When Everything Appears to Be Conspiring Against You, You Might Want to Stop Fighting Rebirth: Atman Projects Versus Surrender Solutions and a Different Hero’s Journey
How Can You Be Borne Up, If You Won’t Let Go? Spiritual Experience Is Distorted by One’s Birth Trauma … The Necessary Hero Descends Into the Perinatal Below
Apocalypse – No! Chapter Twelve: Atman Projects vs. Surrender Solutions
The Necessary Hero and Descent Into the Underground–When There’s “Nothing But Trouble,” You Know You’re in The Perinatal Below
A Different Kind of Hero’s Journey for Our Times Is Depicted in the Cult Classic, “Nothing But Trouble”
A Perinatal Flick
A film of postmodern times that is bold with revelation for us is the cult classic, “Nothing but Trouble,” which was released in 1991. It is an especially potent example of the rising pre- and perinatal influence in the media we’ve been discussing as well as the different heroic response required in these strangest of days because of it. It is all this, plus a twist: As a comedy it represents an unlikely approach to such material and themes. More about that later.
It was produced and written by Peter and Dan Aykroyd and stars Dan Aykroyd, Chevy Chase, Demi Moore, and John Candy.Its reception by modern audiences mirrors exactly the perception in general, to date, that has been had of the perinatal material it depicts so well. For despite the movie’s star power and the popularity of its co-creator, Dan Aykroyd, it was met with overwhelmingly negative reviews and received six Razzie nominations, garnering one. I fully expect that until we know better I can expect much the same kind of reaction to this book, because of the perinatal perspective it is revealing of the dark underside of everyday pleasantries and sugar-coated media realities. Yet there is hope for all that we will integrate this hard-to-face yet redemptive material in the fact that the movie does have a strong following among some in our population, just as at present there are some who are not in denial of the bittersweet perinatal vision being revealed.
The Lure Into the Underworld and Call to Adventure
The perinatal adventure of “Nothing but Trouble” begins innocuously with the main characters “leaving the beaten path” on a rather ordinary trip out of the city. Interestingly, the Brazilian couple who have forced themselves on the main characters of Chevy Chase and Demi Moore in making the trip act as impish other-worldly instruments in the change of route.
Joseph Campbell pointed out that the “call to adventure,” which marks the beginning of the descent into the transformative nether regions, may be instigated by the merest chance or blunder. [Footnote 1]
Campbell also writes that the heralds of such a rite of spiritual passage are often loathly and underestimated characters. The Brazilian couple—as gaudy, overbearing, quirky, and from “down under”—perform just this function of luring into the underworld. Thus, they remind us that it is the quirky yet underestimated element in our familiar daily experience that opens us up to the process whose ramifications are huge by comparison.
The Merest Blunder, The Adventure Begins
Sure enough, this innocent-appearing outing is soon disturbed. The merest blunder of map reading results in an ominous tour of an eerie town and its somber and menacing-looking inhabitants. This is followed by a high-speed car chase as the police attempt to pull the innocents over for a bogus traffic violation.
In the tour of the town, it is as if the ego is shown getting a preview or having a precognition of what lies ahead and attempts to flee back into its safe familiar environs. But of course, this emerging piece of unconscious material will not be denied and is able to capture the fleeing ego that we see safely ensconced in its trappings of status and power—symbolized by the BMW with car phone. At this point the main characters, representing the ego, are led, under guard, into the bizarre town of Valkenvania—the encounter with unconscious perinatal begins.
The Junkyard of the Psyche
Campbell says that in the unconscious deep, to which one is beckoned, “are hoarded all the rejected, unadmitted, unrecognized, unknown, or undeveloped factors, laws, and elements of existence.” [Footnote 2]
Likewise, the set in “Nothing But Trouble” is replete with refuse. Bits of history—of rusted and broken refrigerators, automobiles, kitchen appliances, assorted junk, and pieces and parts of all the preceding…the wreckage of the past—are strewn about as well as heaped in clusters to construct the architecture and delineate the outlines of the drama. The correlation with subconscious remnants of forgotten memories and past emotional experiences is obvious.
Thus the drama evolves in the dumping ground and junkyard of the psyche—where all the rejected tidbits of experience have been relegated.
Stripped of Ego, Perinatal Begins
After being separated from the automobile—that is to say, the ego stripped of defensive trappings of status and worldly position—the characters are rather quickly shuttled into encounters with a myriad of perinatal elements. A few of the obvious ones are as follows:
- Mr. Bonestripper, which is a roller-coaster type ride whose entrance is a large vagina dentate mouth that swallows, chews up, and kills. Notice the roller-coaster ride aspect of Mr. Bonestripper, which reflects the emotional extremes and changingness of perinatal, specifically Basic Perinatal Matrix III (BPM III), events. [Footnote 3]
- The chutes inside the house and of Mr. Bonestripper indicate birth canal symbolism.
- Sexual elements, indicating BPM III influence, are manifest in the scantily clad heroine and the penis-nose of the judge.
- The dark foundry symbolizes the foundation work of the psyche as well as the ominous and eerie aspects of perinatal experience.
- The slave labor surroundings represent similar feelings in the enforced and helpless character of doings just prior to and at the time of birth.
- Notice that the body—the car, the “Beamer”—gets trimmed down, the excess removed, symbolic of the cutting away of past attachments and concerns of a worldly nature, one’s “status” reduced.
- Chevy Chase as the main character is at one point forced into a marriage with a huge woman, who is tellingly androgynous in that she is played by John Candy. In her threatening and suffocating embraces we see symbolism of the crushing womb.
- The entire site of these doings is surrounded by a watery trench. This obviously reflects the amniotic surround in the womb.
- Police and guns point to the authoritative character of perinatal doings—in other words, do, or else!
- Death/rebirth symbolism of the perinatal exists in the form of skeletons and huge piles of skulls and bones.
- Scatological, that is to say, fecal symbolism is seen in the “bat-room,” which contains an enormous pile of wet bat-shit…excuse the wording, but it really is shit and not feces.
- The arbitrary nature of justice in the courtroom speaks to that perinatal feeling that one tiny thing, event, or action, has huge and horrifying ramifications.
The most obviously perinatal element, however, is the gargantuan and grotesquely flabby infant twins in diapers. Perinatal feelings are indicated in their extreme crying neediness. Their freshly newborn quality is evident in their fleshiness, which reminds one of the overweight appearance of some newborns, which is usually lost a little later on in infancy. The glossy, waxy sheen on their bodies is reminiscent of the skin of a newborn, which, fresh out of the womb, is wet and slippery, covered in amniotic fluid and cervical mucosa.
A Spiritual Interface
An interesting aspect that indicates the transpersonal, or spiritual, interface with the perinatal is an attic room—a higher mind of memory, kind of like an Akashic record—where all past IDs—identifications—and reports of them—newspaper clippings—are displayed.
Though, interestingly enough, in true perinatal fashion, a macabre lens is used to view these lives—only the reports of their tragic disappearances are seen. I believe that this is a wonderful depiction of how transpersonal information is distorted by perinatal material—the implications of which are far reaching for the pronouncements of so-called spiritual, or psychological, authorities who have not dealt with their perinatal undersides.
Trusting Higher Forces: Say “Good Night,” John Wayne, and How Can You Be Borne Up If You Won’t Let Go? When All Seems Lost…. You Might Want to Stop Fighting Rebirth
When It Appears the Whole World Has Been Conspiring Against You, You Might Want to Let Yourself Be Blessed
Just When You Thought….
However an important element in this movie, “Nothing But Trouble,” which is different from artistic representations that deal with only the personal or psychodynamic, is the way the ending opens up under it to a new level, a whole new arena, of issues. Those of us in experiential therapies or breathwork are only too aware of how the perinatal opens up to one, revealing a greater expanse and pervasiveness of dis-ease, at a certain point after dealing with the personal and the psychodynamic.
This layered, or multilevel quality of the movie is shown when the main characters, having heroically escaped through personal effort, find themselves returning to the perinatal realm. Thinking that they have the forces of authority and light on their side, they expect this time to be able to put the evil away once and for all.
But When All Seems Lost….
To their immense surprise, it appears that the whole world has been conspiring against them—a telling perinatal feeling. The evil is discovered to be pervasive, as if infiltrating every corner of the universe—another perinatal feeling. Even the thoroughly trusted elements of light turn out to be on the side of the darker forces—a vantage point that is part of the hopelessness that characterizes the classic no-exit BPM II scenario. And just like in the womb, then, when all seems lost, something new happens, an explosion or eruption of sorts, which brings down the old world and its structures in a violent conflagration.
Atman Projects Versus Surrender Solutions
This hopeless and futile aspect of the perinatal realms — as opposed to the merely personal or psychodynamic ones—lends itself to its distinctive response—which is surrender, not resistance. Unlike the hero of Campbell’s hero’s cycle whose task is to slay the dragon using the sword of analytical or cognitive powers, the correct solution here at the perinatal is to let go of all designs, manipulations, and attempts at control and to put oneself into the hands of the seemingly irrational and chaotic Universe, come what may.
How Can You Be Borne Up, If You Won’t Let Go?
The Universe’s response in the movie — the upsurge of fire from below the earth that brings down the evil structures—demonstrates the theme of being saved by higher forces when one finally is able to surrender. In the same way, in our perinatal experiences, we find ourselves “borne up” and elevated when we once are able to submit to the upsurge of fear-evoking perinatal emotion.
Indeed, when Chevy Chase is seen rolling and setting fire to barrels of oil in a superhuman nick-of-time rescue attempt—in typical “hero’s journey” style—I had an odd disjointed sense that we had switched modes. The element seemed incongruous.
Say “Good Night,” John Wayne
But, then again, not so. For the movie shows that the successful escape performed through one’s own effort is, in actuality, futile. In perinatal terms, such heroics are illusory “atman projects” that ultimately fail against the onslaught of perinatal material, which must be surrendered to, not heroically resisted or conquered.
Interestingly, the eventual surrender solution is echoed earlier on when Chevy Chase is about to go through the chomping jaws of Mr. Bonestripper, the devouring womb. His response, at the prospect of his imminent failure, is to pray—to call on higher forces.
Trusting in Higher Forces
Amazingly, the machine breaks at that moment, signaling the response of such “external” or higher forces. He alone, of all the others who have faced that fate, goes through the machine unscathed. Notice also that he says “Thank you, Lord” afterwards.
Thus it is not on one’s own powers that one makes it through perinatal material, rather it is by the relinquishing of such attempts at control and the relying and trusting in higher forces. We are reminded that Dante required the angelic Beatrice to show the way through purgatorio and inferno to paradisio.
In the next chapter, we will use another postmodern film to expand on these themes. This will allow us to fill out an emerging pattern, as we then compare it with “Nothing But Trouble” and other perinatal evidence.
So let us watch, now, as the pattern, like a photo emerging in solution, reveals to us its features, thus delivering to us the message it has come to bring.
3. As a reminder, BPM III events (Basic Perinatal Matrix III events), using the typology set forth by Stanislav Grof in his many works, are the events surrounding the actual birth struggle of the infant during delivery. These parts on the perinatal in film make mention also of BPM II, which is related to the time of severe compression and constriction of the fetus in the latter stages of pregnancy and prior to the actual onset of delivery—which are characterized by feelings of “no-exit”; of BPM IV, which is concerned with the feelings of release, triumph, being saved, and whatever else occurs immediately after delivery; and of BPM I, which is related to the state of the fetus earlier in pregnancy—prior to compression—which is often conceived to have “oceanic” and “blissful” qualities, though not always.
