Bloxham, Arnall (ca. 1881– )
British hypnotherapist who spent over 20 years taperecording
hypnotic sessions with subjects whose memories apparently
regressed to former incarnations. Bloxham followed
up on his tapes and attempted to uncover corroborating evidence
relative to his subject’s claims of former earth lives, unlike
Morey Bernstein, who did little research on the claims of
his hypnotized subject Virginia Tighe, whose reveries of a former
life as ‘‘Bridey Murphy’’ were the subject of a best-selling
book. Bloxham assembled data on some 400 cases of claimed
reincarnation.
He grew up in Pershore, a small village in Worcestershire,
England, and was educated at Worcester Grammar School.
During childhood, he had vivid dreams of people and events
that suggested past lives, and some of the details of these
dreams were later verified in adult life. His interest in hypnotism
dated from his schooldays, when he discovered his ability
for mesmerism, as it was then called, and used it to cure a
friend’s headache. He planned to become a doctor and thought
that mesmerism might be a useful asset. However at the age of
18, Bloxham joined the Royal Navy on the outbreak of World
War I. After being taken ill with typhoid fever, he was told that
he could never work in a hospital, so he became a hypnotherapist
and practiced for more than 40 years.
During World War II he again served in the navy, this time
as a naval lieutenant, and afterward he settled in Cardiff, South
Wales. Here his reputation as a hypnotist gained him a thriving
practice. He gave public lectures, appeared on television shows,
and cooperated with a dentist to prove that teeth could be extracted
under hypnosis instead of anesthetic. Hypnotherapy
became increasingly recognized by the British medical profession.
In 1972 Bloxham served as president of the British Society
of Hypnotherapists.
The activity for which he is best known took place with the
assistance of his wife, Dulcie, hypnotizing subjects, regressing
their memories to ‘‘former existences,’’ and making tape recordings
of the sessions. Some of these tapes were played at informal
meetings with individuals interested in reincarnation or
the law of karma (the Eastern philosophy of action and reaction
extended over several lives). In 1958 Dulcie published a book
titled Who Was Ann Ockenden about one of her husband’s subjects,
a schoolteacher whose memories under hypnosis regressed
to seven different ‘‘lives.’’ The regular meetings came
to an end soon after the death of Dulcie Bloxham.
The 400 cases that make up the Bloxham Tapes are of ordinary
people who lived humdrum lives and whose memories of
previous ‘‘lives’’ are equally ordinary, although studded with
circumstantial information that seemed as if it could be corroborated.
For example, the tapes detailed the account of a Welsh
housewife who described the massacre of Jews in twelfthcentury
York, a press photographer who claimed to have seen
the execution of Charles I in Whitehall, London, in 1649, a
Welshman who told of life aboard a frigate as a press-ganged
seaman in Nelson’s Navy. Some of the subjects, like the Welsh
housewife, recalled six or seven previous lives.
During the 1970s the vast collection of tape-recorded material
was painstakingly investigated by BBC radio and television
producer Jeffrey Iverson. With the cooperation of famous television
presenter Magnus Magnusson, they presented a television
program titled The Bloxham Tapes, featuring actual hypnotic
sessions with some of Bloxham’s subjects and detailing how
the evidence of the claimed memories of former lives was corroborated.
Iverson’s book More Lives than One (1976) presents
the results of his research on the Bloxham Tapes.
Blind Encyclopedia of Occultism & Parapsychology • 5th Ed.
198
A more skeptical view of the Bloxham claims was presented
by Ian Wilson in his 1982 text Reincarnation Wilson suggests
that some of the claimed former lives of Bloxham subjects were
due to cryptomnesia, the recasting of subconscious memories
from secondary sources into apparently real past life experiences.
In the case of ‘‘Jane Evans,’’ one of Bloxham’s cases, Wilson
claims that the source of her apparent recall of a past life
in the twelfth century could have been an unconscious reworking
of a historical novel since traced by an investigator.
Whether hypnotism can be relied on to create significant
proof of reincarnation is itself a controversial contention. Researchers
have continually shown problems generated by the
hypnotist leading the person in the creation of a fantasy. Individuals
in a hypnotized state also show an extraordinary ability
to create very convincing stories out of a storehouse of memories
in the manner that some artists claim they produced their
results and some authors their fictions. Although many authors
consciously research and develop plot, characters, and backgrounds,
others, such as Joan Grant, for example, have found
that their stories are ‘‘dictated’’ fluently from the subconscious,
as if they were dreams or real memories.
Sources
Iverson, Jeffrey. More Lives than One London, 1976.
Wilson, Ian. Mind Out of Time. London Gollancz, 1981.

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