OLD SOULS by Tom Shroder

8 11 2010

For forty years, Dr Ian Stevenson travelled the world investigating the “claims” of children who recalled their past lives. I put the word claims in quotes because the vast majority of them never claim anything. They simply have a problem because as they see it their home isn’t their real home, or their family their real family. Often the parents find these claims upsetting, even infuriating, and forbid children to mention them ever again. Others, either out of curiosity or in an attempt to prove the child wrong, investigate, visiting the town the child says he/she lived in and the family the child says he/she was once part of. And the child is proved right, again and again, recognising and naming people and places and showing an otherwise inexplicable knowledge of the private life of the family and the dead person.

Tom Shroder is an investigative journalist who was commisioned to look into the work of, and write a book about, Dr Brian Weiss, the specialist in hypnotic regression. At that time, he was a total sceptic. However, during the course of his investigations he came across an article about “a Dr Ian Stevenson, identified as the Carlson Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Virginia Medical School […] What astonished me was that Stevenson wasn’t claiming to have investigated jsut a handful of such cases, but hundreds of them – more than two thousand, in fact, from all over the world.” He tried to find books by Stevenson, managed to get hold of one, read it, and knew that that was what he wanted to investigate next. “How in the world, I wondered, could I have never before heard of this man’s work? How was it possible that a rather flimsy case of hypnotic regression was the basis for a best-seller, while hundreds of cases of the spontaneous production of verifiable memories took a day at the librrary to discover? And, finally, I wondered this: Why am I writing about Brian Weiss and not Ian Stevenson? It would take a decade to set this right.”

This book is the fruit of that decade.

If you, too, are of a sceptical turn of mind, then after reading it you may well still not believe that reincarnation actually occurs, but you will no longer be able to simply dismiss the notion out of hand.

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