“Cryptid Encounter Syndrome (CES): A condition of long-term or chronic stress response accompanied by acute anxiety over sharing the experience triggered by an encounter with an undocumented species of animal.”
Although the above diagnosis cannot be found in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM–5), one researcher is making the case that individuals who have had a traumatic encounter with a cryptid or undocumented animal should be treated in a similar fashion and with as much care and compassion as anyone else who are burdened with post traumatic stress disorder.
Rich Daniels is a researcher that has recently presented his findings at the Marinette/Menominee Bigfoot Convention in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and is the founder of the Crypto Encounter Group, a support group for individuals who have had traumatic experiences with animals undocumented by current science. We asked him to discuss Cryptid Encounter Syndrome, as well as some of the aspects of his research.
The Brain’s Biological Response
“Cryptid witnesses often find themselves struck with fear and anxiety counted among other negative reactions to an encounter with an undocumented animal. They report a wide range of symptoms that include hyper-attentiveness, impulsiveness, verbally blurting out, being easily angered or confused, becoming unusually argumentative and acute apathy. What they are experiencing is what’s called in the mental/behavioral health field a stress response, which is the brain’s protective reaction to perceived danger.
Typically these responses occur when a person experiences events such as a severe car accident or witnesses an extreme act of violence. What happens is that at a time of great stress, the brain reacts by releasing a steroid called cortisol that energizes the brain in order to deal with the perceived threat. The above symptoms are typical as the brain is temporarily put into a state that closely mimics ADHD. Standard cases have the reaction lasting 30-90 minutes before it dissipates. However, the condition can continue when the subject is compelled to replay the incident in his or her mind which triggers the response anew. This can happen repeatedly on a daily basis and go on indefinitely. I’ve worked with people that have been going through chronic cases for 25 or 30 years.”
The Problem is Real
“The problem is that car crash victims or witnesses to violent acts have resources available to them in the mental/behavioral health field. But cryptid witnesses are often met with skepticism and disbelief by therapists and doctors. Some have been diagnosed in error with paranoia, anxiety disorders and other maladies. And misdiagnosis can be a disastrous turn for patients in the mental/behavioral health system. Witnesses fear the blowback of disbelief others might deliver and feel there is no one they can go to for help.
The lasting affects these encounters have on people can be quite significant. From a caregiver’s point of view it’s quite frustrating since we are geared to help people, but all we can do is consistently offer the support and attention witnesses need. From a researcher’s point of view, however, there is a different realization I have made. Being that these stress responses are a physiological change in brain chemistry, they cannot be faked or hoaxed and, as such, represent a form of evidence that has gone unaddressed in the research community. They have been unaddressed not because researchers haven’t believed witnesses, but because researchers haven’t realized their significance.”
“Qualifying what a witness encountered is a key part of the assessment. So far I have seen a 60% rate of unclear or complete misidentification. Cases in that range cannot be considered as evidence, but those in the other 40%, where witnesses are certain of what they encountered, are definitive as evidence of the creature’s existence. It is my hope that the cryptozoological research community can come to accept and embrace CES as a significant aid in their endeavors. A few simple adjustments to interview procedures can unlock a great deal of highly detailed information for them and bring a certain level of relief to a witness that needs to share their experience. Eventually I hope to convince and train mental and behavioral health professionals in CES’s characteristics and affects.”
“On June 9th I shared my research publicly for the first time at the Marinette/Menominee Bigfoot Convention in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and it was met with a mixed reaction. Hard core researchers were skeptical, which was expected. After all, they more than anyone know how much garbage we have to wade through in researching creatures very few people believe even exist. The most positive response was from those of casual interest who did not know what a cryptid experience can be like. But the witnesses I spoke to were guarded and reluctant to share their experiences. This is the part of the phenomenon no one talks about.”
A Safe Place for Support
“In May of this year I opened the Crypto Encounter Group on Facebook in order to provide a place where witnesses can go to tell their stories, relate their experiences and be supported by peers and people that understand what they are going through. There is a recovery process I offer which I use quite frequently in my job working with at-risk young people. But mostly the group is designed for mutual support. The group is closed to ensure privacy and the most supportive environment possible and I screen everyone who applies.”
What the Future Holds
“I am currently working on a documentary of my experience of introducing this subject so that those interested can get more information. This is all in an early stage of development but one thing I intend to do is conduct scientific studies of this phenomena and to share those studies for peer review both in the Bigfoot research community and the mental/behavioral heath community. The bottom line for me is to understand more about CES to promote the care and attention witnesses need and to be a conduit for their experiences to aid researchers and ultimately positively influence solving the Bigfoot mystery.”
If you are struggling with a cryptid encounter and would like to learn more about Rich Daniels’ support group, inquire at the Crypto Encounter Group (serious inquiries only, this is not a casual observer group).
Rich Daniels is not nor does he claim to be a medical professional.
If you have had a cryptid encounter and would care to make a report to the National Cryptid Society please call (815) 408-0358 or file a report HERE.