Opposing Worlds – Drugs of Choice and Generational Cultures: Drug Effects – Alcohol, Nicotine, LSD, Marijuana – and History
Culture War, Class War Chapter Three:
Drugs of Choice and Generational Cultures – Opposing Worlds
Drugs and Generations
In continuing our exploration of cultural and generational conflict and the Matrix evolving out of that, it is instructive to focus on an aspect of that conflict that has burned with controversy—drug use. Since drugs affect consciousness and personality and different drugs have different effects, looking at the polar opposite views on consciousness altering substances is especially fruitful.
So for additional perspective on the topic of culture war and the processes of cultural change that have gone on since the 1950s between and because of the different generations involved, let us consider the relation between particular drugs, with each their own unique effects on consciousness, and the generation that uses them…or, one might say…between the prevailing drug use of a time and the generational culture that is created.
This chapter—”Opposing Worlds“—deals with the World War Two and the Sixties Generations and their drug use. The next chapter—”Concocted Worlds“—focuses on the generations since—Generation X and Millennial—and their preferences and cultural profiles.
To begin, I present some salient facts for your consideration:
Drugs and Consciousnesses
Drug Research, Public and Private
While it is common to state that drugs act differently on different people—especially, when referring to the less-mainstream, more esoteric ones, whose effects have not been experienced by the majority of people as yet—there are some obvious generalizations that can be made. For example, we would not say that we could not comment on the effects of alcohol. Its effects on the neurochemistry of the brain and on consciousness have been fully and scientifically explored, and of course its effects have been experienced by nearly everyone in our culture. Similarly, though research on the effects of the less-mainstream drugs have not been as thoroughly explored and documented, there is, in fact, quite an extensive body of scientific and popular literature on this, especially over the last half century.
Because of the widespread drug use of the Sixties Generation, massive amounts of money have been spent to try to determine how and in what way people are affected by the substances they used. Though this research has largely been driven by a World-War-Two-Generation desire to find fault with the drugs, so that the research is biased toward looking for and of course then coming up with findings that would be considered negative, still, the research has a good deal of useful information if you can read “between the lines,” so to speak.
Alongside mainstream research there is also a considerable body of privately funded research, which is therefore less biased, as well as a considerable body of anecdotal research on drug effects. By this last I mean that there is a good deal of literature detailing what people have said they have experienced while under the influence of the various substances.
What follows is based on study of both kinds of research described above, as well as from reports by experiencers related to the author. Last but not least, it is a result of the fact that this author is a member of the Sixties Generation, born smack in the middle, in 1950, and it may be concluded that I share some of the characteristics of my generation. Enough said, or, see below.
Alcohol numbs pain and creates a euphoric state by blotting out higher-order cerebral-cortical functioning. It reduces access to memory, diminishes physiomotor skills, blocks anxiety, depression, and nervousness.
These effects alone make it the perfect drug to create and sustain a defensive style centered on denial. Indeed, the drug can be said to “block out reality” in that one can be unaware of aspects of reality that could end up being dangerous and harmful while simultaneously enhancing the positive aspects of reality in an almost manic way. One can feel unafraid and unaware in the face of pain and danger, as well as one can feel confident and overoptimistic in terms of one’s evaluations of oneself, one’s capabilities, and the potential consequences of one’s actions.
We can say these are blocks to reality in that very often reality intervenes, through accidents, adverse social reactions, and the reevaluation of grandiose schemes afterwards “in the cold light of sobriety” in which they are seen to be unrealistic in that they did not take into account other aspects which would prevent their success.
There have historically been entire generations (see below) as well as individuals during any period who have kept themselves “under the influence” pretty much all the time, sometimes considering it to be the natural state. For these folks who rarely venture into that state where decisions and plans are evaluated in a sober “cold light,” we know that the effect is a blocking out of reality in that the effect of acting on the drug-influenced decisions and schemes is most often failure. It is actually disastrous, or way or the other, a good deal of the time more than would be the case following soberly decided acts. It can result in acts leading to harm to the person, to others, or to the physical or social environment.
There are three relevant effects of nicotine: It is a stimulant, it causes an increase in heart rate and blood pressure and can cause sweating from the speeding up of metabolism. This allows it to be used to aid in working situations, where continued or repetitive action is required, beyond what a person would normally wish to do. However, it is not useful in, say, sporting types of action in that another effect of nicotine is a diminished physio-motor capacity. For example, people will sometimes complain of feelings of “wooziness” and/or its affecting one’s sense of balance, particularly if they have taken enough of the drug or are unaccustomed to it.
Nicotine can paradoxically create a depressing effect. This effect on the body can be felt as a relaxation, and sometimes, but only at its onset, as a relatively short lasting feeling of a surrounding warm numbness, which is sometimes termed a buzz. Thus a person can feel relaxed, sometimes to the point of mental depression, but simultaneously be metabolically stimulated. These effects are related to certain psychological effects of taking the drug, if it is taken in the form of smoked tobacco, as in cigarette or pipe smoking.
