Academic Research into Reincarnation

Last weekend, I attended the AIPR conference (Australian Institute of Parapsychological Research). One of the speakers was counselling psychologist Dr Terry Olsen, who investigated research on reincarnation. Of particular interest was the work of psychiatrist Dr Ian Stevenson, from the University of Virginia, who documented 3,000 substantiated cases of reincarnation. 

Dr Stevenson’s work involved interviews of children aged between three and four years old, who talked about places where they used to live, who their family members were, their favourite food and toys and other factors.  Some could even speak another language which were not part of the child’s family’s language.

Dr Stevenson used a forensic approach in his investigations and was thorough in his questions to the parents, to ensure that the children were not exposed to the information presented.  He spoke of taking one child back to his ‘former life’ village and the child found his own way to ‘his (former) home’ and identified the members of the family by name.  Dr Stevenson looked at birthmarks of the children and found that many of them matched the ‘wounds’ inflicted on them at the time of death or significant injury in a former life.  Dr Stevenson penned the book, Twenty Cases Suggestive of Reincarnation (1966).

Dr Olsen also discussed the research of San Francisco physician Dr Walter Semkiw, who looked into patterns of reincarnation.   Some of his discoveries were:

  • People’s skill sets from past lives transferred into this life, where they had a ‘natural flair’ for the particular skills.

  • People occupy similar occupations from past lives.

  • There’s facial resemblances from former lives.

  • Phobias in this life matched major traumatic events and injuries in former lives.

  • People tended to reincarnate in ‘soul groups,’ although roles changed. Eg Parent-child relationship in past life, siblings in this life.

  • Most of the time, they reincarnate in the same gender.  About 11% swapped genders.

  • There was a lot of religious swapping throughout the many lives.

  • There was a lot of swapping of violent perpetrator and victim role, for example:
    If A murdered B in a past life, then in the next life, B would murder A, and this would repeat until something was resolved.

  • Walter wrote the books, Born Again and Origin of the Soul and the Purpose of Reincarnation.

I thought the talk was fascinating and some of it was similar to what I had already heard or read about.  However, some details were quite surprising.  For example, Walter only found that 11% of the people he studied swapped genders in different life times.  I would have thought it would be a higher proportion.  

If there was any message for me to take home, it would be the recurring violent perpetrator-victim relationship.  So what was the message?  Think twice before you kill someone unless you want to be killed by them in the next life or be bound to meet them again and again!  Lol!

Joyce Bok

Joyce Bok