Many Lives, Many Masters

On October 8, 2007 by Eden M. Kennedy

Many Lives, Many Masters: The True Story of a Prominent Psychiatrist, His Young Patient, and the Past-Life Therapy That Changed Both Their Lives by Brian L. Weiss, M.D.

I read this because the book group I joined but only ever went to once assigned it for September. (And did I go? To sit in a hot tub and discuss it? No.)

So there’s this psychiatrist who has a patient who, while under hypnosis, appears to spontaneously regress into past lives. “Catherine” gives detailed accounts of twelve lives lived in different places, as either sex, inhabiting a few different races, as well as information about each death and afterlife experience. The shrink, previously a man of hard science, falls for her sincere and apparently credible tales, especially as each past life corresponds with a phobia she has come to him to help her overcome. As she remembers a life where she was murdered by having her throat slit, she thus overcomes her irrational fear in this life of having her throat slit.

She has other information, too. People in comas can choose to come back or not, depending on if they’ve finished their “lessons” for this life. She can recognize certain individuals from past lives that she is close to in this one, their relationships playing out similar themes from life to life. The “Masters” look after her after death and help heal the wounds people suffer in life before sending them back into the fray.

A highly emotional book, I let myself get swept up in the romance of it all, the comforting feeling that once we learn all the lessons we’re supposed to learn in each life we are looked out for and guided with great wisdom after death. But the other half of my brain went, “Hmm, well, but does her story check out?” The doctor claims that everything she said can be independently verified, that it would be impossible for someone with no experience of rural life to spontaneously describe, while under hypnosis, how to churn butter. (Unless perhaps our brains are capable of storing survival tactics from all those Laura Ingalls Wilder books we read in elementary school.)

So I dunno. I think it’s a fascinating subject but I’d like to see it in the hands of a more rigorous author, someone like Mary Roach or Susan Orlean.



11 Responses to “Many Lives, Many Masters”

  • I read this years ago after a woman who had recently lost her son to cancer lent it to me. I had the same reaction. While reading it I was swept up and I wanted to believe and to release my cynicism but once I was finished with the book I wasn’t quite able to release it all.

  • I read a book by Mary Roach called “Stiff: A Curious Look at the Life of Cadavers”. It was an interesting and often humorous book about something incredibly grotesque.

    I don’t know if that is something you’d like to read, but it was good.

  • Exactly! That’s why I mentioned her, that and her other book, “Spook,” it I want to read, I should put that on my wishlist.

  • I have read both “Stiff” and “Spook” by Mary Roach. I LOVED “Stiff” but “Spook” was just not as strong. Not as interesting, not as well-written. But “Stiff” was fantastic.

  • MLMM is one of my favorite books ever. He has two follow-up books, equally as fascinating.

    The thing that did it for me was when she correctly told Dr. Weiss about his dead son, and there was no way she could have known that. If you know anything about meridian readings, people can regress with that path as well. I’ve been studying metaphysics since 1983 and now believe more in the other side than this side.

  • Suzy Soro, I’m with you – I believe more in the other side than I do in this one.

    There’s a lot of that stuff that just feels true to me – I have people in my life (my youngest daughter, in particular) who I KNOW I’ve been with before. I recognize patterns in this life that seem familiar and, every once in a while, I get flashes of knowledge I couldn’t possibly have. Besides, it’d be ridiculous to think that THIS is as good as it gets, don’t you think?

  • Haven’t read it, but love those kinds of things. However, I’m afraid I too remain on the cynical side.

    15 years ago everyone and his sister had satanic cults in their past and parents who buried dead babies in the backyard.

    25 years ago everyone and her neighbor had been abducted by aliens and um, probed.

    Some of this is from actual trauma and abuse early on, some of it is just how the mind makes sense of craziness. Or of things that seem crazy to the person in that life. Have an emotion that feels wrong/overwhelming/too painful to stand? Then attribute it to another life, an alien, satanic parents.

    NOW, this isn’t to say that there can’t be those things, but it sure seems odd that they go in such cycles. Did the aliens get bored and cede space to the satanists?

  • Eden, you haven’t read Stiff? Or am I reading that incorrectly?

  • I started reading this as a cynic, like you became swept up in the ‘what-ifs’ of it, and sadly ended as a bit of a sceptic again. I would love to believe, particularly about the sense of connection I have with some people, but for the record, the concensus of hot-tub-book-club was:

    1) If he was allegedly talking to someone from France/Ukraine etc – why was this previous life character able to converse in English?

    2) Chilly said she must have really buggered up her previous lives to get dystonia in this one.

    3) Actually the real concensus was how can 8 women drink 16 bottles of wine without regressing in to past lives.

    Personally – I think he was having an affair with Catherine and wrote the book to get his wife off the scent of his infatuation with this ‘intriguing’ woman.

  • Oh good lord.

    I followed the link to Amazon. All I have to say is that crap like this is the reason we need better science education in this country.

  • Sixteen bottles of wine and I’ll believe just about anything.