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Experts break down what happens when children report memories of their past lives

From talking about people they've never met to recalling events that never happened to them, these children have the wildest stories.

Experts break down what happens when children report memories of their past lives
Representative Cover Image Source: Pexels | Xam

The case of James Leininger” was one of the most amusing incidents of reincarnation that Dr. Jim Tucker from Virginia ever came across. It involved Leininger, a 2-year-old from Louisiana, in 2000. Every night, the boy would wake up from his sleep, screaming and repeating certain phrases that perplexed his parents. Upon investigation, a stupefying story unfolded. It has been claimed that Leininger was a World War II pilot in his last life and he died when he was shot down by Japanese forces.

Representative Image Source: Pexels | bess hamiti
Representative Image Source: Pexels | Bess Hamiti

Tucker, a psychiatrist and the director of the Division of Perceptual Studies at the University of Virginia School of Medicine, has been studying cases like this for over 20 years. He has solved over 2500 cases where children report remembering their past lives, which are now assembled in a database of the department. 

Representative Image Source: Pexels | samy
Representative Image Source: Pexels | samy


Another prominent case involved a boy from Oklahoma. In 2009, 5-year-old Ryan Hammons would wake up at night and yell, “Can I go home? Can I see my mom?” or “What happened to my children?” He would be teary-eyed as if struck by some melancholy. Speaking to his mother Cyndi Hammons, he once said, “I think I used to be somebody else.”


The internet is filled with other accounts of children who remember their previous lives. For example, in a viral TikTok video that has been viewed over 4.1 million times, a mother named Ashley (@2kidsmamadrama) shared an intriguing tale about her daughter who claimed she remembered her past life.

“When she was 5 years old, she said ‘Let’s pretend that you’re my real mom,’” Ashley recalled in the video. “I was like, ‘I am your real mom, biologically.’ She’s like, ‘No, silly, you’re my new mom, my real mom died a long time ago. And then I came back and now you’re my new mom,’” Ashley said. The mom shared all the details, including the fact that the girl told her that she had an accident in 1949.

@2kidsmamadrama My old soul, little old lady daughter recounts her past life and how she died. Mind you she’d okder now so details are fading but she doesnt ever skip a beat and remember the same things every time. #reincarnate #reincarnation #pastlife #childpastlife #1942 #caraccident #sheknows @meganalisamedium07 @scottythemedium @psychicmediumloriej @psychicmediumpamsears @maryannmorganpsychicok ♬ original sound - Ashley


According to Tucker, a child usually starts talking about their past life around their third birthday. As they gain better verbal skills, they might discuss events that happened in their past lives or with their previous family members. "Seventy-five percent of them will talk about how they died in their last life," said Tucker to Mind Body Green. "In those cases, 70% of them are through some sort of unnatural means: murder, suicide, combat accidents."


Children, when talking about their previous life, might often show behaviors like phobias, preferences, or tendencies that seem to be coming from nowhere. They might describe places they have never been to, or they might describe people they’ve never met. They might use statements that are baffling to their parents, and likewise. They are also likely to have persistent flashbacks of memories they never experienced in their real life. It might start with descriptions of an “imaginary friend.” It might appear to many parents as a typical childish tantrum, but it is quite possible that the child’s statement is not just a mere fantasy.


The idea that a soul resides in the cloak of a physical body and leaves it at death to wear another body, might seem too implausible to trust. However, reincarnation is an important aspect, especially in Eastern spirituality.


Tovah Klein, a leading child development psychologist, author and director of the Barnard College Center for Toddler Development in New York, explained to The Washington Post that at age 2 or 3, children engage in fantasy play, but they are not likely to fabricate a statement involving their primary relationships. “Sitting with the unknown, for humans, is perhaps the hardest thing we have to do,” she said. “But we owe it to a child, we owe it to the family, to listen, and to try to understand and support them, wherever they are, whatever is happening.”


Reincarnation might still be a mystery, but evidence suggests that the visceral concept could be true. According to Reader’s Digest, 33% of Americans report being able to recall their past lives. There have been several reality TV shows that have affirmed the idea of reincarnation.

Representative Image Source: Pexels | minan1398
Representative Image Source: Pexels | minan1398

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