PC (Pat Chalfant)
: When Terry Nash asked me to interview you for the Newsletter, she said that you had been an APRT (now IARRT) board member for quite a while and had just...retired.
HH (Hugh Harmon): I had to resign. I just am too busy with other things. I think that if you can't devote enough time to it then you shouldn't be on it. So I asked to be relieved and they graciously granted my request. I had been on the board most of the life of APRT.
PC: Were you at the first conference in 1980 in Irvine when they decided to start an association?
HH: No. The first time I met the group was in Oakland in 1981. I think it was their first conference. I met many of the wonderful people who are still there and some who aren't and, subsequently, Hazel asked me to be on the Board. Well, I was on the Board and worked through the offices to Vice President of the association at the time Dree Miller was President. Then my term was up and I was off for two years and then back on the Board again.
PC: So that was how many years?
HH: Well, that would be a total of twelve years.
PC: Tell me about the way that the organization seemed to develop.
HH: We're having another earthquake here. Do you feel it?
PC: No! Another earthquake?
HH: They said one came from East L.A. down the fault at about 4 o'clock this morning it woke me. There was just now another one. The one at 4 o'clock was about a 5.
PC: Good grief.
HH: But, let's see, you want to know about my involvement on the board.
PC: Yes. I've interviewed Hazel, Ron Wong Jue, Winafred Lucas. They commented on some of the history of APRT, what it had done and how it had done it, that kind of thing.
HH: It was a very loosely knit organization in the beginning. There were many people who had been working in the field who were excited to find a group they could go and talk to and compare notes with others in the field. There were many professional people, as well as non-professional people who were interested and had dabbled in metaphysics and past life regression and so forth.
PC: Had you been using past life regression at that point?
PC: How had you started?
HH: Probably the way that most shrinks get the introduction to it. People in real time regression in this life suddenly begin to talk about another time and place which couldn't be in this life. And then we begin the introduction of fantasy or reality or what? And I have always been of the opinion that the person has to heal themselves. All I am is a guide to them to show them options, pathways, or whatever, and they have to choose. So whether it was a reality or an imaginary paradigm of some sort, I agreed with that and I said fine, let's take a look at that and see what it gives you, find out what emotions were involved and so on and so forth. I had been using it for probably ten years before that.
PC: And you were just using hypnosis?
HH: Yes, I was. That's how I got into it. I started out in medical school and fortunately, before I got stuck there to be a psychiatrist (I really didn't like it), I had an option there of a class in clinical hypnosis. That was quite popular then. There was a man going to all the different medical schools over the country teaching it and I realized that this was the real interest I had, finding out what was going on inside the mind, not the brain. I had a whole different viewpoint and that's why I objected to the medical aspect of it. There was a way to reach it and they used hypnotic techniques in a clinical setting which I had done as a boy in high school. I'd played with hypnosis, and thought it was kind of a fun thing to try. So, I quit medical school, went back to USC, got a degree in behavioral sciences, and focused on hypnosis. So I've always used hypnotic techniques, as well as many others, but that's been my main tool.
PC: Where did you start to practice?
HH: I started in Los Angeles and practiced there for many years. My brother, who went on through medical school, used hypnosis in anesthetic techniques. We both practiced in L.A., he in medicine, and I in psychology. So we both moved on about 15 years ago we came down to our origin here in Coachella Valley. In the meantime, I had become very used to using regression techniques when a past a life came up. I had read of other psychologists using past life techniques and comparing notes with them, I was fascinated to find that there was a group. So, I immediately got in touch with them and attended their first convention in San Francisco. I've been to all of them since, except one in Florida.
PC: When I read the material you sent me about your life, I got absolutely hung up on the brochures about your Omega Foundation. That's extremely interesting. And you say you've been doing that for the past two years?
HH: Yes, it's fascinating work. We've been researching trying to substantiate some of the things that have been appearing for us.
PC: Tell me about the...I wasn't sure what you were calling them...readings...is that what you call them?
HH: Well, I don't know what we're calling them, either. They're accessing the universal records in some manner which I'm unconscious of.
PC: As I understand it, you're unconscious while you're doing this.
HH: Yes, and l never do it in front of anybody else but my facilitator, Pamela. It's kind of interesting. I doubt some of the answers myself when I hear them later. But there are some things that seem to validate the integrity of this work. For example, there was a woman who was a practitioner of metaphysical things, and of studies of the world sciences, who had lived in Japan all her life, a very learned woman, and she asked for one. The reading said that she should stop eating meat and adjust her diet in other ways, as well. She wrote back rather indignantly and said she had been a vegetarian all her life and that she didn't have these problems. So we said okay, maybe there's a mistake, we'll send your money back. Later she said that in actuality, she hadn't eaten meat, except that once a week or so she would eat it because she thought she should to get the right protein. So, in fact, she hadn't been a strict vegetarian all her life. This disease that was unknown to her did manifest and when she quit eating meat the condition corrected itself. So, those little incidents make me believe more in its integrity than I would otherwise. I've always been a little skeptical of people channeling things out of the ethers. Although, when we observe long enough and carefully enough, then we accept. So, that's kind of where I am--in between the physical and the metaphysical world, walking a tightrope.
