Projecting the Perinatal Zeitgeist: Everything You’ve Managed to Forget About Being Born
Posted by sillymickel
Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Being Born … Playing Now, in Theaters Near You!
Wounded Deer and Centaurs, Chapter Two: Everything You’ve Forgotten About Birth … Projecting the Perinatal Zeitgeist
With these elements of birth experience in mind, let us look at some of the forces and elements, unprecedented and otherwise, that characterize twenty-first century life.
Baby and Fetal Projections on the Silver Screen
Fetus in the Sky with Diamonds … And Oh, the Shark Has Pretty Teeth, Dear…
In these strange days, movies, TV shows, and books are rife with perinatal themes: From the famous ending image of the movie “2001,” where the fetus is pictured against the blackness of space as a newborn star…to some of the most popular and lucrative movies of all time — ”Jaws,” for example, with its huge vagina dentata shark mouth lurking in the depths of the unconscious (the ocean), signifying the trauma we have around the mother’s vagina, the mouth ringed with teeth—the ferocious looking teeth symbolizing the pain and death elements of birth experience.
Other examples of perinatal imagery in the media include those in the movie “Brazil”—the main character being haunted by hordes of infant/fetal faces in particular; “The Abyss”; “Jacob’s Ladder,” and “Close Encounters of the Third Kind”—large-headed fetal looking aliens again.
ET, Phone Mom!
Psychodynamic as well as perinatal sequences are displayed in “The Wall” and “Brainstorm.” There is the fascinating womb and fetal symbolism in UFO movies like “Cocoon”; “Cocoon: The Return!”; and “E.T.”—with the fetal-looking alien wanting to “phone home.” And of course, we have seen obvious perinatal symbolism in “Independence Day,” “Fire in the Sky,” “Jacob’s Ladder,” “Joe Vs. The Volcano,” “Nothing But Trouble”; and in a recurring way on weekly TV series The X Files, Star Trek, Heroes, and The 4400, among many others.
“Avatar” is a near perfect depiction of a BPM I state that is interrupted by the later stages of pregnancy and threatened by a mechanized-technological birth. Everything is there as in the womb state: a perfect harmony with Nature…a world tree symbolizing the life-giving placenta…harmony with the Mother, who is the World Mother, a Goddess.
In the Narnia series, the children find a “secret” doorway at the back of a wardrobe (womb symbol) and go from their normal realm into another magical realm. In this—as in many other depictions, such as “Alice in Wonderland,” “The Matrix,” and “The Wizard of Oz”—we can see both a re-creation of the birth sequence but also the message (from our unconscious selves) that one needs to go back through and re-experience that sequence, as it was left incomplete. This magical realm is thus the womb. And in it lie many of the spiritual truths that we forgot when we came into the world and were overloaded with the pain of birth, which pushed our connection with Nature and the Universe into unconscious memory.
There is a plethora of more recent films rife with perinatal elements: Notable are the Matrix series, “Total Recall,” the Star War series, “Dark City,” “The Lathe of Heaven,” the Alien series, “The Tree of Life,” “Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls,” the Batman series, the Hannibal Lector series, “Suckerpunch,” and the Star Trek series. There are too many more to mention. [Footnote 1]
In addition to its prevalence in science fiction movies, it is replete in the symbolism of horror movies. When you understand this symbolism, you find it saturates the silver screen, popular television, music video and imagery, and the electronic media and arts
Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Being a Baby
Other movies indicating the interest emerging around pre- and perinatal themes are “Look Who’s Talking” and “Look Who’s Talking Too,” which demonstrate a belief in sperm and egg, womb, and infantile consciousness far beyond what mainstream psychology wants to believe.
Also, there is the hilarious sperm sequence in Woody Allen’s “Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex” in which he and a slew of others are dressed as individual sperm and dialogue about their upcoming great adventure.
This idea that sperm and ovum have consciousness can also be heard occasionally in comedic monologues on television and elsewhere.
