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Cycles of War, Cycles of Birth … What Can Be Done: Changing the Patterns of Millennia Requires Learning That Feeling Good Is Not Bad

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Derailing the Cycles of War and Violence: What Say We Leave a Planet For Our Offspring? And Can You Handle Happiness?

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Apocalypse No! Chapter Eight:
Derailing the Cycles of War and Violence

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Men Would Rather Be Manly Than Alive and What Say We Leave a Planet for Our Offspring?

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Why We Invite War, Allow Fascism, and Pollute: Our Coming Into the World Makes Us Want to Leave It

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The question posed at the end of the last chapter was whether we had opened the door to an unimaginable armageddon or were experiencing the birth pangs of a massive consciousness transformation and subsequent Earth rebirth. Are we going to self-destruct, bringing death to the entire planet along with us, or will we become good citizens of this planet and our species continue on?

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What Say We Leave a Planet For Our Offspring?

Most folks would think there would be only one answer to that question desired by virtually all humans. But in previous chapters, especially Apocalypse Emergency, Chapter Five: Death Wish – Thanatos Walking, I showed how, and why, that common-sense notion would, amazingly, be wrong: We saw how there is a huge percentage of our human Earth citizens, and a part of all of us, that wants to “throw in the towel.” This has always been true of humans, but it is of critical importance only now.

But I will assume anyone reading this will at least consciously be wanting our vital question to be answered in the affirmative. You know as well as I that the folks on the other side of this question are doing vastly different things right now than us and are nowhere to be found around here.

How Do We “Like” Life?

So the next thing to be addressed is how we might change our fortunes and live. Since continuing on is not just of matter of deciding it—voting “like” on it or checking its box—as we saw in Chapter Five: Death Wish, how can we get around this part of ourselves and our population that wants to do us all in? We need to know how to derail our perpetual cycles of war and violence. We need know how to quit bringing pollution and suffering on us. We have to know how we can stop our secret desire to take comfort in failure, how to “unlike” self-sabotage on our inner “profile.”

How Do We “Unlike” Fascism?

I have written a great deal on this question, including an entire book in 2011 on the way we act out this masochistic tendency politically and culturally by taking comfort in totalitarianism and embracing fascism. [Footnote 1]

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For our purposes presently I will focus on the element of it all that is critical to answering our question. So we first need to look into the place from which emanates our dilemma. I showed that this bugaboo is our Will to Death.

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Our Coming Into This World Makes Us Want to Leave It

Now we need to get more specific on this negative inclination of ours. As we have seen this Will to Death arises from human’s unique-among-all-species primal pain rooted in our singular way of coming into the world, our unique human birth.

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We Need Look Deeper

We need to look deeper into the elements of that part of ourselves that would have us take us all down. We need inquire into that tendency of ours to choose pollution over health, tyranny over freedom, war over peace, enslavement over autonomy, violence over pacifism, oppression over liberty, misery over happiness. We must derail the cycles of war, violence, and fascism. We must know how to “like” happiness.

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We Need Know Where Exactly to Focus Our Efforts to Be Successful

To do so, we must separate the skeins of this inner entanglement and shed light into this darkness within. We need to know specifically, precisely where to place the lever of effort we will apply to truly move the world, to derail it from its current acceleration into oblivion.

So we look now into the elements of that perinatal unconscious manifesting currently as a will to die on the grandest scale imaginable.

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Cycles of War, Cycles of Birth

We find there are two researchers who are particularly relevant to our understanding of the elements of the perinatal unconscious in a way as to avert collective, worldwide disaster. These are Stanislav Grof and Lloyd DeMause. [Footnote 2]

Men Would Rather Be “Manly” Than…Alive…

DeMause writes,

[T]he group-fantasy shared prior to wars expresses the nation’s deep feeling that the increase in pleasure brought about by the prosperity and progress that usually precede wars “pollutes” the national blood-stream with sinful excess, making men “soft” and feminine”—a frightful condition that can only be cleansed by a blood-shedding purification. [Footnote 2]

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Men are more terrified of appearing “feminine” than of losing their lives. Why we invite war.

DeMause is saying we go forever into war because after a while peace makes men feel guilty, “sinful.” Men have uncomfortable, even shameful…homophobic…feelings of being “soft” or “feminine” when their lives are good. So men choose the “purifying,” masculinizing ritual of war to fight off these feelings. Nothing distracts one from looking inward better than a “good, old-fashioned” life-or-death struggle, and war is the most all-encompassing of them.

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Men are more terrified of appearing “soft” than having the boot of totalitarianism on their neck. Why we allow fascism.

What DeMause says about bringing war upon us can be said also about allowing fascism, inviting totalitarianism. For whether we are fighting enemies of another nation or struggling to survive against oppression at home, we are involved in a daily struggle. Secret to us, we feel better being engaged in a dramatic battle, though it brings us suffering and misery.

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We simply can’t hack peace for very long. We feel guilty, for some reason, lolling on the beach. You ever notice how at the end of your vacation time, you are anxious for it to be over and to get back to work? That feeling—that one where we feel…guilty?…uncomfortable…tense?…unfulfilled?…(you tell me)—that’s it. That’s the one I’m talking about.

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It happens the same way collectively after we have experienced a “vacation” of national peace—for example, in the Nineties when we were prosperous and mostly peaceful under Clinton. At the end of it, with Bush, we ended up getting the misery and struggle many in America were driven to want, though no one would ever admit that.

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A quick aside. The fact that the majority of Americans actually didn’t vote for Bush and so tried to choose happiness over struggle is a source of hope for us in all this. That’s a hint of what’s coming.

Cycles of Birth, Cycles of War … The Four “Colors” of the Perinatal Veils and Why Women Fear Fatness and Men Fear Femininity

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Four Kinds of Early Experience Color Our Adult Experience in Four Distinct Ways … Cycles of Birth and War

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Four Kinds of Experiences in Our First Nine Months Imprint Us for Four Feeling “Flavors” as Adults

Images_Gallery_05_14But for now, let us get back to this opening provided us. We can make better use of deMause’s insight on the birth feelings that take us into war using Stanislav Grof’s delineation of this birth unconscious of ours. Let us review as described earlier and further stipulate on them: Grof explains we are moved as adults by four specific kinds of drives emanating from our earliest experiences. These specific tendencies in us relate to four different times in the birth process which involve four radically different kinds of experiences.

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Grof uses the term, basic perinatal matrices (BPMs), to refer to these four aspects of our inner urges. I will describe them here and refer to them along with DeMause’s cycles of social-historical violence and war to pull apart the roots of our current apocalyptic dilemma. [Footnote 3]

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Our Tendency to Always Screw Up a Good Thing, BPM I

The first of Grof’s aspects of our unconscious he terms Basic Perinatal Matrix I, BPM I for short.

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Prosperity and Progress Equal Feeling “Soft” and “Feminine”

clip_image002reunionGrof’s BPM I is sometimes described as “oceanic bliss” and involves the experiences and feelings related to the relatively undisturbed prenatal period. On the social, macrocosmic level, it is the period described in the quote by deMause above in which there is a period of “prosperity and progress” and feelings of being “soft” and “feminine.”

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522936_184846674968481_100003294484517_288967_526358242_nkumbayaThe strong connection between individual experience (personal psychology) and collective realities (social-historical events and elements) is patent here since in BPM I experience the individual is still in the mother’s womb and to some extent shares her identity, which is of course feminine. Being unborn and not having gone through the “toughening” experiences of birth and later trauma, which predominantly create one’s defenses, the individual is also “soft,” in other words, undefended.

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“No Pain, No Gain,” Hell, Satan, and Poisonous Placenta; BPM II

“No-Exit” Claustrophobia

placenta-22005-RachelStone-PrometheusTo further review Grof’s schema and its relation to deMause’s cycles of war, I want to remind you that BPM II is related on the individual level to the time near the end of pregnancy when the fetus is no longer rocking blissfully on the waves of oceanic bliss but is trapped in an ever more confining womb. As the fetus grows in size, the suffering becomes greater; no doubt this is the source of the common-sense belief that growing has to involve suffering, for example, “No pain, no gain.” At any rate, the feelings are those of claustrophobia and “no exit.”

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more-suffering-less-dyingdesertheartThere is heavy non-agitated depression here, since there appears to be no hope, no change in the situation that would indicate a way out of the suffering. Indeed, this period continues practically right up to the time of birth, ending only when the cervix becomes dilated and, experientially speaking, there appears suddenly to be a “light at the end of the tunnel” and therefore hope.

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Where the Hell We Get the Idea of Hell

bpm2411862143_smallHowever, up until that time there are feelings of being totally unempowered, completely in the hands of an entity—the womb—that imposes a horrifying reality that appears to be unending and eternal. Herein we have the psychological roots of notions of hell and Satan. Feelings associated with this state include despair, victimization, blame, and guilt.

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“You’ll Wallow in Your Shit, and You’ll Think You’re Happy.” – Kurt Cobain, from the Song, “Sad”

peoplearealreadydyingclip_image005As birth comes nearer, “fetal malnutrition” increases, since the neonate’s increasing size and weight press down on and constrict the blood vessels that carry blood to and from the placenta, when the mother is standing. The decreased blood supply means a reduction of life-giving oxygen as well as the buildup of toxins that would otherwise be taken away by a normal blood flow. So feelings of suffocation as well as skin irritation and other feelings of wallowing in waste matter—deemed poisonous placenta by deMause—increase. [Footnote 4]

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“You’re Really in a Laundry Room.” – Kurt Cobain, from the Song, “Sad”

As I have said previously, deMause has found that these feelings exist to an extraordinary degree in a society and its leaders prior to its engaging in a war. Similarly, they precede, and obviously can be held to be accountable for, individual acts of violence—including everything from murder and rape to unfortunately all-too-common and ordinary spousal and child abuse in the household, and of course everything in between.

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Bloody War, Bloody Birth — BPM III

Crusades181264_233235313453542_936852846_nBPM III is birth. Its social analogue is war or violent assault. Feelings that accompany this state on both the individual and societal level include rage and intense aggressiveness, all-encompassing struggle, and sexual excess.

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Nothing’s Ever Good Enough, BPM IV

BPM IV relates to the time of actually coming out of the womb and the post-natal period. On the societal level it is the ending of a war.

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“Busting Out All Over”

clip_image006imagjuyhgioloiues (2)Feelings of expansiveness, release, exultation, coming finally out into the light and/or being “on top” of things, and victory are feelings associated with this matrix, whether in the individual birth or the collective war cycle.

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Peace Sign V-Fingers dreamstime_3940931s0073As I said the societal analogue to BPM IV, or actually being born, is a war’s end. It is no coincidence that in triumph or peace, the two-finger peace symbol is used. What better way to signal we have come from constriction into openness, specifically through the vise of a mother’s cervix, out from between two legs. As John Lennon so aptly put it, using the peace sign frequently, “War is over (if we want it).”

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Mission Accomplished … Not!

clip_image008533225_1976819996975_1737376259_944265_47690847_nInterestingly, just as in recent times harsh modern obstetrical practices and the removal of the baby from the mother can leave lifetime feelings of success not bringing with it the expected rewards and thus a post-accomplishment sort of depression, so also the ending of successful wars sometimes also leaves a society with a sort of letdown. For example, the euphoria following George H. W. Bush’s Gulf War—which catapulted his approval ratings into the ninety percent range in 1991—was followed, only a year later, by the increasing agony of a recession and Bush’s defeat at the polls.

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Cycles of Birth, Cycles of War

6207242_f260snowwhitelamentof7wpAll of this is to say that in society, as in the womb, a period of uninterrupted and relatively undisturbed feelings of growth leads to feelings of depression—being too “soft” and “feminine,” but also “too fat” in the womb and, therefore, extremely constricted and compressed.

Why Women Fear Becoming Fat and Men Fear Appearing “Feminine”

bizarre-beauty-placentaclip_image009Another way of saying this: feelings of expansion are followed by a fear of entrapment. And I agree wholeheartedly with deMause in saying that it happens this way in a nation’s cycle of feelings because it happened that way to us prior to and during our births. We have these patterns of feelings as collective groups of individuals because our first experience of expansion was followed by extreme depression, guilt, despair, and then struggle and something bloodily akin to war—our actual births.

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What to Do to Stop War and Violence: Changing the Patterns of Millennia Requires Learning That Feeling Good Is Not Bad

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To Derail War and Violence, Replace Self-Sabotaging With Self-Actualizing … We Can No Longer Afford Our Delusional Ways

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What Can Be Done?

Accession480px6a00d8341bf7f753ef010536d1eee6970c-800wiSo knowing this, how can we use it? In previous chapters, I explained how and why we see the dynamics of this perinatal unconscious, not coincidentally right now, on the ascendance, just at the time when it is crucial we deal with it to survive. I called this an emerging perinatal unconscious, and I went into detail about why it is happening now, what it means, and how we should take advantage of the opportunity it brings that could aid us in our current dilemma.

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For now, I need only remind that is imperative we face these unconscious forces instead of turning away from and thereby insuring our continued ignorance of them and helpless acting out of them.

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So, how do we consciously participate in these drives, not merely be driven by them?

IG_MotherBabyPack1-bigLloyd DeMause, in his article, “Restaging of Early Traumas in War and Social Violence,” printed in the spring 1996 issue of The Journal of Psychohistory, called for kinder and gentler birthing and child-caring practices to mitigate the ferocity of these forces within humans and help us avoid an otherwise inevitable planetary disaster. He was restating what other pre- and perinatal psychologists…I am clip_image003one, by the way…including Thomas Verny and Stanislav Grof assert. [Footnote 5]

However, I believe we need to go further than that. I, along with Grof, call for a larger awareness of and efforts in the direction of healing these perinatal elements in the consciousness and unconscious of those already alive right now. For unless we act to heal the people currently inhabiting this planet, we might not leave a planet that babies can be born into!…let alone people to conceive and give birth to them. Healing the perinatal traumas can be accomplished through, at this point, thoroughly tested and effective techniques of experiential regression and emotional release.

But it is impossible for everyone to take advantage of these techniques, especially in the short time we have to make the changes. But something short of that ideal may be sufficient to stave off otherwise inevitable doom.

Let me explain what I mean by that.

Finding the Weakest Spot

Of course only time will tell what will be the result of this emerging perinatal unconscious for our species.

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Real, not blindly delusional, action is required.

But to get an idea of what we might hope for, given a readiness to actually do something about this, I offer a perspective. This understanding requires we remember some critical aspects of the cartography of the psyche described above. Looking into them we might begin to see where are the openings allowing for realistic action to be taken to bring about true, not just blindly delusional, change for our species.

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We can no longer afford otherwise.

Obama Health Caredc05bFor our purposes here, the most important part of the cycle is BPM I. Societies, according to deMause, go through these cycles of war and peace and have been doing so for as long as we know. But we can no longer afford these wars, as World War I and World War II have shown—with each one being an increase in our ability to destroy and to commit atrocities. We cannot afford to have a World War III as that most likely would end life on our planet.

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Indeed, as I’ve been pointing out, we cannot even afford the less extreme forms of acting out of perinatal trauma that we have been doing in our poisoning of the earth and air, global overpopulation, and the ongoing regional wars to give just a few of many examples I could have used. These things, along with many other current quite insane tendencies of ours, have the capacity to end our species and possibly all life on this planet.

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Feeling Good Is Not Bad

reunionkumbayaSo the cycle of societal perinatal acting out must be stopped. And the most obvious place to derail the insidious cycle is at the point of societal prosperity and progress. Feeling soft, undefended, and feminine are, rationally speaking, not things to be alarmed about.

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Kid Centaurs Playing dreamstime_12338563kittenboot.compassion.stray-kitten (2)Quite to the contrary, it is rational that prosperity should make people feel good. It is rational that feeling soft should be a source of contentment, sensitivity, and intimacy with others. It makes sense that men should have no shame about feeling feminine because that only means that they have access to sensitive and nurturing feelings that are a source of joy, “color,” and fulfillment in life.

