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Psychic Husks & Surviving Personality Constellations

Apr 01, 2007 12:08 PM
by danielhcaldwell

In his 1976 book Death and Eternal Life, John Hick proposed 
the "psychic husk" theory to explain Ian Stevenson's cases of 
children who claim to remember their previous lives: 

"....Stevenson himself discusses several different  hypotheses, other 
than reincarnation, each of which may apply to one or more of his own 
twenty cases, though he does not think that they can between them 
convincingly cover all of them. I should like to add one more to the 
list of possible non-reincarnationist explanations, making use of the 
psychic factor theory mentioned in chapter 7. This is the theory that 
after bodily death a mental 'husk' or 'mask' of  the deceased person 
is left behind and is telepathically accessible under certain 
conditions to living persons. Such a 'husk' may consist of  mere 
fragments of memory, emotion, habit ? analogous to isolated pieces of 
a tape-recording ? or of a relatively coherent and cohensive body of  
such elements and may . . . become linked to the mind of a medium  
when in trance and be presented under the dramatic guise of a  
visitor from the spirit world. This hypothesis can be extended to 
cover the comparatively rare cases of an individual 'remembering' a 
supposed previous identity and life. It may be that he (or she) is 
telepathically sensitive in the same sort of way as a medium, and is 
being influenced by the psychic 'husk' of some deceased person and 
identifying himself with this." 

"It is perhaps worth noting, as consistent with this possibility,  
that in most, or perhaps all, of the more impressive cases of  
reported memories of former lives ? including all of Ian Stevenson's 
twenty selected cases ? the remembered life was the most recent one, 
with a gap of no more than a few years between its end and the 
beginning of the reported memories. Likewise  the 'spirits' who 
communicate through mediums have usually only  fairly recently died. 
The recency of the material in each case might be expected if the 
phenomena have a common origin in  persisting psychic traces 
or 'husks' which presumably gradually fade or decay with the passage 
of time."  Death and Eternal Life, p. 376.  

And in 1985, D. Scott Rogo, a prolific writer on parapsychological 
subjects, published a book on reincarnation (The Search for 
Yesterday: A Critical Examination of the Evidence for Reincarnation) 
in which he gave the following "explanatory model" to explain 
Stevenson's "apparent" cases of reincarnation:

"I believe that the human personality survives death, but this is not 
the same as positing the existence of an immortal soul.  But just 
what is this 'personality' that survives?  We cannot really speak 
about personality without also speaking about our memory, for 
personality is simply the sum of our memories and our behavioral 
dispositions.   So what really survives death is a personalized 
network of memories.  It is a moot point whether any spark of 
divinity (a 'soul') lies within this network.  It probably retains 
its individuality and consciousness.   During our lives after death 
we would probably be linked to our deceased relatives and friends in 
a huge interpersonal matrix.  In time, we shed our individuality and 
merge totally into this more impersonal field, thereby experiencing a 
blissful annihilation."

"This general conception of the afterlife ties in mutually with the 
whole concept of reincarnation.  A developing embryo can become 
linked with one or more of these surviving personality 

"Either the craving of the constellation for existence drives it to 
attach itself to a new life, or the developing consciousness [of the 
embryo] latches onto one or more of these personalities of its own 
accord.  A case of the former might express itself in those 
[reincarnation] cases that look like 'possession,' in which the 
personality of the living person will temporarily transform into that 
of the donor.  We saw this process at work in the case of Uttara 
Huddar [The Search for Yesterday, pp. 150-155], and to a lesser 
degree during the strange trances to which Kumkum Verma [The Search 
for Yesterday, pp. 49-51] was prone.   The outcome of the second 
process might be a more passive expression, in which the child merely 
assimilates some of the memories of the donor [deceased] personality."

"This linkage is not really reincarnation, since the developing life 
is only tapping the resources of the donor personality's surviving 
memories and dispositions.  The infant's own spiritual essence is not 
being taken over by, or emerging from, the donor in any real sense.  
So we might sum this all up by saying that at birth, an infant is 
complete with its own burgeoning personality.  But it is born with a 
psychic heritage based on its prenatal contact with 'the dead'."

"This theory can account for birthmark cases as well as for the 
emergence of past-life memories and phobias.  Because an unborn child 
has few psychological resources of its own, any surviving personality 
constellation with which it comes in contact is bound to exert a 
strong influence."  

"This general framework also helps explain why so many 'reincarnated' 
children recall violent past-life deaths.  It may be that people who 
die violently shed particularly dynamic or tightly integrated memory 
constellations.  They might especially strive for existence and might 
more readily attach themselves to a newly developing life or hold out 
a greater attraction to the developing infant."

"It is likely that we all harbor memories of our psychic heritage 
deep within our subconscious minds.  It is not unthinkable that we 
can make contact with memory traces left by these links by digging 
deeply into the subconscious.This is why such [memory] traces would 
tend to emerge during hypnosis, as a result of an LSD session, or 
during intensive psychotherapy.  Any procedure that temporarily 
places the conscious mind in abeyance could allow these memory traces 
to surface or to be tapped. If the traces left by these prenatal 
psychic contacts are able to form into a subsystem within the living 
person's mind, he or she would be endowed with some amazing 
abilities.  He or she might be able to speak a foreign language never 
learned or display precocious artistic and mechanistic skills and 
other talents."

"So, in conclusion, do I 'believe' in reincarnation?   Based on the 
evidence [examined in my book], I suppose that I should say that I 
do: but not in reincarnation of the soul, but in the fact that 
certain apparently vanished memories and traits of [a deceased] 
personality can actually be born again [in another living human 
being.]"  Abridged and collated from The Search for Yesterday, pp. 


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