Stevenson

The Principal Reincarnation Researchers

Ian Stevenson, M. D.

Ian_Stevenson (2)b

Ian Pretyman Stevenson (1918-2007) was born in Montreal, Quebec. His father was a Scottish political journalist, his mother a devotee of Theosophy. Stevenson began his studies in history in Edinburgh, Scotland, but his interests shifted and he enrolled in medicine at McGill University in Montreal. He received his M.D. degree from McGill in 1943 and accepted a succession of positions in the United States before being appointed Chairman of the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Virginia in 1957, when he was 39.

By the time he reached UVA, Stevenson had made significant contributions in several different areas. At the start of his medical career he did experiments on the oxidation of rat kidneys, an experience that turned him against reductionism. He moved into psychosomatic medicine, but when that field failed to develop into a regular specialty, took up psychiatry. Psychiatry was then (in the 1950s) dominated by psychoanalysis, which was not to his liking, however. He rejected the Freudian dogma that the human personality becomes fixed in early childhood and faulted Freud’s failure to test his ideas about sexuality. He began to read extensively in psychical research, finding in that field a more congenial approach to the human experience, and changed direction once again.

Stevenson became a charter member of the Parapsychological Association when it was formed in 1957 and served as its President in 1968 and 1980. He was elected President of the Society for Psychical Research for the 1988-1989 term and was a member of the Board of Trustees of the American Society for Psychical Research for many years. His interests in parapsychology were very broad, as Emily Kelly shows in a recent collection of his writings, Science, the Self, and Survival after Death: Selected Writings of Ian Stevenson. He was drawn to extra-sensory communications and phenomena suggestive of survival and reincarnation because, if these processes could be established, they would demonstrate that human beings were more than their physical bodies. He came to specialize in postmortem survival and reincarnation because he realized that that they posed an especially keen challenge to materialistic assumptions. Reincarnation might help to explain, among other things, the origins of individual differences and why a given person developed a given disease, one of the “leitmotif” questions of his career.

Nonetheless, it was almost by accident that he came to concentrate on the reincarnation studies that were to make him world-famous. In the 1950s, he began to collect accounts of children who claimed to recall previous lives from whatever source he came across and in 1960 published a paper in the Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research entitled The Evidence for Survival from Claimed Memories of Former Incarnations, in which he reported having found 44 cases in which the previous person had been identified. In 28 of these cases, the children had made six or more statements about the previous lives that proved to be correct. This paper attracted wide attention, including from Eileen Garrett of the Parapsychology Foundation who not only sent him a lead to his first case, but provided funds to investigate it in India. The paper was also noticed by Chester Carlson, the multi-millionaire inventor of the xerographic process, who underwrote later trips. This research resulted in Twenty Cases Suggestive of Reincarnation, published in the Proceedings of the American Society for Psychical Research in 1966 with an updated second edition by the University Press of Virginia in 1974.

In 1964, Carlson donated funds to the University of Virginia to endow a Chair for Stevenson, and in 1967 he resigned as Chairman of the Department of Psychiatry and set up a Division of Parapsychology, later Division of Personality Studies, now Division of Perceptual Studies (DOPS), within the Department. When Carlson died in 1968, he left the University of Virginia a $1 million bequest to support the furtherance of Stevenson's work. Four volumes under the general heading of Cases of the Reincarnation Type followed. The cases reported in these books were from India, Sri Lanka, Burma, Thailand, Lebanon and Turkey. In 2003 Stevenson published a volume of European cases, European Cases of the Reincarnation Type. Meanwhile he had spent years investigating cases with birthmarks and birth defects, the subject of a two-volume, 2,268-page study, Reincarnation and Biology, synopsized in the single-volume Where Reincarnation and Biology Intersect. Although Stevenson preferred spontaneous past-life memories, he studied two hypnotic regression cases that gave some evidence of the use of language unlearned in the present life, a phenomenon he dubbed xenoglossy (Xenoglossy: A review and report of a case; Unlearned Language: New Studies in Xenoglossy). He published numerous journal papers as well as books and in 1987 summarized his research in Children Who Remember Previous Lives: A Question of Reincarnation, re-issued in a revised edition in 2001.

