Academic journal article Indian Journal of Psychiatry

Do Attitudes of Families Concerned Influence Features of Children Who Claim to Remember Previous Lives?

Academic journal article Indian Journal of Psychiatry

Do Attitudes of Families Concerned Influence Features of Children Who Claim to Remember Previous Lives?

Article excerpt

Byline: Satwant. Pasricha

Background: Reported cases of nearly 2600 children (subjects) who claim to remember previous lives have been investigated in cultures with and without belief in reincarnation. The authenticity in most cases has been established. Aims: To study the influence of attitudes of parents of the subjects, families of the deceased person with whom they are identified and attention paid by others on the features of the cases. Settings and Design: The study is based on field investigations. Materials and Methods: Data is derived from analysis of a larger series of an ongoing project. Information on initial and subsequent attitudes of subjects' mothers was available for 292 and 136 cases, respectively; attitudes of 227 families of deceased person (previous personality) with whom he is identified, and the extent of attention received from outsiders for 252 cases. Observations and interviews with multiple firsthand informants on both sides of the case as well as some neutral informants supplemented by examination of objective data were the chief methods of investigation. Results: The initial attitude of mothers varied from encouragement (21%) to neutral or tolerance (51%) to discouragement (28%). However, it changed significantly from neutrality to taking measures to induce amnesia in their children for previous life memories due to various psychosocial pressures and prevalent beliefs. Families of the previous personalities, once convinced, showed complete acceptance in a majority of cases. Outside attention was received in 58% cases. Conclusions: The positive attitude of parents might facilitate expression of memories but subsequently attitudes of persons concerned do not seem to alter features of the cases.


Small children sometimes say that they lived in different circumstances and families before their present life and provide varying accounts and amounts of details of that life. We refer them as cases of the reincarnation type (CORT). Such cases have been reported from different countries including the Western ones; although more cases have been reported from the Asian countries. Over the past five decades nearly 2600 reported CORT have been investigated in several cultures and a number of reports, highlighting different features of cases, have been published in the scholarly books and scientific journals of repute. [sup][1],[2],[3],[4],[5],[6],[7],[8],[9],[10],[11]

A child (subject of the case) who claims to remember a previous life also displays unusual behavioral features corresponding to the actual or expected behavior of the deceased person whose life he claims to remember. For brevity, I shall refer this person, as we customarily do, as the previous personality. I shall do so without using any adjectives such as "claimed" previous personality, or "concerned" previous personality; and for the same reason, the subjects would be referred by the masculine gender throughout the article. The subject usually starts making statements about a previous life between 2 and 4 years of age or soon after he attains speech; some times a child tries to communicate, through gestures, even before he could express himself in words. His statements about the previous life include name of the previous person, persons and places associated with the claimed previous life, his possessions as well as the accounts of mode of death in that life. Subjects generally stop making spontaneous references to the previous lives between the ages of 5 and 8; they rarely continue to talk about that life beyond the age of 10. However their behavioral memories generally continue beyond their imaged memories.

Sometimes a neighbor or a friend who would have heard the child make statements about a previous life would urge the parents of the child to search for the family about whom the child has been making statements or the child himself would insist so much to be taken to the previous family that the parents have to yield to his request. …

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