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Twenty Cases Suggestive of Reincarnation  
Twnety Cases Suggestive of Reincarnation.jpg
Twenty Cases Suggestive of Reincarnation
Author Ian Stevenson
Original title Twenty Cases Suggestive of Reincarnation
Language English
Subject(s) Reincarnation
Publisher University Press of Virginia
Publication date 1966 (1st. ed.); 1974 (2nd. ed.)
Pages 396
ISBN 0-8139-0872-8
OCLC Number 7810141

Twenty Cases Suggestive of Reincarnation is a book written by psychiatrist Ian Stevenson on the phenomena of what he calls spontaneous recall of information about previous lives by young children. The book focuses on twenty cases investigated by the author.

Contents

General approach

Stevenson describes his general approach as following an "almost conventional pattern":

The case usually starts when a small child of two to four years of age begins talking to his parents or siblings of a life he led in another time and place. The child usually feels a considerable pull back toward the events of the life and he frequently importunes his parents to let him return to the community where he claims that he formerly lived. If the child makes enough particular statements about the previous life, the parents (usually reluctantly) begin inquiries about their accuracy. Often, indeed usually, such attempts at verification do not occur until several years after the child has begun to speak of the previous life. If some verification results, members of the two families visit each other and ask the child whether he recognizes places, objects, and people of his supposed previous existence.[1]

Stevenson set up a network of volunteers to find these spontaneous past life recall cases as soon as the children began to speak of them. He then would carefully question both the family of the living child and the family of the deceased to ensure that they had no contact and that no information would be passed between them. He would obtain detailed information about the deceased, including information not fully known to anyone involved such as details of the will, that he would use to verify that the child actually did know the information required.

Research methods

According to Stevenson, he personally and carefully vetted each of the cases mentioned to ensure that no other method of obtaining the information was possible for these children, including ensuring that the children were physically distant from the previous life described by them to rule out local knowledge being passed to the children and vetting them to ensure that their parents had never met nor had mutual friends who could have conveyed this information to the children.

The book also describes the interview process, which includes taking possessions from the dead person and requiring the children pick the objects out amongst a field of random objects. Stevenson reportedly required the children to do much better than chance.

The book also discusses various alternative hypotheses including fraud, information gained from others, extra-sensory perception, motivation and capacity of parents to deceive, and even spirit possession. In Stevenson's final conclusion, he writes that reincarnation stands as the best scientific hypothesis for explaining results presented.

Published results

Stevenson concluded that reincarnation was the "best possible explanation" for the following reasons:

  • The large number of witnesses and the lack of apparent motivation and opportunity, due to the vetting process, make the hypothesis of fraud extremely unlikely.
  • The large amount of information possessed by the child is not generally consistent with the hypothesis that the child obtained that information through investigated contact between the families.
  • Demonstration of similar personality characteristics and skills not learned in the current life and the lack of motivation for the long length of identification with a past life make the hypothesis of the child gaining his recollections and behavior through extra-sensory perception improbable.
  • When there is correlation between congenital deformities or birthmarks possessed by the child and the history of the previous individual, the hypothesis of random occurrence is improbable.

Criticism

In 1977, the Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease devoted most of one issue to Stevenson's work in which psychiatrist Harold Lief described Stevenson as "a methodical, careful, even cautious, investigator, whose personality is on the obsessive side...Either he is making a colossal mistake, or he will be known . . . as 'the Galileo of the 20th century." [2] Yet mainstream scientists ignored or dismissed Stevenson's research. Some questioned his objectivity, claimed he was credulous and suggested his investigations were flawed.[3] When philosopher Leonard Angel criticized one of the cases in Twenty Cases Suggestive of Reincarnation personally handled by Stevenson,[4] Stevenson published a rebuttal which argued the critique itself was flawed.[5]

Reviews

Reviews of Twenty Cases Suggestive of Reincarnation have been published in the American Journal of Psychiatry, British Journal of Psychiatry, British Journal of Medical Psychology, Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease and some other journals.[6]

See also

References

  1. ^ Interview with Dr. Ian Stevenson
  2. ^ Ian Stevenson; Sought To Document Memories Of Past Lives in Children
  3. ^ Ian Stevenson; Sought To Document Memories Of Past Lives in Children
  4. ^ Skeptical Inquirer: Empirical evidence for reincarnation? examining Stevenson's 'most impressive' case
  5. ^ Another Look at The Imad Elawar Case
  6. ^ See: American Journal of Psychiatry 124(1):128, 1967; British Journal of Psychiatry 113:?, June, 1967; British Journal of Medical Psychology 42:84-86, 1969; Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease 144(4):330-332, 1967; Bulletin of the Menninger Clinic 31(4):253, 1967; Medical Opinion and Review 3:69-73, 1967; Journal of Parapsychology 30(4):263-272, 1966; International Journal of Parapsychology 9(4):217-222, 1967; Journal of the Society for Psychical Research 44(732):88-94, 1967.

Bibliography

  • Stevenson, Ian (1974). Twenty cases suggestive of reincarnation, second (revised and enlarged) edition, University of Virginia Press. ISBN 9780813908724
  • Stevenson, Ian (1997). 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. Praeger Publishers, Westport, Connecticut, and London. ISBN 0-275-95282-7
  • Tucker, Jim B. (2005). Life Before Life: A scientific Investigation of Children's Memories of Previous Lives, St. Martin's Press, New York, 256pp. ISBN 0-312-32137-6
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Simple English

Twenty Cases Suggestive of Reincarnation is a 1974 book written by psychiatrist Ian Stevenson on reincarnation research. The book focuses on twenty cases investigated by the author. It has been translated into seven foreign languages.[1]

Reviews of Twenty Cases Suggestive of Reincarnation have been published in the American Journal of Psychiatry, British Journal of Psychiatry, British Journal of Medical Psychology, Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease and some other journals.[2]

References

  1. John Beloff. Parapsychology: A Concise History, St. Martin's Press, 1997, p. 211.
  2. See: American Journal of Psychiatry 124(1):128, 1967; British Journal of Psychiatry 113:?, June, 1967; British Journal of Medical Psychology 42:84-86, 1969; Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease 144(4):330-332, 1967; Bulletin of the Menninger Clinic 31(4):253, 1967; Medical Opinion and Review 3:69-73, 1967; Journal of Parapsychology 30(4):263-272, 1966; International Journal of Parapsychology 9(4):217-222, 1967; Journal of the Society for Psychical Research 44(732):88-94, 1967.

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