Does Past-Life Regression Work?
For as long as she can remember, Jodi says she has been terrified of dolls. One of her earliest memories is having her picture taken with Santa. To her horror, the photographer asked her to pose with a doll for the photo. "I can remember holding this doll and trying to smile," Jodi says. "I was screaming inside, 'Please don't make me hold that doll!'"
Jodi's fear is so strong that she says she doesn't even let her daughter own dolls. One day when picking her daughter up from day care, Jodi arrived to find her little girl holding a baby doll. "My heart went to my stomach and tears welled up in my eyes and I started to shake," Jodi says. "I thought, 'There's my baby, she's got this doll, and I can't pick her up.'"
Jodi says even photographs of dolls scare her and nothing she does can rationalize her fear away. "I know that that doll cannot come to life. I know that there's nothing that doll can do to physically harm me," she says. "I'm still terrified."
Jodi says she sees her grandfather, who died almost 20 years ago, welcoming her. She says she's happy to see him, but misses him. Dr. Weiss says Jodi's grandfather is her spiritual guide.
Then she mumbles the words "died too soon." Dr. Weiss leads Jodi to the moment when, in a past life, she died. "I see an accident scene ... car," she says.
"Was there anyone else in the car with you?" Dr. Weiss asks. "Who did you leave? Who was in the car?"
"My babies," Jodi says. "It feels real. And then I'm kind of gone. And then I'm with papa."
To comfort her, Dr. Weiss asks Jodi to look beyond the moment in which she died, and to focus on the lives of the survivors of the accident, specifically her babies in the car.
Jodi does, and says she sees them as they grow up. "They're healthy and good kids," she says.
Dr. Weiss says his session with Jodi was a long and intense one. "It was very emotional, but that's where the healing often comes from: from the catharsis, from the emotion, from remembering," he says. "And this was really important for her to go through."
Dr. Weiss believes Jodi's fear of dolls originates from not being able to protect her children in a past life. "This is a fear she would have carried over [to her next life]," he says. According to Dr. Weiss, the dolls Jodi is so fearful of are representative of the children she left behind. "The doll was a metaphor symbol for babies."
"My instinct says to me, 'Flee. Turn it off.' Because that's what I would have done in the past," Jodi says. "[Instead] I immediately thought of the light and I heard my grandfather's voice say, 'It's okay.' &38230; Before, there's no way I could have watched that show, absolutely no way."
While one in five Americans say they believe in reincarnation, Dr. Oz wonders if what Dr. Weiss calls past-life regression might be something else. Are the people he treats really reliving memories from lives they have lived before?
"When symptoms disappear, that's usually not from imagination or something like that. It's usually from the real memory, the experience," Dr. Weiss says. "Imagination doesn't cure symptoms."
The skeptic might explain it away, saying Jodi is a person with needs who merely wishes the past-life regression can help her.
Another explanation could be that past-life regression is something much larger. "They might say that this is someone tapping into a collective unconsciousness," Dr. Oz says.
Or it could be explained by new theories in physics that say there could potentially be 11 dimensions instead of the three—length, width and height—we normally perceive. "Imagine that existence is really a series of shower curtains, each of which is a dimension, and sometimes those dimensions just ever so daintily touch and when they touch, weird things happen," Dr. Oz says. "Is it a black hole? Is it a spiritual vision? Is it a reincarnation?"
Dr. Oz says he does not know if what Dr. Weiss does is actually helping people look backward to past lives. "My thing is, what does it matter what you call it?" he says. "Does it matter if you call it a master or if you call it an angel?"
Dr. Oz says he distinctly remembers one of these patients, a Vietnam veteran who needed a mechanical support for his heart. Before the surgery, Dr. Oz went to visit this patient. "He said, 'Doc, I've been on battlefields when I should have died. I know when I'm going to die and it's not tomorrow,'" Dr. Oz says.
During the surgery, Dr. Oz says, there were serious complications. "He bled and bled and bled and for three days I had my arms in his chest. And by some miracle ... this gentleman survived and should not have," Dr. Oz says. "A couple days later, after he'd come back to his senses and I closed his chest, I asked him what he'd seen because I was so curious what gave him the fighting power for that long a period of time. And he said, 'All I saw was a light and I was in sort of Jell-O and I was moving back and forth and I knew if I lost the light, I'd be gone. But if I could get under it and focus on it, it would pull me up towards it. And that's what happened when I woke up and recovered from the operation.'"
"I've heard similar stories too many times ... to write it off," Dr Oz says.
Dr. Weiss says he experienced a case like this with a Chinese surgeon who spoke no English when he met her. The surgeon didn't suffer from any phobias or other symptoms, but just wanted the experience, he says.
When they began her regression, Dr. Weiss says, they used an interpreter. "So we're doing this and she's in 1850 in Northern California having this argument with her husband and she begins to speak in very fluent and colorful English. And the translator doesn't realize at first what's happening so he begins translating the whole thing back into Chinese for me. So I have to say, 'Stop it. I understand the English.' And then the look on his face—because she couldn't even say hello 20 minutes before that—he's ready to faint."