Boob Tube With a View
Speaking of television, there was that very interesting and much heralded episode of the Moonlighting series in the late Eighties which—coincidentally employing an article and book title of mine, “A Womb With a View”—showed Bruce Willis in a womb-like enclosure as a fetus viewing, with the help of a higher spiritual ally, the upcoming events of his life. This plot idea was also an amazing, perhaps synchronistic, mirror image of a short story I wrote in 1979 titled “Birthing, Forgetting.” [Footnote 2]
A Hundred Monkeys and Counting
I point out the personal synchronicities because they speak of a “morphic resonance” phenomenon indicating ideas whose time has come. Be that as it may, the episode of Moonlighting is further proof of the growing belief in womb consciousness and interest in perinatal events.
Perinatal Faces Poking Out Everywhere
Other perinatal elements that are currently manifesting include:
Satanic Cult Abuse
Reports of Satanic cult abuse graphically depict BPM II perinatal elements. We hear of children and others being immobilized, tied up, and otherwise disempowered. Oftentimes they relate being forced to spend extensive periods of time trapped in tight places and/or symbolically or literally buried under ground.
BPM III elements in cult abuse include the sexual excess/abuse and bloodletting or blood use as in its being poured or used in “anointing.”
Cult abuse in film, as well as in real life, especially depict BPM IV elements: Cutting, hurting, torturing, sexually and ritually abusing and “sacrificing” are all very much like an infant’s perception/feelings of its experience of its being “attended” to after birth.
The fact that cult rituals often involve a number of other people focusing on an individual who is strapped or held down—the immobilization prior to birth, as well as the helplessness after birth—on something raised, like an altar or table, and then “worked upon” in some way or other is a particularly graphic expression of a neonate’s experience of being on a medical table after birth, watched by a number of others and worked on.
The ritualists’ use of robes and costumes, especially if they involve covering the face or the wearing of masks, is also not that much different from the way a baby in modern times perceives its welcoming into the world among masked and robed medical personnel.
Serial Rapists and Killers
One can hardly turn on the tube without finding some movie or TV show that is depicting a serial killer or rapist. I do not need to belabor the flooding of news programs with the same kind of material.
But the number of reports relative to victims and harm involved is far less than victims and suffering involved with other horrific events, such as hurricane, earthquake, nuclear radiation, ozone loss, or flood catastrophes, which have less or no perinatal charge about them. This preoccupation with serial violence, torture, and rape indicates BPM III elements of struggle, violence, sexual perversion and excess, as well as the death and torture aspects of being born.
Tube and Cinematic Violence Galore
Simply the amount of violence on television and in movies is a perinatal indicator. These depictions simulate, and stimulate, perinatal feelings in plot elements which are repeated to death.
Matters of Life and Death
We see clichéd regurgitations of being in life and death situations from which one is saved in the “nick of time.” This is exactly how it seemed when one was “miraculously” born, suddenly, after what seemed an endless time of suffering in which death was felt to be the only possible outcome.
It’s Not the Fourth of July, However….
You do not seem to be able to see a story that does not have explosions galore.
Such “fireworks” are examples of extreme compression suddenly becoming immense expansiveness and thus symbolize the sudden perinatal change of state from compression inside the womb to previously unknown expansiveness outside the womb as well as the sudden release of tension and compression upon being born.
Explosions also symbolize the immediate assault of sensation upon coming out of the sensorally “muffled” womb.
There is lots of violence, and of course, sex. Such extreme degrees of sexual explicitness and especially sexual perversity point to strong BPM III influences.
Monsters, Vaginas, and Hairs, Oh My!
Recurring themes of monsters that eat one, for example, The Alien movie series, indicate the feelings of fear of death in the mother’s womb. This is often portrayed as a huge, threatening mouth surrounded by teeth and, sometimes, hair. This is a symbol found throughout the world. Social scientists refer to it as a vagina dentata “mouth.”
One most obvious portrayal of this was Steven King’s 1995 miniseries, “The Longoliers.” The monsters, shown at the end, turned out to be flying, ball-shaped vagina dentatas, complete with hair covering, as in pubic hair. Though Steven King meant this to be frightening, from the perinatal perspective these flying, attacking vaginas are absolutely hilarious.
Time Travel Equals Age Regression
Interestingly, the appearance of the Longoliers is caused by the characters going back in time. Though King has them going back only fifteen minutes, and not age regressing to birth, I thought the fact of time regression was telling in the extreme.
Time travel in general is indicative of the need to go back and fix the trauma of these early events. The Back to the Future series is merely one example. We all know many others.
