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Observations placeholder

Whitton, Dr Joel - Case history Gary Pennington 02



Type of Spiritual Experience


A description of the experience

Life between Life – Dr Joel Whitton and Joe Fisher

Gary Pennington's life was beginning to resume an even pace; his bruised marriage was healing with the passing of time. Elizabeth had done her best to forgive and forget, and accepted Gary's word that he was once more hers and hers alone.

Gary for his part found he was able to forgive himself; the exploits of the lawbreakers he counselled rendered his extramarital escapade a mere peccadillo in comparison. Besides, he was being won over by Bertrand Russell's oft-quoted passage in Marriage and Morals, which reads:

'The psychology of adultery has been falsified by conventional morals, which assume, in monogamous countries that attraction to one person cannot coexist with a serious affection for another. Everybody knows that this is untrue.'

Gary could forgive himself easily enough. But he couldn't forget. Not only did he have to reconcile himself to the loss of Caroline and to his responsibility for her suicide attempt, but also he felt compelled to search for the reasons behind his uncharacteristic behaviour.

Was there some flaw in his character?
Was he depressed, or was some failing in his relationship with Elizabeth responsible for investing the romance with such irresistibility?

There was another possible consideration. Could it be that the rapport he and Caroline felt for one another lay far beyond the vagaries of the here and now?

Gary was well aware of the concept of reincarnation, and as he brooded over the affair, he recalled a conversation in which a colleague had discussed Dr Whitton's interest in hypnotic regression. Being a highly respected professional whose counselling talents are well-recognized Gary was naturally defensive about seeking the help of a psychiatrist, and for a long time he was apprehensive about making further enquiries. When at last he did seek out Dr Whitton, he was careful to explain that, because at least eight months had elapsed since the end of the affair, he was neither in distress nor in any hurry. Sooner or later, however, he wanted to know why he had flung himself so passionately into adultery.

Having thoroughly acquainted himself with Gary's personal and marital history, Dr Whitton felt that there was no ordinary psychological reason for the affair. Consequently he hypnotized his subject and instructed him to seek out any incarnations he may have shared with Caroline which could possibly explain their intimacy in this life. Gary's initial response to the trance state was both sudden and dramatic.

Immediately he was transfixed by the roar of an aeroplane engine and the pungent smell of petroleum . . . he was Pilot Officer Peter Hargreaves standing beside an aircraft being prepared for take-off from an airstrip near Salerno, Italy. The country was being ravaged by World War II and the presence of the Royal Air Force was vital to the success of the Allies Italian Campaign. The year was 1944 . . . Hargreaves is an RAF intelligence officer and not officially a pilot, although he has been trained to fly.  Perturbed by aerial photographs which indicate massive preparations for a German counter-attack, he wants to leam more by inspecting the area in question from a low-flying plane. He is eager to be airborne in an unarmed Mustang P-51, but some fellow officers are remonstrating with him. They are telling him the mission is reckless and foolhardy, that confirmation should be left to air reconnaissance personnel. Shrugging off their protestations, Hargreaves climbs into the cockpit and takes off.

But as he closes in on the target zone, his plane is intercepted by German fighter aircraft. Bullets thud into the fuselage of his single-engine plane, one of these tearing into his left leg. This leaves him without full control of the foot pedals, and he is forced to crash-land in a field. He is captured and taken north by train to an S S interrogation centre where his shattered leg is left untended and becomes gangrenous. .In a small bare room, Hargreaves is beaten repeatedly with the intent of forcing him to reveal information about Allied operations. But despite the most extreme abuse, which deprives him of food, sleep and medical attention, he discloses nothing of value to the enemy. His heroism is rewarded by an agonizing death.

In a final effort to extort military secrets, as he lay dying, his Nazi torturers resort to pulling out his fingernails. . . Gary rebounded from trance severely shaken. In the hypnotic state, he was spared Hargreaves' physical suffering, but he felt keenly the doomed officer's despair and desolation. Having no conscious knowledge of the last war's Italian Campaign, Gary was at first inclined to doubt the veracity of the experience because his trance was scattered with references to Monte Cassino.

'Is this for real?' he asked Dr Whitton. 'What is a gambling joint doing in the middle of the war?' Gary had no idea that Monte Cassino, a huge Benedictine monastery commanding the entrance to the Liri valley, gave its name to the biggest battle of the campaign.

In February 1944 the monastery was pummelled into ruins by six hundred tons of bombs as the Allies marched on Rome . . .

Gary left Dr Whitton's office that day in March 1984 with his mind racing. Scanning his life, he realized there was a coherence to formerly inexplicable experiences and inclinations. His trance explained an unforgettable flash of horror that had commandeered his senses at sixteen years of age, shortly before he met Elizabeth. This brief but startling vision - which appeared as he was enjoying himself at a party – had transported him to a bare room, where his nails were being pulled out by a well-dressed officer in Nazi uniform.

Having just passed his driving test when the flashback occurred, Gary now wondered whether working the foot pedals of an automobile could subconsciously, have recalled Peter Hargreaves' struggle with the aeroplane pedals, thus precipitating the torture scene. The revived memory set Gary wandering deeper into his past to recall that although he was born and raised in Canada, as a young child he used to speak with a British accent. This deceived his teachers into thinking that he was adopted. And while the accent soon faded, its very existence had remained a mystery ...until now.

The trance episode explained Gary's lifelong phobia about breaking his leg, which had always held him back from taking up such hazardous sports as downhill skiing. It also accounted for his unwarranted anxiety about travelling by aeroplane. Wishing to confront this apprehension, he toyed with the idea of gaining his pilot's licence, feeling instinctively that he already knew how to fly a small plane. It was only a fear of being reckless - a fear he now well understood - that restrained him.

This recklessness remains very much a part of Gary’s nature, a trait that has led him to have several brushes with death, notably while driving. Gary then began to reflect upon the resemblance of his own work to intelligence gathering; forensic psychology logically succeeded his past-life vocation.

Furthermore he better understood why he was now an inveterate nail-biter and why he harboured an almost perverse fascination with torture. Gary had been granted more self-awareness than he had dared to hope for, but he had yet to be enlightened about his adulterous behaviour.

The source of the experience

Whitton, Dr Joel

Concepts, symbols and science items


Science Items

Activities and commonsteps