Past life regression is the use of hypnosis and suggestion to bring up memories about lives before the one a patient is currently living. Many people believe that this type of therapy is dangerous because it implants false memories and delusions, but other people believe that unresolved issues in past lives may be the source of problems in current lives. Depending on someone's feelings about the existence of past lives, past life regression may be very therapeutic or may make current problems much worse. This treatment is not condoned by most medical groups, although certain religious traditions believe in the importance of recalling past lives.
Usually, past life regression involves placing a patient in a state in which he or she can call up memories from past lives. Typically, this involves some suggestion on the part of the person inducing the hypnotic state. These memories may be only fuzzy at first, but the hypnotist often helps flesh out the memories by making suggestions and by asking questions.
One way in which practitioners of past life regression find memories from past lives is by focusing on problems in a person's current life. It is thought that problems in these past lives may have effects on someone's current life. Some people also have success uncovering repressed memories from past lives by thinking deeply about a time prior to birth. Usually, the patient must have some faith in reincarnation in order for therapy to be effective, as a belief in past lives implies a belief in reincarnation.
In many cases, past life regression is practiced as a component of a larger belief system. People who undergo this type of therapy are therefore already predisposed to accepting the premises of the therapy. Often, treatment can be very successful because the past lives are used to talk about problems in present lives and may even provide guidance when attempting to solve those difficulties.
Problematically, it has been thoroughly demonstrated that humans are capable of believing truly that they remember events that were simply suggested by others. The ability of the human mind to create false memories may explain the compelling nature of past life regression. A person who chooses this type of therapy as a path to recovery often has trouble accepting that the therapy may be false after the experience of recovering these memories, which can make conventional therapy much more difficult. From the subjective position of the patient, the memories seem very real, and the experience seems compelling, which is a very difficult position to reverse.