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 Ian Stevenson - I ricordi dei bambini

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MessaggioOggetto: Ian Stevenson - I ricordi dei bambini   Mar 26 Apr 2011 - 13:19

Buon pomeriggio a tutti,

nei due documenti che seguono di wikipedia inglese conosceremo, nel primo, Ian Stevenson un biochimico e professore di psichiatria che ha passato gran parte della sua vita a studiare il fenomeno dei ricordi di vite precedenti nei bambini.

Nel secondo, invece, vedremo più dettagliatamente la ricerca condotta dal gruppo di ricerca di Stevenson.

Buona lettura!

FONTE: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ian_Stevenson

Ian Stevenson
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Ian Pretyman Stevenson, MD, (October 31, 1918–February 8, 2007) was a Canadian biochemist and professor of psychiatry. Until his retirement in 2002, he was head of the Division of Perceptual Studies at the University of Virginia, which investigates the paranormal.[1]

Stevenson considered that the concept of reincarnation might supplement those of heredity and environment in helping modern medicine to understand aspects of human behavior and development.[2] He traveled extensively over a period of 40 years to investigate 3,000 childhood cases that suggested to him the possibility of past lives.[3] Stevenson saw reincarnation as the survival of the personality after death, although he never suggested a physical process by which a personality might survive death.[4] Stevenson was the author of several books, including Twenty Cases Suggestive of Reincarnation (1974), Children Who Remember Previous Lives (1987), Where Reincarnation and Biology Intersect (1997), Reincarnation and Biology (1997), and European Cases of the Reincarnation Type (2003).

There has been a mixed reaction to Stevenson's work. Critics have questioned his research methods and conclusions, and his work has been described by some as pseudoscience.[5][6] Others have, however, stated that his work was conducted with appropriate scientific rigor.[4][6][7][8][9] Stevenson's research was the subject of Tom Shroder's Old Souls: The Scientific Evidence for Past Lives (1999)[1] and Jim B. Tucker's Life Before Life: A Scientific Investigation of Children's Memories of Previous Lives (2005).

Biography

Early life and education

Stevenson was raised in Ottawa, where his Scottish father was the Canadian correspondent for The Times of London. His mother had an interest in theosophy, and Stevenson would later credit her vast library on the subject as triggering his own interest in the paranormal.[1] As a child Stevenson was often bedridden due to bouts of bronchitis, a condition that would continue throughout his adult life,[8] and lead to the lifelong voracious reading habit which saw him read over 3500 books according to the list he kept since 1935.[10]

He studied medicine at St. Andrews University in Scotland, and at McGill University in Montreal, receiving a BSc in 1942 and a degree in medicine in 1943, graduating top of his class.[4]

Early career

Following graduation, Stevenson took a series of jobs in hospitals as an intern or resident, before embarking on research at Tulane University focusing on biochemical tissue oxidation. He became interested in finding explanations for psychosomatic illnesses and in the late 1940s he worked at New York Hospital as part of a team exploring psychosomatic medicine, a theme that persisted throughout his later research.[11] This work persuaded him that the reductionism of biochemistry rendered it inadequate as an explanatory tool, and he chose to pursue psychiatry over internal medicine.[3][11]

After training as a psychiatrist, Stevenson taught at Louisiana State University. In the 1950s, inspired by a meeting with Aldous Huxley, he was involved in the early medical study of the effects of LSD and mescaline. He tried LSD himself, describing three days of "perfect serenity" and commenting, "I could never be angry again. As it happens that didn't work out, but the memory of it persisted as something to hope for."[3]

In 1957, he was appointed head of the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Virginia. His early scientific research included psychosomatic illnesses, as well as writing textbooks on interviewing patients and psychiatric examinations.[12]

Research interests

Criticism of psychoanalysis

Early in his career Stevenson became a controversial figure amongst psychoanalysts. He opposed what he saw as the determinism of Sigmund Freud, arguing that there was little room for free will if a person's character was formed almost entirely by their experiences as an infant. His 1957 paper questioning whether personality was more plastic in childhood than adulthood provoked strong reactions from psychoanalysts.[13] He said later that the rejection of his views in these cases helped prepare him for the rejection he experienced with his work on paranormal phenomena.[12]