Continue with You Just Can’t Slay a Volcano: The Necessary Hero Uses Surrender, not Struggle … For Why Would You Not Be Borne Up by a Universe That Is You
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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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Consciousness Evolution from the WWII to the Millennial Generations: A Hierarchy of Healing, a Global Healing Crisis, and the Unseen Revolution
Psychology of Generations —The Changing of the Generational Guard: Why There Is Less Violence but More Depression…. And What’s Good About That
Wounded Deer and Centaurs, Chapter Fourteen: Psychological History of Today’s Generations and Changing of the Guard
Healing Crisis Means Needing to Get “Sicker” Before We Can Be “Weller” and Making It When You DON’T Fake It: Centaurs, Wounded Deer, and the Consciousness Revolution, Untold
What’s in Your Head, Zombie? Being Really Sick, But Denying It — WWII Generation, Nazis, KKK, Right Wing, Tea Party
Getting Sick In Order to Get Well
What does this all mean? What does this portend? What might be the outcome of this emerging perinatal unconscious? In other words, consciousness evolution or apocalypse? And what is the meaning of this change in consciousness and of these wounded deer and centaurs? Is there hope in this development?
To answer what is the portent of these wounded deer and centaurs and what the emerging perinatal unconscious might mean on a macrocosmic or societal-global scale, it is helpful to look at what an emerging perinatal unconscious portends on the individual or microcosmic level.
What we have learned from the experiential modalities—holotropic breathwork™, primal therapy, rebirthing, vivation, and others like them—is that unerringly people need to get “sicker” before they can get well. This should not be news to psychoanalysts or any of the other mainstream psychotherapists or counselors either.
Basically, the underlying repressed material must come to the “surface,” must become more conscious…and obviously when it becomes more conscious its accompanying symptoms are exacerbated. This can be called a healing crisis in that the symptoms get worse, more obvious, more blatant; and there is a period of acting them out before integration and resolution happens.
One Must “Die” to One’s Sickness Before One Can Be “Born” Well
When Grof talks about birth/death scenarios in the perinatal unconscious, he is including these sorts of healings, where one must “die” to one’s sickness before one can be “reborn” into another way of being, without those sick patterns or symptoms.
Degrees of Disease
Dissociation – Completely Split Off
It’s YOU! YOU’re the f&^$#r!
We see a progression over the last century in which there was complete dissociation from the perinatal unconscious by those of the Fifties, the World-War-Two, and previous generations—hence complete projection of it on The Other—to lesser dissociations from it by the generations since, baby-boomer and afterward, which involve more awareness of it as being a part of oneself and less projection of it on The Other.
In this latter instance, there is more suffering from it and more individual acting out of it, so that in a sense one appears “sicker”—the perinatal is more obvious in one’s behavior, taking more individual forms, and it is more easily recognized and seen to be a personal problem…a “sickness.” Earlier I described this consciousness as being the way of the centaur, for it reflects Chiron, in ancient myths, having an ongoing wound but eventually becoming a teacher and healer.
To understand the ways the perinatal manifests depending upon one’s “closeness” to it, let us contrast the two extremes of being split off from it and being close to it.
Being Really Sick, But Denying It: WWII Generation, Nazis, KKK, Right Wing, Tea Party
Can’t Know That You Don’t Know
First let us take a look at what the perinatal appears like when it is completely split off from one’s conscious personality. This complete splitting off from the perinatal entails a complete repression and denial of it. Consequently, one has absolutely no access to it, and thus one is in total ignorance of the underlying motivations of one’s actions. One unconsciously acts out perinatal elements and traumas and manifests them in one’s behavior, rationalizing all the while that one has really good—non-perinatal, “real world”—reasons for why one is doing the things one is doing.
What”s in Your Head, Zombie?
Psychohistorians deem this state to be such an oblivious one that they use the term trance-state for it, fully intending all the implications and connotations that term engenders. That is, they are saying that people who are this repressed and split off do their acting zombie-like and out of motivations completely hidden from themselves. [Footnote 1]
Birth Woes ~ World Wars
In such total ignorance, and of course being totally ignorant that one is in ignorance, people in the past century have been able to act out their perinatal underbellies in ways to make such hideous and all-encompassing wars as World War I and World War II possible.
Leaving aside for a moment the myriad ways the perinatal has unconsciously been acted out in this century in creating the current situation in which we are on the brink of extinction—which can be considered the most serious consequences of this splitting off imaginable—simply focusing on this century’s major wars as evidence of perinatal acting-out alone is instructive.
The Nazis, in particular, were extreme in their dissociation from their perinatal, in their projection of it onto the Jews, and their consequent ability to act it out in horrific ways on them and others. Alice Miller and Lloyd deMause have each detailed the psychodynamics of this projection of primal pain—both perinatal and childhood—in the creation of the people that Adolf Hitler and the Nazis became in their adulthood. [Footnote 2]
The Nazis present us with the patterns of these processes of dissociation and projection in blatant and obvious relief. The way Nazis, especially in concentration camps, acted out perinatal trauma on their prisoners has been described in great detail by Grof as well. [Footnote 3]
Wounded Deer and Centaurs – Being “Weller,” But Appearing Sicker – Perinatal Awareness of Boomers and Beyond
Perinatal Boomers and Beyond—We Know THAT We Don’t Know…We Could Be Wrong.… But You Certainly Are
Being “Weller,” But Appearing Sicker—Generations Since
As I said, contrasted with being completely split off — dissociated — from one’s perinatal unconscious, as the Fifties and WWII Generation are predominantly, is being less cut off from it and having some access to its energies. This means that rather than being totally and blindly driven by these forces, which are acting on one indirectly, one actually feels them somewhat: One has a sense of their being a part of one’s experience as opposed to living within them so thoroughly that one has not a clue of their existence.
This means that one has more options than to act them out, but it also means they make one aware of one’s perinatal sickness. One feels them, suffers from them, struggles with them.
On the other hand, one does not suffer or struggle from unconscious energies that one is compliant with and that are completely manifest and supported in one’s social and cultural environments (for example, the worlds of the WWII and previous generations), however destructive that makes one’s actions.
Trancing Vs. Suffering
This difference may be likened to the difference between being a fish in water and totally oblivious to that fact versus living out of water and experiencing a downpour. When one is in less of a trance state, one is aware of alternative ways of being; in the example, that would be being dry. Consequently, one suffers and struggles amidst these forces and options…and one has at least some ability to choose one’s actions.
I do not believe it is simply coincidence that we are currently going from the Piscean Age — symbolized by fish in water — to the Aquarian Age — symbolized by a water bearer. This change was a big part of the consciousness during the Sixties, and I think we are beginning to see why: Going from a state where one is oblivious to the forces around one to a state where one can see the things one is dealing with (carrying the water) is no small thing.
It seems everything about evolution in humans has something to do with being between two mediums and the advance/the added perspective that comes with that, going all the way back to being the only ape to take to the water so much as to become partly aquatic—placing our species between water and land, halfway between a dolphin and a chimpanzee. I think we are heading toward being like the fairies and angels we imagine—halfway between land and air—but that is a whole other post.
Another analogy I’ve heard of this difference between the two modes of being completely oblivious and somewhat aware of one’s unconscious is that between living full-time in an arctic environment where one has to wear a heavy coat versus living in a milder climate. In the warmer climes, one is both aware of what it is like to not have a coat—one has capacity to feel better ways of being—as well as how bulky, obstructing, and uncomfortable it is to have the coat on—suffering more from it, suffering from one’s perinatal memories. Finally one is better able to decide when to have it on and not—one has more options. At some point I will discuss what this has to do with the increase of bipolar disorders, but not now.
One analogy I find especially provocative is the difference between watching a movie and being fully engrossed in it so that one does not know it is a movie, which is equivalent to acting out unconsciously from one’s early imprints. Compare this to watching the same movie with equal interest, but being aware that one is in a theater. You can see where in the second instance one would feel there are more options; and one would feel that one could step back before finding oneself caught up in horrific actions.
Wounded Deer and Centaurs
However, being aware of one’s discomfort (having “more access” to the perinatal), one suffers like the wounded deer—the innocent who feels things and so struggles with society’s sickness that many others are unconsciously perpetrating. But, with time and success in handling this pain, one can become the wounded healer—the Centaur.
Now, why and how would this occur? As I’ve said, some access to the perinatal and more blatant and direct acting it out is exhibited by many of the baby-boomer generation. This is in large part due to their having been raised in a way that required less in the way of ego defenses to keep their primal pain suppressed. Psychohistorians like Glen Davis and Lloyd deMause have detailed a slow advance of child-caring techniques, with generations since the WWII Generation being raised with more attention to their needs and less harshness and cruelty…increasingly more love.
“What the World Needs Now, Is…”
Before anyone begins thinking “permissive” or “spare the rod, spoil the child,” let me point out that I will be continually stressing how this development is not only a good thing (why wouldn’t love be good?) but is one of the few sources of hope for our future we really do have.
For less childhood pain and trauma means one is stronger and more able to face the even deeper perinatal pain.
Choosing Lesser Evils
At any rate, the extreme acting-out and total dissociation from the perinatal exhibited by the World-War-Two Generation was followed, in the generations coming after, by less relative dissociation and less horrific forms of acting it out. Quite simply, generations as a whole had better ability to refrain from the more blatantly evil act outs—wholesale murders and world wars, pogroms and genocide, inquisitions and witch-burning, racism and slavery. They were more able to choose seemingly milder forms of suffering and self-destruction — polluting the atmosphere, water, and food; population explosions and crowding of cities; and traffic jams.
The common everyday traffic jam is especially instructive of perinatal dynamics as traffic congestions replicate asphalt birth tunnels where one not only breathes exhaust fumes from trucks and other autos—fetal malnutrition—but also can become gridlock at any moment, thus re-creating the intense frustration and no-exit hopelessness, and rage, of BPM II.
Baby-Boomer Perinatal Awareness
Other examples of the scenery of modern times where the perinatal is manifesting but is less projected onto another:
We Know THAT We Don’t Know…We Could Be Wrong.
Many baby-boomers had enough access to their perinatal underbellies to question the absolute rightness of the Vietnam War and so they campaigned against it. This is indicative of closeness to the perinatal because it shows an ability to doubt one’s egocentric defenses—as given by society and family of origin—and to look at situations from the eyes of the Other.
So much was this evident in boomers that some were even able to see the Vietnam War through the eyes of the enemy—exemplified by Jane Fonda’s trip to Hanoi, the waving of North Vietnamese flags at demonstrations, and the carrying of little red books of the sayings of Chairman Mao tse Tung.
But It’s Clear You’re Wrong.
The baby-boomer—or Sixties—generation also indicate their closeness to their perinatal in their campaigns against some of the act-outs of the perinatal mentioned above: These include actions against pollution; a rejection of city life, with its gridlocks, pollution, and crowding , and a return to the country, in communes or otherwise; an awareness and rejection of polluted foods and creation of a natural and organic foods movement; and actions against global overpopulation including support for birth control, a pro-choice stance on abortion, and delaying of baby-making on their own parts along with a reduction in the size of their families.
The sexual excess that is characteristic of the perinatal, specifically BPM III, was evident in boomers’ free love and promiscuous sexual behavior.
Many more examples could be given. But the proof of their closeness to their unconscious dynamics lies not only in their actions—as mentioned above, in their more blatant acting them out or in their actual actions against the blatant acting out, both of which indicate closer access—but also in the study of their unconscious dynamics. As mentioned in Chapter Twelve, Kenneth Keniston found in his study of the psychodynamics of the Sixties generation when they were in their youth an unusual amount of perinatal symbolism and self-analysis. (See “Raging to Reenter, Digging Under Ground.”)
Boomer Rage, Perinatally So
We Shall Overcome.
We also see perinatal feelings in the focus of the baby-boomers on empowerment. This word appears to come up in every area of their lives. It can be seen as the natural focus of a generation that feels itself inside to be a helpless fetus facing an overpowering obstruction of a womb.
Hence baby-boomers are of course also closer to the frustration, rebellion, and yes, rage, that is part of the perinatal complex. We saw it exhibited by them in their anger at authority in the Sixties, their rebellion against the Vietnam War.
“Get the &%$ OFF Me!”
Keep in mind that a huge aspect of the perinatal is feelings of restriction, thus frustration, and, consequently rage against large entities of obstruction—like the womb was in relation to the small and helpless fetus. In doing so, we see that the reason for their rage is simple and understandable.
