Fabricating Memories and Identities

'Past Life Regression Therapy' hits Indian television

Hunting for higher TRP (television rating points), the Hindi language entertainment channel in India NDTV Imagine has come up with a sensationalist and bizarre reality show. Raaz Pichhle Janam Ka (Secrets of past life) invited viewers to witness every evening another glossy and highly dramatic session of so-called Past Life Regression Therapy with one Dr. Tripty Jain. The practitioner put her TV patients – many among them aspiring stars and starlets – in hypnotic trance and made them allegedly 'remember' the secrets of their past lives. They were the key, she claimed, to all their present problems such as fear from flying, water, crowds and snakes. What came to light were heart-wrenching tales of love, revenge, betrayal, rape and murder across the centuries and continents – all nicely pre-recorded to provide the colorful backdrop for the tearful procedures on the couch. And finally, but certainly not surprisingly, it would turn out that those afraid of flying in their present lives had earlier died in an air crash and those afraid of crowds had once (or even twice!) been lynched.

"The main problem with Past Life Regression Therapy is that there is no past life", said Sanal Edamaruku in one of the discussion programs in other TV channels, reacting to the obscure show. "All those ‘memories’, however vivid, are delusion and self-deception. They are prompted by the ‘therapist’ with questions and suggestions, and shaped by the subject’s own experiences, knowledge, imagination and desire. Such pseudo-memories and fabricated past identities can sometimes appear quite real to the patient. That makes this 'therapy' so dangerous, as any negative impact of haunting false memories cannot easily be corrected. Past Life Regression Therapy has no scientific base. It is occultism rather than therapy. How could possibly memory - stored as it is in neurons - be transmitted after death from the decayed brain cells to another brain?"

Through different TV channels, responding to the Past Life program, Sanal Edamaruku mobilized Indian public opinion and opened up a wide education plan through the media. He explained that the show was unscrupulously capitalizing on superstitions and the old belief in karma and unchangeable fate that damages people's mindset and paralyses all personal and social development. "It is inhuman and unethical also. Take for example the case of a man, who suffers from stunted growth and short legs. In the show, he is made to 'remember' that he broke his legs in a former life when he tried to escape the punishment of a furious crowd for raping a woman! Such programs have to be stopped for violating the general code of public ethics," Sanal demanded.

Though the Past Life TV show was stopped in NDTV Imagine after some episodes, the producers are planning an English remake for the British viewers.

Headlines Today, earlier, invited Sanal Edamaruku and Dr. Hans Tendam, the pioneer of 'Regression Therapy' from The Netherlands, for a TV debate on the obscure practise. Dr. Tendam has trained many Indian Past Life Therapy practitioners. Excerpts of this interesting encounter are available on YouTube.

Sanal Edamaruku vs. Past Life Therapist Dr. Hans Tendam -
see an abbreviated version of the debate (in English, 2 parts) on our YouTube channel: