(October 31, 1918-February 8, 2007)
Born in Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Biochemist turned psychiatrist
Headed the Division of Perceptual Studies at the University of Virginia (1967-2002)
Known for his research into reincarnation
Wrote 'Twenty Cases Suggestive of Reincarnation' (1974), 'Children Who Remember Past Lives' (1987) and 'Where Reincarnation and Biology Intersect' (1997)
Why he might be annoying
His middle name was Pretyman.
Inspired by Aldous Huxley, he experimented with mescaline and LSD, which he said caused three days of 'perfect serenity.'
He rejected Freud's ideas as too deterministic, claiming there was little room for free will if much of a person's character was formed by their experiences in infancy, then adopted the seemingly more restrictive notion that aspects of a person's personality are formed by their previous life experiences.
He was an obsessive worker who would forget to stop to eat while investigating a past life case.
He disliked having his work described as 'parapsychology.'
He mused about his own potential reincarnation, 'I do wonder, what parents could possibly want me as a baby?'
Why he might not be annoying
He graduated from med school first in his class.
He travelled over 50,000 miles a year researching past life cases.
He remained realistic about the evidence he found, admitting, 'It is not flawless.... Even the best of it is open to alternative interpretations.'
He said, 'Of course there is the rubbish. We dismiss any claims of Venusian fantasies.'
Carl Sagan considered his reports on children's past lives one of only three claims in parapsychology worthy of serious study.
Credit: C. Fishel
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