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Changing the Patterns of Millennia

Male-doctor-spanking-a-newborn-baby-12383229-0imagkyghljlbesBut how do we do this? How do we convince people that feeling good is not bad? For these unconscious forces, these cycles of violence, have been pulling our strings for at least tens of thousands of years. How can we change such an engrained pattern?

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Chasing the Mirages of the Future

Well, again, we get our leads from the experiences of individuals undergoing experiential psychotherapy.

“It’s never enough.”

For individuals also, if they are to heal themselves, have to learn how to appreciate success and to stop sabotaging themselves in the myriad of ways they do. Individuals act out their mini-cycles of “war” in their struggles to achieve. And people are driven to struggle to achieve because they cannot be pleased with what they have.

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first_peopleclip_image007Relating back to deMause’s societal schema, people cannot simply enjoy their “prosperity.” People cannot stop to smell the roses occasionally. We cannot count our blessings and feel contented with what we have. Nor can we enjoy the natural pleasure of being alive in the moment.

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“Wrong…It IS enough.”

No, instead what characterizes we humans—for the most part because of our having birth trauma—is a persistent drive to always have more than we do. We find that every accomplishment or success is short lived, with inexplicable depression following it. For each new attainment does not bring the expected (unconscious) rewards and leads us almost immediately to a new struggle, a new accomplishment to be sought.

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Humans are driven to chasing mirages of better times somewhere off in the future, and we fail to live in the present. We feel unsatisfied with what we have and are continually deluded that some new possession, accomplishment, or love “conquest” will bring with it the missing happiness.

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Becoming Self-Actualizing Instead of Self-Sabotaging

clip_image008When people are aware of the way they unconsciously sabotage their happiness, they sometimes seek help. And if they seek help in the experiential psychotherapies, they are enabled to work through their birth trauma so that they are no longer driven out of the moment, with its pleasure and pain, into an imagined but never attainable pleasureful and happy future.

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Learning that it is enough

Enjoying the sunSo people derail their cycles of drivenness and their tendencies to sabotage their successes by learning to enjoy their “prosperity,” even if it is the simple pleasure of being alive. And when they act to add to that pleasantness, they do so, not out of drivenness, but out of feelings of flow and the simple joys of acting and actualizing one’s tendencies, talents, and desires. They become self-actualizing instead of self-sabotaging.

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Can You Handle Happiness? What to Do – We Get By With a Little Help, from Our Nature … Stand in the Place Where You Are

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A Hierarchy of Healing … Becoming Human Beings (Not Doings): Removing the Hood from Homophobes, A Hard Rain, and Stand

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OK, knowing this, one might ask if I am suggesting that to save our species everyone needs to get into experiential therapy. While that would be nice, it is not practical.

But I believe it is not necessary either. There is an element of that societal period of prosperity that can be used and focused on in order to make the societal change of pattern, the societal derailing of the tendency to self-sabotage through war-making.

Getting By, With a Little Help From Our Nature

clip_image002Fairy_Tree_by_NiroloAnd that element is this: During times of prosperity, when one is less engaged in a struggle to survive, we find that one’s body will naturally try to heal itself of unresolved and somatically imprinted trauma by bringing into consciousness the repressed traumatic memories needing resolution.

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Hierarchy of Healing

This occurs in a manner similar to that of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Basically, one’s needs to “grow emotionally”…i.e., clear away the unresolved trauma…can only come to the fore when one’s physical survival needs are relatively taken care of. And arise they unerringly do, given any opportunity to do so.

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“Don’t just do something, STAND there!”

541041_4115243720203_1028962858_n167117_145303942191698_100001362782419_222213_3793925_nHowever, when these traumatic memories come up seeking resolution, they, also unerringly, bring with them the associated feelings of depression, unease, and pain. But because these feelings are anything but pleasant, to their detriment most people seek to avoid these feelings through addictions and other forms of “acting-out” behavior. So addictions and acting-out behavior emerge after periods of relative stability precisely because that stability allows unresolved feelings an opening for emergence and a possibility of resolution and healing.

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Allowing Our Society to Be Honestly, Blatantly “Sick”

absinthedrinkericarus-dota-dotaSo there you have it; that is the crux. The period of societal prosperity can be maintained and added to if that society refuses to run away from the negative feelings that come up with success. As I have said, one needs to get “sicker” in order to get really well.

“Stand in the Place Where You Are … Just Stand.”

clip_image003 422701_410548268971538_166854740007560_88147643_830390629_nSocietally, we need to allow the social, formerly repressed, “sicknesses,” negativities, and the pain that comes with them to arise and be socially worked out, to be hashed out, rather than to escape them by resorting to scapegoating enemies and waging war against them. [Footnote 6]

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Are We Doing This?

But can societies do this? Are they doing this?

Apparently Not

It does not seem so at the moment. For we have extreme acting out going on from Tea Party type elements. The homophobia that characterizes them is an indicator of the degree to which they are fearful of that feeling of being “soft” and “feminine,” I mentioned.

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But Then Again…

Tea-Party-coming-look-out-kid-feel-the-HATEMoveOn_candlelightHowever there is a pattern in change that things can not really change until the negative slide has “hit bottom.” These negative forces cannot be gone beyond until they have wasted themselves in desperate acts. At this time also, positive forces are strengthening in the wings, burnishing their skills, tempering their character and nobility, fully capable when the time comes to take over. There are so many examples of this in social and individual histories, but not to get bogged down, I will mention one powerful one—Nelson Mandela. You can take it from there.

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The more common thing to mention about change is that prior to a major paradigm shift, the forces on the decline always wage a fierce, desperate battle…a bloody retreat, a burning of the fields, near suicidal and totally reckless forays.

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We see people do this, too, just before they are about to change. We see people who self-destruct being the ones whose last desperate battle before awareness can dawn being something that takes their life and perhaps others with them.

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gaddafi02We currently can point to Gaddafi, Assad, and other tyrants. We can observe reckless tea-baggers willing, as in the debt ceiling clash, to bring down the country for ideals that, however rationalized and spun, are at their roots as simple and crude as jealousy—of those smarter and more capable; hatred—of minorities, the poor, the “dirty,” the “slobs,” the “lazy”…basically all the scapegoats society allows them to vent the rage of their inner fears and hurt on; and homophobia—that fear of being “soft,” feminine, unmasculine, and being willing to kill or be killed rather than to let oneself be seen that way.

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Homophobes Don’t Fear Homosexuals … They Fear What’s Inside Themselves

clip_image004Before continuing, one big misconception around that last point needs clearing up: homophobia is at base not fear/hatred of homosexuals, it is terror/hatred of the “feminine” and “softness” inside of the man himself who is homophobic. And this is the result of tens of thousands of years of “civilization,” still continuing, in which men are threatened with disapproval, ostracism, ridicule, attack, or worse for not repressing their softer sides down to the level of the norm of their group.

Boys Learn They Must Be Less Alive to Survive

Boys learn they must constrict their potentials and diminish themselves to that which coincides with—and does not threaten—the older males in their group or face severe punishment. Boys learn the consequences for not becoming less than they could be are severe, often from their own fathers.

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Girls Learn They Must Feel Less Pleasure to Be Liked

And by the way, something similar goes on with young girls and the reduction of their potentials. We see a blatant example of this in the practice of cliterectomy—also called female genital mutilation—in some cultures. In this practice the older women—mother and aunts usually—are responsible for this brutal and extremely painful and bloody attack. It tells little girls they will have no pleasure more than that which was allowed the older women, themselves, in that patriarchal world. So girls must diminish themselves in order to not be hated and ostracized by the women of the group, who, already having been diminished, would be jealous of someone being allowed to have what they have not. This is an exact mirror image of the process that goes on in the diminution of the personalities—the potentials—of young boys.

A Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall

Now to continue: So seeing so much of this pathos, hate, and bitter fear and anger is hopeful for us to be near the end of the cycle. Certainly it could get worse. But I personally don’t see how we could go much further on this path to oblivion without going past the point of no return. Perhaps we are not meant to succeed. Perhaps we are doomed. But I know in my own life, and that is the only true basis anyone can have for knowing how things really work, that, without fail, every seeming “loss of ground” was a prelude to an even bigger “advance.”

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As Jung said, we need to take two steps backward to make a big leap forward. That is the way individuals are. And societies and populations are just collections of individuals. As the Tao symbol depicts, the seed of light is in the depths of darkness. So we can hold on to that, for one thing.

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So Let Us See. A Scenery of Healing?

With these considerations in mind, the next chapter will evaluate our current social-cultural scenery for our prospects. In Rebirthing Rituals – The Sometimes Messy Scenery of Healingwe will look for any indications that this standing firm in the face of the rising up of the repressed social Shadow—allowing the pain of it and facing it foursquare, hashing it out—is to be found in the current social arena.

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If we can find this being done, we may allow ourselves at least the hope for a change in consciousness radical enough to save us from extinction. On the contrary, if we find little or no evidence for this kind of auspicious, fruitful healing activity, we might as well consider ourselves doomed.

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Continue with Apocalypse No! Chapter Nine: Regressions in the Service of Society — Messy Healing

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Return to Apocalypse No, Chapter Seven: Through Gaia’s Eyes – Nature Balances HerSelf

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Footnotes

1. The book mentioned was posted online in two places in August, 2011: Culture War and Culture War, Class War.

2. Lloyd deMause, “Restaging of Early Traumas in War and Social Violence.” The Journal of Psychohistory 23 (1995): 2. Reprinted with permission on the Primal Spirit site.

Stanislav Grof, Realms of the Human Unconscious: Observations from LSD Research. New York: Viking Press, 1975; LSD Psychotherapy. Pomona, CA: Hunter House, 1980; Beyond the Brain: Birth, Death, and Transcendence in Psychotherapy. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 1985; The Adventure of Self-Discovery: Dimensions of Consciousness and New Perspectives in Psychotherapy and Inner Exploration. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 1988; The Holotropic Mind: The Three Levels of Human Consciousness and How They Shape Our Lives. San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1993.

3. I explain this in more detail in Chapter Seven: We Ain’t Born Typical under the heading “Elements of Birth Experience.”

4. “You’ll wallow in the shit and you’ll think you’re happy” and “You’re really in a laundry room” from, and with appreciation to, Kurt Cobain. These are lyrics in his song, “Sad.” The video and lyrics are reproduced again here for your convenience:

Nirvana – “Sad” (also “Sappy” and “Verse Chorus Verse”) – Lyrics

And if you save yourself You will make him happy He’ll keep you in a jar And you’ll think you’re happy He’ll give you breathing holes Then you’ll think you’re happy He’ll cover you with grass And you’ll think you’re happy Now You’re really in a laundry room, You’re really in a laundry room Conclusion came to you, oh And if you cut yourself You will think you’re happy He’ll keep you in a jar Then you’ll make him happy He’ll give you breathing holes Then you’ll think you’re happy He’ll cover you with grass Then you’ll think you’re happy Now You’re really in a laundry room, You’re really in a laundry room Conclusion came to you, oh (x2) And if you fool yourself You will make him happy He’ll keep you in a jar And you’ll think you’re happy He’ll give you breathing holes Then you will seem happy You’ll wallow in your shit Then you’ll think you’re happy Now You’re really in a laundry room (x3) Conclusion came to you, oh Alternate lyrics: And if you kill yourself You will make him happy

5. Lloyd deMause, “Restaging of Early Traumas in War and Social Violence.” The Journal of Psychohistory 23 (1995): 2. Reprinted with permission on the Primal Spirit site.

Stanislav Grof, Realms of the Human Unconscious: Observations from LSD Research. New York: Viking Press, 1975; LSD Psychotherapy. Pomona, CA: Hunter House, 1980; Beyond the Brain: Birth, Death, and Transcendence in Psychotherapy. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 1985; The Adventure of Self-Discovery: Dimensions of Consciousness and New Perspectives in Psychotherapy and Inner Exploration. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 1988; The Holotropic Mind: The Three Levels of Human Consciousness and How They Shape Our Lives. San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1993.

6. “Stand in the place where you are…just stand” from and with appreciation to R.E.M. While it seems no one understood the group’s huge initial release, “Stand,” it is quite meaningful in the current context. A video and lyrics are included here for your consideration:

R.E.M. – “Stand” … lyrics

Stand in the place where you live
Now face North
Think about direction
Wonder why you haven’t before
Now stand in the place where you work
Now face West
Think about the place where you live
Wonder why you haven’t before
If you are confused check with the sun
Carry a compass to help you along
Your feet are going to be on the ground
Your head is there to move you around
[repeat 1st verse]
Your feet are going to be on the ground
Your head is there to move you around
If wishes were trees the trees would be falling
Listen to reason
Season is calling
[repeat 1st verse]
If wishes were trees the trees would be falling
Listen to reason
Reason is calling
Your feet are going to be on the ground
Your head is there to move you around
So Stand (stand)
Now face North
Think about direction, wonder why you haven’t before
Now stand (stand)
Now face West
Think about the place where you live
Wonder why you haven’t
[repeat 1st verse]
Stand in the place where you are (Now face North)
Stand in the place where you are (Now face West)
Your feet are going to be on the ground (Stand in the place where you are)
Your head is there to move you around, so stand.

Derailing the Cycles of War and Violence – Audiocasts

“Part 1; What Say We Leave a Planet for Our Offspring?” – the audio by SillyMickel Adzema

For the author’s reading, with elaboration, of this part, click on the link to the audio site above or click the audio player here:

http://ecdn0.hark.com/swfs/player_fb.swf?pid=pffbztrfkv

“Part 2; Can You Handle Happiness (And the Pain That Comes With It)?” – the audio by SillyMickel Adzema

For the author’s reading, with elaboration, of this part, click on the link to the audio site above or click the audio player here:

http://ecdn0.hark.com/swfs/player_fb.swf?pid=syglfhsvld

Continue with Apocalypse No! Chapter Nine: Regressions in the Service of Society — Messy Healing

Return to Apocalypse No, Chapter Seven: Through Gaia’s Eyes – Nature Balances HerSelf

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Your Map of Reality Was Written in the Womb: Falls from Grace, Chapter One — Prenatal and Perinatal Psychology and the Phenomenon of Re-Experience

Everything You “Know” About Life You Learned as a Fetus: Foundations of Myth and Mind and my Personal Involvement with This Research into Our Actual “Human Nature”

Pre- and Perinatal Psychology and the Phenomenon of Re-Experience

Prenatal and perinatal psychology is the field that deals with the effects of events occurring prior to (prenatal) and surrounding (perinatal) the time of birth upon later life and personality. An ever increasing amount though certainly not all of the information we have about these periods of our lives and their effects is derived through the later and vivid remembering of these events in a phenomenon known as re-experience. Correspondingly, the two most frequently asked questions about this relatively new field, put by those initially encountering it, are those concerning the specific meanings of the terms perinatal and re-experience.

At the outset, I wish to present an explanation of these two terms and of my unique personal relation to this topic as well as some of my background in exploring it. I will follow this with an historical overview of the field of prenatal and perinatal psychology, which will reveal the key concepts and understandings employed throughout this book.

Re-Experience and Reliving

For over forty years, beginning in 1972 when I was a senior undergraduate in college, I have been involved both personally and professionally in a comprehensive investigation into the phenomenon of re-experience. Also called reliving, this phenomenon is reported to consist of a full somato-cognitive remembering of previous events in a person’s life. Reliving involves experiential but also observable and measurable components, such as brain wave changes, characteristic physiological and neurological changes, and typical observable body movements.

