by Alice Givens, Ph.D.
This is a second part of a two-part paper by the author. Part I appeared in the Spring, 1989 issue of the Journal. Dr. Givens is one of those PLT practitioners who believes that releasement from present life trauma occurs by re-experiencing (and through the process, understanding) the trauma of past lives. To illustrate this approach, she cites three examples from her practice.
The source of our current problems is often hidden and obscure. All that we know is that we are filled with fear, anger, despair, and hopelessness.
These feelings originate in childhood. However, the experiences are so painful that the memory is blocked, and even in hypnosis and regression into childhood, the events are often inaccessible to conscious awareness.
The purpose of this paper is to show how to locate and resolve child abuse through the use of past lives. A past life often reveals to us the details of an unremembered childhood.
The Myth: Childhood Was Wonderful
Frank sits down on my couch and tells me that his life is falling apart. His business is going into bankruptcy and his wife is threatening to leave and take the children. His anxiety is so great that he cannot run his business, and he is incapable of sitting down and communicating with his family. When I ask Frank about his childhood, he says that it was great. His mother loved him. She was beautiful, and he had fun with neighbor children.
This is only one of the many who come to my office with serious current problems, claiming that they came from wonderful, happy homes. They are not lying. Each one actually believes that his parents were caring and loving, and they still believe and obey societal commands that we love and honor our parents.
Who Do We Treat?
In the Spring, 1989 Journal of Regression Therapy, I wrote Part I of this article. In it, I described child abuse and indications for treatment. It will suffice here to say that I consider any serious, chronic, emotional disorder an indication of abuse in childhood. These disorders include depression, anxiety, panic, sexual problems, and addictions. The abuse we are particularly concerned with here is that which cannot be remembered or recognized.
Recognizing the Family System
The experienced therapist knows that if the person had a happy childhood, his current life would not be disordered. Yet, the client is telling you that his mother and father were wonderful, and he had a happy childhood. When you try to talk about his childhood in detail, the client cannot remember. All he knows is what he was told, and it was wonderful.
Even if we cannot remember our childhood in our conscious mind, the unconscious knows every detail of it. The miserable feelings from those early years are preserved and brought up into our present-day life where the old scenario is recreated. This means that if we were panic-stricken in childhood, we find reason for the panic in adult life and relive it every day.
The client believes that his present panic, depression, or rage is being caused by conditions of today because it couldn’t have originated in that unremembered mythological childhood. So we start regressing to childhood hoping that the client will begin to feel and understand the family system out of which he grew. But too often, the client cannot clarify the reality of his childhood because it is too painful or the family myths are too powerful. Many of us are forbidden from infancy to recognize reality. Dogmatic religious beliefs can be one of the blocks to memory. The commands to honor and obey parents can be very powerful. To obey those commands means that we cannot be angry at Mother or Father and cannot recognize the reality of their behavior.
To recognize that early family system makes it possible to clarify our role in our present day families and work places. The more dysfunctional our early family, the more firmly we are locked into it. For that reason, we need to clarify that early system for patients like Frank when they come for help.
Often when a patient’s early life was very painful, they will not remember the scenes, even in hypnosis. When regressed, they return to minor scenes while the real basis for their dysfunction remains hidden in the unconscious. A shortcut to these traumatic experiences is usually through past life. It may not sound like a shortcut to go back a hundred years, or perhaps a thousand, but this is often the simplest method to locate and clarify painful childhood experience.
Childhood was a Battle Field
Frank, who I mentioned at the beginning of this article, was very depressed. When he first came to my office, he was hopeless because he couldn’t seem to get along with anyone. There was always a fight, both at home and at work. Now he couldn’t seem to fight any more. His life was completely hopeless.
Frank didn’t recognize his anger and depression. His feelings had been buried many years ago in childhood and now he didn’t know what it meant to feel.
I regressed him back into childhood a couple of times, and he showed no feelings at all. He was just playing on the street with his cousins. I felt certain that there was more in his childhood; however, after several sessions, we still knew nothing about his early experience.
I decided that the best method of clarifying the events in childhood was to guide him into a past life. I told him to lie down and close his eyes. Since he had never been in a past life before, I explained how his unconscious mind remembers everything.
Th: Now let your unconscious mind take you back to another lifetime, in another body. You will feel just the same as you do in current life where you can’t get along with anyone. It’s always a fight.
Cl: (After about a minute of silence.) I’m totally exhausted…can’t go another step…totally zapped…there’s more artillery fire…keep your head down…all this is senseless…I’m scared…I don’t want to die in this senseless war…I’ll die if I don’t be strong…I won’t feel my fear…I won’t be one of those dead bodies…too much pressure…I’m always exhausted…another volley, you have to clean out the enemy…all this is senseless…”
After listening to Frank’s past life in a war, I suspected that his childhood resembled a battlefield.
