, and the psychopathology of daily experience of nonpatients has also been drawn upon.

Publisher: Columbia University Press
Published April 1989
with new introduction
258 pages
Orig. Publisher: Little, Brown
Orig. Published 1970

Reviews of Nightmares & Human Conflict

Nightmares and Human Conflict is in the best tradition of psychoanalysis. It is well written. It is full of interesting and well documented clinical observations.”
The New Yorker

“A work in which the raw data of human experience are incorporated into the body of psychoanalytic theory and practice with a rare, integrative skill. …The entire book is replete with clinical material that is pertinent, beautifully illustrative, and recorded with sensitivity and eloquence.”
—Psychiatry and Social Review

“The major work on the nightmare which captures the personal element in the experience. Dr. Mack’s thoughtful presentation of the history of the nightmare and his sensitive use of case material makes this a work of extraordinary value to the practitioner, the dream scientist, and the sufferer with nightmares.”
—Dr. Milton Kramer
Sleep Disorders Center of Greater Cincinnati

The Alchemy of Survival

One Woman’s Story

Rita Rogers grew up in the Bukovina, the once-idyllic heartland of Eastern Europe. As a teenager, she was deported by the Nazis to a transport camp in the Ukraine. There she saved her family from the death camps by impersonating a foundry worker. After years of stateless limbo as a refugee and hair-raising escapes from two Communist regimes, she survived to use her experiences as a child psychiatrist to heal both individual and international conflict.

In this singular collaboration, John E. Mack, psychoanalyst, and Rita S. Rogers, child psychiatrist, together tell the story of her life and explore the mystery of human survival.

Both biography and autobiography, The Alchemy of Survival is a unique addition to the literature of the Holocaust as well as a deeply inspiring story.

Publisher: Addison-Wesley
Radcliffe Biography Series
Published: June 1988
238 pages, 12 images 

Table of Contents
Home and Childhood in Radauti
A Jewish Family in the Bukovina
Mogilev Podolskiy
A Year in No Man’s Land
Prague: A Taste of Freedom
Vienna: Displaced in a Divided City
Schloss Tivoli to Camp Rainbow: The Search for a Country
America and Psychiatry
Psychiatry and Foreign Affairs
The Alchemy of Survival
About the Authors

Reviews of The Alchemy of Survival

“Internationally known child psychiatrist Rogers grew up in Romania, the daughter of a prominent Jewish family. Her idyllic childhood came to an abrupt end with the arrival of Nazi troops, but the clever, courageous, and indomitable Rita survived to attend the University of Vienna Medical School, emigrate to America, and marry an American. Her story is indeed inspiring but told rather disjointedly by Harvard psychiatrist and Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer Mack. While his focus is on “the way she transcended personal suffering, converting her experiences into resources from which to draw,” his explication of Rogers’s professional life seems overly sketchy. Recommended, however, as another moving Holocaust survival story, and an exceptional one.”
Library Journal

“A fascinating story of the survival of one remarkable woman through the many terrible transformations of wartime central Europe.”
— Dorothy Hodgkin, Ph.D.,
Nobel Laureate in Chemistry

“Tells us much of a greatest value about surviving, and then bringing meaning to that survival.”
—Robert J. Lifton, M.D.

“Extraordinary work … Rita’s life is a paradigm, for individuals and nations, of the transmutation of conflict and suffering into workable existence and coexistance. Superb.”
— Kirkus Reviews

“A spiritually uplifting experience.”
Southern CA Psychoanalytic Society Bulletin

“What a wonderful book!”
—Beth Winship, Boston Globe

“A sensitive portrayal of a courageous psychiatrist’s life, and as well, a social history of the twentieth century, through the rendering of one woman’s moral and psychological determination to persist, no matter what the odds.”
—Robert Coles, M.D.

“Gives a human dimension to this most dreadful of episodes and, in doing so, makes feeling replace numbness.”
— Joseph P. Lash,
author of Eleanor and Franklin

“An extraordinary life story, movingly told in the dual voices of narrator and subject, of the crucial twenty-year slice of interwoven personal and East European history.”
— Viola Bernard, M.D.,
Clinical Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry,
College of Physicians and Surgeons,
Columbia University.

“Fills many gaps in the story of Holocaust experiences. . . Most of all, the book captures the greatness of human beings, the grandeur of one’s potential and fulfillment in spite of tragedy and life’s most cruel vicissitudes.”
— Tess Wise,
Holocaust Memorial Resource and Education Center

Vivienne: the Life and Suicide of an Adolescent Girl

It is a rare opportunity for suicidologists to get a detailed, poignant, and clearly stated personal description of an adolescent’s psychological condition leading to completed suicide. The book, Vivienne, The Life and Suicide of an Adolescent Girl, is one such remarkable, monumental, and unusual account. By combining numerous poems and letters written by Vivienne with sensitive interviews of her family, the book offers insights into a teenager’s increasing depression and evolving wish to commit suicide.

On the day of her suicide, Vivienne left a poem on her night stand written three years before, but significant for its message that “perhaps we all need to be reminded now and then”:

“A star is unlit

A child unborn.
The cry inside
The tear. These things
Shall make you free.

I know there is a sun
Before daybreak;
I am certain that
The flower lives
Before it ever
That there is a soul in me.

I discovered and wrote this for myself three years ago — but perhaps we all need to be reminded now and then.”

[Above synopsis is excerpted from a review by Cynthia R. Pfeffer, M.D., 1982]

Publisher: Little, Brown
Published 1977

Reviews of Vivienne

“Why Vivienne? And why more than 2,000 other teenage suicides in a given year? With the collaboration of the bewildered parents, the authors piece together the final three years of Vivienne’s life in an often moving narrative, informing it with sensitivity and frequently insightful analysis.”
Washington Post Book World

“A wrenching reading experience, valuable in terms of explication.”
Los Angeles Times

“Vivienne’s fall, so sad and paintful to her family and friends, is now at least somewhat redeemed in a plainly written, clearheaded, wise book.”
—Robert Coles, New York Times Book Review

Vivienne represents an unusual collaboration between a psychoanalyst, a teacher, and the immediate family of a 14-year-old girl who killed herself by hanging. Although Vivienne was never in psychiatric treatment — a tragic omission — her gifts as a writer and poet, the candor of her family, and the combined clinical, educational, and literary talents of the coauthors have provided us with an extraordinary account of adolescent suicide. This book can be viewed as a monument to Vivienne, a gift to teen-agers and their families, and a challenge to the professionals who study and care for adolescents.”
—Albert J. Solnit, M.D.
Yale University School of Medicine

“A beautiful book – strong and stirring and unsentimental…. Holly Hickler and John Mack have done a fine job of translating this tragedy into an understandable and healing work of art.”
—Jonathan Kozol

“There is no doubt that teenage suicide has become one of the most critical and terrifying issues of this century. In Vivienne, John E. Mack and Holly Hickler may well have produced the landmark book, and one that comes, thankfully, at a crucial time. With extraordinary skill and taste, Mack and Hickler present the life of a very special child, whose own voice and writings come to us with a plaintiveness and urgency and wisdom…. This entire volume, and the life-and-death-matter it reveals, demands our most abiding and assiduous attention.”
—Thomas J. Cottle,
Dept. of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School