Reincarnation: have we lived more than once?
April 13, 2015
I DOWNLOADED THE BOOK into my Kindle for PC. I have not delved much into the pages yet. I love the mysteries all around us, especially those which we can’t solve readily. I have many volumes on unsolved mysteries and file folders full of clippings on the subject. The book I had just downloaded may prove to be the most fascinating mystery of all, if true. The story has gotten a lot of press over the last few weeks. Yet several things nag at me.
The book I had just downloaded was written by a doctor of medicine, a psychiatrist, and included a chapter about one of his patients. What happened to that doctor-patient confidentiality thing? Most doctors that wrote such stories, including Bernie Siegal, M. D., Oliver Sacks, M. D. and Isadora Rosenfeld, M. D. wrote stories about their patients, but they used fake names and sometimes circumstances to disguise the subjects of their studies. Another nagging question, the parents of the child involved were humble and not publicity seekers, yet, they had to know that in giving the doctor permission to write about their child, that their child and they themselves were going to come under public scrutiny and would become media oddities as a result. What parents would want this for their child?
Were they naïve? The third nagging question was this. Let’s say a child is behaving strangely, and the problems seem to maybe be psychological, and you live in Oklahoma. How is it that you happen to choose a semi-famous child psychologist from the eastern United States? You are not wealthy. How do you arrange such appointments with the doctor? Are they phone sessions? Do you travel to see the doctor on a regular basis, by plane? Is the doctor so interested in the case that he is willing to travel regularly to meet with the child patient? I had all these questions, but wanted to believe. The possibilities are oh so tantalizing.
The subject of my interest is reincarnation. There is no reason to doubt the parents of the boy. They are Baptists and have no personal belief in reincarnation or past lives. The father of the boy is a local police officer, the son of a Church of Christ minister. When the boy’s mother first suspected something amiss, she did not even tell the father, as she knew it would irritate him. She decided to keep investigating on her own.
The little boy, Ryan, was convinced he had lived before. He began to tell his mom the unbelievable tales when he was four years old. He was normally reserved, but not when he was talking about his past life. His parents had been concerned because he had been awakening at night with nightmares. One day, when his father was at work, Ryan decided to explain the cause of his anxiety to his mother. He had lived another life before—he was somebody else. He begged to go home to Hollywood to visit his family. The flabbergasted mother listened and listened. In his former life in Hollywood, Rita Hayworth had made him coke floats. He had been part of the Hollywood scene. The names of actors and locations he had no way of knowing came spilling out of his mouth. His stories were filled with detail. Neither parent had much knowledge of Old Hollywood, and Ryan had no way to have access to any of this information, yet he rattled on and on about his Hollywood experiences. She even overheard her little boy calling out “action!” He was pretending to be working in movies.
Ryan’s curious mother decided to do some research on a bygone Hollywood era. She brought home books from the library. She and her son sat and went through them. Ryan pointed out the people he knew and told unusual details about them, some very personal. As his mother turned the page in one of the books, there was a movie still from an old Mae West movie, Night After Night. An excited Ryan pointed to a bit actor in the still and exclaimed, “That’s me!”
The man he was pointing to was Marty Martyn. Martyn’s acting career went bust after this film, so he decided to become an agent. He was very good at it and even became Glenn Ford’s agent. As Ryan went on and on about his life as Marty Martyn, telling tales of Hollywood parties and other tidbits, his mother became worried. She wondered if this could be some kind of psychological problem her young son was experiencing. She did some more research.
Dr. Jim Tucker’s name kept cropping up in her quest. Tucker was a well-respected child psychiatrist from the University of Virginia and he had studied many children who were convinced they had had past lives. He had even spent time with Ian Stevenson, the well-known reincarnation researcher. Somehow, some way, Ryan’s mother was able to get Dr. Tucker to take on her son Ryan’s case. Tucker has written several things on reincarnation, including the book Return to Life. Dr. Tucker does not believe that Ryan is lying or imagining. He believes he is telling the truth. He believes that we need to find out the reason for these children’s remembered past life experiences. Is it reincarnation, or some other phenomena?
In all the children Dr. Tucker has examined, he has found that their past life memories fade as they get older, so it is crucial to examine them at the onset of their memories.
I remember when this story broke around March 28, 2015. Many news services carried it with headlines like, “Oklahoma Boy Has Baffled Experts, Young Boy’s Reincarnation Story, Is Reincarnation Real?”
Ryan’s statements about his past life have been checked, even with the help of film archivists, and they are all correct. His memories are described as “vivid,” and “accurate.”
As I read into Dr. Tucker’s book, I got the answer to some of my nagging questions. Ryan’s mother first contacted Dr. Tucker by mail, herself. Dr. Tucker did in fact offer to fly to Oklahoma to discuss the case with her and he did so on more than one occasion. Tucker had been working with a cable network on some of his other interesting work. They even sent him a camera and tripod to use for documentation. When the story they were working on at A & E’s Unexplained fell through, they asked if he had a current case he could document. Dr. Tucker approached the family, asking if Ryan could appear in shadow. Ryan himself requested to appear normally on camera and not in shadow. Ryan’s mother had agreed to other invasions of privacy because she was eager to help other parents that were faced with similar circumstances. She thought it worth the sacrifice. At present writing, Ryan’s memories have started to fade and he does not talk much about his past life. He is interested in other things, now.
Part of Ryan’s treatment, therapy, or whatever you want to call it included making two trips to Hollywood. The trips seemed helpful and he recognized many locations while there—without coaching.
I don’t know how this story is going to pan out, but I will be watching it. Will it fade away, or will there be more chapters? One reason for my fascination is that when I, myself, was very young, under four, I had vivid memories of being in California, a place I had never been at that point in my existence. I, too, gave vivid and accurate descriptions. My own family was baffled, and I was often the butt of jokes at the dinner table. As I grew older the memories faded away—almost entirely.
Sara Marie Hogg is author of Dark Continent Continental.