Baby-boomers, characterized as being closer to their unconscious, especially the perinatal, have more access to their anger: This means they feel their anger and are less likely to act it out in more hidden, disguised, and dire ways such as war-making, racism, and anti-Semitism.
This does not mean their rage would not be troublesome. The perinatal lets no one get off scot free. We see lots of pre- and perinatal anger coming out in the last few decades in the phenomenon of the “angry electorate.” Let’s look at that next.
You Didn’t Really Believe Elections Had Anything to Do With Issues, Did You? Biting the Feeding Hand … Perinatal Rage and Panicky Electorate
Seriously? You Actually Think Elections Have Something to Do With Issues? Biting the Feeding Hand … Perinatal Rage and Panicky Electorate
More recently these baby-boomers have been coming into the triumphant phase of their lives. They make up the largest sector of the electorate, and their influence is reflected more as they come into positions of power in the media and elsewhere.
The Angry Electorate and Boomers
But their influence has been diffused and confused because of the anger of some of them. Their irrational rage—combined with the reactionary consciousness of the Fifties Generation, many of the Fifties Gen children of Yuppies-Gen Xers, and the remaining WWII folks—has most often skewed election results against the Boomers interests and their true desires. Though not the majority of boomers, enough of them expressed their rage to swing election results in favor of the other side.
1992 – “Mad as Hell”
Beginning in the 1992 and 1994 national elections, these baby-boomers exhibited their perinatal influences in contributing to the totally unexpected phenomenon of the “angry electorate.”
At the time, pundits and media analysts were at a total loss to explain the rage of the electorate that was affecting these elections. In 1992, they were totally surprised by the showing of three men in particular—Jerry Brown, Pat Buchanan, and Ross Perot—who seemed to have one thing in common: the angry tones and rebelliousness that characterized their speeches, as compared to others. [Footnote 4]
The demeanor of these candidates was at such odds with the other candidates that when Bill Clinton one night responded angrily to a comment by Jerry Brown about Hillary, Clinton’s wife, it was that part of the debate—of Clinton being angry, all issues aside—that made the news that night!
Though the rage of the electorate in 1992 caused the Brown, Perot, and Buchanan phenomena, it was split among them, so Clinton ended up winning. This of course was also OK with the baby-boomers in that (1) Clinton and Gore were baby-boomers like themselves and (2) in the race against Bush, Clinton was the challenger, and thus the rebel; and Bush was the “bum to be thrown out.”
However, this rage did not go away after the election, which highlights its having perinatal origins. In fact, after the shortest “honeymoon period” in history, by some accounts, it became directed at the most likely target/center—the President, Bill Clinton, himself.
We all know how despite the successes and progress of Clinton’s first year, he was especially singled out for ridicule and denigration by the media. He could not seem to do anything right, and the most incredibly outrageous behaviors were attributed to him.
1994 – “Throw the Bums Out … Again.”
This rage spilled over into the next year and, sure enough, during the midterm election—the issues be damned—the angry electorate was in a mood to “throw the bums out” again. It did not matter the party….I do not claim that all those of my generation are always as politically astute as they are angry.
The Republicans called it a “revolution.” It was simply the acting out of an electorate in the throes of perinatal feelings—that is, feelings of frustration, being “tied up” by red tape, an inability to go forward…that is, up the economic ladder—wages had been stagnating since the early 80s…being overcontrolled and pushed around by regulations…big government being the big mother womb keeping the fetus locked in and unable to move…and out of all this, the consequent anger and rage.
1996 and 1998 — “To Hell With You!”
At any rate, succeeding elections bear out this analysis of an angry electorate. In 1996, despite the much ballyhooed “Republican Revolution,” sure enough, the electorate was spoiling to “throw the bums out” again—only this time it was the Republican Congress. So there were Democratic gains at the time.
And in 1998, when everything pointed to a huge Republican landslide because of the Lewinsky scandal, the electorate again showed their rebellion and anger toward both the pundits and the Republicans who had been lambasting them with details of the scandal for nearly a year by giving the Democrats gains again! [Footnote 4]
2006, 2008, and 2010 — Panicky Electorate
In 2006, 2008, and 2010, it was an angry electorate reeling against oppression; and in the case of 2010, doing it mindlessly, against their own interests. If there were not perinatal charge to all this, Americans would not be so irrational about their choices.
People have had good reasons to feel oppressed since the Eighties when Reagan began the giveaways to the rich and the budget cutbacks, continuing to this day, that have caused the masses to feel constricted and oppressed.
Yet, if this did not result in their being perinatally overloaded so that they cannot reason, they would not have been able to be led to fight their own interests as they were in 2010 and in an ongoing way as exemplified by the Tea Party and the success of right-wing agendas.
Reacting, Too Angry and Confused to Think
Another aspect of this irrationality on both sides of the political spectrum has to do with this idea that there is no difference between the two major parties. Feeling oppressed perinatally is characterized by a pressure from all sides simultaneously. There is an inability to distinguish or discriminate between forces that are helpful and those that are dire, as any and all developments seem threatening in situations of crisis. In a situation of overwhelm, further, there is an inability to think clearly. One just fights back, explodes, reacts. It’s no coincidence that righties are called reactionaries.
Biting the Feeding Hand
The upshot is an inability, under the pressure of perinatal feelings, provoked endlessly by actual oppression economically, environmentally, socially, and culturally, to rail against any authority, to bite the hand that feeds one. This is exactly like the panicked swimmer who in danger of drowning fights off his or her rescuer.
Can anyone at this point still maintain that the politics of the last few decades had anything at all to do with ideology or issues?
Millennials and Their Opposites – Fifties Generation Tea Partyers … How OWS and Tea Party Movements Are Generationally and Perinatally Different
Millennial Gen Occupiers and Eisenhower Gen Tea Partyers Are Perinatally As Well As Generationally Opposed
Right-Wing “Hate Groups,” the Tea Party, and the Fifties Generation: Perinatally Oblivious
One might also note the rise of “hate groups” occurring at the same time as the phenomenon of the angry electorate. Hate groups fill their ranks from folks on the extreme right and their actions are exemplified in the Oklahoma bombing tragedy and more recently in the Tea Party.
But notice again then that these hate groups are always on the extreme right of the political spectrum and thus exemplify a World-War-Two mindset in relation to their perinatal unconscious: Specifically, the mindset is one of being completely cut off from one’s unconscious dynamics and being in total denial of unconscious motivations so that one can have the complete certitude—lacking any access to the unconscious which would give rise to doubts—that makes violent actions possible.
For without exception their reasons for rising up against the government—representing the overwhelming womb—has to do with frustrations, like the trapped fetus feels, in regards to “oppressive” taxes, governmental red tape, laws, and other regulations that they feel restrict their freedom…to move freely, as one wanted to but couldn’t, in the womb.
Tea Party and hate group ranks are prevalent with Fifties Generation folks. The Eisenhower Generation — after the WWII Gen and before Boomers — were born just before or during WWII. They are mired in prenatal fears coming from the fact that their parents were living through such distressing times as WWII and the Great Depression when they were inside their mothers. They were “marinated” in the womb with fear and insecurity. They also were not brought up with the societal advance in child-rearing the next generation of boomers, and those afterward, would be granted. So it is understandable they would be both cut off from perinatal access yet full of perinatal pushes and pulls to act out in confused and self-destructive ways.
Perinatal Access of Millennials
Being Boomer Kids, Wouldn’t You Kind of Expect That?
Now on the other end of this perinatal spectrum we have the most recent generational cohort to be making a mark. The Millennial, or Baby-Boomer Echo generation, show the same inner access as their Boomer parents. They demonstrate as well their parents’ consequent refusal to act it out on a larger scale: It has been said that the greatest concerns of those in this generation, now in their twenties and thirties, are the environment and racism-bigotry.
They show the progressive bent of their parents, also, in their having a lot to do with giving America its first African-American president. And to the environment and minority rights, we need to add classism, economic fairness, and human rights because of their phenomenal outpouring of support in the past year for Occupy Wall Street and for union rights in Wisconsin and other states. They are showing global strength in opposing fascism, economic injustice, political oppression, and human rights abuses in Occupy and Arab Spring movements. They’ve filled massive demonstrations against the draconian economic policies of Republicans in Wisconsin.
Climate Change and The Environment
We know how pollution and action against pollution indicates a closeness to one’s perinatal. To put it another way, it is clear that only a total denial and disconnect between one’s consciousness and one’s unconscious perinatal dynamics would allow one to act it out unconsciously in the creation of pollution and in the denial of it as a problem or a mindless neglect of it. So the fact that these Baby-Boomer children, the Millennials, are so cognizant, concerned, and active in relation to global pollution and climate change shows their lack of denial of this perinatal act-out.
Multicultural, Resisting Racism and Oppression
But what of racism and bigotry? How is this an indication of a closeness to the perinatal. There are several ways in which this is so. As mentioned, a closeness to the perinatal allows one to doubt one’s given defenses and to glimpse alternate perspectives—in particular to look at things from the eyes of The Other.
In this way, the baby-boomer echo generation are able to see oppression, injustice, and unfairness as it is played out in the lives of minorities who don’t share their (predominantly) middle-class advantages. They simply don’t “get” racism, sexism, or bigotry of any kind; it is incomprehensible to them. They strongly oppose imperialism, colonialism, or oppression of any kind. Relatedly, they support animal rights and oppose animal abuse and cruelty. They don’t understand torture and violence against fellow planetmates.
Naturally they were helped in that awareness by the gains of previous decades, beginning in the Sixties, which had them growing up with diversity of racial and ethnic heritages—seeing things multiculturally not narrowly—in their schools and in the omnipresent media. They grew up with the environmental awareness that was set in motion in the Sixties; they don’t know of a world before recycling and energy conservation. Activism, demonstrations, and political action have been a part of their lives since they were born, unlike the several generations that preceded them and even their Boomer parents who grew up in a politically castrated Fifties.
But there is another, stronger element. This is the factor of oppression and unfairness itself. We experience compression (oppression), and frustration at our attempts to go forward, and what feels like hopeless unfairness and injustice, when in the throes of BPM II birth trauma. To see these facets of the fates of minorities, as in racism, or gender or sexual bias, points to this echo generation’s closeness to their own perinatal oppression; hence their ability to empathize with oppressed minorities.
This ability to realistically sense and respond to oppression is also the reason they would throw themselves in heartily in defense of unions, an increasingly oppressed middle class, and public sector employees.
Of Goths, Gen X, Anti-Abortionists, Pacifiers, and a Hierarchy of Healing … You Make It When You DON’T Fake It
Flaunting One’s Sickness Is Healthier Than Hiding It … Gen X, Goths, Pacifiers, and The Hierarchy of Healing
A Hierarchy of Healing?
This idea that those close to their unconscious conflicts are more likely to act them out blatantly goes completely against one of DeMause’s tenets. He wrote, “The higher the psychogenic mode of the psychoclass, the less it is necessary for it to act out its conflicts.” [Footnote 5]
However this is exactly the crux of my difference with his theory and is a central point I am making. For from my perspective, the higher the mode of child-caring equals the less the defenses. Hence, the more it is likely that that generation’s conflicts will be close to the surface, seeking resolution … like Maslow’s hierarchy of needs theory. We might want to call it a hierarchy of healing theory. [Footnote 6]
In other words, our observing the supposed “acting out” of an underlying trauma does not mean that the group or person in question is actually or, at least completely, “acting it out” and defending against it. It may be that that group is resolving, healing, or integrating it—taking it inward rather than acting it out…in the world, on others…whether to a small or great extent. Using the analogy of Pandora’s Jar, described earlier, they are opening the jar, at least a little. And I disagree with deMause in that I wish to stress that it is healthier by far to do that. Let me explain:
The difference between acting out and resolving is whether the actions are done in total dissociation from the unconscious dynamics, that is to say, in a trance state—as explained earlier in regard to the World War Two generation and the Tea Party—or whether there is at least a modicum of insight into it occurring as a result of things inside of oneself, not completely projected onto the outside.
