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Past Life Memories: Reality or Fantasy? – Esther Iseman (Is.19)

by Esther Iseman, Ph.D.

Often, past life therapists confront the following situation: The client emerges from the altered state and says, “Was that real or a made up a story?” In response to this question, the author created an instrument, the purpose of which is to address the needs of these clients who express doubts about the reality of their memories. This instrument has the potential to provide a subtle suggestion, or “convincer,” that the client’s past life memories are, in fact, credible.


It is generally recognized that there is great potential for healing via past life therapy (Gerber, p. 399, Shealy, p. 35, Weiss, p. 23, and Woolger, p. 82). Regardless of the perception of reality of the memories, many clients appear to be troubled and/or perplexed as they return to the here-and-now. They are uncertain as to whether their past life memories are genuine. While we presume that healing may take place at the subconscious level, for some clients the conscious mind needs to know that the experience truly took place in another lifetime. A belief in the authentic nature of the memories may serve to encourage the client to continue the work and to provide confidence in the therapeutic process and the therapist. It may also be that believability enhances the therapeutic process by facilitating a more rapid, enduring healing and by providing the client with a clear sense of the integrity of the therapy.

It seems that most therapists tend to deal with client doubts about the reality of their memories by either ignoring the concern or telling their clients that reality is not important—what matters is the healing that results as a byproduct of the past life recall. This attitude fails to respond to the client’s discomfort level with the regression process and fails to provide a sincere attempt to address the client’s needs for validation. The focus of this study, therefore, was to create an instrument that is responsive to the all too common phenomenon of client doubts regarding the authenticity of the memories.

Study Design

An instrument (which is located in the Appendix), developed as an aid, provides clients with the confidence that their memories are, in fact, real and credible. The methodology included the design and implementation of an instrument consisting primarily of two profile questionnaires: (1) a Philosophical Profile, and (2) an Experiential Profile. The study also included a means for identifying a Validation Group (VG) to act as a standard by which the client can judge the reality of his/her past life memories. The VG is comprised of individuals who use: (1) historical data, such as names and dates, (2) sufficient or compelling circumstantial evidence, (3) consensual validation (e.g., several people report the same event similarly/identically), and/or (4) therapeutic validation, to verify their past life recollections. Therapeutic validation, indicated by symptom relief, is perhaps the most significant form of validation (Schlotterbeck, p. 37–46). For example, an individual is deathly afraid of harmless fire such as birthday candles. That person recalls a past life where he/she burned to death in a house fire. A “cure” from the fire phobia would be an indication of therapeutic validation (McClain, p. 88).

The rationale for creating a Philosophical Profile as a measurement for the instrument derives in part from both Winafred Blake Lucas and Hazel M. Denning. Drs. Lucas and Denning indicate that, in order to facilitate successful past life therapy, it is necessary for therapists [and clients] to embrace “an expanded perception of oneself and the universe.” They also indicate “a faulty philosophy of life…[or] no philosophy at all, militates against success in regression therapy” (Lucas, Vol. I, p. 150). It seems reasonable to postulate that believable memories facilitate successful regression therapy.

The Experiential Profile design is for use with the instrument. There appears to be consensus among past life therapists that individuals may be drawn to people, places, occupations, wars, music, art, food, etc. due to déjà vu feelings related to past life experiences. Although the literature is replete with such examples, Barbara Lane, in particular, has documented many cases of individuals who have present life inclinations and preferences that resonate with past life experiences (Lane, Sixteen Clues to Your Past Lives).

In anticipation that the client may express doubts about the memories after regression, it is recommended that the two profile questionnaires be filled out before regression as a routine part of the intake process. When used with each new client, these data are available after the regression in the event that it becomes necessary to address the client’s doubts. Whether the client ultimately has doubts and the instrument is used or not, most clients seem to enjoy responding to the profile questions. In addition, the responses provide insight for the therapist, and the process takes only a few minutes. Should the client emerge from the altered state expressing doubts about the reality of the memories, compare the client’s scores from the two questionnaires to the profile scores of the VG.