This phenomenon can occur, to varying degrees, in many consciousness-altering modalities—including hypnosis, LSD psychotherapy, primal therapy, rebirthing, and holotropic breathwork; to a considerable degree in re-evaluation co-counseling and treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder; and, occasionally and spontaneously, even in mainstream forms of psychotherapy, counseling, and “growth seminars.”

Re-experience is a more vivid and more completely somatic catharsis than what has been described in psychotherapy in terms of abreaction. It is in such contrast to normal abreaction that when these seemingly bizarre yet healing events have spontaneously erupted in traditional or mainstream Western contexts they have usually been mistakenly labeled psychotic, been intervened upon, and then aborted—via drugs and other highly coercive measures—by the attending therapeutic authorities.

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However, with an increasing appreciation for their therapeutic value, these events are gradually becoming understood and accepted in therapeutic contexts and thus allowed to complete themselves and to instruct the participants and observers in their meanings. Therefore, they appear to represent something new in our culture in terms of both a way of approaching knowledge and in terms of the kinds of information that are discovered (Grof 1976, 1985; Hannig 1982; Janov 1971; Lake 1966/1986; Noble, 1993; Stettbacher, 1992).

My Relationship to the Phenomenon of Re-Experience

My interest in the phenomenon of reliving began forty-four years ago at Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. As an undergraduate there I was most inspired by a course in religious studies titled “Religious and Psychological Approaches To Self-Understanding.” I was so inspired by the course that I constructed my major around its topic and initially even used the same title for my program’s name. This major in “self-understanding” would lead me, in a few years, to a profound interest in and exploration of primal therapy, as presented by Arthur Janov (1970) in his much-publicized book, The Primal Scream: Primal Therapy: The Cure for Neurosis.

By 1972, I had completed all but the one final semester for a B.A. That semester was to include the cumulative project—required of such a Special Studies (individually structured) major. However, since my project would focus on primal therapy and one of primal therapy’s basic premises is that knowledge cannot really be known except through experience, I could not in good conscience turn in a project describing primal therapy without first experiencing it. Consequently I withdrew from college, for what was supposed to be only a semester, with the intention of “going through” primal therapy and then returning to school to write my cumulative project on it. In those days, the entire process of primal therapy was reputed to take only three to six months.

But a lot was unknown about that modality in those early days. As it turned out, I would not return to school to complete that final project until 1978—at which point I had five years’ experience of primal therapy behind me and was living in Denver, Colorado.

In addition to these experiences, I have amassed a broad array of other experience and training over the years that have contributed to my understanding of re-experience and of this field in general. Besides my two decades and more of primal therapy … both formally and in “the buddy system” … I have received training as a primal therapist. I am also a trained rebirther, having explored that modality since 1986. I have been experientially exploring the modality of holotropic breathwork since 1987 and did training with Stanislav and Christina Grof in that technique.

Finally, I have been facilitating people in their journeys into deep inner primal and holotropic states since 1975. I’ve given individual sessions in all three modalities of primal therapy, rebirthing, and holotropic breathwork. And with my wife, Mary Lynn Adzema, I conducted three day workshops in something we called primal breathwork. I’ve conducted two-day group workshops in this modality at conferences, which were attended by as many as sixty experiencers at a time.

Thus, I have experience in my own process in these modalities; but in addition I have facilitated for others on many occasions, and at times, it was my main profession—though most of my life I have spent in writing, teaching, and research.

Pre- and Perinatal Re-Experience

Re-experience of birth and of the events immediately prior to and after birth are termed perinatal—from the Greek, literally “surrounding birth.” It has been widely described at this point by a number of authors but is most closely associated with the work of Stanislav Grof, Arthur Janov, and Frank Lake.

However, one significant and as yet little explored or understood phenomenon, arising also from the modalities mentioned, is that of prenatal re-experience. In this case, the experiencer reports … and observationally appears to be … experiencing events that happened en utero, sometimes going back as far as sperm, egg, and zygote states (Buchheimer 1987; Farrant 1987; Grof 1976, 1985; Hannig 1982; Janov 1983; Lake 1981, 1982; Larimore 1990a, 1990b; Larimore & Farrant, 1995).

These reports of remembering experiences that occurred before birth are at such variance with Western professional and popular paradigms that they are met with near-universal incredulity and, too often, premature dismissal. Yet the evidence from the mounting numbers of experiential reports and empirical studies attests that something which is at least unique and interesting is going on here.

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Nevertheless, much of this prenatal information is thus far unformulated, untheorized, and unintegrated into a coherent structure for making sense of these experiences. This book will go a long way toward doing just that—making sense of prenatal experiences and exploring the implications and prospects of the knowledge gleaned from this fascinating new area of research and which arises from the vision that an exposure to this material induces.

The present work represents an attempt to bring this new information concerning our origins and our earliest experiences into such a coherent structure. After the initial overview of the field to be presented in this chapter, I deepen that review of the current understanding and findings in this area in making a case, in Chapter Two, for the legitimacy of prenatal spirituality.

First, let us take a closer look at what we know about the time before and around birth and what it means for us throughout our lives.

Overview of the Pre- and Perinatal Psychology Field—Early Theorists: Psychoanalysis and Birth

Sigmund Freud — Birth as Prototype for All Anxiety

While Freud (1927) disregarded major effects of birth on personality, he still saw the birth experience as the prototype of all later anxiety. His overall disregard of birth, however, was largely influenced by the belief—although discredited (see Chamberlain, 1988), still common in mainstream psychology and medicine today—that a newborn does not possess the neurological capacity for consciousness at birth.

Otto Rank — Psychoanalysis, Birth Trauma, Foundations of Personality and Some Myth, Separation Anxiety

Other early psychoanalysts disagreed with Freud on this. Otto Rank is the most notable of these. Following Freud’s basic psychoanalytic reasoning for personality patterns in early infancy, he asserted basic patterns of experience and ideas that are rooted in even earlier experience. Rank (1929) claimed the deepest, most fundamental patterns of these personality constructs originated at the time of birth, which Freud thought was not possible. Based upon the dream, fantasy, and other patterns of associations arising in his patients in psychoanalysis, Rank postulated a birth trauma, which he saw as a critical event in laying down in each of us particular patterns of thinking, motivation, and emotion for the rest of our lives. Notable among these prototypes was a feeling of a paradise once known but somehow lost, a separation anxiety caused by the separation at birth, and a resulting futile and lifelong struggle to re-unite with that golden age and that early beloved because of a desire to return to the womb.

Nandor Fodor — Dreamwork, Birth and Prenatal Processing and Relivings, Prenatal Origins of Consciousness and Trauma

Also a psychoanalyst, Nandor Fodor (1949) focused on the reflections of birth and prenatal material in dreams. He also designed interventions in therapy to release the negative effects of birth and to process prenatal memories. He was the first to mention actual relivings of birth, in which veridical memories were recovered. He agreed with Rank on many points, but he stressed the origins of consciousness and of trauma being in the prenatal period.

Donald W. Winnicott — First Primal Therapist? Birth Relivings, Importance of Birth—Negative Imprints but Positive Effects, Too

Another psychoanalyst, and pediatrician as well, Winnicott (1958) also held that birth is remembered and is important. He insisted that the birth trauma is real, but he disagreed with Rank and Fodor that it is always traumatic. He suggested that a normal, nontraumatic, birth has many positive benefits, particularly for ego development. Still, he contended that traumatic birth is permanently etched in memory and leaves a lifetime psychological scar. Winnicott (1958) also suggested the possibility of prenatal trauma.

He has been called the first primal therapist in that he described the first birth primals—actual observable relivings of birth—spontaneously occurring by some of his patients during their sessions with him. Thus he was beginning the trend beyond mere talking association or dream analysis as ways of accessing and integrating this material.

Overview of the Pre- and Perinatal Psychology Field — Later Research and Theorists: Hypnosis, Primal Therapy, and Birth

David Cheek and Leslie LeCron — Hypnosis, Birth Memories and Imprints on Personality and Relation to Psychiatric Disorders

Cheek and LeCron (1968) used hypnosis to retrieve early memories in their patients. They discovered that memories earlier than what they expected, going back to birth, were possible. Importantly, a relief of symptoms seemed to follow from the re-experience of these birth memories. They came to the conclusion that a birth imprint occurs, which is induced by the extreme stress of that time and is resistant to fading from later experience. Further they asserted that this imprint could be the cause of a wide spectrum of psychiatric and psychosomatic disorders.

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Leslie Feher — Psychoanalysis, Birth, Cutting of Umbilical Cord, Separation Trauma

Leslie Feher (1980) sought to extend the Freudian tradition farther back into areas that, she asserts, were until only recently unknowable. Thus, she describes a natal theory and therapy that includes experiences of cutting the umbilical cord, birth, and even prebirth. In fact, she considers the cutting of the umbilical cord to be central in her theory of trauma, calling it the “crisis umbilicus,” and echoes Fodor in claiming that it is the true origin of the castration fears made so much of in psychoanalysis. This is so because, according to Feher, the cord and placenta is an object of security and is considered by the fetus to be part of him- or herself. Thus, this cutting represents a supreme threat in being a separation from a total life support system, a major organ, a part of oneself. In these ways, she also brings forward for renewed appreciation Rank’s speculations on the element of separation trauma as a crucial element of the birth trauma.

Arthur Janov — Primal Therapy, Traumas of Birth and Early Life and Healing Them, Empirical Foundations and Neurophysiology of Early Events and Healing

Perhaps the major theorist and popularizer of the phenomenon of re-experience (which he termed primaling), Janov was reluctant to acknowledge the pervasiveness of pre- and perinatal re-experience and trauma. Yet when he did, it was in a major work on birth trauma, which remains as a touchstone in the field in its depth and detail. Imprints: The Lifelong Effects of the Birth Experience, published in 1983, among other things places birth as the determining factor in creating basic personality constructs, called sympathetic and parasympathetic, which roughly coincide with the more common terms introversion and extroversion.

This work is more empirical and neurophysiologically rooted than most in the field. While the book is recognized in the field, Janov and his work have not gotten anywhere near the respect and attention that they deserve. He remains the unfortunate kicking-boy of a movement that is itself scapegoated by the academy and the larger scientific community.

Thomas Verny — Primal Therapy, Birth, Especially Womb Life and Relation to Personality … Prenatal Mother-Infant Bonding

The actual stimulus for a new field of pre- and perinatal psychology and the Association for Pre- and Perinatal Psychology and Health—APPPAH was Thomas Verny’s (1981) The Secret Life of the Unborn Child. His work brought together a good deal of the new empirical research that had opened the doors to us on the events in the womb. While himself a practitioner of “holistic primal therapy,” he integrated the accumulating data from the phenomenon of re-experience with the new information from the more traditional, “objective,” scientific research into the prenatal—made possible by the latest advances in technology.

One of his conclusions from this combination of lines of inquiry was that “birth and prenatal experiences form the foundations of human personality” (1981, p. 118). His other conclusions center around the importance of intrauterine bonding in that his research strongly suggests that the prenate, via pathways hormonal and unknown, picks up on the thoughts, feelings, and attitudes of the mother. More importantly, he asserted, the imprint of these factors on the fetus predetermines the later mother-child relationship. He emphasized that positive thoughts and feelings toward the fetus—”maternal love”—acts to cushion the new individual against the normal stresses and unavoidable harshness inherent in birth and early infancy. Yet all of this cannot be completely avoided. “Birth is like death to the newborn,” writes Verny (1984, p. 48).

David Chamberlain — Hypnosis, Confirmed Validity of Birth Memories

David Chamberlain (1988), for many years the president of APPPAH (the Association for Prenatal and Perinatal Psychology and Health), has further substantiated the claim of consciousness at birth and the accuracy of pre- and perinatal memory in the phenomenon of re-experience. He reported one study he did in which he compared hypnotically retrieved memories of birth from mother and child and found an astonishing degree of conformity in their responses. Of note was the degree of inner consistency and originality in these memories as reported by the former neonate. They often contained technical details of the delivery and labor unlike what would be expected of the medically unsophisticated, a perceptive critique of the way the birth was handled, and other details of the event that could not have been known through normal conscious channels.

Overview of the Pre- and Perinatal Psychology Field — Later Theorists: Societal Implications, Psychohistory, Birth and Prenatal

Lloyd deMause Psychohistory, Prenatal and Poisonous Placenta, Sociohistorical Implications of Gestational and Birth Events

Lloyd deMause (1982, 1987) was instrumental in establishing the new interdisciplinary field of psychohistory. In his study of historical happenings he discovered that stages in the progression of events related to stages in the progression of gestation and birth … which stages happened to correspond, by the way, remarkably well with Stanislav Grof‘s four stages of birth, his Basic Perinatal Matrices.

He found that natal imagery especially predominates in societies during times of crisis and war, when national purpose and state of affairs are construed as a need to escape or break free from an enclosing and constricting force. He also noted the suffering fetus and the poisonous placenta as sources of these later metaphors and imagery. In fact, in studying the imagery in the national media of various countries he has been able to predict political, social, and economic events such as wars and invasions, recessions, and political downfalls.

His work begins to look at the prenatal influences and imprints and how they related to macrocosmic issues of politics, history, social movements, and issues of war and peace.

Later Theorists — Dream Analysis

Francis Mott — Conception and Gestational Basis of Myth, Archetype, all Patterns of Macrocosmic and Microcosmic Realities and the Nature of Reality, Devolutional Model of Development

Francis Mott’s work is less well known even by this field’s standards, yet it is undeniably impressive. Mott’s (1960, 1964) major contribution lies in his focusing on basic patterns of mind and cosmos that correlate with prenatal feelings and states. He traced consciousness back to events around conception and saw these events as instituting patterns affecting all later experience and conceptual constructions. Through dream analysis he elicited these “configurations,” and he demonstrated their manifestation as seemingly universal archetypes in myths and universal human assumptions about the nature of reality.

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In fact, through his study of womb and conception patterns he claimed to have discovered patterns that underlie and unite all of reality at all levels of manifestation—astronomical, social, personal, cellular, and even nuclear. While this may seem rather grandiose, his work was highly regarded and admired by Carl Jung.

Mott also carried forward the intimations of earlier prenatal theoreticians, notably Rank and Fodor, on the gestational basis of archetypes. While he does not address or seek to discredit the range of, supposedly genetic, archetypes postulated by Jung, his work is highly suggestive of an experiential, specifically, pre- and perinatal, as opposed to genetic basis for many of these.

Denial and Incest Taboo

Mott (1960) also helped us to understand why if these prenatal memories are possible they are not more prevalent by suggesting denial is necessary in order to protect against incestuous feelings that might arise around feelings remembered from being inside one’s mother.

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Devolutional Model of Consciousness Development

Finally, he made the postulation—hugely relevant to the theme of this work—that our original expanded capacity to feel is diminished, as he says, “divided,” by experience not increased by it. The idea is that there is a reduction in awareness as a result of early traumatic events, beginning around conception and then on, and not the buildup of consciousness and feeling that we assume from the mechanistic paradigm that sees consciousness as a byproduct of increasing physical, specifically brain, activity during our early years. (See, for example, The Doors of Perception: Each of Us Is Potentially Mind At Large… When Perception Is Cleansed, All Kinds of Nonordinary Things Happen and Occupy Science … A Call for a Scientific Awakening: In Tossing Away Our Species Blinders, We Approach a Truth Far Beyond Science.)

Later Theorists — Breathwork

Stanislav GrofBreathwork, LSD, Birth and Prenatal, Myth and Archetype, Spiritual and Consciousness

A pioneer in this prenatal area is Stanislav Grof (1976, 1980, 1985, 1990, to name a few). His many works, providing a framework for conceptualizing perinatal and transpersonal experiences, are a profound and useful starting point for an investigation into this area.

