This is a story that ran in the “Williamson AM” section of “The Tennessean” newspaper on September 7, 1999.
A Belle Rive resident searches for why he feels that he’s regularly abducted by aliens.
By NANCY MUELLER, Staff Writer
September 7, 1999
BRENTWOOD, TENNESSEE – While his Belle Rive neighbors sleep peacefully in their beds, Sandy Nichols’ nights are often filled with quiet terror.
The 48-year old Nashville native is convinced that extraterrestrial aliens regularly abduct him from his home, subjecting him to painful, frightening medical experiments inside their UFOs.
And as spacey as it sounds, a local mental health care provider says Nichols isn’t out of his mind.
“I had no problem assuring Sandy that he was sane,” says Pat McCormack Kerr, a licensed psychological examiner and hypnotherapist who practices in Brentwood.
Kerr says Nichols suffers only from post traumatic stress disorder symptoms that are relieved by on-going hypnotherapy sessions in which he describes strange encounters with other worldly creatures.
“I know I’ve been abducted,” Nichols says while seated on a couch in his comfortable living room. A few feet away by the fireplace is a stack of books about UFO and alien sightings.
“And I know I’ve been abducted for a long time and those are the only things I know for sure.”
Tanned, clad in a golf shirt, Bermuda shorts and sneakers, Nichols has the look of any typical suburbanite on a recent summer morning.
A polite church-goer with a sense of humor who has lived in the Nashville area all his life, he is aware that his incredible tale requires a Herculean suspension of disbelief on the part of the listener.
“Is this the nuttiest stuff you ever heard?” he asked, after describing visits from four-foot tall gray aliens with big heads and huge eyes, a seven-foot version of the same and occasional appearances by a reptilian type being.
His life is so consumed with understanding what the |visits| are about that three years ago, he quit his job to devote all of his time to researching the abduction phenomenon. He created a national support service called Alien Research Group to help other people who are having the same experiences.
He knows that by telling his story outside the privacy of his hypnotherapist’s office, he risks ridicule.
“And what I want to say to people is: Here’s what’s going on. Here’s the information. It’s up to you to decide. Make up your own mind.” His visitors, he says are more than six feet tall.
“They look like big damn lizards standing up on two legs … And none of these things are too friendly.”
Typically, they wake him in the middle of the night and “float” him out of bed, through the walls of his brick house and into a UFO where various types of medical procedures are performed on him against his will, including the extraction of sperm, he says.
“They are harvesting female eggs and taking sperm from the men. The consensus among almost everybody is that they are combining it with something of theirs, and creating a new species.”
He says he cannot scream for help when they “immobilize” him with “some kind of mind control” using their eyes.
“That’s what scares me the most. It’s so scary … Those big, black eyes, they’re not just looking at you. They are getting into your being. It’s like they’re inside you. You feel them in your head.”
He is holding his own hand just a few inches from his face to show how close the creatures come to him during this “mind control” process.
“They will be this close to you, these big black eyes boring into you…” He is momentarily overcome with emotion from reliving the experience.
“I’m sorry,” he apologizes. “These eyes just scare the living hell out of you.”
Certain that he has been visited by aliens since childhood, he’s not sure how many times they’ve come for him just since the first of the year.
“From the first of January to the middle of May, maybe 20 to 25 times,” he says.
For many years, he told himself his abductions were simply bad dreams. But over time, his memories and other symptoms became harder and harder to dismiss.
Some mornings, he wakes up with scratches and marks on his body that weren’t there when he went to sleep the night before. And he can’t consciously remember what has happened to him.
His wife, who is a nurse, has told him that some of his neck wounds looked like needle marks to her.
Some of the other wounds he says are “very clean” cuts that look as if they were made with a straight sharp object.
The marks usually disappear within 24 hours. He has pictures of some of them on his shoulder and lower leg.
When he was in his twenties, Nichols also regularly experienced episodes of missing time, usually while out driving in his car. Suddenly overcome with nausea, he would pull over to the side of the road.
And then as suddenly, he says he would find himself “waking up” and the clock showing a time hours later than it was when he first pulled his car over.
“I tried to write some of it off to drinking,” he says, considering that more youthful stage of his life. “But the thing of it was, sometimes this happened and I wasn’t drinking.”
He also experienced sudden “flashback” images of alien abductions in his waking hours, triggered by the sight or sound of something routine, such as word heard from the radio or the sight of an animal in his spacious backyard.
In 1997, he finally went to see Kerr, who had counseled him through the breakup of his first marriage and who has other clients in the Brentwood-Williamson County area who tell fearful stories about being kidnapped by alien creatures.
Nichols told her he wanted to get to the bottom of the mysterious cuts, the blackouts, the flashbacks and recurring nightmares.
“If I was diagnosed that I was nuts, if I had a mental problem, I wanted help. I was tired of being scared and not knowing why and I was tired of wondering if I was crazy.”
Kerr says that in about a dozen hypnotherapy sessions that have followed, Nichols consistently recalls alien abduction scenarios, and little else.
Although it is possible for a person to recall dream material while in hypnosis, it would be unusual for dreams to evoke the strong, cathartic emotions that Nichols experiences from describing his abductions under hypnosis, she says.
And if there was some other trauma there to cause his post traumatic stress symptoms Kerr says she would expect it to have emerged in hypnotherapy by now.
“I use a very open approach and never make any direct suggestions to clients,” says Kerr of her hypnosis prompts.
“For example, I might ask them to view something on a screen, something which is of importance to them. The mind always leads the client in the direction he or she needs to go.
“With Sandy, I used many approaches of this type and he invariably went to scenes in which he was involved with aliens.”
Although the hypnotherapy has relieved some of his anxiety, for Nichols it has been only the beginning of his quest to solve the mystery of his life.
Since founding the Alien Research Group, Nichols, through e-mail and Internet chat rooms, meets other abductees all over the country and helps them find licensed counselors, hypnotherapists and support groups in their own cities.
“You would not believe the number of people affected by this,” he says. His e-mail address book has more than 100 names in it.
Searching for explanations, Nichols regularly travels to UFO conferences and writes about his experiences and those of others in both online and published magazines. He has also written a chapter about himself for a book about alien abductions being written by a British author.
“I devote my life to this,” he says. “And I don’t make a damn penny off of it.”
What he gets back, he says, are clues from the other abductees he meets along with way.
“Imagine this whole thing is a gigantic puzzle and everyone has a piece of the puzzle. You share your piece of the puzzle with someone else and you may get back a couple of pieces.”
In his second floor home office, the computer keys clack softly as he types away, sifting for information on the Internet.
“It’s almost to the point of being all consuming,” he says.
“It’s like you almost get obsessive, because the urge to find answers is all consuming. The number one priority is, I’ve got to have answers.
“These things are feeding off our emotions. They are studying us. We are being used as their lab rats.”