Past Life Regression

1012 words | 4 page(s)

It is interesting to observe that shifts within a culture may actually go to changes in belief systems themselves. As men and women experience new realities, they often turn to ideologies, or even faiths, that provide them with comfort. More remarkable is when this social need goes to validating as science that which is essentially, and only, belief. A case of this is seen in how, in recent decades, millions of Americans embrace past life regression, or the perceived ability to uncover prior existences lived by themselves. So powerful is this impetus, and so committed are its adherents, past life regression (PLR) is held to be scientifically valid. As my research uncovers, however, this is true only to the extent that PLR may not be proven as not an impossibility, and because the nature of it defies any means of scientific validation. What I believe is in place is then an increasing fascination with the idea of having lived many lives so emphatic, many insist that PLR is science when in reality it is only a form of faith.

In examining the phenomenon of PLR, it is difficult to avoid the presence of Dr. Brian Weiss, who is virtually the founder of the modern movement of PLR. Weiss, who has written many bestselling books on the subject, also hosts popular seminars and appears widely as a talk show guest. On his own website, Weiss presents interviews in which several aspects are of particular interest. When, for example, discussing whether people have unlimited ranges of existences, he prefaces his remarks by affirming that what follows is only his opinion. This is, however, further qualified by his referring to that opinion as formed by years of “research” (Weiss, 2014). This in turn links to how Weiss’ site, as well as the other articles discussed here involving him, stress his credentials as an esteemed psychotherapist and Chairman Emeritus of Psychiatry at Miami’s Mount Sinai Medical Center. This is then an extraordinary juxtaposition; Weiss simultaneously relies on his academic standing while affirming in the interview that, not only may existences be unlimited, so are realities themselves, as individuals live in various universes apart from our own. Importantly, this is stated as fact, not opinion.

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Weiss is as well the cornerstone of a New York Times article on PLR, and once again there is a pronounced combination of opinion and an urgency to present himself as adhering to science. While discussing how a patient named Catherine first drew his attention to an individual’s ability to recall past lives under hypnosis, Weiss: “Stresses that he is a medical doctor who was not expecting to encounter past lives in a conventional therapeutic setting” (Miller, 2010). Altering his view radically was, he claimed, the woman’s uncanny recall of ancient Egyptian detail she could not possibly know otherwise. The article then offers the necessary response; that is, how a person’s mind may easily supply detail not consciously stored, as occurs in dreams. The article’s thrust, nonetheless, remains on the growing popularity of the thinking, suggesting a particularly American desire to believe in it as science.

Following Weiss’ lead, Joyce Meyers offers therapy through PLR, and her website reflects a “new age,” healing process. Meyers does not equivocate; because, she asserts, PLR is real, it is an ideal instrument in reaching understanding of the self. When the hypnotic state is achieved, she claims, the individual is literally enabled to cull from untold past lives whatever is valuable for them today. In my estimation, it is not only science that is discarded here, but basic reason. She affirms: “Trusting any tiny bit of information that bubbles up opens the doorway for deeper material to surface” (Meyers, 2014), and it must be wondered how any true therapist could so ignore how the human mind will often create “information” that is misleading and/or untrue. As Meyers dismisses psychological science, so too does Bob Olson embrace PLR as having transformed his existence. On his website, Olson recounts, line by line, the hypnotic session in which he isolated a life in 1693. Because the recall was so emotionally charged for him, Olson presents it as remembered fact (Olson, 2013), yet the transcript reads very much like the creative process of constructing fantasy.

Lastly, Weiss once again surfaces in an interview in The Huffington Post, and what emerges is a striking blending of human need matched by sudden awareness of former lives. Weiss describes a woman who had extreme anxiety on her honeymoon in Greece, which vanished when she reached Rome. Afterward, and under hypnosis, they uncovered that she had been killed in Greece in a former life (Podrazik, 2015), and it is astounding that a doctor would ignore the distinct possibility that the woman’s discomfort in Greece then permitted her mind to create a rationale for it, and one accommodating the known effort being made to investigate her past lives. What becomes evident is that Weiss, the acknowledged leader of the PLR movement, conveniently sets aside the many facets of human psychology in order to offer – at $335 per weekend retreat (Miller) – semi-spiritual comfort. In absolutely none of this is there science, the distinguished credentials of Weiss notwithstanding.

There is nothing whatsoever wrong or incongruous in adults tuning to beliefs as a means of finding comfort; it is in fact the history of humanity. When, however, science is attached to belief, and also through a prominent doctor’s emphasis on his credibility, that belief is rendered hollow. When, in fact, PLR is investigated, interesting consistencies are seen, as in how so many accounts are fixed in legendary eras or cultures; no one, it seems, recalls a past existence as a clerk in a poor nation. Then, Weiss and his followers insist that PLR translates to how people are better enabled to find their soul mates, which definitely accords with a modern American zeitgeist of hope. As belief, then, PLR is as reasonable as any thinking which pleases people. As science, however, it is nonsense, and because it dismisses the immense power of the human mind to create and “recall” that which is not real.

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