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Ian Pretyman Stevenson, M.D., (born October 31, 1918, in Montreal, Canada, died February 8, 2007, in Charlottesville, Virginia), was a Canadian-American psychiatrist whose research interests included: children who claim to remember previous lives, near-death experiences, apparitions (death-bed visions), the mind-brain problem, and survival of the human personality after death. [1]

The Early YearsEdit

Ian Stevenson was raised in Ottawa, where his father was the Canadian correspondent for the New York Times and his mother influenced her son with an interest in Theosophy. Stevenson studied at St. Andrews University in Scotland and at McGill University in Montreal, where he received a B.S. in 1942 and an M.D. in 1943, graduating at the top of his class. [2] In the 1950s, inspired by a meeting with Aldous Huxley, he became a pioneer in the medical study of the effects of LSD. [3]

Stevenson was the founder of scientific research into reincarnation and was best known for collecting and meticulously researching cases of children who seem to recall past lives without the need for hypnosis. After Professor Stevenson published his first paper on reincarnation in 1960, the inventor Chester Carlson funded his first field visits to India and Sri Lanka. In 1963 Carlson died and Stevenson was astonished to learn that Carlson had left $1 million to endow a Chair at the Univerisity of Virginia, and a further $1 million for Stevenson himself to continue his research into reincarnation. [4]

Division of Personality StudiesEdit

In 1967, Stevenson was appointed as Director of the Division of Personality Studies (later renamed Division of Perceptual Studies) (DOPS) and, for a period was also Head of the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Virginia. [5]

Stevenson went on to conduct additional field research about reincarnation in Africa, Alaska, British Columbia, Burma, South America, Lebanon, Turkey, and many other places. The children studied usually started recalling their past life story between the ages of two and four, yet seem to have forgotten it by seven or eight. There were frequent mentions of having died a violent death, and apparently clear memories of the mode of death.[6] Stevenson also gathered testimonies as well as medical records of information on birthmarks, birth defects, and other physical evidence for reincarnation. [7]

Stevenson published only for the academic and scientific community, and his over 200 articles and several books—densely packed with research details and academic argument—are in places difficult for the average reader to follow. His research, over 3,000 study cases, provides evidence suggestive of reincarnation, though he himself was always careful to refer to them as "cases suggestive of reincarnation" or "cases of the reincarnation type." [8]

Professor Stevenson himself recognized one fundamental flaw in his argument for reincarnation: the absence of any evidence of a physical process by which a personality could survive death and travel to another body.[9] Further, some have questioned his objectivity in drawing conclusions from his research. [10]

RetirementEdit

Professor Stevenson retired in 2002, leaving his work to successors led by Dr. Bruce Greyson. Dr. Jim Tucker, a child psychiatrist, is continuing Ian Stevenson's work with children, focusing on North American cases. [11]

Stevenson married Margaret Pertzoff in 1985. (His previous wife, Octavia Reynolds, died in 1983.) Professor Stevenson died of pneumonia at the Blue Ridge Retirement community in Charlottesville, Virginia, on February 8, 2007. [12]


Selected Books by Ian StevensonEdit

  • Twenty Cases Suggestive of Reincarnation. (1966). (Second revised and enlarged edition 1974), University of Virginia Press, ISBN 0813908728
  • Cases of the Reincarnation Type Vol. I: Ten Cases in India, (1975). University of Virginia Press.
  • Cases of the Reincarnation Type Vol. II: Ten Cases in Sri Lanka. (1978). University of Virginia Press.
  • Cases of the Reincarnation Type Vol. III: Twelve Cases in Lebanon and Turkey. (1980). University of Virginia Press.
  • Cases of the Reincarnation Type Vol. IV: Twelve Cases in Thailand and Burma. (1983). University of Virginia Press.
  • Unlearned Language: New Studies in Xenoglossy. (1984). University of Virginia Press, ISBN 0813909945
  • Reincarnation and Biology: A Contribution to the Etiology of Birthmarks and Birth Defects. (1997). (2 volumes), Praeger Publishers, ISBN 0-275-95282-7
  • Where Reincarnation and Biology Intersect. (1997). Praeger Publishers, ISBN 0-275-95282-7 . (A short and non-technical version of the scientific two-volumes work, for the general reader)
  • Children Who Remember Previous Lives: A Quest of Reincarnation. (2001). McFarland & Company, ISBN 0-7864-0913-4 , (A general non-technical introduction into reincarnation-research)
  • European Cases of the Reincarnation Type. (2003). McFarland & Company, ISBN 0786414588

Selected Articles Published By Stevenson in Scientific JournalsEdit

"The Explanatory Value of the Idea of Reincarnation" (1977) Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 164:305-326.

"American Children Who Claim to Remember Previous Lives" (1983) Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 171:742-748.

"The Belief in Reincarnation Among the Igbo of Nigeria" (1985) Journal of Asian and African Studies, XX:13-30.

"Characteristics of Cases of the Reincarnation Type Among the Igbo of Nigeria" (1986) Journal of Asian and African Studies, XXI:204-216.

"Birthmarks and Birth Defects Corresponding to Wounds on Deceased Persons", (1993). Journal of Scientific Exploration, 7:403-410.

(with Cook, E.W., Greyson, B.) (1998). "Do Any Near-Death Experiences Provide Evidence for the Survival of Human Personality after Death? Relevant Features and Illustrative Case Reports",Journal of Scientific Exploration, 12(3): 377-406.

"Past lives of twins"(1999). Lancet, Apr 17; 353(9161):1359-60.

"The phenomenon of claimed memories of previous lives: possible interpretations and importance"(2000). Medical Hypotheses, 54(4), 652-659.

"Ropelike Birthmarks on Children Who Claim to Remember Past Lives" (2001). Psychological Reports, Aug 89(1):142-144.

(with Pasricha, S.K., Keil, J. and J.B. Tucker), (2005). "Some Bodily Malformations Attributed to Previous Lives" Journal of Scientific Exploration 19(3):359-383.

Books and Articles about Ian StevensonEdit

  • Fox, Margalit. (2007). "Ian Stevenson, Academic Psychiatrist Who Studied Claims of Past Lives, Dies at 88." New York Times, February 18, p. 27.
  • Shroder, Tom (1999). Old Souls: The Scientific Evidence for Past Lives.
  • Tucker, Jim B. (2005). Life Before Life: A Scientific Investigation of Children's Memories of Previous Lives.

See alsoEdit


External linksEdit


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