Birth — An Awakening or a Forgetting? Out of Eden, Part One — Is Birth the Beginning of Consciousness, as We Assume, or Is It the Forgetting of Innate Divine Awareness
We “Fall from Grace” at Birth: “The Child in the Womb Is in Soham (I am He); But, When It Is Born … It Starts the Question, Koham, Who Am I? For It Forgets Its Truth” — Sathya Sai Baba
Falls from Grace, Prodigal Human, Primal Return … Overview
The book that precedes this one, Falls from Grace, has not presented an optimistic portrait of the human condition. The question might arise, is this scenario true for all people? Has it always been true? Is it this way in all cultures? What are the roots of this dismal human predicament? Finally, and not the least of these, is there anything we can do about it … what is the alternative … what would something better look like in our current situation?
This book, Prodigal Human, and the one to follow, Primal Return, will address these questions and those like them.
We begin by looking more closely, in Prodigal Human: The Descent of Man, at the “evolutionary” and historical aspects of this situation. If the previous book could be said to describe the ontogenetic or “developmental” arc of the devolution of consciousness that has led to our estranged state, this upcoming part can be called the phylogenetic arc of that perspective—the falls from grace, not occurring in one’s individual history, but unfolding over the course of prehistory for our species, human.
Therefore, the next few chapters will address the questions of origins and cultural variations. I follow that with relating the historical and cultural variants to the contemporary situation in putting forth a cultural solution.
But the most thorough response and effort at solutions will be brought out in the next book. Primal Return: Return to Grace will carry the threads of solution forward and weave them into a tapestry of an understanding of what an alternative might look like.
In surveying the phylogenetic and historical terrain immediately before us, however, I will employ the myth of Abraham and Isaac as the primary viewing-rock from which to make out the relevant features. While Biblical renderings are not historically accurate, they provide poetic, allegorical reflections of our possible prehistory and evolution. I could have used mythical accounts from any number of other cultures to provide this heuristic, but it makes sense to use one that is most widely known and has a long tradition of scholarly use in Western culture.
Other aspects of the Genesis account of creation, from The Bible, will also serve as vantage points in our understanding of how we have come to be at this particular pass. That includes the Cain and Abel story and the myth of Eden and The Fall.
We begin at a familiar starting point: Let us recall these words from Genesis concerning our fall from grace and expulsion from Eden:
Unto the woman he said,
I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception;
in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children;
and thy desire shall be to thy husband,
and he shall rule over thee.
And unto Adam he said,
Because thou has hearkened unto the voice of thy wife,
and hast eaten of the tree,
of which I commanded thee, saying,
Though shalt not eat of it:
cursed is the ground for thy sake;
in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life:
thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee;
and thou shalt eat the herb of the field;
in the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread,
till thou return unto the ground;
for out of it wast thou taken:
for dust thou art,
and unto dust shalt thou return.
And Adam called his wife’s name; because she was the mother of all living.
Unto Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them.
And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever:
therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken.
So he drove out the man: and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden cherubim, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life. (Genesis, 3: 16-24)
One common interpretation of the Garden of Eden myth in the Genesis book of The Bible concerns God’s direct communication with Adam and Eve prior to the Fall. It is said that Original Sin occurs out of the fact that Eve begins talking to the serpent and making decisions of her own without consulting God — keeping Him “in the dark,” so to speak.
Thus Original Sin occurs out of our separating ourselves from God, turning from Him, as it were, to the things of the world and leaving off direct communication with Him. The result is that we are banished from Eden — the place where we “walked with God” — and are thrust out on our own, “in the sweat of thy face,” to work it out by ourselves.
Birth — An Awakening or a Forgetting?
Birth Is a Forgetting of Innate Divinity: “Like a prodigal child, I had run away from my macrocosmic home and imprisoned myself in a narrow microcosm” — Paramahamsa Yogananda
Now, the obvious psychological corollary to this pattern of falling from grace in Eden is that of one’s birth into this world. Prior to birth, many of us have a relatively direct relationship to the Divine.
The “first major shutdown” has not occurred — that is, the first major time that we have retreated from our roots in the infinite because of our entanglement in the pain of physical existence (Adzema, 1985).
We know this from our re-experience in the various forms of experiential psychotherapy, especially primal therapy, and from the various spiritual growth modalities going under the rubric of “breathwork,” especially holotropic breathwork (Farrant, 1987; Grof 1976, 1985, 1988; Hannig, 1982; Janov, 1983; Lake, 1981).
When you are immersed in your Self, you are happiest. The child in the womb is in Soham (I am He); but, when it is born in the world, it starts the question, Koham, who am I? For it forgets its truth; it identifies itself with the body and the senses. Until it becomes a Jnani, it will never regain the Soham knowledge. (p. 111)
By “I am He,” Sai Baba is indicating the identification of the self with the Divine essence of all. So he is saying we are identified with that essence, or God, in the womb but that when we are born we forget this identification — wondering afterwards, “who am I?”
Similarly, Swami Paramahansa Yogananda (1946) wrote about his experience of returning to a physical body in his reincarnation on earth. He described it: “Like a prodigal child, I had run away from my macrocosmic home and imprisoned myself in a narrow microcosm” (p. 46, emphases mine).
Birth trauma causes this first major shutdown, this first major forgetting of our divinity. After birth we no longer “walk with God” as easily, like most of us did in the womb. We are too caught up in the world, its play of pleasure and pain, our survival in it.
Birth Is the Beginning of Human Consciousness? Addressing the Old Paradigm Understanding of Birth
Mainstream psychology disputes this on two counts — in both cases keeping with Freud: It contends that such a change does not occur in the direction I am proposing, that is to say that consciousness is not reduced through such early experience but is increased (Sroufe, et al, 1992, chapter 8). And further it asserts that it doesn’t occur at the time I am suggesting, by which I mean such change of consciousness, in whichever direction, is not related in any way to the birth event but is stretched out over time in infancy and early childhood (Mahler, et al, 1975; Peoples & Parlee, 1991).
