Article: Principles and Techniques of Regression to Childhood – Irene Hickman (Is.7)

by Irene Hickman, D.O.

Depressed feelings and thoughts often arise from other lifetimes, but they can also originate in the childhood of the subject’s current life. The process of recall and healing is the same, both for traumas originating in childhood and for those involving other lifetimes. Even if the source of a trauma is not found in a current lifetime, review of childhood memories is often helpful as a springboard to recall similar traumas from other lifetimes. This review is especially useful in the case of subjects who in their waking consciousness object to the idea of exploring past lives. Because of the trepidation often expressed by such subjects, I avoid beginning with past-life exploration and ask only that they move back to a time of significance for helping them to understand themselves. Usually we begin by reviewing their early childhood experiences.

In exploration of childhood incidents, the time required to find significant information varies widely. Some subjects respond with rapidity but others may have to be led slowly and patiently to recognize and describe scenes that may be charged with emotional pain. The reluctant ones are often helped by memory techniques. If there seems to be an inability to find the requested information, it may be helpful to suggest that the subject is in a theater watching a film on the screen, or walking down an imaginary path, relating whatever is noticed along it.

In moving back from one scene to an earlier childhood experience, I usually suggest that the subject continue backward in time to an important happening in a certain time period, such as the fifth year or a specific holiday season. Sometimes I count from one to five, saying that at the count of five an important experience in a specific time period, such as at five years, will emerge. Sometimes I ask that a signal be given when the move has been completed, a nod of the head or a lifting of a finger. When the signal is given, or if I notice changes of expression that denote emotion, I will ask, “What’s happening?” This is a favorite question because it is totally non-leading and allows the subject complete freedom to say whatever is wished.

Regression to a Childhood Source to Relieve Later Distress

Mrs. C. R., a woman of 52, had had episodes of heavy gasping for breath for over 45 years. This frantic gasping would recur several times a year and would persist day and night until she became totally exhausted. In order to control these episodes she would be heavily sedated, sometimes for several days and often in a hospital setting. Some episodes even required general anesthesia. Such sedation or anesthesia helped to stop individual episodes but did not affect the frequency or the severity of the attacks. Her frustrated physician sent her to me saying, “If you can do anything for this woman I will be most grateful.”

History of the problem indicated that it had begun when she was seven years old. Her memory as reported in that first interview was that she had refused to go to school and had been constantly spanked until she thought of school as the lesser evil. Formerly she had taken a short cut through a gully, but on her reluctant return to school she opted to take the long way around, though she could not say why. Neither could she recall any event related to school or the gully that would account for the long-continued physical problem.

She responded well to hypnosis and after an initial hour of interview and training, she returned for a single hypnotic experience. I moved her back to age seven, asking her to relive any incident that might be connected with her symptom.

The subject describes a morning when she and her best friend Nancy take the shortcut through the gully on their way to school. Suddenly from behind a large bush a 15-year-old feeble-minded fourth-grader named John leaps out and grabs both girls. He nearly succeeds in raping C. R., but she escapes from him and runs until she drops in exhaustion, gasping for breath.

  1. R. had blocked out conscious memory of this rape attempt but the emotion had remained and was back of her unwillingness to go to school. It had also precipitated her gasping attacks over the many years.

During the first reliving of the near rape, which she described in the present tense, she screamed, cried, and struggled. Afterward I asked her to go through the experience again from the beginning, and this time the emotional outbursts were less extreme. She went through the reliving of the attack a total of eight times. Each time she was able to add details that she had left out during the previous tellings. Each repetition expended more of the emotion until in the eighth re-experiencing she described the incident in a calm matter-of-fact manner.

After each reliving of the incident I asked her if the fear was gone, and only after the eighth telling did she respond with a “yes.” I then awakened her, telling her that she would remember all that she had related and that henceforth she would be free of the fear. She smiled broadly and said, “I really feel different. I feel so much better. The pressure is gone. And to think that I carried that for 45 years and at such a cost!” The severe gasping episodes left her and did not return.

This case had involved countless hours of doctors’ time and thousands of dollars of medical and hospital care. Two hours of hypnotherapy were all that were required to relieve C. R.’s symptoms: the first hour for history and hypnosis training and the second for the actual therapy work. Not all patients respond so quickly. However, people with long-lasting and resistant problems can often be helped in a comparatively short time through the use of this non-directive hypnotherapy, saving much time and money and eliminating a vast amount of suffering.