Stevenson’s work on reincarnation was controversial from the start. Although he pitched his work toward a medical and scientific audience, it was in the popular sphere that he made the earliest impact. His work was treated in critical popular books by writers Ian Wilson (1981) and D. Scott Rogo (1985/2005) and by skeptical philosopher Paul Edwards in his 1996 Reincarnation: A Critical Examination. The first sympathetic academic review was my Past Life Memory Case Studies, in 1990. After 1990, the reception of Stevenson’s work began to change, partly because he succeeded in attracting other field investigators who were able to study cases similar to his, confirming his findings. These investigators include Antonia Mills, Erlendur Haraldsson, Jürgen Keil, and Jim B. Tucker, in addition to Satwant Pasricha, whom he had trained initially to help him as an interpreter in the field. The Brazilian Hernani Andrade had investigated cases a few years before, but because he published in Portuguese, his work has never become well known in the English-speaking world.

In the later 1990s, Stevenson allowed Washington Post writer Tom Shroder to accompany him on trips to India, Lebanon and the southeastern United States, as Shroder described in his 1999 book Old Souls: Compelling Evidence from Children Who Remember Past Lives. In 2005 Jim Tucker, Stevenson’s successor at UVA, provided an updated overview of the Stevenson group’s research in Life Before Life: Children's Memories of Previous Lives. Tucker has recently contributed a volume of his own cases, Return to Life: Extraordinary Cases of Children Who Remember Past Lives.

Stevenson’s books and a selection of his journal publications on reincarnation are listed below. Many of his other journal publications, including ones on mediumship and near-death experiences, are available through the DOPS web site.

Sources

http://www.near-death.com/experiences/reincarnation01.html

Kelly, E. W. (Ed.) (2013). Science, the Self, and Survival after Death: Selected Writings of Ian Stevenson. Rowman and Littlefield.

Matlock, J. G. (2011). Ian Stevenson's Twenty Cases Suggestive of Reincarnation: An Historical Review and Assessment. Journal of Scientific Exploration, 25, 789–820.

Stevenson, I. (1989). Some of my journeys in medicine. The Flora Levy Lecture in the Humanities. Lafayette, LA: University of Southwestern Louisiana.

Stevenson, I. (2006). Half a career with the paranormal. Journal of Scientific Exploration, 20, 13–21.

Tucker, J. B. (2008). Ian Stevenson and cases of the reincarnation type. Journal of Scientific Exploration, 22, 36–43.

Publications on Reincarnation

Books

Stevenson, I. (1974). Twenty Cases Suggestive of Reincarnation: Second Edition, Revised and Enlarged. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia.

Stevenson, I. (1974). Xenoglossy: A Review and Report of a Case. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia.

Stevenson, I. (1975). Cases of the Reincarnation Type, Volume 1: Ten Cases in India. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia.

Stevenson, I. (1977). Cases of the Reincarnation Type. Volume II: 10 Cases in Sri Lanka. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia.

Stevenson, I. (1980). Cases of the Reincarnation Type, Volume III: Twelve Cases in Lebanon and Turkey. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia.

Stevenson, I. (1983). Cases of the Reincarnation Type: Volume IV ,Twelve Cases in Thailand and Burma. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia.

Stevenson, I. (1984). Unlearned Language: New Studies in Xenoglossy. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia.

Stevenson, I. (1997). Reincarnation and Biology: A Contribution to the Etiology of Birthmarks and Birth Defects Volume 1: Birthmarks. Westport, CT: Praeger.

