Stevenson, Ian 1918-2007 (Ian Pretyman Stevenson)

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Stevenson, Ian 1918-2007 (Ian Pretyman Stevenson)


See index for CA sketch: Born October 31, 1918, in Montréal, Quebec, Canada; died of pneumonia, February 8, 2007, in Charlottesville, VA. Psychiatrist, parapsychologist, educator, and author. Stevenson, the former head of the University of Virginia's Division of Perceptual Studies, was best remembered for his studies into the possibilities of reincarnation and life after death. He earned his B.S. from McGill University in 1942, followed by his medical degree in 1943. After studying psychiatry as an intern and resident at Montréal's Royal Victoria Hospital and at St. Joseph's Hospital in Phoenix, Arizona, he was a fellow of internal medicine at the Alton Ochsner Medical Foundation in New Orleans, Louisiana. He was next a fellow in medicine at Cornell University Medical College for two years before entering teaching as an assistant professor of medicine and psychiatry at Louisiana State University. Stevenson joined the University of Virginia School of Medicine faculty in 1957, was chair of its psychiatry department, and founded the Division of Perceptual Studies ten years later. He was the center's director until his 2002 retirement. Stevenson attributed his interest in paranormal areas to his mother, who was fascinated by religious mysticism and had a large library to which Stevenson had access. A trip to India in 1961 further spurred his interest in reincarnation, and Stevenson, who did not cater to Freudian psychology, believed that many people's phobias and personality traits might be attributed to experiences in previous lives. He first published on this subject in The Evidence for Survival from Claimed Memories of Former Incarnations (1961). Other similar books followed, including several casebooks on reincarnation and titles such as Children Who Remember Previous Lives: A Question of Reincarnation (1987) and Where Reincarnation and Biology Intersect (1997). Stevenson traveled the world to conduct research and interviews to support his theories, but many of his colleagues were highly skeptical of his methods and believed that Stevenson, though sincere, was misguided. Still, many of the cases about which he wrote seemed remarkable. In one, for example, he hypothesized that a young girl afraid of buses and water had, in a previous life, drowned when a bus knocked her into a rice paddy. It was later discovered that a girl had died in just this way a few years before in a nearby village. In another case, a boy in Beirut perfectly described the incidence of his death in a previous life as a mechanic who had been killed in a car accident. As a believer, Stevenson had a safe in his office that he locked with a combination known only to himself; he hoped that some time in the future his reincarnated self would recall the combination and open it.



New York Times, March 18, 2007, p. A27.

Washington Post, February 11, 2007, p. C6.

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Stevenson, Ian 1918-2007 (Ian Pretyman Stevenson)

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