Interest in parapsychology

Stevenson came to see both behaviorism and psychoanalysis as unable to explain the formation of individual characteristics and personality. In the late 1950s, he reviewed "cases suggestive of reincarnation", and was impressed by certain similarities among published reports, particularly that a significant proportion of subjects were under the age of 10 when they apparently recalled past lives.[12] He started collecting and investigating cases of children who seemed to recall past lives, without using hypnosis. After publishing a paper on reincarnation in 1960, Stevenson was invited to travel to India and Sri Lanka by self-professed psychic and founder of the Parapsychology Foundation Eileen J. Garrett. The trip convinced him that the child cases were plentiful and impressive. Around the time of his first visits to India, inventor Chester Carlson began to offer financial support for his work,[11] and when Carlson died in 1968 he left $1 million to endow a Chair at the University of Virginia, and a further $1 million for Stevenson himself to continue his research into reincarnation.[3]

Division of Personality Studies

Carlson's bequest enabled Stevenson to set up the Division of Personality Studies at the University of Virginia, with the founding principle of conducting "scientific empirical investigation of phenomena that suggest that currently accepted scientific assumptions and theories about the nature of mind or consciousness, and its relationship to matter, may be incomplete."[14] It remains one of several academic departments in the world dedicated to the study of paranormal phenomena. It was later renamed The Division of Perceptual Studies (DOPS) with Stevenson appointed as Director.[4] Stevenson resisted efforts to have the word "parapsychology" used to describe his department and research, arguing that his work was distinct from parapsychology, and was an extension of his more mainstream psychiatric work.[12]

Reincarnation research
Main article: Reincarnation research

Stevenson traveled extensively to conduct field research into reincarnation and investigated cases in Africa, Alaska, Europe, India and both North and South America, logging around 55,000 miles a year between 1966 and 1971.[3] He reported that the children he studied usually started to speak of their supposed past lives between the ages of two and four, then ceased to do so by seven or eight, with frequent mentions of having died a violent death, and what seemed to be clear memories of the manner of death.[3] After interviewing the children, their families, and others, Stevenson would attempt to identify if there had been a living person who satisfied the various claims and descriptions collected, and who had died prior to the child's birth.

Stevenson's research is associated with a 'minimalist' model of reincarnation that makes no religious claims. According to Robert Almeder, the central feature of this model is that "There is something essential to some human personalities, however we ultimately characterize it, which we cannot plausibly construe solely in terms of either brain states, or properties of brain states, or biological properties caused by the brain and, further, after biological death this non-reducible essential trait sometimes persists for some time, in some way, in some place, and for some reason or other, existing independently of the person's former brain and body. Moreover, after some time, some of these irreducible essential traits of human personality, for some reason or other, and by some mechanism or other, come to reside in other human bodies either some time during the gestation period, at birth, or shortly after birth."[15]

Stevenson believed the strongest cases he had collected in support of this model involved both testimony and physical evidence. In over 40 of these cases Stevenson gathered physical evidence relating to the often rare and unusual birthmarks and birth defects of children which he claimed matched wounds recorded in the medical or post-mortem records for the individual Stevenson identified as the past-life personality.[16]

The children in Stevenson's studies often behaved in ways he felt suggestive of a link to the previous life. These children would display emotions toward members of the previous family consistent with their claimed past life, e.g., deferring to a husband or bossing around a former younger brother or sister who by that time was actually much older than the child in question. Many of these children also displayed phillias and phobias associated to the manner of their death, with over half who described a violent death being fearful of associated devices. Many of the children also incorporated elements of their claimed previous occupation into their play, while others would act out their claimed death repeatedly.[17]

Tom Shroder said Stevenson's fieldwork technique was that of a detective or investigative reporter, searching for alternative explanations of the material he was offered. One boy in Beirut described being a 25-year-old mechanic who died after being hit by a speeding car on a beach road. Witnesses said the boy gave the name of the driver, as well as the names of his sisters, parents, and cousins, and the location of the crash. The details matched the life of a man who had died years before the child was born, and who was apparently unconnected to the child's family. In such cases, Stevenson sought alternative explanations—that the child had discovered the information in a normal way, that the witnesses were lying to him or to themselves, or that the case boiled down to coincidence. Shroder writes that, in scores of cases, no alternative explanation seemed to suffice.[4]