Janov has pointed out how a cigarette is the perfect breast substitute. Not only does it engage the oral sensory gestalt, but the breathing in of a warm and full air simulates the taking in of warm mother’s milk. Indeed, people who smoke have often, in psychotherapy, discovered that they have severe deprivations around nursing during the neonatal and infancy periods. The appeal of cigarette smoking, then, for these people lies in its ability to both engage and to some degree temporarily satisfy the oral craving carried over from infancy as well as to re-create both the desired warm relaxation, which the neonate or infant would have experienced if he or she would have been tenderly held and breastfed, as well as the depression/sadness that actually was experienced in infancy because the need to nurse was not satisfied.
We will see again and again this interesting pattern in drug effects, which helps to explain their appeal, in that very often they both assuage an underlying Pain as well as re-create it, either simultaneously or at different times of the drug experience. Primal and other psychologists have learned, of course, that those are the two motivations that emanate from early Pain. That is, that a person is driven both to run away from and avoid her or his Pain, yet “the body” (as it is sometimes said) pushes the person to re-create the original situation, over and over again, in what may be considered the psyche’s way of trying to resolve it. Put simply, we are psychologically designed to be forever faced with our problems until we handle them…in the case of primal pain, we stay stuck in the patterns and sensations of our past traumas until we resolve them.
A final effect of cigarette use is its ability to repress anger. Considering the above, it can be seen why cigarette smoking would be related to an “oral rage,” which is how some psychologists have described one of the emotional reactions to nursing deprivation. Stated plainly, a baby would be extremely pissed-off to not get the comforting and nourishing experience of breastfeeding that a human is biologically designed to crave. This anger remains inside, like all primal emotions, and is easily and often brought to consciousness, triggered by the frustrations of normal life, if nothing else.
However, the physical and psychological effects of sucking in a “smoke” are those of (psychologically) sucking back, or inside, one’s feelings and anger or reversing the natural push of anger which is to lash outwardly; they are also that of a kind of holding or controlling of one’s breath, which is also related to the attempt to hold back or control one’s anger in that breathing and emotions are connected (let’s not get into that just here); of replacing the urge to anger with the soothing warm intake described above, the deprivation of which (in nursing) helped to cause the rage in the first place; and, last but not least, to create a state of consciousness altered from the one of anger—one in which feelings are hazily confused and not clear and in which thinking and memory are somewhat impaired.
Drugs, History, and Cultures
Medieval Times, Drunken Adolescents at War
The Hundred Years’ War between England and France during the Middle Ages was fought by adolescents whose primary beverage was wine. In fact, there was one campaign in which England was raiding and advancing into France which turned into a precipitous retreat back to England. Because the French turned them back, stopped them? No. There was little resistance to their advance. However, they did run out of wine! Unable to acquire the needed wine in France (for what reason, I do not know), they could not continue.
History also reports that The Hundred Years’ War was ordered and commanded, oftentimes, by royalty and kings in their teens, who considered a daylong, somewhat intoxicated state to be normal; and it was fought by drunken adolescents and teenagers for the most part.
911 and Phantom WMDs, Gulf of Tonkin, Pearl Harbor, Sinking of The Maine…But at the Start There Was the Wyoming Valley “Massacre”
I have mentioned how The Hundred Years’ War was fought by intoxicated teenagers. It can be added that other wars, including America’s own War of Independence were fought by inebriated soldiers. For example, “in a severe battle, General Putnam, who was almost perforated with bullets, complained most of all, that a shot had passed through his canteen and spilt all his rum….”
Moreover, major events in colonial times were brought about by alcohol-saturated actors. The Wyoming Valley Massacre, in which a handful of colonists were killed by Native Americans, was precipitous in the American’s involvement in the extermination of established Native American cultures and nations—Mohawk, Seneca, especially the Iroquois. The reaction to the “massacre” was a crusade up and around the Hudson Valley in which the Iroquois, among others, was largely eliminated from the face of the Earth. “If they surrendered, they were killed…if they fled, they were killed,” it was said of the nature of this campaign.
What is not very well known is the nature of the precipitating event, the Wyoming Valley Massacre. The true story is that while a number of adult settlers in their prime were off fighting in the Revolutionary war, a group of older, elderly, and fringe citizens gathered one night. Under the heavy influence of spirits the group riled each other up with fiery rhetoric against the nearby Native Americans.
This resulted in a hastily put together, drunken assault against their native neighbors. Naturally these elderly inebriated attackers did not fare very well in their attempt, and the Native’s response had the colonists retreating to their fort. Not everyone made it. About four were captured by Natives. It is said the stragglers’ screams could be heard that night from inside the wall of the fort as they were killed by the Native American defenders.
