The Principal Reincarnation Researchers

Erlendur Haraldsson, Ph.D.


Erlendur Haraldsson, Professor Emeritus at the University of Iceland, is one of the most experienced field workers in parapsychology today. He was born on November 3, 1931, near Reykjavik, Iceland. He studied philosophy at the graduate level at the Universities of Copenhagen (Denmark), Edinburgh (Scotland) and Freiburg (Germany), then travelled in Asia for several years, supporting himself as a journalist. In 1963 he returned to the University of Freiburg to begin studies in psychology and in 1969 earned his Diploma in Psychology.

Haraldsson (a patronymic and not properly a surname, although it is treated that way in academic writing) elected to pursue parapsychology for his doctorate. He spent the 1969-1970 academic year as Visiting Research Fellow at the Institute for Parapsychology of the Foundation for Research on the Nature of Man (FRNM), the precursor of the Rhine Research Center, in Durham, North Carolina. There he conducted the experiments that formed the basis of his doctoral dissertation, which he wrote up the following year at the University of Virginia, where he did an Internship in Clinical Psychology with Ian Stevenson. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Freiburg in February, 1972.

Haraldsson worked as Research Associate for the American Society for Psychical Research (ASPR) from early 1972 to the end of 1973 and accompanied Karlis Osis, Research Director at the ASPR, to India for a survey of deathbed visions reported to doctors and nurses. He and Osis wrote about their study in At the Hour of Death: A New Look at Evidence for Life After Death, which has been translated into several languages and reprinted in twenty editions. He began teaching at the University of Iceland in 1973, advancing to Professor of Psychology in 1989. He retired in 1999.

Haraldsson’s teaching duties did not keep him from an active research career. He returned to India to collect accounts of  psychic “miracles” associated with Indian holy man Sathya Sai Baba. Modern Miracles: The Story of Sathya Sai Baba: A Modern Day Prophet is now in an enlarged second edition. Haraldsson has investigated several Icelandic mediums, some with Stevenson (Haraldsson & Stevenson, 1975a; Haraldsson & Stevenson, 1975b). He has also conducted surveys of apparitions in Iceland, following them up with field investigations, as described in his most recent book, The Departed Among the Living: An Investigative Study of Afterlife Encounters.

Haraldsson became concerned with children who seem to remember previous lives in 1988, when Stevenson provided funds for three investigators to “replicate” his research by studying cases similar to those he had been reporting. Haraldsson reported his findings in a solo paper (Haraldsson, 1991) and in a joint publication with the other two participants in the project, Antonia Mills and Jürgen Keil (Mills, Haraldsson, & Keil, 1994). Like Mills and Keil, Haraldsson has continued to investigate children’s past-life memory cases, in Sri Lanka and among the Lebanese Druze. His most significant contribution has been a series of psychological tests with the children, comparing them to their peers without past-life memories in matched control groups (Haraldsson, 1995, 1997, 2003; Haraldsson, Fowler, & Periyannanpillai, 2000). In follow-up studies he found that many more subjects than previously believed retained some memories into middle adulthood (Haraldsson, 2008; Haraldsson & Abu-Izzeddin, 2012).

Haraldsson’s many journal publications are available for download from his web site, https://notendur.hi.is/~erlendur/. Those pertaining to reincarnation are listed below.


Personal communication from Erlendur Haraldsson


Pilkington, R. (2013). Men and Women of Parapsychology, Personal Reflections (Esprit Vol. 2) (pp. 161-173). San Antonia and New York: Anomalist Books.

Publications on Reincarnation

Haraldsson, E. (1991). Children claiming past life memories: Four cases in Sri Lanka. Journal of Scientific Exploration, 5, 233-262.

Haraldsson, E. (1995). Personality and abilities of children claiming previous-life memories. Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 183, 445-551.

Haraldsson, E. (1997). A psychological comparison between ordinary children and those who claim previous-life memories. Journal of Scientific Exploration, 11, 323-335.

Haraldsson, E. (2000a). Birthmarks and claims of previous-life memories. I: The Case of Purnima Ekanayake. Journal of the Society for Psychical Research, 64, 16-25.

Haraldsson, E. (2000b). Birthmarks and claims of previous-life memories. II: The Case of Chatura Kanuraratne. Journal of the Society for Psychical Research, 64, 82-92.

Haraldsson, E. (2003). Children who speak of a past life experience: Is there a psychological explanation? Psychology and Psychotherapy, 76, 55-67.

Haraldsson, E. (2005). West- and East-Europeans and their belief in reincarnation and life after death. Network, No. 87, 22-24.

Haraldsson, E. (2008) Persistence of past-life memories: Study of adults who claimed in their childhood to remember a past life. Journal of Scientific Exploration, 19, 385-393.

Haraldsson, E. (2012a). Cases of the reincarnation type and the mind-brain relationship. In A. Moreira-Almeida & F. S. Santos (Eds.), Exploring Frontiers of the Mind-Brain Relationship (pp. 215-231). New York: Springer.

Haraldsson, E., & Abu-Izzeddin, M. (2004). Three randomly selected Lebanese cases of children who claim memories of a previous life. Journal of the Society for Psychical Research, 68(2), 65-85.

Haraldsson, E., & Abu-Izzeddin, M. (2012). Persistence of ‘‘past-life’’ memories in adults who, in their childhood, claimed memories of a past life. Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 200, 985-989.

Haraldsson, E., Fowler, P. C., & Periyannanpillai, V. (2000). Psychological characteristics of children who speak of a previous life: A further field study in Sri Lanka. Transcultural Psychiatry, 37, 525-544.

Haraldsson, E., & Samararatne, G. (1999). Children who speak of a previous life as a Buddhist monk: Three new cases. Journal of the Society for Psychical Research, 63, 268-291.

Mills, A., Haraldsson, E., & Keil, H. H. J. (1994). Replication studies of cases suggestive of reincarnation by three independent investigators. Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research, 88, 207-219.

Stevenson, I., & Haraldsson, E. (2003). The similarity of features of reincarnation type cases over many years: A third study. Journal of Scientific Exploration, 17, 283–289.

Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Delicious
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS

Leave a Reply