In his use of LSD beginning in 1956 for psychotherapy, called psycholytic therapy, he discovered four levels of experience of the unconscious: the sensory, the biographical, the perinatal, and the transpersonal. He noted a tendency for growth and healing to occur in a progressive way through these levels. The sensory band is the level of expanded sensory awareness and is usually initially encountered by participants. The biographical band is the realm of the personal unconscious wherein unintegrated and traumatic memories and material from childhood and one’s personal history are retrieved, often relived, and integrated. The perinatal level of experience usually follows after dealing with the biographical material and involves the remembering, re-experiencing, and integrating of material that is related to the time prior to and surrounding birth. The transpersonal band, the level of spiritual experience, is usually reached after dealing with the other three levels.

Four Modes of Experiencing—the Basic Perinatal Matrices

Grof has also delineated four matrices of experience, four general experiential constructs, which he called basic perinatal matrices (BPMs). He discovered that experiences at all levels of the unconscious often group themselves in four general ways that are roughly related to the four stages of birth. Thus, Basic Perinatal Matrix I (BPM I) is related to the generally blissful or “oceanic” feelings that often characterize the fetus’s state in the womb in early and middle pregnancy. BPM II is characterized by “no exit,” hellish feelings that are related to the situation of the fetus in late pregnancy when the confines of the womb become ever more apparent but there is as yet no indication of any possibility of relief. BPM III relates to the birth process itself, the birth struggle, which is still characterized by feelings of compression and suffering but in which there is movement and change and thus hope of relief through struggle. If BPM II can be compared to hell, where there is no hope, BPM III is more like purgatory. Finally, BPM IV relates to the actual entry into the world, the termination of the birthing process, and is characterized by feelings of triumph, relief, and high, even manic, elation.

In his descriptions of the levels of experience and the matrices of perinatal experience, Grof has provided useful maps of the unconscious and experience in nonordinary states, which have incredible heuristic value in our understanding of cross-cultural religious and spiritual experience, psychopathology, personal growth, and consciousness and personality in general. And they have been utilized successfully in providing a context and guide for many tens of thousands of participants in his psycholytic and holotropic therapies.

However, while Grof is exhaustive in his descriptions of fetal and perinatal experience, he says less about the earlier experiences in the womb—the first trimester—and even less about conception and the experiences of sperm and egg—what is known as cellular consciousness. Still, this area is beginning to be discussed among his followers. And through his current nondrug modality, called holotropic breathwork, people are accessing these areas and beginning to give word to them (e.g., Carter, 1993).

Frank Lake—Breathwork, First Trimester, Early Experience as Foundation for Myths

Frank Lake, though less well-known again, has probably been the premier theoretician on the topic of prenatal events during the first three months of gestation. Just prior to his death in the early eighties, he wrote a culmination of his thirty-year investigation into pre- and perinatal influence in two works titled Tight Corners in Pastoral Counselling and The First Trimester. In these works he goes beyond his other works (for example, 1966) in placing the roots of all later experience, and in particular, distress, at the first three months of physical existence.

Lake began his investigation of re-experience in 1954. Like Stanislav Grof, he did this using LSD, initially, in the psycholytic therapy that was being developed at that time to facilitate therapeutic abreaction. Later he, again like Grof, developed a nondrug modality to accomplish the same thing. His method of “primal therapy” employed a type of fast breathing—again, like Grof’s later technique—to access theta-wave brain levels, which are levels of consciousness that he saw as crucial to accessing and integrating these memories.

His thirty-year research led him to the realization of the importance of ever earlier experience. Thus his earlier stress on the importance of birth gave way to his later emphasis on the first trimester in 1981 (Tight Corners in Pastoral Counselling) and in 1982 (The First Trimester).

He stressed the maternal-fetal distress syndrome, beginning at around implantation, as a major time of trauma. He also described a blastocystic stage of relative bliss just prior to that.

His one other major disagreement with Grof was his belief that the mythological and symbolical elements described by Grof were a product of LSD and that the first trimester events were the actual roots of much of such symbolism and supposed transpersonal/mythological scenarios (1981, p. 35).

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Later Theorists — Myth and Sacred Text/Mysticism

S. Giora Shoham — Devolutional Model of Development, Falls from Grace

While not strictly a pre- and perinatal psychologist, I include this too little-known theoretician and criminologist because of the close relationship and influence his work has had upon my own work regarding these Falls from Grace. Falls from Grace and other devolutional models of consciousness postulate that during life and over time, beginning at conception, we actually are reduced in consciousness and awareness, not increased in it, and it corresponds to a “brain as reducing valve” theory of consciousness. (Again, See The Doors of Perception and Occupy Science.)

While I initially constructed and wrote down my devolutional theory of consciousness—Falls from Grace—without the benefit of Shoham’s work, upon discovering it I could not help but be both confirmed and reinspired by the astounding resonance his understanding has with my own.

Shoham (1979, 1990) starts his devolutional model in the womb and carries it through birth, weaning, and the oedipal periods of development. Though, as I delineate in Part Two, I disagree with his model by beginning mine at the creation of sperm and egg—as does other devolutional theorists like Francis Mott and David Wasdell—in virtually all other major instances his model corresponds to my own if one simply … in keeping with a normal trend in child development in general as it begins to integrate the new pre- and perinatal evidence … places everything back a little farther in time—in this case, specifically, one stage back.

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Later Prenatal Psychology Theorists — Cellular Memory and Conception, Foundations of Myth and Personality, Spirituality and Soul

Lietaert Peerbolte — Conception and Cellular Memory, Soul, Spirituality

Peerbolte (1954) was one of the earliest theorists to relate spirituality to conception and sperm/egg dynamics. In addition to claiming that a regression to conception is the inevitable result of all prenatal states, he traced the sense of “I” — the “I-function” — back to the egg, existing even in the mother’s ovaries. He further postulated that the spiritual self was invisibly present within the field of attraction between the egg and the sperm. Correspondingly, he was the first to point out that the existence of conception, preconception, and even ovulation symbolism in dreams indicates the existence of a soul. For, he asked, what mind records these events otherwise?

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I wrote the article, “A Primal Perspective on Spirituality,” which later became the next chapter in this book before I knew about Peerbolte’s work. Yet, once again the conclusions I came to, especially about the existence of soul being established by the fact of these memories and especially those at the cellular levels of sperm and egg existence, are very much in line with his.

Michael C. Irving — Primal Therapy, Birth, Sperm, Egg, Myth, Dragon Symbolism, Prehistoric Cult and Ritual

Michael C. Irving is a primal therapist whose contributions include his relation of these earliest events from sperm and egg through the birth experience to fundamental mythological motifs and images across cultures. The originator of a way of interpretation that he calls natalism, he has brought together a host of artistic and artifactual images from a wide range of time periods and cultures which relate, with an astonishing degree of accuracy, to actual pre- and perinatal events.

In particular, he has traced the universal serpent/dragon motifs and mythology to birth and sperm experience, noting, among other things, that the serpent/dragon shape represents the birth canal or tunnel, that the fire-spewing characteristics of dragons relate to consuming pain, and that the constricting characteristics of snakes correspond to the constriction of the birth canal. Of great interest is his deduction that the widely prevalent snake and dragon cults, which were especially popular in prehistory, indicate an attempt to deal with such unfinished birth trauma material as we are only now, in modern times, rediscovering the importance of doing.

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Graham Farrant — Primal Therapy; Sperm, Egg, Cellular Consciousness; Soul and Spirituality

Graham Farrant (1987; Buchheimer 1987), a psychiatrist and primal therapist from Australia, is probably the most influential and well-known of those discussing the phenomena that occur at the earliest times of our lives. In addition to echoing Frank Lake in describing fetal, implantation, and blastocyst feelings, he has been able to elicit and describe sperm and egg imprints. He has found trauma from these earliest events to influence lifelong patterns of personality and behavior. He produced a notable video in which segments from the widely acclaimed movie “The Miracle of Life,” which shows actual footage of gamete and zygote events, are juxtaposed via a split-screen with actual footage of a person reliving the exact same events in primal therapy, which occurred before such cellular events were ever able to be seen and recorded. The effect is astounding in the detail in which the relivings replicate the actual cellular happenings.

In addition to his emphasis on cellular consciousness, Farrant has stressed the spiritual aspects of these earliest events. He relates incidents of spiritual trauma at the cellular level in which the individual splits off from Divinity—thus setting up a lifelong feeling of loss and yearning and a desire to return to Unity and the Divine.

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Paul Brenner — Sperm, Egg, Cellular Consciousness and Biological Foundations of Myths

Paul Brenner (1991), a biologist and obstetrician, has been presenting at conferences and in workshops on the idea of the biological foundations of myth. For example, he relates basic biological, cellular events to biblical events described in Genesis.

He also relates male and female adult behavior to basic patterns of sperm and egg behavior and to events prior to and surrounding conception. He has said that male and female behavior are just sperm and egg activity grown up!

Elizabeth Noble — Cellular Consciousness and Spirituality, Empirical Underpinnings

Elizabeth Noble (1993) is an educator in the field of pregnancy and childbirth and is a student of Farrant’s. She published a comprehensive overview of this new field, titled Primal Connections, in which she doesn’t hesitate to stress the issues of cellular consciousness and the spirituality that appears to coincide with the re-experience of these earliest events. She provides empirical and theoretical avenues for understanding how memory can occur at such early times. Some of these are consistent with mainstream physicalist science while others coincide with the cutting-edge, new-paradigm discoveries in fields such as biology, physics, and neuroscience.

David Wasdell — Sperm/Egg and First Trimester Imprints, Devolutional Model of Development, Social and Historical Implications

One of the more recent theoreticians in this area is David Wasdell. Wasdell’s (1979, 1985a, 1985b, 1990) major contribution lies in his relating these earliest events to social and cultural patterns. He describes a process of devolution of consciousness beginning at around conception and proceeding through other reductions caused by traumas at implantation, in the womb, and at birth.

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Most importantly, he delineates how the result of this diminution of potentiality is projected outwards into the problems and crises of violence, wars, and the mediocrity of modern personality on the scale of the masses and the macrocosms of the group, society, and global events.

In describing the problems of “normality” as rooted in a deprivational and deformational series of traumas from our earliest biological history, Wasdell emphasizes that this gives us the possibility to change that tragic social and personality outcome by focusing on the prevention and healing of such traumas. Thus, he holds out the vision of a new person and new society as an outcome of the efforts directed at the earliest laying down of human experience.

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The Importance of the Intrauterine for Understanding Our Times and the Goal of This Book

Despite this long legacy of work and thought in this pre- and perinatal area, much of it, especially the prenatal, remains ignored by mainstream psychology and is largely unavailable to the public. Within the field itself, in addition, the prenatal information, in relation to the more widely accepted and circulated perinatal evidence, seems to be analogous to Otto Rank’s (1929) ideas of birth trauma were to Sigmund Freud’s concerning early infancy in that they are cast under an extra cloud of suspicion and disbelief and disregarded accordingly. Yet, like Rank’s findings also, their main problem may lie with unfamiliarity and prejudice rather than validity or scientific viability; and these findings, like his were, may end up harkening the outlines of future endeavors and being confirmed by subsequent research.

Thus, I believe that this prenatal area in particular is ripe for reaping what it can teach us about what is human, about “human nature.”

Therefore, this book will put forth the possible relationship between our earliest ontogenetic experiences as humans and the structure of human consciousness and stages of human “development.”

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I build a model that seeks an initial formulation of this information, teasing out its implications, and integrating it with relevant thinking and theoretical perspectives in anthropology, philosophy, psychology, and others.

However, before proceeding, it seems important to establish this pursuit within the logical-empirical framework that validates it. To do this, let us now turn to the re-experience movement I am most familiar with and feel to be the most important, primal therapy, and discuss its relation to the phenomenon of prenatal re-experience and spirituality.

Continue with How Valid Are Spiritual Experiences? Psychedelic Research and Deep Experiential Psychotherapy Have Intensified the Exploration of Spiritual Aspects of the Unconscious

Return to Falls from Grace, Introduction — The Radical Rational View of Us and It: “Normal” Truth Is Convenient Truth … and Is Anything But True

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Life or Death Matters We Need to Face to Survive: We Have Manifested a World That Mirrors and Re-Creates Our Traumatic Human Births

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What We Encounter in the Process of Psychological Death and Rebirth in our Visionary Experiences Make Today Our Evening News: Birth Wars ~ World Woes

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Wounded Deer and Centaurs, Chapter Thirteen: Birth Wars ~ World Woes … Life or Death Matters

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Our Global Crises Are Manifesting Our Unfaced Painful Experiences: Birth Wars ~ World Woes

“Hellacious Birth Traumas Making Headlines Worldwide!” Film at Eleven

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Perinatal and Global Situation Mirroring Each Other

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We Interrupt This Book for a Breaking News Bulletin: “Hellacious Birth Traumas Making Headlines Worldwide!” Film at Eleven.

41737_1588388369_1041901566_noccupy-street-protesters-clash-885530The connections between the physical conditions and symbols discussed in previous chapters and the perinatal unconscious should be obvious and may have already to some extent been spelled out. But let me finish connecting the dots, so to speak:

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As Stanislav Grof put it,

slide_194730_434143_free (3)[W]e have exteriorized in the modern world many of the essential themes of the perinatal processes that a person involved in deep personal transformation has to face and come to terms with internally. The same elements that we would encounter in the process of psychological death and rebirth in our visionary experiences make today our evening news. This is particularly true in regard to the phenomena that characterize what I call BPM III.

clip_image003We certainly see the enormous unleashing of the aggressive impulse in the many wars and revolutionary upheavals in the world, in the rising criminality, terrorism, and racial riots. Sexual experiences and behaviors are taking unprecedented forms, as manifested in sexual freedom of youngsters, promiscuity, open marriages, overtly sexual books, plays, and movies, gay liberation, sadomasochistic experimentation, and many others. The demonic element is also becoming increasingly manifest in the modern world.

A renaissance of satanic cults and witchcraft, the popularity of books and horror movies with occult themes, and crimes with satanic motivations attest to that fact. The scatological dimension is evident in the progressive industrial pollution, accumulation of waste products on a global scale, and rapidly deteriorating hygienic conditions in large cities [Footnote 1]

Grof is saying, then, that we have manifested an external modern world that mirrors and re-creates some of the hellacious circumstances surrounding our traumatic human births.

No-exit Car Jams and People Clusters

In addition to the myriad of ways that Grof has detailed…and there are many more he could have mentioned…I would like to add a few obvious commonplace examples.

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We re-create on a daily basis in major cities the no-exit frustration-depression-rage prior to birth in the traffic jams and gridlock of commuter traffic.

Another one: the population explosion. Simple overpopulation of the globe sets up scenarios exactly analogous to the negative conditions that existed toward the end of pregnancy when we grew/expanded too much to be any longer comfortable in the womb. The way this global overpopulation impacts us: the overpopulation and frenzy in a big city, manifesting the situation of a crushing womb.

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Global “Therapeutic” Carbon-Dioxide Chamber

clip_image009I have already mentioned reduced oxygen in the atmosphere and its relation to fetal “malnutrition.”

However, there is an interesting sidelight to this. For both Arthur Janov and Stanislav Grof, at one time early on, experimented with a clip_image010technique of carbon dioxide ingestion for getting people into primal and perinatal states. In fact, at the time—in the late Sixties, early Seventies—though not on a large scale, a number of professionals were experimenting with this procedure and even offering it as a means of clip_image011“expanding consciousness.”

The point is that increased carbon dioxide and decreased oxygen naturally stimulate perinatal feelings. Lucky us, as we continue to turn the entire atmosphere of the Earth into such a “therapeutic” carbon-dioxide chamber.

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After all this, if you still do not believe that a perinatal unconscious is emerging at this time in history, I ask you how else to explain how the simple act of being “cut off” in traffic can trigger so much perinatal “no exit” frustration as to enrage an “otherwise normal” person to pull out a gun and blow another’s life away. Incidentally, I myself had a shotgun pulled on me in such a situation and only escaped through a high-speed car chase.

