The fact that hypnosis subjects are suddenly able to speak in a foreign language is one of the oddest and most compelling pieces of evidence about past lives. Other positive benefits such as the relief of long term illnesses, nightmares or phobias have been felt when the harm supposedly caused by past life injuries or experiences was addressed.
Opponents to hypnosis believe it is perilous and that beneficial results are unproven. They believe that symptoms people put down to past existences are more likely to be caused by inherited or suppressed memories. Hypnosis might even be making the problem worse by creating a multitude of personalities in a subject, rather than pinpointing true past life experiences.
The experience of a Colorado housewife who regressed into a supposed past life as Bridey Murphy of nineteenth-century Ireland was documented in a book. But the account was swiftly debunked when it was proved that no woman of that name was born in the year she had claimed. Nor was her death on record anywhere. Her command of the old Irish language and lifestyle was later deemed to have been learned through a close relationship with an Irish woman in her early years.
Still, the stories relating to hypnotherapy remain intriguing. In 1983, psychologist and former sceptic Peter Ramster featured in a documentary with four women who recounted their past life experiences. One woman remembered a life in Somerset, England, in the second half of the eighteenth century. When she was taken to the rural village in question – a place she had never visited before – she was able to find her way around and identify local landmarks, some of which had been long forgotten. Furthermore, it became clear that she had a thorough knowledge of local legends, dialect and families.
This is an extract from the Encyclopedia of the Paranormal by Rupert Matthews.