Those who would challenge the validity of PLT (past life therapy) often point to the lack of information which can be empirically validated. Their cry is, "Give us data! Give us names, dates, places!" For this reason, this contribution, in which a careful and methodical follow-up was conducted to validate the data obtained during the regression, is an important study. We would be interested in hearing from other PLT practitioners who have done similar studies and validations.
On February 11, 1942, the U.S. Submarine Shark, on which James Edward Johnston was a crew member, was depth charged and sunk by the Japanese Destroyer Amatsukaze. All hands including James drowned. The spirit that occupied the body of James appears to have reincarnated again on January 19, 1953 in the body of Bruce Kelly.
In hypnosis, Kelly has a clear and vivid recall of a past life as James. Past life regressionists rarely have the opportunity to research data presented by a client, but James Johnston lived so recently that many of the memories recalled by Bruce Kelly have been authenticated.
Documents from the Civilian Conservation Corps, the United States Navy, and civilian records such as birth certificate and high school attendance records verify the life of James. In addition, several of James' friends and relatives are still alive and have substantiated information recalled by Bruce Kelly while in hypnosis.
I am a Certified Hypnotherapist, experienced in past life regression. Bruce phoned me initially to ask if I would answer some metaphysical questions. We discussed reincarnation and what effect it might have in his current life. I told him that regression into past lives is easy to accomplish and that anyone can do it.
Our first meeting was on November 17, 1987, at the Covina Counseling Center in Glendora, California. During that session, I went through the normal preliminaries, explaining to him what hypnosis is, how it works, and why people are able to use hypnosis for past life regressions.
Bruce, a sales representative for a men's furnishings concern, was required to travel extensively. Most of his territory was accessible by car. Occasionally, it was necessary for him to fly, which terrified him. It was all he could do to board an airplane. We determined that his fear was of being in a closed place where he had no control. When the airplane's door was closed, terror overwhelmed him.
Bruce suffered another phobia: fear of water, even the water in a bathtub. Bruce could stand under the spray in a shower if his back was to the spray, but he could not face it. He could drink from a glass or was his car. He could be near a lake or the seashore without difficulty, and he could even wade in shallow puddles or dangle his feet in a swimming pool. However, whenever the water got up to around his knees or approached his trunk, such as when getting into a spa or a swimming pool, or even a bathtub, he became anxious. Actual immersion in water brought on irregular breathing, dizziness, nausea, trembling, and cramps.
Bruce had one other complaint, a chest pain that had bothered him for much of his adult life, a stabbing pain that started in his stomach and went into his chest, in the area of his left nipple. Several doctors, after examining him, had found no cause for the pain, and concluded it was idiopathic--it was all in his head.
During Bruce's first session, we discussed his symptoms, established a therapeutic objective, and I demonstrated past life regressive hypnosis. On the second visit, I transferred Bruce's recollection to his past lives. Bruce was instructed to recall the time and place where he was first affected by the terror he feels in an airplane.
Bruce said, "I'm in a submarine ... I'm dying."
I then asked him for the name of the submarine, its number and where the incident happened. Bruce answered easily, that the submarine was the Shark SS-174, and that it was part of the Asiatic Fleet, stationed in Manila Bay. He was a crewman aboard the submarine and his name was James Johnston. I asked for the time and date of James' death. He was able to answer immediately and without apparent effort. He was also able to recall where he was on the submarine and what was happening around him. As James, he had drowned in a submarine, an elongated, cylindrical pressure vessel which was similar to an airplane in form, fit, and function. Bruce observed the separation of the spirit from James' body. It has been my experience that if a subject recognizes and accepts separation, then the subject can and will abandon symptoms manifesting in their current lives.
The terror that had lived with James died with James. After the hypnotic past life regression, Bruce no longer felt afraid. He had left all of James' terror and anxiety in the submarine, and was relieved of the signs and symptoms of claustrophobia and hydrophobia.
