A suffocating attempt to squeeze UFOs and NDEs (near-death experiences) into the same psychospiritual pigeonhole. Ring (Psychology/Univ. of Conn. at Storrs), well known for his research into near-death experience (Heading for Omega, 1984, etc.), reports that he long resisted investigating other species of paranormal activity (``I don't do UFOs,'' he would exclaim). This blockade ended in 1987, when Whitley Strieber's Communion (Strieber contributes a foreword here) fell into his hands. Ring was hooked, as it dawned on him that UFOs and NDEs ``lead to a similar kind of spiritual transformation.'' In fact—hold onto your New Age hats- -UFOs cause ``a higher level of human being to manifest.'' Ring tries to demonstrate this by detailing typical UFO abductions, which in some respects do parallel religious initiation journeys, but which seem to engender far more fear than enlightenment. The ``Project Omega'' of the title is Ring's attempt to determine the psychological factors that predispose people to NDEs and UFO encounters. He concludes, with neat circularity, that UFOers and NDEers are ``encounter-prone personalities.'' Far more interesting is his discovery that many of these people have suffered a high degree of childhood abuse or trauma. This is suggestive in many ways; what it suggests to Ring is that UFO abductions are not alien encounters per se but some kind of symbolic event, a conclusion that puts him in the ``soft-core'' camp spearheaded by Strieber and Jacques Vallee. Some intense firsthand reports of UFO abductions—these really are scary—ruined by pretentious psycho-pop speculation about emerging ``new levels of consciousness'' and the like. Now that Ring ``does'' UFOs and NDEs, where will he find his next evidence of the coming paradigm shift? Perhaps in the proliferation of wide- eyed books like this.
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