Stevenson argued that the 3,000 or so cases he studied supported the possibility of reincarnation, though he was always careful to refer to them as "cases suggestive of reincarnation," or "cases of the reincarnation type."[4] He also recognized a limitation, or what Paul Edwards calls the "modus operandi problem", namely the absence of evidence of a physical process by which a personality could survive death and travel to another body.[4] Against this, Robert Almeder argues that "you may not know how something occurs but have plenty of evidence that it occurs."[18][19][20] Recent work by Roger Penrose and Stuart Hameroff on quantum consciousness has been suggested as hinting at a possible mechanism for the persistence of consciousness after death.[21]

Reception

Stevenson’s conclusions gained little support from within the scientific community, although Eugene Brody has suggested many of them simply dismiss ideas like reincarnation.[7] While Stevenson published his research in peer-reviewed scientific journals, and three scientific commentators have stated that Stevenson rigorously followed the scientific method in conducting his research,[7][8][9] mainstream scientists "tended to ignore or dismiss his decades in the field and his many publications".[4]

In 1977 the Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease devoted most of one issue to Stevenson's work. In an editorial for that issue, psychiatrist Eugene Brody explained the decision to publish research that might normally be regarded as unscientific due to the "scientific and personal credibility of the authors, the legitimacy of their research methods, and the conformity of their reasoning to the usual canons of rational thought."[7] In the same issue psychiatrist Harold Lief wrote in a commentary: "Either [Stevenson] is making a colossal mistake, or he will be known ... as 'the Galileo of the 20th century'." More recently a review of Stevenson's European Cases of the Reincarnation Type described it as "an inspiring example of application of a painstaking protocol to sift facts from fancy."[22]

Stevenson's work has drawn criticism from skeptical groups and individuals such as The Skeptics Society[6] and Robert Todd Carroll, while philosopher Paul Edwards included a lengthy criticism of Stevenson's work in his book Reincarnation: A Critical Examination. In each of these critiques, the authors question both the methods used and the evidence gathered by Stevenson, and offer alternative, more mainstream, explanations for the types of cases Stevenson argued were suggestive of reincarnation. Philosopher Paul Kurtz, founder of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, has gone further and suggested Stevenson's reincarnation research is pseudoscience. By contrast, in his books Death and Personal Survival and Beyond Death: The Evidence for Life After Death, philosopher Robert Almeder endorsed Stevenson's research, rebutted most of Kurtz's objections, and concluded that the evidence he assembled argues strongly in favor of reincarnation, to the point of it being irrational to disbelieve that some people reincarnate.[20][23][24]

Stevenson’s work also attracted the attention of Carl Sagan and Arthur C. Clarke who, while intrigued, felt it fell short of providing proof of reincarnation, which they both viewed as unlikely. In The Demon-Haunted World (1996), Sagan wrote that claims about reincarnation have some experimental support, however dubious and inconclusive, further arguing that one of three claims in parapsychology deserving serious study is that, "young children sometimes report details of a previous life, which upon checking turn out to be accurate and which they could not have known about in any other way than reincarnation."[25] Clarke observed that Stevenson had produced a number of studies that were "hard to explain" conventionally, then noted that accepting reincarnation raised the question of the means for personality transfer.[26] Skeptic Sam Harris said of Stevenson "either he is a victim of truly elaborate fraud, or something interesting is going on."[27]

Retirement

After the 1984 death of his wife Octavia, Stevenson married Margaret Pertzoff in 1985. He retired in 2002, although the Department of Perceptual Studies continues his work.[14] Bruce Greyson has taken over as the Director while Jim B. Tucker, a child psychiatrist, is continuing Stevenson's reincarnation research with children, focusing on North American cases[28] and exploring possible mechanisms for personality transfer.[29]

Tucker said that toward the end of his life, Stevenson felt his long-stated goal of getting science to consider reincarnation as a possibility was not going to be realized in this lifetime.[4] According to his University of Virginia obituary, his greatest frustration was not that people dismissed his theories, but that in his opinion most did so without even reading the evidence he had assembled.[3][10] Stevenson died of pneumonia at the Blue Ridge Retirement community in Charlottesville, Virginia, on February 8, 2007.[4]

The locked cabinet

Nearly 40 years ago, Stevenson bought and set a combination lock on a filing cabinet in the Division of Perceptual Studies. He based the combination on a mnemonic device known only to him, possibly a word or a sentence.[1]

A colleague, Emily Williams Kelly, told The New York Times: "He did say, that if he found himself able, he would try to communicate that. Presumably, if someone had a vivid dream about him, in which there seemed to be a word or a phrase that kept being repeated—I don't quite know how it would work—if it seemed promising enough, we would try to open it using the combination suggested." As of February 2007, the Times reports, the filing cabinet remains locked.[1]

Bibliography

Books

Ian Stevenson authored or co-authored more than a dozen books. Stevenson died in 2007, and many of these books are mentioned in his obituaries in the British Medical Journal,[30] New York Times,[31] and the Washington Post.[32]

Early medical books

* Medical History-Taking, New York: Paul B. Hoeber, 1960.
* The Psychiatric Examination, Boston: Little, Brown, 1969.
* The Diagnostic Interview (2nd revised edition of Medical History-Taking), New York: Harper & Row, 1971.

