DR. BRIAN L. WEISS' approach to psychiatry once was as starched
and colorless as a white clinician's coat.
He ran the department of psychiatry at Mount Sinai Medical
Center in Miami Beach and authored dozens of medical journal
articles on such psychiatric staples as psychopharmacology, brain
chemistry, sleep disorders, depression anxiety, substance abuse and
Alzheimer's disease. He was, he said, "a left-brained,
obsessive-compulsive type, completely skeptical of unscientific
So how then did Weiss come to believe in reincarnation? And how
can he claim to have helped dozens of patients by encouraging them
through hypnosis to revisit past lives dating to antiquity? It
begins with a woman he calls Catherine and her many dozens of
lives, including Egyptian servant girl and German pilot.
But more on that later. Since Weiss' encounter with Catherine,
13 years ago, his own life has undergone a metamorphosis.
He's left Mount Sinai and no longer submits articles to
professional journals. Now, he's a best-selling author, a popular
talk-show guest and a lecturer. On Oct. 29, he was a subject on ABC
television's "20/20." He will speak at 8 p.m. Tuesday at the Jewish
Book Festival, Jewish Community Centers Association, 2 Millstone
Weiss, who graduated magna cum laude from Columbia University
and received his medical degree from Yale University, was an
established leader in mainstream psychiatry. He maintains a post as
an associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Miami. He
says it took him four years to summon the courage to go public with
his beliefs about reincarnation. But since then, he says he's
encountered many other professionals, including some in St. Louis,
who have been doing so-called past-life regressions.
But there are skeptics too. "To say this should be taken
seriously is just . . . embarrassing," Herbert Spiegel, a professor
of psychiatry at Columbia University, told a Cox News Service
Weiss says most critics haven't read his books and notes that
whether or not you believe in reincarnation, the therapy works.
Maybe if they had met Catherine. . . .
Catherine was a 27-year-old hospital technician and part-time
model, so wracked by phobias that she spent many nights in her
closet with the light on.
After 18 months of traditional therapy, Weiss was no closer to
discovering the root of Catherine's fears than the day she first
walked into his office.
Weiss suggested hypnosis, which he had used successfully to
help patients explore sources of torment in their childhoods.
Catherine resisted until she had a strange experience while
attending the King Tut exhibit in Chicago in 1982. To her surprise,
and perhaps the annoyance of others, she repeatedly corrected the
guide as he talked about the artifacts.
The absolute certainty with which she blurted out the
information startled her. It was as if she had actually lived in
ancient Egypt. She became curious about what hypnosis might reveal.
The first session brought out that Catherine, at age 3, had
been molested by her alcoholic father. But afterward, Catherine's
nightmares, one of the manifestations of her phobias, only
"I felt I must have missed something," Weiss said.
So he put her under hypnosis again and told her firmly, "Go
back to the time when your symptoms arise."
Weiss said he "was stunned" by what he heard next.
Catherine began describing another life in another land, in
another time - 1863 B.C. Her name was Aronda then. Weiss took
Catherine/Aronda up to the time of her death by drowning in a tidal
wave - and beyond.
Reincarnation is hardly a new concept. …