Brian Weiss (age 72) is an American psychiatrist, hypnotherapist, and author who specializes in past life regression. His research includes reincarnation, past life regression, future life progression, and survival of the human soul after death. He is the author of many best sellers, including “Same soul, many bodies”, “Many lives, many masters” and “Only Love Is Real: A Story of Soulmates Reunited”.
1. You have graduated from the University of Columbia and Yale and worked as a professor at the University of Miami. Tell us about the transition from a professor to a psychotherapist to an author. What made you take up psychotherapy?
I’ve always been interested in the brain and that is why I specialized in psychiatry after graduating from Yale University School of Medicine. I was interested in brain chemistry and I also published many papers in the field of psychopharmacology.
While I was Chairman of the Department of Psychiatry and also Clinical Associate Professor, a patient came to me with phobias and panic attacks. While treating her with psychotherapy and hypnotherapy, she started describing past lives. Her therapy was so remarkable that a few years after her treatment ended I decided to write “Many Lives, Many Masters,” the story of her journey.
2. Being from a science background yourself, did the initial sessions of Past Life intrigue you? How difficult was it for you to believe in something that has not been proven scientifically?
I was very intrigued but my initial reaction was one of skepticism, because I didn’t believe in the concept of reincarnation. I considered the possibilities of metaphor, symbolism, fantasy or imagination, multiple personalities, etc. However, her symptoms disappeared, and I knew that imagination didn’t cure such life-long and profound problems.
Also, her recall was very detailed and emotional, and there was some validation to her ancient memories. Since that experience, I have used regression therapy to past lives with more than four thousand patients in my office over the past thirty-eight years, and I no longer doubt.
3. It is said that memories of past life are nothing but one’s imagination. Please clarify. In addition, there has been a lot of criticism about your thesis on Past Life Regression. What is the harshest criticism that came your way and how do you deal with that?
As a psychotherapist I know that imagination does not have a long-term curative effect by itself. I have had patients speaking foreign languages that they have never heard or studied. I have had patients who have found their families from past lives after therapy sessions in which they recalled specific validational information. Others have known detailed historical facts that they never studied. So it is much more than imagination.
The harshest criticism has come from other psychiatrists who never studied regression therapy, who never tried it with their patients, and who therefore have uninformed opinions. These criticisms were worse in the 1980’s and 1990’s, but I find less of this resistance now.
4. How do you cure a person through Past Life Therapy and what is the relation between what you have learnt in the university and the therapy you impart?
The concept of past life therapy is very much related to traditional psychotherapy. The recall of emotionally important and often forgotten memories has a healing effect on present day symptoms. Past life therapy merely expands the arena beyond childhood and infancy into previous lives. The overall theory and therapeutic skills are the same.
5. According to Hinduism, a soul has to take more than 4,00,000 births to become a human and that the Karma of a person affects his next life. How does past life therapy take someone to the previous human birth and how does the previous birth affect one’s present birth?
I don’t know how many lives it takes to become human. My focus is on healing, and this seems more to be connected to previous lives as a human. There is a strong connection between the events in previous lives and the symptoms, talents, and relationships in the present life. Using techniques of hypnotherapy it is not overly difficult to remember past lives. About 75% of my patients have been able to access recall of previous lifetimes.
To me karma is not punishment but is an opportunity to learn our lessons. If the lessons have not been learned in a previous lifetime, we come back to work on them. The lessons are about love, compassion, non-violence, patience and understanding, non-prejudice, etc.
6. Is there continuity of the individual soul? Does the concept of Past Life provide evidence for reincarnation? Also, is it possible for one to attain moksha or salvation?
There does seem to be a continuity of the individual soul. That is how we learn our lessons here. However, at some higher level all souls are connected. The concept of past life therapy provides direct evidence for reincarnation since it is the same thing. The soul enters a new body to continue its journey of learning. When the learning is complete, then liberation or moksha is attained.