Brian Weiss, M.D., a psychiatrist trained at Columbia and Yale began using hypnosis to help patients eliminate longstanding psychological symptoms. In part of the general instruction performing a “regression to cause” he began to observe that a group of patients began to access information that could be consistent with a past life, something that was not part of the experience of this current lifetime.
First, Dr. Weiss has never claimed that his clinical material “proved” the existence of past lives. If you want highly suggestive “proof” read the scholastic work of Ian Stevenson, M.D., of the University of Virginia. That will blow your mind even though it is rather dry in tone. But that’s not the direction of where I want to take this.
The hypnotic technique of regression to cause is a suggestion to the mind to find the first instance of a negative symptom or behavior pattern. Anything that arises is a metaphor that the unconscious creates to allow the person to work with the symbolic representation of the symptom or problem. That’s it. And it often works whether the material appears to come from early childhood, or within the womb, or a past generation of family, or a past life.
Clinically, it doesn’t matter if any of those elements are “factually” true; it only matters that a meaningful metaphor arrived for the client which effectively makes the elusive material available for working through to clear.
Hypnotists and the hypnotic literature have been aware that a subset of clients would “regress” into a past life during this therapy for a century. Dr. Weiss wasn’t, but he became rapidly interested in the experience because the therapeutic metaphor helped people release misery. His book “Many Lives Many Masters” from the late 1980s became a best seller. His genius was in listening to his patients and following where they led.
So here is a therapeutic metaphor known for a century which was rediscovered by Dr. Weiss who found clinical utility in it.
What was the official response of the American Psychiatric Association? One might have hoped deep support for a helpful technique, but that would be as naive as Semmelweis actually getting local surgeons in Vienna to wash their hands.
As you might imagine, they sent their little official minions to national news to loudly “refute” Dr. Weiss’ work. “Not scientifically validated.” “Not evidenced based.” “No double blind studies. . . .” What an utter joke. Nearly a century of knowledge, experience, and publications in peer reviewed hypnotic journals apparently meant nothing to the APA. Perhaps no articles in their own journals, but that is hardly a surprise since they focus on intracellular mechanisms more than clinical reality.
But whether or not one finds regression to cause a meaningful treatment in their own practice, the true lacking piece for the APA who should know better, is that all therapy is based upon recall and metaphor. This metaphor of a past life is no more or less meaningful to the client in therapy than a metaphoric memory of something that may or may not have happened as a child. It is the amazing ability of consciousness to create these metaphors that allows for therapeutic change at all.
This falls under the same category of the “status quo” becoming so biological and myopic, that they cannot appreciate the core of good psychotherapeutic skills, and then irrationally lash out against it. The close minded protecting themselves against innovation, and everyone else in the process. If the APA cared about the science, they should have funded research about the therapy; but they didn’t. They were only protecting the biologically reductive base furthering the “better living through chemistry” model. And you guessed, dollars to big Pharma, which they imagine is the only “real” treatment.
Tell that to those cured by Dr. Weiss. . . .