What the World Needs Now … Is Loving Warriors and Silly Heroes: Jiving with Your Monsters, Dancing Above the Dissonance, and The Universality of Divinity Remembered
Silly Heroes and Evolution in Attitudes to the Perinatal: The Necessary Hero Jives with the Monsters, Dances Above the Dissonance, and Is Ever Aware of Divinity Everywhere
Responses to the Perinatal
Returning now to “Nothing But Trouble,” an aspect of it that has significance for dealing with perinatal issues is the way different characters are shown responding to the embodiment of arbitrary justice, the judge. In the wonderfully Kafkaesque courtroom scenes, we see several different types of people—representing different responses to unconscious material—hauled before the judge. The musicians, signifying artists, creative people; the hedonistic criminals; and the main characters, representing average people, each present distinct attitudes, which are responded to differently by the representative of the unconscious, the judge.
Jiving With Your Monsters
The musicians are able to create rhythm and flow. Therefore they are able to get through the experience unharmed. Indeed, they are even able to elicit a response from the judge—getting him to join in. In this way we see how creative people can actually use perinatal material and get it to cooperate for desired ends. We might consider how this relates to the writing of “Nothing but Trouble” itself.
Peter and Dan Aykroyd, in creating this movie, are, like the musicians in the movie, getting the unconscious to “play along,” to create something beyond what either the writer or the unconscious could accomplish separately. Much of what is interesting in art is done this way: The deeper fear-evoking material is allowed to come in and enrich, enliven, freshen with new ideas and perspectives, stimulate, and invigorate the creative production.
Beware the Tar Baby
Notice also that the really contentious ones—the alcoholic drug-using criminal hedonists—are completely lost. Thus the two extremes, as well as the average person are depicted.
But the truly striking element that indicates an advanced way of dealing with the perinatal material is shown in the genre of the movie itself. As a comedy, it shows a non-attached and transcendent approach. Chevy Chase and Demi Moore, especially Chevy Chase, show an aloofness and silly playfulness in the face of horror and death that has spiritual implications. Like a Tibetan mystic, Chase refuses to get sucked in to the involved drama confronting him. Like a Christian saint about to be martyred, he jokes, teases, and gets silly with the instruments of horror and evil. Similarly, Demi Moore humors and plays cards with her would-be monsters.
Standing within the Witness higher self, they are able to take the entire situation lightly—acting and reacting in the moment to each unique situation as it presents itself. One moment Chevy Chase is confronting his own demise, the next moment he is in a love scene. He alternates a frightful encounter with relaxing and smoking a cigar.
If we want to know what real and transcended behavior is, we might do well to get our hints in the depictions of unattached playfulness — as presented by modern Western actors like Bill Murray, Demi Moore, Tom Hanks, Chevy Chase, Robin Williams, Bruce Willis, and Jim Carey—rather than in the repressively calmed not-with-it-ness—not-witness—that is sometimes mistaken for spiritual attainment.
Incidentally, this element of humor shows an entirely different way of dealing with the perinatal than most other movies that deal with this kind of material. The movie, “Brazil,” is a good example of this difference. Not only is “Brazil” cast in an eerie, somber, and tragically hopeless and futile air — indicating that one’s response here is to “believe in” the reality of such material—but the only escape in this movie is in a purely conceptual, fantasy way.
The main character cannot face the horror ultimately. He flips out into a reassuring dream sequence brimming with BPM I and BPM IV imagery. Interestingly, reflecting the pattern of progression of our expressions in feeling therapies, the dream includes a BPM III scenario to get him to those later bucolic realms.
But in “Brazil” these are only daydreams. This fact shows a refusal to face this perinatal material or to surrender to it. Rather, in fantasy, one overcomes the horror. It is as if one continues using familiar ego techniques—hero’s journey methods, dragon-slaying methods—for dealing with material on a deeper level where they no longer work—where they are in fact counterproductive.
Thus, these techniques can only succeed in dreaming. Terry Gilliam, the creator of “Brazil,” shows us that the hero, in reality, is doomed.
However, one might interpret the main character’s escape into fantasy as a victory over evil forces. That the ending lends itself so readily to such an interpretation is a telling indictment of the state of progress of some of us in dealing with perinatal material. Apparently, there are those so lost that the only success possible seems to be in insanity or death.
Evolution In Attitudes to the Perinatal?
However, in “Nothing but Trouble,” the main characters do face and deal with all the material. Sometimes they fight it; sometimes run from it; sometimes play with it; sometimes joke, tease, spar, or get silly with it; sometimes are swallowed by it and carried along…but always they are creatively facing and dealing with it. This different air about and attitude towards the perinatal material can be said to be an advance from the earlier movie, “Brazil,” representing perhaps a progression of our collective consciousness in our attitudes and manner of dealing with the perinatal.
