Author: Brian L. Weiss, M.D.
Trade Paperback, 219 pages
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication date: July 1998
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I wasnít sure what to expect of this book when I picked it up at the store. But the title, the M.D. in the authorís name, and the caption ("The true story of a prominent psychiatrist, his young patient, and the past-life therapy that changed both their lives.") sucked me in.
As it turns out, Dr. Weiss had no intention of doing past life therapy when he and his patient started work. She did have several neuroses that suggested early childhood trauma of some kind, and so he planned on doing hypnotic regression to recover memory of any such incidents. He was quite surprised when she spontaneously kept going further back into what appeared to be prior lives.
As the therapy progressed, these prior life memories appeared to be helping his client overcome the problems that had brought her in for help, so he kept it up, now deliberately regressing her to these past memories, and recording all their sessions. Eventually, some additional entities, identified only as "Masters," appeared to speak through her while she was "between lives."
What lends the most credence to the interviews transcribed in the books is the level of detail provided. The author himself considers and rejects various other possibilities, such as archetypal representations of unconscious memories and genetic memory. In his view, the memories were too precise to be archetypes. As for genetic memory, in far too many of the past lives remembered, his patient had died either childless or with her children.
Also, that neither the psychiatrist nor the patient believed in or set out to work on past lives at the outset, to me, lends further authenticity. In addition, the patient had no recall of these lives when brought back to normal consciousness. In fact, she didnít even want to listen to the tapes of their sessions, because the idea of reincarnation conflicted too much with her religious beliefs. But somehow, the process of recovering these memories, discussing how they were related to her current problems and why they did not need to cause these problems, appeared to contribute to her recovery.
On the downside, while it appears that Dr. Weiss was as objective and scientific as one can be with this sort of thing, it was also not possible to verify the memories. Most often, she recounted lives as rather poor and unimportant people, about whom nothing was likely to be documented. While some of the discussions with the "Masters" resulted in all sorts of information from Dr. Weiss' private life being spoken of by a patient with no access to that data, that could also be explained as some sort of telepathy.
The book has withstood the test of scrutiny from at least some of Dr. Weissí colleagues, as the quotations on the back cover attest. Also, as it is on its 30th printing, it appears to be withstanding the test of time. Whatever one makes of the interviews and the conclusions Dr. Weiss draws from them, I believe this to be an excellent book for anyone who is interested in exploring the idea of reincarnation and the recovery of past life memories.
Reviewed by Diane Verrochi