When Dr. Oz meets people who seem to have emotional and intellectual connections to places they've never visited, he says he starts looking for paranormal explanations. "I think it's very healthy for us to take a crowbar, which is what we're doing on this show, and just pry the lid off our belief that everything around us is so rational," he says. "We are hardwired to deal with very real things in front of us because that kept us alive 100 years ago, 1,000 years ago and last year, but I think we're able to go past that."
Recent innovations have allowed researchers to study human DNA strands, but Dr. Oz says we still don't know what most of our genetic makeup means. "[Roughly] 97 percent of our DNA is called junk DNA. Believe me, it's not junk," he says. "There's no reason for you to have DNA strands that don't have any meaning. There is meaning there. We just don't know it, and some of that may actually be hereditary memories—the insights into events our species has collected."
Dr. Oz says if you condition an earthworm to respond to stress and then cut it in half, both the part with a brain and the part without a brain continue to react to the same stress. "You begin to think, 'Is our mind where it is all at?'" he says. "Now I admit, as a heart surgeon I've always focused on the heart, but the poets might be right...maybe the spirit is there."
"It controlled my whole life really. None of my friends know about it, so I have little rituals that I would do to cover it up," she says. "Anything that had a sharp object, I had to try to rearrange the situation."
Erin agrees to meet with Dr. Weiss to try to unlock the mysteries of her phobias. During their first session, Erin taps into the life of a Native American man living in the 1800s. She glimpses the sharp, pointed spear of an attacker.
As the session continues, Dr. Weiss guides her into another past life, which helps explain her fear of having her neck touched. In this past life, Erin says she thinks she was a prostitute who died by strangulation. "I don't feel very good about myself. That's why I think I'm a prostitute," she says. She envisions herself sitting on the edge of a bed, putting on stockings. Then, she sees a man strangling her from behind.
For the first time in years, Erin says she's able to touch her neck and visualize sharp corners without feeling anxious. "I feel so much better," she says. "I can't believe that I can actually look at a corner now and touch my neck...it's amazing."
"There's no more fear," Dr. Weiss says. "You're free now."
When Erin regressed back to the life of a Native American man, she says she saw images of him being stabbed near the eye with a sharp object. "When I fell in my death, I smacked my head on a piece of granite, so I don't like things close to my face or next to my eye," she says. "When [Dr. Weiss] was talking me through all of this, I saw elevator doors close right after the death, and I asked him what that meant. He said, 'You've closed that chapter in your life.'"
Thinking there might be more to Amy's story, Oprah Show producers suggested that she meet with Dr. Weiss to explore past life regression. At first, Amy was hesitant. "I didn't want to do it. I was very skeptical. There's all that world of unknown," she says. "Plus, I wasn't sure if I believed in past lives."
Eventually, Amy had a change of heart and decided to set up a session. After a few moments of relaxation, Dr. Weiss asks her to revisit past lives that might relate to her present fears. Amy says she sees herself as Elizabeth, a confident, royal woman in Medieval times. When she goes forward in Elizabeth's life, she sees a baby that looks like her son, Wyatt.
Then, when she jumps to the end of Elizabeth's life, Amy says she sees a sick woman on her deathbed with her son at her side. "He doesn't seem scared, but he seems sad. Very sad," she says. "It feels awful that I'm leaving them."
Dr. Weiss says understanding how Elizabeth dies in a previous life will bring great comfort and meaning to her life today. What lessons does she learn from this experience? "I think that I'm scared to die because my kids will miss me, and I will miss them," she says.
"The fear of losing your children, that comes from that ancient time. It's not something that's going to happen. It's something that already did happen," Dr. Weiss says. "You can let go of that fear and that anxiety, and you can be happier now. You don't have to be afraid for them."
Since her session with Dr. Weiss, Amy says she hasn't had another night terror. "I have had actual normal, happy dreams. I've never had those. ... I feel free of it," she says. "One thing that Dr. Weiss said to me that I think is what I took from it [is] that it can be part fantasy. You go to this previous life, and you find things that you need healing for in this life."
In another life, Dr. Weiss says he was a Catholic priest in Scotland during the Middle Ages. "[I was] killed in the inquisition for teaching about reincarnation and other forbidden subjects," he says. "So I must have gotten over my fear somewhere along the way."
"These teachings were things that resonate [with] me," he says. "For example, the concept that you're put on this planet in part to work out issues of trust and forgiveness and love—these are themes that should not be foreign to anyone hearing this show...even my colleagues."
Dr. Oz says this therapy may help some people get to the root of their problems, and help ease physical and emotional pain. "I want to be as up front as I can. It is not about advocating for this. It's about evaluating it," he says. "We owe it to ourselves as physicians and [to the] people who trust us ... to explore every possible option to make lives better. If we're going to be closed minded about that and put the blinders on, then shame on us."