April 1, 2006

Lets Discuss Psychology.

The mere mention of the word "Invisibility" in bigfoot research - makes the majority of researchers pick up and high tail it for the nearest exit -- with myself quickly following behind. Now, before you read the word "Invisible" and pick up all your toys and go home, give me a chance to explain what Im talking about here. Do I think this animal can make itself "Invisible" - ABSOLUTELY NOT, let me be clear - ABSOLUTELY NOT. I am also NOT advocating the discussion of "Invisible" Bigfoot, it has no place in this research, and I will not allow responses by anyone who wants to argue that this animal can make itself "Invisible". This blog is not going to entertain that idea, NOT AT ALL. I can not state that clearly enough. I believe this animal to be flesh and blood, and when something is flesh and blood - it cannot make itself "Invisible".

Question, why would a small percentage of people report this? Lets say for the sake of argument these make up 2% of reports - it is a small amount of reports where this is discussed. Now - lets say only 1% of these reports are by credible witnesses - they display no outward signs of paranoia or any other form of mental condition, and the rest of the report seems to be credible - do we disregard the report based on the word "Invisible" - or should we look even closer at this report?

What is going on with these people?

Now, you can argue that 1% isn't a large enough percentage of reports to even care about - I say researchers in this field do not have the luxury of throwing out reports based on whether we understand Psychology. Yes, that's exactly what I said - PSYCHOLOGY. Im not discussing the "Paranormal" or anything like it here, so lets keep this to the facts. It frankly irritates me when a discussion like this goes into the "Paranormal" - or a fellow bigfoot researcher calls this "Paranormal" and refuses to discuss it. Im not sure who said it but "Keep your mind open, but not so much, that your brain falls out". Things we don't understand should be discussed - there are explanations to situations, some would find incredible and totally unbelievable - but you have to keep your mind open and be willing to listen -- unless of course you have found your bigfoot and are ready to march it in front of the media cameras. This is a discussion about Psychology and the role it can, and may play in our research, when dealing with witnesses.

It is a medical fact -

The human mind can only take just so much in a traumatic situation, and then it just shuts down, if you will. I think there is a very good chance that this 1% could be experiencing this very problem. This is known as a "Mental Block" (for lack of a better word). This happens to victims of violent crimes all the time - whether they be the victim or just the witness - it happens to men, women, children every single day. These people can tell you details of what happened, but when it comes to an ID of the suspect - they are blank, or they can remember something like clothing, but discuss a facial feature - and the witness just can not tell you anything, and the fact they can not remember haunts them - and many seek hypnosis to recover the memory. They can and do discuss things that are what I call "Safe" - a vehicle, clothing, things of that nature, they discuss events leading up to, during and after, but when it comes to the person committing the offense, its a complete blank.. Which in my mind is incredible.. But, I have seen it. Children can remember years of violent abuse at the hands of a parent, loved one or even a caregiver - they know who did it, but cannot remember exactly what happened to them - although they know they are terrified of the person as an adult, and as an adult the memories are recovered through counseling and hypnosis.

I started wondering about this when I read a specific report one afternoon. The witness described the area where the sighting happened, the witness discussed the events, etc... But, even with many attempts to see what was the source of the noises and or vocals - the witness could not spot the animal, and by the witnesses own account - the animal should have been right in front of him - as grass etc was flying into the air in front of the witness. So, the witness said the animal must have been "Invisible". It is very possible, with the fear discussed by the witness, this person was so scared and traumatized, he/she simply "blocked" the animal in question. It should also be added, the witness to this event discussed seeing footprints much earlier to the actual event - so, the witness had already set up in his/her mind that something was in the area, and if that's the case - could have already begun the process of fear leading up to the Mental Block. Now, can I say I completely believe this report, I don't know for sure, and just like any other woodland animal - this one could be very good at standing next to a tree or hiding in tall grass and "taaa daaaa" gone, but I also haven't talked to the witness either. I use this as a possible example and that's all.

I can not tell you how many times I have heard witnesses or victims of violent crimes tell me, during the attack they actually said to themselves "Im not seeing this", "this isn't happening", "make it go away".. So, are they getting their wish? I don't know - but this is something that should be discussed. It happens to crime victims every day of the week, and it shows no mercy to one particular sex - sorry guys, it happens to you too. As a researcher, you may not be afraid of these animals - or any animal in the woods - but there are people out there who are not Bigfoot Researchers, or even hunters - who know nothing about the woods, they go off for hikes and expect a nice day in the woods, then they come across something they have never seen before and the human mind takes over. Some people are just a little scared - others are Terrified.. Could the animal in question be anything other than a Sasquatch - ABSOLUTELY.

