Alien Abduction or Psychosis?

Discuss the January 2017 Book of the Month, We Are the Ants by Shaun David Hutchinson.
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Jennifer Allsbrook
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Alien Abduction or Psychosis?

Post by Jennifer Allsbrook »

Through out the book Henry experiences episodes that he describes as alien abductions from which he is returned missing time and missing clothes. From the story, do you feel that these episodes are abductions or are they episodes of psychosis? Explain your choice.

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Post by Gravy »

I choose to believe that the aliens exist, but that the world was never going to be destroyed.
Maybe they put the choice on Henry for altruistic reasons: they saw how he was suffering and wanted to show him that life was worth living, or maybe the just didn't want to lose their subject: Henry stated that he'd been abducted since he was thirteen, but that they were definitely real.

I figure January 29th came and went with little fanfare, and that perhaps life settled into some form of normalcy, but that eventually they came back. Maybe after a few months, or even more than a year (as Henry said had happened before).
I think it was around Valentine's day and he was a new pair of celebratory boxers, given to him by Diego :lol:
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Post by Julie Ditton »

I never thought that Henry was psychotic. I assumed that the aliens were real. The aliens started arriving before Henry's dad left or Jessie died either one an event which could have triggered psychotic episodes.
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Post by hsimone »

I wasn't sure if these were some repressed depression episodes that he was going through. But, I cannot see him stripping naked that often and end up in the most random places, so I am choosing to believe that he was abducted and the the aliens were trying to help him understand that life is worth living/saving.
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Post by gali »

I agree with the above posts. I also think that these episodes were abductions, since he ended up naked too often for that to be otherwise.
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Post by Jennifer Allsbrook »

As I read the book, I believed in the alien abductions that Henry was describing but as the book came to a close, I began to question them. That is why I posted this prompt. We all know that aliens have not been documented to actually exist even though stories of alien abductions and things like Area 51 are described in popular culture. What I wonder is could Henry be suffering from psychosis? I found this definition online from medicalnewstoday.com: that an individual experiences things that no one else experiences and has beliefs with no basis in reality. Hallucinations, delusions, blackouts, lost time, memory loss, socially withdrawing, preforming poorly in school, etc. This all sounds familiar. Once Henry was hospitalized no more episodes of abduction occurred. It makes me wonder. Was our Space Boy actually a highly troubled teen who was picked on, ridiculed, and neglected? I don't know the answer. Believing the aliens were abducting Henry makes this story "easier" to take in some ways. Many of you have mentioned the lack of clothes issue and being far from home. Could these be explained by episodes of psychosis? I did some research and it seems that stripping is not out of the realm of possibility for a psychotic break. Food for thought.

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Post by Julie Ditton »

I agree with most of your thoughts. The problem with your question that I have is one of triggers. Being picked on started after the first "abduction" became common knowledge. The traumatic events of his father's abandonment and Jessie's suicide were also after the fact. These things might have made a pre-existing psychosis worse. He was taken to Drs. immediately after his first few abductions and he did not get better. But that could have been a problem with finding the right medicine(s). Treatment is not a magic bullet. Henry often went a long time between abductions without any treatment. I deal with someone close to me who is mentally unstable, and the behavior is much more consistent then Henry.
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Post by Gravy »

I have to agree with Julie, though psychosis is one of the various ways this non-ending allows for.

It's funny, normally I hate endings like this. I want things buttoned up, questions answered, and no doubt about what where characters are left, but I not only don't mind how it ended, I think any other ending would've been a disservice to the story.
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Post by Thimble »

I think the abductions in the book are real. He doesn't drive and has no car so I don't know how he would manage to get to the places he ends up at on his own. I also agree with the thoughts about triggers mentioned above. Though he was picked on before the abductions, it was much worse afterwards.
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Post by David Nash »

The problem with Henry's story being a psychotic episode is that he experiences time loss and the loss of his clothes. Now it is possible for a person to have a psychotic episode in which they lose time,but the episode time and real time differ by a huge factor in most cases. That is, the person experiences the loss of days when in fact, only minutes or hours have passed. And, in disappearing for long periods of time in psychosis there is a consistency in returning - someone should have seen him elsewhere, wandering in his psychotic state. The loss of clothes could be him removing them himself, but it then where did they go? Is he so consistent that he not only removes his clothes during an episode, but he also destroys them so that they never show up again? I think the facts argue that the abductions are real, not psychosis..

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Post by Insightsintobooks »

I thought they were real however they reminded me a bit of schizophrenia. I think that they were real because as others have said, he couldn't have gotten to some of the places on his own.
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Post by Kdonegan91 »

Everyone has valid points. This post has really made me question the whole book.
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Post by Jennifer Allsbrook »

Kdonegan91 wrote:Everyone has valid points. This post has really made me question the whole book.
Thank you...that was the point. I myself was into the alien abductions but then when it ended with no real "closure" I began to wonder and think of what ifs. I still want to believe the alien abductions. I don't know why but I do.

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Post by CrescentMoon »

While reading the book, I definitely thought that the aliens were real. But I actually do think that this perspective of the aliens actually being a part of Henry's hallucinations is a really interesting idea. There are many aspects of the story that could fit into this line of thinking. It is a really interesting interpretation. I do however still think the aliens were real but it's interesting to think of the psychosis aspect too.
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Post by Lest92 »

I thought about this when I read the sample. I wondered if his existential depression could have led to delusions, though I admit I don't know enough about mental health issues/psychology to know if this could be. My impression is that the author left it open to the reader to interpret the abductions either way; we only have Henry's point of view to base our interpretations on, and since (if this is psychotic) his delusions are a part of his reality, they become the reader's reality too, whether madness or real abductions.

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