Stevenson, I. (1997). Reincarnation and Biology: A Contribution to the Etiology of Birthmarks and Birth Defects Volume 2: Birth Defects and Other Anomalies. Westport, CT: Praeger.

Stevenson, I. (1997). Where Reincarnation and Biology Intersect. Westport, CT: Praeger.

Stevenson, I. (2001). Children Who Remember Previous Lives: A Question of Reincarnation (rev. ed.). Jefferson, NC: McFarland.

Stevenson, I. (2003). European Cases of the Reincarnation Type. Jefferson, NC: McFarland.

Select Journal Papers and Short Pieces

Chadha, N. K., & Stevenson, I. (1988). Two correlates of violent death in cases of the reincarnation type.  Journal of the Society for Psychical Research, 55, 71-79.

Cook, E. W., Pasricha, S., Samararatne, G., Maung U W., & Stevenson, I. (1983). A review and analysis of “unsolved” cases of the reincarnation type. I: Introduction and illustrative case reports. Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research, 77, 45-62.

Cook, E. W., Pasricha, S., Samararatne, G., Maung U W., & Stevenson, I. (1983). A review and analysis of “unsolved” cases of the reincarnation type. II: Comparison of features of solved and unsolved cases. Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research, 77, 115-135.

Keil, [H. H.] J., & Stevenson, I. (1999). Do cases of the reincarnation type show similar features over many years? A study of Turkish cases a generation apart. Journal of Scientific Exploration 13(2), 189-198.

Pasricha, S. K., Keil, [H. H.] J., Tucker, J. B., & Stevenson, I. (2005). Some bodily malformations attributed to previous lives. Journal of Scientific Exploration, 19, 359-383.

Pasricha, S. [K.], & Stevenson, I. (1977). Three cases of the reincarnation type in India. Indian Journal of Psychiatry, 19, 36-42.

Pasricha, S. [K.], & Stevenson, I. (1979). A partly independent replication of investigations of cases suggestive of reincarnation. European Journal of Parapsychology, 3, 51-69.

Pasricha, S. [K.], & Stevenson, I. (1987). Indian cases of the reincarnation type two generations apart. Journal of the Society for Psychical Research, 54, 239-246.

Schouten, S., & Stevenson, I. (1998). Does the socio-psychological hypothesis explain cases of the reincarnation type? Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 186, 504-506.

Stevenson, I. (1960). The evidence for survival from claimed memories of former incarnations. Part I. Review of the data. Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research, 54, 51-71.

Stevenson, !. (1960). The evidence for survival from claimed memories of former incarnations. Part II. Analysis of the data and suggestions for further research. Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research, 54, 95-117.

Stevenson, I. (1962). Comments on ‘Parapsychology and “reincarnation”’ by Professor C. T. K. Chari. Indian Journal of Parapsychology, 3, 22-26.

Stevenson, I. (1966). Cultural patterns in cases suggestive of reincarnation among the Tlingit Indians of southeastern Alaska. Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research, 60, 229-243.

Stevenson, I. (1970). Characteristics of cases of the reincarnation type in Turkey and their comparison with cases of two other cultures. International Journal of Comparative Sociology, 11, 1-17.

Stevenson, I. (1971). The belief in reincarnation and related cases among the Eskimos of Alaska [abstract]. In W. G. Roll, R. L. Morris, & J. D. Morris (Eds.), Proceedings of the Parapsychological Association, Vol. 6, 1969 (pp. 53-55). Durham, NC: Parapsychological Association.

Stevenson, I. (1973). Carington’s psychon theory as applied to cases of the reincarnation type: A reply to Gardner Murphy. Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research, 67, 130-145.

Stevenson, I. (1973). Characteristics of cases of the reincarnation type in Ceylon. Contributions to Asian Studies, 3, 26-29.

Stevenson, I. (1974). Some questions related to cases of the reincarnation type. Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research, 68, 395-416.

Stevenson, I. (1975). The belief and cases related to reincarnation among the Haida. Journal of Anthropological Research, 31, 364-375.

