Whitton, Dr Joel
Dr. Joel Lloyd WHITTON B.Sc., M.D., Ph.D., FRCP(c), ( July 12, 1945 - July 22, 2017) was a Toronto based psychiatrist. He was at one time a Professor Emeritus of University of Toronto, York University and Guelph University and a staff member at a Toronto hospital. He specialised in migraine, chronic pain, head injuries, and trauma.
But from the point of view of this site, it is his particular research into past lives and reincarnation, where he used hypnosis to take his patients back into their former lives in order to uncover the origins of traumas and neuroses afflicting them, that is of interest. Dr Whitton was a member of the Toronto Society for Psychical Research.
The midnight hour
Dr Whitton’s objective was to heal people, the intention was one of sorting out ‘past karma’. But an interesting by-product of this aim was that he also documented the events between death and the next birth – what happened after death.
Most studies of past lives tend to concentrate on the time when a person is living. From a healing point of view, this is the only part that matters, as it is only after we are born and during ‘life’ that we actually do anything regarding our Destiny and the Challenges we have been given. This is when we build up ‘karma’.
But the time between death and birth is an area rarely studied, as such it has an especial fascination and all credit is due to Dr Whitton that he didn’t discard this data as irrelevant to his objectives, but recorded it and pursued it further. Dr Whitton carefully selected his subjects, and then worked with them many times – documenting recalled past lives and the events between those lifetimes. As he was a medical man he was well used to taking copious notes and carefully documenting details. He was also methodical and somewhat relentless in his pursuit of the causes of the effects he was witnessing, being prepared to go through many ‘lifetimes’.
Dr Whitton was already a believer in reincarnation when he started this more detailed research and the initial discovery, - that something happened between lives and that it wasn’t just a period of unconsciousness - happened almost entirely by chance. It led to more than a decade of research.
The Tibetans call this in-between time ‘the bardo’ and when Dr Whitton stumbled upon the bardo back in 1974 at the age of twenty-eight, it had never occurred to him that activity [one cannot call it life, but activity is a reasonable word to use] goes on between incarnations. He was so absorbed in tracing personal continuity from one life to the next, that he never paused to consider what happened to human entities when they were not inhabiting physical bodies.
But his discovery potentially shows that ‘consciousness’ is continuous, there is a part of us – the Higher spirit – that is indeed immortal. Plato’s immortal soul. But consciousness is ‘transferable’, from the Personality we have during actual life [the time between birth and death] and the Higher spirit, although it is clear the Higher spirit never loses some degree of control.
Through many hours of painstaking hypnotic sleuthing, Dr Whitton learned how to compile personal inventories of past lives stretching across thousands of years – numerous Personalities, but continuity of consciousness from birth to death, through bardo and on to birth again.
Life between life – Dr Joel Whitton and Joe Fisher
Just how much time is spent out of incarnation varies widely from person to person and from life to life. Among Dr Whitton's subjects, ten months is the shortest interval observed between lives while the longest extends for more than eight hundred years.
According to the results he obtained from his subjects, they interacted with the same collection of Higher spirits, each one incarnated in different roles in ever-changing relationships. Thus the ancient concept of the Totem Group or Team was indeed in operation.
He saw how the trials, the successes and the failures of each life contributed to the formation of the present-day individual. He also saw how each life determined the Destiny we received – the specific task in the Great Work – the true meaning of Destiny. The actions and attitudes in one life would determine the setting and challenges of a life or lives to come.
Possibly the only disappointing thing about Dr Whitton’s research is that his subjects were all people who were essentially ‘bottom rung’ spiritually. If we imagine 5 spiritual levels of ascension, where the bottom level is 5, most of his patients were level 4 or 5. Level 5s spend most of their time on Earth trying to ascend to a level 4 and thus to be of some use to the Great Work. Level 4s tend to help them, but on the whole are doing much the same thing. Whatever tasks they have been given in the Great Work are minor – bit parts in the play – and bit parts that can be taken by someone else if they fail, in other words they are not the stars of the play, nor supporting actors, they may not even be the chorus line, but simply walk on/walk off non speaking parts.
