An Interview with Dr. Melvin Redfern
by Brent Raynes
Dr. Melvin Redfern, a retired psychotherapist living with his wife in Chucky, Tennessee, shares with us in this most interesting phone interview of August 15, 2005, his views on the place of psychotherapy in ufology and also shares his own personal and unusual UFO and paranormal experiences. His email address is: firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr. Redfern welcomes emails from our readers.
Editor: You just had an ebook entitled Assessment and Treatment of UFO Witnesses and Experiencers, which has become available from a group over in London, England, thanks to a Paul and Karin Holloway, whose website is: www.Experiencers.net.
You state that it’s primarily focused at psychotherapists, hypnotists, and social workers, but that really anyone interested in the UFO field should find it interesting. So please share with us some details as to what this book is about and what you hope that it will accomplish.
Dr. Redfern: I think that since there is very little if any treatment going on in traditional mental health centers, these are chapters dealing with assessment and treatment of claims that most people in the mental heath field would not even be allowed to treat. I say that because of the prejudice that exists. In other words, they don’t mind treating somebody, but as far as the investigation part of it I think that’s my contribution with this book. Teaching therapists how to do a diagnostic or cognitive interview, as we call it, as opposed to a therapeutic session.
In other words, if you went to a traditional mental health center or professional and talked about seeing a UFO and having been an experiencer or an abductee they would immediately assess you for psychopathology or mental illness and you would probably end up being referred to their psychiatrist, being medicated, or possibly hospitalized. You’d be given all sorts of diagnoses, and none of them would be describing having adjustment reactions to being a UFO witness or an experiencer.
So basically I wasn’t trying to whine about the absence of adequate treatment, but to help therapists who are in a private practice, where they’re able to do what they want to, as far as focus, to know how to identify and help these individuals.
Editor: Right, because a lot of your traditional mental health therapists first off are working under the assumption that they know what the cause is, so they’re treating what they believe the symptoms are suggesting. They’re assuming they need medication.
Dr. Redfern: Many would be diagnosed with some kind of psychotic experience where you are experiencing delusions. It gets really nasty. There’s very few places–in fact, none that I’m aware of–that would allow a person to get the kind of treatment that I feel they need.
Editor: Since your primary focus is on assessment and treatment and the book is primarily focused at mental health practitioners, would you care to describe some about your own background and how you came to be involved in this area of controversial study?
Dr. Redfern: I’m 64 years old and retired from a career as a psychologist. I have a Ph.D in psychology, a doctorate in clinical hypnotherapy, and a Masters of Arts degree in rehabilitation counseling, and a Master of Education degree. I’m a Reiki Master and Teacher. It means that I’m able to initiate anybody through all the four stages of Reiki which is an oriental hands on type healing. I’m trained in pranic healing with Dr. Betty Scott, who is a professor at the University of Missouri, and prana is the word for energy, or universal life force, in India.
I spent most of my career working in traditional mental health centers and hospitals and had a private practice that was also involved with hypnosis. In treating people and documenting UFO experiences you’re not really allowed to do hypnosis in most places that I’ve ever worked. One time I wrote a progress note saying how I had helped someone using hypnosis and the person paying the bill, the insurance company representative said, “Oh, we don’t pay for hypnotherapy.” I said, “Well, that odd because Milton Erickson (who is deceased now) was the first medical doctor to bring hypnosis into the field of psychiatry. A highly respected man,” and this person said, “Who is Milton Erickson?” I just kind of rolled my eyes up toward the ceiling and decided I think I’ll just talk about progress notes with a focus on stress control and something I could be paid for. In other words, there’s a great deal of prejudice out there for doing a variety of things.
Editor: Right, and then the people who have broken the mold, like Dr. John Mack, who was a Harvard psychiatrist, received a great deal of flack.
Dr. Redfern: God rest his soul. For those people who don’t know, he was killed when hit by an automobile in London some months ago. He basically had to make some compromises with the Harvard Medical School and had to focus at Cambridge Hospital with treating people with paranormal experiences involving UFOs, and the reason I say he had to make compromises with Harvard Medical School is that it was all right as long as it was under the umbrella of psychiatry and the clients there would be paying for their treatments through insurance or out of their pocket. In fact, I’m originally from the Boston area. I retired here about three years ago to Tennessee. Anyway, I was thrilled that I was so close to Dr. Mack, so I called Cambridge Hospital and asked if I could meet him or sit down and have a cup of coffee with fellow experiencers and witnesses of UFOs, and they wanted to know if I had health insurance. I said, “Certainly, but why on earth would you want my health insurance? That would be labeling me a patient, and if you’re going to give me a battery of psychological exams then these are the same tests that I administer.”