Dancing Above the Dissonance
Such a prospect is, indeed, the auspicious legacy of such a creative project. Though it is doubtful they did so consciously, the Aykroyd brothers and the producers of “Nothing But Trouble” deserve our gratitude for their efforts in lighting forward our collective reality endeavor.
Beyond that, we can take hope in the possibility that Western culture may be rising itself, however minimally at first, above the dramas of light and darkness that have plagued it for so long. The Manichean tendency can lead only to ever-spiraling cycles of resistance and assault. Yet we are seeing currently, not only an erosion of defiantly uni-dimensional ego perspectives, not only a movement toward facing and dealing with our inner darkness, but an integration of opposing forces, a dancing above the leela—the play—of light and dark.
The Universality of Divinity Remembered
The perennial understanding of the universality of divinity, both within and without us, in the lowest as well as the highest of places, is the bright at the center of the perinatal bedlam about us. We are guided as well by this gleaming, a rising moon of promise and possibilities.
Continue with Apocalypse? Or Earth Rebirth? A Smaller Number of Us — Standing in the Right Place and With a Lever Big Enough — Might Be All That Is Needed to Move the World
Return to You Just Can’t Slay a Volcano: The Necessary Hero Uses Surrender, not Struggle … For Why Would You Not Be Borne Up by a Universe That Is You
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People Who Have It All Figured Out Are the Ones to Watch Out For … Emotional “Sickness” Might Indicate More “Wellness”: Rebirthing Rituals, Part 3
Being Crazy in an Insane World Might Mean You’re the Sane One: Rebirthing Rituals, Part Three – Auspicious Collective Regressions
Regression in the Service of the Ego
With the exposure of the ineffectiveness of the Freudian tactic of intellectual understanding has come the Freudian movement’s disintegration into schools advocating various other strategies for change.
These schools/strategies include the psychiatric—the use of drugs; the neo-Freudians who acknowledge and use regression in the service of the ego and abreaction; the humanistic-existential approaches, stressing the “experiential”; and the Jungians and neo-Jungians, who would seek the resolution of these cycles in their inner archetypal acting out, resulting in an eventual rootedness of the ego in a higher Self (a spiritual center) beyond or transcending the cycles. [Footnote 9]
Other approaches include the bulk of the spiritual, new-age, or transpersonal means that are flourishing these days. These alternative paths basically differ from all others in their belief that one can simply bypass these perinatal pulls and pushes and go directly to the Light or the Self by dismissing the birth cycles, or the Darkness or Shadow, through affirming the Light, meditating the Darkness out or the Light in, changing one’s thoughts, creating one’s reality, and various combinations of these.
Finally, these newer schools and strategies for healing include those of what might be called experiential psychotherapy, which includes primal therapy, holotropic breathwork, some forms of (experiential) meditation (Vipassana meditation, for example), Reichian and bioenergetic approaches, some forms of hypnotherapy—experiential ones—ones that involve reliving traumas—and virtually all the techniques, treatments, and correctives that are espoused in the field of pre- and perinatal psychology.
The point is that from a good number of these other-than-Freudian perspectives—and all of those that acknowledge the importance of regression in the service of the ego—and from the perspective of the entire field of experiential psychotherapy, the answer to the cycles of violence, war, and death-rebirth is to stop the acting out, not by simply intellectually decrying it—as if one can actually talk oneself out of one’s inner fears and one’s Darkness/Shadow—but by reliving those cycles of violence at their origins…their primal roots. In the case of perinatal forces, those forces from “the dark side,” this is accomplished by reliving the violence of birth, a perinatal trauma that is thoroughly and masterfully delineated by Grof and deMause. [Footnote 10]
Auspicious Collective Regressions
But from this perspective of experiential psychotherapy—one completely congruent with and grateful of deMause’s contributions in psychohistory as well—regression, in Europe, or elsewhere, is not seen as something to decry, disclaim, be horrified of, or be seen as dangerous but is seen as an opportunity. Regression is certainly not seen as a form of defense but as the opposite of that. Regression is part of a process of diminishing one’s defenses against one’s internal reality of pain and trauma.
Thus, examples of blatant collective regression as in Europe—more so to the extent they are relived, released, and integrated—are entirely auspicious for the eventual elimination of war as a collective device of acting out—defending against—the painful feelings coming from one’s personal history which one carries around, all unknowingly, and which pervade, in one way or another, in forms subtle and not so subtle, every moment of one’s consciousness in the present.
