What is “Past Life Regression?”

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When it comes to hypnosis, the amount of misinformation that circulates on the World Wide Web is sometimes astounding.  For example, an article on a British web site for journalists tells about a reporter who tried hypnosis to rid himself of an allegedly disabling fear of spiders.

The hypnotist in this case uses the hypnotic state to reveal to the reporter that his real trouble is that he is so attached to his mother–who also has a morbid fear of spiders, and who passed that fear on to the boy earlier in life.  .

Says the reporter:“This technique of taking me back to when I was a child is known as ‘past life regression’ and it encouraged me to talk with my former self and tell the 10-year-old me that I didn’t need to be afraid.”  The only problem with this is that hypnotically taking someone back to a previous point in their current life is not a past life regression.

One wonders how a journalist–who is supposed to labor to get the facts straight–could make such an error.  Then again, the sorry state of journalism in this day and age is not the subject of this article.

So what exactly is “past life regression”?  Wikipedia correctly states: “Past life regression is a technique that uses hypnosis to recover what practitioners believe are memories of past lives or incarnations, though others regard them as fantasies or delusions or a type of confabulation.”  This obviously presupposes a belief in reincarnation of some kind–the idea that we have all lived previous lives and keep having to live additional lives until some deity is satisfied with our spiritual maturity.

I don’t have the energy or the space to debate the validity of this concept, but I can point out that in the demonstrations of past life regression that I saw in my professional training, subjects typically were unable to describe details of their past lives without prompting from the hypnotist.  Such prompting–or suggestion–is obviously unethical.

That being said, proponents of reincarnation will doubtless be convinced by such demonstrations, despite the methodological errors.  My main point here is to encourage you to think twice about anything you hear in the consumer media about hypnosis.  Chances are, the information is flawed.