Friday, October 8, 2010
The Mysterious Case of Bridey Murphy
In the 1950s hypnotist Morey Bernstein of Pueblo, Colorado, was working with one of his clients, a twenty-nine-year old housewife and mother named Virginia Tighe when, during one of their sessions, she spoke with the voice and memories of a nineteenth-century Irishwoman named Bridey Murphy. The first time this occurred, Bernstein had been trying to help Tighe to remember her childhood and had casually suggested that she “go to some other place in some other time.” He meant for her to remember some other period of her life, but instead she seemed to jump to the life of someone else who had lived long before. In an Irish accent, she told Bernstein that she, Bridey Murphy, had been born in 1798 and died in 1864 of complications from a broken hip. Virginia Tighe herself was born in the Midwest in 1923, had never been to Ireland, and did not speak with even the slightest hint of an Irish accent.
In this and subsequent hypnosis sessions, she also provided Bernstein with numerous details about her family, experiences, likes and dislikes. For example, she gave the name of the Catholic church in Belfast, Ireland, where she had married Sean Brian Joseph McCarthy in 1818 and offered detailed descriptions of places where she had shopped for food. She also told Bernstein about the time in-between lives, when the spirit waited for a new existence. During this period, she said, she could travel anywhere with just a thought.
Her tale began in 1806 when Bridey was eight years old and living in a house in Cork. She was the daughter of Duncan Murphy, a barrister, and his wife Kathleen. At the age of 17 she married lawyer Sean Brian McCarthy and moved to Belfast. Bridey told of a fall that caused her death and of watching her own funeral, describing her tombstone and the state of being in life after death. It was, she recalled, a feeling of neither pain nor happiness. Somehow, she was reborn in America, although Bridey was not clear how this reincarnation happened.
Bernstein tape-recorded each session, and in 1956 he published a book based on his work, "The Search for Bridey Murphy". (Bernstein called Tighe “Ruth Simmons” in his writings in order to protect her anonymity, but journalists soon uncovered her real name.) Skeptics soon began noting flaws in Tighe’s story. Many of her place descriptions, including details about where Murphy had bought her food, were accurate, but other facts were not. The same was true of her language; some of the words she used were appropriate diction for a nineteenth-century Irishwoman, but others were those of a twentieth-century American. In addition, neither skeptics nor believers could find any evidence that anyone named Bridey Murphy had ever lived. Searches of church baptismal records and other records turned up nothing.
Read more on Bridey Murphy Reincarnation case