In a TV show a hypnotist told stories that how he hypnotised some people and took them back in past (usual method in psychology), and he kept doing it till they reach their time of birth. After going more backward, the person jumped back in time somewhere speaking a language he never knew.

One explanation given is reincarnation and another pseudo-scientific explanation is transfer of information through DNA.

Is this all true? Is their any evidience of going back in time before birth with hypnotism?

  • 1
    Before you can even turn your attention to pre-birth hypnotism and "transfer of information through DNA" (I'd gladly cite, but I have honestly no idea where to start here)... maybe you'd need to tackle the main question of whether stage hypnotists are the real thing...
    – Dave
    Jul 4, 2011 at 15:55
  • "In a tv show"? Which TV show?
    – Oddthinking
    Jul 4, 2011 at 17:06
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    Also , you suggest "avagon" is an explanation. This doesn't appear to be a word. Can you define it, or was there another word you meant?
    – Oddthinking
    Jul 4, 2011 at 17:08
  • I think that another explanation could be telepathic thought implantation or the person is actually an alien but never knew. Oh, and that hypnosis doesn't work the way they think.
    – Sklivvz
    Jul 7, 2011 at 13:36
  • If somebody is suggestible enough, I can suggest that they think they're experiencing past lives. How do we test that to see if they really do have such memories or they're making them up on the spot? For that matter, how would we test just prenatal memories? Before I can comment intelligently on this, I have to have some idea as to what we'd use for verification. Jul 9, 2011 at 18:10

2 Answers 2


In order to address the question, I suppose we have to temporarily suspend disbelief and "admit" some initial (highly debatable) assumptions. Namely that:

  1. stage hypnotism is a scientifically-backed practice and...

  2. people who are hypnotised are recollecting actual past memories and/or exhibiting behaviours tied to actual past events, not acting out randomly.

With these two fairly strong (euphemism) assumptions, your question then becomes about the existence of fetal memory. Studies suggest foetuses do have short-term and possibly long-term memory functions (in agreement with what is known of early brain development).

However, there is no scientific evidence that this memory extends beyond an order of days (and studies on infants and young children suggest they only slowly reach an order of years, in the years after birth). On the contrary, studies suggest that memory of particular events starts at a much later age of development.

Foreign Language

speaking a language he never knew.

The term for this is glossalia. It isn't really language, but just gibberish. There are several scientific explanations for it that do not require pre-natal memory.

Saṃsāra Explanation

Saṃsāra, as defined by Wikipedia, is a theological concept, not a scientific hypothesis. As a model, it doesn't make any testable predictions, and is unfalsifiable. Therefore, it doesn't count as an "explanation" in the context of skeptical investigation.

DNA Explanation

For our purpose, the genetic make-up of an individual is solely dependent on its parents (and on a very limited range of conditions during a comparatively negligible interval of time around fertilisation) and has absolutely nothing to do with potential pre-natal conditions, let alone some hypothetical transfer of information.


In conclusion, strictly speaking, "pre-birth hypnotism" is neuro-biologically plausible, though unbacked by current scientific studies, if you overlook the questionability of the two essential assumptions above.

  • 1
    Of course, you haven't debunked "avagon" ;-)
    – Sklivvz
    Jul 7, 2011 at 13:32
  • 1
    @Sklivvz: I think on that one: "not being a dictionary word", or even "not being a word that google has ever heard of, in a meaningful context", would probably do the trick ;-)
    – Dave
    Jul 7, 2011 at 16:38
  • Now that the avagon word has been corrected, I have edited in an explanation for that, and also explained the glossalia. Hope that's okay, Dave.
    – Oddthinking
    Jul 31, 2011 at 17:22

There are three separate questions:

  1. Do participants experience something that feels like going back in time and replaying "prebirth memories"?
  2. Is it possible to help people with their psychological problems by exploring "prebirth memories"?
  3. Do those "prebirth memories" reflect past experiences? Do the contain information that an individual wouldn't have known if the individual wouldn't have access to prebirth experiences?
  4. Is there prebirth information storage that hasn't much to do with cognitive memories.

As far as (1) goes, the commercial success of timeline therapy indicates that individuals are willing to pay money to get those experiences.

As far as (2) goes, there's a lot of anecdotal evidence but to my knowledge there no study that investigated whether the claim is true.

As far as (3) goes, I don't know of an reliable experiment that demonstrated such an effect. I don't even think that there a reliable demonstration of any real-experience-memory from the first two years of life.

As far as (4) goes cognitive memory isn't the only kind of information storage. If we get ill our body stores information about the antigen's of the foreign virus or bacteria. The information storages matters but it's nothing that we can access like an memory of an experience. The Dutch Famine of 1944 illustrates that our bodies remember conditions of starvation that happened during pregnancy and thereby increases the likelihood of obesity. This process of "remembering" gets likely facilitated by DNA methylation. DNA methylation is however a quite simple process that doesn't allow to store complex information about experiences in a way that's similar to how neurons can store it.

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