ALL IN THE MIND by Ian Wilson


Email this review


The British author of The Shroud of Turin builds a careful, engrossing case--as one might expect--against the miraculous, and for psychology, to account for the other-life revelations that titillate audiences on both sides of the Atlantic. Here, then, is a replay of Bridey Murphy and a detailing of many of U. of Virginia reincarnationist/ psychiatrist Ian Stevenson's ""best cases""; here are some turn-of-the-century reincarnation and stigmata accounts--along with many contemporary stories of hypnotically induced regressions and multiple personality disorders. Fraud, Wilson makes clear, need not be involved; most of the people he interviewed were genuine believers with nothing to gain. The common thread may be the ability to experience a dissociated state, either spontaneously or by suggestion in hypnotic trance. Wilson, pertinently, has followed Stanford hypnosis expert Ernest Hilgard's recent work suggesting parallels between the state of mind-and-body in hypnosis, in multiple personality disorders, and in spontaneous reports of past lives. Often there is a ""hidden observer,"" aware of the several lives or diverse personalities; often there is an amalgam of accuracy and inaccuracy based on memories of books read, family tales, a traumatic childhood, and so on. Dramatic face and body changes (rashes, welts, balding) are another common element. In reviewing the cases, Wilson specifies errors of time and place. Persons who reveal other lives in hypnotically regressed states may reflect particular beliefs of the hypnotist; or, subsequent hypnotic trances may reveal long-forgotten source material (used, for instance, in reconstructing a vivid account of life in 3rd-century Britain). Wilson himself makes rather much of ""cryptomnesia,"" the mind's ability to retain vast memory stores unconsciously; he makes some questionable claims, too, for maternal effects on an unborn child. But this is intelligent reporting overall--and altogether readable.

Pub Date: Aug. 6th, 1982
Publisher: Doubleday