Th: Frank, let your unconscious mind take you to a scene in childhood where it feels exactly like that past life. You’re scared and tired of fighting, and it all seems senseless.
Cl: They’re twisting my ears…and now he’s hitting me…I hate your guts…it hurts but I won’t let them know…I need help…he’s hitting me with the electric cord…I won’t cry…please let me go…now, I’m hiding behind a bush…why doesn’t somebody protect me…they’ll gang up on me…I hurt and I’m afraid of everybody…
After reliving the war experience in the past life and also in childhood, Frank could remember more. He and his mother lived in New York where many families lived in a small area. Frank was surrounded by aunts, uncles, cousins, grandmother, and many friends. He had always known that he grew up in the neighborhood, but now he began to remember the drunkenness and violence. His uncles and cousins chased him, hit him, and even shot at him with guns. His mother and grandmother screamed, twisted his ears, and beat him with belts, electric cords, books, boards, or any convenient item.
The past life on the battle field revealed Frank’s childhood to him. His whole life had been a battle field, even currently in his business and family.
In subsequent sessions, we returned to many wars, both in past life and in childhood. His anger began to diminish; however, his depression and hopelessness seemed to increase. I sent him back to a past life again where he could resolve his sad hopelessness.
Cl: I think it’s the Civil War…I’m scraping and crawling…just trying to survive…it’s useless…I’m humiliated…I’m just half a person left here…can’t move any longer…everybody is dying…I want to shoot myself…dead men…I have to scramble to survive…but it doesn’t matter…I’m dirty…I’m thirsty…I’ve failed…we’ve failed…is it my fault…could I have done more…it’s useless and hopeless to think…I’ll just die…it’s senseless.
Th: Be in your childhood, Frank, where it feels the same way.
Cl: (After a short silence.) My stepdad just died…I’m hurting and crying and can’t let it show…I’m too sad…why did you leave…you were the only one that liked me a little bit…I don’t want to be around anybody…just let me be…I don’t need anyone…everybody is dead…the others don’t count…did I do something??? Is it my fault he died…we were drinking together…it’s all senseless and hopeless…I’ll just hide in the closet.
Frank said that he was eleven or twelve when his stepfather died. According to Frank’s memory, they had been drinking together, but his stepfather was the only one who gave him a sense of caring. Life was hopeless before he came and even more senseless and hopeless after he died.
Frank had to cry and grieve for his lonely and violent childhood, and also those lost lifetimes of senseless war and killing. His words in every lifetime were, “It’s senseless and hopeless.” The same thing may be said about his childhood.
Frank’s fighting and hopelessness diminished in his daily life. He could begin to smile and read stories to his children. After remembering his own lost childhood, he began to understand the needs of his family. Past lives enabled him to finally clarify the reality of his childhood years and his current life.
Too Terrified to Live
Anna Mae came to me because she was so terrified of people, particularly of men, but she was also afraid of women. She was an intelligent woman of about fifty and had always covered her fear well, but now she began to be depressed with her fear so that it was becoming difficult to work and see her friends.
We regressed back into many past lives and scenes in childhood. In every session, she was the abused victim. She was beaten, locked up, and in many past lives, she was raped and killed. We had found no sexual abuse in her childhood in this life, but it kept recurring in her past lives.
After months of sessions, she went back to a past life in which she was a child prostitute. Each week thereafter, she returned spontaneously to this short lifetime where she died at about eight years.
It seemed to be in England in a big old Victorian house. Anna Mae returned to this lifetime so many times that we knew it in detail. Her mother died when she was three and her father took her to his sister who lived in the big house. There were always six or eight children living in the house. Most of them were girls. Many men came to the house, usually at night. They chose which child they wanted, then took her or him into one of the bedrooms. Screams were common, and Anna Mae learned not to show her fear. If she cried, the woman beat her with a stick. Anna Mae was about five when the woman told her that it was time for her to go with the men when one of them chose her.
Many times when she returned to that life, she was sitting in the dark cloak room. There seemed to be a bench built along one end.
Cl: I’m hiding…I don’t want them to find me…they might forget that I’m here…it’s pitch dark but I like it…nobody can see me…I’m afraid they’ll come and get me…they won’t leave me alone…I want out of here…I want to run away…I can’t fight…she’ll get me…I’m too afraid…she’ll make me go with a man…I’m too afraid…he’ll hurt me…there she is…I can hear her…no! no! no! don’t get me out…I don’t want to sit in the living room for the men to look at me…leave me alone.
