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Afterlife beliefs in Nordic countries. The European Values Survey explores national differences and similarities, also regarding religious beliefs which express popular assumptions regarding the nature of man and the ontological status of consciousness. These views differ radically from the dominant scientific view, also in academic psychology. The Nordic countries vary considerably in their beliefs in life after death and reincarnation with half of the respondents believing in life after death, and 43 percent of these believing in reincarnation which also goes against established views of the Christian Church. This shows independence from scientific as well as religious authorities. Is it a remnant of pre-Christian beliefs, due to exposure to Buddhist and Hindu concepts, or a sign of original independent thinking? Half a century of anti-religious regimes in Eastern Europe seems to have had no major effect on beliefs about personal survival, and the European Values Survey shows a widespread belief in reincarnation.
Reincarnation beliefs among the Druze Muslims in Israel. To gain an understanding of the psychosocial function of reincarnation among Druze, interviews were conducted with nine male subjects who had experienced reincarnation (Notq) and with one or two of their family members. Analysis of these interviews revealed that the onset of Notq typically occurs at between two and five years of age. Five of the subjects had displayed psychological distress in their childhood that was alleviated after the Notq. Once the child has displayed initial indications of reincarnation, such as mentioning names that the family construes as being from a past life, the family takes an active role in constructing the past-life story and matching it to a known real story involving a tragic death. This match creates a new order in the life of the child, the family, and the past-life family. All parties benefit from this new order: the child receives new special attention and love and becomes able to control and manipulate the parents; the parents are relieved because they see the child happy, and benefit from the social attention and regard they receive; and the grieving of the bereaved past-life family is alleviated by the realization that the soul of their lost son still lives.
A case study. In 1933 a 16-year-old well-educated Hungarian girl, Iris Farczády, who had dabbled extensively in mediumship, suddenly underwent a drastic personality change, claiming to be re-born Lucía, a 41-year-old Spanish working woman said by her to have died earlier that year. Transformed into 'Lucia', Iris spoke thereafter in fluent Spanish, a language she had apparently never learnt or had the opportunity to acquire, and could not understand any other language. Lucía has remained in control ever since and, now aged 86, she still considers Iris to have been a different person, who ceased to exist in 1933. The three authors of this paper met Lucia in 1998, and a camcorder cassette of interviews with her arc lodged with the SPR. Attempts have been made to locate Lucia's claimed Spanish family, but these have not been successful. While the reincarnation aspect of the case has not been supported, there remains the puzzle of how Iris acquired her knowledge of the Spanish language, customs and popular culture, and why Iris should have willed or submitted to her 'replacement' by Lucía.
Three cases of past-life memory. The more impressive cases of children who claim to remember a past life may get published with greater frequency than 'run of the mill' cases, giving readers a skewed impression of the phenomena. Thirty children who speak about a previous life were briefly interviewed for the purpose of a psychological study in Lebanon. Three children were randomly selected for a thorough investigation from a pool of 29 of these children (the case of one child had already been investigated). In one case a deceased person was identified whose circumstances in life closely resembled the child's statements. In another case no person adequately matching the child's statements was found, and checking the correctness of her statements was impossible due to practical reasons. In the third case the child's family was related to the alleged previous personality, which could have given the child and its parents ample opportunity to learn by normal means about the previous personality. In addition to the alleged memory aspect, some cases show perplexing psycho-physiological and behavioural features.
Psychology of past-life memories. Children who claim to remember fragments of a past life are found in some countries. Various explanations have been put forward as to why the alleged memories develop, ranging from reincarnation to 'therapeutic resource'. This study puts to the test the role of some psychological characteristics and the circumstances in which the children live, such as fantasy, suggestibility, social isolation, dissociation, and attention-seeking. Thirty children in Lebanon who had persistently spoken of past-life memories, and 30 comparison children, were administered relevant tests and questionnaires. The target group obtained higher scores for daydreaming, attention-seeking, and dissociation, but not for social isolation and suggestibility. The level of dissociation was much lower than in cases of multiple personality and not clinically relevant. There was some evidence of post-traumatic stress disorder-like symptoms. Eighty per cent of the children spoke of past-life memories of circumstances leading to a violent death (mostly accidents, also war-related deaths and murder).
Birthmarks related to past-life memories. Children who speak of memories of a previous life may explain birthmarks as related to wounds inflicted upon them in the former life. This article reports the case of a 9-yr-old girl in Sri Lanka who claimed to have been an incense-maker, and to have died in a traffic accident. After a location had been given an incense-maker was identified whose life corresponded to many of her statements. He had died in a traffic accident 2 yrs prior to her birth, and the post-mortem report revealed that wounds had been inflicted on him in the same area as her birthmarks.
Past-life memories in Sri Lanka. Examined characteristics of children in Sri Lanka who claimed memories of a previous life. Personality and psychological measures were administered to 27 pairs of 5.4-10.2 yr old children who did vs did not claim previous life memories. Questionnaires about their behavior, development, and family environment were administered to their parents. Results show that children claiming previous-life memories performed better in school than did their peers, and were not more suggestible. The Child Behavior Checklist revealed that children with previous-life memories exhibited more behavioral problems, including oppositional traits, and obsessional and perfectionistic characteristics. The Child Dissociation Checklist showed these children to have dissociative tendencies such as rapid changes in personality and frequent daydreaming. The structure of their family environment did not differ measurably from that of children not claiming memories of a previous life. The influence of belief in reincarnation and early religious education is discussed, as children speaking of a previous life have been found chiefly among Buddhist families.
An unusual birthmark case. Presents a case report describing a Burmese S with an unusual birthmark and birth defects thought by local people to be linked to events surrounding the death of his mother's first husband. The nature of the link is explored, including how the assumption of a linkage could have led to subsequent events.
Past-life memories of twins. Presents 3 case studies of pairs of monozygotic twins who remembered a previous life. In Case 1, Vinod remembered the life of a shepherd, and Pramod remembered the life of a fisherman; both perceived being friends. In Case 2, both the twins Narender and Surender Babu claimed they lived in a neighboring village in a previous life, as brothers. In Case 3, Indika and Kakshappa claimed no relationship in previous lives. Findings suggest that reincarnation theory can help explain differences and similarities in twins that cannot be explained by environmental and genetic factors.
Another case of birthmarks related to past-life memories. This case concerns a young boy in Sri Lanka who made several statements regarding a previous life, among them where he had lived and how he was killed when travelling in a truck through a forest. The boy associated two birthmarks with his claimed memories. His statements were recorded and published, and afterwards a person was found in the area whose circumstances had corresponded to the boy's statements. The birthmarks corresponded to the location of injuries of the person later identified as the previous personality.
Past-life memories as Buddhist monks. Presents 3 case studies of children in Sri Lanka claiming to have been a monk in a previous life. The verification process of statements made by Duminda Bandara Ratnayake (b. 1984) beginning at 3 yrs of age and confirmed by family members showed close resemblance to the biographical data of Gunnepana Saranankara (d. 1929), a senior monk of the Asgiriya Monastery who had owned a red car. A 2nd case is Sandika Tharanga (b. 1979), a child of Roman Catholic parents who exhibited many behaviors of monks. Gamage Ruvan Tharanga Perera (b. 1987) chanted stanzas in Pali at an early age; his memories bear close resemblances to the life of Ganihigama Pannasekhara
Can social psychology explain past-life memories? Applied the socio-psychological hypothesis (SPH) to the phenomenon of the recollection of experiences of past lives, called "cases of the reincarnation type" (CORT). The SPH assumes that a child who seems to speak about a previous life will be encouraged to say more. This leads the parents to find another family whose members come to believe that the child has been speaking about a deceased relative. The 2 families exchange information about details, and they end up crediting the subject with having more knowledge about the deceased person than really existed. Hence, based on the SPH, one would expect a lower percentage of correct statements in cases in which the statements were recorded before the families met (B) than in cases in which statements were recorded after the families met (A). All thoroughly investigated cases from India and Sri Lanka, for which the number of correct and incorrect statements were counted and recorded were used. This yielded a total of 21 B cases and 82 A cases. Contrary to expectation, B and A cases yielded approximately the equal percentages of correct statements and the average overall number of statements was lower for the A cases. Thus, the SPH alone seems unable to explain CORT.
Past-life memories involving other religions. Presents brief case reports for 3 children in India who claimed to remember previous lives that involved a change in religion from Hindu to Moslem or Moslem to Hindu. The children were 1 male and 1 female Moslem who remembered having been Hindus in a previous life, and a Hindu male who remembered having been a Moslem. Various normal and paranormal hypotheses are considered to explain the children's behaviors, but the author concludes that reincarnation seems best able to account for all the features.
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