“The Andreasson Affair: The True Story of a Close Encounter of the Fourth Kind”

By Raymond E. Fowler; New Page Books, Pompton Plains, N.J., 2014; 272 pages, trade paperback, $16.99.

In the early 1990s, Dr. John Mack, a Harvard University psychiatrist, inquired into what, exactly, goes on with people who say they were kidnapped by aliens. Skeptical but curious, he interviewed scores of people over several years. In the end, he concluded that neither mental illness nor dishonesty was behind their claims. He said that, while he had never seen an alien himself, the most sensible answer was that only the people’s own stories adequately explained their recollections.

Another well-credentialed investigator of UFOs was Dr. J. Allen Hynek, an astrophysicist who wrote the introduction to Raymond Fowler’s “The Andreasson Affair,” first published in 1979 and now reissued. Hynek devised the well-known phrase “close encounter” to categorize reports of UFO sightings: CE-I, a UFO seen within 500 feet; CE-II, a UFO that left physical traces; CE-III, a UFO with “animated creatures.” Other investigators added another category, close encounters of the fourth kind, to cover reports of abduction experiences.

Fowler, of Kennebunk, has spent much of his life making detailed investigations into UFO and abduction reports. His book “The Allagash Abductions” is the main source of information for the well-known incident that took place on Eagle Lake in August 1976. It transcribes and discusses the content of hypnosis sessions the four participants underwent to retrieve memories of being taken into a craft they saw hovering above the lake one dark night, of being examined, and then returning to their campsite.

“The Andreasson Affair” takes the same approach. It’s made up mainly of passages from transcriptions of hypnosis sessions in which Betty Andreasson and her daughter, Becky, describe events that took place in (and beyond) their house in South Ashburnham, Mass., in late January 1967. The story is, not to put too fine a point on it, bizarre.


The family sees a bright light outside. The power goes out briefly. Then their waking memories get fuzzy. But nagged by strange imagery from the dreamlike incident, Betty 10 years later hears of Hynek’s research and writes to him. Hynek tells Fowler, and Betty is convinced to try hypnosis regression. Under hypnosis, she tells the story of a classic abduction incident – classic because, as Mack and others knew, the many reports have generally similar patterns and events.

Betty describes being led out of the house by entities about 4 feet tall with “gray skins and large, outsized pear-shaped heads [and] … large, wraparound catlike eyes.” They reassure her throughout the encounter, take her into a ship, through tunnels, into examining rooms and to places completely elsewhere, some of the details holding religious implications, then home. They tell her she has been chosen to reveal a message to humanity involving the overruling importance of love and spirituality.

The fascinating question for most readers, of course, is: This really happened?

Fowler doesn’t address the question directly. He sticks mainly to Betty’s narrative, whose events he seems to understand implicitly to be real. He offers comments and comparisons to other abduction accounts, and this 2014 edition adds some summary material to its predecessors, which include “The Andreasson Affair – Phase Two” (1983) and “The Andreasson Legacy” (1997).

How you receive all this depends on how you go into it. If you think close-encounter reports are hoaxes or mental illnesses, you won’t get much. If like John Mack you’re curious about what actually is happening, then there’s plenty of food for thought whether you believe in aliens or not. You might even decide to treat this book like it’s fiction, and then, while it’s not exactly polished prose, its events pile on with disturbing effect.

And as they do, a nagging question courses underneath: If this was somehow real, what the hell is going on here?

Off Radar appears about twice a month in the Kennebec Journal and Morning Sentinel’s What’s Happening? Contact Dana Wilde at universe@dwildepress.net.

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