Birth Wars ~ World Woes

The upshot of it all is that somehow or other we have managed to create a world situation that mirrors in a way unlike any other time in history our perinatal imprints and thus triggers the emergence of this perinatal unconscious.

Or, you might reverse that and say that an emerging perinatal unconscious—brought about by other factors, improved “child-caring” methods perhaps…more about that later—has resulted in our creating a world situation manifesting or acting out those unconscious perinatal elements, which are having increasing influence on our consciousness and on our behavior.

I suspect both of these processes are occurring—each one augmenting the other.

Can You Look Your Belly in the Face?

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Noticing Our Underbellies … What It Is That’s Happening Here

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Noticing Our Underbellies

Cesarean_the_moment_of_birthLet me make this latter scenario clearer. What I am saying is that we all have birth trauma and we must distance ourselves from this birth trauma so that we can function. If the birth trauma is extreme, or if subsequent child-caring is abusive and neglectfulcompletedissociationoccurs [Footnote 2]—as is the case in any of the “less enlightened” of deMause’s psychogenic modes of child-rearing [Footnote 3]—or both, then complete splitting, repression of the perinatal, and dissociation from the perinatal occurs. Thus a person can project his or her perinatal unconscious onto the world and be completely unaware that it has anything to do with him- or herself.

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Can You Look Your Belly in the Face?

bellyinthefaceHowever, with more humane child-caring modes—deMause’s latest psychogenic mode, for example [Footnote 3]—less repression, and less defenses, are necessary and total dissociation does not occur.1 In this situation, the perinatal is not completely projected onto the outside world. We have more access to it, hence we act it out and manifest it in lesser ways, which reflect back to us, for the times when we are able to see them, our perinatal underbellies.

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casually_pepper_spraying_cop4On the one hand, the world is becoming increasingly perinatal and thus is stimulating more of the perinatal unconscious than previously. On the other hand, we have more access to and are closer to our perinatal unconscious so that we exhibit it more blatantly in our behavior and cultural creations and thus stimulate, again, in ourselves and others, the underlying perinatal matrices.

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This is a chicken-and-the-egg process. And I suspect, in the same way, that these processes are going on simultaneously and hence augment each other.

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Life or Death Matters

ttcrp1clip_image003In an earlier section, We Are a Fever, Part Five, The Perinatal Unconscious: Why We Are Committing Ecocide and Seeking Species Suicide, we entertained the notion that the reason things seem so much different nowadays than anytime we can imagine from the past is because they are different. We have looked at how the character and events of our age are remarkably like the feelings and events surrounding our births and, unfortunately: traumatic births, traumatic times! Lastly, we have considered a few reasons…more coming…as to why these times might be uniquely imbued with our perinatal events.

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“Waiter, Check!”

544879_392409780811250_100001266949586_1244371_2038115593_nStill, the biggest questions lie begging: What does this all mean for us? Is it the “end of the world,” really, like some are claiming? Or are we seeing the “dawning of a new age”? (Now why is it that I cannot restrain the strains of the group The Fifth Dimension, in full orchestration no less, intoning in my mind the song “The Age of Aquarius” as I write this!?)

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What Can You Me Do?

clip_image004thinkingattherootsofthings2These are not unimportant questions. And they have all the implications of life or death, again indicative of the perinatal, about them.

Will we live? Will we survive? Or are we doomed? Kinda important to think about, don’t you agree?

And if it is within our power to decide our fate, well, just what the hell are we going to do about it? What can be done about our situation? What can each of us—you…me—do?

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What It Is That’s Happening Here

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We will begin addressing these questions in “Part Three: Global Healing Crisis,” beginning with this chapter. There are some processes of change in these times—processes of change unlike any that we normally encounter—that will weigh heavily on the outcome of the current emerging perinatal unconscious. These include not only the concepts and processes of the healing crisis—as stipulated in the next chapter, “The Changing of the Generational Guard” — but also that of macrocosmic processes beyond our human scope, as will be explained in “Chapter Sixteen: Eden Arise —Aided by Gaia We Rediscover Our Natural Self.”

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Apocalypse, Or Earth Rebirth?

Finally, having considered the perinatal nature of our times in Part One: A Womb with a ViewThe Prenatal and Perinatal Unconscious (Chapters One and Two), and then the corresponding unique processes at work in these times in Part Two: 21st Century and Its Discontents (Chapters Three through Twelve), we can look at some likely propensities for our future (Chapters Fourteen through Sixteen). Considering what we know at that time, we will see that there are also some directions in which to look for a solution. We will then be able to look deeper, daring to ask: Apocalypse? Or Earth Rebirth? And we will see how crucial are the roles of our postmodern “wounded deer” and “centaurs” and why their appearance may be the brightest hope for humanity at this time.

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But next we need to consider how in order to save ourselves we need to bring to the surface all the rotten ugliness of perinatal trauma that for millennia our species has been keeping inside.

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Continue with Psychology of Generations —The Changing of the Generational Guard: Why There Is Less Violence but More Depression…. And What’s Good About That

Return to Perinatal Printouts Of Sixties, X, and Millennial Generations: No-Exit Wombs, Vampire Apocalypse, Drug Use, and Being Gratefully Dead

Footnotes

1. 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 Primal Spirit site.

2. See Solter, Aletha, (1996), “Tears For Trauma: Birth Trauma, Crying, and Child Abuse” on Primal Spirit website on how birth trauma sometimes contributes to and/or triggers child abuse.

3. For an at-hand description of DeMause’s psychogenic modes click on “The History of Childhood As The History of Child Abuse” for deMause’s article on Primal Spirit.

Continue with Psychology of Generations —The Changing of the Generational Guard: Why There Is Less Violence but More Depression…. And What’s Good About That

Return to Perinatal Printouts Of Sixties, X, and Millennial Generations: No-Exit Wombs, Vampire Apocalypse, Drug Use, and Being Gratefully Dead

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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

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Wounded Deer and Centaurs, Chapter Three: Twenty-First Century and Its Discontents—The Primal Screen

Dangling Above an Abyss

imageBeyond 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.

Fetal Aliens

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]

Pretty Much

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.

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The Perinatal Veil: Rock Concerts (For some, ditto)

Lawson has also described perinatal elements in rock concerts. [Footnote 2]

Mosh Wombs

daltgfsdfrey5803094302_c794e4f672Keep in mind that rock music popularity and concert rituals are world-wide phenomena. Youth from nearly all NBL1045countries are involved in rock culture. Newborn-Baby-with-CordAmong 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.

rapture1 (2)imadddddgesAt 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.

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The Doors of Perception…Stormed

doorsperceptioncleansed_crppdclose-encounters-of-the-third-kind-1980--645-75crppdWe 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.

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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.

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Pacifiers, Trolls, and Collective Rebirth

IMG_1248Turning from rock, we see perinatal BPM III elements in the scenery of our everyday lives evident in the rising incidence of violence by children at ever younger ages.

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]

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Collective Navel-Gazing

clip_image002clip_image004The 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.”

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I would say a progression to the womb, by the way….I will soon explain why.

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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!

Footnotes

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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The Template for All You Think Was Created at Birth: Overview of the Pre- and Perinatal Psychology Field — Early Theorists, Psychoanalysis, and Birth

We Are a Fever, Part Two — The Evidence That Life’s Blueprint Is Written at Birth: Prenatal and Perinatal Psychology Overview — Early Theorists, Psychoanalysis, and Birth

Overview of the Pre- and Perinatal Psychology Field—Early Theorists: Psychoanalysis and Birth

Sigmund Freud — Birth as Prototype for All Anxiety

While Freud (1927) disregarded major effects of birth on personality, he still saw the birth experience as the prototype of all later anxiety. His overall disregard of birth, however, was largely influenced by the belief—although discredited (see Chamberlain, 1988), still common in mainstream psychology and medicine today—that a newborn does not possess the neurological capacity for consciousness at birth.

Otto Rank — Psychoanalysis, Birth Trauma, Foundations of Personality and Some Myth, Separation Anxiety

Other early psychoanalysts disagreed with Freud on this. Otto Rank is the most notable of these. Following Freud’s basic psychoanalytic reasoning for personality patterns in early infancy, he asserted basic patterns of experience and ideas that are rooted in even earlier experience. Rank (1929) claimed the deepest, most fundamental patterns of these personality constructs originated at the time of birth, which Freud thought was not possible. Based upon the dream, fantasy, and other patterns of associations arising in his patients in psychoanalysis, Rank postulated a birth trauma, which he saw as a critical event in laying down in each of us particular patterns of thinking, motivation, and emotion for the rest of our lives. Notable among these prototypes was a feeling of a paradise once known but somehow lost, a separation anxiety caused by the separation at birth, and a resulting futile and lifelong struggle to re-unite with that golden age and that early beloved because of a desire to return to the womb.

Nandor Fodor — Dreamwork, Birth and Prenatal Processing and Relivings, Prenatal Origins of Consciousness and Trauma

Also a psychoanalyst, Fodor (1949) focused on the reflections of birth and prenatal material in dreams. He also designed interventions in therapy to release the negative effects of birth and to process prenatal memories. He was the first to mention actual relivings of birth, in which veridical memories were recovered. He agreed with Rank on many points, but he stressed the origins of consciousness and of trauma being in the prenatal period.

Donald W. Winnicott — First Primal Therapist? Birth Relivings, Importance of Birth—Negative Imprints but Positive Effects, Too 

Another psychoanalyst, and pediatrician as well, Winnicott (1958) also held that birth is remembered and is important. He insisted that the birth trauma is real, but he disagreed with Rank and Fodor that it is always traumatic. He suggested that a normal, nontraumatic, birth has many positive benefits, particularly for ego development. Still, he contended that traumatic birth is permanently etched in memory and leaves a lifetime psychological scar. Winnicott (1958) also suggested the possibility of prenatal trauma.

He has been called the first primal therapist in that he described the first birth primals—actual observable relivings of birth—spontaneously occurring by some of his patients during their sessions with him. Thus he was beginning the trend beyond mere talking association or dream analysis as ways of accessing and integrating this material.

Overview of the Pre- and Perinatal Psychology Field — Later Research and Theorists: Hypnosis, Primal Therapy, and Birth

David Cheek and Leslie LeCron — Hypnosis, Birth Memories and Imprints on Personality and Relation to Psychiatric Disorders

Cheek and LeCron (1968) used hypnosis to retrieve early memories in their patients. They discovered that memories earlier than what they expected, going back to birth, were possible. Importantly, a relief of symptoms seemed to follow from the re-experience of these birth memories. They came to the conclusion that a birth imprint occurs, which is induced by the extreme stress of that time and is resistant to fading from later experience. Further they asserted that this imprint could be the cause of a wide spectrum of psychiatric and psychosomatic disorders.

Leslie Feher — Psychoanalysis, Birth, Cutting of Umbilical Cord, Separation Trauma

Feher (1980) sought to extend the Freudian tradition farther back into areas that, she asserts, were until only recently unknowable. Thus, she describes a natal theory and therapy that includes experiences of cutting the umbilical cord, birth, and even prebirth. In fact, she considers the cutting of the umbilical cord to be central in her theory of trauma, calling it the “crisis umbilicus,” and echoes Fodor in claiming that it is the true origin of the castration fears made so much of in psychoanalysis. This is so because, according to Feher, the cord and placenta is an object of security and is considered by the fetus to be part of him- or herself. Thus, this cutting represents a supreme threat in being a separation from a total life support system, a major organ, a part of oneself. In these ways, she also brings forward for renewed appreciation Rank’s speculations on the element of separation trauma as a crucial element of the birth trauma.

Arthur Janov — Primal Therapy, Traumas of Birth and Early Life and Healing Them, Empirical Foundations and Neurophysiology of Early Events and Healing 

Perhaps the major theorist and popularizer of the phenomenon of re-experience (which he termed primaling), Janov was reluctant to acknowledge the pervasiveness of pre- and perinatal re-experience and trauma. Yet when he did, it was in a major work on birth trauma, which remains as a touchstone in the field in its depth and detail. Imprints: The Lifelong Effects of the Birth Experience, published in 1983, among other things places birth as the determining factor in creating basic personality constructs, called sympathetic and parasympathetic, which roughly coincide with the more common terms introversion and extroversion.

This work is more empirical and neurophysiologically rooted than most in the field. While the book is recognized in the field, Janov and his work have not gotten anywhere near the respect and attention that they deserve. He remains the unfortunate kicking-boy of a movement that is itself scapegoated by the academy and the larger scientific community.

Thomas Verny — Primal Therapy, Birth, Especially Womb Life and Relation to Personality … Prenatal Mother-Infant Bonding 

The actual stimulus for a new field of pre- and perinatal psychology and the Association for Pre- and Perinatal Psychology and Health—APPPAH was Thomas Verny’s (1981) The Secret Life of the Unborn Child. His work brought together a good deal of the new empirical research that had opened the doors to us on the events in the womb. While himself a practitioner of “holistic primal therapy,” he integrated the accumulating data from the phenomenon of re-experience with the new information from the more traditional, “objective,” scientific research into the prenatal—made possible by the latest advances in technology.

One of his conclusions from this combination of lines of inquiry was that “birth and prenatal experiences form the foundations of human personality” (1981, p. 118). His other conclusions center around the importance of intrauterine bonding in that his research strongly suggests that the prenate, via pathways hormonal and unknown, picks up on the thoughts, feelings, and attitudes of the mother. More importantly, he asserted, the imprint of these factors on the fetus predetermines the later mother-child relationship. He emphasized that positive thoughts and feelings toward the fetus—”maternal love”—acts to cushion the new individual against the normal stresses and unavoidable harshness inherent in birth and early infancy. Yet all of this cannot be completely avoided. “Birth is like death to the newborn,” writes Verny (1984, p. 48).

David Chamberlain — Hypnosis, Confirmed Validity of Birth Memories 

David Chamberlain (1988), for many years the president of APPPAH, has further substantiated the claim of consciousness at birth and the accuracy of pre- and perinatal memory in the phenomenon of re-experience. He reported one study he did in which he compared hypnotically retrieved memories of birth from mother and child and found an astonishing degree of conformity in their responses. Of note was the degree of inner consistency and originality in these memories as reported by the former neonate. They often contained technical details of the delivery and labor unlike what would be expected of the medically unsophisticated, a perceptive critique of the way the birth was handled, and other details of the event that could not have been known through normal conscious channels.

Overview of the Pre- and Perinatal Psychology Field — Later Theorists: Societal Implications, Psychohistory, Birth and Prenatal

Lloyd deMause Psychohistory, Prenatal and Poisonous Placenta, Sociohistorical Implications of Gestational and Birth Events 

Lloyd deMause (1982, 1987) was instrumental in establishing the new interdisciplinary field of psychohistory. In his study of historical happenings he discovered that stages in the progression of events related to stages in the progression of gestation and birth … which stages happened to correspond, by the way, remarkably well with Stanislav Grof‘s four stages of birth, his Basic Perinatal Matrices, as we shall see.

He found that natal imagery especially predominates in societies during times of crisis and war, when national purpose and state of affairs are construed as a need to escape or break free from an enclosing and constricting force. He also noted the suffering fetus and the poisonous placenta as sources of these later metaphors and imagery. In fact, in studying the imagery in the national media of various countries he has been able to predict political, social, and economic events such as wars and invasions, recessions, and political downfalls.

His work begins to look at the prenatal influences and imprints and how they related to macrocosmic issues of politics, history, social movements, and issues of war and peace. His work is extremely relevant to the issues of this book and we will be returning to him again and again in this work.