Twenty Cases Suggestive of Reincarnation

* Twenty Cases Suggestive of Reincarnation, University of Virginia Press, ISBN 0813908728, 1966.
* Twenty Cases Suggestive of Reincarnation, (second revised and enlarged edition), University of Virginia Press, ISBN 9780813908724, 1974.
o This book includes detailed reports of 20 cases of children (from five different countries) who claimed to remember previous lives.[33]

Cases of the Reincarnation Type

* Cases of the Reincarnation Type Vol. I: Ten Cases in India, University of Virginia Press, 1975.
* Cases of the Reincarnation Type Vol. II: Ten Cases in Sri Lanka, University of Virginia Press, 1978.
* Cases of the Reincarnation Type Vol. III: Twelve Cases in Lebanon and Turkey, University of Virginia Press, 1980.
* Cases of the Reincarnation Type Vol. IV: Twelve Cases in Thailand and Burma, University of Virginia Press, 1983.

Birthmarks and birth defects

* Reincarnation and Biology: A Contribution to the Etiology of Birthmarks and Birth Defects Volume 1: Birthmarks and Reincarnation and Biology: A Contribution to the Etiology of Birthmarks and Birth Defects Volume 2: Birth Defects and Other Anomalies. (2 volumes), Praeger Publishers, ISBN 0-275-95282-7, 1997.
* Where Reincarnation and Biology Intersect. Praeger Publishers, ISBN 0-275-95282-7, 1997. (A short and non-technical version of Reincarnation and Biology, for the general reader)

Other books

* Children Who Remember Previous Lives: A Question of Reincarnation, (revised edition) ISBN 0-7864-0913-4, 2000, (A general non-technical introduction into Reincarnation research).
* European Cases of the Reincarnation Type. McFarland & Company, ISBN 0786414588, 2003.
* Telepathic Impressions: A Review and Report of 35 New Cases, University Press of Virginia, 1970.
* Unlearned Language: New Studies in Xenoglossy. University of Virginia Press, ISBN 0813909945, 1984.
* Xenoglossy: A Review and Report of A Case, University of Virginia Press, 1974.
* A World in a Grain of Sand: The Clairvoyance of Stefan Ossowiecki, ISBN 978-0-7864-2112-1, (with Mary Rose Barrington and Zofia Weaver), McFarland Press, 2005.

Selected articles

* Stevenson, I (1977). "The explanatory value of the idea of reincarnation". The Journal of nervous and mental disease 164 (5): 305–26. doi:10.1097/00005053-197705000-00002. PMID 864444.
* Stevenson, I (1983). "American children who claim to remember previous lives". The Journal of nervous and mental disease 171 (12): 742–8. doi:10.1097/00005053-198312000-00006. PMID 6644283.
* Stevenson, Ian (1985). "The Belief in Reincarnation Among the Igbo of Nigeria". Journal of Asian and African Studies 20: 13–30. doi:10.1177/002190968502000102. http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1G1-72763292.html.
* Stevenson, I. (1986). "Characteristics of Cases of the Reincarnation Type among the Igbo of Nigeria". Journal of Asian and African Studies 21: 204. doi:10.1177/002190968602100305.
* Stevenson, Ian (1993). "Birthmarks and Birth Defects Corresponding to Wounds on Deceased Persons". Journal of Scientific Exploration 7 (4): 403–10. http://www.scientificexploration.org/journal/jse_07_4_stevenson.pdf.
* Cook, Emily Williams; Greyson, Bruce; Stevenson, Ian (1998). "Do Any Near-Death Experiences Provide Evidence the Survival of Human Personality after Relevant Features and Illustrative Case Reports". Journal of Scientific Exploration 12 (3): 377–406. http://scientificexploration.org/journal/jse_12_3_cook.pdf.
* Stevenson, I (1999). "Past lives of twins". Lancet 353 (9161): 1359–60. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(05)74353-1. PMID 10218554.
* Stevenson, I (2000). "The phenomenon of claimed memories of previous lives: possible interpretations and importance". Medical Hypotheses 54 (4): 652–9. doi:10.1054/mehy.1999.0920. PMID 10859660.
* Stevenson, I (2001). "Ropelike birthmarks on children who claim to remember past lives". Psychological reports 89 (1): 142–4. doi:10.2466/PR0.89.5.142-144. PMID 11729534.
* Pasricha, Satwant K.; Keil, Jürgen; Tucker, Jim B.; Stevenson, Ian (2005). "Some Bodily Malformations Attributed to Previous Lives". Journal of Scientific Exploration 19 (3): 159–83. http://www.scientificexploration.org/journal/jse_19_3_pasricha.pdf.

