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Coming Back: A Psychiatrist Explores Past-Life Journeys by Raymond A. Moody, Jr., M.D., with Paul Perry

Reviewed by Rabia Clark, M.A.
In JRT Issue 10, Fall 1992


Past-life therapists often recommend books on PLT to their clients. I have been looking for a book which explains how past-life therapy is done in a simple and non-technical way. Dr. Raymond Moody’s book, Coming Back: A Psychiatrist Explores Past-Life Journeys is my current favorite.

Dr. Moody uses interesting and brief case histories as illustrations throughout the book which makes it very easy to read. Some of the case histories come from the APRT Journal of Regression Therapy, some come from his own past-life recollections, and others from his clients or other books. APRT members Dree Miller Dunlap, George Schwimmer, and Paul Hansen’s past-life recollections are mentioned, as is the history of the founding of APRT as told by Hazel Denning and Irene Hickman in the APRT Journal. Chet Snow’s rescripting case from the Spring 1988 Journal is also included.

Moody describes his own nine past lives briefly. He also has a short chapter on uses of PLT, including instances of healing. He outlines various theories about the truth of past lives, and contrasts reincarnation beliefs with those of hidden memories, metaphors for the present, and personal myths. He concludes with a chapter on exploring your own past lives and a script for self hypnosis. Moody gives advice to those seeking past-life regressionists: he says to avoid people who channel past lives for clients and suggests checking the credentials of past-life therapists.

Moody is clear that his own vantage-point is that it doesn’t matter whether or not past lives are real. As a Christian, he says he can neither support nor refute regressions as proof of reincarnation, and that recall of past lives seems to be evidence of an altered state of mind which is reached through hypnosis. He gives a number of good examples of regressions as metaphors for the present or as personal myths. He also describes a few cases which may be real past lives, and he has examples of forgotten childhood memories which seemed at first to be past lives. I like the way he explains all the various possibilities in a clear and simple way.

This is an easy book to read, and a lot of learning about the field of past-life therapy is offered in bite size doses with interesting and non-threatening case histories, which will not frighten a new client. (For an example of that, see Roger Woolger’s book, Other Lives, Other Selves, which I would recommend to therapists, but only with reservations to clients because of so many violent case histories). I heartily recommend Moody’s book to you, especially for new clients.

If your vantage-point is one which posits that past lives are true, and you use a lot of reincarnation and karma models in your therapy, then you might want to also recommend additional books which take that point of view. Moody’s book does present a variety of ways to interpret past-life recall, including the possibility that some may be real, but definitely leans towards the skeptical end of the spectrum. He is very positive in his recommendation of PLT as a therapeutic modality which benefits clients.



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