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Ian Stevenson
Born (1918-10-31)October 31, 1918
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Died February 8, 2007(2007-02-08) (aged 88)
Citizenship Canadian by birth; American, naturalized 1949
Education University of St. Andrews (1937–1939)
BSc (McGill University, 1942)
MD (McGill University School of Medicine, 1943)
Occupation Psychiatrist, director of the Division of Perceptual Studies at the University of Virginia School of Medicine
Known for Reincarnation research, near death studies, medical history taking
Spouse(s) Octavia Reynolds (m. 1947)
Margaret Pertzoff (m. 1985)

Ian Stevenson, M.D., was a Canadian professor of psychiatry. He worked at the University of Virginia, in the area of parapsychology.

Stevenson thought that the idea of reincarnation might help modern medicine better understand aspects of human behavior and development. He traveled a lot over a period of 40 years to investigate 3,000 childhood cases that suggested to him the possibility of past lives. Stevenson saw reincarnation as the survival of the personality after death, although he never suggested a physical process by which a personality might survive death.

Stevenson's research was the subject of Jim B. Tucker's Life Before Life (2005).

Reincarnation research

Stevenson found that the best evidence supporting the belief in reincarnation comes from the cases of young children who, typically between the ages of 2 and 5, make statements about a previous life they claim to have had before being born. Their statements are often accompanied by behaviour that is unusual for their family but appropriate for the life that the child claims to remember. There is often a "forgetting of the imaged memories between the ages of 5 and 8; a high incidence of violent death claimed in the claimed previous life; and mention of the mode of death by the subject".

Some 35 per cent of the subjects have birthmarks or birth defects which often correspond to injuries or illness experienced by the deceased person who the subject remembers. Medical documents have confirmed this correspondence in more than forty cases.

Selected books

Ian Stevenson authored or co-authored more than a dozen books. Stevenson died in 2007, and many of these books are mentioned in his obituaries in the British Medical Journal, New York Times, and the Washington Post.

  • Twenty Cases Suggestive of Reincarnation, (second revised and enlarged edition), University of Virginia Press, , 1974. (This book includes detailed reports of 20 cases of children, from five different countries, who claimed to remember previous lives).
  • Reincarnation and Biology: A Contribution to the Etiology of Birthmarks and Birth Defects Volume 1: Birthmarks and Reincarnation and Biology: A Contribution to the Etiology of Birthmarks and Birth Defects Volume 2: Birth Defects and Other Anomalies. (2 volumes), Praeger Publishers, , 1997.
  • Where Reincarnation and Biology Intersect. Praeger Publishers, , 1997. (A short and non-technical version of Reincarnation and Biology, for the general reader)
  • Children Who Remember Previous Lives: A Question of Reincarnation, (revised edition) , 2000. (A general non-technical introduction into Reincarnation research).
  • European Cases of the Reincarnation Type. McFarland & Company, , 2003.
  • A World in a Grain of Sand: The Clairvoyance of Stefan Ossowiecki, (with Mary Rose Barrington and Zofia Weaver), McFarland Press, , 2005.



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