SPOTLIGHT ON HYPNOSIS: CAN HYPNOSIS ACCESS IMMORTAL MEMORIES?
By Jimmy Eldred Quast
For many this is a controversial subject. However nearly every skeptic I have interviewed over the years has admitted they have never studied the evidence. Most have merely assumed there isn’t any. Actually, there is a lot of compelling evidence which suggests we may possess unconscious memories of everything we have ever experienced -- emphasis on “ever.”
For instance I have observed, and conducted, regressive hypnosis with numerous individuals who were able to revivify the details of their birth. To revivify something is more than just remembering it. The person feels as though they are reliving the experience. They usually know things like whether the delivery went smoothly or was difficult, whether forceps were used (they will feel them!), how bright the lights were (there will be loud complaints if the lights are too bright), whether the first hands to hold them engendered comfort or fear, whether they felt warm or cold, how good it felt to be wrapped in a warm towel, and what words mom and/or others in the birthing room may have spoken. In the cases I have handled, the clients have usually been able to consult afterwards with their mother (if she is still living) to see if the details are confirmable. Not only is the experience usually confirmed, but Mom is more than a little surprised that her adult offspring could know details that were never shared.
Sometimes a person, who is enduring insurmountable problems in their life, can benefit from being hypnotized and given a suggestion that their mind can rapidly journey back in time to the exact event that initiated their problems. During the session, they may revivify a near drowning at age three, or being frightened by a dog at age two, or being yelled at when they were five, or they might revisit a birth which had complications. The child or infant could not defend itself against what was happening but the hypnotized adult usually can. After such a session, one may find that specific life-long fears no longer seem important; or a difficult relationship becomes easier; or it might now be possible to shed excess weight; or a chronic condition such as an allergy may subside.
Occasionally, when a person is regressed back to the source of a problem, they will encounter a very different kind of existence from anything they have known. They may be puzzled or amused at finding themselves in a body that is older, or of the opposite sex. They may be in a scene that could have only existed one or more centuries ago. Most everyone has at least heard of the concept of reincarnation. Is it real? The evidence is certainly compelling, and I will get to that in a moment. But it doesn’t seem to matter whether one believes in such things or not. There is really only one reason for including past-life regression as a technique in professional hypnosis. Just as in regression to forgotten childhood memories, regression to a past-life can, and usually does, produce some much-desired changes in the present. On the other hand, there are lots of people who just want to use regressive hypnosis for personal exploration and understanding. And there are even some others who try it out so they can decide for themselves whether reincarnation is a reality or not.
The late Dr. Ian Stevenson (1918 - 2007) was a psychiatrist and served as Director of the Division of Personality Studies at the University of Virginia. He is widely acknowledged as the scientist who has provided the most evidence to support the concept of reincarnation. Dr. Stevenson traveled the world studying thousands of children who apparently remembered details of prior lives. When he was traveling and working in India, he was accompanied by a journalist named Tom Shroder. Subsequently, Shroder wrote a book called “OLD SOULS,” published by Simon and Schuster in 1999, which is possibly the most convincing book ever written for the general public on the subject of reincarnation. What makes this especially impressive is that Shroder was an absolute skeptic at first. He thought he could overturn Stevenson’s work. Instead he became a firm believer in reincarnation after following Dr. Stevenson around India observing, documenting and personally verifying past-life data elicited from children there.
Two years ago in December, Austrian television, “ATV+,” began broadcasting an 8-part series, via digital Astra Satellite, called “WHO WERE YOU? - TIME JOURNEYS INTO A FORMER LIFE.” To create the series, the producers first spent weeks conducting rigorous interviews in order to assemble a team of regressionists, historians, and researchers with the best attainable credentials and experience. They knew the credibility of any results that might be obtained would depend on the quality of this team. Once filming began, the team worked non-stop on the project an average of 14 hours every day for one full month. Well over 200 people were regressed. Their lead regressionist, Ursula Demarmels, is a good friend and colleague of mine. Ursula personally regressed 70 people, in front of a TV camera, for the project.
After each regression session, the research team would scan the results for details that might be verifiable. They looked for specific dates of events, personal and family names, town names, references to specific schools, churches, or professional organizations, etc., which might still be traceable through old records. They also sought out little known but verifiable landmarks such as bridges, town walls, characteristic buildings, heraldic figures, etc. They limited their scope to European locations to keep within a workable budget. Whenever they determined that a particular detail might be verifiable, a director and camera man were sent to the location, along with the individual who had been regressed. Ursula’s group was the most successful with a 30% positive verification. These results are phenomenal. With the intrusion of cameras, lights, and sound crew, the conditions surrounding the hypnosis sessions were anything but ideal.
Standard hypnosis uses the power of suggestion to install new, more useful and agreeable ideas and habits into our minds. However, during regressive hypnosis, professionals are very careful that they NOT suggest much at all. This is important to avoid altering the information that is elicited from the unconscious mind. I think it is important for everyone to know that regressive hypnosis is very safe, and incredibly useful, when conducted by a professional hypnotist. In 14 years of practice I have never seen, nor heard of, any negative effects from regressive hypnosis. I have been the recipient of it on several occasions and for me it has been like going to the movies, but finding myself IN the movie.
Note: hypnosis for medical issues may require a physician’s referral.