What is Past Life Regression?
Past life regression is a hypnotic technique used to recover what practitioners believe are memories of previous lives or incarnations. Medical practitioners widely regard the practise as discredited and unscientific, and experts generally regard claims of recovered memories of past lives as fantasies, delusions, or a type of confabulation. Past-life regression is usually done to seek a spiritual experience or in a psychotherapeutic setting. Most advocates adhere to reincarnation beliefs loosely, though religious traditions that incorporate reincarnation generally do not include the concept of repressed memories of previous lives. The technique used during past-life regression involves the subject answering a series of questions while hypnotised in order to reveal the identity and events of alleged past lives, a method similar to that used in recovered memory therapy and one that, like recovered memory therapy, frequently misrepresents memory as a faithful recording of previous events rather than a constructed set of recollections. The use of hypnosis and suggestive questions can make the subject more prone to having distorted or false memories. The source of the memories is likely cryptomnesia and confabulations, which combine experiences, knowledge, imagination, and suggestion or guidance from the hypnotist, rather than recall of a previous existence. Once formed, those memories are indistinguishable from memories based on events in the subject’s life. Investigations of memories reported during past-life regression have revealed historical inaccuracies originating from popular historical beliefs, modern popular culture, or books that discuss historical events. Experiments with subjects undergoing past-life regression show that belief in reincarnation and hypnotic suggestions are the two most important factors influencing the contents of memories reported.