I have never seen an armadillo close up - until I moved to Texas.

Heck, I didn't even know they were in Texas - if I hadn't found out before I came across one in the field one afternoon - I may have ran for my life. So, hypothetically I could have set myself up for the very thing I discuss here - over an armadillo. Funny, yes - serious - you betcha. So, are witnesses seeing a sasquatch and "blocking" out of fear? I don't know for sure, but I also wont know - if I don't take the report and listen closely to what the witness is saying. Agreeing with the witness that their animal in question is "Invisible" only makes the situation worse, as they will then believe the animal is "Invisible" and the chances of this witness recovering the memory are much less.

If these reports of "Invisibility" are a psychological response to fear, are we being fair to the witnesses by not taking these reports seriously? Do we know so much about this animal that we can simply throw out reports because there are words or situations we as researchers do not understand? Are we doing this research any good by doing so?

If law enforcement officials take reports from victims of crime, and the victim has mentally blocked the suspect, are they crazy to believe these witnesses? Should Law Enforcement officials stop taking these types of statements?

This is about Psychology. Either you understand it, or you don't...

But, to simply dismiss the possibility of this happening - even though it does in fact happen to people who are traumatized in other situations, is not fair to the witness or to the research. This type of report might require a little work, and some real foot work, some good honest investigation.

But, isn't that what this is all about?


  • At 4:30 PM, Blogger PsychDegree said…

    The psychologial phenomenon you are referring to is "repressed memories." It is a symptom of a Disassociative Disorder.

    It is important to note that the very existance of disassociative disorders is HIGLY debatable among the psychological community.

    There is simply not enough empirical evidence collected to date to either prove or disprove the theories.

    The percentages you give in your article may very well turn out to be wildly inaccurate; this is a topic that is still undergoing research. The reason I am commenting is because it bugs me to see people making up percentages for things when there is no actual research or statistics to back it up. It is a pet peeve of mine.

    Disassociation, if it even exists at all, is thought to be a part of the "Fight-or-Flight' mechanism in the brain (fueled by the brain chemical norepinephrine), which enables us to temporarily 'shut down' in order to focus solely on escaping from a situation perceived as threatening or dangerous.

    When the memories later emerge under safe conditions, it is generally over time and comes in small flashes and images.

    Again, I stress that this phenomenon is still being researched in the scientific community.


  • At 5:54 PM, Blogger Melissa said…

    I appreciate your input. But, I do believe I used the word "hypothetical". While I understand this is a very debated issue, it is something mental health professionals do treat patients for. It seems to me someone with your background might be a big help in understanding some of these reports, and I appreciate the links - as my readers do like all sides of issues.

    Everything is debatable - and psychology or bigfooting is no exception. :) Your input is always welcome.

  • At 6:00 PM, Blogger Melissa said…

    Ohhh my bad, I said " For the sake of argument".. Not Hypothetically. But, none the less - I am offering another option for what these witnesses are experiencing. :)

  • At 8:04 PM, Blogger Melissa said…

    I just finished reading the links you provided psychdegree. The article on Dissociative Disorder is what I was talking about - I kept the discussion to "mental block" because thats what the majority of people understand. I also do not pass myself off as an expert in psychology, so excuse my lack of proper word usage.

    But, while I agree this is still being studied and is very contested - so is what causes heart disease and people are still treated. I never discussed bringing these types of reports or witnesses into a court of law - as a witness who has a recovered memory such as this - is considered highly unreliable and testimony based on hypnosis or recovered memories usually is not allowed.

    I am merely attempting to discuss a reason why these specific witnesses are reporting what they are.. With you Psychology Degree - can you offer any suggestions other than the witness is crazy? Lets discuss this.

    My blog comments are not an attempt at "diagnosis" or ment to be the final word on anything - its ment to cause discussion of things in this field of research -

    care to join in the discussion?

  • At 4:46 PM, Blogger PsychDegree said…

    I was just letting you know what it is called, so if you wanted to further look into the phenomenon, you would have some terms to "Google" and get information.
    I'm not trying to harsh your gig, here. Sorry if I came off that way.
    Was just passing through and thought I could drop some valuable search terms into your comments area, that's all.