We (Adzema, 1985; Chamberlain, 1988; Janov, 1983; Grof 1976, 1985, 1988; Lake, 1981; Verny, 1981; to name just a few), however, disagree with mainstream psychology based upon our evidence, which they, as yet, continue to ignore. On both counts — the direction and the time — our evidence is overwhelming that it is as I’ve stated: We “fall from grace” at birth. The fact that mainstream psychology is reluctant and inefficient in its methods of admitting new data and better interpretations should not, I feel, be allowed to inhibit the progress of science: Specifically, in this case, paradigm entrenchment should not preclude our efforts to evaluate these findings in the field of prenatal and perinatal psychology and to follow them to whatever other new truths they may lead.
I should point out that I do not object to mainstream psychology limiting the range of what it considers to be valid and credible evidence to a certain small spectrum of “hard” data. But what I do object to is that when they stray into areas … and they inevitably do … about which there is no hard evidence, perhaps because there can be no such evidence in such an area—for example, what might be the subjective experience of birth for the infant—they project into those areas their “scientistic” biases and prejudices. This they do, completely ignoring the vast amount of evidence of a less-than-hard variety that would completely dispute their biases. So doing, we end up with psychologists of the status quo putting out self-serving rationales and rationalizations for their beliefs and lifestyles, couched in scientific language. And that is anything but the empiricism they proclaim.
For how anyone could judge the (often voluminous, meticulously recorded, and researched) “softer” data that is available (we’re not talking about wrong data) at a lower value than no data is a mystery. This is understandable, I suppose, only by a reading of Thomas Kuhn on paradigm entrenchment and resistance to new data that implies paradigm shift (1970). Here we see a situation where the old adage that religion takes over where science leaves off remains true. Only it is “scientistic” religion that is taking over to color those areas where they cannot dare to tread on purely empirical grounds.
This would be bad enough, but for the fact that not all the evidence that is ignored in this manner is even of the “softer” variety. Much of it is hard evidence, scrupulously grounded in strict empirical methodology. But this “baby” is also thrown out with the supposed “bathwater” of the anecdotal “softer” data. In addition to that evidence erupting in the field of prenatal and perinatal psychology, there is the evidence in related fields, the research on morphic resonance and morphogenetic fields is one such example, previously explored.
So apparently, in self-appointed “reputable” psychological science, there are sanctioned sources and unsanctioned sources for one’s information. Again we need Kuhn (1970) to help us understand this. But it has nothing to do with science and everything to do with politics and psychology—that is, it has to do with human failings and arrogance.
At any rate, this book, Prodigal Human, and its accompanying volumes, may be considered part of the effort to evaluate the evidence ignored by the mainstream. Further, the attempt to reconcile these findings, to accommodate mainstream constructs to these discoveries, is an ongoing effort on our part.
Birth Is the Next Major Diminishing of Consciousness After the One at the Beginning — Around Conception: In the Womb, One Is Still Conscious of Divinity
At any rate, technically speaking, birth is the first major narrowing of consciousness after the one at conception. Of course, we are speaking generally here, for there is a great deal of individual variation in this depending upon the events in the womb. These are complicating issues that would not be profitably addressed here but are elsewhere (See, for example, Falls from Grace).
Therefore, to all intents and purposes conception is the first shutdown, technically the first fall from grace. But at this point, after that first fall, and while in the womb, many people are still relatively open to the Divine. There is the awareness of separation from Divinity, and the creation of form, at the creation of sperm and egg. But the second duality, the second split has usually not occurred — that of separation from the present, and the creation of time, which occurs at birth (Again, see Falls from Grace).
This is what happened to us in our individual lives. Now, let us look at how this same kind of fall from grace or “ejection from Eden” has played out over the eons in the creation of what we know today as the species, human.
Continue with We Once Had the Run of the Forest and the “Original Affluent Society”: Early Human Savagery Is a Patriarchal Myth Rationalizing Our Descent Into Civilization
Return to Book 9—Falls from Grace
For an Overview and Links to Other Parts of This Work-in-Progress, Go to Prodigal Human: The Descent of Man
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Posted in Anthropology, authenticity, being yourself, Birth, Consciousness, Evolution, God, individualism, life, meaning, Metaphysics, Mystical, nonconform, Philosophy, Primal Spirit, Primal Spirituality, Psychology, Religion, Spirituality
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The Cycle of All Events, the Evolution of Parenting, and Auspicious Collective Regressions: Being Crazy in an Insane World Might Mean You’re the Sane One
What’s Involved in Stopping War and Ecocide and the Necessary Mess of Transformation: Hard to Believe, But We’re Getting Saner
Chapter Nine: Regressions in the Service of Society — Messy Healing
There Is a Cycle to All Events … The Spiral Dance, Why We Can’t Get No Satisfaction, and Where There Is Real Hope
The Spiral Dance – The Cycle of All Events: Wedded to Rebirthing Rituals, the Inevitability of Disappointment, and Where There is Real Hope
Wedded to Rebirthing Rituals
In turning toward these feelings we embrace, feel, and if we go deeply enough into that, we relive the roots of them and resolve them finally.
If we face these inner forces—we call that feeling them…in this instance, feeling through or reliving one’s birth—we integrate them and heal the underlying trauma, the perinatal trauma.
Or the individual and society can avoid this going within—as depicted in the peace symbol—and can choose instead to act them out, which is the peace symbol upside down—the Satan symbol, the pentagram.
In acting them out, one distracts oneself from the uncomfortable feelings, which though not focused on, are still there. One tries to be “strong” in the face of feelings but one is actually driven and directed by them—they “take over one’s mind.” This is the source of the idea of spirit possession and in general of the idea that a devil or Satan can take over one’s soul.
So in running from our feelings we are captured and enslaved by them, we are forced to act them out in ways we would not otherwise choose which are negative to horrible but in all cases self-sabotaging. Of course war is the most horrible, most self-sabotaging, greatest, and most all-consuming form of such acting-out…the greatest struggle.
