Back to the Future: Hypnosis Regression and Progression


Mallory was a dark, morose, attractive twenty-five year old. Although I was to be her psychotherapist, she examined me with suspicion. This was understandable. For years, she had been trapped in a loveless, physically and sexually abusive marriage.

During treatment, I used hypnosis to help her recall memories that lead directly to the marriage. Over our two years of psychotherapy, many of the issues were resolved and she’d gained inner strength, left her husband, became more assertive, and lived a more contented, less fearful life.

Mallory was an excellent hypnotic subject, reaching the seventh level of the Stanford Scale of Hypnotic Susceptibility (Age Regression). She was able to relive her wedding and the actual moment she realized it was wrong and wanted to cancel it. Pressured by her parents, she passively surrendered. With the resurfaced memory, she now knew she had the chance to assert herself and choose her own course of living. A simple “no” could have saved her years of pain, grief, and shame.

At that time, I was also exploring hypnosis and parapsychology. I was fascinated with Milan Ryzl’s–a Czech Ph.D. in Natural Sciences–use of hypnosis to enhance the ESP ability of his subject, Pavel Stepanek.

I asked Mallory if she would like to participate. Due to her hypnotizability, I was delighted when she agreed.

Although my goal was to measurable enhance ESP, I was unexpectedly led into possible reincarnation, an area I considered unconvincing.

This is Mallory’s story, how my intended goal was altered to an exploration of past lives and the shocking turn-of-events that led to my contact with a “future personality.”

This abbreviation of my work with Mallory is not the story of a multiple personality (or DID), but that of a sane, sound (Catholic) woman–a registered nurse–who never had the least interest in past lives–until she ran headlong into them.

A Roman Death by Gladius

Our early sessions focused only on deepening Mallory’s hypnotic state. She was tested at each level to evaluate her depth and progressed nicely. I gave her no direct suggestions other than the suggested protocol. Then, I noticed rapid eye movements under her closed lids. Was this REM sleep or hypnosis? I took a risk and quietly asked her to describe anything she was seeing. Her brow knit when I asked, as if she were questioning the images.

Softly, hesitantly, she said she was with a rough-looking and threatening man. I asked what he was wearing; she said he wore a kind of uniform: an armor cuirass underneath which was a tunic with a short sword hanging at his waist. He spoke to her angrily, although she didn’t understand his meaning.

The unexpected happened. Mallory’s body jerked and her lips drew back in a grimace. I asked what happened; she said he’d stabbed her with the sword. “I’m dying,” she said quietly, unemotionally.

I was now faced with her report of a severe injury. I comforted her and suggested that she allow herself to feel the pain, but as if it were dulled. She showed some easing. Then another shock: She said she was dying.

Whether a real reincarnational memory or fantasy, this was a threat to both of us. I’d never dealt with a hypnotic subject who not only believed she was dying, but felt the pain and saw the flowing blood. While I watched her writhe, my pulse quickened and my heart raced. This was far from what I expected–and so soon after beginning our research.

Something within me suggested that, rather than deny the experience or bring her out of hypnosis, I allow her to “die.” It was not mere curiosity. I was responsible for her well-being. It was more: a form of inner guidance or instinct  that led me to believe it was the best path.

During the late hours of that winter’s night, Mallory died at the hands of a two-thousand year old man.

Death, Limbo, and the Ice Cave

Afterwards, in a soothing voice I urged her towards ordinary consciousness. When her eyes opened, she sat up unshaken for a debriefing and to examine her clinically. Apparently, I was more fearful than she was.

She described the experience with extraordinary detail, too quickly and spontaneously than someone conjuring up a tale just to please the researcher. What happened was real–at least to Mallory.

Later, after I asked her to draw the figure, I identified the sword as a Gladius, an ancient Roman short sword. Was this indeed an ancient Roman?

I asked if she recalled anything after her “death.” She described what sounded like a limbo state, that she had left the scene of the slaughter, and felt peaceful and no pain.

