The story of Bridey Murphy begins in 1806 in Cork, Ireland, 8-year-old Bridey lived with her parents Duncan and Kathleen. At 17 she married Sean Brian McCarthy and they moved the Belfast where Sean taught at Queens University. The end of her life came in 1864 as a result of a fall. Her story was told by Colorado housewife Virginia Tighe to her hypnotist Morey Bernstein in 1952 after he had hypnotised her and drawn out Virginia's childhood and asked her to regress further back. Amazingly she became Bridey, with an Irish accent and full detailed memories of her life in Ireland despite never having even visited the country. It set of the whole craze of Past Life Regression Therapy.
In 1956 Bernstein published a book on his case called he Search for Bridey Murphy, which rapidly became a best-seller and a movie of the same name. Though he had done little work in confirming the authenticity of Tighe's claimed experiences an eager public took up the challenge. Of course they soon found glaring holes and inconsistent facts in the story. No record of her birth or death could be found for anyone named; Queens Uni was not founded until 1849 and there were similar flaws in other parts of the story. Investigators looked closer to home. It transpired that she was adopted at 3 and her birth parents were Irish, and her neighbouring childhood friend from this time was called Bridie Murphy O'Connell. It seems she was recalling either false or repressed memories. Perhaps stories her parents told her that she had forgotten but had lain hidden.
Past Life Regression Therapy is used by some crank therapists to demonstrate reincarnation or as a form of healing but there are great dangers in encouraging patients to create delusions. Some false memories may be harmless, but others can be devastating. They can increase a person's suffering, as well as destroy loving relationships with family members. The care with which hypnosis should be used seems obvious.