A favorable comparison of client profile scores to those in the VG has the potential of providing a subtle inference on the part of the therapist that the doubtful client’s memories are valid. Compare the rationale for this instrument to the philosophy of convincers, which are included as a part of the typical hypnotherapy protocol (Krasner, pp. 130–133). Common convincers used by hypnotherapists include heavy eyes, heavy legs, and arm levitation. Frequently, hypnotized clients emerge from the altered state of consciousness and say, “I don’t think I was hypnotized. I heard and remember everything you said…” The primary purpose of the convincers is to indicate to the client, if necessary, that he/she was, in fact, hypnotized, the evidence being that the eyes did not open, the leg did not lift, and the arm raised on command.

The instrument produced by this study has the potential to provide the regression client with a suggestion that past life memories are credible. It provides an opportunity to receive a favorable comparison between the client’s Philosophical and Experiential Profile scores and those of the VG. The inference that may result is, “My scores compare favorably to those of the Validation Group, and since they have verified and/or have believable past life memories, my memories may also be credible.” Therefore, the instrument provides regression clients with a type of convincer.

The methodology included the design and implementation of a questionnaire given to 25 previously regressed clients in order to establish a range of scores that identified the VG. Individuals were either qualified or disqualified for the VG per their scores on the following:

  1. A belief that their past life memories were real (as self-rated on a 1 to 10 scale).
  2. The details of their past life memories remained constant (Schlotterbeck, p. 50 and Bowman, p. 25) after a minimum of one month (also self-rated on a 1 to 10 scale).
  3. A “Yes” or “No” response was given as to whether the individual had verified the memories with names, dates, places, or some other form of verification as described above (Schlotterbeck, pp. 37–46).

In order to qualify for the VG, the individuals needed to score 8 or above on numbers 1 and 2. A “Yes” on number 3, i.e., the individual had verified memories, was an automatic qualifier for the VG.


Table 1: Selection of the Validation Group (VG)

Category Number of respondents Percent
Total number of respondents 25 100%
Total number of respondents that qualified for the VG 16 64%
Total number of VG with verified memories 7 43.75% of VG


Once the VG was determined, I combined all VG data, and the total scores were designated into the following categories: Superior, Excellent, and Good. Using the combined scores obtained from only numbers 1 and 2 of the VG’s data, the range of scores was observed to be from a low of 40 to a high of 60. I divided the range between the scores of 40 to 60 into three categories, resulting in approximately 7.0 points per category. Hence, the range for the Superior category is 54 to 60, Excellent is 47 to 53, and Good is 40 to 46. A score of 39 or lower constitutes a non-match. Table 2 details the breakdown of scores into the three categories.


Table 2: Determination of Categories for the Validation Group

Total Score* Number in VG Percent of VG Category
54–60 13 81.25% SUPERIOR
47–53 1 6.25% EXCELLENT
40–46 2 12.5% GOOD
39 or lower 0 0 Not a match

* Total Score represents a total of all data acquired from the VG.

Seven new clients, all regressed by this author, used this instrument. In all cases, the new clients expressed some doubt about the memories upon re-entry to the here-and-now. Profile questionnaires had previously been responded to by all seven of the clients during the intake process. The profile scores of the seven were calculated and compared to the VG as follows: Four scored between 54 and 60 and were compared to the Superior group, two scored between 47 and 53, and were compared to the Excellent group and one scored between 40 and 46 and was compared to the Good category. None scored below 40. All but one had an increase of at least one point in the reality rating between Part III and Part IV. A complete breakdown of the scores of these seven clients appears in Table 3 below.


