Night Screams

Could some nightmares be past-life traumas?

Admir Serrano

I lived with my parents and a younger brother in a small farmhouse surrounded by green fields of coffee trees and sugar cane. At night we slept to the sound of a symphony of crickets and other creatures which, like us, poor farm folks, called those fertile lands home. The nightly creatures rested in silence during the day, while our parents labored on the fields from dawn to dusk to earn a meager wage to put food on our table. After the sun set and the night called to sooth the tired bodies of the workers, out came the crickets and the myriad creatures to sing us lullaby. I was a kid then, five or six years old, and slept like a rock.

But not every night! Many and I say many, were the nights that my parents and I were awakened by the terrifying screams of my little brother. He was three years younger than I, and shared a room with me. In seconds my mother had him against her bosom, trying to appease him. But try as she might he would keep on screaming. Not only screaming but thrashing and scratching like he was possessed by some evil force. His face had a terrifying expression. It seemed as though he was having a nightmare from which he couldn’t awake. It was painful to see.

Not too long ago I asked him if he remembered those nights, and the terrible dreams he had that terrorized him so much. He said he did, and corrected me. Not dreams, a dream. The same dream, always the same dream. Two gigantic wheels, as though from a huge vehicle, rolled in his direction. And when they crashed on him he began to scream.

This type of dream is called sleep or night terror, it is often recurrent, that is, always the same dream, characterized, as we were witnesses, by desperate screams and terrifying semblance, and difficulty to awaken. Generally night terror occurs in childhood and decreases or vanishes in adolescence. Conventional psychology attributes the causes of night terrors to stressing events or traumas occurred in one’s life, fever, sleep deprivation and possibly medications which may affect the central nervous system.

But my brother didn’t have any of these. As kids born and raised in that green paradise our life was far from stressing, in fact we had no idea what stress was. And he wasn’t sick during those episodes and wasn’t taking any medication to affect his central nervous system. Out in those boonies in the early sixties medication for us, poor farm folks, was a luxury we couldn’t afford. Our illnesses were treated with herbs, teas, and faith-healing.

So could my brother be reliving a trauma from a past life, recalling a moment from a traumatic death in a previous existence?

In my book, Dying Isn’t the End, originally in Portuguese, not yet translated into English, I cite the case of Cemil Fahrici, born in Turkey. As little Cemil increased his vocabulary he began to speak of a previous life as Cemil Hayik, a distant cousin of his present father.

Cemil Hayik had been arrested for killing two men who raped his sister. He managed to escape from prison and fled to the country. Two years later he was found hiding in a house. The police surrounded him and told him to surrender. He didn’t and the police set the house on fire. Cemil didn’t want to go back to prison. As the police approached to take him out, he put the muzzle of his riffle under his chin and pulled the trigger. The bullet exited through the back of his head, towards the left side.

Not only did Cemil Fahrici have memories of his life as Cemil Hayik but also brought the scars from it—under the chin and in the back of his head towards the left side. And there was more: when he was born the scar under the chin was bleeding! Until about seven years of age, Cemil had vivid memories of his life as Cemil Hayik—during the day. And at night he had nightmares, reliving the moment he was surrounded, the house burning and his suicide. Cemil Fahrici abhorred blood and hated police oficers!

Another curiosity. When he was born his parents named him Dahham Fahrici. As he grew and understood that it was to him people referred by that name, he refused to answer. He’d say his name was Cemil. So adamant was he in not answering to that name, that his parents had to change it to Cemil.

The School of Medicine at the University of Virginia has a unit in the Department of Psychiatry called Division of Perceptual Studies, dedicated to the studies of paranormal phenomena, among them reincarnation. The late Dr. Ian Stevenson was the greatest researcher of reincarnation in the world for more than four decades. He studied nearly three thousand cases of children who claimed to remember part lives; including at least forty nine cases of night terrors associated with traumas of past lives. Cemil Fahrici’s being one of them.

Dr. Antonia Mills, an anthropologist and reincarnation researcher with the University of British Columbia, in Canada, investigated cases of night terror in three American children. She wanted to know if any of those cases might be explained as caused by what conventional psychology attributed to them—stressful events, medications, sleep deprivation and the like. One of the most dramatic cases was of a boy from Little Rock, Arkansas, named Gerald Jardin (pseudonym). Like my brother Gerald would awake his family with terrifying screams. His nightmares began before he was one year of age. From two and eight he had the same recurrent nightmare at least once a week, always between midnight and two in the morning. When he turned eight the frequency decreased, and after turning ten he never had it again. Gerald would awake himself with his own screams. One night his mother tried to appease him saying, “It’s OK son, Mom is here.” “You’re not my Mom,” he shouted back.

When Gerald was four years old, he accompanied his family to a trip to Gettysburg, in Pennsylvania, where they visited the famous civil war battlefield. Between July 1 and 3 of 1863, Gettysburg Confederate and Union soldiers engaged in the bloodiest confrontation which left thousands of soldiers in both sides dead, missing, and wounded. At a certain moment during their walk through the battlefield Gerald separated from his parents. Shortly after he came running and pointed to a place where Confederate troops had gathered during the battle. “That’s where I died,” he said nonchalantly. His parents asked him what he meant by that, but Gerald didn’t answer and just went about his business.

Like in my brother’s case, Gerald’s night terrors couldn’t be explained conventionally. Cases of intense fear and phobias whose cause can’t be explained conventionally either abound in the literature.

It comes to my mind a time when I lost an object, and try as I might I couldn’t find it. I complained about it to a dear uncle who was visiting. “Of course you can’t find it. You’re looking in places where it is not, look where it is and you’ll find it,” he replied jokingly.

I said jokingly, but there is wisdom in his words. Wisdom that could very well be applied not only to many cases of night terrors but also to so many phobias which conventional psychologists can’t find causes in one’s present lifetime. They can’t find the causes in the present lifetime because they are not there. Look where they are—in other times and other lives—and they shall find them.


Admir Serrano is an author, researcher, and lecturer of paranormal phenomena such as out-of-body experiences, near-death experiences, deathbed visions, reincarnation, life after death, and mediumship. He is a Spiritist, and the author of three books in his native Portuguese language. He lives in Miami, Florida and is a frequent lecturer in English, Portuguese, and Spanish. His first book in English, The End of Death, will be released in December. Website: