photo of r. leo sprinkle

Laramie, Wyoming, psychologist R. Leo Sprinkle sponsors a yearly conference at the University of Wyoming, where contactees gather to share experiences. Sprinkle's interest is more than academic: He believes himself to be a communicant with extraterrestrials.

Mary Evans Picture Library

According to a 1972 paper by two psychiatrists associated with the Harvard Medical School, flying saucers are almost certainly misperceptions of sex organs. Lester Grinspoon and Alan D. Persky wrote that most UFO witnesses are persons suffering from untreated psychological disorders. They have reverted to "primal modes of thinking" and lapsed back into childhood. This includes dreams and hallucinations that are mistaken for reality. In this state of ambulatory schizophrenia, victims recall their "earliest infantile perceptions."

They may see an approaching flying saucer -- in fact an hallucination of a mother's breast. Or conversely, they may see a cigar-shaped object -- a phallic symbol if ever there was one. "The flying objects," Grinspoon and Persky pronounced, "are representations, symbols, of highly libidinized primary objects in the development of the individual. They are symbols of extremes of gratification and of omnipotence."­