John E. Mack: The Psychiatrist and Biographer Addresses Human Encounters with Aliens

by Missy Daniel

“Nobody could have been more surprised than I was that the book aroused so much interest,” claims Harvard psychiatrist John E. Mack. Seated in his modest office in the Cambridge Hospital, where he has been affiliated with the department of psychiatry for over 25 years, he defends himself against those who have said that the man who won a Pulitzer Prize in 1977 for his biography of T.E. Lawrence (A Prince of Our Disorder, Little, Brown, 1976) has succumbed to the lure of sensationalism and big money with Abduction: Human Encounter with Aliens, published this month by Scribners (Nonfiction Forecasts, Feb. 7). Of his advance Mack says only that “it’s been one of the more interesting publishing experiences in my life. I’m used to the publisher saying, ‘We’ll take a chance. Here’s $5000. Go to it.’ Apparently this book touches some kind of nerve.”

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Alien Territory

by Sara Terry

John Mack still remembers the conversation he had with Carl Sagan, back in the 1960s. Mack, a Harvard psychiatrist and psychoanalyst, was intrigued by talk of UFOs and wanted to hear Sagan’s thoughts on the subject, which had been the focus of a recent, well-publicized government inquiry.

“Sagan had had something to do with the Condon Committee, which had reviewed the whole question of UFOs,” recalls Mack, “and he said, with great authority, ‘There’s nothing to it. There’s no substance to it.’ Well, Carl was an authority figure to me, a prominent scientist and a friend, so I let it go.”

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