Even though the therapeutic objective had been accomplished, Bruce and I agreed to investigate the life of James Johnston. In hypnosis, Bruce poured out information bout his prior life as James.
I began writing letters, and the information which verified Bruce's past life recollections began to come in. A trickle at first, then more, then a flood.
The U.S. Navy Historical Center and Operational Archives at the U.S. Navy Yard in Washington, D.C. is open to the public. I was able to verify many of Bruce's recollections by searching through the mountains of documents there and at the Military Reference and Service Branches of the National archives in Washington, D.C.
I traveled to James' hometown in Alabama and interviewed several of James' boyhood friends and relatives. I ran an ad in the local newspaper, asking people who knew James to please contact me. I also distributed fliers to the local Senior Citizens lunch program, and to the organizer of James' 1937-1938 High School Reunion. Everywhere I turned, I received verification of the information Bruce had recalled while he was in hypnotic trance.
James' mother, Annie, was unmarried. During the 1930's she and James lived in the Profile Cotton Mill Village, a company-owned village, complete with a company store and a tract of company-owned houses, which were occupied only by employees of the mill. Life within depression era company-owned villages was a dismal existence. James and his mother lived together in one rented bedroom of a company-owned house. James' mother was a gentle woman whose death in March of 1936 was a surprise to many, and a traumatic blow to her only son. Her death left him even more isolated and alone.
In July of 1938, James joined the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) and was immediately sent to Tule Lake in Northern California. He also served in CCC camps at Scottsboro, AL and Guntersville, AL. James resigned from the CCC and joined the Navy in July of 1940. After Naval Recruit Training School at Norfolk, VA, he was transferred to the South Pacific where he became a crewman aboard the Submarine Shark.
In the taped regression that follows, Bruce is recalling James' pre-war days on board the Shark. The transcript is not verbatim. Persons in trance do not communicate in the same manner as those who are in the normally aware state. They are lethargic and sometimes require many repetitions of the same questions. Sometimes the dialogue flows. Other times it is so clear and eloquent that one may question if the subject really is in hypnosis. Frequently a subject thinks a verbal response has been made when it has not. Many times, responses are not complete sentences. Occasionally, responses are too colorful to print. Bracketed material reflects my research and comments.
Rick: Where are you?
Rick: Is there a submarine base in Manila?
Bruce: I suppose there is, that's where the operations headquarters are. [Cavite, in Manila Bay, was the headquarters of the Sixteenth Naval District. Manila Bay was the home of the Asiatic Fleet. Several submarine squadrons were permanently stationed there.]
Rick: Do you have a particular friend? A crew member, someone you spend your time with?
Bruce: I don't see anyone really close. There is another person that works with me in the escape changer. He had the same training that I did. He was with me through training.
Rick: Let his name come to you.
Bruce: Robert Miller. [Robert Francis Miller, Fireman Second Class, is listed as a crew member on Shark. Miller was born in Evansville, Indiana, May 24, 1918. Miller was 22 years old on the date of his death.]
Rick: Did you and Robert Miller come together from school?
Bruce: I think we graduated together. [In order for a man to be assigned to regular duty on a submarine in 1941, he had to have received training in the use of the Momsen Lung, an underwater breathing device used to escape from a disabled submarine. Both men were probably trained and certified to use Momsen Lungs in Pearl Harbor. They probably graduated together.]
Rick: Are you accompanied by other ships or other submarines in your operations?
Bruce: Yeah, sometimes.
Rick: What are the ships that accompany you?
Bruce: I think there is Porpoise, maybe Spearfish, not all submarines have names. I get numbers, I think we may have been sent there with other submarines that are like 37 and 38. [Submarines 37 and 38 were Asiatic Fleet Boats on station in Manila Bay with Porpoise and Spearfish].
Rick: Does your submarine have a number?
Bruce: Not that we are referred to as, we're just referred to as Shark.
Rick: What is the nature of your (Shark's) activities in this area?
