In this transcription of a lecture given in 2000, Jay Haley begins by answering the question, “What is hypnosis?” Haley reviews the circumstances of Gregory Bateson encouraging him to meet with Milton Erickson to discuss the history of hypnosis and the paradoxical nature of trance induction. Haley expresses many original thoughts about multiple personalities, regression to past lives, and how to handle memories that historically may be false. Sophisticated and subtle, this is Haley at his best.
To examine the role of hypnotic suggestion in identity in past-life regression, 2 experiments were conducted at the request of Korea’s major national television companies. A real historical person and a fictional character were selected as past-life identities. After hypnotic induction, a past-life regression suggestion was given. While counting backward to past-life, the suggestion of a specific identity was interspersed 3 times. In 5 of 6 subjects, the same past-life identity that had been suggested was produced, with relatively rich content accompanied by emotional and historical facts identical to the suggested identity. This study found that it was quite simple and easy to manipulate past-life identity. The role of suggestion in the formation of past-life memories during hypnosis is crucial.