Wade Bettis, J.D.
The author asks; “What is the best way to examine past-life regressions?” He discusses in depth two careful studies; Venn (1986) and Tarazi (1997). Although these studies are impressive, Bettis finds them both incomplete in the lack of value placed on the subjective experience of the clients. Only the factual data was analyzed. Bettis suggests that more sensitive methodologies would have revealed the deeper meanings to the clients of their past-life narratives.
The question of whether or not the past lives that people produce in altered states of consciousness are real reincarnation memories or fantasies is an intriguing one and has not been answered yet. One common approach to the question is to research the factual material given in the past life for accuracy. Most clients do not give enough factual material to make this sort of research possible, or the lives they report are so far back in time or so obscure that checking details is not feasible.
Some cases do exist, however, in which enough factual material was given to be checked, and in which many or most of the facts turned out to be correct. One is Brown’s (1991) case of “the submarine man;” another is, of course, the famous Bridey Murphy case of Bernstein (1956/1978). In this article I discuss two other cases, that of Venn (1986) and Tarazi (1997). I use these cases to illustrate the importance of the mind-sets that researchers adopt toward past lives, and the way those mind-sets influence the methods used to research and interpret the data. Unless otherwise cited, material in quotation marks is from Venn or Tarazi, respectively.