Thus the impression is given when studying these people that there is no Great Work, there is no such thing as a higher Destiny or more important Challenge than sorting oneself out. Ultimately level 5s and levels 4s spend most of their time trying to become useful, and are not very inspiring as a source of study, although if a healer can help to drag them up a notch or two this is all to the good.
It would have been really interesting if Dr Whitton had found some level 2s or 3s [there are very very few 1s] and pursued their past lives and their destiny to see how they managed to get where they were – in other words to study success and not failure.
About Dr Whitton
Dr Whitton became interested in hypnosis when he was very young and was actually practising it by the time he was 14. For some time, he practised on willing subjects at parties, “making no attempt to usher anyone into a previous life”. But in his early twenties, a developing fascination with the idea of reincarnation persuaded Dr Whitton to refine his hypnotic technique, so that he could explore this area.
He obtained his medical qualifications at the University of Toronto and went on to become chief psychiatrist of the Toronto school system. Whilst working there, he found that with the co-operation of those capable of entering deep trance - roughly four to ten per cent of the population – he was able to take them back beyond birth into an earlier existence.
'Go to the time you were incarnate before this life’ he would say. 'Now . . . who are you and where are you?'
It was only after he had practised and gained confidence in his methods that he started to bring traumatic past-life memories into their conscious awareness.
Joe Fisher – January 21st 1986
This resulted in rapid and dramatic healing which he himself cannot fully explain.
Some serious mental and physical disorders simply evaporated as terrifying and disturbing memories worked a soothing magic of liberation through self-understanding.
Other patients progressively shed their illnesses and psychological problems as they made contact with an increasing number of past-life and inter-life experiences.
Occasionally, people contacted Dr Whitton after having traipsed in vain from one clinic to another. They would tell how the ministrations of innumerable physicians had provided no appreciable improvement in conditions ranging from disabling phobias to terminal disease. Because past-life regression sometimes worked where conventional medicine had failed, Dr Whitton was dubbed the 'Lost Cause Doctor'.
Life between life
Dr Whitton wrote only one book about his case histories - Life between Life -written with Joe Fisher. Fisher started his writing career as a reporter in England. After that he worked for newspapers on both sides of the Atlantic. At the time this book was written he lived in Toronto.
Joe Fisher – January 21st 1986
I first came across the name of Dr Joel Whitton while gathering material for my book, The Case for Reincarnation. According to my sources, he was a highly qualified psychiatrist engaged deeply, if quietly, in reincarnation research. Nobody seemed to know exactly what this research entailed, but all who were acquainted with him assured me that he was a brilliant man whose metaphysical investigations would be well worth learning about. Expecting to swell my burgeoning files on the scientific evidence for rebirth, I was introduced to Dr Whitton one spring morning in 1982. It was hardly a meeting of minds. I produced my notebook and pen, but Dr Whitton didn't want to be quoted. Aloof and clearly unwilling to invite me into the castle keep of his research, he declared,
'I'm afraid I can't help you. I'm a respectable psychiatrist. I don't want to be a lightning rod for the hostility of the fundamentalist movement.'
My frustration was barely concealed. 'What if Charles Darwin, knowing what he knew about human evolution, had shied away from writing The Origin of Species, I protested. 'Surely you are obliged to make public the knowledge you have acquired.’ Dr Whitton smiled and said nothing. What I didn't know then was that he fully intended to publish his findings . . . in his own sweet time. But in 1982 he was still dependent on the support of the academic community for funding to pursue an array of career interests, among them the study of brain waves in children with learning disabilities. The last thing he wanted was to make public his reincarnation research so that disreputable and excitable publications could ambush his 'respectable’ reputation.
Already, word of his professional interest in reincarnation had leaked out to some of his colleagues, prompting one department chairman at the University of Toronto to mutter darkly at a cocktail party, 'Beware of mystics . . .'
The names and sometimes the occupations of the subjects have been changed in the book to protect their identity, but the episodes and emotions which comprise the case studies are faithfully recorded.
The fly in the ointment
Dr Whitton – because his objective was to heal – did not explore the past lives and their veracity. As far as he was concerned, if the hypnosis and the recounting of past lives achieved almost miraculous healing, this was worthwhile in itself. But alternative explanations can be put forward, for all the case histories.