I mean this is crazy. He did a fine job, but it had to be put under the category of psychiatry, and my feeling is that there has got to be a better way to do this.
Editor: Overall would you say that it’s an advantage or a disadvantage to being both an investigator and an experiencer?
Dr. Redfern: Well I would say that it requires the focus on the client and not let my experiences lead to suggestions that wouldn’t have been initiated by the client. In psychology and psychiatry there’s a concept called transference and another one called counter-transference.
Transference is when the client says things that stir up some unfinished business in my life and then I can’t be objective because I’m still festering with something. Counter-transference is usually where I brought up something that the client responded to that wouldn’t even have been addressed if I hadn’t initiated it. We have to be very careful.
I had some training at a law enforcement academy in Texas a few years ago with an investigator of forensic hypnosis. This was using hypnosis to help victims of crimes identify their perpetrators–to identify things such as licence plate numbers and things like that. There are only a few states that allow that to be brought up in court and it has to be videotaped and available to the lawyers for the defendant where they can have rebuttals to it. There was an awful situation of a murderer that got off scott free because the videotape was invalid. That is, the hypnotist said, “Do you remember the numbers of the license plate?” And the defense attorney for the accused said, “A license plate has numbers and letters, and if you ask what were the numbers then you’re leading the witness.” And would you believe that because of that one thing this person got off?
It’s hard enough for most people to have the courage to even talk about these things and here we are on the buckle of the Bible Belt and a lot of folks that I’ve talked to down here don’t feel safe talking to any of their clergy–feel that they’re dabbling in things that are Satanic and shouldn’t be talked about, and so if they can’t talk to their clergy and people in the mental health field and they don’t want to go around talking with their co-workers and neighbors for fear of being ridiculed. What happens is you end up just shutting down and keeping all of this to yourself, and all of that leads to other very unpleasant emotional problems.
It would be similar to a rape victim not feeling free to tell their story, even to the police. Incest survivors have the same problem. A lot of them have repressed or pushed way back in their subconscious the experience. On the average, most incest survivors don’t even consciously recall the experiences until their mid-thirties. It’s a very complicated thing to develop trust with people.
I’ve had a single session with people that just needed to speak the unspeakable, all the things they hoped to go to their grave with, and then I never saw them again, and they thought that was psychotherapy. That’s only the beginning. You’re dealing with a description of what happened. That’s part of the cognitive interview. That would be like being an alcoholic who just wants to talk about his experiences drinking and never mind a program of recovery.
There’s a tendency for some of these folks to be made famous, you might say, stars of TV and radio shows, but they never get past describing what happened. They haven’t reached a point of crossing over and making sense of it enough to have some normality in their lives.
Another forgotten group...Well, maybe not so much these days...I’m a veteran of the ‘60s and you just didn’t talk about your experiences. Nobody wanted to hear them. You were in an unpopular conflict. Someone asked me recently, “How do you feel about all of these flags out on people’s houses?” I said, “It makes me angry. Nobody flew flags for us in the ‘60s.”
Editor: Yeah, it was a whole different atmosphere.
Dr. Redfern: So the point I’m trying to make is these people–myself included–had nobody to talk to, and you might say “Well, you certainly had rights to medical treatment and VA hospitals.” But what if you wanted to talk things that bordered on things like war crimes. A psychiatrist writes something down. How do you know where that’s going to end up? In other words, it’s a possibility that you might end up in federal prison. The VA realized they weren’t getting the Vietnam era veterans to come to them so they wised up and they set up things called out reach centers, and there was no paper trail.
In my experience I was in Brighton, in a part of Boston, and I saw this helicopter on a building sign, and it said, “Operation Out Reach Vietnam Era Veterans Center.” I walked in there and they said, “We don’t need your name or anything, but there’s a group meeting tonight and you’re welcomed to come.,” and I went to the group.
