Dr Wambach. Reincarnation skeptic turned Believer

#1
Statistical Proof from Dr. Wambach
People who claim to have lived prior lives have always seemed fake to me. Too often they claim to have been someone famous, like an Egyptian Pharaoh, Napoleon or Joan of Ark. Certainly, if reincarnation is real, it is not limited to the rich and famous.

I was surprised that someone else had addressed this obvious flaw. Her name was Dr. Helen Wambach and she set about to prove how foolish the whole idea of reincarnation was by conducting a scientific investigation of her own in the 1960s.

Dr. Wambach questioned 1088 white, middle class subjects from California while they were under hypnosis. The subjects were asked to regress to a former life. If this was successful, they were told to remember everything when they awoke from their hypnotic state.

Not satisfied to just ask who they were or when they lived, Dr. Wambach also made them describe their status, gender, race, clothing, footwear, utensils, tools they used, their money, housing and even the food they ate!

The subjects frequently reported viewing the former lives much like watching a movie. They said they could experience whatever the individual experienced in that particular time. They heard ancient languages but did not understand them. The full details of their experiences were recorded both during and after the sessions. Never before had past life inquiries been that specific or involved such a large population. The results of her 10 years of research surprised everyone.

The detailed reports were thoroughly investigated to see if they corresponded with historical facts. In all but 11 cases (less than 1%), the descriptions were totally accurate. Some of the results are as follows:

  • 50.6 % of the past lives reported were male and 49.4 % were female -- this is exactly in accordance with biological fact.

  • The reported class or status was exactly the same proportion as the estimates of historians of the specific period of the former life.
    In general, this was approximately 10% upper class, 20-35% from the middle class and the remaining 55-70% from the lower class. Although the proportion of middle class was higher around 1000 BC, the proportion later dropped and increased again after 1700 AD.



  • The recall by subjects of clothing, footwear, type of food and utensils used was better than that in popular history books. She found over and over again that her subjects knew better than most historians -- when she went to obscure experts her subjects were invariably correct.
    A subject who lived around 1000 B.C in Egypt described different types of clothing worn by the upper and lower classes. The upper classes wore either a half-length or full-length white cotton robe. The lower classes wore something like an exotic-looking type of pants that was wrapped downwards from the waist. The researchers viewed historic records of clothing worn during the respective periods and could therefore compare it to the descriptions of these subjects. The descriptions were found to be correct.





  • Between 60-77% of the ancient population lived at or below the poverty level. They wore home made clothes and lived in simple, even primitive, abodes. The majority were farmers who labored every day in the fields. None of the hypnotized individuals recalled being a famous historical figure. Those who recalled a high social position seemed highly dissatisfied with their lives, as if it was a burden to be alive. Those who recalled being a farmer or a member of a primitive tribe appeared to be content.

  • Their recollections were from different geographic areas and races during their prior life. Dr. Wambach divided them into several categories: Caucasians, Asians, Indians, Blacks and Middle Eastern descent.
    Around 2000 BC, only 20% of the subjects reported that they were Caucasians. They lived widely dispersed throughout what is now known as the Middle East, the Mediterranean, Europe and Central Asia (Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, etc., called the central steppe during historical times).


    Five subjects stated that they lived in Central Asia between 1000 and 2000 BC. They recalled living in tents, which was common to the migrating population of that region. Amazingly, they found themselves to have white skin color and yellow or golden hair! At first, this didn't appear to be historically accurate as Asian people should have black hair and darker skin. However, recent discoveries of mummified corpses [right] along the ancient Spice Route have shown that there were indeed light skinned and blond haired people!


  • Eating habits of people who lived around 500 B. C. were not that bad. Twenty percent of the subjects recalled that they ate poultry and sheep meat. However, between A.D. 25 to A.D. 1200, people's eating habits were rather poor. The subjects recalled that the food was tasteless. One young man said: "I will never bad-mouth McDonald's food". It is not surprising that those who recalled the best tasting food were those who remembered a prior life in China.