The attitude that leads to total dissociation and acting out was expressed in a recent 2012 military movie, Act of Valor, which depicted Navy Seals engaged in anti-terrorism activity. At the end, the manner of dealing with pain recommended for these American soldiers and “men of valor” was to (paraphrasing) put all the pain in a box, shut it tight, press it down till it is smaller and smaller, and never, under any circumstances, let it out!
However, in non-acting-out—“acting inward” or taking back the projection—there is a tad of insight, as, for example, in the “overexamined life” of the “uncommitted” and the “self-analysis” of the young radicals of the Sixties generation. Similarly, the rock concert revivication of all current generations except the Fifties and WWII ones, as I’ve mentioned, is about personal experience and growth, and it is not about acting out on another; whereas an example of the extreme other end of that would be engaging, trance-like, in a mass killing against a perceived political enemy, as Loughner did, and as we do as nations in wars.
Another example of complete dissociation are the anti-abortion folks. They don’t have a clue of the connection between their own unconscious prenatal pain and the feelings they have about unborn others. They are not wrestling with their feelings, they are trying to change the world to conform to their defenses around those feelings—that is, they want the world to suppress that womb time out of existence like they have done to it in their own minds. The proof that it is acting out is that it is all about changing others’ behavior, and it involves imposing one’s inner pain on others forcefully and aggressively—which we have seen in its extreme form with the murders of physicians committed by anti-abortionists
Flaunting One’s Sickness Beats Hiding It—Generation X
The self-analysis of the Sixties Generation was followed by a different mode of struggling with perinatal pain by Generation X, which continues in abated form with the Millennial Generation. It was manifest rather strikingly with the Goth phenomenon and the vampire fascination that began in the Eighties, coincident with Gen X’s coming of age. Goth and vampirism show blatant perinatal dynamics that are not unfelt and completely repressed as in dissociation with its trance-state aggression against others. An example of Gen X perinatal acting out of these dynamics in total dissociation and trance state was given above in the anti-abortionists. But Goth and vampire culture show folks feeling and immersed consciously in these pushes and pulls and wrestling with them, trying to work them out as opposed to act them out.
Hey, It Was Tough!
This is rather clearly shown in looking at the “regression” in Europe, described by psychohistorians, which occurred in the Nineties. This behavior showed a bit of insight…and resolution happening…in that the baby song being hummed was about the very real hardships of being a baby. Therefore, an actual truth about their own lives was being faced there by those singing along with it. The song was not being used to deny or defend against those traumas.
One might suspect that as well in carrying around such blatant examples of regression as a pacifier. For someone in a more defended mode would be highly threatened by such an obvious symbol that they are really needy children inside. More defended folks would be terrified such overt behavior would make them look wussy or sissified—that is, look like that vulnerable, frightened baby that they really feel themselves to be but are doing their damnedest to hide from everyone. Imagine how those Navy Seals described above would feel walking around sucking on a pacifier, for example.
So in actually carrying around a pacifier these youth were not only displaying an insight into their feelings of sometimes being needy babies, on the inside, but are actually flaunting this awareness, as if to shame, or slap the face of, or be “in the face” of a generation of their parents—the Fifties Generation for the most part—who did not see their needs when they were babies—however effortfully and obviously they sought to demonstrate them. Thus the symbols needed to become more and more shocking and obvious.
Look at What You Did to Me!
For example: the jeans with requisite holes around the knees was screaming out, “You did not take care of me; you made me feel like a poor, orphaned, ragamuffin child.”
The piercing of mouths, nose, ears, and even tongues shouted,
“I am in pain, dammit! Can’t you see that when you stick needles in me as a little baby that I hurt? How can you be so insensitive? Can’t you see that when you refuse to breastfeed and thus nurture me orally that I am forever damaged there, ever painful there? What does it take, my sticking pins—safety pins make the point even more that it was when I was in diapers—in myself to make you see that I hurt there?”
“Look, you might think we’re a wonderful family and everything is hunky-dory here; but I wish I were dead! I’ve felt so much pain, from in the womb, at birth, and right after birth, that I wish I’d never been born.
“Also, somehow in courting death, I have the feeling that I might somehow be reborn again into a good life, not like this place of torture and tears, right from the beginning, where my welcome into the world consisted of being drugged, handled like an object or piece of meat, blasted by bright lights, scrubbed by rough cloths, having needles and suctions stuck in me, blasted with noise, made to lie on cold stainless steel surfaces, and then bundled like a tamale so that I could not move…making me feel again like I was back in the hellish womb where in the later stages, for a time that felt like an eternity, I felt unable to move and was suffocating for lack of sufficient oxygen…and the only action that was possible was for me to scream my bloody head off for long periods of time or go into a stupor—which is what I did, alternating between them.
“Can’t you see that I’d rather be dead than live in such a world of insensitive zombies like you. Hell, in fact, to further drive the point home, I’ll even look and act like a zombie, I’ll try to appear as unfeeling and morose as you all seemed to me, especially at my birth. And I’ll go a step further and mirror yourselves back to you by becoming enamored of vampires….
“Can’t you see that you sucked my very life force, my blood, and turned me into an unfeeling vampire like you, by suffocating me in the womb, poisoning me with your toxic blood which you both sucked from me and then forced down my throat!”
The Consciousness Revolution They Don’t Want You to Notice. It’s Inconvenient for Them, Initially Hard for Us, and Hopefully Not Too Late
The “Inconvenient” Revolution – Unacknowledged Consciousness Evolution from the WWII Generation to the Millennials … More Suffering, Less Killing
Different Levels, Different Defenses
It is instructive at this time to note that Arthur Janov once compared the defenses that characterized the youth of the time—the late Sixties, early Seventies—with those of their parents and older people in general and came up with findings that amplify my own assertions here.
“Mind’s Made Up, Don’t Confuse Me With the Facts!”
Specifically, Janov found that older people—clients of his as well as others of whom he was aware—were characteristically more repressed, more split off, more prone to dissociation, more defended and, most importantly for our uses here, tended to use defenses of denial and obfuscation against inner information and impulses. Correspondingly, they tended to use drugs that repressed and blotted out reality, such as alcohol and nicotine; and they tended to be sexually repressed. They were also more compulsive. They tended to suppress their tension and hold it in for all their worth.
“How Can You Have Any Pudding if You Don’t Eat Your Meat?”
Truth was greatly feared, and all attempts were made to fend off incoming information that might threaten the delusional reality set of the conscious mind. This left them open to the characterization: “My mind’s made up! Don’t confuse me with the facts!” which was leveled at them by anti-Vietnam War protesters. In more recent years, it is no wonder they have engaged in a war against education and against Hollywood, as really they are at war with new information. Consequently, Janov found that the dominant mode of reaction, when threatened, was to act out aggressively against the supposed “oppressor.” Like prenates up against an overpowering womb, they are in constant war with overwhelm.
On the other hand, he found that his youthful clients—under 30—tended to use defenses of excess, release, and addiction, or to be unusually lacking in defense mechanisms. They were more impulsive. They tended to have weak barriers to incoming information, to be open to negative unconscious content, even at the expense of their self-esteem, and to be tension expressers. They were therefore more likely sexually promiscuous than repressed, and they tended to drugs that opened them to information and unconscious knowledge – such as marijuana and LSD.
Consequently they were less split off from their unconscious truth…though it made them uncomfortable…were less repressed, and, if anything, used defenses of masochism, self-denial, and self-inflicted aggression or depression. Truth was more important to them than emotional comfort. They tended to go out of their way to dig up negative information about themselves, and they accepted the low self-esteem and sense of self-worth that came with that kind of openness to truth.
Their delusional reality set — if it could be called that — entailed taking on the worries and cares of the world as their own, since their openness to their own cares and worries allowed them to empathize with others in obviously similar situations. When triggered into their pain, their dominant reaction was to take it inward and to take it out on themselves causing depression. In doing so they showed they would rather hurt themselves than hurt another.
Generation Gaps … Again
I don’t believe you need to be a rocket scientist to see that Janov was discovering an historical — one might say millennial — ”changing of the guard” as regards access to the unconscious, openness to personal truth, and lessening of the tendency to act out early trauma in violent or belligerent ways. The older generation had more tendencies to blame others, to find scapegoats for their ills, and to act out violently on them. The younger generation had more tendencies to look inward and to blame and punish themselves … and to prefer to hurt themselves before hurting another. They would more likely cut themselves than cut another; they would more likely commit suicide than kill.
The youthful generation might also become alcoholic, addicted to drugs, or do something else to injure themselves…rather than act it out on another.
Less Wars, More Suicides
And this “acting in,” as opposed to acting out, is indicated as well in the rise of teen suicides in recent decades. So you might say that the tradeoff we are currently getting is a reduction in the use of wars and racism to solve problems—that is, a reduction in the tendency to act out one’s Pain on others and to scapegoat. But, since the perinatal trauma is still there, and one is even more conscious of it, we have increased suicides. We have not had a world war or dropped a nuclear weapon on people since World War II; but we suffer unceasingly from relatively less loss of life in regional conflicts and the self-inflicted harm of air, water, and food contamination and from radiation poisoning from nuclear power plants. We have not had millions killed in genocides or purges since World War II, but we have suffered lesser loss of life in uprisings for democracy in China, Iran, Syria, Southeast Asia, and the Arab world. We have not had lynchings and racial riots have ceased, but we have suffered less lethal damage from culture and class wars, increased incarceration, creeping fascism, and struggles for economic justice.
Overall then, less death, more suffering. Less killing in wars, more suicides. Less large scale atrocities, more depression. On a collective level, we are taking our conflicts increasingly inward.
As deMause pointed out,
Those considered ‘neurotic’ in each age may often be a higher psychogenic mode than those considered ‘normal,’ only they must stand the anxiety of not sharing the group-fantasies of the age. [Footnote 7]
Away From Hubris: Nature Balances HerSelf
In this part on healing crisis, we have seen how perinatal acting out can be of two kinds: totally unconscious and trance-like, or semi-conscious with at least some access. We have looked at how a progression to more access to one’s perinatal underbellies has led to more acting in than acting out. We have seen how it has led to less violence and more depression.
Suffering Beats Dying.
At this point, one could make the point that the tradeoff is worth it: That individuals suffering more emotional pain and trauma is preferable to the horrors of world war and nuclear or genocidal holocaust…put bluntly, suffering beats dying.
This is natural of course, in that this is always the way we have thought of things—that is to say, as if all things were to be considered around the concerns of humans. This is called anthropocentrism—a form of species-centrism—in which Homo sapiens is considered the reason for the existence of the rest of the Universe.
Likewise, with a mind-boggling number of species living or having lived on this planet alone—species numbering in the hundreds of millions, if not trillions—again one might question the validity of choosing the perspective of our species alone in making our analyses.
How ‘Bout We Step Outside?
Yet this is the way we have always done it. And this is the way I have been slanting my perspective so far in this book.
But now let us do something radically different. Let us walk out of ourselves — figuratively speaking — and seek to stand upon that Archimedean point from which we might view the events currently transpiring.
From such an attempted non-species-centric viewpoint let us view this emerging perinatal unconscious, with its wounded deer and centaurs, as it is currently manifesting in humans. However tenuous our attempt, let us at least try such a new-paradigm viewpoint. For certainly all old-paradigm ones—containing all the hubris of anthropocentrism that they do—have failed in their attempts to save our species and indeed have contributed to such a likelihood.
Let us attempt to see through the eyes of Gaia, now—from the viewpoint of Earth itself—as we look at how the current human predicament may in fact be an example of Nature balancing HerSelf. With both perspectives in mind, we can have a complete picture. We will return then to look at where there is cause for hope, what we are doing wrong as well as where there are positive trends and forces at work, and how we might let go of the self-defeating and instead apply ourselves to fostering the forces of good going on in global consciousness and the globe itself.
Continue with Eden Arise and a Message to All Wounded Deer and Centaurs: It’s a Consciousness Revolution, Aided by Gaia We Are Rediscovering Our Natural Self
Return to We Have Manifested a World That Mirrors and Re-Creates Our Traumatic Human Births: Life or Death Matters We Need to Face to Survive
Another head hangs lowly
Time is slowly taken
And the violence causes silence
Who are we mistaken?