Usually in psychotherapy you take a long, long time developing trust. They said, “This is Mel. Mel, would you tell the group what your worst experience was?” (Laughs) I thought what about trust and all that, but I said it, and I talked about it every week for a year, and then my nightmares stopped, and everyone else in the group did the same thing. They spoke of things they weren’t telling anybody (else). And this was pure therapy. There was no sign in sheet. There was nothing that came back to haunt me from it.
So what I’m getting at is that there’s a lot of people who are similar to witnesses of UFO phenomena—experiencers–who know what it’s like not to be able to speak of their experience, or tell their story without being condemned.
So that’s kind of a theme of the book also. How to change that around.
I had been involved with MUFON for a number of years and then I thought that in the area I live it’s not quite the same as the clients that many people in MUFON work with. So I’m helping in the formation of a new group which will be called the ETUFOGROUP.
Guess what it stands for? Instead of E.T. it’s Eastern Tennessee UFO Group. Thought that was a nice play on words. It’ll just be a place where people can tell stories with pot luck dinners. I’d like to break bread with the people and look them in the eye, and hear their stories. I get bored stiff really going from web page to web page and chat groups with people I’ll never ever meet.
Editor: Get back to grass roots!
Dr. Redfern: Yeah, get back to grass roots and getting a humanistic quality to something that’s really rather dry with forms, and then I wonder “Gee, where are all these forms going?” They end up maybe in a black hole and I’ve never read any articles on how they’ve done research on all the thousands of investigations that we’ve done. I thought it was a lot of work for nothing and I’d rather sit down and be on somebody’s porch and just talk about what happened.
There is some use with all of my training, mainly with what we call mood congruency. Affect is a psychiatrist’s term for feeling. Your affect is where you’re angry or sad, or whatever. If you’re talking to somebody that has a flat affect, that means they don’t show any emotions that’s fitting the situation they’re talking about. In other words, if they talk about being an abductee and it sounds like they’re reading a weather report you start wondering. You make a mental note. Something is incongruent. It didn’t fit. So rather than try and separate those people that are genuine and not genuine, the personal feeling is that the jury is still out about what this all means. Then there are people who are very depressed who have flat out affect. That’s one of the signs of post traumatic stress disorder, where you don’t have any strong emotional feelings. You certainly wouldn’t talk to a veteran and say, “Well, you were never really in combat if you don’t have any strong feelings.” In other words, they’ve been repressed or buried so far back they don’t feel anything.
Body language has been studied quite a bit.
Editor: Yeah, they say a lot of what we communicate is not really–the important things aren’t a lot of times verbal. They’re body language and things like that.
Dr. Redfern: And as a hypnotherapist there’s something called ideomotor responses where you might ask a person to levitate a finger that’s designated as an affirmative answer, when it’s a negative answer, or I don’t know or I prefer not to say. There’s ways to notice the movement of the fingers whether or not it’s the subconscious truly doing this. You can have arm levitations the same way.
To show you how odd things are, I worked with a woman who wasn’t even into hypnosis. She just had a heavy gentleman sitting on the couch and needing stress therapy, so she asked him to feel like he was light as a feather and that he was just going to float, and son-of-a-gun he floated right off the couch. Several feet off the couch. This was a person who had no formal training as a hypnotherapist. He just took that suggestion of floating and actually had a capability of doing that.
Editor: He paranormally levitated?
Dr. Redfern: Yeah.
Editor: Did you see this?
Dr. Redfern: No, it was just told to me by a colleague. But you see she doesn’t tell that story to everybody. Otherwise, she wouldn’t be working.
Editor: Can you share any instance or instances where being an experiencer yourself actually helped? Where it perhaps gave you a useful insider’s insight into a situation or something?
Dr. Redfern: Well, one of the experiences that I have had throughout my life and repeatedly are scoop marks. If you’ve ever been to a dermatologist and they do a biopsy it looks a little like a spoon. They just give you a shot and dig out whatever part of the skin looks diseased and send it off to be analyzed. But I’ve had scoop marks. Usually five of them. They’d start let’s say 3 millimeters and get progressively smaller, down to the size of a pencil mark. They would usually occur on my ankles.
Editor: Did you have any memories associated with the scoop marks?
Dr. Redfern: Maybe six months ago I had the last event of the scoop marks, but they usually happen at least 2 or 3 times a year. I don’t know what it means.
Editor: Do you feel that paranormal experiences should be kept separate from UFO experiences?