From this experiential psychotherapeutic perspective, we have a different feeling about developments like those that Mayr and Boelderl describe as collective regression in Europe and Lawson describes as occurring at rock concerts. [Footnote 11]
From a more enlightened viewpoint these cultural phenomena should have us, if not dancing in the streets, at least hopeful of a gradual decrease in the use of war and violence. Why? It is because the youth who display this “regression” so blatantly were brought up by an “advanced” form of child-rearing than that of previous generations, that they have fewer defenses, fewer layers of obfuscation covering up their unconscious psychodynamics; consequently the regression is seen more clearly in their behavior. [Footnote 12]
Unflinching Belief Related to Total Dissociation
Why is this important? DeMause points out that people do go to war, and that prior to it their perinatal dynamics come to the fore, as evidenced by perinatal-laden words and images in the media and in leaders’ speeches used to describe the situation and its dynamics. Thus, our leaders take us into war, they act out their perinatal dynamics…and we in following them act out ours…in such gruesomely overt ways because these dynamics are so hidden, repressed, and overlaid with defenses that the conscious mind has absolutely no access to, and hence insight into, them as being part of one’s unconscious dynamics.
Consequently the conscious mind is completely able to convince itself that those dynamics are actual, real, and doubtless parts of the situation and therefore require an actual, real, and extreme response. The amount of resolve required to act out war can only be wrought of an unflinching belief in the rightness, the absolute correctness of one’s perspective of the situation and therefore of that extreme course of response. And that can only be brought about by a total dissociation from one’s perinatal traumas, and a complete and utter projection of it on the outside—the enemy, to be specific.
Blatant “Sickness” Related to Being Real
The contrary is also true: When there does not exist that total and complete dissociation of the perinatal trauma—when it is, as in Europe and rock concerts currently, closer to the surface, less defended against, less repressed and, hence, more blatant—it is more accessible to consciousness and less likely to be acted out in the extreme as in war. Instead it is more likely to be acted out in less extreme forms, such as jumping into mosh pits, carrying pacifiers, listening to baby tunes about the, very real, difficulties of being a baby, and so on.
Finally, it is more likely to be actually allowed to emerge in consciousness and be relived, and thereby “healed”…and gone beyond, to be replaced by something more benign and more socially constructive, and thus to be removed forever as a motivation to war or violence. This is the auspicious view of the developments described by Mayr and Boelderl. [Footnote 13]
Janov was the first to point out that a permanent resolution of underlying trauma initially entailed an aggravation of symptoms and symbolic acting out. That is to say, the underlying dynamics become more blatant and apparent in behavior. [Footnote 14]
Janov was also the first to note that the acting-out and overt neurotic was closer to being “real,” and therefore really sane, than his or her highly functioning and “normal,” but repressed, rigidly defended, and unfeeling neighbor. [Footnote 15]
9. Regarding the “experiential,” I should make clear that this approach is, from the perspective of the experiential psychotherapeutic approach I will be describing shortly, actually the superficial symbolic acting out of these underlying and powerful cycles in a way that is only a little less impotent than the Freudians.
12. Mayr and Boelderl claim quite wrongly and quite strangely—as if to make the facts not conflict with DeMause’s psychogenic theory, or as if to cover up some hole in their analysis—that those caught up in the pacifier craze were raised under the intrusive and socializing parenting modes (op. cit., 1993, p. 145) and yet, in 1992, were between the ages of 15 and 30 (Ibid., p. 143). This is hard to understand because these youth would have been born between the years 1962 and 1977 in advanced Western countries of mostly Western Europe—Italy, Germany, Austria, all of Europe, and even the U.S. (Ibid.).
However, the intrusive and socializing modes are associated, by DeMause, with the eighteenth century and the nineteenth to mid-twentieth centuries, respectively, in the Western world (DeMause, op. cit., 1982, p. 62). On the other hand, the helping mode begins mid-twentieth century in the Western world (Ibid., p. 63).
The conclusion from this is that these youth, described by Mayr and Boelderl, would have been greatly influenced by the helping mode. They would be expected, at least, to have received the most advanced methods of child-caring overall in the world at this time—considering DeMause’s theory—since they are the most recent progeny of the Western world!
Indeed, if these cannot be considered products of the helping mode, who can be? In order for Mayr and Boelderl to dispute this and claim they were exceptions to the rule and were raised under intrusive and socializing modes, they would have had to do a study demonstrating this, or at least cite one done. And this they do not do.
13. Michael D. Adzema, “Reunion With the Positive (Self), Part 1: The Other Half of ‘The Cure.’” Primal Renaissance: The Journal of Primal Psychology 1(2): 72-85. Reprinted on the Primal Spirit site.
Continue with The Most Evolved Parenting … Boomers and Millennials … and The Cyclical Nature of History: Rebirthing Rituals, Part Four – I Know It’s Hard to Believe But We’ve Been Getting Saner
Return to Railing Against the Darkness: The Vanity of Will, The Impotence of Reason, Progress Requires Regress, and Healing Is Nothing if Not Messy
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