References

1. ^ a b c d e Fox, Margalit. Ian Stevenson Dies at 88; Studied Claims of Past Lives, The New York Times, February 18, 2007.
2. ^ Stevenson, I (1977). "The explanatory value of the idea of reincarnation". The Journal of nervous and mental disease 164 (5): 305–26. doi:10.1097/00005053-197705000-00002. PMID 864444.
3. ^ a b c d e f g Professor Ian Stevenson, The Daily Telegraph, February 12, 2007.
4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Shroder, Tom. Ian Stevenson; Sought To Document Memories Of Past Lives in Children, The Washington Post, February 11, 2007.
5. ^ Kurtz P. (2006). "Two Sources of Unreason in Democratic Society: The paranormal and religion". Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 775: 493–504. doi:10.1111/j.1749-6632.1996.tb23166.x. http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/journal/119242621/abstract.
6. ^ a b c The Skeptic Encyclopedia of Pseudoscience by Michael Shermer & Pat Linse, 2002, ISBN 1576076539
7. ^ a b c d Brody, Eugene B. Research in Reincarnation and Editorial Responsibility: An Editorial, The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease. September, 1977.
8. ^ a b c Janice Hopkins Tanne. Obituaries: Ian Pretyman Stevenson, British Medical Journal. April 2, 2007.
9. ^ a b Lief, Harold. Commentary on Ian Stevenson’s "The Evidence of Man’s Survival After Death", The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease.
10. ^ a b Emily Williams Kelly. Ian Stevenson Obituary, University of Virginia Health System, February 2007.
11. ^ a b c Stevenson, Ian. Some of my journeys in medicine, The Flora Levy Lecture in the Humanities, 1989.
12. ^ a b c d Stevenson, Ian (2006). "Half A Career With the Paranormal". Journal of Scientific Exploration 20 (1): 13–21. http://www.healthsystem.virginia.edu/internet/personalitystudies/Stevenson.pdf.
13. ^ Stevenson, I. (1957). "Is the human personality more plastic in infancy and childhood?". American Journal of Psychiatry 114 (2): 152–161. PMID 13444481.
14. ^ a b History and description, Division of Perceptual Studies, University of Virginia.
15. ^ http://www.scientificexploration.org/journal/jse_11_4_almeder.pdf
16. ^ Stevenson, Ian (1992). Birthmarks and Birth Defects Corresponding to Wounds on Deceased Persons, paper presented at the Eleventh Annual Meeting of the Society for Scientific Exploration, Princeton University, June 11–13, 1992.
17. ^ Reincarnation. JIM B. TUCKER. Macmillan Encyclopedia of Death and Dying. Ed. Robert Kastenbaum. Vol. 2. New York: Macmillan Reference USA, 2002. p705-710. 2 vols. p.707
18. ^ Beyond Death: The Evidence for Life After Death. Springfield, Ill.: Charles C Thomas, (1987) Translated into Japanese (1991).
19. ^ Death and Personal Survival. Lanham, Md.: Rowman and Littlefield, (Spring 1992), 291 pages.
20. ^ a b "Almeder interview". http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hZhMDU9GcVg.
21. ^ Bosveld, Jane (2007-06-12). "Soul Search | Mind & Brain". DISCOVER Magazine. http://discovermagazine.com/2007/jun/soul-search/article_view?b_start:int=2&-C=. Retrieved 2010-10-02.
22. ^ Cadoret, R., Review of European Cases of the Reincarnation Type. American Journal of Psychiatry. Vol 162(4) Apr 2005, 823-824.
23. ^ Robert F. Almeder. Death and personal survival, Rowman and Littlefield, 1992, p.82.
24. ^ Beyond Death: The Evidence for Life After Death. Springfield, Ill.: Charles C Thomas, (l987) Translated into Japanese (l991).
25. ^ Sagan, Carl. The Demon-Haunted World, Random House, 1997, p. 302; also see Butziger, R. (2006). "A Scientific Look at Reincarnation", PsycCRITIQUES, 51(22), May 31, 2006, p. 282.
26. ^ Council for Secular Humanism (2004-02-13). "A Chat With Arthur C. Clarke". Secularhumanism.org. http://www.secularhumanism.org/library/fi/clarke_19_2.html. Retrieved 2010-10-02.
27. ^ AlterNet / By John Gorenfeld (2007-01-05). "Sam Harris's Faith in Eastern Spirituality and Muslim Torture". AlterNet. http://www.alternet.org/story/46196/. Retrieved 2010-10-02.
28. ^ Division Staff, Division of Perceptual Studies, University of Virginia.
29. ^ Tucker JB. Life Before Life: A Scientific Investigation of Children's Memories of Previous Lives New York: St. Martin's Press, 2005, 256pp. ISBN 0-312-32137-
30. ^ Ian Pretyman Stevenson: Psychiatrist who researched reincarnation with scientific rigour British Medical Journal 2007, 334(7595):700 (31 March).
31. ^ Margalit Fox. Ian Stevenson Dies at 88; Studied Claims of Past Lives New York Times, February 18, 2007.
32. ^ Tom Shroder. Ian Stevenson; Sought To Document Memories Of Past Lives in Children Washington Post, February 11, 2007.
33. ^ Edward F. Kelly, Emily Williams Kelly (2007). Irreducible mind: toward a psychology for the 21st century p. 650.