Dr. Redfern: I feel they should not be kept separate. I think there’s an overlap with a lot of it.
Editor: Many of the people who have described encounters with craft or entities often seem to describe a kind of telepathic contact more than say verbal communication.
Dr. Redfern: And most of us that have animals, especially dogs, know what cross species telepathy is about. All I have to do is basically think about taking my dogs for a walk and they’re already up and ready to go. I haven’t even called them.
As far as the paranormal, I have a little anecdote to tell you. I worked with some clients who were mentally retarded and I had seen this one particular fella probably for 15 years. It seemed like all he wanted was to hurry up and wind up the session so he could run out and have a cigarette. And one day he said, like he had absolute normal intellectual functioning... In other words, his speech was like that of a normal person, and that threw me for a loop, and he said, “Mel, when you drive home tonight I want you to be especially careful.” Well, I started to peel out, like I normally did after I was done working in this workshop, and I thought, “What if he knows something I don’t?” And I said I think that just for the heck of it I’ll slow down just a tad, instead of having a heavy foot on the accelerator, and the car in front of me got broadsided by a truck going through a stop light and the driver was hanging out of the car dead. That retarded man saved my life because if I had gone a little faster that would have been me.
It’s interesting that I have a wife who is a Native American. Her family origin is Abenaki. So there’s a lot of Native American spirituality that I got introduced to when we were married, and one of the things that she did was get rid of negative energy in the house by saging.
Anyway she was saging the house. We were living on Cape Cod at the time. And there was some entity that wasn’t able to slip back into the other dimension. Another interesting sign is when animals see things that we don’t. Our dog, at the time, we’d notice his eyes following something we couldn’t see, and then once and awhile we’d see something run behind a picture. It was so fast you could hardly see it. Or behind a baseboard. And it was just kind of a curiosity, and then one day my wife called me on my way home from work saying she was cleaning the kitchen area and found a creature that was part bat, part bird, part mouse. It had the face of a mouse, but it had the beak of a bird, it had talons, it had bat wings, it had a furry body, and between you and me and the lamp post there ain’t no such thing. (Laughs)
So she called me, all upset, and put it in a towel, and by the time I got home there was some disintegration. There was no blood. All of a sudden I had this intense rage and I was thinking, “You filthy blankedly blank. How dare you enter our home.” And I took it outside and poured lighter fluid on it and set it on fire. A friend of mine said, “You mean you didn’t take a picture?”
No I didn’t. I’ve never seen anything like that before or since.
Editor: So at that point your emotions over road the scientist in you?
Dr. Redfern: I believe there was an inability of this creature to cross into another dimension that it wanted to go to, and the sage prevented it. I can’t say that for certain.
Editor: So she had saged prior to it getting stuck in the kitchen area?
Dr. Redfern: That’s right. We had other unusual experiences in that house. One of them was down cellar. My wife was doing some washing and things started moving off of shelves. Glass objects were just gently lowering themselves maybe 4 or 5 feet onto the concrete floor, and nothing got broken. Very strange.
A very good friend of hers recently died. He became mentally ill in the last couple of years. Began stalking her, and after he died my wife felt this pressure on her. She couldn’t move, and I thought “That’s strange.” And then it happened to both of us. It was like some energy was pushing down... and we were not even able to speak to each other. We were just inches away from each other and we couldn’t even communicate, and it happened three times. So my wife talked to her mother who is very psychic about these things and she said, “You need to tell your friend Jack to go into the Light and leave you alone.” And we haven’t had that happen since.
My feeling of being a channel for healing I think is directly tied in with experiences I’ve had with contact, E.T.’s and abductions, and in the book I listed about 80 separate healings of people, and they were actually happening, these contacts, as far back at age 6.
But when I was in Texas taking this course with the Law Enforcement Academy in forensic hypnosis there were about 30 of us there. A couple of lawyers, two of us were psychotherapists, and the rest were police detectives (and) sheriffs. The odd thing was that it was like I was in the group back in Boston for veterans because they were all suffering post traumatic stress disorder from killing people. So whenever we had a break or lunch it seemed like somebody would always come up and want to talk about their experiences of having killed somebody and how they weren’t able to resolve it. So one particular person said, “Would you come over to my motel and I’d like to tape record it and have a lot of witnesses and I’d like to tell you about killing a man ten years previous.”