Let he see, it’s not me
It’s not my family
In your head, in your head
They are fightin!
With their tanks, and their bombs
And their bombs, and their guns
In your head, in your head
They are cryin!
In your head! In your head!
Zombie! Zombie! Zombie!
Whats in your head, in your head?
Zombie! Zombie! Zombie!
Another mother’s breaking
Heart is taken over.
When the violence causes silence
We must be mistaken.
It’s the same old theme
In your head, in your head
They’re still fightin!
With their tanks, and their bombs
And their bombs, and their guns
In your head, in your head!
They are dyin!
In your head! In your head!
Zombie! Zombie! Zombie!
What’s in your head, in your head?
Zombie! Zombie! Zombie!
2. Alice Miller, For Your Own Good. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1984; and Lloyd deMause, “Restaging Early Traumas in War and Social Violence.” The Journal of Psychohistory 23 (1995): 344-391. Reprinted, with permission, on Primal Spirit site as “Restaging Prenatal and Birth Traumas in War and Social Violence”)
3. Stanislav Grof, “Planetary Survival and Consciousness Evolution: Psychological Roots of Human Violence and Greed.” Primal Renaissance: The Journal of Primal Psychology 2(1): 3-26, p. 23. (Article reprinted, with permission, on this Primal Spirit website).
4. See “It’s the Attack on Privacy, Stupid! What Republicans and Pundits Don’t Get About Clinton’s Support,” on the Primal Spirit site, for more on the angry electorate and how it played out in the 1996 election.
5. Lloyd deMause, The Foundations of Psychohistory. New York: Creative Roots, 1982, p. 139. See also “Are Some ‘Sick’ People More Healthy Than Normals?”
6. See also “Are Some ‘Sick’ People More Healthy Than Normals?” on the Primal Spirit site.
7. Lloyd deMause, The Foundations of Psychohistory. New York: Creative Roots, 1982, p. 143.
Continue with Eden Arise and a Message to All Wounded Deer and Centaurs: It’s a Consciousness Revolution, Aided by Gaia We Are Rediscovering Our Natural Self
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Roots of Apocalypse — We Stood Up — and Why Humans Defecate Where They Sleep: We Need to Face the Monsters of Our Creation … Earth to Humans – Wake the F#$% Up!
How We Re-Create Human Prenatal Irritation and Burning in a Polluted Planet: Diagnosis, Prognosis, and What to Do About Toxic Womb ~ Toxic Earth
Wounded Deer and Centaurs, Chapter Eleven: Toxic Womb ~ Toxic World … Gaia Is Calling
Toxic Womb ~ Toxic Earth: How We Manifest Prenatal Irritation and Burning in Environmental Destruction and Why Humans Are Compelled to Poop Where They Sleep.
Toxic Womb ~ Toxic Earth … How We Re-Create Human Prenatal Irritation/Burning in a Polluted Planet … Diagnosis and Prognosis
Environmentally We Act Out
The second aspect of prenatal irritation/revulsion is, We can’t get rid of poisons that build up in the environment around us…like a prenatal environmental pollution. We can’t eliminate wastes as efficiently.
Toxic Womb ~ Toxic World
I’ve written a lot about this in other places of this blog/book. I’ve talked at length about how we act out the deprivation part of late gestation experience in global suffocation, greenhouse effect by focusing on the reductions of oxygen. But remember that there are slight increases of carbon dioxide with the reduced blood flow for the prenate: These are a big part of the increase in waste matter, consequent upon a reduced efficiency of eliminating toxins. So, obviously this is analogous to the way we have created such an increase in carbon dioxide in our atmosphere called the greenhouse effect. We’ve done a good job of manifesting this…not easy to do. And we should be congratulated if it were actually a good thing and not another way we have become good at self-destruction.
We re-create the bad blood aspects of fetal malnutrition in air pollution. I can tell you from much personal experience in Southern California that indeed it re-creates the sensations of sickness at times. And this is when it is obvious to me; here I’m asserting that it is stimulating unconscious memories of discomfort even when we are not aware of being sickened, consciously.
So that’s deprivation and bad blood…of course the other aspect of late gestation is crowdedness, which I’ve also dealt with earlier at length.
So now, here let us just look at some of the ways we re-create, specifically, those irritating, burning sensations in our environment—the fourth aspect of late gestation comfort and the third of fetal malnutrition. I mentioned in a previous post how we sit out in the sun and endure discomfort—sun bathing—in some odd re-creation of fetal irritation. The most obvious environmental correspondence with that is the way we have thinned out our protection from the sun, so now we can better be harmed by UV rays. With the huge reductions in our ozone layer, we are insuring an increased burning of our skin and epidemics of skin cancer—not very comfortable I would imagine.
We have managed to surround ourselves with the prospect of burning up in a fiery inferno at any moment because of nuclear weapons we have created out of the suicidal deliriums of some of us. That would be prenatal burning acted out to the infinite power.
Some of this is the most obvious of all: Toxic Womb Environment leads to Toxic Environment. Again, good job, humans! If it were some kind of achievement. We have created a worldwide toxic womb, with a fractal equivalent of the situation in the womb—a buildup of poisons that cannot be eliminated anywhere: There is no longer any “away” to remove it to.
We have air pollution, water pollution, food pollution, radiation pollution…. We are polluting the genetic codes of biological organisms on Earth…. We are polluting our land by fracking, so water sent through it will poison us and catch fire…. If there’s anything else, well, I’m sure we’re polluting it somehow or other.
Just How Long Can You Not “Step In It” – 250,000 Years?
We have become the filthiest of species, essentially pooping in our own nests. We have landfills that overflow and encroach on residences, ticking time bombs of nuclear waste matter that have to be guarded for 250,000 years. That’s a long time to have to avoid “stepping in it,” wouldn’t you say? And we are polluting and killing our oceans, creating the closest thing of all to a toxic, poisonous placenta, as from it, ultimately, we suck our necessary O2 and H20.
Compartmentalizing Our Doom
I could go on but you get the point. We’ve done a great job of re-creating the discomfort of the toxic womb. And, as I said, yes we are sickened, whether we acknowledge it or not. And what I’ve observed is that even the most intelligent of us is trying like crazy to NOT acknowledge it, using all manner of denials and defensive maneuvers of consciousness. If nothing else, about our discomfort and its causes, we are “compartmentalizing” so we can go on with our lives.
Nature Balances HerSelf
We have done such a good job of creating the “toxic womb” in our planetary environment you have to marvel at the perfection of its replication. And with such perfection, there are reasons. As I’ve been saying, we re-create that which we need to experience. So, as we do this, we are creating the exact situation that we need to face in our earliest lives in order to heal them…and in this lies the hope. In fact, looking ahead, I will be telling you that this is the key to a solution for us. As I say, Nature Balances HerSelf, and we are part of her. We may or may not make it as a species, but certainly it looks like we are in the process of something that is perfectly set up to wake us into consciousness of what we need to heal, if we heed it.
We’ve Created Our Own “Monsters”; How We View Them Is Up to Us … Toxic Earth – Prognosis
Roots of Apocalypse—We Stood Up
Basically, it warmed up pretty good in the interior of Africa millions of years ago, so our forebears headed “to the beach”—to the ocean shores, swamps, and lakes—where it was more bearable. We foraged for food in the shallow waters and found it beneficial to stand upright, for it allowed us to go into deeper waters and gather more, and for longer periods. Naturally over time bipedalism traits were the ones that won out through natural selection.
But when we became a standing species, it added birth trauma and premature birth to our “species set.” For with this rearrangement of our posture, we created a narrower pelvic opening and our prenates no longer hung loosely below us but pressed down upon the arteries below to create the fetal malnutrition, which I’ve been discussing in the previous 22 sections. The prematurity of birth was caused by the narrower pelvic opening, as the baby needed to leave the womb earlier than other species in order to make it out. This meant that we would do a great deal of our early life’s learning and development—much more than any other species—outside of the womb and in the context of society, not Nature; this is called secondary altriciality, which is something unique about humans.
With all of these developments — prenatal fetal malnutrition, premature birth, and secondary altriciality—we had greater pain and trauma at the beginning of our lives than any other species. We needed to grow a bigger brain—with an additional brain structure, vastly multiplied neural pathways, and a split brain—to deal with this pain in order to survive. The larger skull added further to birth trauma; it was even more difficult to get through the pelvic opening, and so it required even more prematurity of birth.
All this development outside the womb and increased brain size resulted in language and culture, with all its complexities. Split off from horrible early pains and discomforts, our minds created substitute reflections of our early memories in our cultural products. We created an artificial consciousness construct—an Ego—as an intermediary between the impulses from our insides, emanating from early discomforts, and the stimulus and information coming to us from our current reality.
Its egoic product — that is, what we end up thinking is real — would be the distorted amalgamation of the past — early pain and the learning built on early discomforts — and the present—our present-time situational reality, including the twisted cultural products within and without. So what the Ego came up with would not be true, for its purpose would be to allow us to survive, regardless of bothersome early imprints.
We called the accumulation of cultural product the “advance of man,” and patted ourselves on the back for our Promethean achievements, deeming ourselves superior to Nature. To congratulate ourselves, we needed to ignore all the evidence of savagery on a scale not seen in the rest of our world, which we perpetrated on each other and on the world of Nature.
In all this abominable acting out, we were manifesting aspects of our early pain that we were clueless about, and so created a mirror image of our early experience and its horrific pain and trauma in Reality itself. So it is that, all our early trauma has led us to unthinkingly plod to the edge of oblivion, as we re-create war, fascism, class war, racism and bigotry, environmental pollution, nuclear radiation, loss of ozone layer, threat of nuclear war, and all the rest of the dire threats I’ve been discussing as being act outs of our early prenatal discomforts—crowdedness, deprivation, disgust, and irritation/burning.
So, we stood upright; and now, unless something radical happens, it will lead to the end of life for ourselves and possibly everything else on this planet in short order.
What can we do about it? Strangely, many of us are determined to just die. But if you are one of those who would prefer not to, well, going up against all the others, don’t think it will be easy. But if you wish to fight to live, here is the starting point for effective change, which would actually save our lives and those of future generations and which comes out of this understanding of the early psychological roots of our otherwise apocalyptic propulsion:
We Always Create Our Own “Monsters”—How We View Them Is Up to Us
As mentioned in the last section, we always create around us a reflection of the kinds of issues we need to deal with “on our insides.” We have always done this, as a species.
They Can Be the Like the Wake-Up Knock from a Master
But we have added stimulus for these feelings today; we have greater prods to our waking up than ever before in our history. These will either be knocks on the head to get us to “pay attention”—as a Zen master might give to one of his students—or they will be the blow that will end our existence… It’s up to us.
For as always, we both re-create and resist that which we have unresolved. In terms of oxygen “starvation” prior to birth, we both create and are made uncomfortable by air pollution…toxic air. Much like creating crushing populations, as discussed in a previous post , we create suffocating global air pollution for us to continually be triggered into uncomfortable unresolved feelings from our early lives. So, it is not like we are not being reminded of what we need to do—on both our “insides” as well as our “outsides.” We will never need a to-do list for this.
We Need to Face the Monsters of Our Creation … What to Do About Toxic Womb ~ Toxic Earth
Earth to Humans – Wake the F#$% Up!
Many ignore the warning blows, however, no matter how severely they are felt. There is huge denial about climate change, the invisible death upon us from Fukushima, and just about all the things I’ve been bringing up as important to look at, regardless how many deaths from tornadoes, tsunamis, and the rest. And from some quarters this refusal to see is deep, batshit crazy, and thoroughly intractable.
But now it’s at least understandable. And as with everything else, knowing the nature of something gives us an edge.
