Apparent Past-Life Memories in a Recurring Dream of the 1934 Los Angeles New Year’s Flood




autobiographical memory, dreaming, episodic memory, past-life memory, posttraumatic stress disorder, recurring dreams, recurring nightmares, reincarnation


As with memories of the present life, memories of apparent previous lives may appear in dreams, sometimes in nightmarish dreams. This paper presents the case study of a dream of a traumatic event (a death) that transpired 36 years before the birth of the dreamer. The dream recurred several times a month from age 4 until the dreamer was in his 20s. The dream invariably caused waking in distress and in a cold sweat and was recalled after waking. These are characteristics of posttraumatic nightmares, although the trauma here would seem to derive from a former life, not the dreamer’s present life. The dreamer continues to recall the event in his 50s and is still severely affected by it. Recurring nightmares are common in past-life memory reports, but this case is unusual in that the dream was detailed enough to permit verification of its main elements as well as the identification of the dream protagonist. The event in question was obscure enough, yet the dreamer’s recollection precise enough, that it is unlikely that the dreamer or his family could have learned about it before his dreams began. I consider the possibility that the dreamer acquired the information through anomalous cognition but reject it partly for lack of evidence that emotions of this order can be acquired via psi. Although no single case can provide convincing evidence for reincarnation, this case adds to the growing body of research that makes the possibility worthy of serious consideration. 


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How to Cite

Matlock, J. G. (2022). Apparent Past-Life Memories in a Recurring Dream of the 1934 Los Angeles New Year’s Flood. Journal of Anomalous Experience and Cognition, 2(2), 389–422.



Research articles