Rieder (Millboro and More, 2007) uses data collected during hypnotherapy sessions in an effort to reconstruct historical events.
In this Jungian spin on a historical enigma, Rieder explores Queen Christina of Sweden’s life via the details that her patient Marcia recalled while under hypnosis. Rieder posits that Marcia was the Queen of Sweden in a past life, and to offer some proof of this Rieder says, “The ability to comprehend and answer correctly questions posed to her [in] both Swedish and French would have been impossible to stage, as Marcia knows neither language.” The author acknowledges that the historical validity of the information is “extremely controversial,” and she departs from the story of Christina to defend hypnosis and inherited memory. The author includes a discussion of separate case studies demonstrating how pairs of twins were affected by past-life memories. The information, however, is overly technical and detracts from the book’s focus. Rieder accurately portrays Christina’s multidimensional character and renders in detail her tumultuous life, including an assassination attempt: “While the congregation was engaged in prayer and everyone had their heads bowed, the man slipped through the crowd to a small dais where the queen was kneeling. One of the officials spotted him and shouted to the guards, who immediately crossed their halberds, blocking the way.” The book’s strength is in Rieder’s portrayal of history rather than her account of the psychological study. Marcia’s responses are often superficial and always seem coached. Later, Rieder uses dubious information to prove that Christina may have hidden an illegitimate pregnancy; Marcia’s wavering responses make the claim seem more sensational than realistic. In the last several chapters, the narrative grows confusing and repetitive as the author skips around chronologically and reiterates the same ideas. While the complex story of Queen Christina is an attention grabber, Rieder’s use of Marcia’s past-life regression to tell that story drains some of its dramatic power.
More sensationalistic than historically relevant.