  • Among all the subjects, 62% died of old age and illness, 18% percent died violently during war, or some other manmade catastrophe and the remaining 20% died in accidents. Many of the prior lives ended during the two world wars, as well as civil wars in Asian countries. Thus, these people reincarnated shortly after they died. We will see more evidence for this in our next striking example.
    Surprisingly, Dr. Wambach found that 69% of the subjects who had died during the 1850's were Caucasians, while between 1900 and 1945, only 40% were Caucasian. It seems that transmigration of the different races increased after 1945. This is still not understood
Dr. Wambach went on to publish her findings in Reliving Past Lives: The Evidence Under Hypnosis and Life Before Life (1984). Although she began her work as a skeptic, she would later write,

"...Fantasy and genetic memory could not account for the patterns that emerged in the results. With the exception of 11 subjects, all descriptions of clothing, footwear, and utensils were consistent with historical records..."
And in later interviews, she stated,

"I don't believe in reincarnation -- I know it!"
 
#3
Good post, Steve: I've never heard of Dr. Wambach before. Do you have a link to this article?
Sorry Michael, I must have seen her name on Facebook and searched Google with her full name Dr Helen Wambach, this was I think the second post that came up. I hadn't heard of her before either, it's always nice when you hear of people starting out sceptics but after looking at the evidence, changing their opinion.
 
#4
I just started listening to this recording, at first listen she sounds quite normal ? :)
Having listened to the whole thing I found it included some very interesting things, not least of which was how her view of Science changed over the years - a familiar tale.

 
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#8
Thanks. I too hadn't heard of her. Among other articles I found this:


https://labofevolution.wordpress.com/2011/05/19/helen-wambach-those-eager-to-be-born-in-our-time/
Helen Wambach & Those eager to be Born in our Time
19 May 2011 Leave a comment

by Bhaga in AUROVILLE, CONTEMPORARY BOOKS & FILMS, HUMAN UNITY, LIFETIMES & BETWEEN, THE NEW EVOLUTIVE STEP

‘LIFE before LIFE’ is psychologist Helen Wambach’s extraordinary book that explores the fascinating answers of 750 subjects under hypnosis about life before birth.
Dr. Wambach’s two-year study convinced her that “90% of the people who come to me definitely flash on images from a past life… I am convinced that the time has come to study rigorously the plausibility of reincarnation.”
– DID YOU CHOOSE TO BE BORN?
– WHY DID YOU CHOSE THE TWENTIETH CENTURY?
– HAVE YOU CHOSEN YOUR SEX FOR THIS COMING LIFETIME?
– HAVE YOU KNOWN YOUR MOTHER-TO-BE IN A PAST LIFE?
– ARE YOU AWARE, NOW, BEFORE YOU ARE BORN, OF OTHERS YOU WILL KNOW IN THE COMING LIFETIME? WILL YOU KNOW THEM AS LOVERS OR MATES? WILL YOU KNOW THEM AS FRIENDS? WILL THEY BE YOUR CHILDREN?’

The above text is copied from the back cover of the book, published first in 1979, which at the time has been successful enough for being translated in several other languages.
All the answers Dr. Wambach received make indeed for fascinating and very instructive reading, but what I personally, given the kind of research I do since forty years, found the most important information for humanity at large, was revealed by the answers to the second question:
WHY DID YOU CHOSE THE TWENTIETH CENTURY?

The reason why Helen Wambach had originally included that question, was:
“I wanted to know if the apocalypse predicted in the historical Christian religion would be reflected in my subjects’ responses. Are we all to disappear in cataclysms at the end of the twentieth century?”

As you read what the subjects answered, remember we are in the 70s, when notions of that century and the next being special were not yet as widespread as they might be now; remember also that, as Helen Wambach herself points out,
“The left brain – our word-brain temporal lobe that is functioning when we are focused in the physical, ‘real’ world – is left behind by my subjects when they are lying on the floor listening to my voice. Memory is indifferent to ‘real word time’, and our fifth birthday is remembered more vividly than last Tuesday at the office.”