The Tea Party and Anti-Abortion Type Response
But at this point can you see why the “worst” of us—the sickest in terms of being pushed around by such early pain—would not want to do anything about these environmental problems? Can you see why the most afflicted of us are fixated on the abortion issue…here pointing exactly to the source of their discomfort…that is, in their lives as fetuses? We would think theirs to be an honest concern for prenates driven purely by compassion were it not for the fact that these same people have little sympathy—in fact, the opposite!—for the folks already born, around them, who are suffering.
How Can You “Let It Go” If You Won’t Pick It Up?
One must have less of this fetal pain originally or have resolved more of it by facing, feeling, standing and dealing with it…not running away from it…and working through these uncomfortable unresolved feelings which arise inside oneself for one to have any kind of distance from their pushes and pulls, their sway, to tackle these problems and not wish to keep bringing them about and keep making oneself suffer. That is, one needs to deal with something before one can stop oneself from reminding oneself that one needs to deal with that something. Why would one think one can “go beyond” something by simply ignoring it, “letting it go,” or imagining, “meditating,” or even praying it away? It just doesn’t work like that.
The other night I woke in the middle of the night, feeling annoyed that I had not gotten a good night’s sleep. I felt irritated, and my mind went on about how this lack of sleep was going to affect my work, was going to stress my heart and contribute to other health complications, and would generally be a drag on my well-being and happiness, as I needed to catch up on some sleep I hadn’t gotten lately. Eventually, my mind came around to how I felt. I noticed I was perspiring a little: I was warm. That had made me feel uncomfortable. I also realized I was uncomfortable on the bed as I had allowed the bedclothes to get all bunched up beneath me in a way that didn’t feel good. I had unwittingly created some “prenatal discomfort” for myself. While I didn’t feel like I could do anything to get back to sleep, I did attend to removing some layers, so as to be cooler, and straightening out my bed so it would be flatter and more comfortable. And you know what? I feel asleep for an additional five hours and caught up on my sleep.
I know, this sounds like a silly example. But if you understand like I do the roots of our apocalypse and the utter self-destructive stupidity of humans’ behavior and the mind-blowing absurdity of the reality we have constructed in order to keep from seeing our problems, you can’t help but be struck with how simple and obvious and everywhere about is both evidence of the dire state we are in but also the obvious solutions. So, I’ve allowed myself to be facetious, to make this point:
In order to solve a problem, you need to face it.
We will continue making air pollution and suffering from it until we face our unresolved inner problems, just as we will have air pollution (and any other problem) until we face it and deal with it. The idea that we can make problems go away by ignoring them and acting as if they don’t exist is nonsensical and an insanity in us. It is an irrationality borne of desperation, which we act upon but mostly deny that we do. It is that part of ourselves that continues to bring suffering upon ourselves and others.
This part, this thing about what can be done about our situation, is the part I elaborate on at the end of this book. All of it is based upon the simple idea that we need to look at problems we want to solve and the most dire problems are the most important to look at.
So in the final chapters of this work, I deal with this in great detail, and I show where there is hope and where there are positive developments. I also indicate what we are doing wrong so as to continue manifesting that which we don’t want…that is, where we are self-destructive, basically where we are shooting ourselves in the foot without knowing it … as well as what we can do differently.
So let us leave it at this for now and continue the diagnosis of our condition. For if we do not understand it, how can we do anything about it? I will be pointing out at the end that the biggest part of our continued self-destruction is our brain-dead refusal to understand our actions and face their consequences.
Continue with Perinatal Printouts Of Sixties, X, and Millennial Generations: No-Exit Wombs, Vampire Apocalypse, Drug Use, and Being Gratefully Dead
Return to Prenatal Revulsion and Loss of the “Golden Age”: Creeped Out in the Womb, The Itches We Cannot Scratch, and the Deepest Roots of OCD, Bigotry, and Holocaust
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War, Evil Queens, Mind Control, and the “Unwashed: The Psychotic Acting Out of Feelings—Rooted in Unconscious Uncomfortable Memories—in Insane Societies.
“Bad Blood” — Acting Out Prenatal Feelings of Sickening … Earliest Roots of War, Psychosis, Racism, Xenophobia, Elitism, Homophobia … and Medicine
Wounded Deer and Centaurs, Chapter Nine: “Bad Blood” – Poisoned, Infected
“Bad Blood” – Poisoned, Infected … Prenatal Roots of Paranoia, Sado-Masochism, Alien Mind Control, and the Evil Queen
Imprints for Paranoia, Sado-Masochism, and the Wicked Witch in Poisoned, Infected, “Bad Blood” Aspects of Fetal Oxygen Hunger
There are three parts to this pain around fetal malnutrition, which defines us as humans and creates what we think of as “human nature” and most often as being genetic, but it is not. We’ve been dealing with the first part — deprivation … we fear there is not enough oxygen/resources coming to us to keep us alive. Another part has to do with the toxic quality of the environment we experience, which we’ll get to soon.
But the one I want to deal with next is the second aspect aspect of oxygen starvation in the late stages of gestation. It has to do with our assessment of the “air”—the oxygen and nutrients—we do get.
We’re Getting Some Blood
As just discussed, we carry an underlying panic that our supply will end at any moment, but we are getting some oxygen from the blood that comes to us, however reduced its flow. It is the contrast from what we knew that is alarming. Imagine blood that is free- and easy-flowing, rich and bright red with oxygen.
But Is It Bad Blood?
Now, imagine blood that is more trickling than gushing, more depleted of resources—oxygen and nutrients—tainted, darker, barely able to sustain one’s life…. The first was our experience of earlier womb life; the second the way it gradually began being perceived.
To be clear, we can’t actually see our blood flow as a fetus, of course. This is meant to be an analogy giving you an idea of the difference in the feeling experience of the fetus in this changing situation. It must be close enough to what it actually was like, since out of it we form images and symbols in later life with these differing characteristics, as I will continue to show.
“Iron Poor Blood”
So we began feeling poisoned, polluted, decrepit, diseased. Our situation in the womb had portents of death and seemed a dire threat if it were to continue. We received blood sufficient to keep us alive, obviously, but it was felt to be degraded, to be “bad blood.” We began feeling that what we were getting was insufficient, even poisoned. The blood that comes is not only barely sufficient to keep oneself as a fetus alive…or certainly it feels that way…but it is tainted, impure…or certainly it feels that way. And one feels not just deprived but attacked.
“Don’t Feed Me That Bullcrap!”
So, the second aspect of fetal malnutrition and the third of prenatal discomfort is the feeling of being forcefed something noxious and deadly. We feel we are being poisoned or infected by what we take in through our breathing or eating. What is coming into us is sour and unhealthy. This is of course related to the previous feeling constellation discussed wherein we fear we are not going to get enough oxygen and so want “pure” blood. But this has to do with our feelings about the blood we do get—it is tainted, not pure. In the one you can’t get something you need, you are deprived (panic). In this aspect of it, you get something but it seems intentionally polluted to harm you (paranoia). Earlier I compared this to the difference between being starved for affection as a child versus receiving unwanted attention as in being sexually or physically abused.
Fractals, Abuse, Sadism/Masochism
The reason this can be seen so clearly at a later time of life is because these feeling constellations are fractals of each other: They occur in the same pattern again and again at different times of our lives exactly because of our tendency to re-create unerringly the discomfort we could not face originally (primally). The original formulation of this pattern in the womb sets up that we will act out on both sides of tendencies to deprive others of affection, as well as to subtly and unconsciously push others away. And because of the other aspect of it, we will also force unwanted attention on others and will assault them, as well as being unable to avoid such attacks. Traditionally, this last has been discussed under the headings of sadism and masochism.
Having dealt with the deprivation/greed aspect of this in previous sections, in this section and the next we will look at the poisoned and infected feelings and their sadistic/masochistic outgrowths. Unraveling this complex at its primal roots in the womb, we expose some fascinating revelations.
How “Bad Blood” Manifests in Our Thinking
In Psychosis—Food, Aliens, and Tin Foil
Though not the most common, I must start with the most obvious adult manifestation of this—the curious notion among paranoid psychotics and some obsessive-compulsives that they are being or are in danger of being poisoned. Certainly through the food they eat, but this also manifests as the idea that “alien” thoughts are being inserted into their minds/brains. I’ve seen walking neurotics (borderline psychotics) strolling around with wire pyramid or tinfoil hats to prevent this infection from above.
We have to wonder how much of conspiracy theory is itself skewed by this constellation in concocting the existence of forces that spy on us and influence our actions from behind the moon (behind the placenta) or some other unseen place. This is what happens when big thoughts are channeled through sorry states of mind.
In Collective Dreams—Myth, Fairy Tale, and the Evil Queen
We express this idea in our myths and fairy tales, of course—for they are the collective “dreams” we share that are given rise to by our unconscious dynamics. A salient example is Snow White. Consider her name, and remember the part about the purity of blood and children, which was felt to be the earlier situation in the womb. In the same consideration of blissful BPM I experiences occurring prior to late stage, BPM II, discomforts, notice that Snow White enjoys an earlier, idyllic time living in communion with planetmates in the forest. She was supposed to be killed (aborted) by the huntsman (god figure), but he falls in love with her and lets her go, telling her to hide. She finds a tiny cottage (blissful womb), where she is aided by and lives in harmony with seven dwarves. The dwarves, as well as the planetmates, represent the forces of Nature aiding exquisitely perfect growth in the early stages of gestation in the womb.
But then, BPM II style, her wicked stepmother wants to poison her, but even notice how.
First the “evil queen” (mother symbol) wants to kill her by crushing her. She ties her tight with stay-laces. Remember that being compressed and crowded was the very first and most obvious aspect of late stage gestation discomfort.
And then begins the poisoning attempts: The evil queen tries to kill Snow White by brushing her hair with a poisoned comb. So, what does this mean? Well, our hair is thousands of tiny filaments that emanate out from our bodies, just as in the womb we have tiny filaments extending from our bodies—arteries and veins—which connect us to our mothers (evil queen). The wicked stepmother poisoning her by combing her hair is saying she is being poisoned through these filaments of arteries extending from her.
Next, the evil queen wishes to get the girl to eat a poisoned apple. Apple, as the ultimate symbol of food, nutrition in Western culture…it was an apple that was eaten in Eden, for example.
Notice that here as in many fairy tales it is a stepmother…in others it might be a wicked aunt or witch…that does the bad stuff. It has to be a stepmother or aunt, for we wish to preserve the idea that a “good mother” still exists. So we separate out an idea of a bad part of her, just as we come up with the idea of a bad god…a Satan…who is responsible for all the bad things that a good God would not be…thus preserving the idea of a good God/ good daddy here.
But there’s more. She fainted when she was tightly laced, and collapsed again after being brushed with the poisoned comb. But when finally poisoned she falls into a stupor and appears dead. Obviously she represents a prenate struggling with the “groggy” and lethargic feelings associated with being trapped, stifled, and poisoned/ drugged … in modern times, sometimes having ingested actual drugs or toxins from smoking or alcohol through the placenta (poisoned through those tiny “hairs” of arteries).
And appearing dead, she is placed in a coffin. Womb symbol, anyone?
How “Bad Blood” Manifests In Our Doing
Having looked at how this early experience of blood degradation is manifest in our thoughts, madness, and creative product, let’s look into some really important, major act outs of this prenatal mental framework for construing things. This brings us to the ways we act out these crazy ideas, emanating from early experiences, in major ways as cultures, as societies, and even as nations.
“We Don’t Want Your Kind Around Here!” … Acting Out Prenatal Feelings of Sickening – “Bad Blood” – in Racism, Xenophobia, Elitism, Homophobia … and Medicine
“Don’t Want Your Kind Around Here!” Prenatal Imprints for Xenophobia, Racism, Medicine, and More
How “Bad Blood” Manifests in Our Actions
This brings us to the psychotic acting out of these thoughts and feelings—rooted in unconscious discomforts and repressed memory patterns—by insane societies.
In this aspect of fetal discomfort, a reduced blood flow to the placenta is experienced as a build up of carbon dioxide and toxins, since they are not removed as efficiently as they were before. Lloyd deMause explains how this womb situation is universally expressed among humans as a fear of being “poisoned” by “bad blood.” He has found that feelings of being trapped and at the same time “infused” with bad blood or toxic energies of some sort precede the outbreak of all wars.