Continue with Everything You “Know” About Religion You Learned as a Fetus: We Are a Fever, Part Three — Later Prenatal Psychology Theorists — Breathwork, Myth, and Consciousness

Return to We Are a Fever, Part One: Perinatal Psychology, the Phenomenon of Re-Experience, and my Personal Involvement with This Research into Our Actual “Human Nature”

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Our Global Crises Are Manifesting Our Unfaced Painful Experiences: Birth Wars ~ World Woes

Birth Wars ~ World Woes: Life or Death Matters We Need to Face to Survive

“Hellacious Birth Traumas Making Headlines Worldwide!” Film at Eleven

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Perinatal and Global Situation Mirroring Each Other

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We Interrupt This Book for a Breaking News Bulletin: “Hellacious Birth Traumas Making Headlines Worldwide!” Film at Eleven.

41737_1588388369_1041901566_noccupy-street-protesters-clash-885530The connections between the physical conditions and symbols discussed in previous chapters and the perinatal unconscious should be obvious and may have already to some extent been spelled out. But let me finish connecting the dots, so to speak:

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As Stanislav Grof put it,

slide_194730_434143_free (3)[W]e have exteriorized in the modern world many of the essential themes of the perinatal processes that a person involved in deep personal transformation has to face and come to terms with internally. The same elements that we would encounter in the process of psychological death and rebirth in our visionary experiences make today our evening news. This is particularly true in regard to the phenomena that characterize what I call BPM III.

clip_image003We certainly see the enormous unleashing of the aggressive impulse in the many wars and revolutionary upheavals in the world, in the rising criminality, terrorism, and racial riots. Sexual experiences and behaviors are taking unprecedented forms, as manifested in sexual freedom of youngsters, promiscuity, open marriages, overtly sexual books, plays, and movies, gay liberation, sadomasochistic experimentation, and many others. The demonic element is also becoming increasingly manifest in the modern world.

A renaissance of satanic cults and witchcraft, the popularity of books and horror movies with occult themes, and crimes with satanic motivations attest to that fact. The scatological dimension is evident in the progressive industrial pollution, accumulation of waste products on a global scale, and rapidly deteriorating hygienic conditions in large cities [Footnote 1]

Grof is saying, then, that we have manifested an external modern world that mirrors and re-creates some of the hellacious circumstances surrounding our traumatic human births.

No-exit Car Jams and People Clusters

In addition to the myriad of ways that Grof has detailed…and there are many more he could have mentioned…I would like to add a few obvious commonplace examples.

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We re-create on a daily basis in major cities the no-exit frustration-depression-rage prior to birth in the traffic jams and gridlock of commuter traffic.

Another one: the population explosion. Simple overpopulation of the globe sets up scenarios exactly analogous to the negative conditions that existed toward the end of pregnancy when we grew/expanded too much to be any longer comfortable in the womb. The way this global overpopulation impacts us: the overpopulation and frenzy in a big city, manifesting the situation of a crushing womb.

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Global “Therapeutic” Carbon-Dioxide Chamber

clip_image009I have already mentioned reduced oxygen in the atmosphere and its relation to fetal “malnutrition.”

However, there is an interesting sidelight to this. For both Arthur Janov and Stanislav Grof, at one time early on, experimented with a clip_image010technique of carbon dioxide ingestion for getting people into primal and perinatal states. In fact, at the time—in the late Sixties, early Seventies—though not on a large scale, a number of professionals were experimenting with this procedure and even offering it as a means of clip_image011“expanding consciousness.”

The point is that increased carbon dioxide and decreased oxygen naturally stimulate perinatal feelings. Lucky us, as we continue to turn the entire atmosphere of the Earth into such a “therapeutic” carbon-dioxide chamber.

“Don’t Cut Me OFF, Man!”clip_image012

After all this, if you still do not believe that a perinatal unconscious is emerging at this time in history, I ask you how else to explain how the simple act of being “cut off” in traffic can trigger so much perinatal “no exit” frustration as to enrage an “otherwise normal” person to pull out a gun and blow another’s life away. Incidentally, I myself had a shotgun pulled on me in such a situation and only escaped through a high-speed car chase.

Birth Wars ~ World Woes

The upshot of it all is that somehow or other we have managed to create a world situation that mirrors in a way unlike any other time in history our perinatal imprints and thus triggers the emergence of this perinatal unconscious.

Or, you might reverse that and say that an emerging perinatal unconscious—brought about by other factors, improved “child-caring” methods perhaps…more about that later—has resulted in our creating a world situation manifesting or acting out those unconscious perinatal elements, which are having increasing influence on our consciousness and on our behavior.

I suspect both of these processes are occurring—each one augmenting the other.

Can You Look Your Belly in the Face?

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Noticing Our Underbellies … What It Is That’s Happening Here

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Noticing Our Underbellies

Cesarean_the_moment_of_birthLet me make this latter scenario clearer. What I am saying is that we all have birth trauma and we must distance ourselves from this birth trauma so that we can function. If the birth trauma is extreme, or if subsequent child-caring is abusive and neglectfulcompletedissociationoccurs [Footnote 2]—as is the case in any of the “less enlightened” of deMause’s psychogenic modes of child-rearing [Footnote 3]—or both, then complete splitting, repression of the perinatal, and dissociation from the perinatal occurs. Thus a person can project his or her perinatal unconscious onto the world and be completely unaware that it has anything to do with him- or herself.

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Can You Look Your Belly in the Face?

bellyinthefaceHowever, with more humane child-caring modes—deMause’s latest psychogenic mode, for example [Footnote 3]—less repression, and less defenses, are necessary and total dissociation does not occur.1 In this situation, the perinatal is not completely projected onto the outside world. We have more access to it, hence we act it out and manifest it in lesser ways, which reflect back to us, for the times when we are able to see them, our perinatal underbellies.

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casually_pepper_spraying_cop4On the one hand, the world is becoming increasingly perinatal and thus is stimulating more of the perinatal unconscious than previously. On the other hand, we have more access to and are closer to our perinatal unconscious so that we exhibit it more blatantly in our behavior and cultural creations and thus stimulate, again, in ourselves and others, the underlying perinatal matrices.

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This is a chicken-and-the-egg process. And I suspect, in the same way, that these processes are going on simultaneously and hence augment each other.

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Life or Death Matters

ttcrp1clip_image003In Chapter Six, “Strange Days,” we entertained the notion that the reason things seem so much different nowadays than anytime we can imagine from the past is because they are different. We have looked at how the character and events of our age are remarkably like the feelings and events surrounding our births and, unfortunately: traumatic births, traumatic times! Lastly, we have considered a few reasons…more coming…as to why these times might be uniquely imbued with our perinatal events.

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“Waiter, Check!”

544879_392409780811250_100001266949586_1244371_2038115593_nStill, the biggest questions lie begging: What does this all mean for us? Is it the “end of the world,” really, like some are claiming? Or are we seeing the “dawning of a new age”? (Now why is it that I cannot restrain the strains of the group The Fifth Dimension, in full orchestration no less, intoning in my mind the song “The Age of Aquarius” as I write this!?)

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What Can You Me Do?

clip_image004thinkingattherootsofthings2These are not unimportant questions. And they have all the implications of life or death, again indicative of the perinatal, about them.

Will we live? Will we survive? Or are we doomed? Kinda important to think about, don’t you agree?

And if it is within our power to decide our fate, well, just what the hell are we going to do about it? What can be done about our situation? What can each of us—you…me—do?

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What It Is That’s Happening Here

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We will begin addressing these questions in “Part Two: What It Is That’s Happening Here,” beginning with the next chapter. There are some processes of change in these times—processes of change unlike any that we normally encounter—that will weigh heavily on the outcome of the current emerging perinatal unconscious. These include not only the concepts and processes of the healing crisis—or as stipulated in the next chapter, “Getting Sick in Order to Be Well“—but also that of macrocosmic processes beyond our human scope, as will be explained in “Chapter Twelve: Through Gaia’s Eyes, Nature Balances HerSelf.”

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Apocalypse, Or Earth Rebirth?

Finally, having considered the perinatal nature of our times in Part One, The Perinatal Unconscious (Chapters Seven, Eight, and Nine), and then the corresponding unique processes at work in these times in Part Two, What It Is That Is Happening Here (Chapters Ten, Eleven, and Twelve), we can look at some likely propensities for our future (Chapters Thirteen thru Eighteen). Considering what we know at that time, we will see that there are also some directions in which to look for a solution. We will then be able to look deeper, daring to ask: Apocalypse? Or Earth Rebirth?

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But next we need to consider how in order to save ourselves we need to bring to the surface all the rotten ugliness of perinatal trauma that for millennia our species has been keeping inside.

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Continue with Apocalypse No! Chapter Eleven:
Healing Crisis – Getting “Sick” To Be Well

Return to Apocalypse No! Chapter Nine: Twenty-First Century Life – Table of DisContents

Footnotes

1. 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 Primal Spirit site.

2. See Solter, Aletha, (1996), “Tears For Trauma: Birth Trauma, Crying, and Child Abuse” on Primal Spirit website on how birth trauma sometimes contributes to and/or triggers child abuse.

3. For an at-hand description of DeMause’s psychogenic modes click on “The History of Childhood As The History of Child Abuse” for deMause’s article on Primal Spirit.

Continue with Apocalypse No! Chapter Eleven:
Healing Crisis – Getting “Sick” To Be Well

Return to Apocalypse No! Chapter Nine: Twenty-First Century Life – Table of DisContents

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Dangling Above an Abyss and Everyday Rebirthing: The Perinatal Is Rising … The Doors of Perception—Stormed!

The 21st Century and Its Discontents … The View From Everyday: Profound Sculpting of Who We Are Occurs at a Time We Cannot See

Dangling Above the Abyss and Perinatal Aliens, Pretty Much

Dangling Above an Abyss and Pervasive Perinatal Aliens

Dangling Above an Abyss

imageBeyond 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 a millennium and the approach of 2012—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.

Fetal Aliens

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.

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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]

Pretty Much

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 dentate as well, symbolizing the trauma occurring at birth, when actually emerging from the mother.

Rock Concert Rebirthing, Mosh Wombs, and the Doors of Perception … Stormed

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Fleshy Mosh Wombs, Rock Rebirthing, Trolls, and the Doors of Perception … Stormed

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The Perinatal Veil: Rock Concerts (For some, ditto)

Lawson has also described perinatal elements in rock concerts. [Footnote 2]

Mosh Wombs

daltgfsdfrey5803094302_c794e4f672Keep in mind that rock music popularity and concert rituals are world-wide phenomena. Youth from nearly all NBL1045countries are involved in rock culture. Newborn-Baby-with-CordAmong 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.

rapture1 (2)imadddddgesAt 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.

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The Doors of Perception … Stormed

doorsperceptioncleansed_crppdclose-encounters-of-the-third-kind-1980--645-75crppdWe 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.

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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.

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Pacifiers, Trolls, and Collective Rebirth

IMG_1248Turning from rock, we see perinatal BPM III elements in the scenery of our everyday lives evident in the rising incidence of violence by children at ever younger ages.

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]

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Collective Navel-Gazing

clip_image002clip_image004The 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.”

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I would say a progression to the womb, by the way….I will soon explain why.

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Crushing Populations and Its Relief — Perinatal Pulls of Public Life, Sky Diving, Dancing, Swimming, and “Birth”Day Parties

The Perinatal Pulls of Population Explosion, Sky Diving, Dancing, Swimming, and “Birth”Day Parties

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. What to do about this—and how this might be hopeful for solving the biggest problems of all on Earth—is what I deal with in time in this work. But I digress. Stay tuned, though.

Air Pollution, Fetal Suffocation, and Human Nature: Profound Sculpting of Who We Are Occurs at a Time We Cannot See

Pollution and The Greenhouse Effect Pushes Up Perinatal Pulls and Political Palpitations … and Vice Versa

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The Perinatal Pulls of Pollution: Air Pollution and Fetal Oxygen Starvation

Increased Carbon Dioxide, But Also Decreased Oxygen

SuffocationTotalRecallArnoldScream-thumb-500x273-55189One overlooked, but hugely pervasive perinatal element of these strange days is connected to the increasing carbon dioxide concentration in our atmosphere called “the greenhouse effect” which occurs alongside the curiously overlooked yet necessarily corresponding decreases in oxygen levels. There is increasingly less oxygen as we use it up burning carbon-based fossil fuels and making carbon dioxide. [Footnote 4]

We have more carbon dioxide for that reason and also because we are stupidly destroying the Earth’s mechanisms for turning that carbon dioxide back into oxygen…forests and ocean plankton, for example. This increased carbon dioxide is called “the greenhouse effect.” While this has been looked at from the perspective of it creating global warming and climate change, there are even stronger corporate (profit-motivated) as well as personal psychological reasons why we do not look at its most immediate effect on humans—the amount of oxygen we get from the air we breathe. We will steal at least a brief glance into some psychological reasons now and while we are at it uncover rich veins of understanding of and possible solutions for not only our current environmental problems but certain political and social dilemmas which we will find are operating dialectically with them. For there are provocative and profound influences from our experiences in the late stages of our womb life on the kaleidoscope of our current postmodern lives.

Air Pollution Bring Up in Us Uncomfortable Feelings From Our Births

For the increased carbon dioxide and reduced oxygen of the globe is analogous to the situation of “fetal malnutrition,” described by Briend and DeMause, that occurs prior to birth, and which is the basis for DeMause’s explanation of poisonous placenta symbolism. Keep in mind in particular that we experience this reduction in oxygen and increase in carbon dioxide in the form of air pollution, which is most pronounced in larger cities. [Footnote 5]

Raging to Reenter, Vampire Apocalypse, Drug Use, and Being Gratefully Dead – Perinatal Printouts Of Sixties, X, and Millennial Generations

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Perinatal Arising in Sixties and Generations Since as Seen in Drug Use, Fantasy of Fusion, Vampire Apocalypse, and Being Gratefully Dead

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Perinatal Arising in Sixties and Generations Since

Mia-Wasikowska-in-Alice-i-001Other evidence for closeness to the perinatal unconscious comes from Kenneth Keniston, who studied the youth of the Sixties. In Keniston’s widely read book of the time titled The Uncommitted: Alienated Youth in American Society, he described an increasingly prevalent, unusually influential, and relatively newly emerging personality type, which he discovered in his sociopsychological study of youthful college students.

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Raging to Reenter, Digging Under Ground, Fantasy of Fusion

tumblr_m2mup5pJCy1rqs9pco2_500Among other traits, he found these youth to be characterized by fantasies of a “rage to reenter” the womb; and a “fantasy of fusion” with the mother, which took perinatal forms of all kinds including stories of wishing to dig one’s way back into the earth; a fascination with and wish to return to the past, the long forgotten, and the under ground; and a desire to find oblivion in some enveloping medium…even at the price of self-destruction!

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Existential Angst, Death and Dying, Peter Pan

kumbaya8065543_origSome of the other noticeably perinatal elements of Sixties youth were existential angst, being enamored of death and dying, and a refusal of “normal” adulthood. (See BPM I, BPM II, and BPM II.) And think about it. Are these descriptions also not a lot like what we have heard of the generation that followed Sixties youth…the so-called Generation X?

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Vampire Apocalypse…It’s All So Black and White

For Generation X, black clothes, white painted faces, and black lipstick were the fashion statement of the Eighties and Nineties.

And what was this statement of that sector of Gen X youth—a statement that began in the tzun1034lSeventies among what was then called the “punk” movement, which includes now the fad of vampirism—except the same fascination with death as Sixties “alienated” youth…again. This mental set is an obvious reflection of the death/rebirth aspects of the perinatal I’ve been discussing. The “perinatal veil” through which they saw things was becoming more blatant.

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Being Gratefully Dead

tumblr_lksstreQNh1qjtn0ko1_500But this trend began with the Boomer Generation. Need I remind of this same theme of being dead and then reborn coming from the Sixties as in being “gratefully dead”? It seems that this trend toward easier access to and higher awareness of perinatal influences has been going on for a while now.

