Erlendur Haraldsson is a Professor emeritus of psychology at the Faculty of social science at the University of Iceland who, despite having retired from his former post at the University of Iceland, continues to be an active academic. He has published work in various parapsychology journals, and done work with Ian Stevenson and Karlis Osis on reincarnation research. As well as doing work in Iceland, Haraldsson worked in the United States and at the University of Freiburg, in Germany. While in the United States, he worked with J.B. Rhine. He has written several books including Modern miracles (1997), and At the Hour of Death (1997).
He studied philosophy at the universities of Iceland, Edinburgh and Freiburg from 1955 to 1958, and was a writer and journalist from 1959 to 1963. He studied psychology at the University of Freiburg and University of Munich where he obtained the Dipl. Psych. in 1969. Research fellow at the Institute of Parapsychology in Durham, N. C. 1969-70, internship in clinical psychology at the Department of Psychiatry, University of Virginia in Charlottesville 1970-71. Ph.D. in psychology from the University of Freiburg in 1972.
Research associate at the American Society for Psychical Research 1972-74. After that in the Department of Psychology at the University of Iceland. Visiting professor at the University of Virginia, 1982–83, and at the Institut für Grenzgebiete der Psychologie und Psychohygiene in Freiburg 1993-95. He has done research into deathbed visions with Karlis Osis and reincarnation with Ian Stevenson, a major study of alleged encounters with those who have died, and surveys on paranormal and religious experiences and beliefs. He has published over sixty peer-reviewed articles and his books have been published in numerous translations.
Haraldsson and colleagues have conducted several reincarnation research case studies of the personality, abilities and psychological characteristics of children who claim memories of a previous life, comparing them with paired children who did not. The objective of these studies was to determine the role certain psychological characteristics the children might have as possible explanations for their past-life memories, such as, fantasy, suggestibility, social isolation, dissociation and attention seeking. In a study of 23 children pairs in Sri Lanka, those claiming memories of a previous life had greater verbal skills and better memory than their peers, performed much better in school, and were more socially active, but were not more suggestible. In a further study of 27 children pairs in Sri Lanka, one evaluation checklist revealed that the target children exhibited more behavioral problems, including oppositional traits, and obsessional and perfectionistic characteristics, and a dissociation instrument showed them to have dissociative tendencies such as rapid changes in personality and frequent daydreaming. In a later study of 30 children pairs from Lebanon, children claiming memories of a previous life tested higher for daydreaming, attention seeking and dissociation but not for suggestibility and social isolation. The level of dissociation was much lower than cases of multiple personality and was not clinically relevant. There was some evidence of post-traumatic stress disorder-like symptoms; eighty percent of the children spoke of memories of a violent death, mostly from accidents but also war-related deaths and murders. It is possible the repeated appearance of this imagery serves as a stressor.
Antonia Mills, Haraldsson and Howard Keil conducted independent studies of Ian Stevenson and his colleague's cases of the reincarnation type. and added several previously unpublished cases. Their replications included 60 cases in Burma, Thailand and Turkey by Keil, 25 cases in Sri Lanka by Haraldsson, and 38 cases in northern India by Mills. Mills, Haraldsson and Keil concluded that in some of the cases the children had no normal way of knowing about the person with whom they identified themselves. They noted problem areas requiring further study.
The investigations of three independent researchers into reported claims of reincarnation in five cultures in which such cases are reported suggests that some children who identify themselves with a person about whom they have no way of knowing. In these cases, the children apparently exhibit knowledge and behavior appropriate to that person. Although cultural belief in the possibility of reincarnation fosters such cases, and more research needs to be done on the social construction of cases, belief itself does not appear to account for the totality of the child's statements and behavior.
Erlendur, despite being retired, continues to publish research articles and is frequent speaker at conferences, such as at the annual convention of the American Psychological Association in Orlando in 2012. His latest book, The Departed among the Living - an investigative study of afterlife encounters, was published in 2012.
- Erlendur Haraldsson (2012). Departed among the Living. An investigative study of afterlife encounters. White Crow Books.
- Erlendur Haraldsson (2005). Látnir í heimi lifenda. Reykjavík: Háskólaútgáfan (University Press).