For these wars are the unconscious way humans try to “break free” from these uncomfortable feelings, which are for the most part just early unresolved memories from our beginnings in life. We see “bad blood” as coming from the enemy; We see the enemy as an attacking many-headed monster “encroaching” on the “home”land … a threatening multi-veined placenta, aging and filled with toxins, “filth.” So we wish to attack and destroy the enemy—this placental “monster”—so we can “breathe free” again and escape their “poisonous filth.” (See BPM IV)
How We Act Out “Bad Blood” – Xenophobia, Blood Letting, Smoking
The perfect example, however, is the xenophobia that resulted in the Nazis treatment of the Jews around the time of World War II. I have already pointed out how these walking psychotics injected poisonous gas into Jews in gas chambers out of these prenatal feelings, which they framed in adult thoughts of being themselves infected with tainted money from these Jews. Let us now look at other act outs of this.
Racism, Xenophobia, Classism, Elitism, Homophobia, Intolerance—We Don’t Want “Your Kind” Around Here! Keeping Racial “Lines” “Pure,” Keeping Out “the Unwashed,” Affecting the Gene “Pool”
This is the basis of racism … blacks are pollutants, as are Jews. They want to take away our purity—our pure children…blood libel; our women’s pure virtue. And so we need to dress in white, indicating “pure” blood, to defend against these incursions (the Ku Klux Klan) of “bad blood.”
These feelings of being “sickened” at the end of our womb existence are the root of all xenophobia with its creation always of a toxic Other which cannot be allowed to infect the virtue and purity of people of “our blood.”
We see it in intolerance of others of all kinds. A few days ago, on May 21st, 2012, a Baptist preacher from the South made headlines everywhere by announcing from the pulpit that all gays and lesbians should be “rounded up,” placed in an “enclosure,” surrounded by an “electrified fence.” He imagined they could have food air dropped to them until they died (obviously an insufficient…oxygen starvation…or poisoned…bad blood…amount.) At this point, I don’t believe I need to unravel the prenatal qualities of the morass his mind was thinking in.
And why all this? His exact words are, because “It makes me pukin’ sick!” what homosexuals do. Need I say more? [Footnote 1]
But this thinking is found in classism as well, where royalty calls itself “blue bloods” and only allows marriage between others of its class—from one’s own nation or another, interestingly—and will not allow its “blood” to be mixed with the polluted blood of the masses and “riff raff.”
University intellectuals have a more “refined” take on this primal disgust: They set up barriers to academic entrance in order to “keep out the unwashed,” without a clue they are coming across like scared fetuses inside a virtual womb (academia) trying to protect their continuing flow of blood (money).
This fetal malnutrition gives rise to bigoted ideas of keeping racial lines “pure.” It insists upon no mixing of the races … or ethnicities…for fear of affecting the gene “pool” (pool of blood), but it is always described in terms of “blood” that will be mixed, tainted, polluted, made impure, or degraded. Can you see how these are all instances of fear of encroachment by another from which one senses a threat of pollution and in conjunction which one feels suffocated, made helpless, unable to move freely?
For a long time in Western culture, it was thought that when one got sick that one had “bad blood” coursing through one’s system. The idea was that by bleeding a person one would rid the body of some of this impure blood and the person would get better. This bloodletting was employed for hundreds of years in the face of the evidence to the contrary wherein folks got paler and sicker from this “treatment.” But such is the power of these sorry thoughts rooted in unconscious dynamics.
I’ve already mentioned how we re-create the atmospheric imbalance of oxygen—carbon dioxide in the womb through burning stuff. The smoking of tobacco and other vegetation I likened to our pushes and pulls to re-create the bad air. But in ingesting this air into one’s lungs, we have a most perfect example of the drive to re-create the uncomfortable feeling of ingestion of “bad blood,” in this case, inhaling, bad air. With all rationality set aside, we are compelled to poison, infect ourselves again and again with bad air (bad blood). Again, of such depth is the grooves of the imprint created in our prenatal times and along whose lines we make our self-destructive decisions.
How We Make It Worse
(“Give Us, Oh Lord”) Our Daily Toxins—Drugs, Food Additives, Polluted Air
How we add to this today…how we make it worse: smoking and drinking, taking drugs. We create and imbibe toxins in our food, our air…through the medications we use… The whole idea behind “medicine” is that a toxin (all drugs are) administered in a tiny amount will alter our blood flow in just the exact way to affect some currently felt experience of our blood being bad (sickness).
And in doing these things we reinforce the bad blood experience of fetal malnutrition the fetus will experience out of its being human. We insure we will pass along our bad blood experience to the next generation…we will multiply it even. For the mother’s ingestion of these compounds into her system—smoke, drugs, food additives, air toxins, water pollutants—are felt as receiving bad blood by the fetus, even worse than it would be otherwise just from pressure on the arteries restricting blood flow. Again we create that which we need to resolve, only this time it is the unborn child who will be “infected” with the bad blood and need to face these feelings later in life, again and again.
How We Make it True, Create It
Food Pollution/Genetic Engineering and Propaganda
I can’t leave this without pointing out that, as in environmental pollution and in political oppression, it is all not just a figment of a past memory, as there are those of us acting out this feeling complex by coming up with such odd creations that end up polluting the food of others (as in the tainted food coming out of corporations like Monsanto, with its Frankensteinian concoctions) and that seek to inject alien ideas in others to make us do things we would ordinarily not do—whether that is to buy some unnecessary thing to fatten the wallets of these others (advertising) or to surrender one’s self interest or hand over one’s power and rationality of thought to these others for their political ends (propaganda…in America, Fox News).
Continue with Prenatal Revulsion and Loss of the “Golden Age”: Creeped Out in the Womb, The Itches We Cannot Scratch, and the Deepest Roots of OCD, Bigotry, and Holocaust
Return to Prenatal Hunger Games and “Blood Wars”: The Fetal Fight About “Pure Blood” We Act Out in Politics, War, and Oppression … Class War, Culture War, Revolution….
1. Pastor Worley’s actual words were
Of our president getting up and saying it was all right for two women to marry, for two men to marry, I tell you right now, I was disappointed bad. But I’ll tell you right there, it’s as sorry as you can get. The Bible’s agin’ it, God’s agin’ it, I’m agin’ it, and if you’ve got any sense, you’re agin’ it.
I had way, I figured a way out, a way to get rid of all the lesbians and queers, but I couldn’t get it passed through Congress. Build a great big large fence, 100..50 or 100 miles long. Put all the lesbians in there. Fly over and drop some food. Do the same thing with the queers and the homosexuals. And have that fence electrified ’til they can’t get out. And feed ‘em. And you know what? In a few years they’ll die out. Do you know why? They can`t reproduce.
If a man ever has a young ‘un, praise god it’ll be the first one. All of these… It’s just as well…I’m gonna preach the hell out of all of them. Hey I’ll tell you right now. I ain’t gonna vote for a baby killer and a homosexual lover!
You said, ‘Did you mean to say that?’ You’d better believe I did!
God have mercy it makes me puking sick to think about…I don’t even know whether you ought to say this in the pulpit or not. Could you imagine kissing some man? My god I love you fellas, but not that much.
Continue with Prenatal Revulsion and Loss of the “Golden Age”: Creeped Out in the Womb, The Itches We Cannot Scratch, and the Deepest Roots of OCD, Bigotry, and Holocaust
Return to Prenatal Hunger Games and “Blood Wars”: The Fetal Fight About “Pure Blood” We Act Out in Politics, War, and Oppression … Class War, Culture War, Revolution….
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The Perinatal Veil: Dangling Above an Abyss and Everyday Rebirthing — The Perinatal Predilections of Everyperson
The Primal Screen: The Doors of Perception Stormed and The Perinatal Rising — A Kaleidoscope of Postmodern Life
Wounded Deer and Centaurs, Chapter Three: Twenty-First Century and Its Discontents—The Primal Screen
Dangling Above an Abyss
Beyond the entertainment media, it seems perinatal themes and elements are showing up everywhere else in our surrounding environment and culture. The scenery of our everyday reality consists of pollution of our air, water, and food; threat of death “at any moment,” caused by the knowledge of the power of nuclear weapons; fantasies of apocalypse of all kinds, magnified, perhaps, by the ending of one millennium and the approach of the end of the Mayan calende—including fundamentalist Christian imaginings of an end to human civilization in an apocalyptic “rapture”; New Age fantasies of ecological, spiritual, and social utopias; and so on.
First, let us consider a few of the most blatantly birth-related of the events around us.
The Primal Screen: Aliens … Ooooooooooo … Sca-ry….
Alien abduction stories, while a relatively recent addition to our cultural landscape, are unusual in the rapidity with which they have gained cultural currency and are telling in the extreme fascination the public has with them. They have catapulted more than one show—The X Files being the prime example, of course—to cult-like status. The photo here is a scene after the abduction of Fox Mulder, one of The X-Files main characters.
Yet Alvin Lawson has pointed out how alien abduction stories are replete with perinatal elements: passing through walls, umbilical beams of connection to the “mother ship”—the placenta—either fetal-looking aliens or aliens whose eyes are most prominent and the lower parts of their faces undistinguished—similar to the way a newborn might see an obstetrician wearing a medical mask.
Then of course there are the elements of being medically probed, measured, samples taken from one, and being swooshed from one place to another with no say on one’s part—all remarkably like the experience of a newborn, right out of the womb. [Footnote 1]
While I do not think that the “alien abduction” phenomenon is just derivative of birth, as Lawson does, I do believe that we perceive these events through a veil of birth trauma, the likes of which the world has never known. My position is explained in the article, “Alien Abductors: Angelic Midwives or Hounds From Hell?“
Mouth Suctioning…”Oh, What Pretty Teeth You Have, My Alien”
An interesting development in the alien face is the “shoved down the throat” thing going on. Similar to the “Jacob’s Ladder” kind of vegetable thrusting out, which was described in the last chapter, it was popularized greatly in the movie, “Alien.”
As a neonate we cannot see the mouths of the masked attendants at our birth. In a traumatic situation, whatever is hidden is more feared than what can be seen. As in anything else, onto the unknown we can project the most magnified versions of our fears. When these images arise in us, then, it makes sense that if the mouth is shown it might be even more frightening than that above the mouth.
So in modern times, for the first time in history, we see something going on where these feelings are symbolized as a ferocious mouth coming out of the mouth. The fact that it appears like something that would gag reveals that this image contains elements of the trauma around ungentle mouth suctioning or clearing as well as the reveal of what might be under the mask of the seeming attacker, the obstetrician. Add lots of teeth and you have the perinatal vagina dentata as well, symbolizing the trauma occurring at birth, when actually emerging from the mother.
The Perinatal Veil: Rock Concerts (For some, ditto)
Lawson has also described perinatal elements in rock concerts. [Footnote 2]
Keep in mind that rock music popularity and concert rituals are world-wide phenomena. Youth from nearly all countries are involved in rock culture. Among other things, Lawson, in his article, refers to placental guitars, umbilical mikes, and youths jumping into mosh pits. Mosh pits suggest birth feelings in that they simulate the crushing in the womb.
At birth our consciousness is filled with the feeling of flesh all around. The world is crushing, heaving, rollicking, bouncing flesh everywhere. During a non-cesarean birth one struggles and moves through this flesh to reach space, air, light…freedom. We re-create this pattern of struggle in order to reach the light, or freedom and space, throughout life. It is obvious that mosh pits are attractive, appealing places to re-create the danger of birth alongside the hope of being “held up,” uplifted, and reborn.
The Doors of Perception…Stormed
We could also mention the loud music, fireworks, and flashing and bright explosions of light at these concerts as perinatal in that they re-create the assault of sensation that occurs to the newly emerged fetus—an assault which in one’s mind is like unto a bomb exploding.
The rock groups and their lyrics themselves are often blatantly perinatal. The most obvious example of this was the group, Nirvana, who came out with a CD titled “In Utero.” The fact that the leader of the group, Kurt Cobain, committed suicide is a strong indication of his closeness and access to his perinatal trauma…as I will soon explain.