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A Perinatal Printout Is Indicated by Drug Use

new-moon-italy2_l6348266.binThere are other perinatal similarities between the youth of the Sixties and the generations to follow—this time specifically with the Millennial Generation, the one that followed Gen X and who are predominantly the sons and daughters of Boomer parents. Millennials were born after the mid-Seventies; they are a different cohort from those born 1960 till roughly 1974—Gen X; and those born 1945 to 1959—the Boomers.

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Drug Usage Rising Since the Nineties Shows Perinatal Attraction

thinkingattherootsofthings2Nine-Days-of-CreationIllegal drug use among youth, beginning in the Nineties, began going up again. This coincides with the coming into young adulthood of the Millennial Generation. Unlike drug usage of the legal and mind-debilitating kind (booze and tobacco), drug usage of the illegal and mind-facilitating kind (pot, LSD, speed, ecstacy) is an indication of an emerging confessions01148522632perinatal unconscious. Drugs are intimately woven with perinatal influences in a number of ways. Not only can some drugs bring up birth feelings, as Grof’s work has shown, but the mother being drugged while giving birth to her child can result in drug abuse by that child later in life.

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Generations – Their Drugs and Politics. Gen Xers Are Fifty-ish, Millennials Are Sixty-ish

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An Aside on Drugs and Generations—Sixties, Gen X, Millennials and Their Parents

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Millennials Are Sixty-ish

Furthur.trpld (2)There is another overlooked factor or aspect of this rise in drug use in the Nineties by Millennials: These youngsters were the sons and daughters of the Sixties generation who, in their own youth, as we all know too well, engaged in drug experimentation. In fact, this younger generation of drug users has sometimes been called the baby-boomer “echo” generation.

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Gen Xers Are Fifty-ish

images (22)tb-racist-fiftiesMillennials are quite a bit different from the previous “echo” generation — Gen X. The generation that came to age during the Eighties—Yuppies and Xers—had parents who were father-knows-bestborn during the Great Depression and imagfghjhesWorld War Two, who had their young adult formative years during the Eisenhower — Joe McCarthy –Presley Fifties. So Gen X was influenced by their parents to conservatism, career-mindedness, and, for drug-of-choice, alcohol.

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But this “echo” generation of Millennials has parents whose young adulthood was forged in the rebellion, drug and sex experimentation, activism, liberal-radicalism, and idealism of the Sixties, not the Fifties. [Footnote 6]

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Forget What You’ve Heard About Generation Gap

bli_18_672-458_resize080226_recreate-68-1Generationally speaking, we know that children do not predominantly rebel to the opposite of their parents’ values. Kenneth Keniston, for one, has made it clear—referring to studies—that children are paramountly influenced by the values and attitudes…conscious and unconscious…of their parents. So this most recent cohort of youth was of course going to be more liberal in their attitude to drug use than Gen X, even if their parents, in their coming into adulthood, overtly decry or are against the use of drugs. Keep in mind also that many of the baby-boomers have retained, not reversed, their acceptance of drug experimentation, and many still believe in and use drugs; many still considering the occasional use of certain types—especially the psychedelics, and to some extent, pot—to be an aid to self-development and/or spiritual awareness.

Family Lies Not “Family Ties”

family-ties-kitchen-delish-xlFamilyTiesAlexKeatonBeingConservativeWasBSThe myth that youth rebel against their parents’ values was expressed and propagandized by the TV show “Family Ties.” happy-days-castThis was an oh-so-convenient portrayal, as it contributed to the pervasive scapegoating of the Sixties generation by the Fifties Generation—the Eisenhower–Joe McCarthy–Presley generation—who came into their Triumphant Phase, that is, took over the reins of society as mature adults in the Eighties.

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Rebellion in Youth Amounts to Being Uncompromising About Parents’ Values Not Defying Them

kent-state-tear-gasimagesdddThis “Family Ties” kind of rebellion, however inaccurate, seems to be credible largely as a result of the observation that youth do rebel against their parents. But it kent-state-solidarityignores the fact that when they do, and they don’t always, they revolt or rebel, as in the Sixties youth, most often in the direction of being more insistent of actually living the values of their parents, not simply voicing them. As Keniston found out, for example, as he described in his follow-up to The Uncommitted, in the book, Young Radicals: Notes on Committed Youth, radical youth had liberal (hardly conservative!) parents.

garry_winogrand_kent_state_demonstration_washington_dc_1970__printed_1970s_gwf_35_471x471_q80When Sixties youth were angry at their parents it was out of their perception of their parents as compromising and not living out their own expressed ideals, as laid out to their children in raising them. Therefore, Sixties rage against adults came out of their disgust at their parents for “not walking their talk.” As we may recollect, there was the oft-repeated charge of “hypocrite” directed by some of these youth toward their parental generation.

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Millennials and Their Sixties Parents

In this regard notice also that this latest crop of young—born mid-70s through roughly 2000 (Boomers had children over a longer expanse of time than generations previous and since, for reasons that I’ve dealt with in other places) Michelle_Obama08_1335and being now in their twenties and thirties…the sons and daughters of the Sixties Generation—has also seen increases in voting for liberal or Democratic candidates. Their turnout for Clinton in 1992 was the first time since the Seventies that the youth vote went Democratic. Their support of Obama was widely given as the reason for his success.

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Occupy Wall Street … Sixties Gen Liberals, Millennial Revolutionaries?

3-1278469994-bg-make-love-not-waryuppieIn the Nineties we saw — despite the AIDS scare — an end to a fledgling “youth celibacy movement” — which had been a movement of Yuppie/Gen Xers encouraged by their Fifties Generation parents. The Millennials, s-OCCUPY-WALL-STREET-MARTIN-LUTHER-KING-large300echoing again their parents and this time the sexual revolution, were noted for early and/or increased sexual experimentation.317004_10150363071620658_572805657_8804589_667246355_n This latest cohort of youth also has seen increases in idealism, activism, and volunteerism. It is no coincidence that we have finally seen a rising up of activism again in the occupy wall street movement, with Millennials taking the lead and supported, taught, and inspired by their Sixties cohort parents. [Footnote 7]

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Tune Inward, Turn Back, Drop Down – Psychedelics, Depression, and Those Nasty Birth Feelings

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Perinatal Propensities in LSD Use … Lucy in the Sewer with Depression and No-Exit Wombs

The Epidemic of Depression Shows Pervasive BPM II Influence

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Lucy in the Sewer with Depression

Other connections between drug use and perinatal influence: Perinatal feelings are very often of the depressive, no-exit type, and some drugs are temporarily effective antidotes for that. Depression itself is epidemic nowadays, indicating the rise of BPM II feelings. There is widespread use of antidepressants in America currently.

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No-Exit Wombs

imageStanislav Grof has claimed, based upon the tens of thousands of sessions of exploration into the perinatal unconscious that he has personally facilitated and thus thirdmanobserved, that the roots of endogenous—that is to say, deep rooted and engrained, not just situational—depression lie in the no-exit BPM II experience in the womb prior to birth. Furthermore, my personal experience with depression earlier in my life and my primal re-experiencing of prenatal, womb feelings, as well as birth, confirms his statement.

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Psychedelics and Birth: Tune Inward, Turn Back, Drop Down

60s.lsd.mygeneration.breakthrough.peacockby05i kissesFinally, psychedelic drugs..LSD… “they’re ba-a-a-ack.” Though they are more discreetly used these days and so are less obviously evident. Various psychedelics and hallucinogens are used at postmodern raves, among many other places.

Their increased use also points to perinatal influences in that it is known that psychedelics—LSD in particular—can help people to access and to some extent resolve perinatal trauma, when taken for purposes of personal growth.

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Corrective on LSD Misinformation

art-image-by-joe-bergeron1 - CopylonelygirlFor those who have cynically adopted the line that either psychedelics are another drug that blots out one’s Pain or that they are only used for recreational or sensual/hedonistic purposes or that the kinds of birth experiences that Grof describes as occurring on LSD only occur in supervised and guided sessions, like the ones he offered…for those who have dismissed psychedelics and LSD in any of these ways, let me say,

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LSD is Hardly Escapist

imagfdhjfklgesFirst, psychedelics, especially LSD and to some extent, even marijuana, are known to act in the brain in a way almost exactly the opposite of the drugs used to escape from reality—such as, for example, alcohol, nicotine, or heroin—though this news flies in the face of the myth put out by the all-encompassing anti-drug propaganda machine, which puts all drugs in the same category. This Galaxy_Gardenis common knowledge among researchers and scientists who study these things. For elaboration, see Culture War, Class War Chapter Three: Drugs of Choice and Generational Cultures – Opposing Worlds—especially the part on “Drugs and Consciousness“—as well as subsequent chapters of that book/blog.

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Drugs—Not Just for Fun Anymore

wohpesiouxTuneInwardTurnBackDropDownSecond, that drugs are only used for recreational purposes is patently false. Though the vast majority of drug use is recreational, there are in print many examples, and the admissions of many authors, of the use of LSD by individuals and groups for purposes of personal 298009_1510005046893_1737376259_743931_1500214464_ngrowth. Accession480pxAnd, in my own limited exploration, personal growth was my motivation. In fact, many people are afraid to take the drug LSD, knowing full well that its effects are not always pleasurable or recreational. So why would they accept that risk if they did not have some other intent, like personal growth, for experimenting on themselves with it?

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LSD and Birth Reliving

sun-babyNine-Days-of-CreationFinally, before I had ever heard of such a possibility of reliving one’s birth, let alone heard of Grof, or Janov for that matter, I learned that at least one person at my university on LSD found himself feeling like a fetus and then going through a process of struggling through a birth canal, and so on.

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“Most Peculiar, Mama!”

In this book so far, we have considered the uniqueness of our times and the elements of the perinatal unconscious. happy_dancing_friday_19We have followed that with a look at the predominant underlying fantasies and myths of our times—our contemporary collective dreams as projected onto the silver screen, boob tube, and printed page, with a perinatal rock heartbeat of a soundtrack.

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Our Nightly News and Neighborhoods

imasgsgfgesFinally we have taken a look at the anomalous elements of our everyday reality — those confusing and bizarre, newly emerging woodstock1images that permeate our nightly news and neighborhoods, along with those totally unprecedented cultural, environmental, and social factors that weave the backdrops of our lives.

Going Forward, Explore Our Hells and Heavens

5va0imasdfgsgesLet us now go deeper. Let us make the connections. Let us explore the way we have reflected our innermost intimate hells and heavens into Images-of-Scotland---The-Innocent-Railway-Tunnel-Edinburghthe fabric of our times. And back again, let us uncover the way the warp and woof of vortex-matrix-500x333these strangest of days has affected each of us, in our most superficial of behaviors to the most intimate and deepest of our minds. The way forward is down.

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Continue with Apocalypse No! Chapter Ten:
Birth Wars, World Woes

Return to Apocalypse No! Chapter Eight: The Perinatal Media

Footnotes

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.

4. This obvious though insistently overlooked fact has scientific support, of course:

According to a study conducted by scientists from the Scripps Institute there is less oxygen in the atmosphere today than there used to be. The ongoing study, which accumulated and interpreted data from NOAA monitoring stations all over the world, has been running from 1989 to the present. It monitored both the rise of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and the decline in oxygen. The conclusion of that 20 year study is that, as carbon dioxide (produced primarily by burning fossil fuels) accumulates in the atmosphere, available oxygen is decreasing.

Carbon dioxide seems to be almost the total focus of attention in the climate change model as it exists today. After reviewing the results of this study and talking with Dr. Ralph Keeling (one of the lead scientists on the study), it seemed to me that the consequences of atmospheric oxygen depletion should be included in any discussion of atmospheric change….

Read more: “Atmospheric Oxygen Levels Fall as Carbon Dioxide Riseshttp://blogcritics.org/scitech/article/atmospheric-oxygen-levels-fall-as-carbon/#ixzz1ru2460V8

5. A. Briend, “Fetal Malnutrition: The Price of Upright Posture?” British Medical Journal 2 (1979): 317-319. [return to text]

6. See my blog/book Culture War, Class War, especially Chapter Two: Matrix Aroused, the Sixties and Chapter Four: Drugs of Choice and Generational Cultures – Concocted Worlds and Chapter Five: The King Won’t Die – An Aborted Changing of the Guard.

7. These aspects and generational phenomena are spelled out in more detail in my work-in-progress, Regression, Mysticism, and “My Generation.” Right at hand, however, you can read an elaboration of some of these ideas in the chapters mentioned in Culture War, Class War—especially Chapters One through Seven and the post, Awakening Millennial Generation Occupy Global Revolution.

Continue with Apocalypse No! Chapter Ten:
Birth Wars, World Woes

Return to Apocalypse No! Chapter Eight: The Perinatal Media

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Four Kinds of Early Experience Color Our Adult Experience in Four Distinct Ways … Cycles of Birth and War: Derailing War and Violence, Part 2

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Cycles of Birth, Cycles of War … The Four “Colors” of the Perinatal Veils and Why Women Fear Fatness and Men Fear Femininity

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Four Kinds of Experiences in Our First Nine Months Imprint Us for Four Feeling “Flavors” as Adults

Images_Gallery_05_14But for now, let us get back to this opening provided us. We can make better use of deMause’s insight on the birth feelings that take us into war using Stanislav Grof’s delineation of this birth unconscious of ours. Let us review as described earlier and further stipulate on them:

Grof explains we are moved as adults by four specific kinds of drives emanating from our earliest experiences. These specific tendencies in us relate to four different times in the birth process which involve four radically different kinds of experiences.

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Grof uses the term, basic perinatal matrices (BPMs), to refer to these four aspects of our inner urges. I will describe them here and refer to them along with DeMause’s cycles of social-historical violence and war to pull apart the roots of our current apocalyptic dilemma. [Footnote 1]

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Our Tendency to Always Screw Up a Good Thing, BPM I

The first of Grof’s aspects of our unconscious he terms Basic Perinatal Matrix I, BPM I for short.

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Prosperity and Progress Equal Feeling “Soft” and “Feminine”

clip_image002reunionGrof’s BPM I is sometimes described as “oceanic bliss” and involves the experiences and feelings related to the relatively undisturbed prenatal period. On the social, macrocosmic level, it is the period described in the quote by deMause above in which there is a period of “prosperity and progress” and feelings of being “soft” and “feminine.”

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522936_184846674968481_100003294484517_288967_526358242_nkumbayaThe strong connection between individual experience (personal psychology) and collective realities (social-historical events and elements) is patent here since in BPM I experience the individual is still in the mother’s womb and to some extent shares her identity, which is of course feminine. Being unborn and not having gone through the “toughening” experiences of birth and later trauma, which predominantly create one’s defenses, the individual is also “soft,” in other words, undefended.

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“No Pain, No Gain,” Hell, Satan, and Poisonous Placenta; BPM II

“No-Exit” Claustrophobia

placenta-22005-RachelStone-PrometheusTo further review Grof’s schema and its relation to deMause’s cycles of war, I want to remind you that BPM II is related on the individual level to the time near the end of pregnancy when the fetus is no longer rocking blissfully on the waves of oceanic bliss but is trapped in an ever more confining womb. As the fetus grows in size, the suffering becomes greater; no doubt this is the source of the common-sense belief that growing has to involve suffering, for example, “No pain, no gain.” At any rate, the feelings are those of claustrophobia and “no exit.”

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more-suffering-less-dyingdesertheartThere is heavy non-agitated depression here, since there appears to be no hope, no change in the situation that would indicate a way out of the suffering. Indeed, this period continues practically right up to the time of birth, ending only when the cervix becomes dilated and, experientially speaking, there appears suddenly to be a “light at the end of the tunnel” and therefore hope.

