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Past Life Regression: Reality or Fantasy?

There is no question that throwing a client back to a “past life” can be therapeutic. But does that mean that the client really goes back to a previous life, tens or hundreds of years ago? No. The journey is similar to believing that you have been kidnapped in a flying saucer and left pregnant by aliens. Past life therapy is a tribute to the human imagination. And a metaphorical way of tackling current problems. After all, it is obviously absurd to think that because you remember in hypnosis being hit by an arrow in your neck when you were with Robin Hood, that it can cure you of a mysterious pain in your neck today. However, this metaphorical time travel can have beneficial results (relief from neck pain, for example) but, unfortunately, “The use of past life therapy among professionals … may undermine the credibility of licensed professionals.” *

This is the conclusion of two South Korean researchers whose experiments, published in the International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis,show how strongly hypnotic subjects are influenced by their culture and belief systems when they are hypnotized to return to a so-called “past life.”

While there isn’t a shred of evidence that people actually go back to a past life (and plenty of evidence that they do no (see, for example, the famous Bridey Murphy story **) There is no doubt that many people who have experienced hypnotic regression strongly believe that they actually returned to a previous life.

The researchers found that the “former life” is strongly influenced by culture and religion. For example, some of the Korean subjects in the study reported being an animal in a previous life, while none of the 110 subjects in a Canadian study *** reported being an animal in a previous life.

I was surprised to find that a prior belief in past lives was not correlated with increased production of past life memories. Non-believers produced “memories” of past lives at the same rate.

Much of what is seen or thought in a client’s mind comes from the hypnotist’s suggestions, along with the background and nationality of the hypnotized person.

Hypnotic past life therapy creates fantasies. And that is why it can be effective in dealing with a current problem. Once the human imagination (i.e. hypnosis) is activated, the possibilities are endless. If you believe that something in a previous life affects you in your current life, then “visiting” that previous life (of course, in your imagination), can provide the metaphorical basis for a real solution. Hypnotherapy is based on the focused use of the imagination.

So fantasy can and does affect reality.


* Pyun, YD and Kim, YJ, (2009). Experimental production of past life memories in hypnosis. International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, 57, 269-276.

** Straight drug

*** Spanos, NP, et al (1991). Secondary Identity Representations During Hypnotic Past Life Regression: A Sociocognitive Perspective.Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 61, 308-320.

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