  • At 4:47 PM, Blogger PsychDegree said…

    I was just letting you know what it is called, so if you wanted to further look into the phenomenon, you would have some terms to "Google" and get information.
    I'm not trying to harsh your gig, here. Sorry if I came off that way.
    Was just passing through and thought I could drop some valuable search terms into your comments area, that's all.

  • At 6:40 PM, Blogger Melissa said…

    Nope, you didnt come off anyway other than having good information :) I appreciate your comments, and hope you add more to this discussion, as I know there has to be more to the "psychie" of a witness of any traumatic situation you could possibly add to this conversation. Its my opinion many in this field of research could benefit from a good discussion in psychology - as we deal with people all the time, and this situation is not your typical one.

    Your comments are always welcome, and appreciated. Thank you :)

  • At 8:19 PM, Blogger PsychDegree said…

    Well, thank you for the invitation to discussion, although I must be honest- I don’t have much of an interest in Bigfoot. I just thought your page was pretty and the title of your Psychology post caught my eye, so I jumped in. 
    BTW- I think my avatar name is misleading, but that was not my intention. I am working toward a grad degree, so 'psychdegree' represents my goal of a PhD. I currently hold only undergrad credentials. I will not be through grad school for a few more years, so I am still FAR from being an expert. There is still so much to learn.

    Anyway, the Psychology of memory is a huge can of worms. Possible explanations for sightings of Bigfoot as well as things like UFO’s, Chupacabra, etc. can span the psychological spectrum from someone purely being susceptible to suggestion, seeking approval, hallucinations, neurological and trauma disorders and everything in between.

    There are so many factors which would have to be taken into consideration before attempting to evaluate a person’s sighting or encounter experience- diet and sleep habits (i.e. hypoglycemia or simply being overtired can affect memory and perception), drugs (prescription or otherwise), family history, personal history and any injuries or illness which affect the nervous system. An individual would need to be thoroughly profiled in order to rule out any factor which can interfere with memory recall. That is why it is just impossible to narrow the cause of memory lapse down to even a handful of possibilities.

    For example, I had bad cramps once, took too many Ibuprofin and had a conversation with a stop sign. I actually thought it was talking to me, too. This is because the human brain is simply a collection of synapses and chemical reactions, and doesn’t know the difference between PERCEIVED reality and REAL reality. Anything we do that affects the brain can cause a myriad of responses. If a person has heard of Bigfoot, their brain, under chemical duress, may think they SEE a Bigfoot, and the sighting seem completely real to them in their mind. They may even smell and hear this creature.

    I’m not claiming that Bigfoot is imaginary. Frankly, I have no opinion one way or the other on that- it is up to researchers such as yourself to discover and I hope you do. I am simply pointing out that the human brain, amazing as it is, is not a perfect machine and can perceive things that are not physically there, under certain conditions. Unless you can control a person’s environment enough to rule out any interfering factors, you would have to just take their word for it in regards to what they believe they experienced.

    May I suggest a book that delves into a topic which overlaps with yours, in that it involves people’s memories of things which are difficult to prove or disprove?
    Abducted : How People Come to Believe They Were Kidnapped by Aliens by, Susan A. Clancy

    I am not suggesting a correlation between Bigfoot and UFO abductions. I am only saying that the author of this book has looked into the different Psychological theories involved with sightings and experiences which are difficult to understand.

    This topic is huge, and again I must stress that science simply does not know the answers to questions such as the ones you asked in your blog. The plain vanilla truth is that the reason people give reports of sightings or seem to have memory lapses after a sighting is just not understood. I know that is not helpful, but it is the best I can do.
    Amazon link to the book:

  • At 6:50 AM, Blogger Melissa said…

    You know psychdegree - you bring up a good point.. Physical conditions that are pretty well known to everyone can effect memory, so question I have is should questions about the witnesse's health be asked? Not a methodical list of conditions but, a general question could be asked such as "How is your overall health"? If they appear agreeable to answering that then the investigator could then add "Do you have any conditions such as Hypoglycemia, Diabetis, Heart Disease or any other condition you take medication for?" That could be a wealth of good information if asked correctly. I think the medications involved could also be telling. I do not think asking this question means we do not believe the witness, it just adds to our information about what the witness could have been experiencing.

    Our job as researchers is very difficult, we must gather information from people who may not really want to talk to anyone about what they witnessed, or they may have other problems going on that we are unaware of, coming up with good ways to get answers to these questions is important.

    I like this discussion psychdegree :) Thank you.


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