Humans are characterized by a particular kind of birth process. It is a coming into being that is traumatic and which is related to our distinction of standing upright and thereby decreasing the pelvic opening as well as suffocating the fetus prior to birth. The fact is that because of this “distinction” we are destined to go through periods of rebirthing purificatory rituals, whether for good or ill. [Footnote 1]
For we are psychologically wedded to reliving that which we could not fully experience at the time because of the overwhelming quality of pain associated with it.
A “Spiral Dance”
These rebirthing rituals we are doomed to repeat, one way or the other. We are going to act out this primal pain—this birth trauma—in an unending cycle of feelings having these components
- Periods of feelings of expansion
- Closedness or entrapment, guilt, and depression
In winning the “war” or having the success or achievement, there begins the same cycle of expansion followed by entrapment. Losing the war…the struggle, the battle…is akin to death, even if there is no death. There is numbness and repression…akin to a kind of “limbo”…before life can begin anew. A reconception is necessary.
The Pattern of Our First Nine Months Imprints Us For Our Entire Human Lives
The reemergence of hope in individuals and societies is biologically equivalent to conception. And following this reconceiving, there is a similar cycle of reemerging strength—akin to the expansion that follows winning. Then there is continuing depression or overarching gloom and helplessness feelings coupled with revenge feelings and blame as individuals and societies stew in the vessel of indecision, inaction, and doubt. This is quite like the closedness and guilt which follows achievement-success-victory. Note, however, that the revenge and blame feelings here are aspects of the BPM II matrix, just as is closedness and guilt.
Can’t Get No Satisfaction
And then the cycle is the same again. Specifically, there is aggression against the oppressor (War and revolution both see the foe as an oppressor, even if one is actually the one who is the aggressor.) What follows upon fighting is release or “death”; and so on around. The “happily ever after” that inspires such battle truly only exists in fantasies and fairy tales. Prosperity and feelings of success are unfortunately doomed, on this physical plane of existence, to be short-lived.
Where There Is Real Hope
It would seem we are fated to never be happy, for long. But progress is possible; herein lies our only real choice in the entire scenario. For we either work through these cycles in some deep psychologically transformative way that helps us deal with and pass beyond the difficult and painful parts of the cycle as well as helps to fade the imprints’ potency in determining our behavior or we are doomed to act them out in the external world in ways that we are blindly unaware are not congruent with the actual facts of our circumstances and are harmful to ourselves and others around us.
We are fated to experience these cycles of birth, and we will either act them out disastrously or we find ways of dealing with them inside of ourselves in some way—and some ways are better than others for doing this—so that we can have some inner distance from these patterns and therefore some conscious ability or choice around our actions when these pushes and pulls arise.
Railing Against the Darkness: The Vanity of Will, The Impotence of Reason, Progress Requires Regress, and Healing Is Nothing if Not Messy
Railing Against the Darkness, The Vanity of Will, The Impotence of Reason, and Social Progress Requires Regression
The Vanity of Will, The Impotence of “Reason”
What we absolutely don’t have, yet arrogantly think we do, is the ability—through will or reason alone—to choose light over darkness, to replace these inner veils of distortion with clarity of thought and perception and hence of positive behavior and actions while in the midst of them. Trying to reason with and to obtain truly desired outcomes is about as possible as trying to reason with a lizard and convince it to conform to one’s wishes for its behavior. For good reason: Indeed our rational mind is as split off from the “reptilian brain” inside us within which these imprints circulate and from which they arise as are we from the consciousness of a gila monster.
What We Call “Reason” Is Largely Just Rationalization
This impotence of intellectual understanding in the face of these patterns of self-destruction occurs because these schemas are rooted in memories existing in an emotional and entirely dissociated part of the brain, which is hardly touched by neocortical admonishing of any kind. As deMause correctly points out,
[The fetus’s] “early experiences have been found to be recorded in a separate early neural network—a dissociated emotional memory system centering in the amygdala, quite distinct from the declarative memory system centering in the hippocampus that is established in later childhood.” [Footnote 2]
Disclaiming these cycles, which inevitably pass through darkness, and reliance on “will-power” to change one’s patterns, which includes self-sabotage, has been exposed in its impotence in modern times. We see as evidence the growing acknowledgment of the ineffectiveness and, indeed, counter-effectiveness of psychoanalysis. [Footnote 3]
Railing Against the Darkness
So the question begging to be asked is “What do we do about it?” What do we do about these pernicious cycles?
And when these elements erupt in society in harmless, possibly healing ways, how do we view them? Do we, as Mayr and Boelderl do in their article, “The Pacifier Craze: Collective Regression in Europe,” decry the regression…as if by disclaiming it we could somehow keep the cycle from happening? [Footnote 4]
Mayr and Boelderl write, for example, that the situation of collective regression in Europe “strikes us as being high-explosive [sic] and bitter enough.” [Footnote 5]
In another place they exclaim, “What is horrible about this insight [about the increasing collective regression in Europe] is the additional observation that regression is becoming still more radical.” [Footnote 6]
This response of railing against the “Darkness” is a Freudian response. Yet it is not even a neo-Freudian one, since regression in the service of the ego—which began to be seen as ever more important by neo-Freudians—is not acknowledged, let alone considered.
Social Progress Requires Regression
That regression in the service of the ego is not considered is confirmed by Mayr and Boelderl in their statement that “[R]egression by definition is a process of repression and a defense mechanism.” [Footnote 7]
These are surprising words, in light of the concept of regression in the service of the ego and awareness of the clinically based evolution of psychotherapeutic theory since Freud’s original postulations, over a half-century ago.
They are even more awry if one considers the universal, cross-cultural, implementation by societies of rebirthing rituals to handle the same kinds of forces we are confronted with. The anthropological literature is rife with these accounts.
Further, Grof has meticulously shown that regularly going into altered states of consciousness where one confronts this material is a prime function of cultures, and it occurs nearly universally although it is woefully lacking in Western culture for the most part.
Moreover, these words by Mayr and Boelderl indicate a conflict with or ignorance of the fact that deMause’s theory of evolution of historical change requires regression on the part of parents, while parenting their children, as the primary “engine” of sociopsychological progress.