Bruce: Just reconnaissance. There is a reason we are here, but we are not aware of it.
Rick: How do you feel about not being aware of what is going on around you?
Bruce: We don't like it very much.
Rick: Do you talk about it?
Bruce: One-on-one, or a bitch session, but nobody is questioning any officers about it. We just do our duty. [A close boyhood friend of James, who most times called him "Red" because of his red hair, or "Ed", told me that he thought World War II saw the last of what he called "The Willing Warrior". Willing Warriors did not question. Most were farm people who went where they were told, and did what they were told.]
Rick: Do you ever encounter ships other than U.S. ships?
Rick: What do you do?
Bruce: We observe them, shadow them.
Rick: We are going forward in time now until after you are aware that Pearl Harbor has been attacked and after war has been declared. Is that OK with you?
Bruce: Yes. [A time focusing process].
Rick: What do you feel?
Rick: We are mad. We are so mad, that the Japanese would do this to us. We are also a little afraid because we know we are in danger.
Rick: Is there a feeling of closeness in the crew?
Bruce: More than there was before. Yes, now we realize that we have to depend on the other person for our life.
Rick: So now there is a unity?
Bruce: Yes, more than before.
Rick: Do you have a close friend, a close person you can share your thoughts with?
Bruce: No. Not really. I work with Robert Miller, but he is not a friend. [James has been described by a boyhood friend as a happy but lonely child. Bruce consistently reports James' loneliness].
Rick: What part of the submarine are you in?
Bruce: I'm in the crew quarters.
>Rick: Is the submarine surfaced or submerged?
Rick: Is it day or night?
Bruce: I think it's morning.
Rick: What is the date?
Bruce: I believe it's February eleventh. 
Rick: Okay, let's continue on with the morning of the eleventh. This is the morning of the loss of the Shark. Is that correct?
Rick: What are you doing in the crew quarters?
Bruce: I'm just relaxing. I am not on duty.
Rick: What is that duty?
Bruce: It involves the compartment, the escape hatches. It's a compartment by the torpedo room. [One of the roles of a past-life regressionist is to be a psycho-detective. The subject perceives many more sights, sounds and feelings than the regressionist is aware of and the subject may not report those perceptions. The subject is not intentionally withholding the information, but is focused on other things. The regressionist must recognize a clue or a significant bit of information as it comes from the subject. That is not easy to do and often times is not possible. In this case, I completely missed the clue about "just relaxing". In later regressions, it was determined that James was confined to his bunk with rib injuries received in a depth charge attack on February 8, 1942].
Rick: Do you have another man you work with?
Bruce: Yes, Robert Miller.
Rick: Is he standing watch now?
Rick: Why is the submarine submerged now?
Bruce: Because it's daytime hours and our mission is reconnaissance and Japanese ships have been reported in the area. [Shark was on her second and last war patrol. On February 7, 1942, Lt. Commander Shane reported the presence of a Japanese cargo ship. On February 8, Shark was told by radio from Surabaya to proceed to Makassar via the Northern coast of Celebes].
Rick: I want you to go forward in time on this day to the point where you start to become engaged with whatever causes you to sink. Go forward in time now ... [A time focusing process].
... as an observer, you will feel nothing: you only observe, and as an observer, you begin to understand. You know what you have engaged that causes you to sink. What is it?
Bruce: It's a Japanese destroyer.
Rick: Are you aware of the name of the destroyer, its class, its size?
Bruce: No. [The Japanese destroyer was the Amatsukaze. She was a 2033 ton Kagero class fleet destroyer, carrying 16 depth charges. Amatsukaze was sunk June 4, 1945].
Rick: Are you on watch?
Bruce: Not at this time I am not. [James was confined to his bunk with rib injuries].
Rick: What time is it?
Bruce: I think it's about 11:30.
Rick: Morning or evening?
Rick: Is it a single destroyer?