PC: So, obviously this woman got over something, but she got it before she got over it. So, have you had people come to you who were in the midst of some really serious disease and had them say it had helped?
HH: Yes, but it's not like Edgar Cayce's material where you take so many buzzard beaks and you will get well. I'm not ridiculing him, because they did get well and that was great. But they were off the wall specific things. But this kind of gives people options. If they want this, this is the option they have. It never gives any directions like do this, and you'll have a better life. It's very carefully orchestrated so that it gives people options. These are the things you can do if you choose. Pamela asked Spirit about this, through me, and they said people have gone past being directed and now must take responsibility for themselves.
PC: I think that's one of the quotes on your promotional material. Has anyone ever felt that their life had been saved by a reading?
HH: I don't know. Who knows? We give people options. I've always believed we should make up our own minds and maybe that's why it comes that way.
PC: I think so, too.
HH: You know, there are two kinds of therapists, there's the t-h-e-r-a-p-i-s-t who researches things in your head that are appropriate for them, but not for you. And there's the one who says here's your stuff, here are your options, if you see it clearly, make your decision. I'm in the latter group, I think. I don't believe in directing people's lives. I think this life is like a classroom and we're here to learn and before you can matriculate, you have to learn what it's all about. If you interfere with that learning process, are you doing the person a favor or a disservice?
PC: If you had it all to do over again, would you do hypnotherapy?
HH: You bet. I wish I had known what I know now when I started.
PC: Do you think Past Life Therapy has lived up to the claims made originally for it?
HH: I think it's far surpassed the original claims, mainly because we didn't understand the significance of it. I don't want to take time here, but if you like, I can give you some of the research on it in the mail. You see, before...it was kind of a phenomenon. I, and many thousands of other therapists, I'm sure, said well, this is a tool, we'll make it something valuable. But I don't think we understood the complexity that has now developed.
Einstein said in one of his later life quotes that the smartest man on earth probably doesn't use even one-tenth of his ability and I think we probably don't use even one-thousandth of our ability. We're not ready to yet. But in the evolving of that information, the excitement is that there's so much left to learn, so much more that we can do with it if we get our bloated nothingness out of the way and let it manifest, instead of trying to give it guidelines, or trying to make it something right for everybody that works for us.
Going back to the organization (APRT) there was a time when there was a big push to make it just a professional organization, and at the time I was the opposition leader and I said that this is everyman's organization.
PC: Were you! Because that has come up a lot in my interviews.
HH: It's come up a lot! And I've been the champion all along, because I believe that if you want a professional organization, why don't you bring it up in your already established organization? At the Oakland airport convention it came to a head.
PC: I've heard about this from Winafred, Hazel and Ron Wong Jue in their interviews. I also had heard it from Al Ward, a hypnotherapist, and one of the original members of the group.
HH: At the airport convention in Oakland, it kind of came to a head. I have often been asked to do the closing ceremony. So I asked many of the professionals that we had invited from all over the world--we had a pretty good group at that meeting--what their opinion was and would they share what they felt this organization did in the dissemination of information and sharing of Past Life Therapies and they said sure, so I called on about five or six of the big guys and gals there from all over the world and they all echoed the same thing. They said it was a wonderful organization and it was so exciting to have all different levels and kinds of interests sharing together and not being so opinionated that they couldn't allow others to have their own beliefs. And it kind of squelched the professional push. It was very pointed. I didn't mean it to be so pointed, but it turned out, without my trying, that each one of these persons who spoke their thoughts and feelings pointed out what it served as it existed versus what it would do for it to be just another professional organization.
PC: Well, so what I had heard before is that they there was an attempt to shut out those who were primarily metaphysicians or psychics, rather than professional therapists. Is that what you're talking about?
HH: No, what they were talking about then was that you had to be a licensed professional to be a member. You could be an associate member but they were second class citizens. I said that isn't what this is all about. This is about sharing. If you're a medical doctor, fine. If you're a psychologist, fine. If you're a person who reads tarot cards, fine. We're not saying any method is the best method. We're just sharing information. I've learned a lot from people who were never trained in a university or college. I've learned a lot, and I think we all have, if we would admit it.
There are still some people who don't believe that a psychic's past life readings are accurate, and I tend to agree with them. But I still think that everybody has the right to believe and talk of their beliefs, as guaranteed in the first amendment. But it's very interesting to me that the group has become a very amalgamous group. I was sorry I had to bow out. I believe that now we're reaping the benefits of everybody's shared interests, ideas, experiences, and client approaches. We've all gleaned information from that and most people have actually started sharing it, I find even those people who might deny it are conversing about it.
So what I think we have now is a very valid, valuable, open organization and I'd like to see them keep it open to the public, because if you've noticed, it's extremely exciting to be able to attend with very high-powered, professional people who use these techniques and can share with us. It's a very important part of what this organization is all about, I believe.
PC: Thank you so much for your time, Dr. Harmon...