Table 3: Instrument Scores of Seven New Clients

Client # 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Part I Philosophical Profile 50 44 34 45 46 48 45
Part II Experiential Profile 9 7 6 10 8 10 8
Total Parts I + II 59 51 40 55 54 58 53
Part III Reality Rating After Regression 5 6 5 7 8 8 4
Part IV Reality Rating After Comparison To VG 8 9 7 8 9 9 4
Comparison After Expression Of Doubts To Validation Group (VG) Superior Excellent Good Superior Superior Superior Excellent
Increase/Decrease in number of reality points +3 +3 +2 +1 +1 +1 0


Table 3 indicates that, of the seven new clients on whom the instrument was used, the believability rating increased by an average of 1.6 points between the first rating and the second rating. The rating increased by 3 points in two of the clients, by 2 points in one client, and by 1 point in three clients; one client’s score remained the same. The increase in the number of points between the first and second reality checks (i.e., between Part III and Part IV) did not appear to correlate with the VG scores.

The specific client whose score remained the same also had a rather low believability rating of 4, which is below “not sure” on the first and second reality rating. It may be significant to note that this particular client presented for past life regression with her one-year-old son because her babysitting arrangements failed at the last moment. It is possible that this client was unable to engage fully in the regression process due to her apparent anxiety over the well being of her child.


The main purpose of this study was to provide a means to facilitate client confidence in the reality of past life recollections. In response to this often-encountered quandary, I developed this instrument to provide a suggestion, or convincer, that the recalled memories are credible by association with those who have believable and/or verified past life memories. The instrument is based on an analysis of 16 (out of 25) individuals who were successfully regressed and who qualified for the Verification Group (VG). The fact that the numbers of clients were small in both the VG and the group of seven new clients may have contributed to the lack of correlation between the VG categories and the increased reality ratings. Further, again based on the sample size, the small differences that separated the VG categories of Superior, Excellent, and Good, probably accounted for much of this lack of correlation. The use of a single therapist for control of many variables was important and outweighed the problem of the smaller number of clients utilized for the study. This feature, therefore, was not unexpected and does not mitigate against the conclusion and utility of this instrument. Future studies with substantially more subjects, a design not usually available to a single therapist in private practice, will be necessary to determine whether there is an association between changes in reality ratings and VG categories.

It is noteworthy that all three category titles (Superior, Excellent, and Good) are positive terms. In designing the instrument, it seemed essential to select a positive designation for each of three categories so that whatever the match, the client had a positive score. Consequently, if a client is told that he/she has a Good match, it seems that the message is just as useful as being told that the match is Excellent or Superior. The purpose of the instrument is to provide confidence, via a positive comparison to the VG, whenever this can legitimately be done.

In the same spirit of remaining as supportive of the new client as possible, the client is not compared to the VG if his/her score falls below 40. When initially asked to complete the questionnaires, there was never an expectation on the part of the new client that a comparison was forthcoming, or that the data on the questionnaires was for any purpose other than the therapist’s information. Therefore, if a new client expresses doubts about the memories, and his/her score is below the Good range, no mention is made of the instrument questionnaires previously filled out, and the client may be told, for example, “That’s o.k. For many people, it takes some time for the conscious mind to accept the reality of the memories…” This type of statement provides low scoring new clients with a modicum of support for their desire to believe their memories.

One might argue that the passage of time is just as important, or perhaps more important, than is the use of this instrument to facilitate believability of past life memories on a conscious level. One cannot easily judge whether time alone, rather than the instrument’s message, accounts for the increase in the client’s sense that his/her past life memories are credible. Thus, it might be that it is the passage of time, rather than the knowledge that the client is a Superior, Excellent, or Good match to the VG, which accounts for the client’s ability to accept the past life memories as real and true.

