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Memories From Another Life

Updated on March 31, 2012

by Christine B.

When going to a hypnotherapist to cure his unreasonable fears of flying, being in enclosed places and water, Bruce Kelly made a startling discovery. While hypnotized, Bruce saw himself as an American sailor named James Johnston.

While under hypnosis, Bruce narrated the story of how he had died on February 15, 1942 while inside a submarine, the USS Shark during WWII. He and another sailor, William Pilgram drowned after the sub had been hit by enemy fire at 11:34 p.m. To the surprise of the hypnotherapist, Rick Brown, Bruce’s memories were vivid and extremely specific.

Bruce investigated the information recalled during his session with Rick and found that the USS Shark was the first lost submarine of the war. Bruce went back to Rick for more hypnosis sessions and was able to remember more details about the life of James Johnston. He remembered being 12 and at his mother’s death bed with his cousin Elizabeth. He knew that Johnston was born in February of 1921, and that in 1938 he was working at Tule Lake, California for the Civilian Conservation Corps.

After several more sessions, Bruce and Rick did more research and found that everything Bruce had remembered about Johnston’s life was true and had actually occurred.

In April of 1993 Bruce went to Jacksonsville, Alabama to visit Johnston’s family. When he stood in front of the home where Johnston had lived with his mother, Bruce experienced a strong emotional reaction.

“I moved to the side of the house where I could actually see the bedroom and I knew that was my bedroom, that's when the feelings really started hitting. I remembered that I used to have to come in from the back street and come through the back door, through the back porch. I remember feeling like a second-class citizen. We were poor and my mother was unmarried.”

The Johnston family never knew the details of James’ death until Bruce visited them and told them what he remembered. The Johnston family took Bruce to the Jacksonville Cemetery and showed him the memorial stone that had been erected in James’ honor, since his body was never returned to them.

Bruce and the Johnston family stayed in touch. He no longer had his phobias once he remembered his past life as James Johnston. Perhaps he had those fears so he could remember and tell his former family how he had died.


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