She had to go with the other children in the living room. She sat there terrified every day. When she went in the bedroom with a man, she was so terrified that in reliving the scene on my couch, she could not speak. She was on the verge of unconsciousness. I directed her to the end of the scene where she was in her bed, which was a pallet on the floor. All the children slept in the same room, but there were no beds because the other rooms had to be saved for entertaining men.
After going back into that lifetime several times, she could begin to express her pain and terror with the men. She died when she was about eight after a man injured her too much. She kept bleeding and never regained her strength. In that lifetime, she died primarily because she wanted to die. No one took care of her. All the woman did was give her food, make her bathe, and beat her with a stick when she wouldn’t go with the men.
Anna Mae went back into that lifetime over and over until she was very tired of it. I decided that something unknown was holding her there and it wasn’t in that lifetime. We had gone through the very worst there. The next time that her unconscious mind took her back to that Victorian house, I directed her to a scene in the bedroom with a man.
Th: Anna Mae, be aware of your feelings in the bedroom with this man, then go straight forward in time to your childhood in this life. Be in a scene in your childhood where you felt the same as you did in that past life.
Cl: I’m going upstairs and a man is holding my hand.
Th: Feel him holding your hand and tell me the next thing you are doing.
Cl: I think I’m in his bedroom.
Anna Mae was silent and could not become aware of the next thing that was happening. I directed her to the end of the scene when he was gone and she was in her own house. Then we went back to the beginning again where she went up the stairs and into his room. Now she was aware that she was on his bed and he was taking her dress off. Then she blanked out again. The third time through the scene, she was screaming in terror. I let her cry until she could begin to speak.
Cl: Let me go…no! no! no!…don’t hurt me…it hurts…let me go…don’t hold me…get away…hurts…hurts.
Then she began crying again. After going through the scene to the end again, Anna Mae was able to tell me that she was two or three years old and the man was her father’s friend. He was raping her anally.
The past life enabled her to get in touch with her childhood abuse. The trauma had been so great that her unconscious mind had sealed off the memory because it was unendurable. By reliving and expressing the trauma of men abusing her in the past life, the hurt and fear in her unconscious had been reduced enough that the first memories of her childhood abuse could come into her awareness. It was to become much worse.
The next week, I sent her back again to the source of her terror of men.
Cl: He’s carrying me and rubbing his whiskers on my face…I hate it…he’s acting funny…put me down.
Th: Where are you, Anna Mae?
Cl: We are going towards a building…he’s carrying me in the trees.
Th: What is the next thing the man is doing?
Cl: It’s not the man. He’s my daddy.
We went through another painful scene of abuse where her father raped her orally. He took her to an empty room in the big partially finished building. She was so terrified and ashamed that she couldn’t make a sound. He threatened her with death if she told anyone.
Her father’s abuse was around the same time as his friend’s abuse, so she had more than one man hurting her just as in the past life. Her father found many opportunities to sexually abuse her. Afterward, he would let her go and she would go home alone. One day, her mother asked her what she had been doing and then began to beat her.
Cl: I told you not to go with Daddy, you bad girl…shame on you…now you get in your room and don’t you move or make a sound or I’ll whip you again.
Anna Mae’s childhood was just as painful and hopeless as the past life. Her mother seemed just as cruel as the woman in the past life who kept child prostitutes. Anna Mae thought they were the same person.
The similarities between the past life and her early years were uncanny. There were the men and a woman with a stick. There was also the room where she was put to be hopeless and alone. The big difference was that she survived childhood in current life albeit with a terror of people. After the abuse was revealed, she gradually released the feeling until she could get close to people and even hug them without fear.
Handicapped With Fear
Jean, seventeen years old, hadn’t been to school since she was twelve. She had attempted suicide several times and been in several psychiatric hospitals. A male colleague referred her to me believing that a woman might have more success with her than he did. I made no progress with her for several months.
Jean grew up with her mother, her father having left before she was born. There were no men in her family except her grandfather, whom she rarely saw. Her mother worked, so Jean grew up being alone most of the time. Now, at seventeen, she was too terrified to open the front door. The only time she went out of her house was with her mother in her car.
Being a regression therapist, I soon started taking her back into her childhood, birth, prenatal period and past life. Nowhere in her current life did I find any experiences that would cause her present panic. In my experience, a disorder doesn’t suddenly appear for no reason. There is always a source in this life as well as past life.
In every past life, she was sexually abused by men, yet I could find none in her current life. Going through the past lives did not relieve her panic in the present. I knew that there had to be an experience that we were missing. No men lived in her home while she was growing up, and yet there was the repeated sexual abuse in every past life.
