Some young children, usually between the ages of 2 and 5, speak about memories of a previous life they claim to have lived. At the same time they often show behaviors, such as phobias or preferences, that are unusual within the context of their particular family and cannot be explained by any current life events. These memories appear to be concordant with the child’s statements about a previous life. In many cases of this type, the child’s statements have been shown to correspond accurately to facts in the life and death of a deceased person. Some of the children have birthmarks and birth defects that correspond to wounds or other marks on the deceased person whose life is being remembered by the child. In numerous cases postmortem reports have confirmed these correspondences. Older children may retain these apparent memories, but generally they seem to fade around the age of 7 . The young subjects of these cases have been found all over the world including Europe and North America.
For the past 16 years, Dr. Jim Tucker, now the director of the Division of Perceptual Studies, has focused mainly on cases found in the United States. His most recent book Return to Life offers accounts of very strong American cases of young children who remember previous lives.
Types of Statements a Child Might Make:
Statements made by a child who seems to be remembering a previous life can be quite varied. The following is not an exhaustive list by any means. It is designed to give an idea of the kinds of things a parent or caregiver might hear, and in our Western culture, tend to dismiss as fantasy. It is also true that a child might say one or more of these things and not be remembering a previous life. It is probably best not to pump a child for information, nor to try and prevent him or her from saying such things.
- “You’re not my mommy/daddy.”
- “I have another mommy/daddy.”
- “When I was big, I …(used to have blue eyes/had a car, etc.).”
- “That happened before I was in mommy’s tummy.”
- “I have a wife/husband/children.”
- “I used to…(drive a truck/live in another town, etc.)”
- “I died … (in a car accident/after I fell, etc.)”
- “Remember when I …(lived in that other house/was your daddy, etc.)”
Please contact us if your child appears to be having memories of a previous life:
- We are very interested in hearing about cases of young children who are currently spontaneously speaking about memories of a previous life. If you are a parent or a caretaker of a young child, please contact us to submit your observations and experiences of your child’s behaviors and statements about memories of a previous life.
Advice to parents of children who are reporting memories of a previous life.
- If you are a parent seeking advice about your child who seems to remember a previous life, please refer to Advice to Parents.
Books about the research being done at DOPS into memories of previous lives:
We invite you to view a list of books on reincarnation written by our faculty. The list includes books written by our director, Dr. Jim Tucker, as well as the long list of books authored by our founder, Dr. Ian Stevenson. Among the many ground breaking books by Dr. Stevenson is his comprehensive two volume set, Reincarnation and Biology: A Contribution to the Etiology of Birthmarks and Birth Defects, Volumes I and II. In this 22268 page, two volume set, Dr. Stevenson wrote about his extensive research into cases of birthmarks and birth defects which appeared to strongly correlate to memories of a past life in particular subjects. Dr. Stevenson also wrote an abridged version of this research called Where Reincarnation and Biology Intersect.
In 2013, Dr. Jim Tucker, appointed director of the Division of Perceptual Studies in 2014, authored his second book on the topic of cases of children who report memories of a previous life. In his most recent book Return to Life, Dr. Tucker describes the research into strong American cases being carried out at DOPS. In Tucker’s first book, Life Before Life, he reviews forty years of research into children who report memories of previous lives. This book contains some accounts of interesting American cases, as well as descriptions of Dr. Ian Stevenson’s classic cases in Asia.
Other publications on past-life memories:
For a list of academic papers specifically on the study of past life memories written by our faculty, please see Publications on Past-life Memories.
Expanded List of Publications:
To view the expanded list of publications generated by the UVA Division of Perceptual Studies researchers, go to the Academic Publications Page.