Laurie Eddie

(Investigator 21, 1991 November)

The have been many claims in recent times of reincarnation based upon the premise of recall of past lives.

Such claims are extremely suspect. The most famous example of these was the Bridey Murphy affair in the early 1950's. Although the evidence appeared solid at the time, it eventually succumbed to intensive research and the full truth emerged, that it was a case of confabulation.

The material the subject had confabulated was based upon stories told to her by an Irish nursemaid, when the subject had been a mere infant.

Nevertheless, despite the fact that most of these cases can be proven to be false, although not always deliberate lies, there is still a large number of people who claim a factual basis for past-life studies.

The following example is an interesting case where the confabulation was produced by a trauma.

A 29 year old patient at the Dundee Royal infirmary, in Scotland, discovered past-life memories only after a motor cycle accident in 1962. Upon regaining consciousness the patient claimed he had been a major in the Confederate Army during the Civil War.

The patient, Robert G., (his identity remains confidential), was referred to Dr. James McHarg, a psychiatrist with the University of Dundee. Although McHarg diagnosed cryptonesia, a condition typified by severe memory disruption, Robert's elaborate Civil War tales continued to baffle him.

McHarg solved part of the mystery, eighteen months later, when he learned that a week before the accident, his patient had read a short article about a British group dedicated to the memory of the American Confederacy.

There was a problem with this solution. Robert has access to information and details about the Civil War which was far in access of the material presented in this article.

McHarg remained confused, "How can we be sure that a paranormal element is not allied with the cryptonesia element", he asked his colleagues at a meeting of parapsychologists at Cambridge University not long afterwards.

These doubts were recently resolved. McHarg traced the remaining details to a 1951 BBC TV rendition of the Civil War story the Red Badge of Courage.

"The cryptonesia seems to have had a basis in elements drawn from both 1951 and 1962", says McHarg, adding that this is the first time he'd heard of a past-life fantasy drawn from two sources.