This particular police detective I used an unusual induction of a fairy tale of Jack and the Beanstalk. I asked him to pretend that he was climbing this beanstalk, went through the clouds, and then he would be able to step off and there was a wall that had a big wooden door that he would swing open–had a path that went through a garden with beautiful flowers, and then there was a stone bench, and on the bench sat the man that he killed. I said, “Why don’t you go over there and sit next to him and tell him what you’ve been through for the last ten years.” And then I suggested that a couple of angels showed up and escorted this man into the light, and then suggested that the person go back down the path to the beanstalk and back into the motel room.
And then I said, “What was it like?” He said, “The guy wasn’t there.” And after all that I just thought, “Ahhh.” Then he said, “But I saw the angels and they walked right through me and I feel totally healed.”
So I was just so elated and I went back to my motel, and unbeknownst to me there were about 80 construction workers that showed up while I was gone. I was up on the fourth floor and had to go through this group of drunken men that were scuffling with each other and drunk. But you know nobody hurt me, and the strangest thing happened. It was like I was losing my hearing. All of a sudden, with every step I took, everything got softer and softer until there was no sound at all, and then I went into my room and got into my bed clothes and sat up against the headboard and I was just thinking what a wonderful experience it was for that detective who had such an inner healing if you will. The room was dark and all of a sudden five balls of light, about the size of basketballs, appeared. Three on the top, two on the bottom. All of this was at the end of my bed, and they were jiggling up and down, and I thought, “Gee, this reminds me of when I was a kid going to movies with sing a longs with the bouncing ball over the words,” and all of a sudden I just felt kind of elated. I couldn’t stop laughing. They just seemed to be having a good time, telepathically laughing with me. And then, as quickly as they appeared, they disappeared, and then a red orb the size of the other white ones showed up on the right and then it blinked off and I was asking questions like “Are you angels? Is this red one my spirit guide? Or is this you Jesus? Or mom, or dad, or my brother?” I just wondered things like that and I noticed this light kept coming back on and it would blink off, and then I realized that every time the answer was negative it blinked off. Whenever the answer was positive it blinked on. I must have talked for hours literally talking but no talking back from the orb. It would just blink on and blink off, and then I fell asleep. I got up in the morning, had breakfast with another person from this training group, and he said, “How did you sleep last night with all those lights?” I thought, “My goodness, I’m not alone.” And he said, “80 people got arrested on your floor. There were helicopters everywhere. The police raided the place. They were all taken out. How could you sleep with all of that screaming, yelling, and the helicopters?”
I didn’t hear a thing, and my sense of it was when I started walking down the hall I think I got abducted.
There was a MUFON field investigator back in Massachusetts that did a (presentation) with slides where a graphics artist had drawn what people had described. I almost fell off my chair when there was a little girl looking up at her ceiling, and guess what she saw. Five white orbs. Three on the top, two on the bottom. Exactly the ones that I saw.
And it seemed as though every day after that there was some kind of physical healing that went on. I seem to be drawn to people that had similar experiences. Many of them were extremely dramatic. There was a blind woman that I had her vision restored. There was a woman with cancer that had two tumors. One on her neck and one on her shoulder, and she had had a bilateral mastectomy and her tumors became necrotic, which means they died. When they operated on her they just removed these little black tumors that had died, and the doctor said, “What have you got to say about this? One in a thousand dies for unknown reasons, and you’ve had two.” She said, “Well, I talked to my cells.” He said, “I don’t care what you do. Do more of it!” At the time, I was doing some volunteer work with a Catholic counseling center and so I said, “Well, since they made you a mentor for these other women at the Boston Hospital, why don’t you gather these people that you’re the mentor for and we’ll make a group.” The group went on for years and there were eight children that showed up and we had a husband that showed up. It was one of the most rewarding experiences that I’ve had.
Editor: So you would try and give them positive images and suggestions? Or did Reiki?
Dr. Redfern: I basically taught them how to do Reiki on each other. The odd thing was that it was at the end of the day and I was in the directors office writing my progress notes and there was some dark force that didn’t appear to like what was going on and pictures started flying off the wall and I had to ask for protection from my favorite warrior angel which is Saint Micheal. I said, “Would you please get rid of whatever negative energy is in this room and let me do my work.” I put the pictures back on the wall. Strange.