And now here are the answers, just as reported in the book by Dr. Wambach:

“Of those subjects answering yes to the question of whether or not they chose the twentieth century to live the coming lifetime, I was surprised to find that a majority (51 percent) chose this time period because of its great potential for spiritual growth. Perhaps there are some evidences of earth changes to come in these responses,, but the positive aspects of this time are stressed. Thirty-four percent of subjects expressed this in very similar words:

“Yes, I chose the twentieth century because it is the time of earth changes, and the raising of levels of consciousness.”
“Expansion of consciousness will be great in last half of twentieth century and I can learn a lot.”
“I chose the twentieth century because this century is the dawning of a new age of awareness, and many, many souls are going to transcend to another plane of oneness.”
“I chose the last half of the twentieth century because it seems to be conducive to the job I must do for myself, because of the oneness of all spirits in the new age.”
“I chose the last half of the twentieth century to help the awareness of togetherness moving forward in this time period.”
“I chose the last half of the twentieth century to be alive because more advanced spirits are being born and we are closer to obtaining world peace and a sense of the total self of mankind.”
“This is an important and exciting age to be born into.”
“Yes, the last half of the twentieth century is the time of enlightenment I have been waiting for to live another lifetime.”
“I chose the last half of the twentieth century because it is the beginning of a new age, and there is more acceptance of growing consciousness.”
“I chose this time period because it is one of great awakening.”
“I chose this time period because there are many souls coming together now, and my higher self was aware of this.”
“I chose this time period because it is the new birth of a golden age.”
“This is an important time for Iife on this plane – consciousness will be raised to a higher plane.”
“This is the most important time of change, and I want to be here for it.”
“I chose the last half of the twentieth century because the evolution of mankind will move very fast in this time period.”
“I chose the last half of the twentieth century because of the transition of history from a religious to a scientific point of view, and at the end of this age, a spiritual awakening.”
“It seems that this is a period of major transition to a higher level of consciousness.”
“I felt this time period was an intense historical point, as opposed to the past, a climactic time.”
“Yes, I chose this time because very monumental changes are occurring and will occur.”
“Because it’s a period of great change.”
“There is an increasing awareness of the spiritual element in Western cultures, and I felt I could aid this in the last half of the twentieth century.”
“This time period is one that is open to spiritual growth.”
“There is a feeling of brightness associated with the end of the twentieth century. This came to me strongly under hypnosis.”

When one hears it, not of anybody in particular, but simply from those people gone into a deep trance and each accessing as an individual consciousness the inner knowledge they didn’t know they had, it all becomes a rather troubling and somewhat moving collective insight into the true significance and importance of those times in which we, all those reading this now, and all the others living now, also decided to be born…

 
#9
I realize in the 20th century we had made many advances that made life better in many ways. However, and call me a pessimist, but I have a difficult time believing that we had reached a higher level of consciousness in the 20th century where most of the world system is based on the obsession of wealth and power. And from my perspective this greed had only escalated in the 20th century and continues on today. Perhaps, I'm now questioning my decision incarnating in the 20th century. ;)
 
#10
I realize in the 20th century we had made many advances that made life better in many ways. However, and call me a pessimist, but I have a difficult time believing that we had reached a higher level of consciousness in the 20th century where most of the world system is based on the obsession of wealth and power. And from my perspective this greed had only escalated in the 20th century and continues on today. Perhaps, I'm now questioning my decision incarnating in the 20th century. ;)
How old were her subjects? And how old are they now? They said they chose to be born in the last part of the 20th century because they could help during this transition. The thing about transitory times is that one can never really see it while they are in it.

And all things seem to follow a course. I think some were born to perhaps bring about certain events that viewed in isolation seem unimportant or even bad, but overall lead to a greater good. It's hard for humans to take the long view. We operate in the here and now, and have a hard time comprehending the grand scheme.

But look at the social movements of the latter part of the 20th century to now. In spite of the rampant greed so ever present, more and more people are being raised out of poverty. More so than at any other time, I believe. Greed has been and always will be part of the human experience.

The more familiar I become with history, the more I appreciate the time in which I live. 200 years ago I probably would have been poor as dirt. And since I am a woman, my life would not have been my own. Not to mention those who were gay/transgender/bi. While race relations in the US aren't perfect, they are much better than any other time.

It's all a matter of perspective. And I can't help but think that the harder Materialists and neo-Atheists push, the more it will cause others to question their own beliefs, and perhaps ultimately bring them closer to a genuine spirituality as opposed to going through the motions with their religious beliefs or dawdling in agnosticism.

