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Effectiveness of Past Life Therapy in the Treatment of Phobias – Bibiana Bistrich (Is.30)

by Bibiana Bistrich, MD and Juan Alberto Etcheverry, MD

This paper outlines the effectiveness of a transpersonal therapy method in the treatment of phobic patients, focusing on the long-term results and the sustainability of the effect. This is a pilot prospective analytic study in which the authors have documented the substantial benefits of past life regression therapy in a small sample of phobia cases, setting a starting point for other studies in order to achieve a more accurate projection in regard to the effectiveness of this therapeutic approach.

Introduction

According to our clinical experience, an increase of psychiatric pathologies in the general population was observed in the last few years. Higher stress levels created by the demands of life, changes in the environment and hygienic-dietary habits, among many others, might be the cause of such an increase. Phobias, defined as an anxiety disorder (American Psychiatry Association, 2013, p.189), are not the exception, and the authors have also experienced a growing number of patients who suffer from them.

Anxiety is defined as a natural emotion that encompasses the responses of human beings before any situation that might be perceived as threatening. (Merck & Co., 1999) These responses include restlessness, nervousness, tension and psychomotor agitation, associated with physical signs such as tachycardia, tachypnea, pupillary dilation, etc. This emotion, (anxiety) particularly in phobias, is intense, persistent and out of proportion. It can be related to external stimuli that might be physically present or not and may not deserve such an excessive reaction. For example, one of the patients who participated in our study suffered from a specific phobia of spiders. He experienced symptoms when a photograph of a spider was shown to him.

Based on our clinical observations, the usual treatments, either based on allopathic medication, the traditional psychoanalitic therapy or behavioral therapy, have shown scarce efficacy in relieving symptoms  nor cure of the disease. Bearing in mind this particular point, it seems necessary to find different therapeutic options.

Since the 60’s and even before, many eminent researchers from various science fields, as well as mental health and neurology providers, have been exploring options to address pathologies that have received, so far, palliative but not definitive treatments. (Grof, 2015, pp. 44-113) The increasing research on consciousness from different approaches: quantum physics, modern biology, epigenetics, holomovement theory, etc. have paved the way to non-traditional alternatives—away from the Newtonian-Cartesian paradigm—that may provide those long-expected solutions to these pathologies. Given the nature and extent of this article, the authors are not going to explore all these branches of science in detail; readers may find further information in a specialized bibliography. However, as they provide a theoretical frame to the possible intrinsic mechanism on past life therapy and the way it works, it is worth mentioning them.

Based on this new information, we believe that the controlled induction to expanded states of consciousness (altered or extended) may allow the modification of certain vibration patterns that might be the cause of some diseases. These controlled states of consciousness can be reached through different techniques: holotropic breathing, the rhythmic beating of a drum, and hypnosis, among many others.

Past life therapy is the approach chosen for this study aiming to answer these questions:

  1. Is past life therapy effective in phobia treatment?
  2. Will the improvement sustain over time?
  3. Could a relapse of the disease occur including its symptoms after a period of improvement?
  4. Is past life therapy an approach to be considered for treatment of phobic disorders?

With the hope of encouraging other researchers to carry out new research on this topic in the future, our investigation will be described in this section.

First, the aim of this work is to evaluate the efficacy of past life therapy in the treatment of phobia. Second, based on the scientific method, we hope to set a framework for future investigations on this topic, encouraging an analytic approach founded on the factual data gathered in this work.  

Materials and methods

Between 2014 and 2018, twelve randomly selected uninsured or self-pay patients, referred from different psychiatry services located in the city of Buenos Aires, Argentina, were treated at the private offices of Espacio Consciencia, directed by Bibiana Bistrich, MD.

Inclusion Criteria

Patients suffering from different types of phobias.

Male or female between the age of 18 to 65.

Patients chosen randomly. (Race, religious beliefs, cultural background, nationality, socioeconomic or educational level were not considered as inclusion or exclusion criteria.)

Exclusion criteria

Patients suffering from psychiatric disorders other than phobias.