- Erlendur Haraldsson (1964). Með uppreisnarmönnum í Kúrdistan. Hafnarfirði: Skuggsjá.
- Haraldsson, Erlendur; Grof, Stanislav; Fenwick peter; Grosso Michael; Tart, T. Charles & Woolger Roger: Wir wissen mehr als unser Gehirn. Die Grenzen des Bewusstseins überschreiten. Herder, Freiburg 2003, ISBN 3-451-05284-9
- Haraldsson, Erlendur PhD & Osis, Karlis PhD: At the Hour of Death. Hastings House / Daytrips Publishers; 3RD edition, 263 pp. ISBN 0-8038-9386-8
- Haraldsson, Erlendur: Modern Miracles. An investigative report on psychic phenomena associated with Sri Sathya Sai Baba. New York: Ballantine Books, 304 pp. (USA edition of "Miracles are my visiting cards".), 1987, ISBN 81-86822-32-1
Featured In documentaries
- Past Lives: Stories of Reincarnation. Storyhouse Productions, Washington D. C. Producer Andreas Gutzeit. Broadcast in the United States on April 1, 2003 on The Learning Channel (Discovery Communications). Aired on Discovery International 29. 12. 2003.
- Reinkarnation – nur ein Mythos? Storyhouse Productions for Learning Channel and Spiegel TV. Spiegel TV in VOX and XXP, October 2002. (German version of Past Lives: Stories of Reincarnation.). A Tamil version was broadcast in Asia.
- Children's Past Live. A Zenith North Production for Channel Four, UK. Producer Laura Granditer. October 2000.
- In Search of the Dead. BBC Wales in cooperation with PBS, WXXI-T Rochester, New York. Producer Jeffrey Ieverson. 1992.
- Með Kúrdum í Irak (With Kurds in Iraq). Icelandic State Television. January 1967.
- Erlendur Haraldsson (1997). Modern miracles: an investigative report on psychic phenomena associated with Sathya Sai Baba Hastingshouse/Daytrips Publications.
- Kārlis Osis and Erlendur Haraldsson (1997). At the Hour of Death: A New Look at Evidence for Life After Death Hastingshouse/Daytrips Publications.
- Brief curriculum vitae of Erlendur Haraldsson. University of Iceland.
- Haraldsson, E. (1995). Personality and Abilities of Children Claiming Previous-Life Memories, Journal of Nervous & Mental Disease, 183(7), 445-451.
- Haraldsson, Erlendur, Patrick Fowler & Vimala Periyannanpillai (2000). Psychological Characteristics of Children Who Speak of a Previous Life: A Further Field Study in Sri Lanka. Transcultural Psychiatry, 37, 525-544. Reprint
- Haraldsson, Erlendur (2003). Children who speak of past-life experiences: Is there a psychological explanation? Psychology and Psychotherapy: Theory, Research and Practice, 76, 55-67. Reprint
- Mills, A., Haraldsson, E., and Keil, H. H. J. (1994). Replication studies of cases suggestive of reincarnation by three independent investigators. Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research, 88, 207-219. Reprint.
- Mills, A. (1989). Three cases suggestive of reincarnation in northern India: A replication study. Journal of Scientific Exploration, 3, 133-184.
- Haraldsson, E. (1991). Children claiming past-life memories: Four cases in Sri Lanka. Journal of Scientific Exploration, 5, 233-261.
- Keil, H. H. J. (1991). New cases in Burma, Thailand and Turkey: A limited field study replication of some aspects of Ian Stevenson's research. Journal of Scientific Exploration, 5, 29-59.
- Mills, A. (1990a). Moslem cases of the reincarnation type in northern India: A test of the hypothesis of imposed identification. Part I: Analysis of 26 cases. Journal of Scientific Exploration, 4, 171-188.
- Mills, A. (1990b). Moslem cases of the reincarnation type in northern India: A test of the hypothesis of imposed identification. Part II: Reports of three cases. Journal of Scientific Exploration, 4, 189-201.
- Dr. Erlendur Harraldsson's Homepage
- Journal Publications by Erlendur Haraldsson
- Other Publications by Erlendur Haraldsson
- Who is Erlendur Haraldsson?
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