The Hill Hypnosis Tapes: Dreams or Recall?

Kathleen Marden

     The scientific investigation of the 9/19-20/1961 Betty and Barney Hill UFO encounter has been supported by the abundance of evidence that something anomalous occurred. It is bolstered by the professional competence of early investigators, such as Walter Webb, Robert Hohmann, C.D. Jackson, Dr. J. Allen Hynek, Dr. James McDonald, Marjorie Fish, Stanton T. Friedman and Dr. James Harder. However, skeptical literature is teeming allegations that the reported alien abduction was nothing more than a fantasy dreamed by Betty over a five night period and absorbed by Barney when he overheard her retell the tale to Walter Webb and others.

     Barney, who admitted that he had overheard snippets of Betty’s dreams, informed Dr. Simon, “I just told her it was a dream and nothing to get alarmed about…I can’t believe whatever these dreams are that she is having…I never believed her dreams.”(3/21/64 hypnosis transcript)  Dr. Benjamin Simon reported on the Larry Glick Show in 1975 that he thought Betty so strongly believed her dreams that she repeated them as fantasies during her hypnosis sessions. During the 1965 hypnosis sessions, he also expressed that Barney had unintentionally absorbed the information in Betty’s dream account.

     Although he was willing to accept the possibility that the Hills observed an unidentified flying object in the night sky on September 19-20, 1961, (though not necessarily an extraterrestrial craft), he stated that their abduction accounts were so nearly identical that one had to have obtained the information from the other, particularly since in 1964, alien abduction had never been reported. He added that although anything is possible, he felt that kidnapping by extraterrestrial aliens seemed improbable to him. (He knew almost nothing about UFOs.) 

     Dr. Simon stated of the Hill account to Larry Glick, "Barney and Betty gave the same story and this story was precisely like the story that was written up by the NICAP investigator. There were no differences between the three. It was the same story they gave consciously...There was no difference. They both shared the same story all the way."

     He continued, "It had me in a bind and I was now faced with certain decisions and I couldn't make them. I was faced with a story that was very fantastic. If this were real and true, I would have to believe that these supposed people were from outer space...I believed in their honesty, but this story was fantastic and unreal and had to be accepted or rejected."

     Many of you have read about the Hills’ close encounter with an 80’ silent, hovering craft south of Indian Head in Lincoln, NH. Barney’s conscious description of the figures on board, copied from NICAP investigator Walter Webb’s October 1961 confidential report, can be found on page 52 in my book Captured! The Betty and Barney Hill UFO Experience, co-written with nuclear physicist/scientific ufologist Stanton T. Friedman.

Overview of the Close Encounter  

     It has been well established through early investigation reports that Betty and Barney consciously recalled a series of buzzing/beeping sounds that caused their vehicle to vibrate and a tingling sensation to pass through their bodies as the UFO hovered above their vehicle.

     Later, they consciously recalled observing a fiery orb and a roadblock on an unfamiliar stretch of road, followed by another series of buzzing/beeping sounds approximately thirty-five miles south of the first occurrence.

     When they arrived home later than expected, they observed and reported perplexing physical and circumstantial evidence for which they had no prosaic explanation. There were 12-18 shiny, magnetized circles on their car’s trunk that hadn't been there the day before. Their watches  were broken. The leather binocular strap was severed. The toes of Barney’s best dress shoes were so badly scraped that he relegated them to yard work attire. Betty's good dress was torn in several places--the top of her zipper, the lining and the hemline. (Later, Betty reported to investigators that her dress was coated with a pink powdery substance.)

     It was the period of missing time and the subsequent decline in Barney’s health that finally took Barney, accompanied by Betty, to Dr. Simon’s office on December 14,1963. The events that unfolded under six months of separate hypnotherapy with amnesia imposed at the end of each session are well documented in John G. Fuller’s The Interrupted Journey (1966) and my book Captured! The Betty and Barney Hill UFO Experience, with Stanton Friedman. (2007).  

     Although I was a primary witness to the evidence and the aftermath, my own investigation and research was delayed until the late 1980s. Finally, after several years of intensive study I convinced Betty (1996) to allow me to test the hypothesis that Barney had merely absorbed her dream account and that she had reiterated her dreams nearly verbatim in Dr. Simon’s office. This research approach is clearly amenable within the framework of social science, and also gave me the opportunity to answer the question that had been nagging at me for thirty-two years—were my aunt and uncle really abducted by alien beings?

