A Screen Memory, is a false memory that masks a true true memory of an experience. In Psychoanalysis, a Screen Memory serves to protect a fragile psyche from a traumatic experience by offering a false memory in it's place. The true memory is not lost, but is buried deep "behind" the Screen Memory. Individuals who have suffered traumatic experiences such as physical and sexual abuse, are most likely to create Screen Memories as a way of sheltering their conscious mind from painful memories.
With regards to the Alien Abduction phenomena, researcher Budd Hopkins was the first to recognize that abductees were routinely describing Screen Memories with regards to their reported experience. At first, Alien Abduction researchers assumed the abductee created the Screen Memory in order to protect their psyche from the traumatic experience of the abduction. However, with time it became clear that this was not the case. Screen Memories were being planted by the aliens themselves.
Case in point: In a interview, Budd Hopkins relates a story about a car-load of people who report a strange experience while driving home one evening. The individuals claimed they drove upon a car pile-up, involving 6-8 red cars with their headlights on and with no one around. When the individuals arrived home they discovered the drive took far longer than it should have. Later, upon investigation and under hypnosis, a classic alien abduction even took place. Had the memory of the car-pile up been a Screen Memory created by the individuals to protect their fragile minds, then each individual would have created a unique Screen Memory. It would be rather impossible for each individual to have a shared Screen Memory unless such false memory is forced upon them from some outside force.
Most Common Screen Memories With Regard To The Alien Abduction Phenomena:
-Animals: The most commonly reported Screen Memories are of strange interactions with animals. Four of the most commonly reported animal Screen Memories are Deer, Cows, Owls, and Wolves. Usually the abductee will relate an unusual experience of driving down the highway to discover a weird animal standing in the road, or if the abduction takes place at home, of an animal standing at the window staring at them. In most of the cases, the sighting of the animal invokes an extreme level of fear in the individual. This may lead the investigator to believe that the memory was a Screen Memory. After all, who would be terrified out of their wits to discover a deer looking into their window? One of the most humorous cases of a Screen Memory was related by Budd Hopkins of an abductee who came home to her family late one night and was extremely excited about a cow she had seen. The abductee claimed the creature was the most beautiful cow she had ever seen and that the animal was able to run at the same speed in which she drove, staring at her through her driver window with large, beautiful black eyes that radiated love and peace to her. She had no explanation on why the drive home took her an hour later than normal.
-Car Wrecks or Vehicles Blocking The Road (If the abductee is on the road at the time of abduction.)
-Emergency or Utility Vehicles (Can be when the abduction is on the road or at home. In the book/movie, Intruders, a Screen Memory is presented with an abductee thinking that there is a utility company vehicle, complete with flashing lights, outside of her house in the middle of the night. She calls to complain only to discover the utility company is closed.)
-Religious Figures (Jesus, the Virgin Mary, and Angels are the most popular.)
-Deceased Relatives (Very common, with the Screen Memory being that a deceased relative came into the bedroom and talked with the abductee or asked them to go with them somewhere.)
-Miscellaneous or Unique (Clowns, Beautiful people, Fairies and other beings of folklore/myth, Ghosts, Burglars, or a Screen Memory that is completely unique to the individual abductee and not reported by other abductees)
What is important to remember is that all Screen Memories fall apart under investigation/hypnosis. If the abductee seeks help from a qualified investigator, the investigator will most likely be well aware of Screen Memories and can quite easily pick them out. The investigator will look for signs of illogical or irrational aspects of the Screen Memory and confront the abductee regarding them, such as a cow that can run alongside a moving car, for example. The abductee then will usually begin to question their memories and the false memory quickly evaporates. It should be stressed that Abduction researchers believe these Screen Memories are being implanted by the aliens as a means of covering up the abduction experience. It should also be stressed that with regards to Screen Memories, researchers do not believe the aliens are actually shape-shifting. Instead, researchers believe the aliens use their telepathic and mind control abilities to alter the perceptions of abductees.
Screen Memories In Film: In Steven Spielberg's Taken, Screen Memories in the form of a carnie worker (?), military men, and a character from a children's book are used on abductees. The upcoming movie, The Fourth Kind, includes screen memories in the form of owls.
Observation: I've often pondered if reports of Phantom Clowns and the like, are actually Screen Memories associated with Alien Abduction.
*According to some skeptical mental health professionals, Alien Abduction is itself a Screen Memory to mask childhood sexual abuse.