This is the revised edition of Dr. Stevenson s 1987 book, summarizing for general readers almost forty years of experience in the study of children who claim to remember previous lives. For many Westerners the idea of reincarnation seems remote and bizarre; it is the author s intent to correct some common misconceptions.
New material relating to birthmarks and birth defects, independent replication studies with a critique of criticisms, and recent developments in the genetic study are included. The work gives an overview of the history of the belief in and evidence for reincarnation. Representative cases of children, research methods used, analyses of the cases and of variations due to different cultures, and the explanatory value of the idea of reincarnation for some unsolved problems in psychology and medicine are reviewed.
Ian Stevenson (October 31, 1918 – February 8, 2007) was a Canadian biochemist and medical doctor, and university professor of psychiatry, until his retirement in 2002 he was head of the division of perceptual studies at the University Of Virginia which paranormal phenomena are investigated. Ian Stevenson dedicated much of his life to the scientific study of reincarnation. For more than 40 years, Stevenson studied more than 3,000 cases of children who seemed to remember experiences from other lives, documenting what they said and comparing data with the lives of the people they claimed to have been.
The evidence seems to conclude that you and I have been on this planet before this last ride on the roller coaster of life. Stevenson, a friend of the English writer Aldous Huxley, was one of the first scientists to experiment with the MST in the 1950s, an experience that transformed his life. In 1957, he was appointed director of the psychiatry faculty at the University of Virginia, one of the few universities that conduct paranormal studies. In 1967 the inventor Chester, Carlson donated a million dollars, to the University of Virginia and another one, to Stevenson to fund his research, Stevenson s interest in the science of reincarnation does not stem from metaphysical attributions or fear of death, but from an alternative theory to personality problems, genetics and environmental factors make up who we are, but according to Stevenson, it is, past lives that could provide a third factor that could fill in some gaps in what we know.
In an interview with the editor of the Washington Post, Stevenson is asked why his research is carried out in cultures that historically and culturally believe in reincarnation, such as the Hindus for Stevenson, the phenomenon of remembering past lives occurs mainly in childhood and Cultural prejudices are as strong in India as in the US, even in India, where the majority religions must indicate past lives as a dogma of faith, a child who gave reliable evidence of having reincarnated could be branded as fanciful, all these memories are usually be dismissed by parents, who cast children as liars without considering other possibilities.
And it is that investigating reincarnation with scientific methods has not been easy for Stevenson either, who affirms that the parents of reincarnated children usually feel special and inflate the stories, definitively burying any possibility of credibility. Stevenson said we have all seen it when someone talks about their past life; he is not remembered as a peasant in china, or as a member of an African tribe all reincarnates want to be alexander the great’, napoleon, or Cleopatra however, during his, years of research, Stevenson has come to some statistical conclusions interesting, for example:
- that reincarnated children begin to speak at a very early age
- forget the details of other lives between 5 and 8 years of age,
- in addition to the fact that the reported incidents usually involve violent deaths,
- children of 2, or 4 years old who apparently can remember episodes of their previous lives and provide data that can be verified
- many of Stevenson s cases seem to be denoted by a violent death in several cases he collected testimonies and medical records related to birthmarks and congenital deformities that they seemed to correspond to the type of death described by the children and recorded in the autopsies of the people they claimed to be,
- according to Stevenson between 5 and 7 years children begin to lose the memory of their past lives, although not in all cases.