Hypnosis Sessions 

     Barney’s first hypnotic regression transpired on February 22, 1964 in a soundproof room at Dr. Simon’s Back Bay office in Boston, MA. To insure privacy Dr. Simon played bombastic classical in the room where Betty waited for Barney.  At the end of each session he reinstated amnesia in both Betty and Barney to ensure that no cross-contamination of information would occur and to protect his patients’ psychological well-being.  He reasoned that if the traumatic event, for which they had amnesia, entered their conscious memories too early it could produce added trauma.

     I listened to the tapes several times, and when I felt that I had a full understanding of what had occurred, I transcribed the hypnosis tapes and performed a detailed dissection of the Hills’ individual statements for my comparative analysis.  It was then that I realized how much I (and probably Dr. Simon) had missed simply by listening to the Hills' statements.

     With a couple of exceptions, that were easily worked out in later sessions, the Hills’ separate accounts for which they retained conscious memory were amazingly consistent.  I was anxious to compare Betty’s dreams with the several accounts detailed under hypnotic regression. (Dr. Simon revisited the Hills’ testimony several times in order to clear up what seemed at first to be inconsistencies.)

     In “Dreams or Recall?” Betty wrote, “…I saw 8-11 men standing in the middle of the road.  Barney slowed down to wait for them to move, but the motor died.  As he was trying to start the motor, the men surrounded the car.”(11/61)

My Comparative Analysis of the Capture 

     Now let us compare this account to Barney’s hypnotic recall.  He stated, “I think I have driven a lot of miles and the road is not Route 3.  It is a heavily wooded area but it is a road, and this is when I am flagged down…I thought I saw a cluster of six men, because three came to me and three did not.” (2/29/64) The discrepancy is obvious. 

     In Betty’s dream account 8-11 men surrounded the Hills’ vehicle, whereas Barney recalled six men who divided into two groups. Betty’s hypnotic recall is inconsistent with her dream account but consistent with Barney’s statement.

     She reported, “There were these men standing in the highway…There were several…And Barney, of course, had to stop…and these men started to come up to the car.  They separated.  They came up in two groups…And there are one, two, three next to me.”(3/7/64) 

     “Dreams or Recall?” continues, “We sat there motionless and speechless, and I was terrified.  At the same time, they opened the car doors on each side, reached in and took us by the arm.” (11/61)

     In Betty’s and Barney’s hypnotic regression sessions, a new scenario emerged that contradicted Betty’s dream account. Barney recalled, “I saw two eyes coming close to mine and I felt like the eyes had pushed into my eyes….I got out of the car and put my left leg on the ground, and the two men helped me out.”(2/29/64)

     Now let us examine Betty’s statement made under hypnosis: “The men are coming toward us and I think I can get away from them.  If I can get the car door open I can run into the woods and hide. And I just put my hand on the car door to open it and the men come up and they open it for me.” Betty reported that although there were three men next to her, one took her out of the vehicle. Next, Dr. Simon stated that he didn’t hear her last statement and in a very confusing sentence, Betty started to count the men over and over again. Then she added, “I don’t know what happened.”(3/7/64)

     She later informed me that she had lost consciousness when a handheld device was pointed at her. Again the Hills’ hypnotic regression statements are consistent, but they are inconsistent with Betty’s dream account. They did not sit motionless. Barney opened the car door and put his foot on the ground and Betty attempted to open her door to escape into the woods.

     I suspected that Betty slipped into her dream account after she lost consciousness. Her dream account reads, “I am walking through a path in the woods. Tall trees are on both sides, but next to me on both sides is a man; two men in front; two men in back; then Barney with a man on each side of him; other men in back of him.”(11/61)

In “Dreams or Recall?” she counts ten escorts, whereas in Dr. Simon’s office, she and Barney had previously counted a total of six at their car doors, or perhaps eight in all. (Betty’s statements become a bit confusing.)

My Comparative Analysis of the Journey to the Ramp

     Her hypnotic recall is nearly identical to her dream sequence when she states, “I open my eyes and I’m walking through the woods!...and there’s a man on this (right) side and an man on this (left) side, and two men in front of me…and there’s a couple of men behind me, and then there’s Barney…and there’s a man on each side of him.”(3/7/64) Her hypnotic recall omits the two men behind Barney that she mentioned in her dream account. Otherwise, her statement to Dr. Simon matches her dream almost verbatim. 

     The comparative analysis becomes tricky when Betty and Barney approach the ramp leading to the craft’s interior.  Betty’s dream account states, “We stepped up a step or two to go onto a ramp, leading to a door.” On 3/7/64 Betty omitted the steps when she told Dr. Simon, “I go up the ramp, and I go inside and in the corridor to the left.” 