Regression to Childhood as a Springboard for Contacting the Past-Life Source of a Problem

Justin Arnold, an intelligent professional person in his early thirties, functioned under a pall of chronic loneliness and depression and suffered from stomach ulcers. He was an especially good patient because his doubt about the value of hypnosis and his conviction that he could not be hypnotized led him to expect nothing, and therefore aroused minimal resistance. In spite of his doubt that there was anything about age regression that could help him, he quickly became a good hypnotic subject. He first explored various childhood incidents of loneliness and then regressed back into past lifetimes where he unearthed an earlier source of this pervasive dysphoric mood.

The progression from the investigation of childhood incidents to correlated past lives occurred easily and naturally and demonstrated the efficacy of this approach in a skeptical subject. After an induction in which he was helped to relax, he began the process of searching through his childhood. His first memory was of a Christmas when he was six years old when he saw himself standing at the blackboard in his school room with his favorite girl friend, Jean. The pleasant memory made his initiation into the regression process a comfortable one.

Therapist:    Now I am going to count back one more year and you will be five. One…two…three…four…five…Now you’re five years old. Find a happy time and tell me about it.

Patient:       I’m with my grandma.

Therapist:    Tell me about your grandma.

Patient:       She loves me, but I’m naughty.

Therapist:    Let’s go back a little further and see what it is like when you are four years old. One…two…three…four…You are four. Tell me what you are doing now.

Patient:       (Begins to cry). Nobody wants me.

Therapist:    Why don’t they want you? If you talk about it you will feel better.

Patient:       (Sobs deeply).

Therapist:    It’s very hard for a little boy who’s just four when he feels this way. But tell me about it and you will feel better. Where is your daddy?

Patient:       Gone.

Interrogation brings out that his grandmother and father are gone and his mother doesn’t want him.

Therapist:    Whom are you living with?

Patient:       Lots of places.

Therapist:    Are they good to you? (Justin continues to sob). Well, we’ll not talk about it now—some other time. Let’s go to when you are three. Go back until you are three years old. Tell me about it. Is it happier when you are three?

Patient:       No.

Therapist:    Where are you living now?

Patient:       New Mexico.

Therapist:    Whom are you living with in New Mexico?

Patient:       Grandma. We go to church.

Therapist:    Now let’s go back to the time when you are two years old. Now you are two. Look around you and tell me what is happening.

Patient:       It’s better.

At two he is living with both grandparents. His grandfather sings to him and plays the fiddle.

Therapist:    That is pretty good, isn’t it? Now we will go back to one year—to the time you are one year old. Now you are one year old. Tell me exactly how you feel and what’s happening all around you. You will be able to speak about it as an adult, but you are actually living the experience as a baby one year old.

Patient:       (Begins to cry, then to sob). I’m all alone.

Therapist:    Where are you?

Patient:       In a room. I’m locked in.

Therapist:    Who locked you in?

Patient:       Mother.

Therapist:    Do you know where your mother went when she locked you in?

Patient:       No. I’m hungry, I’m on the floor. I’m crying.

Therapist:    Have you been there long?

Patient:       Uh huh.

Therapist:    Now let’s go forward a little bit—until someone comes and unlocks the door. You will know who it is and what they do and say. (Pause) Who is that coming in?

Patient:       My daddy. He picks me up. He loves me. He’s holding me.

Therapist:    Now you feel better. Now we’re going back a little further to the time just before you were born. You are able to think about this as an adult, but you will be feeling everything just as you did when you originally went through it. As I count backward to zero you will be in the birth canal just about to be born. And you will know what it feels like. You will re-experience your birth, still thinking about it as an adult so that it does not upset you. One…zero…You are ready to be born. Tell me everything that is happening to you and whether you are being born head first or feet first.

Patient:       Head.

Therapist:    Now at the count of three the head will have been born and you will feel a lot better. One…two…three…Now the head is born. Tell me how you are feeling.

Patient:       Relaxed.

Therapist:    You are able to hear everything that is being said and to know everything that is going on in the room. As the birth progresses you will tell me everything that is happening and everything that is being said in the room.

Patient:       They’re talking, but I can’t hear.

Therapist:    You’re going to be able to hear it a little clearer with the count of three. One…two…three…You are hearing more clearly now. What are they saying? Who is in the room besides you and your mother?

Patient:       The doctor. He’s young, blond. Mother’s disappointed.

Therapist:    Why is mother disappointed?

Patient:       I’m a boy.

Therapist:    Did you hear her say this?

Patient:       No.

Therapist:    How do you know it?

Patient:       She didn’t feed him.

Therapist:    Didn’t feed who?

Patient:       My brother. He died.