Perhaps all we see now is part of the plan. I dunno.

I certainly hope it's true.
 
#11
The only even slightly plausible alternative to reincarnation that I can think of as an explanation for Wambach's data is the possibility that it was psychic suggestion, an influence into the pl regression participants' subconscious minds from Wambach's own subconscious mind. She presumably wanted to find evidence for reincarnation, and had researched history literature in order to know generally what she was looking for in the group regression sessions. She would have already had a good idea of the historical statistics, and sure enough, the regression sessions came up with what she was looking for. To me the accuracy of the statistics seems suspicious. This would then be an elaborate example of "experimenter effect", a well-known but unexplained phenomenon in parapsychological research, where the investigator on an unconscious level influences the results he/she wants to obtain. Another aspect of this is that usually the results are most dramatic on the first study, then drop off in subsequent experiments. Unfortunately I don't think there have been any other studies that attempted to replicate Wambach's work.
 
#12
I actually attended one of Wambach's regression sessions in Los Angeles back in the 1980's. It was an interesting experience, where she attempted to induce a light hypnotic state and then suggested to move the consciousness of the audience back to several different historical time periods. At the end she had everyone fill out some forms asking about what was seen and felt. For me it wasn't too productive, but I did have a number of impressions come up. In my case I knew generally what was being looked for and had some historical knowledge, so I couldn't be sure it wasn't a combination of self-suggestion and imagination.
 
#15
Helen Wambach came across as a charming, intelligent and highly articulate individual in this interview from 1976:
An interesting listen, I only just got started on part one. A brief extract:

Interviewer: What brought you to this place?

Helen: "[... omitted ...] Well, I got so bored hearing his everyday recital of his difficulties, I started to ask him about his dreams. This man had the most fantastic dreams I ever heard.

"He would sit in front of me, this rather boring, middle-aged man with a measured IQ of 80 and when I asked about his dreams, I got the myths of Hercules, I got the golden palaces of ancient Egypt, and I got signs of telepathy that I could not miss. This man would report a dream in which he was incorporating a dream I had had the night before. This opened up to me a completely different picture... "
 
#17
Could someone actually recall the past ten lives that they had?
---



From the time Joey Verwey was just three years old, she was telling her family amazing stories that she was able to remember from her previous ten reincarnations. Stories that were so unusual and detailed, there was no way that she could have learned them on her own.

By the time she was five, she was meeting regularly with parapsychology professors, reincarnation gurus, regressive hypnotherapists, and investigative journalists, who all concluded that this innocent child offered the most convincing, modern evidence that reincarnation really exists.

Her first life was a cave dweller about 200 million years ago. She remembers being chased by a dinosaur, and leaving stone and bone tools behind in a cave. Today, she was able to lead investigators to a series of caves in South Africa that she had never seen before. These were the exact same caves where Royal Society Fellow, Robert Bloom, discovered the missing link between apes and humans, Australopithecus Africanus.

Twice she lived as an Egyptian slave, and remembers with perfect accuracy the conditions on board a slave galley, and their ancient techniques of paving stone roads.

There are other, less undefined memories from other ages, where she remembers wearing a heavy veil, and seeing a Princess riding in a carriage on the back of an elephant.

She remembers details from her life as a persecuted Christian, during Roman Emperor Nero's wicked reign of terror in the first century, where she may have met St. Peter.

She also recalls living in South Africa in the early 1900's, as a grandchild of then President Paul Kruger, and then growing up to have two husbands, and ten children. On investigation, these people proved to be real, and it was discovered that one of her children was still alive and in her nineties.

Five year old Joey met this elderly woman, who was instantly reminded of her own mother, and the two had long, convincing discussions about their past family life together.
 
#18

Her first life was a cave dweller about 200 million years ago. She remembers being chased by a dinosaur, and leaving stone and bone tools behind in a cave. Today, she was able to lead investigators to a series of caves in South Africa that she had never seen before. These were the exact same caves where Royal Society Fellow, Robert Bloom, discovered the missing link between apes and humans, Australopithecus Africanus.