It is reasonable to assume that, without the use of the instrument, after a past life regression, the client begins to consider his/her memories and, over time, may begin to believe rather than disbelieve. In other words, one might contend that the memories may at first be considered fantasy; however, with the passage of time, that evaluation is replaced by the idea that what was recalled is, indeed, a true and honest recounting. This effect of the passage of time is similar to the strategy employed by many advertising campaigns. “Madison Avenue” relies on the well-documented concept that, true or not, information retold repeatedly becomes fact after awhile, e.g., “Everybody knows that TIDE gets your clothes cleaner and whiter.” The public hears it, thinks about it, hears it repeatedly, thinks about it over time, and finally accepts it as truth at the conscious and subconscious levels.

The client has recalled his/her past life memories and, over time, thinks about it, re-thinks it, re-thinks it again, has it reinforced (correctly or not) by daily or routine happenings, and ultimately arrives at an assumption of truth where he/she says, “Ah, that’s why I do that; it’s because of what happened in my past life.”

One might also suggest that, in most cases, people tend to believe that which they choose to believe, i.e., that which individuals have been conditioned to believe. This caveat applies directly to the effect of time passage on the believability of a past life memory. This instrument and its use suggest to the client the probability that his/her recollections are true and real. A favorable comparison to the V.G. is the only outside, perhaps “objective,” consideration to be placed on one side of the finely balanced scales of the fantasy/believability dilemma. The instrument highlights this newly created inequity and, over time, the client incorporates this finding until it becomes fact: “My recollection must be true. Everyone who is knowledgeable [i.e., the V.G.] and has successfully done this [been regressed] before me knows that.”

While it may be true that time, by itself, may accomplish the same objective of facilitating believability, it is reasonable to postulate that the use of the instrument may very well potentiate the effect of time alone.

We judge the net result of any effect of time in the context of the instrument. Time alone can lead to either believability or not (more likely believability). The instrument mitigates against the possibility of non-believability and assures that the client feels that his/her past life memories are true, credible, and valid. This decision is secure and inviolate: He/she is an accurate scribe, reiterating the soul’s vast and intimate stores of past life experiences.


Although the samples were admittedly small, preliminary indications point in the direction of the instrument’s usefulness in facilitating believability. Obviously, additional research on a much larger scale would be desirable.

It appears that this instrument has the ability to convince some clients, by association with the Validation Group, that their memories may be real. The belief that the past life memories are true also aids the therapist in deciding on the efficacy of the past life memories in the therapeutic process. As indicated earlier, when compared to the hypnotherapy protocol, this instrument has the potential to serve as a convincer of past life memories, much like those used in by many clinical hypnotherapists.



Bowman, C., Children’s Past Lives: How Past Life Memories Affect Your Child, (New York: Bantam Books, 1997).

Gerber, R., Vibrational Medicine: New Choices for Healing Ourselves, (Santa Fe, New Mexico: Bear & Company, 1998).

Krasner, A.M., The Wizard Within: The Krasner Method of Hypnotherapy, (Santa Ana, CA: American Board of Hypnotherapy Press, 1991).

Lane, B., Sixteen Clues to Your Past Lives: A Guide to Discovering Who You Were, (Virginia Beach, VA: A.R.E. Press, 1999).

Lucas, W. B., Regression Therapy: A Handbook For Professionals, Volume I, (Visalia, CA: Deep Forest Press, Jostens Press, 1993).

McClain, F. W., A Practical Guide to Past Life Regression, (St. Paul, MN: Llewellyn Publications, 1994).

Schlotterbeck, K., Living Your Past Lives: The Psychology of Past life Regression, (New York: Ballantine Books, 1987).

Shealy, C. N., Comments on Healing: The Journal of Regression Therapy, Vol. 4, No. 2, 1990, p. 35.

Weiss, B., Through Time Into Healing, (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1992).

Woolger, R. J., Other Lives, Other Selves: A Jungian Psychotherapist Discovers Past Lives, (New York: Bantam Books, 1987).