Unlike many sensationalistic reports (e.g., Bridey Murphy), the woman she became under hypnosis was no one special, not a significant historical or Biblical figure.

I asked if she wished to continue and she agreed.

At our next session, she slipped into a deep hypnotic state more rapidly and easier. Her eye movements became more active, as if she were actively processing the visual image.

I asked where she was.

“In a cave,” she answered. “An ice cave.”

I reviewed non-leading questions I could ask her without knowing where, when, or who she was. I suggested she look down to examine if she wore any garments. If there were, she was to describe them.

Under her lids, her eyes looked down. “Fur. I’m wearing some kind of fur.”

Filled with uncertainty, I searched my thoughts for the next questions. She needed to see herself, to describe her clothing in more detail. “Look around the cave,” I said. “Is there anything shiny? Something that could reflect your image?”

She looked about, then said, “A pool of water.”

“Good,” I replied. “Look at yourself and tell me what you see.”

She tilted her head forward again, then said with faint surprise, “Oh. I’m a man.”

Asked to give more detail, she said her skin was dark and that s/he had long, coarse unkempt hair.

Telepathy, the Ice Cave and the Amputation

I had never encountered anything like this before. Was this a fantasy or, possibly, a reincarnational being? What practical use would this be and how could I ever verify it? I didn’t know that in a few minutes Mallory would unwittingly offer a form of proof.

I decided to end the session and took every precaution to bring Mallory out of hypnosis safely. Afterwards, we spoke for a while. She remembered every aspect of the experience and was as puzzled about it as I.

She put on her coat. As we talked near the door, I noticed that she rubbed her right arm occasionally. After a few minutes, it was obvious.

She added more details, continuing to massage the arm through her coat sleeve.

My suspicions were aroused. I asked if her arm bothered her. As she was a nurse, I thought she might have strained it that day.

However, that wasn’t the case. My intuition urged me to stay a while longer. I asked her to remove her coat and recline again. She agreed.

Because we had explored three time periods that day, I was unsure when her arm began to bother her. She slipped into a deep hypnotic state again. I gave her an open suggestion: to go to “wherever” she was when the arm felt different.

She became quiet.

Exhausted, I waited silently. I’d worked with patients all day; it was now near midnight. I leaned my head back and closed my eyes awaiting her response.

After a few minutes, I felt a sharp chill, real enough to cause me to open my eyes. I examined the drapes on the window over her, but felt no draft. Then, I asked, “Where are you?”

I was bewildered. How was it that, in my fatigue and in a closed office, I could feel that sudden chill, as if a cold breeze wafted over me?

“I’m in the ice cave,” she answered.

“Look down at your arm and tell me what you see,” I said.

Under her lids, her eyes looked down and towards her right arm. Then she answered in the same untroubled tone: “Oh. I don’t have one.”

Surprised, I asked what had happened to the arm. “A bear,” she replied. “A white bear.”

A dark-skinned man wearing furs; an ice cave; a change in gender. All these things led me to suspect that, if there was any truth to this, he was possibly out of the past, perhaps prehistoric. However, my frame of reference may have been wrong. Instead, if this was a true reincarnational memory, it suggested a possible Inuit living closer to the present. Still, there was no way to verify the experience.

My immediate problem was clinical, not research! Somehow, she carried the injury–fantasy or reincarnation–into the present. What could I do? My education and experience offered no answer to this problem. I reasoned that if her body image had changed while she was the man, I might alter it back to the original. I rubbed her arm, suggesting that it was like pliable taffy, capable of stretching to reach her fingertips. After a few minutes, I asked if there was improvement. She said that there was.

When Mallory was brought out of hypnosis again. The sensation was gone, vanished, and she was left with no aftereffects only the memory of strange feelings in her arm.