This part had me a bit puzzled. I don't think current views of human existence would place us as far back as 200 million years, nor co-existing with dinosaurs. Of course it is possible that what is alluded to is some pre-human animal, however that would not seem to fit with the stone and bone tool use. It seems a bit mixed-up, according to our conventional view of these time periods. While it's possible, even likely that much of what we think we know may be wrong, it does seem just as possible that something is amiss in the girl's account, or the way it has been reported. Perhaps the simplest way to re-align things is to hypothesise that the 'dinosaur' may have been something other than the type of creature we usually think of under that name, and that it took place in a rather more recent time period.
 
#19
This part had me a bit puzzled. I don't think current views of human existence would place us as far back as 200 million years, nor co-existing with dinosaurs. Of course it is possible that what is alluded to is some pre-human animal, however that would not seem to fit with the stone and bone tool use. It seems a bit mixed-up, according to our conventional view of these time periods. While it's possible, even likely that much of what we think we know may be wrong, it does seem just as possible that something is amiss in the girl's account, or the way it has been reported. Perhaps the simplest way to re-align things is to hypothesise that the 'dinosaur' may have been something other than the type of creature we usually think of under that name, and that it took place in a rather more recent time period.
I would say that her estimation of time (200 million years ago) is rather sketchy to say the least. How would she know? It might be if she correctly identified what sort of an animal she "saw" and was attacked by, and therefore it was concluded that it lived 200 million years ago, according to what we know by fossils. Early humans lived alongside some pretty large and freaky mammals in the late Pleistocene, but who knows how far back in the earliest evolution of man that we can pinpoint where we had a consciousness of that kind that which we now live with.

Either way; if we, for arguments sake, state reincarnation as a proven fact, without doubt - when could we say that reincarnation started?

I know to little about her story, but it would be interesting to hear how they reached the conclusion of 200 million years.
 
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#20
I would say that her estimation of time (200 million years ago) is rather sketchy to say the least. How would she know? It might be if she correctly identified what sort of an animal she "saw" and was attacked by, and therefore it was concluded that it lived 200 million years ago, according to what we know by fossils. Early humans lived alongside some pretty large and freaky mammals in the late Pleistocene, but who knows how far back in the earliest evolution of man that we can pinpoint where we had a consciousness of that kind that which we now live with.

Either way; if we, for arguments sake, state reincarnation as a proven fact, without doubt - when could we say that reincarnation started?

I know to little about her story, but it would be interesting to hear how they reached the conclusion of 200 million years.
Taking reincarnation itself as a given, for the sake of discussion.

When did (human) reincarnation start? There may be differing views or interpretations. One is that the whole thing is about development, and thus it may be reasonable to progress gradually from inhabiting more primitive animals, step by step leading to human lifetimes. An alternative view could be that the physical vehicle needed to reach a certain level before it became suitable. Personally, I'd find the idea of a precise cut-off point, one creature has an immortal soul while its predecessor was an empty zombie-like shell to be hard to justify. An unbroken continuum seems more likely, though possibly any individual spirit may not have gone through all of these levels. The idea of chickens and cows having their own spiritual lifecycles is at least thought-provoking, but regardless of one's deeper beliefs, I think modern views are shifting towards more caring treatment of animals. On a somewhat anecdotal level, I read an article where a dairy farmer who gave each of his beasts its own name achieved higher milk yields.

I picked on the cave-dweller episode not because it was the most implausible, but simply because it felt a little internally inconsistent. The other lifetimes, regardless of veracity, seem less problematic in that respect. I find myself treading two parallel paths when reading of reincarnation accounts. On the one hand, I want to give the benefit of the doubt, and see where it leads, while simultaneously I'm prepared to treat the whole thing as a creative fiction. Some of the so-called reincarnation cases I've read about seem as more like the researcher attempting to force the pieces of the jigsaw to fit, for the sake of a good story, rather than a neutral investigation.

On the whole though, to return to Dr. Wambach's work, I wish such studies had been continued on a larger scale by others. I think in a way her work was a product of the era, when drugs and flower-power were part of an open-minded society, willing to look at the world with new eyes, whereas nowadays we seem to have pulled back into a more timid and cautious approach, where to extend a finger outside of our bubble and try to touch something just slightly out of reach is about as far as we dare go, and even that is severely frowned upon.
 
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