Past life regression therapy (PLRT) is, according to one practitioner, a therapeutic technique for accessing and re-experiencing your past lives directly. A branch of hypnotherapy, past life regression therapy has grown over the last 50 years to be an important addition to the healing arts. This website also informs us that:
Past life regression is an amazing, full-sensory experience. You might experience the memory as a vivid movie, or see only vague flashes of images that prompt the narrative. You might hear gunshots or explosions on a battlefield, or music at a dance. It is possible to recall smells too: smoke from a fire, leather from a saddle, or the sweat of a dirty body.
As the story unfolds, you feel real emotions appropriate to the story. You may cry when you re-experience deep sadness at the death of a beloved child, feel despair in the pit of your stomach as you witness a massacre, or elation at a long-awaited homecoming from war. And just as you can recall strong emotions, you feel the pain of an arrow piercing your body as you are dying, or the heaviness of a load you’re carrying on your back. These physical sensations and emotions are very real in the moment, but pass quickly as you move through the past life story and death.
PLRT is used by some clinicians for anxiety disorders, mood disorders, gender dysphoria, and other conditions. One survey suggested that 22% of European cancer patients use PLRT as a so-called alternative medicine (SCAM) to treat their illness. Some proponents argue that, since the exploration of the event/memory is actually helping the client resolve the challenge, the overall process can have immense therapeutic benefit, provided it is done responsibly and effectively.
So, it is effective because it is effective??? Such assurances make my alarm bells ring loud and clear. And I am not alone. It has been argued that PLRT is unethical:
- First, it is not evidence-based. Past life regression is based on the reincarnation hypothesis, but this hypothesis is not supported by evidence, and in fact, it faces some insurmountable conceptual problems. If patients are not fully informed about these problems, they cannot provide informed consent, and hence, the principle of autonomy is violated.
- Second, past life regression therapy has the great risk of implanting false memories in patients, and thus, causing significant harm. This is a violation of the principle of non-malfeasance, which is surely the most important principle in medical ethics.
I was unable to find convincing evidence that PLRT is effective. Furthermore, PLRT is by no means cheap; a typical session lasts two hours and costs $350. This suggests that PLRT is
- and unsafe.
In other words, it is not a therapeutic option that I would recommend to anyone for any condition.