We have Ever Increasing Cesarean Births
While a “baby” emerging from a person’s midsection is obviously indicative of birth, the fact that it comes bursting out of the belly, rather than the vagina, might also relate to the ever increasing use of cesarean section as a means of birthing in this century.
“Noah, How Long Can You Tread Water?”
We are immersed in water before birth, placental fluid. Near the end of gestation, the mother, when standing, constricts blood vessels to the fetus. This reduces the blood supply to the fetus and thus less oxygen is received. It is called fetal malnutrition. Prior to birth we humans experience suffocation and claustrophobic feelings—we “can’t get enough air”!—which seem deadly and unending.
The timelessness of prenatal experience at this point—when not getting enough air—feels horrific, an unending nightmare. This part contributes to human ideas of places of forever, endless suffering, for example, hell.
Death by Vegetable
“I Agree, But I don’t Like Having It Shoved Down my Throat!”
I have noticed an increasing frequency of this version of suffocation in the visual media ever since I first remember seeing it in a scene from the movie Alien, where a rolled-up magazine is used as a murder weapon by being forced into the victim’s mouth. It seems to be becoming a writer/director’s fad, as increasingly creative ways are being imagined to play it out in scripts.
Told You I Didn’t Like Vegetables!
In this frequent scenario, the victim is “infected” with some kind of alien spore which grows inside of him or her and comes thrusting up from inside of the person’s body and out of the mouth, lodging itself there. Often this alien extrusion looks something like a huge asparagus emerging. The perverse sexual aspect of the image also has roots in perinatal, specifically, BPM III experience.
This “vegetable” eruption always happens suddenly and climactically, and almost always it results in death. Scenes like this I have observed in the movie “Jacob’s Ladder,” several times on the hit show The X Files, and in many, many other shows.
This sequence of pics from an episode of The Outer Limits is a rather good depiction of this. Notice that at the point the object emerging from the mouth is most visible it takes on the form of a vagina dentata. This links the images with birth and indicates the aggressive character of the feelings being depicted, that is, we have repressed anger feelings left over inside us from what was done to us. It is also more than just coincidence that the person to whom this is happening is in a hospital room and is dressed in a hospital gown; the plot is about this woman carrying a baby and this scene happens just after the birth. This is significant for the reason following, which states that this image has its roots in an event that indeed happened right after birth..
Gag Me With a Toxin.
This version of suffocation probably has its roots in the force-feeding of toxic elements to the fetus in the womb through the umbilical cord, and is more definitely related —the symbol is probably an amalgamation of both feelings—to the ungentle clearing of fluids from the neonate’s mouth by the attendants immediately after birth.
This latter connection — the ungentle mouth cleaning of birth fluids — I can personally validate from my own primal experiences. Apparently I was not alone in being treated this way as a newborn in the 1940s and 1950s in America…hence the popularity of such images in the media of recent decades.
Treated Like a “Piece of Meat”
This practice of ungentle mouth clearing—performed by hurried or insensitive, and uninformed, medical personnel, unaware of the consciousness and keen feeling awareness of the neonate—can leave one with lifelong feelings of being treated like a “thing.”
Many report having overwhelming feelings of being dealt with mechanically and without respect. It is common for folks to have feelings of “not being seen.” People can have lifelong body memories of having one’s mouth stretched wide.
These feelings, while they may be reinforced by later life events, oftentimes have roots that go back to a time immediately after birth. At this time, too frequently, the jaw is pulled down for the insertion of fingers and suction devices. It is done in a manner that is excruciatingly painful for a being that has spent his or her entire life—nine months—previous to that in a relatively placid environment with its mouth closed.
This ungentle procedure is also felt as an assault in that it occurs, usually, as the first event a baby is confronted with upon release from the womb. Its tiny mouth—never before fully opened—is often the first focus of attention, as large fingers (relatively) reach in, stretching the previously unopened and unstretched (virgin) mouth…breaking the metaphorical oral hymen of the neonate in a way that is felt to the infant to be comparable in pattern and violation to oral sexual assault.
Did you ever wonder why so many folks have such terror of seeing a dentist? Did you ever wonder what is the fascination with water-boarding and torture in recent years?
