Friday, April 01, 2011

Folie à beaucoup: The Roswell Psychosis

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Folie à beaucoup – communicated insanity, induced insanity…suggestibility plays a part…It happens that paranoid or paranoiac and rarely hypomanic patients not only can make those with whom they [associate] believe in the delusions, but they so infect them that [those contacted] continue to build on the delusions. [The Psychiatric Dictionary, Fourth Edition, Leland E. Hinsie, M.D. and Robert J. Campbell, M.D., Oxford University Press, London, 1970]

Roswell is an example of how a group of normal individuals can act in psychotic collusion, spurred by a bizarre incident that was instigated by one person, acting on a possible mercenary whim.

(The Bernie Madoff Ponzi scheme is a current example of the rampant psychology underlying what we see as the prime motivator for the Roswell incident.)

Mac Brazel is reported to have sought the way to gather a reward for discovering a flying disk, which was generated by his findings of some somewhat strange debris on the farm where he was foreman, debris from a balloon or some other aerial mishap.

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The debris is a sidebar here. Whatever Mac Brazel found is irrelevant to our point. His “debris” caused him, perhaps, to try to obtain some needed money – he was a poor man by 1947 standards, as were many who farmed in the New Mexico area in which Roswell and Corona are located – from an offer of $3000 to anyone who could produce fragments of a flying disk.

(The source of that offer is not clear, and really has little to do with our hypothesis here. Brazel may have only wanted attention, or got caught up in a mild hysterical episode that afflicted the Proctor family with whom he was commiserating about the “stuff” he had found.)

Brazel’s foray into Roswell generated an interest by the Army base there, and Walter Haut, Jesse Marcel, Sr., and others were infected by the “flying disk” suggestion of Brazel or the media frenzy caused by the prior Arnold sighting and other flying saucer stories that were prevalent at the time.

Once the story was tamped down by saner voices (the Army’s Ramey and Blanchard) and news media lost interest, the people who were initially involved with the inadvertent scam went back to their humdrum lives; that is until Moore, Friedman, Berlitz, et al. resurrected the “incident” and cause an unrepression of the folie à beaucoup.

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Once the floodgates of the original flying disk scam were reopened, coupled with suggestibilities by the UFO “researchers,” the Roswell myth was born and has spread as folies do to others who came into contact with the original Roswell witnesses or who come into contact with those – the UFO researchers -- who’ve met with the original participants in Brazel’s ultimately unproductive scam.

Dee Proctor has been a prime participant in the original Brazel instigated brouhaha, dissembling the story in a post 1947 folie à deux. And other alleged Roswell witnesses have engaged in the folie or started a new folie for reasons of nefarious kind.

Our point is that Mac Brazel started, for whatever reason(s), inadvertent or otherwise, a cascading series of events that developed (and continues) under the psychiatric sobriquet of a folie à beaucoup.

Roswell may only be that, a psychotic episode that resonates with persons today as psychologically significant as it did back in 1947.

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