There's no doubt that regressing a client to a "past-life" can be therapeutic. But does that mean the client actually returns to a previous life, dozens or hundreds of years ago?

No. The journey is akin to believing you've been abducted onto a flying saucer and impregnated by aliens.

Past-life therapy is a tribute to the human imagination. And a metaphorical way to deal with present-day issues. After all, it's patently absurd to think that because you recall in hypnosis being hit by an arrow in your neck when you were with Robin Hood that that can cure you of a mysterious ache in your neck today.

Yet such metaphorical time-travel can actually have beneficial results (relief of the neck pain for example) but unfortunately,

"The use of past-life therapy among professionals . . . can undermine the credibility of licensed practitioners." *

This is the conclusion of two South Korean researchers whose experiments, published in the International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis,show how heavily influenced hypnotic subjects are by their culture and belief systems when they are hypnotised to go back to a supposed "past life."

While there is not a shred of evidence that people actually return to a past life (and plenty of evidence that they do not -- see, for example, the famous Bridey Murphy**story) there is no doubt that many people who have experienced hypnotic regression firmly believe that they actually returned to a previous life.

The researchers discovered that the "previous life" is strongly influenced by culture and religion. For example, some of the Korean subjects in the study reported having been animals in previous lives whereas none of the 110 subjects in a Canadian study*** reported having been an animal in a previous life.

Surprising to me was the finding that a previous belief in past lives was not correlated with a higher production of past life memories. Non-believers produced past life "memories" at the same rate.

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

Past-life hypnotic therapy creates fantasies. And that's why it can be effective in dealing with a present-day problem. Once the human imagination is engaged (i.e. hypnosis) 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 indeed provide the metaphorical basis for a real solution. Hypnotherapy rests on the focused use of one's imagination.

So the fantasy can and does affect reality.


*Pyun,Y.D., & Kim, Y.J., (2009). Experimental Production of Past-Life Memories in Hypnosis. International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, 57, 269-276.

** Straight Dope

***Spanos, N.P., et al (1991). Secondary identity enactments during hypnotic past-life regression: A sociocognitive perspective.Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 61, 308-320.

Author's Bio: 

Bryan M. Knight is Canada's foremost hypno-psychotherapist. All your hypnosis questions are answered on his site Hypnosis Depot