By Madhusree Chatterjee
Alternative therapy is the new slogan in the world of psychological healing. The changing lifestyles around the world spawned by a booming economy, increased material consumption, fickle fates and complex human relationships are prompting the tribe of medical healers to explore new remedies to beat stress— and the metro blues of madness.
One of the alternative holistic therapies that has become popular worldwide is the past life regression therapy – a form of psychological healing that is used in combination with conventional allopathic medicine and yoga to treat a range of diseases in a holistic manner for the right mind and body balance.
Past life therapy is based on regression — journey back in time — and the Oriental philosophical premise that the soul is immortal and reincarnates across life in different avatars. The stresses, traumas, emotional anxieties, psychosomatic disorders and even diseases of this life can be rooted back to the karmic actions or similar circumstances in another life believed to have been carried over in successive births. The memories are said to be reflected in the DNA strings of cells – which are key to modern reincarnation and regression studies.
The theory of the immortality of soul and its reincarnation into a new life is looked upon with skepticism by the west and the scientific legion, who believe in the finality of death. Western philosophy discourages soul’s regeneration as heresy and religious blasphemy. But the spread of eastern faiths like Buddhism and Vedic Hinduism across continents have brought millions of westerners around to the theory of reincarnation- the pillars on which Vedic theology and Buddhism rest. The soul therapy of regression acts on the mind. The regression therapist interprets the patient’s dream and the care-seeker is often subjected to mild hypnosis to regress (travel) into past lives to identify the source of trauma.
In two books, “By Love Reclaimed: Jean Harlow Returns to Clear Her Husband’s Name” and “Marilyn Monroe Returns: The Healing of the Soul” (Ritana Publications) , noted American psycho-therapist and regression specialist Adrian Finkelstein (MD) and past life researcher and educator Valerie Franich try to prove with evidence the holistic healing power of regression and past life therapy as a legitimate psychoanalytical process to treat mental and chronic physical disorders with the example of two Hollywood icons – Jean Harlow and Marilyn Monroe — in their reincarnations as Valerie Franich (who was Jean Harlow) and Canadian singer Sherrie Laird (Marilyn Monroe). Writer and doctor Adrian Finkelstein is identified as the incarnation of Paul Bernes, Jean Harlow’s husband, a MGM writer and director in Hollywood who was murdered by ex-wife Dorothy Millette a year after Bernes’s wedding with Jean Harlow. Back in 1930s, it was touted as one of the most sensational deaths in LA’s studio cluster hinting at the tacit involvement of boss Louis B. Mayer- and the underworld.
The two iconic women regress into their past to speak about their sunny days in Hollywood and the way the therapy has helped them cope with emotional turmoil in this life.
The book probes the two lives with “the personal histories of the characters in their past lives and compare them to their present”, the recordings of the regression sessions and analysis of the findings.
Co-author Valerie Franich, who is accompanying Finkelstein, said “she was a living testimony that past life is not a myth”. “I was in love with California since childhood and once during a visit to Hollywood with a friend (tour guide), I identified five houses that were either rented or owned by Jean Harlow,” Franich told this writer. Several other clues dropped off her memory scape – she had past life flashes and remembered details from her life in Hollywood. Valerie, who suffers from hearing impairment, began to correspond with Finkelstein after friends insisted that she probed her “past life connections”.
Forensic tests showed similarity of Valerie’s facial and bone structures with Harlow. Over a two-year period of regression, Finkelstein was able to identify Valerie as Harlow.
Valerie now helps Finkelstein connect to patients with her story.
“The idea was to grab attention and Hollywood was the easy way to reach out to readers with the concept of past life and regression therapy,” psychiatrist and writer Adrian Finkelstein told this writer/reporter in New Delhi. He was in the national capital last week with co-writer Franich to promote his books.
Looking back on the reasons that spurred the books, Finkelstein said he was appalled by the way doctors looked at the body in western nations. “Putting together a bone is not the way to work. The patient had to feel better deep inside – healing is within the soul. I decided to reach out my patients with more than clinical diagnoses and medicines,” Finkelstein said. He began to experiment with hypnosis nearly 40 years ago – from different teachers. He read Oriental philosophies, great masters of the far-east, works of Sigmund Freud and regression pioneers like I.P. Stevenson (Virginia School of Medicine) — watched therapists like Walter Semkiw at work.
He tried past regression on his own self several times and discovered one morning “that healing had been one of the callings in his past lives as well”. “Someone had even told me that I was a healer in Iran,” the doctor said. The self-therapies oriented his mind to look beyond the source of physical diseases in his patients- “I was filled with love for my patients. In the western world, they don’t love patients. They forget that we have souls, spirits and emotions”.
Finkelstein, who has trained at the prestigious Menninger School of Psychiatry in Kansas, believes that “a healer does not always have to offer solutions to the patient”, he has to help them tackle their “anger and fear”. The doctor, who teaches psychiatry at the Chicago Medical School, Rush Medical College and UCLA, in Los Angeles, practices past life therapy as a private practitioner. “I have a growing number of patients”.
Finkelstein investigates his patient’s past life connections with regression, cranio-facial matching of profiles in different lifetimes, a standard forensic procedure by the FBI to study facial similarities to solve crimes, comparison of traits, affinities, handwritings, memories, personal histories and life’s situations over a period of time”.
“Till 10 years ago, 20 per cent people believed in past lives. Now the number has increased to 35 per cent across US, with nearly 50 per cent people in states like Florida and California,” the doctor said.
Finkelstein has developed a new technique — instant hypnosis — which does not which probe deep into the subconscious but opens the memory bank of the patient. The light hypnosis works positively on the body and the mind,” Finkelstein said. There are three types of extra-sensory perceptions that gives access into lifetimes— clair-vision (extra-sensory vision) , clair-audience (hearing} and clair-senses (intuition), the doctor said.
A combination of any two applies as a healing process to the mind. Once the mind opens, it connects to the emotions and then to the body. Finkelstein suggests that regression can make “cancer cells function normally by infusing positive emotions into the wounded cells”.
Finkelstein has another facet that is closer to his past calling as Jean Harlow’s husband — Paul Bernes. A film company, Thunderball Films that the doctor co-partners has signed up actress Ericka Eleniak to play Marilyn Monroe in the cinematic adaptation of his book, “Marilyn Monroe Returns…”. He is looking for an Indian director to direct the movie because “Indians understand past lives”.
Finkelstein has made another movie, “Yesterday’s Children” on reincarnation and past life therapy with Jane Seymour, which he had screened to 300 doctors at the Cedars Sinai Hospital in LA, US. “They were amazed,” he said.
Doubts aside, regression and past life therapy, as Finkelstein and Franich say, is a great tool to mend broken relationships and tortured minds. It might well be the future of psycho-therapy in a world that is fast losing touch with its roots.