Patients younger than 18 or older than 65.

Patients unable to understand the instructions to properly attend the session.

Subjects suffered from the following types of phobia, diagnosed by psychiatrists based on the DSM 5 (2013) coding:

Specific phobias (300.29)

Animals (F40.218):                 9 patients

Fear of blood (F40.230) :        2 patients

Situational (F40.248):             1 patient

Total sample: 12 patients (n= 12: 11 women, 1 man). The predominance of women was consistent with the information from classic bibliography on the topic. Ages between 21 to 47 (p value: 38).

All patients were on Benzodiazepines as main treatment.

Five patients were on allophatic treatment associated with a behavioral therapy.

Predominant symptoms:

Dyspnea (n=9),

Precordial pain (n=8),

Palpitations (n=9),

Sense of impending doom (n=8).

Secondary symptoms:

Aphonia (n=1),

Restlessness (n=5),

Fainting (n=1),

Hypotension (n=1),

Confusion (n=1)

and other intermittent, minor, mild symptoms reported but not taken into account for the purpose of the present study.

Ethics

An Informed Consent Form was signed by the participants, according to the model provided by the World Health Organization, taking into account the specific considerations for the past life therapy approach. Patients and their relatives or companions were informed in detail about the past life therapy sessions’ development, answering any questions or concerns that may have arisen. Each participant also signed an agreement to schedule follow up visits with the attending psychiatrist responsible for the treatment.

Prior to each session, patients were requested to fill out a validated form to assess symptoms, (Symptoms Assessment Form, see table 1). After filling out the form, the regression session took place.

All participants attended between two to three regression sessions

(p: 2.75), fifteen days apart (day 1, day 16, day 31). The main factor to determine the number of sessions was the persistence of primary symptoms.

Past life experiences, intrauterine life and birth were the key points addressed in all cases. In some of them, we also worked on early childhood experiences.

The patient, comfortably lying with the eyes closed, was asked to allow himself or herself to experience the symptom(s) related to the phobia. Once the patient indicated he or she had started to feel the symptom(s), the patient was asked to allow himself or herself to experience those sensations in more detail, adding information. This way the symptom was intensified, expanding the conscience. (Cabouli, 2014, p. 28) At that point, the patient was asked to evoke something that may have caused the presence of that symptom, through “as if” questions that aimed to recreate the situation, such as “Where are you?” “What is happening?”  Through those questions the patient reached the development of an experience that had been excluded from the consciousness so far.

As a wrap-up for all past life sessions, the patients experienced the death of the body in that life. As an essential requirement for the treatment of the pathology in question, all patients worked on intrauterine life and birth. In those cases in which the experience of intrauterine life was not experienced spontaneously, the patient was cued using this prompt: “Now, you will go back to a moment inside the womb of your mother in this life as [the name of the patient is mentioned in this part of the sentence].” Intrauterine life experience was completed with the birth experience and the symbolic cut of the umbilical cord (Cabouli, 2012b, p.113). After each regression, a brief period of harmonization helped the patient return to consciousness and current time and space.

The duration of a session varied from 90 minutes (minimum) to 120 minutes (maximum). For all the patients involved, the frequency for follow-up and evaluation appointments after the first past life session was one week, six months, twelve months and a year until completing three yearly visits.

At each scheduled visit, the attending physician gathered detailed information from each patient about the symptoms registered at the beginning of the study and the variations reported by the patient. (Table 2). All patients completed the chart on Table 1 in order to obtain one more record of information so as to avoid any missing data.

Data Collection

The chart “A” (Table 2) was completed as a medical record to be used by the researcher and the attending psychiatrists to track the information. This form also contained detailed information about the symptoms and their intensities, according to the scale on the Symptoms Assessment Form (Table 1).

All data was entered into an Excel worksheet for further analysis.

Results

A significant reduction of frequency and intensity both of the predominant and secondary symptoms was observed after six months from the beginning of treatment. The use of medication could be reduced by almost 30%.

