Canadian/American psychiatrist, Dr. Ian Pretyman Stevenson (1918-2007) who worked for the University of Virginia School of Medicine for 50 years is best remembered for his theory on birthmarks and birth defects, and their relationship to past life wounds.
His belief that physical injuries from one life could appear as birth marks or defects in a subsequent life were based on his study of 210 children. He presented his case in a scientific paper entitled Birthmarks and Birth Defects Corresponding to Wounds on Deceased Persons.
Dr. Stevenson first became interested in reincarnation in 1960 when he found out about a Sri Lankan child who remembered a past life. Determined to establish scientific proof of reincarnation, he went on to publish two articles about the child in the Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research. After discovering many more cases, he went on to more thoroughly study them and came to the conclusion that reincarnation could be proved with physical evidence, rather than just the memories of children.
The majority of scientists and doctors will tell you that a birthmark is a benign mark on the skin that appears at birth or shortly afterward. According to known medical beliefs a birthmark, depending on the type, is caused by an overgrowth of melanocytes, blood vessels, smooth muscle, fibroblast, fat or keratinocytes. For instance marks like the Port-wine stains so obvious on the forehead of Mikhail Gorbachev are believed to be caused by access pigment cells.
However Dr. Stevenson stated: “The exact cause of most birthmarks is unknown.”
Of 385 cases of children who had memories of a previous life (“or were thought by adults to have had a previous life”) birthmarks and/or birth defects associated with previous life injuries or death accounted for 309 of the subjects or 35 percent. Those children attributed their birthmarks or birth defects to “a person whose life the child remembered.
Dr. Stevenson noted that these corresponded to wounds “(usually fatal) or other mark on the deceased person whose life the child said (he or she) remembered.” He also wrote that children who had “lasting birthmarks” attributed them to their own murder or a death they suffered in a previous life.
As for birth defects he noted, “Only 30% - 60% of these deformities can be put down to birth defects, which related to genetic factors, virus infections or chemical causes (like those found in children damaged by the drug Thalidomide or alcohol).” Aside from these “demonstrable causes,” current medical knowledge provides no explanation for the other 40 to 70 percent.
To further back up his findings, he acquired medical documents such as death certificates for deceased persons.
During his lifetime, Dr. Stevenson wrote 14 books on reincarnation and various subjects, and co-founded the Society for Scientific Exploration in 1982.