Stevenson, I. (1977). The explanatory value of the idea of reincarnation. Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 164, 305-326.

Stevenson, I. (1977). The southeast Asian interpretation of gender dysphoria: An illustrative case report. Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 165, 201-208.

Stevenson, I. (1977). Reincarnation: Field studies and theoretical issues. In B. B. Wolman (Ed.), Handbook of Parapsychology (pp. 631-633). New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold.

Stevenson, I. (1979). The search for the less than perfect case of the reincarnation type. Journal of Indian Psychology, 2, 30-34.

Stevenson, I. (1980). A preliminary report on an unusual case of the reincarnation type with xenoglossy. Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research, 74, 331-348.

Stevenson, I. (1983). American children who claim to remember previous lives. Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 171, 742-748.

Stevenson, I. (1985). The belief in reincarnation among the Igbo of Nigeria. Journal of Asian and African Studies, 20, 13-30.

Stevenson, I. (1986). Characteristics of cases of the reincarnation type among the Igbo of Nigeria. Journal of Asian and African Studies, 21, 204-216.

Stevenson, I. (1990). Phobias in children who claim to remember previous lives. Journal of Scientific Exploration, 4, 243-254.

Stevenson, I. (1993). Birthmarks and birth defects corresponding to wounds on deceased persons. Journal of Scientific Exploration, 7, 403-410.

Stevenson, I. (1994). Guest commentary: A case of the psychotherapist’s fallacy: Hypnotic regression to “previous lives.” American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis, 36, 188–193.

Stevenson, I. (1999). Past lives of twins. Lancet, 353, 1359-1360.

Stevenson, I. (2000). The phenomenon of claimed memories of previous lives: Possible interpretations and importance. Medical Hypotheses, 54, 652-659.

Stevenson, I. (2000). Unusual play in young children who claim to remember previous lives.  Journal of Scientific Exploration, 14, 557–570.

Stevenson, I (2001). Ropelike birthmarks on children who claim to remember past lives. Psychological Reports, 89, 142-144.

Stevenson, I. (2006). Half a career with the paranormal. Journal of Scientific Exploration, 20, 13–21.

Stevenson, I., & Chadha, N. (1990). Can children be stopped from speaking about previous lives? Some further analyses of features in cases of the reincarnation type. Journal of the Society for Psychical Research, 56, 82-90.

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.

Stevenson, I., & Keil, [H. H.] J. (2000). The stability of assessments of paranormal connections in reincarnation cases. Journal of Scientific Exploration, 14, 365-382.

Stevenson, I., & Keil, [H. H.] J. (2005). Children of Myanmar who behave like Japanese soldiers: A possible third element in personality. Journal of Scientific Exploration, 19, 172-183.

Stevenson, I., & Pasricha, S. [K.] (1980). A preliminary report of an unusual case of the reincarnation type in with xenoglossy. Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research, 74, 331-348.

Stevenson, I., Pasricha, S. [K.], & McClean-Rice, N. (1989). A case of the possession type in India with evidence of paranormal knowledge. Journal of Scientific Exploration, 3, 81-101.

Stevenson, I., Pasricha, S. [K.], & Samararatne, G. (1988). Deception and self-deception in cases of the reincarnation type: Seven illustrative cases in Asia. Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research, 82, 1-31.

Stevenson, I., & Prasad, J. (1971). Preliminary investigations of the correspondences in Samskars (personality traits) of the present and previous personalities in cases of the reincarnation type in India [abstract]. In W. G. Roll, R. L. Morris, & J. D. Morris (Eds.), Proceedings of the Parapsychological Association, Vol. 6, 1969 (pp. 4-6). Durham, NC: Parapsychological Association.

Stevenson, I., & Samaratne, G. (1988). Three new cases of the reincarnation type in Sri Lanka with written records made before verification.  Journal of Scientific Exploration, 2, 217-238.

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