Independent researcher Rich Daniels looks into the emotional and psychological effects of individuals who have encountered unusual creatures or cryptids of various classifications. Daniels is a frequent contributor to the National Cryptid Society and the Youtube show Bigfoot The Truth Told. will be presenting the following at the Marinette-Menominee Bigfoot Convention on June 8, 2019 and has allowed us to publish it here in tandem with his presentation.
THE EMOTIONAL AND PSYCHOLOGICAL AFFECTS RESULTING FROM CRYPTID ENCOUNTERS
By Rich Daniels, 2019.
This report documents negative and adverse effects and affects experienced by individuals who have volunteered to share their encounters with undocumented animals. The vast majority of those participating in the study (141) purport experiences with bigfoot while the remainder claim encounters with other creatures such as dogman (5) and alien life forms (2).
All subjects were interviewed a minimum of twice with 121 of them being interviewed three times. Interviews were conducted via text, personal message, video chat or in-person conversations. The 148 participants were selected out of a total of 408 subjects interviewed. The pool of subjects chosen included one hundred twelve (112) men and thirty-six (36) women. All those interviewed were extended the guarantee of anonymity in exchange for their participation. All participants were also guaranteed that their stories would not be sold or marketed in any way in connection with this study.
Participants were vetted through several means. The primary vetting question applied was about the presence of mental/behavioral health history. Every participant selected reported no personal nor family history of mental or behavioral health diagnoses. Of the 260 subjects that were not included, 74 were disqualified due to reported personal and/or family history of mental or behavioral health diagnosis. The remaining 186 subjects not included in the study were excluded as the result of changing or evolving story details, inconsistent recall, micro-expression analysis or, in one case, refusal to be re-interviewed. None of these factors indicate less than truthful reporting, however, in the interest of maintaining a consistent and less questionable collection of data those cases were not included.
Of the 148 participants chosen for the study, twenty-two (22) sought mental health support after their encounters. Of those, seven (7) continued with a treatment program for six months or more. Six (6) of the 22 were formally diagnosed with mental health disorders. Four (4) were diagnosed with schizophrenia (dementia praecox), one with bipolar disorder and one with early onset dementia. Of the twenty-two (22) who sought professional support, five (5) were referred to other providers or outright refused services.
Those subjects included in the study represent as full a cross-section of vocational backgrounds as can be reasonably expected. They range from doctors (4), lawyers (3) and police officers (4) through most every facet of white and blue collar vocations such as factory workers (11), retail workers (9), construction workers (16), educators (8) and restaurant personnel (6).
The most striking feature revealed by the interview process is the pervasive presence of long periods of time subjects endured before reporting their encounters. There were thirty-six (36) that reported incidents within a month, but the remainder (112) chose to wait longer periods of time before telling anyone about their experiences. Twenty-one (21) waited at least a year, twenty-six (26) waited at least two years, forty-two (42) waited at least five years and twenty-three (23) waited more than six years.
Of the twenty-three (23) extended term waiting periods, twenty (20) lasted more than ten years, seventeen (17) lasted more than twenty years and three (3) lasted over thirty years. The longest duration between incidence and reporting of said incidence was thirty-six years. The sole reason for holding back from reporting their encounters subjects reported was fear of being ridiculed or even persecuted for their admissions. Said concerns were both personal and professional in nature.
Responses To Encounters
All 148 subjects of the study fell into the five stress response categories fight, flight, freeze, flop and friend. There were eleven (11) subjects that reported immediate fight responses of anger, feelings of aggression and a desire for revenge. Eight (8) subjects reported body tension (clenched hands or teeth, assuming an aggressive stance), four (4) brandished weapons or picked up objects to use as weapons and two (2) subjects reported throwing objects at the creature they encountered (neither reported striking the creature they encountered with thrown objects). None of the fight responses were reactions to reported aggressive behaviors of the creatures encountered. All eleven fight responses occurred in male subjects.
By far the largest segment of subjects reported flight response. Seventy-two (72) subjects reported fleeing the scene of their encounter within moments of incidence. Five (5) individuals took flight while only hearing something alarming and saw the creature while fleeing. Eight (8) began walking from the area after detecting a repulsive odor then saw the creature en route. Thirteen (13) were overcome with a powerful sense of dread prior to their encounter. Ten (10) experienced confusion or disorientation just prior to encountering a creature. Twelve (12) subjects saw a creature but were not seen/detected by it. And twenty-four (24) subjects noticed a creature watching them.
