in New York
An eminent professor at Harvard University may soon find himself dismissed for suggesting that millions of Americans may have been unwilling victims of sexual experiments aboard alien spaceships.
Dr John Mack, a psychiatrist with the Harvard Medical School, gained nationwide notoriety in America last year with the publication of his latest book, Abductions: Human Encounters with Aliens. But while his work has been feted by the UFO fraternity, the academic reaction has been less charitable.
Dr Mack now faces an uncertain future. Last month special committee was set up to investigate his beliefs and consider possible action against him.
While it is almost certainly concerned about its own reputation, the medical school is reportedly also worried about the welfare of some 90 patients currently under Dr Mack's care. Their common complaint is that they have been abducted at some stage in their lives by creatures from outer space. His critics believe the patients should be getting orthodox psychiatric help.
Dr Mack responded: "The psychological approaches to this have been proven pretty solidly bankrupt for 25 years", adding: "And there are hundreds of thousands, if not millions of these individuals in this country alone."
In his book, Dr Mack details 13 case studies. They include Ed, who remembers an alien woman taking a sperm sample from him while was in high school; Jerry, who said she gave birth to a human-alien hybrid; and Peter, who reported having a "alien wife" in a parallel universe.
Acquaintances of Dr Mack fear, however, that in spite of a distinguished career he may have become unhinged.
"I've known John since the 1950s," said Paul McHugh, director of the psychiatry department at Johns Hopkins Medical School in Baltimore. "He's a brilliant fellow who occasionally loses it, and this time he's lost it big time."