She went into a past life one day in which she was sold by her parents to a wealthy land owner. In his home, many of his servants were little more than children like herself. They looked at her and said that she would soon find out why she was there.
She had been in the big house about a week when she was summoned to his bedchamber. The house was dark except for candles in the halls, and Jean was very frightened. In the land owner’s room were many candles and she could see a young servant turning the owner’s bed down. She kept blanking out when I directed her forward in time, but after several attempts, she got into her terror of sexual assault.
I decided not to finish that lifetime, but to use it instead as a route to the hidden trauma in her childhood that kept her present life paralyzed. Because of her many past lives where she was sexually abused, I felt certain that she was sexually abused in the childhood of her current life.
Th: Jean, take the fear of this man forward into your childhood in this life. Be in a scene where someone is doing the same thing to you.
She was silent for a few minutes, and I repeated the instructions.
Cl: I’m sitting on the floor playing with some blocks…a man is there…he’s looking at me funny…he won’t stop looking at me…he’s picking me up and carrying me into the bedroom…I don’t know what he’s doing.
Jean went through the experience the first time coldly. She acted detached and numb. When she stopped talking, I urged her forward.
Th: Say the next words.
Cl: He’s putting me on the bed now and now he’s taking off my dress…now he’s rubbing me…I don’t like it…I can see his thing…it’s big.
She continued through the complete experience in which she was raped vaginally, then put in the bathtub to wash the blood off. When her mother came home, Jean was in bed with her pajamas on.
That was enough for that session. At least we knew where the trauma was. I felt confident that in the weeks ahead this trauma would be released.
The man was her mother’s boyfriend whom she had left with Jean while she ran some errands. Even though it seems hard to believe, we could find no evidence that Jean’s mother knew anything about her daughter’s rape. Jean was only four and she said that she stayed in bed sick.
The next session Jean could cry a little as she relived the scene. Suddenly at one point, while on the bed with the man, she ceased crying. I directed her back to when she was crying. She started saying the man’s words.
Cl: He’s slapping me…shut up…Goddamn it…shut up or I’ll kill you.
The third week Jean cried hysterically through the experience from the moment that he picked her up in the living room until she was bathed and in bed. Enough of the fear and pain had been released that she could remember details.
Cl: He’s putting my pajamas on me and putting me in my bed. (She starts repeating his words.) If you tell your mother or anyone, I’ll do it to you again, then I’ll kill you. Don’t say one word. Tell your mother you feel sick and want to stay in bed. Never say one word. Forget it. It never happened.
These same messages are given to the child by nearly every perpetrator of child sexual abuse. The experience is so shattering and painful, and the man’s words so hypnotic that she obeys his command. To forget the experience is far easier than to remember it. So the event is blotted out but the fear remains. The event isn’t forgotten in the unconscious mind. The panic with Jean was from the time she was four until age seventeen when we found the hidden scene of childhood rape.
Jean’s life changed so fast that it seemed miraculous. Within a few weeks after her crying sessions, she went to work in a retail store within walking distance of her home. She worked every day and started to go to school the following semester.
The way to her childhood scene of pain was through past lives. It is doubtful that we could have found it without first releasing some of the trauma by reliving past lives with the same kind of abuse. To go back in time a couple of hundred years then forward to current life is sometimes a shortcut.
Clearing the Fog and Blackness
Jim was never aware of his feelings. Working with him was like working through a block of cement. His presenting problem was that he had body complaints which medical doctors couldn’t seem to relieve.
Jim’s childhood was a blank. He was an only child, and he knew that his mother whipped him often, and that his father was gone most of the time. To regress him back to any early events was fruitless. He either experienced a swirling fog or total blackness. Past life was almost as bad, but he could often get a little glimmering of the scene.
What little we could find in his past lives was catastrophic. He was buried alive, burned at the stake, tortured and maimed. Instead of his past lives becoming clearer, they became more and more blocked. He would go into a scene where something horrible was happening to him and after a few minutes all would be blank. It seemed as though the only way we could work on his problem was in the present time, even though his problem was rooted in the past.
Judging by his lack of childhood memories and the content of his past lives, I was convinced that his early years were intolerable pain and torture. To get to the experience seemed impossible, and yet it was the only way to restore his feelings of fear and anger so that he didn’t have to convert his feelings into body pain.
There was an event or events so traumatic that his memories were totally blocked. Yet I had to find a route to those memories. The catastrophic events in past life were all different so there was no definite pattern of abuse.
We had been in many of his past lives or in segments of them. In one, he was in a dungeon. I directed him forward to find out if he had died there or was released. Everything was blank. I considered myself an expert at working people through their blankness, blackness, clouds and fog; however, there was no way to do it with Jim.
