Thomas G. Shafer, M.D.
Dr. Shafer, a psychiatrist, addresses potential difficulties Jewish and Christian clients and patients may have dealing with the possibility of reincarnation suggested by past-life therapy. He surveys past and modern Jewish concepts of Gilgul or reincarnation and posits that this belief system may make PLT more acceptable to clients from strictly monotheistic religious traditions.
I’ve been personally active in past-life regression therapy for a little more than a year. I find it a fascinating and highly effective modality, but in our Judaeo-Christian Western culture there is one major problem: the underlying concept. Survival after death is, of course, a commonly held belief. But what do we do with survival before birth? This implies some form of transmigration or reincarnation of souls, which is a totally foreign concept to our Judaeo-Christian tradition. Or is it?
Multiple authors, including Drs. Raymond Moody (1992) and Brian Weiss (1988, 1992), have settled on a compromise position: One does not have to believe in past lives to benefit from past-life therapy. This is apparently true, as many case histories suggest. However, some writers consider that past-life experiences are just some manifestations of subconscious processes where Freudian symbolism meets with Jungian archetypes, and that we have discovered a symbolic extension of older psychoanalytic techniques with powerful implications. Yet, it gets progressively more difficult to maintain this position. I read case histories by individuals whom I personally know to be cautious, scientifically oriented researchers like Ian Stevenson where documentation of unexplainable memories, sometimes of the most trivial details, is strong.