This is knowing a fact that occurred before the present body was conceived, as well as knowing it at the time of birth.

Therapist:    You know this even though you are just a newborn baby?

Patient:       Yes.

At this point I wanted to explore why Justin chose this family and these parents. One might think that the soul would choose pleasant and happy situations if it has a choice as to what body it will occupy. But apparently the soul does not operate on the pleasure-pain principle. It seeks to solve its karmic problems and to work out its own perfection.

Therapist:    Do you know why you came to this mother?

Patient:       No.

Therapist:    Well, we can go back a little further—back to the time before birth, back to the time where you will know why you are coming to live this life. So go back in time until you have an awareness of the reason you are coming back into an earth experience again. You will know why you are coming back to this particular mother and father. You will know and you will be able to tell me. So go back through time to the time of this decision. Now you know why you came to these parents. Why did you come?

Patient:       For my daddy.

Therapist:    Had you known him before?

Patient:       Yes.

Therapist:    Let us now go back to the time when you knew your daddy before. Your subconscious knows and it can search through your memory until it finds a time when you and your daddy were together before. When I reach the count of seven you will have found that time. One…two…three…four…five…six…seven…Look around you and tell me what is happening.

Patient:       He’s my brother.

At this point all resistance to going back into past lifetimes has been dispelled. The material from the age regression has constituted a bridge across which Justin could pass easily into previous experiences.

Questioning elicits the information that he is living with his 17-year old brother Jerry in a log cabin in the United States in the 17th century. He is seven and struggling with arithmetic. Jerry is the one who is good to him.

Therapist:    Let’s go back through time to see if there was another time when you and Jerry were together. Was there another time?

Patient:       He’s a grown man.

Therapist:    And you?

Patient:       I’m grown, too. He’s in uniform—a soldier.

Therapist:    Do you know him well?

Patient:       He’s my sweetheart.

It is commonly believed that each soul must experience life on earth in both male and female bodies.

Therapist:    Would you like to marry him?

Patient:       Oh, yes!

As the young woman, Kathleen Morris, she does not realize her wish to marry her lover. He goes to war (the Civil War) and does not come back.

Therapist:    Now we will go forward to the time when you have lived out that life as Kathleen and, just as in a dream, you will be able to know the cause of the death and how long the life lasted. Tell me what happens.

(Kathleen never marries but dies alone of old age).

Therapist:    Now you are between lives. Tell me what is happening, how you feel, and what your thoughts are.

Patient:       It’s better. I saw him.

Therapist:    Your sweetheart?

Patient:       (Joyfully) Yes.

Therapist:    Now you are going forward to the time when you and Jerry were brothers, then into your present life when he is your father. As I count to ten you will come forward all the way to the present. One…two…three…four…five… six…seven…eight…nine…ten. You may wake up feeling very good. Wake up!…How do you feel?

Patient:       Wonderful. I feel different. What happened? (Listens to the tape of the session). So that’s why I have always felt so alone. I’ve been alone for many lives.

Therapist:    That was a longtime ago. Now that you have reviewed this, you can let go of that pattern and enjoy your life more. You are not alone now.

Justin’s ulcers healed and did not recur. He was able to move out and become more sociable and within a year he was engaged to be married. Both his health and his mood have continued to improve.

Sympathetic exploration of childhood incidents had allowed Justin to investigate the distress he had felt during his childhood years, a distress that stemmed from his rejection at birth. Then, as he strove to determine why he had chosen this particular set of parents, he perceived a bonding with his father. This bonding in turn acted as an emotional bridge by which he could regress into pertinent past lifetimes, where he could then retrieve memories of the various relationships he had experienced with his father, and thus comprehend the broader pattern of his loneliness. Justin’s recognition of a long relationship with his father proved to be healing for him, and the increased perspective resulting from this past-life recall made possible a re-evaluation of Justin’s loneliness, thus freeing him for more positive life experiences.


Inclusion of incidents from childhood that relate to the presenting symptom serve several purposes. They are often healing in themselves and sometimes they encapsulate the source of the difficulty. More often such incidents are replays of old patterns, and these emotional experiences of childhood act as an effective bridge into past-life episodes of the same patterns—and hopefully lead to their origin. Reliving of traumas, both from childhood and from past lifetimes, leads to increased perspective and a release of disturbing stored-up feelings.



Hickman, Irene. Mind Probe Hypnosis. Kirksville, MO: Hickman Systems, 1983.

Lucas, Winafred. Regression Therapy: A Handbook for Professionals. Crest Park, CA: Deep Forest Press (in press).

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