Article: The Old Question: Is It Allegory or Reality? – C. Norman Shealy (Is. 8)

by C. Norman Shealy, M.D., Ph.D.

Although one can never be certain that the “past-life” images perceived in a state of reverie or light hypnosis portray events that actually happened, this author says that they are often of great use in mirroring, and thus helping patients understand their current dilemmas. He continues to use PLT as a technique for encouraging his patients to resolve longstanding conflicts. This article illustrates his point of view with a few brief case histories.

Since most patients do not present adequate evidence to document their reports of past-life events, and most do not express themselves in a foreign language, we must consider the possibility that their imagery speaks in allegorical metaphors for their current dilemmas. This paper presents a few brief descriptions of past-life therapy reports and compares them with the patient’s current-life situations.

Case 1

A 42-year-old veterinarian presented with a complaint of intractable neck pain. This followed an injury in which a cow that was being artificially inseminated threw him forcefully to the ground. While he was incapacitated, his wife invited her male lover to live in a ménage à trois, which was emotionally devastating to her husband.

In PLT the patient saw himself in a primitive society, rejected by his wife for a younger lover. He went off to the woods and lived as a hermit until the lover later appeared, having also been rejected by the woman. The husband challenged the lover to a fight and was quickly dispatched to his death with a broken neck.

Immediately after this session the patient’s neck pain was alleviated, but it later returned. And though he subsequently divorced his wife, he has not fully recovered.

Case 2

A 40-year-old woman presented with polyneuropathy on the right side of her neck that made it difficult for her to swallow. She was married to a man she suspected to having sexually abused her 8 year-old son.

In PLT she saw herself as a young Polynesian woman, kidnapped by pirates and imprisoned in the hull of the ship. During a battle, a large timber support broke loose and fell across the right side of her neck, pinning her down. She died while water crept into the hull of the ship.

Subsequently the patient divorced her husband and most of her symptoms abated.

Case 3

The 32-year-old wife of a wealthy man presented with chronic low back pain. She had been treated unsuccessfully with three surgical procedures. During the course of treatment, several hundred miles from her home, she had an affair with another patient and announced that she was going to divorce her husband and marry her lover.

In PLT she reported three separate lives, in each of which she was a fairy-land-type princess, married to a prince and living a charmed life.

After the PLT she said, “I realize I was about to make a terrible mistake. I don’t want to divorce my husband.”


A majority of the several hundred patients with whom I have done PLT have reported rather simple lives which appear to reflect a yearning for a less pressured time, free of future shock. Not one of them has spoken in a foreign language. At least 90% of the patients report being of the same sex as they are in their current life, and most often they report past-life problems so strikingly similar to their present ones that I cannot help wondering why they so rarely notice the correspondence. Most of them express satisfaction with the new insights they gain after the experience, and the PLT hour is often the most productive therapy we do.

I have rarely had time to do repeated PLT with the same patients so I am not certain whether these mirror-images would continue in subsequent sessions. Personally I have had a number of PLT sessions with four different therapists and have experienced a wide variety of images all of which have had personal implications, including:

    1. Freezing to death in a snow storm.
    2. Being hanged as a priest for having sex with the bishop’s daughter.
    3. Having my pancreas cut out in a religious sacrifice.
    4. Being a black woman (my only PLT session as a female).
    5. Being a priest in France and having a vision of the Virgin Mary.
    6. Being a lowly priest with St. Francis.
    7. Being a physician in ancient Greece and teaching mental telepathy.
    8. Being a physician in ancient Egypt during a cholera epidemic. In addition, I have had one spontaneous “knowing” of a previous life when I serendipitously heard my name as of that time. I was able to investigate this life extensively. The synchronicity of that life with my current one is so circumstantially marked that I have no doubt that it represents an actual previous lifetime of mine. Thus my concept that past-life therapy experiences may represent allegorical metaphors has to be tempered by the possibility that at least some of the images may represent actual past events. If so, it is apparent that we learn the lessons of life after life slowly! Past-life therapy may provide a tool for speeding up that learning.

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