For deMause writes,
“[T]he ultimate source of all historical change is psychogenesis, the lawful change in childrearing modes occurring through generational pressure…. Psychogenesis depends upon the ability of parents and surrogates to regress to the psychic age of their children and work through the anxieties of that age better the second time than in their own childhood.” (op. cit., 1982, p. 135, emphasis mine.)
But this mistake by these two social scientists would not be all that important if it was not the perfect example of the kind of uninformed attitude we have, generally speaking, in Western societies about these forces. This attitude is reinforced by a Judeo-Christian tradition of specialness and scapegoating in the West. It is a pervasive feeling about these things; specifically it, itself, is the actual defense. While this is a widespread reaction to our inner realities it is far from science, and even further from the truth or reality about these things.
“Stop It!” … Yeah, That’s Gonna Work
At any rate, if we adopt this Western, Judeo-Christian, Freudian tactic of decrying the darkness, we are as effective in derailing the cycle of violence and war as Freudians are in what amounts to admonishing their clients to “stop it!” when it comes to their neurotic self-sabotaging.
For people cannot will themselves to merely stop their cycles of neurotic self-sabotage and self-destruction, which are the individual manifestations/ acting out of their birth traumas. As mentioned these directors of action operate out of a different part of the psyche, and brain, than one’s conscious willing part. They are simply not accessible, so hardly amenable, to rational or willful input. And changing one’s thoughts to affect them is about as helpful as rearranging the furniture on the deck of the Titanic.
People Who Have It All Figured Out Are the Ones to Watch Out For … Emotional “Sickness” Might Indicate More “Wellness”
Regression in the Service of the Ego
With the exposure of the ineffectiveness of the Freudian tactic of intellectual understanding has come the Freudian movement’s disintegration into schools advocating various other strategies for change.
These schools/strategies include the psychiatric—the use of drugs; the neo-Freudians who acknowledge and use regression in the service of the ego and abreaction; the humanistic-existential approaches, stressing the “experiential”; and the Jungians and neo-Jungians, who would seek the resolution of these cycles in their inner archetypal acting out, resulting in an eventual rootedness of the ego in a higher Self (a spiritual center) beyond or transcending the cycles. [Footnote 8]
Other approaches include the bulk of the spiritual, new-age, or transpersonal means that are flourishing these days. These alternative paths basically differ from all others in their belief that one can simply bypass these perinatal pulls and pushes and go directly to the Light or the Self by dismissing the birth cycles, or the Darkness or Shadow, through affirming the Light, meditating the Darkness out or the Light in, changing one’s thoughts, creating one’s reality, and various combinations of these.
Finally, these newer schools and strategies for healing include those of what might be called experiential psychotherapy, which includes primal therapy, holotropic breathwork, some forms of (experiential) meditation (Vipassana meditation, for example), Reichian and bioenergetic approaches, some forms of hypnotherapy—experiential ones—ones that involve reliving traumas—and virtually all the techniques, treatments, and correctives that are espoused in the field of pre- and perinatal psychology.
The point is that from a good number of these other-than-Freudian perspectives—and all of those that acknowledge the importance of regression in the service of the ego—and from the perspective of the entire field of experiential psychotherapy, the answer to the cycles of violence, war, and death-rebirth is to stop the acting out, not by simply intellectually decrying it—as if one can actually talk oneself out of one’s inner fears and one’s Darkness/Shadow—but by reliving those cycles of violence at their origins…their primal roots. In the case of perinatal forces, those forces from “the dark side,” this is accomplished by reliving the violence of birth, a perinatal trauma that is thoroughly and masterfully delineated by Grof and deMause. [Footnote 9]
Auspicious Collective Regressions
But from this perspective of experiential psychotherapy—one completely congruent with and grateful of deMause’s contributions in psychohistory as well—regression, in Europe, or elsewhere, is not seen as something to decry, disclaim, be horrified of, or be seen as dangerous but is seen as an opportunity. Regression is certainly not seen as a form of defense but as the opposite of that. Regression is part of a process of diminishing one’s defenses against one’s internal reality of pain and trauma.
Thus, examples of blatant collective regression as in Europe—more so to the extent they are relived, released, and integrated—are entirely auspicious for the eventual elimination of war as a collective device of acting out—defending against—the painful feelings coming from one’s personal history which one carries around, all unknowingly, and which pervade, in one way or another, in forms subtle and not so subtle, every moment of one’s consciousness in the present.
From this experiential psychotherapeutic perspective, we have a different feeling about developments like those that Mayr and Boelderl describe as collective regression in Europe and Lawson describes as occurring at rock concerts. [Footnote 10]
From a more enlightened viewpoint these cultural phenomena should have us, if not dancing in the streets, at least hopeful of a gradual decrease in the use of war and violence. Why? It is because the youth who display this “regression” so blatantly were brought up by an “advanced” form of child-rearing than that of previous generations, that they have fewer defenses, fewer layers of obfuscation covering up their unconscious psychodynamics; consequently the regression is seen more clearly in their behavior. [Footnote 11]
Unflinching Belief Related to Total Dissociation
Why is this important? DeMause points out that people do go to war, and that prior to it their perinatal dynamics come to the fore, as evidenced by perinatal-laden words and images in the media and in leaders’ speeches used to describe the situation and its dynamics. Thus, our leaders take us into war, they act out their perinatal dynamics…and we in following them act out ours…in such gruesomely overt ways because these dynamics are so hidden, repressed, and overlaid with defenses that the conscious mind has absolutely no access to, and hence insight into, them as being part of one’s unconscious dynamics.
Consequently the conscious mind is completely able to convince itself that those dynamics are actual, real, and doubtless parts of the situation and therefore require an actual, real, and extreme response. The amount of resolve required to act out war can only be wrought of an unflinching belief in the rightness, the absolute correctness of one’s perspective of the situation and therefore of that extreme course of response. And that can only be brought about by a total dissociation from one’s perinatal traumas, and a complete and utter projection of it on the outside—the enemy, to be specific.