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Where the Hell We Get the Idea of Hell

bpm2411862143_smallHowever, up until that time there are feelings of being totally unempowered, completely in the hands of an entity—the womb—that imposes a horrifying reality that appears to be unending and eternal. Herein we have the psychological roots of notions of hell and Satan. Feelings associated with this state include despair, victimization, blame, and guilt.

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“You’ll Wallow in Your Shit, and You’ll Think You’re Happy.” – Kurt Cobain, from the Song, “Sad”

peoplearealreadydyingclip_image005As birth comes nearer, “fetal malnutrition” increases, since the neonate’s increasing size and weight press down on and constrict the blood vessels that carry blood to and from the placenta, when the mother is standing. The decreased blood supply means a reduction of life-giving oxygen as well as the buildup of toxins that would otherwise be taken away by a normal blood flow. So feelings of suffocation as well as skin irritation and other feelings of wallowing in waste matter—deemed poisonous placenta by deMause—increase. [Footnote 2]

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“You’re Really in a Laundry Room.” – Kurt Cobain, from the Song, “Sad”

As I have said previously, deMause has found that these feelings exist to an extraordinary degree in a society and its leaders prior to its engaging in a war. Similarly, they precede, and obviously can be held to be accountable for, individual acts of violence—including everything from murder and rape to unfortunately all-too-common and ordinary spousal and child abuse in the household, and of course everything in between.

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Bloody War, Bloody Birth — BPM III

Crusades181264_233235313453542_936852846_nBPM III is birth. Its social analogue is war or violent assault. Feelings that accompany this state on both the individual and societal level include rage and intense aggressiveness, all-encompassing struggle, and sexual excess.

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Nothing’s Ever Good Enough, BPM IV

BPM IV relates to the time of actually coming out of the womb and the post-natal period. On the societal level it is the ending of a war.

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“Busting Out All Over”

clip_image006imagjuyhgioloiues (2)Feelings of expansiveness, release, exultation, coming finally out into the light and/or being “on top” of things, and victory are feelings associated with this matrix, whether in the individual birth or the collective war cycle.

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Peace Sign V-Fingers dreamstime_3940931s0073As I said the societal analogue to BPM IV, or actually being born, is a war’s end. It is no coincidence that in triumph or peace, the two-finger peace symbol is used. What better way to signal we have come from constriction into openness, specifically through the vise of a mother’s cervix, out from between two legs. As John Lennon so aptly put it, using the peace sign frequently, “War is over (if we want it).”

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Mission Accomplished … Not!

clip_image008533225_1976819996975_1737376259_944265_47690847_nInterestingly, just as in recent times harsh modern obstetrical practices and the removal of the baby from the mother can leave lifetime feelings of success not bringing with it the expected rewards and thus a post-accomplishment sort of depression, so also the ending of successful wars sometimes also leaves a society with a sort of letdown. For example, the euphoria following George H. W. Bush’s Gulf War—which catapulted his approval ratings into the ninety percent range in 1991—was followed, only a year later, by the increasing agony of a recession and Bush’s defeat at the polls.

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Cycles of Birth, Cycles of War

6207242_f260snowwhitelamentof7wpAll of this is to say that in society, as in the womb, a period of uninterrupted and relatively undisturbed feelings of growth leads to feelings of depression—being too “soft” and “feminine,” but also “too fat” in the womb and, therefore, extremely constricted and compressed.

Why Women Fear Becoming Fat and Men Fear Appearing “Feminine”

bizarre-beauty-placentaclip_image009Another way of saying this: feelings of expansion are followed by a fear of entrapment. And I agree wholeheartedly with deMause in saying that it happens this way in a nation’s cycle of feelings because it happened that way to us prior to and during our births. We have these patterns of feelings as collective groups of individuals because our first experience of expansion was followed by extreme depression, guilt, despair, and then struggle and something bloodily akin to war—our actual births.

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Continue with What to Do to Stop War and Violence: Changing the Patterns of Millennia Requires Learning That Feeling Good Is Not Bad

Return to Men Would Rather Be Manly Than Alive and What Say We Leave a Planet for Our Offspring? Derailing War and Violence, Part 1

Footnotes

1. I explain this in more detail in Chapter Seven: We Ain’t Born Typical under the heading “Elements of Birth Experience.”

2. “You’ll wallow in the shit and you’ll think you’re happy” and “You’re really in a laundry room” from, and with appreciation to, Kurt Cobain. These are lyrics in his song, “Sad.” The video and lyrics are reproduced again here for your convenience:

Nirvana – “Sad” (also “Sappy” and “Verse Chorus Verse”) – Lyrics

And if you save yourself
You will make him happy
He’ll keep you in a jar
And you’ll think you’re happy
He’ll give you breathing holes
Then you’ll think you’re happy
He’ll cover you with grass
And you’ll think you’re happy
Now
You’re really in a laundry room,
You’re really in a laundry room
Conclusion came to you, oh
And if you cut yourself
You will think you’re happy
He’ll keep you in a jar
Then you’ll make him happy
He’ll give you breathing holes
Then you’ll think you’re happy
He’ll cover you with grass
Then you’ll think you’re happy
Now
You’re really in a laundry room,
You’re really in a laundry room
Conclusion came to you, oh (x2)
And if you fool yourself
You will make him happy
He’ll keep you in a jar
And you’ll think you’re happy
He’ll give you breathing holes
Then you will seem happy
You’ll wallow in your shit
Then you’ll think you’re happy
Now
You’re really in a laundry room (x3)
Conclusion came to you, oh
Alternate lyrics:
And if you kill yourself
You will make him happy

Derailing the Cycles of War and Violence – Audiocasts

“Part 1; What Say We Leave a Planet for Our Offspring?” – the audio by SillyMickel Adzema

For the author’s reading, with elaboration, of this part, click on the link to the audio site above or click the audio player here:

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“Part 2; Can You Handle Happiness (And the Pain That Comes With It)?” – the audio by SillyMickel Adzema

For the author’s reading, with elaboration, of this part, click on the link to the audio site above or click the audio player here:

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Continue with What to Do to Stop War and Violence: Changing the Patterns of Millennia Requires Learning That Feeling Good Is Not Bad

Return to Men Would Rather Be Manly Than Alive and What Say We Leave a Planet for Our Offspring? Derailing War and Violence, Part 1

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Birth Wars ~ World Woes, Part Two: Noticing Our Underbellies … What It Is That’s Happening Here

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Birth Wars ~ World Woes, Part 2: Can You Look Your Belly in the Face?

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Noticing Our Underbellies

Cesarean_the_moment_of_birthLet me make this latter scenario clearer. What I am saying is that we all have birth trauma and we must distance ourselves from this birth trauma so that we can function. If the birth trauma is extreme, or if subsequent child-caring is abusive and neglectfulcompletedissociationoccurs [Footnote 1]—as is the case in any of the “less enlightened” of deMause’s psychogenic modes of child-rearing [Footnote 2]—or both, then complete splitting, repression of the perinatal, and dissociation from the perinatal occurs. Thus a person can project his or her perinatal unconscious onto the world and be completely unaware that it has anything to do with him- or herself.

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Can You Look Your Belly in the Face?

bellyinthefaceHowever, with more humane child-caring modes—deMause’s latest psychogenic mode, for example [Footnote 2]—less repression, and less defenses, are necessary and total dissociation does not occur.1 In this situation, the perinatal is not completely projected onto the outside world. We have more access to it, hence we act it out and manifest it in lesser ways, which reflect back to us, for the times when we are able to see them, our perinatal underbellies.

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casually_pepper_spraying_cop4On the one hand, the world is becoming increasingly perinatal and thus is stimulating more of the perinatal unconscious than previously. On the other hand, we have more access to and are closer to our perinatal unconscious so that we exhibit it more blatantly in our behavior and cultural creations and thus stimulate, again, in ourselves and others, the underlying perinatal matrices.

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This is a chicken-and-the-egg process. And I suspect, in the same way, that these processes are going on simultaneously and hence augment each other.

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Life or Death Matters

ttcrp1clip_image003In Chapter Six, “Strange Days,” we entertained the notion that the reason things seem so much different nowadays than anytime we can imagine from the past is because they are different. We have looked at how the character and events of our age are remarkably like the feelings and events surrounding our births and, unfortunately: traumatic births, traumatic times! Lastly, we have considered a few reasons…more coming…as to why these times might be uniquely imbued with our perinatal events.

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“Waiter, Check!”

544879_392409780811250_100001266949586_1244371_2038115593_nStill, the biggest questions lie begging: What does this all mean for us? Is it the “end of the world,” really, like some are claiming? Or are we seeing the “dawning of a new age”? (Now why is it that I cannot restrain the strains of the group The Fifth Dimension, in full orchestration no less, intoning in my mind the song “The Age of Aquarius” as I write this!?)

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What Can You Me Do?

clip_image004thinkingattherootsofthings2These are not unimportant questions. And they have all the implications of life or death, again indicative of the perinatal, about them.

Will we live? Will we survive? Or are we doomed? Kinda important to think about, don’t you agree?

And if it is within our power to decide our fate, well, just what the hell are we going to do about it? What can be done about our situation? What can each of us—you…me—do?

OccupyEarth (2)

What It Is That’s Happening Here

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We will begin addressing these questions in “Part Two: What It Is That’s Happening Here,” beginning with the next chapter. There are some processes of change in these times—processes of change unlike any that we normally encounter—that will weigh heavily on the outcome of the current emerging perinatal unconscious. These include not only the concepts and processes of the healing crisis—or as stipulated in the next chapter, “Getting Sick in Order to Be Well“—but also that of macrocosmic processes beyond our human scope, as will be explained in “Chapter Twelve: Through Gaia’s Eyes, Nature Balances HerSelf.”

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Apocalypse, Or Earth Rebirth?

Finally, having considered the perinatal nature of our times in Part One, The Perinatal Unconscious (Chapters Seven, Eight, and Nine), and then the corresponding unique processes at work in these times in Part Two, What It Is That Is Happening Here (Chapters Ten, Eleven, and Twelve), we can look at some likely propensities for our future (Chapters Thirteen thru Eighteen). Considering what we know at that time, we will see that there are also some directions in which to look for a solution. We will then be able to look deeper, daring to ask: Apocalypse? Or Earth Rebirth?

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But next we need to consider how in order to save ourselves we need to bring to the surface all the rotten ugliness of perinatal trauma that for millennia our species has been keeping inside.

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Continue with Healing Crisis, Part 1: What’s in Your Head, Zombie? Being Really Sick, But Denying It — WWII Generation, Nazis, KKK, Right Wing, Tea Party

Return to “Hellacious Birth Traumas Making Headlines Worldwide!” Film at Eleven: Birth Wars, World Woes, Part 1

Footnotes

1. See Solter, Aletha, (1996), “Tears For Trauma: Birth Trauma, Crying, and Child Abuse” on Primal Spirit website on how birth trauma sometimes contributes to and/or triggers child abuse. [return to text]

2. For an at-hand description of DeMause’s psychogenic modes click on “The History of Childhood As The History of Child Abuse” for deMause’s article on Primal Spirit. [return to text]

Continue with Healing Crisis, Part 1: What’s in Your Head, Zombie? Being Really Sick, But Denying It — WWII Generation, Nazis, KKK, Right Wing, Tea Party

Return to “Hellacious Birth Traumas Making Headlines Worldwide!” Film at Eleven: Birth Wars, World Woes, Part 1

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Birth Wars, World Woes, Part One: Perinatal and Global Situation Mirroring Each Other

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“Hellacious Birth Traumas Making Headlines Worldwide!” Film at Eleven: Birth Wars, World Woes, Part 1

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We Interrupt This Book for a Breaking News Bulletin: “Hellacious Birth Traumas Making Headlines Worldwide!” Film at Eleven.

41737_1588388369_1041901566_noccupy-street-protesters-clash-885530The connections between the physical conditions and symbols discussed in previous chapters and the perinatal unconscious should be obvious and may have already to some extent been spelled out. But let me finish connecting the dots, so to speak:

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As Stanislav Grof put it,

slide_194730_434143_free (3)[W]e have exteriorized in the modern world many of the essential themes of the perinatal processes that a person involved in deep personal transformation has to face and come to terms with internally. The same elements that we would encounter in the process of psychological death and rebirth in our visionary experiences make today our evening news. This is particularly true in regard to the phenomena that characterize what I call BPM III.

clip_image003We certainly see the enormous unleashing of the aggressive impulse in the many wars and revolutionary upheavals in the world, in the rising criminality, terrorism, and racial riots. Sexual experiences and behaviors are taking unprecedented forms, as manifested in sexual freedom of youngsters, promiscuity, open marriages, overtly sexual books, plays, and movies, gay liberation, sadomasochistic experimentation, and many others. The demonic element is also becoming increasingly manifest in the modern world.

A renaissance of satanic cults and witchcraft, the popularity of books and horror movies with occult themes, and crimes with satanic motivations attest to that fact. The scatological dimension is evident in the progressive industrial pollution, accumulation of waste products on a global scale, and rapidly deteriorating hygienic conditions in large cities [Footnote 1]

Grof is saying, then, that we have manifested an external modern world that mirrors and re-creates some of the hellacious circumstances surrounding our traumatic human births.

No-exit Car Jams and People Clusters

In addition to the myriad of ways that Grof has detailed…and there are many more he could have mentioned…I would like to add a few obvious commonplace examples.

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We re-create on a daily basis in major cities the no-exit frustration-depression-rage prior to birth in the traffic jams and gridlock of commuter traffic.

Another one: the population explosion. Simple overpopulation of the globe sets up scenarios exactly analogous to the negative conditions that existed toward the end of pregnancy when we grew/expanded too much to be any longer comfortable in the womb. The way this global overpopulation impacts us: the overpopulation and frenzy in a big city, manifesting the situation of a crushing womb.

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Global “Therapeutic” Carbon-Dioxide Chamber

clip_image009I have already mentioned reduced oxygen in the atmosphere and its relation to fetal “malnutrition.”

However, there is an interesting sidelight to this. For both Arthur Janov and Stanislav Grof, at one time early on, experimented with a clip_image010technique of carbon dioxide ingestion for getting people into primal and perinatal states. In fact, at the time—in the late Sixties, early Seventies—though not on a large scale, a number of professionals were experimenting with this procedure and even offering it as a means of clip_image011“expanding consciousness.”

The point is that increased carbon dioxide and decreased oxygen naturally stimulate perinatal feelings. Lucky us, as we continue to turn the entire atmosphere of the Earth into such a “therapeutic” carbon-dioxide chamber.

“Don’t Cut Me OFF, Man!”

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After all this, if you still do not believe that a perinatal unconscious is emerging at this time in history, I ask you how else to explain how the simple act of being “cut off” in traffic can trigger so much perinatal “no exit” frustration as to enrage an “otherwise normal” person to pull out a gun and blow another’s life away. Incidentally, I myself had a shotgun pulled on me in such a situation and only escaped through a high-speed car chase.

Birth Wars ~ World Woes

The upshot of it all is that somehow or other we have managed to create a world situation that mirrors in a way unlike any other time in history our perinatal imprints and thus triggers the emergence of this perinatal unconscious.

Or, you might reverse that and say that an emerging perinatal unconscious—brought about by other factors, improved “child-caring” methods perhaps…more about that later—has resulted in our creating a world situation manifesting or acting out those unconscious perinatal elements, which are having increasing influence on our consciousness and on our behavior.

I suspect both of these processes are occurring—each one augmenting the other.

Footnote

1. 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 Primal Spirit site. [return to text]

Continue with Birth Wars ~ World Woes, Part 2: Can You Look Your Belly in the Face?

Return to Tune Inward, Turn Back, Drop Down – Psychedelics, Depression, and Those Nasty Birth Feelings: 21st Century and Its Discontents, Part 30

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