Bruce: I don't think so. I think there are more, but I'm not sure.
Rick: What is the nature of the attack?
Bruce: It's a depth charge, and it happens in a hurry. I haven't gotten to my post yet. I have just gotten out of the crew quarters and we're hit. I am in a long hallway and trying to get to my post and we are hit. Pretty severely, the ship is really shaking and rolling and momentarily goes black.
Rick: Are you uncomfortable? [My question was to Bruce who was showing discomfort and anxiety. James answered.]
Bruce: I am scared. I was knocked off of my feet by the impact and I am trying to scramble to my feet in the dark and find my way. I guess to find my way to my post. I am scared and confused. I guess that's where I want to go.
Rick: Do the lights come back on?
Bruce: Yes, momentarily. I have gotten to my feet and I am just getting to a hatch and I'm going through the hatch when we are hit again and the lights go out again. This one was a lot more severe. This one is a direct hit. No doubt that this is a direct hit and I am knocked off my feet again.
Rick: Must have been a very severe hit.
Bruce: There's water in the compartment. The ship is flooding. It's flooding fast. The last hit definitely ripped a big hole in it. I get the impression it was close to where I was, maybe back close to the midsection, behind the conning tower. That's where it took the hit.
Rick: On which side?
Bruce: Right on the top.
Rick: And so water is rushing in very fast?
Bruce: Very fast.
Rick: Do you hear sounds of shouting around you?
Bruce: Not that much in the hatch that I'm going through. I am still in the hallway. I still haven't gotten to my post. There is one other person there. He's in the same situation I am. A panic. He's not hurt at this time, but there is water rushing in and filling up real fast. My thought is to get to my post with the possibility of getting out of the ship. But at the same time I am aware of the impossibility of this. Just that everything had gone wrong in a hurry. We are definitely going down.
Bruce: The blast was so close to the conning tower that it may have ripped into it. There may have been two depth charges, the one that I felt and maybe the sensation of another. I was kinda in a twilight because the first one knocked me out.
Bruce: More like one and then very possibly another one right afterward.
Rick: How long does it take for the water to fill the compartment?
Bruce: Not long, a minute or so.
Rick: What are your thoughts as the water is rushing in?
Bruce: The realization that I am dying. There is no way out. There's definitely no way out. No way that I can go anywhere. The water's too strong, the current is coming in. I have the sensation, the feeling that everybody on board is going through the same thing that I am. We are all dying quickly.
Rick: Is there anyone nearby?
Bruce: Walter Pilgram.
Bruce: He is older than I am.
Rick: Considerably older?
Bruce: Maybe mid-thirties. He's someone I haven't been close to on the ship. Just know of him. I know him by name. [Pilgram was born December 21, 1909. He was 31 years old on the date of his death.]
Rick: What does he do on the ship?
Bruce: A mechanic or an engineer. [Walter Pilgram was a Chief Electrician's Mate].
Bruce: Something like that. Never have really taken the time to talk with him or to discuss what he does. I just believe that is what he does. [Firemen Second Class do not associate with Chiefs].
Rick: Do you in any way attempt to exit the submarine?
Bruce: There's no way. The compartment, the hallway we are in just filled up too fast with water, and there is no way out. We just can't get out of this compartment.
Rick: Is that the compartment with the escape hatch?
Bruce: No. That's where I am trying to get to. The submarine is filling up with water so fast and was hit so violently that I'm sure that there is no way anybody can get out.
Rick: Uh-huh. Were you dead before the submarine got to the bottom?
Rick: Was everyone dead before the submarine got to the bottom?
Bruce: Yes, I think so. [Pause]
Rick: I'm going to count from five to one. When I reach the number one, your spirit will have rejoined your body and the time will be early in the morning of February 11th. Long before the attack, long before any problems. A time when you were very relaxed and calm and very much at ease. Five, back to being in the body, being a part of the body, the spirit and the body are together. Four. Going back to the time and the place and to the morning when you were in your quarters, relaxing. There, you are ... [I terminated the hypnotic trance and brought Bruce into full physical and mental awareness.]
