From the archive, originally posted by:  [ spectre ]

Q: Which cases seem most remarkable to you, or hardest to refute?
A: The most convincing cases tend to involve young children, around the
age of two to four, who begin making these statements, and they usually
stop by the time they are six or seven. In the strongest cases, the
children describe the lives of strangers who lived in another location,
and those statements have then been verified to be accurate. In many
cases, the children have birthmarks that match wounds on the bodies of
the deceased, and these represent objective evidence of a link with the
previous life.

“The investigation of such cases, as described in this book, is carried
out in a methodical and impartial manner. The only view that the book
assumes is that there is a phenomenon here worthy of study, and that
seems amply proven. The text is fairly neutral about the interpretation
of the data and indeed goes into considerable detail about the
methodology (interviews and fact-checking) as well as possible pitfalls
of individual cases. The author is very good about suggesting possible
conclusions that might be drawn and discussing their relative merits.
Clearly the most immediate thing that comes to mind is a classical
notion of reincarnation, but the book discusses a number of possible
alternatives that must also be considered. Accepting that, one is left
with a variety of further questions, such as why only some people seem
to have such recall, why the recall generally ceases at 5-6 years of
age, why the birthmark cases almost always involve the skin, why the
deaths almost always involve violence, etc.”

Dr. Jim Tucker: The basic approach to investigating the cases is the
same-trying to document as accurately as possible what each child said,
whether he or she had access to the information through normal means,
the details of the previous personality’s life, etc. Beyond that, as
we are getting more and more of this data in our computer database, we
are now able to look more at features of the cases as a group, so we
may be able to get insights that we cannot get from simply looking at
individual cases. Nonetheless, the careful study of strong individual
cases remains the backbone of the work.

15. In a recent JSE paper (Stevenson and Haraldsson, 2003), the authors
compare certain features of reincarnation type cases as documented
about one generation apart by two different investigators. Remarkable
in both series is the mean age when the child first began speaking
about his previous life (31 months for IS; 32 months for EH); the
mention of the previous personality’s name (in 88%, respectively 63% of
the children); the percentage of cases in which the child mentioned the
mode of death (82% for IS; 83% for EH); the proportion of violent
deaths among these (73% for IS and 80% for EH); and the prevalence of
unusual behaviors such as phobias related to the previous life
(typically mode of death), which occurred in 77% of IS’s cases and 42%
of EH’s cases.

How do these memories typically present, how many specific details tend
to be spontaneously described at one time?

JT: The memories present in different ways. Often, the children are
very young when they begin making a statement here or there, and the
statements gradually form a cohesive story. At times, families have
difficulty being certain that a particular statement relates to the
previous life that the child has described, and the children often
resist questioning. In other situations, however, the children come out
with the bulk of the story in one sitting and remain very consistent
during any questioning about it.

16. How consistently are the children able to retrieve specific
information when prompted to do so? Is there any qualitative difference
you have observed between the way they describe current life memories
and those of the alleged past personality – such as richness of sensory
detail, the speed of information retrieval, logical associations
between memories, temporal coherence of the perspective on a given
episode, etc? (This would be particularly interesting to compare with
the usual mode of information retrieval in remote viewing, where the
data most typically manifests as fragmented sensory or conceptual
material; and “normal” episodal memories, where one’s mental film
remains more or less a replay of the events as perceived at the time.)

JT: Many of the children are not able or at least not willing to answer
questions about their memories. They seem to have to be in the right
frame of mind to express them, and this is often during relaxed times.
Certainly, exceptions exist, and some of the children talk about the
past lives on a nearly constant basis. Parents often report that the
children are very serious when they discuss their memories–that their
manner is very different from when they are fantasizing. The memories
often seem rather fragmentary, though some of the fragments, of course,
are much bigger than others are. I cannot give a good answer to the
question of differences between their descriptions of current life
memories and the past life ones except to say that many show an intense
emotional attachment to the past life ones. That emotion may be quite
intermittent, but the children may cry intensely as they describe
missing previous parents or other family members.

18. What is the typical age and experience these children seem to
recall? Do most of these alleged past life memories center around a
particular age or event, or can the children easily move along their
previous life time-line and produce information on demand? Have you
been able to identify any general patterns – are children most likely
to dwell on their routine environment and habits, or on particularly
traumatic events, including death, in their previous incarnation? Are
there particular types of memories, particular sensory modalities (such
as visual, auditory, olfactory, texture) reported more frequently than
others? Any particular trends in “archetypal experiences” – ie. are
children more likely to evoke the life of a soldier? mother? leader?
And has it been your general experience that these individuals are not
aware of events which occurred between their purported death and their
new life?

JT: The children tend to talk about people and events from the end of
the previous life, and 75% of them state the mode of death for the
previous personality. Along with that traumatic memory are more
mundane ones, as the children recall various everyday details of the
previous life. Most of the children do not seem able to easily move
along their previous life time-line, and many of those who recall
lives as adults appear unable to access early life events at all.

The memories do not appear to involve any particular sensory
modalities, but that can be difficult to judge from the children’s
statements. The children do not report “archetypal experiences” but
rather the details of routine lives.

While most of the children do not say anything about events between
lives, a few describe intermission memories. These can involve either
memories of events on Earth that occurred after the death, usually near
either the home or the place of death of the previous personality and
occasionally at least partially verifiable, or ones of another realm
with spiritual beings.