The composer of dreams often manufactures scenarios to help us work through problems, as such some of the cases may have been simply waking 'dreams'. In some case histories, the facts were so obscure and the cases so beyond the experience of the patient, that they could not have come from their memory but again, who is to say that the life and events being described were theirs?
This has always been one of the great difficulties with past lives – whose past life is it? We make the assumption it is 'ours' – that we are accessing some continuous log of perceptions – and it would seem the most obvious hypothesis, especially when it seems to match with present problems. But scientifically, there is no real proof. Maybe the maker of dreams and trance stories simply went off to the great loom of all histories and selected one that seemed to match and would make a good lesson.
Note that none of the people Dr Whitton recorded 'make it all up' themselves. None of the case histories are works of the imagination, but the Composer has a lot of different options to work with when presenting 'waking dreams' - trance state visions.
This does not in any way reduce the value of the work Dr Whitton did, but it does mean we have to be cautious about drawing any conclusions. As we say, it would be far more interesting to find a Level 1 or 2 and study them.
Dr. Joel Lloyd Whitton died on July 22, 2017. He was survived by his wife Elise-Irene, daughters Tamara and Tahnya, granddaughter Ella and his sister Sharon.
Dr. Joel Whitton, was not just a doctor but a friend. I am now a 52 year old professional engineer and successful in my field in specializing in Industrial Safety Engineering. I first met Dr.Whitton when I was in my early twenties suffering from a head injury, when I was misdiagnose by several doctors as schizophrenia. Dr. Whitton organized thorough testing and examination prior to diagnosing me with a head injury. He prescribed medication, new medication on the market, determined dosage, and stood beside me for ten years, as the problem was corrected. He was a doctor and concerned friend. He consulted me on career decisions, personal decisions, and what I hold today, and the work I do, would not have happen without him…………….
A very experienced, wise and compassionate senior analyst, Dr. Whitton has given a great deal of himself to many, many people over the years. A great teacher, mentor and masterful seeker who is simply always there for you, especially if a crisis arises.
- Life between Life - was first published in 1984 and was also published in numerous countries and translated into over 100 languages. It is still available.
For more details on Destiny, Challenges, the Great Work and Karma see 'Why are we here'
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- Whitton, Dr Joel - Case history Gary Pennington 01
- Whitton, Dr Joel - Case history Gary Pennington 02
- Whitton, Dr Joel - Case history Gary Pennington 03
- Whitton, Dr Joel - Case history Gary Pennington 04
- Whitton, Dr Joel - Case history Harold Jaworski
- Whitton, Dr Joel - Case history Heather Whiteholme 01
- Whitton, Dr Joel - Case history Heather Whiteholme 02
- Whitton, Dr Joel - Case history Heather Whiteholme 03
- Whitton, Dr Joel - Case history Heather Whiteholme 04
- Whitton, Dr Joel - Case history Heather Whiteholme 05
- Whitton, Dr Joel - Case history Heather Whiteholme 06
- Whitton, Dr Joel - Case history Heather Whiteholme 07
- Whitton, Dr Joel - Case history Jenny Saunders 01
- Whitton, Dr Joel - Case history Jenny Saunders 02
- Whitton, Dr Joel - Case history Jenny Saunders 03
- Whitton, Dr Joel - Case history Jenny Saunders 04
- Whitton, Dr Joel - Case history Jenny Saunders 05
- Whitton, Dr Joel - Case history Jenny Saunders 06
- Whitton, Dr Joel - Case history Linda Irving [extract from full case history]
- Whitton, Dr Joel - Case history Michael Gallander 01
- Whitton, Dr Joel - Case history Michael Gallander 02
- Whitton, Dr Joel - Case history Michael Gallander 03
- Whitton, Dr Joel - Case history Michael Gallander 04
- Whitton, Dr Joel - Case history Michael Gallander 05
- Whitton, Dr Joel - Case history Michael Gallander 06
- Whitton, Dr Joel - Case history Michael Gallander 07
- Whitton, Dr Joel - Paula flies in the sky waiting to be born
- Whitton, Dr Joel - Proof of the existence of past lives
- Whitton, Dr Joel - The Bardo – a Summary of Case histories
- Whitton, Dr Joel - The Philip Experiment
- Whitton, Dr Joel - The social worker who experienced seven Bardos
- Whitton, Dr Joel - Watching her own birth