I am seeing a lot of references to the “ballistic reentry” mode of the crew return vehicle in relation to the abort during the powered ascent stage. In partiulat, the recent crewed Soyuz MS-10 abort is said by Scott Manley in his video to have experienced a ballistic reentry. A table of space accidents on Wikipedia also suggest that a mission abort is correlated with the ballistic reentry: Soyuz 33 and the above mentioned Soyuz MS-10 are listed as having had a ballistic reentry due to a pre-orbital mission abort. 2 is not a large sample, but I suspect there is a relation.
I have only a superficial understanding of what exactly is this mode of anomalous descent. A section in the Wikipedia article on the reentry process explains that a normal reentry mode uses some aerodynamic lift to reduce acceleration on descent (lift = upward component of the aerodynamic force = acceleration less that the $1 g$ of a free fall). What I do not understand is how does that translate to an increased maximum deceleration in excess of $10 g$ experienced by the vehicle in this “ballistic” mode. At a later stage of descent perhaps?.
My probably superficial understanding that a ballistic trajectory is the one that is closer to one a body would follow absent the atmosphere, or at the least experiencing the least possible drag (as it is not possible to experience a truly ballistic descent, i. e. under the force of gravity alone, except in a vacuum. Is this related to the craft initial attitude only, or are there other factors at play, such as low initial descent altitude and very low orbital velocity?
I am a physicist, albeit an academic deserter, so I can not only easily take a load of math, but would rather even prefer it!
Update: S. Manley posted a video on 2018-10-23 with a sensible explanation and Kerbal simulations of a ballistic and several modes of aerodynamic reentry, concluding with one reminiscent of the MS-10 booster early cut-off and abort. While Kerbal simulations must not be regarded as in any way precise, they still exhibit notable differences in descent duration and peak deceleration.
This update was made long since the accepted answer by @GdD has been posted, and as such does not reflect the context in which that answer was provided.