He was still lying on my couch, and the past life had become blank again. I let him stay there for a few minutes while I thought.
Th: Your unconscious mind knows everything about you. Somewhere in your childhood is an event that blocks everything off. Your mind knows what it is. You can go right to it now. Your mind can take you to that experience that is so fearful. Your mind can clarify it so that you know where you are. Be right in the experience and tell me the first thing that comes to you.
Jim was silent while I waited, and after three or four minutes, I repeated the essential part of the directions.
Th: Be in the experience that causes you to block everything out. Only this time, the experience is clear. You know where you are.
Another minute went by.
Cl: It’s all black.
After a moment of feeling discouraged, I decided to go with my trust of the unconscious mind. I had directed him to a scene, so I had to trust that he was there.
Th: Jim, do you feel like you are still in that past-life dungeon or are you somewhere else?
Cl: I’m in childhood. I don’t know how I know, but I’m there.
Th: If it’s all black, reach your arms out in front of you and see how near the walls are.
Cl: Oh, it’s close, less than a foot.
Th: Look all around and see if there is any glimmering of light.
Cl: Yes, there is a little light down by my feet.
Th: Do you have any idea where you are?
Cl: I’m in a closet, standing with my face toward the door.
Th: Do you feel like there is anyone on the other side of that door?
Cl: Yes. He’s saying, “I’ll let you out if you quit fighting and screaming.”
Th: Does he let you out?
Cl: He’s saying, “You have to do what I say.”
Out in the room, he felt like there were two people. One was his mother and the other was a friend. Shortly after recognizing his mother, he went blank again. I took him back to the beginning in the closet. This time, he went a little further into the scene before going blank again. He was on his back and they were doing something to his genitals. I took him back through the experience many times before clarifying the sexual torture that was inflicted upon him.
This kind of work requires infinite patience for both the therapist and patient. Much time is spent in silent waiting for more information. The unconscious mind is reluctant to allow the suffering into the conscious awareness.
We spent many sessions going back and forth between past life and childhood. It was often necessary to get into a scene in past life and go from there to childhood experience. His mind would not take his awareness straight back into his abused childhood. So we had to take the more circuitous route of going back in time then forward again.
In the first scene, in which Jim was in the closet, he was about two years old. His mother seemed to be having an affair with a young man while his father was working. This continued for several years. Jim was the victim of the most heinous abuse by both his mother and her friend. He was tied down while they inserted foreign objects into the orifices of his body, including his penis. Torturous methods were used to make his penis stay erect. Finally, they would leave Jim tied while they went to the bedroom to complete their sex act. Sometimes the young man took Jim to the basement to torture and rape him anally.
When we once entered into Jim’s heinous abuse by his mother and her friend, the basis for his blocked feelings became clear. He rarely ever showed feelings in the session, crying a few times, but more often cursing in anger. That it was so difficult to get anything from the past out of Jim’s memory is to be expected with that kind of suffering and abuse. The unconscious mind protects us against unbearable pain. But, unfortunately, the pain of the suffering child still affected Jim after he was grown up.
After months of releasing the trauma from his childhood, the stiffness and pain in his body began to subside.
Why Return to Past Life?
The benefits in going to past life are myriad. The first and greatest objective is to release the trauma in the unconscious mind. First, the energy from the fear and hurt is released in the past life. This release of energy enables the person to remember a comparable scene in childhood. Then, as in Jean’s case when her mother’s boyfriend raped her, she can release the energy from the childhood event. Within weeks, she was able to leave the house and work. This, I believe, was the direct result of crying to release the hurt of the past-life scenes and those childhood experiences in her present life.
Jim’s past lives had many sadistic, torturous events such as being tied to a stake, put in a dungeon, being buried alive, being sexually raped and tortured, and being whipped. After first experiencing and then releasing the trauma in past life, he was able to find the same sadistic cruelty in his present childhood in which he was locked in the closet or basement, tied to a table and tortured, raped orally and anally, and whipped over and over. This is like reliving hell; however, it cured his present dysfunction.
Reliving past lives clarifies the role we are playing in present life. In Frank’s past lives, he was always on a battle field. In his present life, his business and family were in constant battle. His childhood was the same. But the past lives made it clear. The process was the same. He fought arduously until the end when it was hopeless and he died. All of life felt the same way — hard fighting and under that the hopelessness. Releasing the energy from the past changed his life today.
Going to past lives is a wonderful method of therapy. We can become very expert in it so that it can be used alone, or past-life therapy can be used as an adjunct to other therapeutic modalities.