Victims Du Jour
By the way, I might mention that while genuine sexual assault and child sexual abuse is a reality that has long been with us and is only now really coming to light (thankfully), the similarity of this early perinatal experience of ungentle mouth clearing to sexual assault may have something to do with the epidemic of reports of infant sexual abuse that are coming out of counselor’s therapy rooms.
Confused interpretations of these reports can happen because most counselors and psychotherapists are ignorant of birth and perinatal trauma and yet more and more of them are allowing bits and pieces of regressive techniques into their standard professional arsenals.
In addition, they throw in these techniques, most often, without qualification or experience with these techniques, and oftentimes out of knowledge gained solely from books or second-handedly…not to mention rarely, because of professional arrogance, having experienced or undergone these regressions themselves.
Combine this inexperienced dredging up of perinatal material with the fact, as I will be continually reiterating throughout this book, that people these days are closer to their perinatal unconscious, to their birth trauma. One can see how it can easily happen that when feelings of being orally assaulted after birth begin arising within the counseling rooms, they can be interpreted, by therapist or client or both, as early sexual assault—that being the interpretation du jour, so to speak, and because of course both are ignorant of the fact of birth trauma—its having systematically been resisted and purged from mainstream professional and lay common knowledge, beginning with Freud’s rejection of Otto Rank’s discovery of it, right down to the present. (But let’s not get into that just here.)
Welcome to the World … Now f u
Regardless, the ungentle mouth cleaning is felt not just as a physical assault, it is an outrage to the infant’s tender psyche as well—leaving a lifelong and fundamental imprint undergirding and helping to sculpt all later experience—in that it is the first “welcome” to this world. That is to say, the birth struggle ends, there is release… (finally!) … then, “Welcome, baby” — yank! stretch, feel manipulated and used, treated like an object and with no sense that one is a living aware being.
With this in mind—that this “Hello–fuck you!” experience can be the primal (first) experience of this world, of other people, of society — it may be easier to understand the profound fear and anxiety toward other people that resides inside many of us—for example, as in the book title: I’d Rather Die Than Give a Speech!
This also sheds light on the seemingly “mindless” violence and rage that is directed back against anonymous people and society in general by certain types of criminals. They can be seen to be acting out their “fuck you” welcome into the world by attacking back and outwardly, rather than this early rage energy being channeled into some of the other, more healing or at least not harmful, responses possible to early assault.
Faces Coming Out of the Walls
I would like to refer to one final perinatal indicator in the visual media, which has been capturing my attention of late…seeming to be coming out of the very walls at me! This is—what appears to me to be—a recent and new sort of perinatal symbolism, at least in Western culture.
We have had, over and over again, the image of the “evil fetus” erupting from the abdomen, as in the classic scene from “Alien” as well as that of it emerging from the mouth—as examples, the “volcano-new-species” episode of The X Files and the dance hall scene in “Jacob’s Ladder”—indicating fetal emergence mixed with ungentle neonatal mouth clearing.
But this new variation of “fetal emergence” has human faces pushing through membrane-like elastic walls!
Ventura Out of the Womb
A good example of this occurs in the movie, “Ace Ventura, Pet Detective, When Nature Calls.” In the Ace Ventura movie, Jim Carrey emerges from inside a mechanical rhino with virtually all birth elements evident.
He is holed up in a hot and suffocating “womb”—that is, he is inside the rhino.
He becomes engaged in a desperate need to get out. Interestingly, the fan—the source of comfort in the rhino (womb)—stops working after a while. This is exactly analogous to the way, when we are fetuses, the nurturing elements of the mother’s womb “turn off,” in the last stage of gestation, making the womb quite an uncomfortable place indeed.
We see him pushing his face against the elastic, membrane surface of the rhino’s posterior in a way graphically suggesting perinatal emergence. The tourists watching this explicitly state that they see it as the rhino giving birth.
We witness the actual “birth”: Jim Carrey (Ace Ventura) struggles to make the opening larger and to come out. Finally, he falls, naked wet and curled up fetal- or baby-like, to the ground. The hilarious—and outrageous to the tourists—part is this image of a rhino giving birth to a full-grown naked adult human “baby.”
Couldn’t Fight Your Way Out of a Plastic Bag!
Other examples of this element of human features pushing through membranes has individuals completely covered and suffocated in membrane-like elastic sheets from which they cannot escape and in which they appear agonized and struggling. A good example of this was in a scene from “Fire In the Sky” that was shown repeatedly on TV to hype the movie when it came out.