The memories of James' past life episodes which flow so easily from Bruce's subconscious mind have freed Bruce from his irrational fears and resolved. his claustrophobia and hydrophobia. Just as his doctors concluded, the phantom pain in his chest was without any physical cause. It was all in his head. Now it is gone.
Extensive research indicates that Bruce Kelly's memories of James Edward Johnston's life and death are accurate. Still, there is no proof, only converging lines of evidence suggesting Bruce Kelly is the reincarnation of James.
Rick Brown is a graduate of the Hypnotism Training Institute of Los Angeles and a Certified Hypnotherapist in full-time private practice in Glendora, California since 1987. He specializes in Stress Management and Stop Smoking seminars, as well as in the development of self-help audio cassettes. His background also includes a career in engineering and he holds many U.S. and foreign patents.
Reproduced from The Journal of Regression Therapy, Vol. V, No. 1, December, 1991, the journal of the International Association for Regression Research and Therapies. Copyright IARRT, permission to reprint requested. If IARRT or the author has any objections, please e-mail the webmaster of this website.
The historical validations in this case are too specific to be due to chance. The only possible alternative explanations, other than reincarnation, are: 1) accessing some psychic pool of information, like the "akashic records" or the "collective unconscious" (unlikely because the subject experienced these memories in the first person, and because long-standing phobias were involved and were cured); or 2) fraud on the part of either the subject, or the therapist/presenter.
This article was published in 1991, and thus the sessions took place somewhat earlier, before the internet was in common usage. It is technically possible that the subject, having a prior interest in metaphysics (hence the reason for the initial contact with the therapist, to ask questions about metaphysics), wanted to perpetrate a hoax. He could conceivably have researched all this information beforehand, and pretended to divulge it under hypnosis. While this can't be discounted as a possibility, it seems very unlikely. For one thing, the subject accurately portrayed the personality of the deceased person. Had he obtained this information from personal associates (as the therapist did), those associates would have mentioned that Bruce Kelly had asked them the same questions earlier. Likewise, a records clerk in at least one of the archive facilities probably would have commented to the therapist that someone had asked for those exact same records earlier.
If these alternative explanations are discounted, then this case provides extremely strong evidence that at least some hypnotic past-life regression sessions are retrieving historically real past-life memories, and that they are memories of the same person in a previous incarnation.
Note: I have added the photos as of 3/13/06. They are from the cover of Rick Brown's book by the same name as this article, which I just purchased used. I had not seen a comparison photograph before this time. The two faces are quite similar, though not identical; but the eyes, and my intuitive perception of the mind behind those two pairs of eyes, indicate to me that this is a match. There is something in the gaze, despite the fact that James seems to harbor a lot of resentment and anger, while Bruce seems to be free of it. Since publishing this article I have learned that author Rick Brown has passed on.
6/20/06: I am now reading the full version of the account in book form. In the book, author/therapist Rick Brown reproduces Bruce Kelly's diary verbatim, including his decision to be hypnotized and his meeting with the therapist. It is clear from this account that there is no fraud on the part of Mr. Kelly (interestingly, he was a "born again" Christian when he began his search). That eliminates any reasonable hypothesis of fraud on his part, in my opinion--leaving only the unlikely possibility that Mr. Brown made up both Mr. Kelly and the entire account as a fictional work. That means that beyond a reasonable doubt, this case proves (yet again) that past-life memory may correspond to actual historical persons and events in a way that precludes chance. Which proves that reincarnation is real. Which proves that as a whole, our entire Western civilization is in psychological denial. Which proves that our entire Western civilization suffers from what, in an individual, would be considered some form of neurosis. Which I am tired of saying while nobody is listening...but, if you are listening, there it is.
I have made the entire book on which this article is based available for download in Word format. See the Recommended Books section of this website.
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