Blatant “Sickness” Related to Being Real
The contrary is also true: When there does not exist that total and complete dissociation of the perinatal trauma—when it is, as in Europe and rock concerts currently, closer to the surface, less defended against, less repressed and, hence, more blatant—it is more accessible to consciousness and less likely to be acted out in the extreme as in war. Instead it is more likely to be acted out in less extreme forms, such as jumping into mosh pits, carrying pacifiers, listening to baby tunes about the, very real, difficulties of being a baby, and so on.
Finally, it is more likely to be actually allowed to emerge in consciousness and be relived, and thereby “healed”…and gone beyond, to be replaced by something more benign and more socially constructive, and thus to be removed forever as a motivation to war or violence. This is the auspicious view of the developments described by Mayr and Boelderl. [Footnote 12]
Janov was the first to point out that a permanent resolution of underlying trauma initially entailed an aggravation of symptoms and symbolic acting out. That is to say, the underlying dynamics become more blatant and apparent in behavior. [Footnote 13]
Janov was also the first to note that the acting-out and overt neurotic was closer to being “real,” and therefore really sane, than his or her highly functioning and “normal,” but repressed, rigidly defended, and unfeeling neighbor. [Footnote 14]
The Most Evolved Parenting … Boomers and Millennials … and The Cyclical Nature of History: I Know It’s Hard to Believe But We’ve Been Getting Saner
Thanks to You We’re Getting Saner: The Most Evolved Parenting … Boomers and Millennials … and The Cyclical Nature of History
Evolution of Parenting – We’ve Been Getting Saner
Finally, the correctness of the view that being “crazy” in an insane world might be more sane has been borne out in recent history. DeMause describes an evolution of parenting from ancient times to the present which involved ever decreasing psychosis and violence and increasing caring and consciousness of the needs of children. He connects this decrease in violent child caring to ever decreasing violence and psychotic acting out in societies.
DeMause labels the most common modern parenting mode the socializing mode. Short of the quite recent helping mode—which only really rose to prominence in the last three decades—the socializing mode is the most advanced and most humane.
Lest there be any confusion, I wish to point out that my own theoretical understanding differs from deMause’s in one important respect. While I agree with his evolution of child-rearing over the course of civilization and within recorded time, I believe he is wrong about prehistory and what primal peoples were like and the kind of child-caring they engaged in. He depicts prehistoric societies as psychotically oblivious of the needs of children, engaging in, first, infanticidal; then, second, abandoning; then, third, ambivalent modes of child-rearing. Whereas it seems to me the overwhelming evidence and increasing numbers of anthropologists point to a natural “organic” child-caring being employed in the the mists of the past quite a bit more “advanced” than even many modes employed today.
I believe the change from the loving parenting we see in many primal peoples and in Nature among many of our planetmates to the infanticidal, abandoning, and ambivalent modes he has described for early historic cultures is a product of that ever increasing control of Nature that went into full gear with the agrarian revolution, some ten to twenty-five thousand years ago. So, I am saying that brutal parenting was a consequence of “civilization” and was at its worst at the beginnings of recorded time.
But I agree we have been gradually evolving to better modes of child-caring over the history of civilization to the most sane and psychologically beneficial modes employed in recent decades, which, you might want to note, are very much like the modes of the earliest humans. I describe why and how we lost our connection with Nature and loving ways of parenting—how we left “Eden”—in my book and blog “The Great Reveal.”
The Cycles of Time
I believe my understanding shows once again how much of what modern folks thought of “development”—including it being linear and increasing from “darkness” to “light” with ourselves always at the top (conveniently)—is wrong and merely part of an anthropocentric bias and an ethnocentric heritage. For more and more, as we lay down those blinders to reality, we notice the evidence of the cyclical nature of everything—from our lives (ashes to ashes) to the physical Universe’s expansion and contraction, to the vibrations at the subatomic level, the waves in the sea, the turning of the Earth and the revolutions of the solar systems, and I contend now also, the so-called “history” of our species on Earth. This is the thoroughly postmodern idea that human time is also cyclical, with over and again peoples returning to earlier halcyon times only to “fall” away from them.
The Worst of Times Quality of Current Events
This idea of time as cyclical not linear is in keeping with Eastern philosophies, as well as indigenous ones. Hindu thinking currently has us at the depths of the Kali Yuga, the worst part of the cycle right now, with matters to be reversed very soon and the best of times just ahead. And, as I have been describing in my books Falls from Grace and Primal Renaissance and will be directly pointing out in my upcoming book, Primal Return, we are currently seeing a most necessary return to a more harmonious way of being and a more natural self. And with it, requiring it, to some extent preceding it, we are evolving to the most advanced mode of loving parenting.
The “Best of Times” Nature of Our Parenting
Psychohistorian Glenn Davis, following deMause, analyzed the most advanced form of child-caring short of the most recent helping mode—the psychogenic parenting mode deMause termed socializing—and found that it comprised four submodes. In order, beginning in the mid-nineteenth century to the mid-twentieth century and each one a more “evolved” and humane one than the previous one, they are the submodes of psychic control, aggressive training, vigorous guidance, and delegated release. [Footnote 15]
Oh, Be-HAVE. WWII Generation … Received Aggressive-Training and Vigorous-Guidance Parenting
Davis concluded that in America the Vietnam War was perpetrated by individuals belonging almost entirely to the aggressive-training and vigorous-guidance psychoclasses. [Footnote 16]
Questioning Authority and Oneself Is Good. Boomers … Received Delegated Release Parenting
Yet the Vietnam War was brought to an end largely as a result of the efforts of an antiwar movement whose largest component was a Sixties youth brought up under a more advanced delegated-release child-caring mode. [Footnote 17]
The delegated release mode, which resulted in the phenomenon of Sixties youth and the counterculture, is the most “advanced” mode short of the helping mode.
“Let’s Collaborate” – Millennials. Received the Most Advanced Parenting – Helping … “We Just Want You to Be Happy.”
