Alison Lapper is a British Artist who uses digital media and painting to question the established norms of physicality and beauty, often using herself as a subject. She was born without arms and with shortened legs and was diagnosed with the condition Phocomelia. She is the subject of the Marc Quinn sculpture ‘Alison Lapper Pregnant’, which was displayed on the usually empty fourth plinth in Trafalgar Square, London from 2005 until late 2007. In May 2003, Lapper was awarded an MBE, a British order of chivalry rewarding contributions to the arts and sciences, work with charitable and welfare organisations and public service.

In 2007 Alison took part in the UK ITV series ‘Have I Been Here Before?’ hosted by Phillip Schofield.  In this series celebrities had the chance to be regressed to a past life by Hypnotherapist Andrea Foulkes. Their past life experiences are then investigated by Jules Hudson, a historian and archaeologist, to see if these accounts can be verified.

Alison has, from childhood, believed in reincarnation. When asked about it she said, “Absolutely, yes. Not really talked about it because it’s something you don’t talk about to other people, you know, in general conversation. So for me to actually go through this has been a real eye opener”. Also, going into the regression she was concerned as to whether she could be hypnotised as she is in constant pain. But, as she says, “It was fascinating that it happened and my pain went away which was just amazing”.

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Her regression took her to medieval England where she was called Helen. She recalled being imprisoned in a dark cold room in a castle by a man called George (an Earl and the local land owner). Her father was a tenant farmer and owed him money (likely taxes). She was taken into service until he could pay his debts. She was imprisoned at the castle aged about 17 and was put to work in the kitchen which was very physically demanding.

Later she recalled being pushed out of the castle when she is about 28 years old. She was relieved to be free and had started a relationship with a Woodsman. Later still she is giving birth to twins with the aid of a midwife from the local village. She also see herself with keys to a store of apples. Finally she see herself being very ill and dying. She recalled being very frustrated at the lack of freedom and that her life was difficult, but fulfilling.

Afterwards Alison said about the regression, “Surprising how much you forget actually”. This is an advantage of doing regressions over Zoom or recording the session in some other way so that you can review it afterwards as many times as you like.

When talking about the regression she said, “It was quite emotional, the bit where I was being taken away and crying. I remember lying there thinking ‘Stop crying, you idiot.’”.

When Jules investigated the account the lack of a firm dates or locations was an obstacle. However, he was able to confirm that the hut the family lived in was typical of the period from Saxon through to medieval times (410 to 1520 AD). There being a land owner and his tenants being serf and peasants where a farmer is bound to a plot of land and to the will of his landlord who he also pays taxes to, suggests feudal times. This is typically from the 5th century to the 12th century. The account of a stone castle also points to it being after the Norman invasion of 1066. Also, the mention of an apple orchard also suggests the Norman period as apples and cider making was introduced to England by them.

Jules also mentions that a woodsman was a man of some seniority within the working classes of the time and that it would have been unusual for the daughter of a serf to marry one. However, formal marriage was not always practiced in feudal times and Helen may have been a concubine instead. Concubinage is an interpersonal (and usually sexual) relationship between a man and a woman in which the couple does not want or cannot marry.

When reflecting on the possibility of past lives and her current life she said, “To have a disability that’s a huge thing to take on and I do believe you have a choice about when you come back and how your physicality may be as well. And to choose to come back like this, I think you have to be quite a strong character and maybe previous lives have given you that kind of grounding if you like”.

She also talks about her constant pain and how the regression session had temporarily freed her from it. She said, “That was an amazing feeling. It was very freeing actually… I am always trying to pursue every avenue with my pain management I possibly can. I am sure there is something I can find that will work for me”.