The Case For Reincarnation

Outlining the qualities, principles, and evidence of soul rebirth

By Dr. Walter Semkiw

Dr. Ian Stevenson, MD, who died in 2007, served as Chairman of the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Virginia, School of Medicine. Starting in 1961, for more than forty years, Dr. Stevenson investigated children who spontaneously remembered past lives that could be factually validated.

He chose to only study children as he reasoned that children were unlikely to fabricate past life memories. In total, Dr. Stevenson studied almost 2,500 children who reported past life memories. In approximately 1,700 of these cases, Dr. Stevenson was able to objectively validate the child’s past life memories.

Most of Dr. Stevenson’s cases come from India, Sri Lanka, Thailand, or other areas where the doctrine of reincarnation is accepted. In locations where reincarnation is not an accepted belief system, it is thought that parents inhibit a child’s expression of past life memories.

Still, there are many very important reincarnation cases in the United States that have been documented. One of the most important is the reincarnation case of James Huston, Jr./James Leininger, which dramatically shows how facial features can remain the same from one lifetime to another.

Qualities of Reincarnation

The childhood past life memory cases studied by Dr. Stevenson have a common pattern, marked by the following features:

1. As soon as the child can communicate, the child starts to describe a previous lifetime.

Often, the child declares that his or her name is different from the name given to the child by their biological parents. The child insists that the current family is not their true family, but that his or her real family lives in a different village or town. The child remembers the names of various family members and geographic locations from the past lifetime. Physical features of the past life house and neighborhood may be recalled. In Dr. Stevenson’s series of cases, the average age at which the child starts speaking about a past lifetime is 3 years of age and the average age when children stop talking about a past lifetime is 7.5 years of age.

2. The child remembers details of its death in the prior lifetime.

In 66 percent of Dr. Stevenson’s childhood reincarnation cases, a violent or premature death occurred in the previous lifetime. Dr. Stevenson found that individuals who died of traumatic wounds, such as bullet or knife wounds, often are born in a subsequent incarnation with birthmarks or scars that mirror the wounds incurred in the past lifetime. In the contemporary lifetime, the child may have a phobia related to the cause of death in the past life. It has been calculated that of the children who remember a violent past life death, 35 percent have a phobia related to the cause of past life death.

3. Based on information provided by the child to the biological family, the child’s family from the prior incarnation is eventually identified.

When the child meets this family for the first time, the child is able to identify family members by name or by relationship. The child often knows secrets that only members of the prior family would know. As a result, the family from the past lifetime often accepts the child as the reincarnation of their deceased relative.

The biological parents of the child in the current incarnation often fear that the child will leave them for the family from the prior incarnation, as the mutual bond between the child and past life family becomes so strong. This fear turns out to be unwarranted, as the bond between the child and the contemporary parents endures. A long-term relationship, though, typically ensues between the child and family from the prior lifetime.

4. Personality traits, personal preferences, and habits often persist from one incarnation to another.

5. Gender usually stays the same.

In 90 percent of Dr. Stevenson’s cases, the child returns assuming the same sex as in the past lifetime. Thus, in 10 percent of cases, gender is reversed from one lifetime to another. When gender change does occur, cases have been documented in which homosexuality or gender identity issues are observed. In other words, the reincarnated person often still maintains the mindset of their gender in the prior lifetime.

6. Physical appearance can be similar from one lifetime to another.

Dr. Stevenson’s cases show that physical appearance can remain the same from one incarnation to another. Two cases that dramatically demonstrate how facial features remain consistent from one lifetime to another include those of Suzanne Ghanem and Daniel Jurdi. Dr. Stevenson studied Ghanem and Jurdi in the late 1960s and early 1970s when they were small children. Photographs of these individuals from their prior incarnations were available. Stevenson revisited them in 1998 and found that these two people, now full-grown adults, had the same facial features as in their past incarnations.

In his book, Where Reincarnation and Biology Intersect, Dr. Stevenson advised that researchers systematically study “facial resemblances between subjects and previous personalities.”

7. Relationships are renewed through reincarnation.

Stevenson published a study involving 31 sets of twins, whose past lives were objectively validated. In 100 percent of these cases, the twins had significant past life relationships, most often as siblings, concretely demonstrating that souls plan lifetimes to be reunited with loved ones through reincarnation.

8. Children remember the interval in-between lifetimes.

In 20 percent of Stevenson’s cases, children reported memories of what happened in the spirit realm in-between lifetimes. These reports are found here.

The median interval between the past life death and rebirth is 16 months or about 1.5 years. The average interval between death and rebirth is 4.5 years. For reincarnation cases involving suicide in the prior lifetime, the median interval between death and rebirth is only 3 months.

Principles of Reincarnation

From Dr. Stevenson’s series of cases, as well as other independently researched reincarnation cases, Principles of Reincarnation can be derived. These principles include:

  • Physical resemblance from one lifetime to another
  • Birthmarks are observed related to past life trauma
  • Xenoglossy; the ability to speak a language that was not learned by normal means, reflecting a language known in a past lifetime
  • Innate talent and child prodigies; talents from a past lifetime are carried through to the contemporary life
  • Planning lifetimes; souls are observed to reincarnate with those they have known and loved in the past
  • Souls can change religion, nationality, and ethnic affiliation from one lifetime to another. This observation can help create a more peaceful world, as most conflicts are based on differences in these cultural markers of identity. The reincarnation case of Anne Frank/Barbro Karlen is a dramatic example, as Anne died in a concentration camp because she was Jewish, while Barbro Karlen was born into a Christian family in Sweden. I make the point that if the Nazis knew that one could be Jewish in one lifetime and Christian in another, the Holocaust could not have happened.
  • Change of gender occurs in 10 percent of cases
  • Phobias can result from past life trauma
  • Geographic memory; people can have innate knowledge of a city based on past life experiences. As an example, at 10 years of age, Barbro Karlen found her way to the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam without directions on her first visit to the city.
  • Split incarnation; cases demonstrate that a soul can animate more than one body at a time. Ian Stevenson termed these as cases with “anomalous dates,” as lifetimes overlapped.

To learn more about these cases and an overview on the state of the art of reincarnation research, please go to Principles of Reincarnation. Please also view the video Evidence of Reincarnation, which has had over 6 million views.

About The Author

Dr. Walter SemkiwDr. Walter Semkiw, MD, is a Board Certified physician and an expert in reincarnation research, particularly reincarnation cases which demonstrate objective evidence of reincarnation. Semkiw is the author of Return of the Revolutionaries: The Case for Reincarnation and Soul Groups Reunited. Neurosurgeon Norm Shealy, MD, PhD, wrote, “For the survival of humanity, this is the most important book written in 2,000 years.” Learn more about Walter’s work at

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