What transpired in this curious event? Apparently, something quite astonishing. According to the Journal of Trauma (2008), “phantom pain and phantom sensations are often long-term consequences of amputation. Amputees experience phantom sensations and phantom pain within 1 month after amputation, a second peak occurs 12 months after amputation.” Phantom limbs typically decrease and disappear over time.

Mallory’s experience was clinically significant because she did not report the missing arm during or after her “visit” to that time period, even after coming out of hypnosis. Oddly, the “ice man” had already adapted to the missing arm—or the change in his body image. This adaptation to the loss of an arm carried over into Mallory’s experience somewhere beyond her normal conscious state.

This suggests that, if this was an authentic reincarnational memory, we tapped into it at least one year after the man’s injury, when his body image had adjusted to the missing arm.

Clinically, there might be more authenticity to reincarnation than I’d suspected.

Rishah Shaelum: “Whoops! I’m in the Future”

After many hours of exploring other possible past lives, Mallory and I had to tend to other aspects of our lives. She could now easily and quickly slip into a deep hypnotic state, so I decided to “push the envelope.” Again, using non-directive suggestions, I guided her even further deeper into her past.

There were periods of silent waiting as she adapted to her increasingly altered state of consciousness.

Then, one evening, to my surprise, she said, “Whoops! I’ve gone too far around the circle. I’m in the future!”

Circle? What kind of circle? What could this have to do with the future? There hadn’t been the slightest suggestion or mention of the future.

After making that statement, Mallory ceased to speak. She was still deeply entranced, but she didn’t—or couldn’t–reply to my questions.

I asked if she could write her replies. She nodded.

After my becoming used to exploring her alleged past lives, I was utterly unprepared for this change. My heart pounded with excitement and anxiety. We had ventured into unexplored territory.

Then it occurred to me: What was her name? In other time periods, there was no name mentioned. Now, she might identify a (possible) future self.

I placed a paper pad on her chest and put a pencil in her hand. “Would you write your name,” I asked. With no hesitation, she gripped the pencil I slid into her hand and, without looking, wrote Rishah Shaelum.

Parenthetically, I should add here that, according to neuropsychology the left hemisphere enables verbal communication. Mallory was right-handed and left dominant. Hypothetically, this gives the appearance of having shifted dominance to the right hemisphere. Her motor skills (writing) remained left dominant.

Later, I would look up the name. She had no time to process it, so I was very interested in seeing if it bore any resemblance to past or present names.

In Strong’s Concordance with Hebrew and Greek Lexicon, I found the name Rishah (the original word in Hebrew was רִאשֹׁת), a feminine noun phonetically spelled ree-shaw and derived from rosh, or head. It denoted a beginning or early time.

Mallory, I should add, was Italian and a Roman Catholic. It was puzzling how she came up with an atypical Hebrew name.

I asked Rishah why there were long pauses between questions and replies. Referring to Mallory, she said, “Communication will be easier when she is more comfortable and stops blocking.”

For the sake of brevity, I can only summarize some of the information provided by the Rishah personality. A more complete description of information may be provided later.

Rishah claimed to be living in the 24th century in UniPaes, or the United Peoples Estate. She described a “body displacement” with Mallory because she was seven inches taller (Scientific American asserts that we are getting taller as a species). She lived in what we know as South America, or “J1235A,” stating, “There are no names as you know it. Sentimentality for names ceased with increased numbers of people traveling to different areas of the world.”

She spoke of Mallory’s struggle to understand her answers. “She’s part of my awareness [or does she mean consciousness?]. It is foreign for her to comprehend this knowledge. I am explaining something to her but she cannot understand it yet. There are no words for it. I will give her the image.”

This image or symbol, according to Rishah, means that people in her time “reached a high level of development and are able to comprehend many facets of the world. People become near their (see symbol) are usually most beautiful.”


Rishah never interpreted the symbol. Examining it psychologically, the three lines seem to represent the dimensions of the sensory world with a lemniscate (or time symbol superimposed. It suggests that the limiting dimensions of physical reality have been transcended. When I showed this to a radio host dealing with the paranormal, he referred to it as a “time door.”