Pacifiers, Trolls, and Collective Rebirth
In Europe, as pointed out by Mayr and Boederl, it appears a collective regression to the perinatal is going on, especially among the youth. [Footnote 3]
The forms this “regression” has taken include the surprising popularity of a pop song, sung by a very young child, expressing the difficulties of being a baby; the wearing of baby pacifiers as ornaments as a powerful fashion fad; and being enamored of troll-like dolls, which, according to the authors indicate a “regression to the womb.”
I would say a progression to the womb, by the way….I will soon explain why.
Overpopulation Bring Up in Us Uncomfortable Claustrophobic Feelings From Our Births
We have no-exit, claustrophobic BPM II elements manifesting in the crushing populations in major cities throughout the world. In the later stages of our womb lives, we are increasingly compressed with flesh all around. It is a time of ever more compression, constriction, restriction of movement, suppression of freedom, and suffering, which seems unending. However uncomfortable, we are compelled to manifest similar situations in our later adult lives, as in creating our crowded cities. We then find ourselves triggered into feelings like the ones we had back then.
Though it is irrational to draw suffering to oneself, it makes psychic sense in that consciousness seeks to integrate that which was overwhelming at the time. Think of this as a memory of a dire threat to one’s life that a part of ourselves remembers and tries to remove as a threat to our well-being by drawing it to ourselves repeatedly in life until we have managed to accept it—deal with it, perceive it differently than being a threat—so that we can go beyond it.
For the psyche’s main goal is to grow and heal itself, We see this intention of consciousness manifest in observing the body that Consciousness creates and which we see, which does exactly that growing and healing throughout life. Consciousness seeks, always, greater consciousness. Consciousness seeks unity.
Earlier we looked into how we do that seeking of psychological healing at rock concerts and with their mosh pits, in particular.
So we unconsciously create situations in life that make us feel like we once did but could not deal with at the time. And these feelings of course are uncomfortable…why else could we not deal with them originally? This does not mean that by bringing suffering to us we solve it and accept it. We would not be bringing it repeatedly to us if we successfully got beyond it.
No, we create suffering such as overpopulation because we are NOT dealing with, accepting, resolving, facing the memories that are making us continually manifest situations that should remind us…but don’t. The fact that some people are facing these issues or are on the verge of doing so—those Wounded Deer and Centaurs—is the hopeful message of this work. For this trend is auspicious for solving the biggest problems of all on Earth—those huge environmental and geopolitical woes that are threatening to do us all in. But I digress. Stay tuned, though.
We Manifest the Opposite of Crushing Populations Also — Floating Fantasies and Experiences
BPM I and “Birth” Day Parties
We also manifest the opposite of crushing, claustrophobic feelings for perinatal reasons. Remember that in the early stages of our womb lives, described as BPM I states, we are surrounded by flesh as well but it is not constricting. It is blissful and euphoric. No doubt we create our parties and festivals out of our desires to re-experience such wonderful, comforting feelings. In this situation, one moves freely, with people (flesh) at a comfortable distance. Ideally one wishes to be the “life of the party,” in other words, the reason everyone else is there and the person around which everything else revolves. For such is the case in the early stages of life inside one’s mother, in general. Everything that was going on then around one’s embryonal and fetal selves, biologically speaking for sure, was about oneself; but more: It was about one’s overall happiness and well-being. As they say, It doesn’t get any better than this.
It is understandable that we would create “birth” days and bring people to gather around us at “birth” day parties. Certainly our births were fraught with discomfort and trauma. But we did make it out. And birthdays and their parties are ways we try to remind ourselves that life is not always the discomfort and struggle of birth or the aloneness, separateness immediately after birth—BPM IV—but can be the blissful love surround of unity with one’s mother in the early womb state. We try to cover over the struggles and alienation of life—which we are pushed to unconsciously manifest in our lives because of traumas around the process of coming into the world—with reminders of the most pleasurable time of our lives, our early womb existence—which we intentionally wish to bring about again.
BPM I and Dancing
People go to dance halls to surround themselves with writhing flesh in a way that they themselves can still move freely and well, even acrobatically they’d like to think. We want the freedom of blissful, perfect movement. Perfection and precise movement is sought, along with bliss, for our experience was of a process of biological perfection; precise and perfect beyond anything we would later experience.
It is even better if it defies gravity, as our experience in the womb seemed to. Gymnastics and break dancing are perfect recreations of blissful womb experience. We can move euphorically in three-dimensional space, overcoming the constraints of gravity. This is exactly our experience in early womb life. We both do these activities and are fascinated by others performing them because of early memories of perfection and weightlessness.
BPM I and Weightlessness
Since our early life is felt as weightless, it is also the reason we are enamored of the gravityless experience in space. Not only does our media replay depictions of space walks and astronauts in floating zero-gravity environments, but we are attracted to and seek to re-experience this. I remember a reality show where the participants were rewarded with a weightless experience caused by an aircraft descending from high in the stratosphere at such a speed as to create it.
BPM I and Floating
Plus, we sky-dive. And if we do not, we view with awe and appreciation via the media the videos of the most acrobatic and gravity defying stunts performed in descent by sky-divers. We have created machines where we on the ground can force air up strongly enough so we can experience floating in the air above it similar to sky diving.
I cannot leave the topic of floating without pointing to the most obvious and frequent activity of humans to re-create the weightless experience of BPM I—swimming. Being in water simulates the gravity-free state of our earliest life. It is one of the commonest activities of humans. It is also no coincidence that for a time in the Seventies and Eighties it was popular to try to re-create birth, perinatal experiences by doing warm water “rebirthing” in hot tubs. The water was often made to be body temperature. And, by the way, it did stimulate these early memories in a powerful—though perhaps not optimal—way.
Even our depictions of release from the constraints of physical existence are viewed through this BPM I veil of blissful weightlessnes—whether it is the evangelical Christian idea of “the rapture” or my own depiction of transcendence via a Jacob’s Ladder style of transformation of human consciousness.
The Human Nature That Is Not
Having looked at the the most obvious perinatal propensities of the postmodern person in this chapter, let us go deeper. In the next chapter we look at how imprints from our early life in the womb affect us in many of the currently dire activities we are engaged in, for example, environmental destruction, war, capitalism, and imperialism. We discover that there are prenatal imprints for all these activities, which we normally ascribe to being rooted in our human nature—depicted as one of insatiable acquisition, violence and competitiveness, and desire to control and dominate. The fact that we find that they are in fact not part of our nature but are instead products of some personality forming experiences—however early those experiential events may be—is auspicious in the extreme. In looking at the prenatal blueprints for our self-destructive “human nature,” we learn why we do the things we do and realize we are not doomed to continuing to do them.
Continue with Four Earliest Roots of War, Bigotry, Capitalism, and Pollution: Blueprints of Human Nature and Prenatal Personalities … Profound Sculpting of Who We Are Occurs at a Time We Cannot See
Return to Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Being Born … Playing Now, in Theaters Near You!
1. Alvin H. Lawson, “UFO abductions or birth memories?” Fate, 38(3) March 1985, pp. 68-80; and Alvin H. Lawson, “Perinatal imagery in UFO abduction reports.” In T. Verny (ed.): Pre- and Perinatal Psychology: An Introduction. Human Sciences Press, New York, 1987.
2. Alvin H. Lawson, “Placental Guitars, Umbilical Mikes, and the Maternal Rock-Beat: Birth Fantasies and Rock Music Videos.” The Journal of Psychohistory 21 (1994): 335-353.
3. Daniela F. Mayr & Artur R. Boelderl, “The Pacifier Craze: Collective Regression in Europe.” The Journal of Psychohistory 21 (1993): 143-156.
Continue with Four Earliest Roots of War, Bigotry, Capitalism, and Pollution: Blueprints of Human Nature and Prenatal Personalities … Profound Sculpting of Who We Are Occurs at a Time We Cannot See
Return to Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Being Born … Playing Now, in Theaters Near You!
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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. Any constricting surround is a womb symbol, including oppressive social and political conditions from which one cannot escape and under which one is not able to move freely, to enjoy “freedom”; especially regimented ones under which one is tortured, processed, and treated anonymously and in an unfeeling, insensitive manner.
Schools and schoolrooms are especially strong womb symbols for they are places in which a person is supposedly nurtured and helped along in one’s development, exactly as was the purpose and situation in the womb. Libraries are the benign version of womb-like “schooling” in that the element of volition or choice in the matter exists. When they depict being constricted or made to suffer, it becomes even more obvious, depicting as that does the later stages in the womb which are uncomfortable and often hellacious.
In the school sequences in the movie, “The Wall,” there are other perinatal elements potentiating some of the scenes. We have anonymity, indicating not being seen in the womb; fetal faces; tortuous “development” and passage from one state to another especially as in being shoved through a wringer or meat grinder; and faces coming out of walls or having an appearance similar to that.
Houses and Spaceships Are Real “Mothers”
One lengthy explanation of this kind of symbolism as it is connected with “the Mother” is the classic work by the Jungian, Erich Neumann, titled, The Origins and History of Consciousness, which he himself based on other even earlier analyses of mother symbolism and its association with enclosing and enveloping sorts of thing.
At any rate, among all these, the house is probably the most popular symbol today. It would seem to be used more in the visual media as a womb symbol than any other, currently. With the increased interest in science fiction, the spaceship is perhaps coming in second, but even that distantly.
Being spaceships, UFOs are obviously womb symbols. Carl Jung once speculated in writing that the upsurge of UFO sightings indicated a rising urge for psychic unity in humans. While this is true on one level, on a deeper level, they are symbols of reintegration with our repressed traumatic womb experiences. Space travel is transition from one world to another in general. And the vehicle of passage is a UFO or spaceship … in which one’s needs are taken care of and one is involved in passage or transition … It is not surprising that often in the course of this transition, space travel, the space voyagers of the silver screen encounter odd and horrifying developments.
Notice how we say “mother ship.” UFO type spaceships are so often depicted as round or spherical. Indeed, we have elaborate developments of these themes in the Death Star depiction of Star Wars–a round enclosed place and habitat associated with dread and death …
“You Will Be Assimilated.”
The variations on this are themselves telling. We have one instance of a cubical habitat in space…a square, not round, spaceship. What better way to show how terrifyingly different the inhabitants are from natural, biological beings. For womb equals round, flowing lines as in Nature, products of a physical or biological world, one of life and dealing with living and animate things. Whereas to indicate that these beings are mechanical, unnatural, robotic…products of a mental world only, one of death and dealing with inanimate, non-living things…machines…straight lines are employed, implying the worlds of engineering, mathematics, geometry…of the mind only, not of the physical or biological worlds or the worlds of feeling and experience. Implying a world of non-feeling and non-experience is horrifyingly akin to implying a death-like existence.
Star Trek aficionados will have picked up by now I am referring to the Borg and to their cubical spaceships/habitats. We have to make the connection that the appearance of symbols of machines, robots, androids, and such with womb symbols–increasingly prevalent in modern and postmodern times–is easily attributable to the fact of our ever increasing mechanization of birth…in which, as I was pointing out above, humans are “thingified” and turned into “human robots.” And, yes, these are horrifying and death-like experiences that we undergo at our beginnings and subject our incoming members to.
Worse Homes and Gardens. Is It Any Wonder It Is Haunted?
I remember watching an old movie from the “Amityville” series. As most people are aware, in any of these movies, it is the evil house that is the source of the horror. This goes back at least to Edgar Allen Poe’s “The House of Usher.”
Yet this plot idea of an evil house, which must, in the end, come crashing down in flames—indicating the explosive and fiery birth, BPM III, which signals the release from the evil forces—was boringly evident in films in the Twentieth Century.
Mad Doctor Frankenstein, the obstetrician
At any rate, in this idea of a house that “gobbles” one up, as in “The Frighteners,” we have the bringing together of two of the most predominant birth elements in film—an evil house and a devouring beast. That fact of a doubling of perinatal elements alone is