Even the invention and use of straight jackets shows our preoccupation with the perinatal, especially as concerns our mental health or well-being. For the message there is that if you “get out of control” you will be put back in a place where you will be forced to comply and will have to learn to deal, as all the rest of us do, with the “existential fact” of needing to conform to the dictates of an overwhelming, dominating, and pervasive other world.
Existential fact is in quotes to point out that this is not an essential fact of existence; rather they seem to be facts to humans because of the experience we share of being in constricting wombs which become uncomfortable and suffocating increasingly near the end. This is an example of what I have termed elsewhere, biologically constituted realities.
Of course a similar thing—forcible “re-education”—could be said for the use of jail cells, solitary confinement, and enclosures like “The Hole” during incarceration. Simply the fact that we have a much greater percentage of our population in prisons than any time previously points to our mania of trying to control this aspect of our feelings from our origins…and of an emerging perinatal unconscious triggering the reaction. In former times, torture devices often employed devices of compression, suffocation, constriction…of the entire body or just the head…and often added the element of prenatal discomfort by adding torture while so enclosed. The Iron “Maiden” is such a device. Note the feminine being employed in the name itself. Could that be any more clear that it is meant to be a painful, tortuous re-creation of being inside one’s mother?
Modern movies showing such devices or procedures are indicative of these perinatal elements coming to the surface obviously. One example is “The Man in the Iron Mask.” In a similar respect, I have already mentioned our current preoccupation with water-boarding style torture. In employing suffocation, it is an effective and brutally inhuman way of stimulating people’s perinatal pain, just as straight jackets and jail cells are intended to.
This House Will Eat You Alive!
I saw a most potent portrayal of this new perinatal element in the 1996 movie by Peter Jackson, with Michael J. Fox, “The Frighteners.”
This movie’s plot involved a house being somewhat alive and gobbling people up into the walls. The ingested people would try to emerge from the house’s walls. The walls being like elastic when they would do this, the features of their faces could be seen pushing through to the point even of the individuals being identifiable.
These swallowed people could not get out of the walls. And they would be the next ones trying to lure their loved ones and friends into being gobbled up by the house, the same having been done to them, which had resulted in their being taken into the walls initially. Sounds like a modern, very perinatal variation on the Pied Piper theme.
But the former victims who, once pulled into the walls, themselves become perpetrators also is a powerful metaphor of the way primal trauma and child abuse of all kinds—including genital mutilation—is passed from one generation to the next. Vampirism has this telling quality as well: Once you are “bitten,” you are compelled to do it to others. In the same way all child abusers were abused themselves as children, as any psychologist will tell you.
House, Cave, Squids
Anyway, this portrayal of a house that gobbles up its victims, bizarre as it sounds and as it looked, can only be explained by looking into our perinatal imprints; and it is rife with such elements.
To start with, a house — being an enclosure in which humans protect, nurture, and take care of themselves once born into the world—is perhaps the most prevalent womb symbol that exists. It is right up there in importance with caves, oceans, swallowing beasts—especially beasts of the ocean like whales (Jonah), sharks (Jaws), and octopi or giant squids.
There was a recent movie of this squid variation. Its plot development was of the “Jaws” genre. But in adding tentacles, it added elements of pubic hair and umbilical strangulation to the normal aspects of womb torture such as simple compression and suffocation.
House; cave; water; devouring dragon, as in Harry Potter; whale or shark; automobile, especially buses or motorhomes; boats, especially submarines; indeed all vehicles of transition, nonmechanical as well as mechanical as in trains and airplanes; the deep forest, as in Avatar—anything in fact with elements of being surrounding and engulfing of one and as nurturing or threatening one, or both, are womb symbols, as we have known for a long time.
Prison, Jail Cell, Schoolroom = Womb
In the category of womb symbols that are places that enclose or “house” one that are uncomfortable, constricting, limiting of one’s ability to move around and in which one is made to suffer, even be tortured, we need to add prisons, dungeons, jail cells, and schoolrooms. Breaking out of prisons, being rescued from tight, enclosing places or situations in which one is not free—that is, can not “move freely”—are specific portrayals of the birth process itself. Contemporary film is flooded with plots and scenes depicting such escapes and/or rescues.