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MessaggioOggetto: Re: Ian Stevenson - I ricordi dei bambini   Mar 26 Apr 2011 - 13:23

FONTE: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reincarnation_research

Reincarnation research
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Reincarnation research is a branch of parapsychology. Psychiatrist Ian Stevenson, from the University of Virginia, investigated many reports of young children who claimed to remember a past life. He conducted more than 2,500 case studies over a period of 40 years and published twelve books, including Twenty Cases Suggestive of Reincarnation and Where Reincarnation and Biology Intersect. Stevenson retired in 2002, and psychiatrist Jim B. Tucker took over his work and wrote Life Before Life.

University of Virginia

Several researchers are examining cases of early childhood past life memories and birthmarks at the University of Virginia Division of Perceptual Studies in the School of Medicine. Two of the best known researchers at Virginia are the psychiatrists Jim B. Tucker and Ian Stevenson and between them they have published many books and dozens of research papers in peer-reviewed journals.[1]


Children's memories

Ian Stevenson, a Canadian biochemist and professor of psychiatry, investigated many reports of young children who claimed to remember a past life with events that occurred during a previous life, ultimately conducting more than 2,500 case studies over the course of his lifetime and publishing twelve books. Stevenson undertook reincarnation research throughout the world, including North and South America, Europe, Africa and Asia.[2]

According to Stevenson, childhood memories ostensibly related to reincarnation normally occur between the ages of three and seven years then fade shortly afterwards. He compared the memories with reports of people known to the deceased, attempting to do so before any contact between the child and the deceased's family had occurred.[3]

Many of Stevenson's subjects displayed skills and interests which seem to represent a continuation of skills and interests developed in the claimed previous life.[4] Stevenson found that the vast majority of cases investigated involved people who had met some sort of violent or untimely death.[3][5]

In a fairly typical case, a boy in Beirut spoke of being a 25-year-old mechanic, thrown to his death from a speeding car on a beach road. According to multiple witnesses, the boy provided the name of the driver, the exact location of the crash, the names of the mechanic's sisters and parents and cousins, and the people he went hunting with — all of which turned out to match the life of a man who had died several years before the boy was born, and who had no apparent connection to the boy's family.[6]

Another case involved an Indian boy, Gopal, who at the age of three started talking about his previous life in the city of Mathura, 160 miles from his home in Delhi. He claimed that he had owned a medical company called Sukh Shancharak, lived in a large house with many servants, and that his brother had shot him after a quarrel. Subsequent investigations revealed that one of the owners of Sukh Shancharak had shot his brother some eight years before Gopal's birth. The deceased man was named Shaktipal Shara. Gopal was subsequently invited to Mathura by Shaktipal's family, where the young child recognised various people and places known to Shaktipal. The family was particularly impressed by Gopal's mention of Shaktipal's attempts to borrow money, and how this had led to the shooting — information that was known only to the family.[7]

In interviewing witnesses and reviewing documents, Ian Stevenson searched for alternate ways to account for the testimony: that the child came upon the information in some normal way, that the witnesses were engaged in fraud or self-delusion, that the correlations were the result of coincidence or misunderstanding. But in scores of cases, Stevenson concluded that no normal explanation sufficed.[6]


Corresponding birthmarks


Some 35 per cent of the subjects examined by Stevenson had birthmarks or birth defects. Stevenson reported that in the majority of these cases "the subject's marks or defects correspond to injuries or illness experienced by the deceased person who the subject remembers; and medical documents have confirmed this correspondence in more than forty cases".[8] Many of the birthmarks are not just small discolourations. They are "often unusual in shape or size and are often puckered or raised rather than simply being flat. Some can be quite dramatic and unusual in appearance."[9] Stevenson believed that the existence of birth marks and deformities on children, when they occurred at the location of fatal wounds in the deceased, provided the best evidence for reincarnation.[5] Stevenson's major work in the area of birthmarks is Reincarnation and Biology: A Contribution to the Etiology of Birthmarks and Birth Defects (Praeger, 1997), at 2,268 pages.[10]

Stevenson's conclusions and reception

Stevenson never claimed that he had proved the existence of reincarnation, and cautiously referred to his cases as being "of the reincarnation type" or "suggestive of reincarnation".[11] He concluded that "reincarnation is the best — even though not the only — explanation for the stronger cases we have investigated".[12]

Stevenson's work has received a mixed response. In 1977, the Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease devoted most of one issue to Stevenson's work and the journal's editor described Stevenson as "a methodical, careful, even cautious investigator."[6] His methodology was criticized for providing no conclusive evidence for the existence of past lives.[13] In a book review criticizing one of Stevensons' books, the reviewer raised the concern that many of Stevenson's examples were gathered in cultures with pre-existing belief in reincarnation.[14] In order to address this type of concern, Stevenson wrote European Cases of the Reincarnation Type (2003) which presented 40 cases he examined in Europe.[15] Stevenson's obituary in the New York Times stated:[10]

Spurned by most academic scientists, Dr. Stevenson was to his supporters a misunderstood genius, bravely pushing the boundaries of science. To his detractors, he was earnest, dogged but ultimately misguided, led astray by gullibility, wishful thinking and a tendency to see science where others saw superstition.

Deducing from this research the conclusion that reincarnation is a proven fact has been listed as an example of pseudoscience by skeptics.[16] There is no evidence of a physical process by which a personality could survive death and travel to another body,[17] and researchers such as Stevenson recognize this limitation.[6]

Stevenson's research was the subject of Tom Shroder's Old Souls: The Scientific Evidence for Past Lives (1999) and Jim B. Tucker's Life Before Life: A Scientific Investigation of Children's Memories of Previous Lives (2005). Psychiatrist Jim Tucker took over Stevenson's work on his retirement in 2002.

