Alien abduction of Betty and Barney a reality or the figment of their imagination


The September night of 1961 was the life-changing night for the young couple, Betty and Barney. A couple that lived in Portsmouth, Betty and Barney were civil servants where Barney worked in a post office and had to travel 60miles every day back and forth for work. Betty was handling State child welfare cases, and the biracial couple were devoted to their church and civil rights movement activities. The overworked couple finally took a short vacation to New Hampshire’s White mountain which they said was a spur of the moment decision like a much-delayed honeymoon. They had only $70 in their pocket and spent three days in the white mountains. 

However, the night of the third day became the night that changed the course of their life when they felt they were being followed by beaming light from the sky. The road to the house was empty, and the two-hour journey felt like forever as the beaming light did not stop following them. The couple got curious and stopped the car to check what the light was, and Betty saw through her binoculars. She exclaimed to Barney that he is ridiculous to think that it is a satellite or a star. Barney knew she was right as a jet or helicopter will not hover around in such a clear and silent night. 

An illustration of Betty and Barney Hill's 1961 alien abduction. API/Gamma-Rapho/Getty Images

Barney, who was a world war-II veteran and an avid plane watcher with an IQ of 140, knew it was something else. When the beaming light did not stop following them, Barney came out of the car 70 miles from the diner with a gun in his pocket and went into the woods. He saw the beaming light through the binoculars and was shocked to see an object as big as a jet and flat as a pancake. All he could say himself, “My God, what is this thing?” he recalled thinking. “This can’t be real.” He could not lift his hand to shoot and could see that behind the windows of the object men in gray uniform were watching him. 

Hysterical and confused, he ran towards the car as he felt that they would be captured. After two hours, the couple drowsy and confused walked into the house with the clothes ripped apart, watches not working and Barney’s shoes strangely scuffed, but the two hours of the drive completely vanished from their memories. After the incident, Betty had strange dreams and Barney developed ulcer and anxiety. After months of anxiety, they contacted Benjamin Simon, a psychiatrist and neurologist who specialized in hypnosis, a mainstream technique at the time.

Simon, the psychiatrist, helped them put the pieces together with the help of hypnosis and they discovered the Aliens abducted them. They were taken into a spaceship where they were separated from each other and extensive examination was conducted on each. In fact, Betty was so excited to see the aliens; she even talked to them and said that their leader looked like Hitler.

During the examination, the aliens took hair strands, clipped nails and scraped their skin that was then placed on a transparent material, not a glass slide. They also probed their head, eyes, ear, legs and spine with 4-6inches long needles that were connected to long wires. Betty was also given a crude pregnancy test which made her twist in pain. Gray beings were excited to see that Barney’s teeth were removable and Betty laughed saying that they were dentures. She stated that gray beings did not understand the concept of human ageing. While she was alone with the leader of the beings, she asked him where they were to which he jokingly replied, “if you don’t know where you are, there wouldn’t be any point in telling you where I am.” She even drew the star map, which was shown to her in the spaceship while she was under hypnosis. 

Barney showing the model of the spaceship

The story of Hill’s was published in the Boston Newspaper, and after that, there was nothing normal in their life. A book and movie were made on their story; debates were held whether the couple was hallucinating the whole thing, sleep-deprived, liars or were high on weed. Many theories came forward as it was the first time somebody told aliens abducted them. Before this incident, people shared stories of witnessing a spaceship or friendly encounters, but an account of the extensive examination was hard to believe. But, the imagery of gray beings with big eyes became the sci-fi character for many years. 

A renowned psychologist from Harvard, Richard J. McNally said, The “alien-abduction’ phenomenon, in my opinion, shows how sincere, non-psychotic individuals can develop beliefs about, and false memories of, incredible experiences that never happened.” Some psychologists claimed it is the result of sleep paralysis or hallucination, but Simon, the psychologist who performed hypnosis on the couple, felt they were not lying. He concluded the whole experience as a dream Betty had, and Barney absorbed the entire experience, thus making it a real encounter for their mind.

Image depicting an alien space ship, at 200 feet and 100 feet above the Earth's surface, drawn by alleged alien abductee Betty Hill and regarded as one of the first examples of the Flying Saucer alien spaceship archetype, September 20, 1961. University of New Hampshire/Gado/Getty Images

There were many debates on the popular encounter of Betty and Barney, which made Betty a renowned voice in UFO research. But, nobody can neither conclusively deny or accept whether the abduction happened or not. The abduction is a significant possibility as the years went by, but there was no change in Hill’s story, and they remembered vividly how things happened. They denied false memories or sleep paralysis as the possibility of what they experienced.