The next largest sub group was made up of those who froze at the point of encounter. Thirty-one (31) subjects reported freezing in place, feeling paralyzed or otherwise unable to move at some point of their encounter. Twenty-three (23) subjects reported immediate immobilization upon encountering a creature while the remaining eight (8) reported experiencing inability to move within moments of their encounter. Six (6) subjects reported their immobile sensation to last less than a minute. Sixteen (16) subjects reported being immobile for “a few minutes” narrowed to less than five minutes. Seven (7) subjects reported up to ten minutes before they were able to move away from their encounter site. And two (2) subjects reported not being able to move from the point of encounter for up to an hour. All subjects of this sub group reported confusion, disorientation or inability to “think straight” during their encounters.
The most unexpectedly large sub group was made up of those that fit into a flopping or fawning response. Twenty-seven (27) subjects reported partial or full collapse onto the ground, turning away without fleeing or averting their eyes from the creature. The nineteen (19) that flopped (collapsed) reported shock or feeling stunned at the moment of encounter. The eight (8) that fawned (turned away or averted their eyes) reported dissociative or “mind numbing” feelings. None of those that turned their attention from the creature recalled hearing it depart the area.
The last, and most complex, sub group were subjects reporting a friending response. These seven (7) subjects all reported immediate heightened curiosity about the creature they encountered. Five (5) subjects reported that feeling while still in the presence of the creature while the other two (2) subjects reported the same feeling but a few moments after the departure of the creature. All subjects reported empathetic feelings toward the creature in some way. Two (2) subjects reported feeling a “special connection” was made with the creature they witnessed.
Long Term Affects
All subjects reported some extension of their initial stress response to their encounter. Reported continuation of symptoms ranged between two weeks and permanence. Of the eighty-three (83) subjects that experienced metabolic hyper-arousal increases (elevated heart rate, blood pressure, rapid breathing, etc.) from fight or flight responses, seventy-four (74) reported cessation of said symptom frequency within six months. Five (5) subjects reported cessation within a year and four (4) reported that symptoms never fully ceased.
Sixty-five (65) subjects reported hyper-arousal overload responses from freeze, flop/fawn or friend responses. Hyper-arousal overload resulted in metabolic shutdowns (weak pulse, shallow breathing, light headedness, glazed-over eyes, pale or ashen skin or undue weakness/fatigue). Thirty-nine (39) reported cessation of symptoms within two months. Sixteen (16) reported cessation within a year. Ten (10) reported that symptoms had never fully ceased.
Subjects reported experiencing a full range of long term emotional affects, some of which never ceased. Inability to rest or sleep, nightmares and night terrors were common for fight or flight subjects with incidences ceasing within three months (88) to a year (35). Thirteen (13) subjects reported that sleep depriving affects have never fully ceased.
One hundred and three (103) subjects reported at least some chronic stress response symptoms such as headaches, body aches, chest pains, low energy, frequent colds or infections (compromised immune response), frequent gastric disruptions (upset stomach, nausea, constipation, diarrhea) or insomnia for a period of one to two years after their encounters. Said symptoms lasted between two and five years for thirty-one (31) subjects and lasted more than five years for fourteen (14) subjects. Of those, eight (8) subjects reported that they never stopped experiencing chronic stress symptoms.
Unlike victims of accepted trauma incidents, cryptid witnesses found few outlets for the effects of their experiences. Of the 148 subjects interviewed, 141 reported that they were at least hesitant to share their experiences with anyone. Invalidation, ridicule, persecution and lack of understanding by others were the chief reasons reported for delaying or not sharing experiences.
Sixty-one (61) subjects reported altered or terminated relationships as the result of sharing their experiences with others. The affected relationships included family, friends and professional settings. Six (6) subjects reported termination of immediate familial relationships of some kind. Nineteen (19) subjects reported termination of relationships with friends. Two (2) subjects reported career limiting changes in their professional lives.
All of the 148 subjects reported feeling isolated or abandoned for a period of at least a month. One hundred twenty-one (121) subjects reported the same feeling for at least six months. Eighty-nine (89) subjects reported said feelings for a period of at least a year. Thirty-seven (37) subjects reported continued perception of isolation or abandonment for at least five years. Seventeen (17) subjects reported said feelings never ceasing. One hundred twenty-eight (128) subjects reported a strong desire to share their experiences concurrent with their hesitation to do so.
Finally, of the 148 subjects ninety-six (96) reported definite desire to see the creature again. Thirty-eight (38) reported no desire to see the creature again. Fourteen (14) were unsure if they wanted to see the creature again.
Other articles by Rich Daniels:
“No One Understands”: One Researcher’s Quest To Shed Light On The Aftermath Of Traumatic Cryptid Encounters
Infrasound: The Little We Really Know by Rich Daniels
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