As Rishah described it, the world in which she lives is in serious danger. The atmosphere is contaminated below the stratosphere and sunlight is poor. The disintegration of the Earth’s crust has resulted in pollutants entering the atmosphere.

There are no seasons to speak of. The weather is gradually changing due to the atmospheric contamination. The temperature is generally warm with occasional “heat storms” due to accumulated debris in the atmosphere.

She warns that a large-scale war, “the final war,” has taken place and “there is a great need for survival measures. All work towards this end.”

As one of her final comments, she states, “Humanity does not thrive on intelligence; it is a means to progress not a measure of human value.” An interesting statement, the phrasing and vocabulary are not typical of Mallory. In addition, as a matter of interest, many years later Mallory lived in South America.

At the time of my experimentation with Mallory (in the 1970s), I did not know that Dr. Bruce Goldberg had investigated hypnotic progressions–Past Lives, Future Lives (1997)–or that Brian Epstein, Chairman Emeritus of Psychiatry at the Mount Sinai Medical Center in Miami authored a book on the subject in 2004.

Questions, Questions, Questions

This is been a brief presentation on the use of hypnosis which, although the aim was to increase ESP, was redirected by the subject towards expressing possible reincarnational experiences. The rerouting was a complete surprise and led to the accumulation of interesting materials.

What can we draw from Mallory’s experiences since we cannot prove them empirically?

Near-death literature lends some support to Mallory’s description of her death (and limbo) by short sword, possibly during the ancient Roman occupation. Secondly, and possibly most important, was her visit to the ice cave without any mention of the loss of a limb to which the man had already become adapted. How did Mallory spontaneously arrive at the name Rishah which was later proven to have its roots in ancient Hebrew? Finally, what was the strange phenomenon that she described as going “too far around the circle” and led her into a possible future existence? What could she have possibly meant when she referred to “the circle.”

Addressing the final question, I turned to the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

There are many mathematically possible topologies for time. Time might be linear or might be circular. Linear time might have a beginning or have no beginning; it might have an ending or no ending. There could be two disconnected time streams, in two parallel worlds, and perhaps one would be linear and the other circular. ( )

As a clinical psychologist and parapsychological investigator, my first allegiance is to the well-being of the subject. Although I had set an experimental goal, there was apparently an inner pressure that caused Mallory to become filled with meaningful images. My goal was to set aside my agenda and honor hers.

This led me down a pathway to a parapsychological area I had earlier found unconvincing. By allowing the subject to lead the way, we may have explored a human potential or a latent human ability to access multiple time periods existing in a cyclical rather than linear way.

This exploration and the many that followed over the years offer the opportunity to probe human consciousness more deeply, especially where it intersects with theories of quantum mechanics, specifically String and M theories.

In fact, in the 1990s I conducted an investigation into the psychology of so-called “psychic” or spiritual healers, individuals capable of biopsychokinesis. Among the  features that I found was the capacity to suspend time and enter into a timelessness as they united with the healee. One healer (who had been validated by a prominent parapsychologist/biologist) had the capacity to touch an ancient Egyptian mummy and diagnose the cause of death with some accuracy. Apparently, he was capable of moving beyond – or transcending – sensory data and accessing information that existed on a plane that the ordinary person cannot or will not reach.

I hope this writing has inspired you to raise questions having to do with the nature of reality, time, life, and death, as well as recognizing the sense limitations within which we all live.

There are things known and there are things unknown, and in between are the doors of perception.   Aldous Huxley


Allan Cooperstein (writing as Alan Joshua) is a clinical psychologist/parapsychologist published his debut fiction novel, The SHIVA Syndrome, through Createspace. It has received considerable praise for his integration of multiple genres in a science fiction/paranormal thriller. The novel was reviewed in an earlier edition of Phenomena Magazine.