The helping mode is the child-caring mode employed widely by the Sixties generation for their children, the Millennial Generation, also known as Generation Y. So, a helping mode of parenting was enjoyed by the children of a delegated-release psychoclass, the Boomers. Sixties youth are seen, psychologically, to have the most the most “advanced” ego structures short of their children taught within a helping mode. [Footnote 18]
Ending War and Humanicide—Peace Is Worth its Price of Suffering: Better “Emotionally Disturbed” Than “Healthily” Fighting in War
Walking In Another’s Moccasins
It is obvious that these Sixties youth did not have the same unflinching and unqualified belief in the absolute rightness of their country’s position in Vietnam as did many of their parents. This is obviously the case in a psychoclass of youth chanting a generational mantra, “Question authority!” and whose more extreme members would at times even go over to the perspective of seeing the war from the eyes of the “enemy,” the Other.
As I mentioned earlier, among the Sixties Generation we saw Jane Fonda’s journey to Hanoi, the waving of North Vietnamese flags by protesters, and the carrying of little red books on the sayings of Chairman Mao. These are obvious indicators that the generation as a whole was open to seeing the war from the North Vietnamese perspective: That is, as a conflict perpetrated by a foreign nation that was hypocritical in its espousal of democracy in that it prevented democratic elections that would have without doubt elected Ho Chi Minh and instead it installed a puppet-ruler in the South, making Vietnam a virtual colony of the United States. From this perspective, the Vietnam War was for the Vietnamese as much a war for independence as the American Revolution was for the U.S.
This is just an example of how there are two sides to every issue and how an attempt at empathy or “walking in The Other’s moccasins”—made possible by a closeness to a perinatal unconscious that is also an opposite perspective than that of the conscious mind—can lead, at the minimum, to the reluctance necessary to prevent engaging in at least the most blatant and horrific forms of violence…against others, but consider also, against Nature.
The Perinatal Generation
At any rate, is there evidence that this undermining of the self-righteous position necessary for the instigation and carrying out of war and ecocide—this ability to see at least somewhat from The Other’s perspective and not just one’s own—is in truth correlated with a closeness to perinatal dynamics, a closeness to the unconscious for that generation of youth, those of the Sixties? The answer: Absolutely yes!
As mentioned in a previous part, sociologist Kenneth Keniston did psychological studies of members of the Sixties Generation.
He was inspired to do so through his noticing that he was seeing something really unusual and radically different in these youth than what he had ever seen. This led to his fascination with discovering what made them so different. And he documented his findings in two books—The Uncommitted: Alienated Youth in American Society and Young Radicals: Notes on Committed Youth. Roughly speaking he chose to study the unconscious dynamics of both the “alienated-hippie” and the “activist” sectors, respectively, of that generation. [Footnote 19]
At the risk of repeating myself, I wish to remind the reader that a reading of his books—keeping in mind that Keniston knew nothing of perinatal dynamics at that time, and few people did, for that matter—reveals a degree of perinatal imagery, fantasy, and acting out—especially among “the uncommitted”—enough to make a troll-handling, pacifier-wearing, mosh-pit jumping youth of today to blush! [Footnote 20]
Self-Analysis and Psychological-Mindedness
Because of this peculiar perinatal access, I don’t believe it is any coincidence that Keniston also found an unusual amount of inner reflection—questioning oneself—alongside the more well known questioning authority. This he labeled “overexamined life” for the alienated sector and “psychological mindedness” for the activists.
Better Emotionally Disturbed Than “Healthily” Engaging in War
So, being close to one’s perinatal imprints, being less defended against one’s inner unconscious painful memories, leads to one being able to question not just oneself—and therefore to be a catalyst to personal growth and a quest for truth—but also the actions of one’s society. It is a counterbalance to our tendency to act out in violence to others as in war and to Nature as in ecocide. It means people will suffer more inner turmoil and pain, will feel more psychologically “disturbed,” and will be less likely to take it out on others, will be less likely to make others or the environment “pay” for what happened to them.
Let us contrast that with its opposite. DeMause writes,
Hitler’s projection of his fears…into Jews and foreigners helped him avoid a psychotic breakdown and enabled him to function during his later life, as long as others shared his delusion of poisonous enemies.
Therefore acting out collectively, as in war, can prevent a psychotic breakdown in certain individuals.
Better Psychotic Than Waging War
But when the consequences of acting out one’s birth trauma, collectively, is millions of people—including oneself—dead, not to mention the uncountably large loss of material and personal resources, it is clear that by comparison a psychotic breakdown is a more benign alternative for either the individual or the society in which that or those individuals act.
Similarly, not providing the outlet of war as a collective birth ritual…oftentimes, for the soldier involved, euphemistically called a “rite of passage”…would allow the genuine neurotic breakdowns, the collapse of people’s defenses, and their opening up to their underlying perinatal dynamics. Thus accessed, they can be healed, or in the least they would prevent the kind of unflinching belief or self-righteousness required for war and violence.
Some folks might even be motivationally paralyzed—receiving information from the unconscious that contradicts and undermines the stance and beliefs of their conscious ego. But when that egoistic stance is slanted, commonly, towards war, violence, selfishness and greed and corresponding environmental apathy, then better one would be indecisive, overwhelmed, and doing nothing.
The Price of Emotional Pain Is Minuscule Compared to That of War
Yet it is true that this neurotic breakdown, of at least a small amount, on the scale of society would result in the kind of collective regressions that Mayr and Boelderl, and Lawson describe. That is, the cause of peace, of the saving of human lives, requires that people pay the price of encountering their primal pain.
By all measures, this peace price is minuscule. It is even more worth it when you take into account the fact that many people, after initially “breaking down” for lack of a collective…and highly destructive…act-out like war/aggression, will actually succeed in reconstructing a self more in line with reality, through the dynamics and means categorized under the term regression in the service of the ego, desccribed above. Regardless of professional help…which would be nice but is not always available or practical…some people just find a way.