     On 2/29.64, Barney stated, “I am only thinking of mental pictures because my eyes are closed, and I think I am going up a slight incline, and my feet are not bumping on the rocks.  That's funny, I thought of my feet bumping on the rocks. And they are going up smoothly, but I'm afraid to open my eyes because I am being told strongly, by myself, to keep my eyes closed.  Don't open them.” Barney’s omission of steps is consistent with Betty’s statement to Dr. Simon, but both contradict Betty’s dream account.  

Separate Experiences

     The Hills are then escorted to separate examining rooms and both recall similarly detailed, but separate experiences with their captors. Although there is correlating data in their statements regarding procedures, attitudes and room descriptions, I chose not to include it in this comparative analysis. Additionally, the sequential order of Betty’s onboard experience differs from that in her dream account. My research protocol dictated that my data should be restricted to shared descriptive details, including positional and numerical data; not physical descriptions.

The Hills' Departure from the Craft

     This takes us to the point where the Hills and their captors share a common area in the corridor at the time of departure. Betty’s dream account  reads, “We left the ship and walked through the woods…All the men accompanied us. We came to the car and the leader suggested  that we wait and see them leave. We agreed. Barney seemed to wake up as we approached the car, and he showed no emotion. We stood on the right-hand side of the car, Barney was leaning against the front fender, and I was by the door. As we were waiting, I thought of Delsey. I opened the car door and Delsey was under the seat. She was trembling badly, and I patted her for a moment. She came out and I picked her up, and held her, again leaning against the car door.” 

     Betty contradicts her dream account when she states to Dr. Simon, “I've been standing there on the side of the ramp talking to him, and I'm at  the ramp now, and they're taking Barney ahead while we were talking. “ (3/14/64 hypnosis session)  

     Barney’s statement is consistent with Betty’s hypnotic recall but inconsistent with Betty’s dream account. He informed Dr. Simon, “I am walking and I am walking, and I am being guided and my eyes are closed. And I open my eyes and there is the car, and the lights are off and it is not running. And Delsey is under the seat, and I reach under and touch her, and she is in a tight ball. And I sit back and I see Betty is coming down the road.” (2/29/64) 

     This comparative analysis reveals that Betty and Barney did not leave the craft at the same time and were not escorted to their vehicle by all of the men. Barney was returned by the crew, while Betty remained on the craft arguing with the leader. Finally, the leader escorted Betty to the car where Barney was already seated on the driver’s side. On 3/14/64, Barney added, “I saw my car and the lights were out and it was sitting down the road…very dark.  And I couldn't understand…I had not cut out the lights, and I opened the door, and felt for Delsey. And got in and I sat on my gun, and I took it...removed it from the seat, and put it down on the floor. And Betty was coming down the road and she came around and opened the door". 

     Betty added, “I got out to the car and Barney's inside and I opened the car door and I said, "Come on out and watch them leave…Delsey's sitting on the seat where I sit and I felt of Delsey and she is trembling all over. And she's scared, so I said, Well Barney, come on out and I'll get Delsey." And I picked Delsey up off the seat and I'm holding Delsey and I'm patting her and I'm saying, "Don't be afraid, Delsey. There's nothing to be afraid of.  Look Delsey, look."  And I'm leaning against the fender of the car and I shut the car door and I'm leaning against the fender and I'm looking up and I say, "Barney, look." And Barney comes out and stands aside of me and I'm patting Delsey "

     It is clear that Betty and Barney’s statements to Dr. Simon independently confirm that they did not return to the car at the same time. This is in direct contradiction to Betty’s dream recall.  Additionally, both stated that Barney was seated in the driver’s seat when Betty arrived at the car. This statement is inconsistent with Betty’s dream sequence.  In Betty’s dream, she opens the car door to remove Delsey from under the seat, but under hypnosis she states that Delsey is on the car seat.  Barney confirmed Betty’s statement that he then exited the car and stood beside her to observe the craft’s departure. 

My Conclusion

     The above statements provide evidence that Betty and Barney Hill recalled correlating detailed positional and numerical information regarding their abduction experience.  Further, this information is inconsistent with Betty’s dream recollection, and therefore could not have been transferred to Barney by Betty. Nor could Betty have been restating the fantasy material in her dreams. Because the Hills amnesia remained intact during their hypnosis sessions, they could not have contaminated each other’s recall.  These findings clearly support the abduction hypothesis and refute the dream transference hypothesis. 

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For the complete story of the Betty and Barney Hill UFO Encounter and Abduction by Non-Human Intelligent entities, read Captured! The Betty and Barney Hill UFO Experience.