Appendix: The Instrument

Instruction/Scoring Sheet

Before induction, and as an adjunct to the history-taking phase of the session, ask your new client to fill out Part I (“Philosophical Profile”) and Part II (“Experiential Profile”) of the questionnaire. Add the two scores together. After the regression, your client may express doubt in the validity of his/her past life memories, (for example, “Was that real?” or “Did I make that up?”). If your client’s combined scores fall below those of the Validation Group, i.e. 39 or lower, disregard the instrument. There is no harm since the client has no expectation the questionnaires are for any purpose other than information gathering. If your client’s combined scores fall within one of the useable ranges, i.e. Superior, Excellent or Good, tell your client what his/her Philosophical and Experiential Profile scores are. Show how the scores compare with the Validation Group, which consists of individuals who have believable and/or verified past life memories.

Part I: Ask your client to respond to the “Philosophical Profile,” Belief System items on a 1 to 10 scale. Add the scores and record them in the space provided.

Part II: Ask your client to answer Yes or No the “Experiential Profile” questions. Add the total number of yes and no responses and record in the space provided. The “No’s” are disregarded, and only the “Yes” answers count in the total. (The only reason that the “No” option appears in the total is so that the client will answer honestly, considering that a “No” answer may be important).

Scoring: Obtain a combined score by adding the “Philosophical Profile” scores from Part I, to the number of “Yes’s” from Part II. (Do not count the No’s in Part II).

STOP HERE IF THE CLIENT’S SCORE IS 39 OR LOWER. Should the client not match the Validation Group, and he/she has expressed doubt about the memories, you can explain that this is a common reaction, and it may take some time for the conscious mind to accept the reality of these memories. You may also wish to add that much healing takes place regardless of whether or not the conscious mind believes the memories are real.

Part III: At the end of the regression, if the client expresses doubts about the memories, ask the client to rate the reality. On a scale of 1 to 10, with one being “fiction,” 5 being “not sure” and 10 being “absolutely valid,” circle the number, 1 through 10 on the sheet.

Obtain your client’s score, and determine which category the scores match:

SUPERIOR                                    54–60

EXCELLENT                                  47–53

GOOD                                              40–46

LOWER THAN 40                         NOT A MATCH

Tell your client his/her Philosophical and Experiential profiles are a (choose one) Superior/Excellent/Good match to others who have verified their past life memories with names/dates/places and/or have a very definite sense that the memories are real with details that remain constant over time.

No further discussion is necessary since the information regarding the match provides a subtle suggestion only.

Optional: Near the end of the session, after the comparison to those with real, consistent, and/or verified memories, you may choose to ask your client to reassess his/her perception of the reality of the memories. You may choose to do this at a subsequent session also. Record this rating on Part IV.



Rating scale for belief system

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
do not not sure strongly
believe believe


  1. Belief in God, some form of creator or higher power _______
  2. Belief in angels __________
  1. Belief in spirits __________
  1. Belief in reincarnation __________
  1. Belief and trust in my own instincts _________

Total of Belief Questions (1–5 above) ________



1. Have you ever experienced déjà vu?  





2. Have you ever had strong feelings of recognition of someone you just met?  





3. Do you have a strong interest in a specific historical time?  





4. Do you ever feel drawn to a specific geographical location?  





5. Do certain books, movies, and/or TV programs resonate; that is, are you ever drawn or attracted to specific features of books, movies and/or TV programs?  




6. Do you ever find yourself attracted to a specific style of art, music, architecture, etc.?  





7. Do certain physical sensations ever elicit an emotional reaction? (For example, do heights cause feelings of anxiety or does the smell of a certain food trigger happy feelings?)  





8. Do you believe that each person is responsible for himself/herself and individuals consciously or unconsciously program their lives?  





9. Have you ever had the strong desire to pursue a particular vocation, hobby, or course of study without conscious knowledge of why it draws you to it so strongly?  





10. Do you believe that all experiences are subconsciously retained or recorded so that every individual is a composite of all previous experiences?  





Total Number of YES’s _________

Total Number of NO’s __________




1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
fiction not sure absolutely




1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
fiction not sure absolutely