Continue with Chapter Ten: Where There Is Hope, Cultural Rebirthing
1. A. Briend, “Fetal Malnutrition: The Price of Upright Posture?” British Medical Journal 2 (1979): 317-319.
2. DeMause, op. cit., 1995, p. 12, emphasis in original.
3. See, for example, Alice Miller, For Your Own Good: Hidden Cruelty in Child-Rearing and the Roots of Violence, trans. by Hildegarde and Hunter Hannum. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, especially “Vantage Point 1990,” pp. vii-ix.
4. Daniela F. Mayr & Artur R. Boelderl, “The Pacifier Craze: Collective Regression in Europe.” The Journal of Psychohistory 21 (1993): 143-156.
5. Ibid., p. 144.
6. Ibid., p. 148, emphasis mine.
7. Ibid., pp. 149-150.
8. Regarding the “experiential,” I should make clear that this approach is, from the perspective of the experiential psychotherapeutic approach I will be describing shortly, actually the superficial symbolic acting out of these underlying and powerful cycles in a way that is only a little less impotent than the Freudians.
9. DeMause, op. cit., 1995.
11. Mayr and Boelderl claim quite wrongly and quite strangely—as if to make the facts not conflict with DeMause’s psychogenic theory, or as if to cover up some hole in their analysis—that those caught up in the pacifier craze were raised under the intrusive and socializing parenting modes (op. cit., 1993, p. 145) and yet, in 1992, were between the ages of 15 and 30 (Ibid., p. 143). This is hard to understand because these youth would have been born between the years 1962 and 1977 in advanced Western countries of mostly Western Europe—Italy, Germany, Austria, all of Europe, and even the U.S. (Ibid.).
However, the intrusive and socializing modes are associated, by DeMause, with the eighteenth century and the nineteenth to mid-twentieth centuries, respectively, in the Western world (DeMause, op. cit., 1982, p. 62). On the other hand, the helping mode begins mid-twentieth century in the Western world (Ibid., p. 63).
The conclusion from this is that these youth, described by Mayr and Boelderl, would have been greatly influenced by the helping mode. They would be expected, at least, to have received the most advanced methods of child-caring overall in the world at this time—considering DeMause’s theory—since they are the most recent progeny of the Western world!
Indeed, if these cannot be considered products of the helping mode, who can be? In order for Mayr and Boelderl to dispute this and claim they were exceptions to the rule and were raised under intrusive and socializing modes, they would have had to do a study demonstrating this, or at least cite one done. And this they do not do.
12. Michael D. Adzema, “Reunion With the Positive (Self), Part 1: The Other Half of ‘The Cure.’” Primal Renaissance: The Journal of Primal Psychology 1(2): 72-85. Reprinted on the Primal Spirit site.
15. Glenn Davis, Childhood and History in America. New York: The Psychohistory Press, 1976.
19. Kenneth Keniston, The Uncommitted: Alienated Youth in American Society. New York: Dell, 1965; Young Radicals: Notes on Committed Youth. New York: Harcourt, Brace & World, Inc., 1968.
20.While these aspects of youth are laid out by Keniston, a fuller delineation of these dynamics are to be seen in my work-in-progress, tentatively titled The Once and Current Generation: “Regression,” Mysticism, and “My Generation.” [Stay tuned.]
Continue with Chapter Ten: Where There Is Hope, Cultural Rebirthing
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The Fall of “Obvious Truths,” 99% Rising, and Awakening in a Plundered Land: Their Intentions Are No Less Than Those of the Nobles of Old
In the Wake of the Idiot King: Obama Rising and The Awakening—“This Is Not the Way America Is Suppose to Be!”
Culture War, Class War, Chapter Sixteen: The Fall of “Obvious Truths”
Truth Will Out – Their Intentions Are No Less Than Those of the Nobles of Old: The Fall of “Obvious Truths,” Part One
“This Is Not the Way America Is Suppose to Be!” The Fall of “Obvious Truths,” Part One – Truth Will Out
So, we have these Big Lies, these “obvious truths,” which are actually not true, and they are all pervasive. It makes it virtually impossible to know what is actually going on.
Lies Are Being Called for What They Are
Until just recently. For now the truth’s being told again. And the Republicans are on the run. They are being found out to be the liars they are. That term, lie, for the first time in my lifetime is being used for what they do. They are being discovered to be who they are and what they have been doing all those years is being told. All the things they like to do–the undermining of unions and the collective bargaining system, the ever increasing giveaways to the rich–are being brought into the light.
The Republican Lie About JFK Being a Supply-Sider
America was prosperous in the Sixties under Kennedy. And Republicans like to refer to his cutting taxes on the wealthy as support for their policies. They like to point to the good economy then as being the sort of thing that happens with their voodoo economics of shoveling money into wealthy hands, and they dare to imply that he would be in agreement with them.
But Rich-publicans have been extracting far more from America than the modest gain they had under Kennedy. What they’re not telling you is JFK reduced taxes to percentages in the seventies. The tax cut was actually not implemented until Johnson took office, so the prosperity we remember from the JFK’s America happened with the marginal rate above ninety percent. They’re not pointing out that America boomed under Eisenhower, a Republican, when it was also in the nineties. They’re avoiding the fact that their hero, Reagan, took JFK’s levels to the twenties and caused a recession.
The Republican Lie That Cutting Taxes Creates Prosperity
So Republicans are comparing a small reduction enacted during prosperous times—the early Sixties—with huge cuts in times that are precarious—currently. And they’re failing to point out how lower taxes in the Twenties before the Depression, in the Eighties before Reagan-Bush’s recession, and in the last decade under Bush all devastated the economy.
Despite these dire consequences they would opt for the highest bracket of taxes to be in the low thirties even now when they can hardly be afforded, and they pushed Obama into continuing their tax cut at the end of 2010 and are blaming him for the economy not responding since then. So Republicans firmly maintain that Matrix of misinformation and switching the blame whose purposes are to confuse the other-than-wealthy and thus keep them helpless.
It Is Now Clear That Their Intentions Are No Less Than Those of the Nobles of Old
They would keep us helpless for lack of a clearer understanding , as well as to keep us disintegrated and disunited. No big union movements, no big antiwar movements, no big environmental movements, and no movements for the poor and economic justice.