After one year, the symptoms remained decreased; the intensity of other symptoms also decreased, making it possible to continue the reduction of the medication’s dose. Two patients were able to discontinue the medication. The results were sustained after three years, without any evidence of recurrence of symptoms.

Patients reported a subjective improvement in their quality of life, being able to deal with situations that had been unmanageable for them in the past. All patients commented on the wellbeing and symptomatic relief experienced both during and at the end of the treatment.

Eleven patients reported they would recommend the treatment to other patients. No adverse reactions were reported after the regression sessions.

Conclusions

In this paper we have given an account of the significant improvement of the patients treated with this therapeutic approach. Our sample showed a substantial reduction of the symptoms in all the cases. The dose of allopathic medication could be reduced in 66.6% of the patients (8 people) and discontinued in 16.6% of the patients (2 people).

We encourage other practitioners to incorporate past life therapy into the usual treatment for phobias. This research shows it may be considered a valid and effective therapeutic option for phobia treatment. It is a brief, focal, safe and effective therapy, showing quick and lasting results, sustained over time.

Despite these highly encouraging results, we need to point out the importance to continue researching in order to document more cases and obtain conclusive data, as we might be cautious to project these findings to the general population.

Table 1: Symptoms Assessment Form

 

Always:

More than 4 episodes per week

Very frequently:

More than 2 episodes per month

Sporadically: 6 to 12 episodes in 1 year Rarely:

5 or less episodes in 1 year

Never:
Dyspnea
Precordialgia
Tachycardia
Syndrome of Impending doom
Aphonia

/Others

(detail)

Restlessness

/confusion

Fainting/

Hypotension

 

Mark “X” where applicable

 

Table 2: Effectivness of past life therapy in the treatment of phobic patients. Bibiana Bistrich, MD, and colleagues.

Full name:

Age:

Contact information:

Attending psychiatrist:

Diagnosis:

Predominant symptom(s):

Time of evolution of symptom(s):

First episode:

Medication:

Other treatments:

Regression (record attached):

Assessments (check against symptoms and modifications on base treatment, if any)

One week:

One month:

Six months:

One year:

Two years:

Three years:

 

References

American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders, (5th ed.), Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Association.

Agras, S. (1985). Panic: Facing fears, phobias, and anxiety, Oxford: WH Freeman & Co.Ltd (Traducción castellana: Pánico: Cómo superar los miedos, las fobias y la ansiedad, Barcelona, Spain: Labor,1989).

Cabouli, J. L. (2014).  Atrapamiento y recuperación del alma [Entrapment and recovery of the soul], Buenos Aires, Argentina: Ediciones Continente. (1ra. edición)

Cabouli, J. L. (2012a). Terapia de vidas pasadas [Past Life Therapy] Buenos Aires, Argentina: Ediciones Continente (8va. edición.)

Cabouli, J. L. (2012b). La vida antes de nacer [Life before birth], Buenos Aires, Argentina: Ediciones Continente 5ta. Edición

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Netherton, M. (1978). Past lives therapy, New York City: William Morrow and Company.

Newton, M. (2000). Destiny of souls, St. Paul, MN: Llewellyn Publications [Traducción castellana: Destino de las almas Ed. Grupal. 3ra. Edición, 2014].

Merck & Co., Inc. (1999). The Merck manual, Kenilworth NJ: Merck & Co., Inc. [Traducción castellana: 10ª edición en español, correspondiente a la 17a edición original Madrid, Spain: Ediciones Hartcourt S.A.,1999]

Verny, T. (1982). The secret life of the unborn child, New York: Dell [Traducción castellana: La vida secreta del niño antes de nacer Barcelona: Ed. Urano. 19 edición, 1988].

Weiss, B. (1988). Many lives, many masters, New York City: Simon & Schuster Inc. [Traducción castellana: Muchas Vidas, Muchos Maestros, ZETA, 2005].

 

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Topics on this article

Past-life Therapy, Phobias, Study

Keywords on this article

past life regression, study