References

1. ^ University of Virginia, Division of Perceptual Studies, Books and Articles by Division Staff
2. ^ Cordón LA (2005). Popular psychology: an encyclopedia. Westport, Conn: Greenwood Press. pp. 183–5. ISBN 0-313-32457-3.
3. ^ a b Tucker, Jim (2005). Life before life: a scientific investigation of children's memories of previous lives. New York: St. Martin's Press. ISBN 0-312-32137-6.
4. ^ Douglas M. Stokes (1997). The Nature of Mind, McFarland & Company, p. 190.
5. ^ a b Cadoret, R (2005). "Book Forum: Ethics, Values, and Religion - European Cases of the Reincarnation Type". The American Journal of Psychiatry 162 (4): 823–4. doi:10.1176/appi.ajp.162.4.823. http://ajp.psychiatryonline.org/cgi/content/full/162/4/823.
6. ^ a b c d Shroder, T (2007-02-11). "Ian Stevenson; Sought To Document Memories Of Past Lives in Children". The Washington Post. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/02/10/AR2007021001393.html?nav=hcmodule.
7. ^ Professor Ian Stevenson The Telegraph, 12 February 2007.
8. ^ Jane Henry (2005). Parapsychology: research on exceptional experiences Routledge, p. 224.
9. ^ Tucker, 2005, p.10
10. ^ a b Margalit Fox (February 18, 2007). "Ian Pretyman Stevenson, 88; Studied Claims of Past Lives". New York Times. http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9C02E4DD153EF93BA25751C0A9619C8B63&sec=&spon=&pagewanted=all.
11. ^ Harvey J. Irwin (2004). An introduction to parapsychology McFarland, p. 218.
12. ^ Jim B. Tucker (2005). Life Before Life: A scientific Investigation of Children's Memories of Previous Lives, St. Martin's Press, New York, p. 211.
13. ^ Edelmann, J.; Bernet, W. (2007). "Setting Criteria for Ideal Reincarnation Research". Journal of Consciousness Studies 14 (12): 92. http://www.imprint.co.uk/pdf/Edelman.pdf.
14. ^ Rockley, R (2002-11-01). "Book Review: Children who remember previous lives, A question of reincarnation, Ian Stevenson". Skeptic Report. http://skepticreport.com/sr/?p=482. Retrieved 2010-03-01.
15. ^ K. Farcnik. European Cases of the Reincarnation Type, Journal of Psychosomatic Research, Volume 57, Issue 5, November 2004, 505-506.
16. ^ Kurtz P. (2006). "Two Sources of Unreason in Democratic Society: The paranormal and religion". Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 775 (1 Phagocytes): 493–504. doi:10.1111/j.1749-6632.1996.tb23166.x. http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/journal/119242621/abstract.
17. ^ Beyerstein, B (1999). A Cogent Consideration of the Case for Karma (and Reincarnation). 23. http://www.csicop.org/si/show/a_cogent_consideration_of_the_case_for_karma_and_reincarnation/. Retrieved 2010-03-01.

Bibliography

* Edwards, Paul. (2001). Reincarnation: A Critical Examination, ISBN 1-57392-921-2
* Keil H.H.J., and Tucker J.B. (2000). "An unusual birthmark case thought to be linked to a person who had previously died', Psychological Reports, 87:1067-1074.
* Pasricha, S.K., Keil, J., Tucker, J.B. and I. Stevenson, (2005). "Some Bodily Malformations Attributed to Previous Lives", Journal of Scientific Exploration, 19(3):359-383.
* Ramster, Peter. (1990). In Search of Lives Past, ISBN 0-646-00021-7
* Rivus, Titus. (2003). "Three Cases of the Reincarnation Type in the Netherlands", Journal of Scientific Exploration, 17(3): 527-532.
* Roach, Mary. (2005). Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife. ISBN 0-393-05962-6
* Stevenson, Ian (1974). Twenty Cases Suggestive of Reincarnation, second (revised and enlarged) edition, University of Virginia Press, ISBN 9780813908724
* Stevenson, Ian. (1993)."Birthmarks and Birth Defects Corresponding to Wounds on Deceased Persons", Journal of Scientific Exploration, 7:403-410.
* Stevenson, Ian. (1997). Reincarnation and Biology: A Contribution to the Etiology of Birthmarks and Birth Defects ISBN 0-275-95283-5
* Stevenson, Ian. (1997). Where Reincarnation and Biology Intersect. Praeger Publishers, ISBN 0-275-95282-7 . (A short and non-technical version of the scientific two-volumes work above, for the general reader)
* Stevenson, Ian. (2000). Children Who Remember Previous Lives: A Question of Reincarnation, revised edition (This is a text aimed mainly at an undergraduate audience.) ISBN 0-7864-0913-4
* Tucker, Jim B. (2005). Life Before Life: A Scientific Investigation of Children's Memories of Previous Lives, ISBN 0-312-32137-6
* Tucker J.B. (2000). "A scale to measure the strength of children's claims of previous lives: methodology and initial findings", Journal of Scientific Exploration, 14(4):571-581.
* Van Lommel, Pim. (2001). "Near-death experience in survivors of cardiac arrest: a prospective study in the Netherlands", The Lancet, 358: 2039-45.
* Williams-Cook, Emily, Bruce Greyson, and Ian Stevenson. (1998). "Do Any Near-Death Experiences Provide Evidence for the Survival of Human Personality after Death? Relevant Features and Illustrative Case Reports" Journal of Scientific Exploration, 12(3): 377-406.


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