The misinformation overlay has become so pervasive, the masses have lost the solidarity that they had enjoyed only a decade or so earlier when issues were clearer. Even Clinton’s America was a time when the truth was easier to make out through the concerted Republican campaign to enrich themselves and to keep the average American confused, poorer, poorer and poorer, helpless, and thus dumber and more controllable, easier to manipulate, and overworked because of crazy-making ways of doing things.
“This Is Not the Way America Is Suppose to Be!” – OWS Protester
What does their consistent, daily, pervasive and unrelenting repetition and lies accomplish? What does all that amount to? Their intentions are no less than those nobles of old, to keep people in servitude and serfdom, essentially to bring people into compliance with their totalitarian will.
But I refuse to believe that is the only possible fate for workers and the masses of people. I still actually believe in those things we were all taught about America in our schools. I still think of what we are supposed to be.
We’ve Brought Down Soviet Oppression…Only to Raise It Ourselves.
Well, I did say this was about the rise and fall of the “obvious truths.” And I talked at length about those lies and those obvious “truths” that were never challenged. I hope I made my case.
But What Did It Take for Such Truth to Be Revealed?
It is our good fortune for these lies to become clearer in recent years and for the perpetrators to become more visible. But what did it take for those guys to be seen for what they are? It took a lot of suffering by the American people. For eight long years, it took a lot of being abused by the powerful. The Republicans got so cocky, they took so much money, they were so uncaring of the suffering, of the dying of Americans. They were so obviously not caring…not even putting up a pretense of being for the American people, who they were supposed to be representing and who they were claiming to be on the side of. They were obviously the wealthiest of us and those fighting for those interests of the filthy rich, but they were insinuating that they were all people, that what suited them was a benefit to us all.
Arrogance Comes Before the Fall
But you see you can get so cocky that you can lose your discipline and then you start to say things that people can see through. And then you have a war and people are dying. And then you finally have a collapse, an economic collapse that was based upon taking away regulations that people and good thinking Democrats and so on had instituted to protect people from having their life savings taken away from them…regulations that were also put into effect to level the playing field with the rich and anybody else playing the stock market.
We had such regulations, but then they go and take them away. We see that lapdog for the filthies, Alan Greenspan, saying we have come into some bright new era when corporations no longer need restraints for they are (magically) now self-regulating.
Their Thievery Blatant, Cocky
I was making the point earlier how that was extortion on such a grand scale. I brought to mind how extortion happens a lot more among the hundreds of million of Americans but when they do it on a tiny scale they go to jail, but when this elite does it on a large scale, well they just talk about it as if it is history. And It’s like, “That’s too bad. We gave all that money to them, and they didn’t do what they said they were going to do. Hmmm. Too bad. I mean there’s nothing we can do.”
Awakening in the Wake of an Idiot King: The Fall of “Obvious Truths,” Part Two – 99% Rising
However people did start to see through the “obvious truths,” finally, through all of the haze of omnipresent untruth. Maybe it was because so many people were out of work they had some time to think. I don’t know.
And then Obama came along. He spoke plainly. He spoke like one of us because he was one of us. Like Bill Clinton, who incidentally was also raised by a single mother, Obama had a middle class background and humble origins. His mother was said to be a “hippie” of sorts; she was certainly internationalist in her perspective, not jingoistic. She died owing medical bills and, sadly, struggling with insurance companies. Obama’s origins have nothing in common with those of, say, a Romney…or a Bush. He wasn’t cradled in wealth, and his family had no ties with Nazis like the Bushes.
You couldn’t say he wasn’t one of us; you couldn’t make Obama out to be an elitist. Of course, they tried to; they got so cocky there is nothing the filthy rich and their Republican lackeys would not speak to see if they could get away with it. Obama was called “elitist” when he was campaigning and when in office they changed that to “socialist” and un-American. He had the same kind of pejoratives thrown at him that the 1% have always drummed up against any of us radicals, “hippies,” activists, or any of us coming up from the 99%. He forgo taking up some lucrative position in the corporacracy after his university years and instead worked as a community organizer. I personally can appreciate that having done something similar at one point in my own life.
But, no, he spoke like us. He made sense. He used rational arguments like his Democratic predecessors, but unlike them he could weave that logic with examples and words from our lives. Perhaps Clinton is the only president in recent memory who could really do that as well. And, being black, he obviously didn’t look like our usual American overlords.
Certainly, they tried to make him into some rich person. It is amazing how the filthy rich will paint their opponents with the brush that belongs to them. One of the big lies they always put out there is that “The Democrats are the ones who are rich.” And they’d say, “Well the Kennedys were…” Seriously, they do this. It is so typical.
Nowadays they bring up the name, George Soros. They find the one billionaire on our side. They don’t tell you that he’s got one-tenth the wealth of the Koch Brothers who fund the Republicans and the extreme right. With Soros’s billions dwarfed and insect-like up against the mountains of gold behind Republicans, they still make him out to be some kind of source of all evil. Unbelievable.
But that’s what the Republicans and the right-wing-nuts to. They will find one example of anything. Always just one example will they be able to come up with, but they will use that to make their crazy “truth.”
Indeed, Obama chose a running mate, Joe Biden, who also had unprivileged beginnings. Biden grew up in the unassuming city of Scranton, in the center of the one-time Pennsylvania coal region, only ten miles from where I happened to have been raised. Biden was one of the least moneyed if not the actual poorest of any of those in the Senate. He ran his first campaign on a shoestring budget and was still taking the train to Washington at the time of his nomination to the vice-presidency. You can argue the policies of these Democrats all you want, but what you cannot do is include them in the ranks of the 1%.
So by the time of the 2008 election and after a sorry eight years of the reign of a foolish Bush, these “obvious truths”—such as that you give money to the rich and it’s gonna create prosperity—well, they were falling. They came out into the light and began being seen to be the lies that they are. Not all of them, of course. But some, at great cost to Americans during eight years and more of suffering, were swept like cobwebs from the minds of an awakening populace in America. The American Awakening began.