This “massacre” was built up and slanted against Native Americans for propaganda reasons to garner the colonists’ full-handed participation in the war, with its extermination of Native peoples, as mentioned. It was quite successful in accomplishing that. Consequently, also, the true version of the events that led to such genocide would never be related in history books. And who would ever want to believe that the formative events of great nations…or the calamitous, genocidal events of other nations…could be instigated by a rash action from a small group of idiotic old men in a full-on state of intoxication?
World-War-Two Generation, Driving—Wars and Culture—“Under the Influence”
The World-War-Two Generation grew up in a time in which alcohol use was considered fashionable and elegant. It was common and acceptable for men to carry in their shirt or coat pockets flasks of potent whiskey or other hard liquor, from which they could publicly imbibe a swallow here and there throughout the day. When the World-War-Two Generation came of age, cigarette smoking also became fashionable.
We can see evidence of both of these in the movies that were produced in the Thirties, Forties, and Fifties. Any unpleasant occurrence or announcement could be followed by “I need a drink” or “Sounds like you could use a drink.” And offering a drink of hard liquor was considered the first rite in the normal ritual of hospitality. Also, offering someone a cigarette and/or offering to light another’s cigarette were considered a normal part of genteel behavior.
Elegant accouterments accompanied these rituals as well. Ornate, elegant, and often finely crafted metal flasks were purchased and used. In the same way, elegant crystal and glass containers for holding the liquors as well as elaborate and ritually designed glasses into which the alcoholic beverages were poured were commonly owned and used in genteel culture. It was considered fashionable to have a “bar” area in one’s living room containing these liquors, each in separate crystal containers, and the glasses for serving them.
Many a conversation in the movies of the era were shown to be conducted at or near these home bars, following upon the alcoholic bonding ritual of pouring and imbibing the drink. This ritual conversational imbibing of a beverage has its analogies in the water-cooler, coffee klatch, and coffee/espresso-house rituals of other eras and subcultures.
Pointing out the normality and ritualizing of alcohol use in this era is important because it is an indication of the pervasiveness, at any time of day, of the state of consciousness—i.e., intoxication—that this potent drug produces. Since this cultural behavior is still somewhat with us so that its anomalous quality may not be readily apparent, it may be helpful to keep in mind that current drunken driving laws of nearly all states would apply to everyone of that era involving themselves in only a modicum of that alcoholic ritual.
That is to say, those folks, imbibing only one drink, would be considered “drunk” by our standards today, and sufficiently into an altered state of consciousness as to warrant their receiving severe criminal penalties, including jail time, should they put themselves into the driver’s seat of a car.
Yet in that era, normal cultural, business, and social intercourse was often conducted in such a state. Heady decisions concerning war, peace, and everything else were influenced by this culturally accepted drug use.
World War Two, therefore, was conducted and fought by a generation who grew up to believe that alcohol and cigarettes (nicotine) were an acceptable answer to unpleasantness—whether inside or outside of themselves. Alongside this and supporting it were an attitude and beliefs that negative—i.e., unpleasant—emotions and feelings were harmful and should be kept out of consciousness.
Thus, denial was the predominant defense in use; and it is no coincidence that “positive thinking” (popularized by the late Norman Vincent Peale), which is the keeping out of negative thoughts and the striving to focus always on positive ones, became such a rage near the end of their era—the Fifties, early Sixties. [Footnote 1]
Drugs and Generations, Fifties Generation: Marijuana Effects, The Beats, Phoney Baloney, “YOU Do It!”
The Beats: Pot; Peripatetic, Apathetic Mind; Seeing “Plastic” People
The effects of marijuana are more diverse than those of alcohol and nicotine. Yet there are a number of things that can be said about its effects in general. The effects of marijuana are more subtle than the two drugs mentioned thus far. In fact, there are some people who cannot feel the effects of marijuana; and very often it takes several times of using it before one begins to realize its effects. Yet it is not an ineffectual or weak drug by any means.
The reasons why some people cannot feel marijuana’s effects appear to be related to their having very defended personality types, or, one might say they have a great deal of repression. The reason this would affect their ability to feel the drug’s effects are easy to understand when we consider the fact that repression of feelings of trauma would include repression of the ability to feel things in general. A repressed person is a more neurotic, more defended person; and more defended persons are basically defending against painful feelings. But feelings cannot be separated and to repress feelings of Pain means also to repress the ability to be sensitive to other feelings. Hence highly defended or repressed persons can smoke a great deal of marijuana and yet not “get off” or they may just feel feelings of relaxation.
Janov has said that marijuana acts to kind of “bend” defenses, which allows repressed feelings to surface, for those who are not in the category described above, which would include the majority of people. Since we all have some degree of primal pain, we all have defenses to being fully feeling, so the effect of marijuana for the majority of people is to open them to some of the pleasurable feelings that have gotten repressed along with the repression of Pain.
Therefore some widely noted effects of marijuana concern its enhancing sensory ability and therefore pleasure. Listening to music, being in Nature, watching a movie, or sex can all be quite enhanced and different while experienced under the influence of marijuana. Aspects of these experiences that were always there but were never noticed can be explored. One can seem to be experiencing something on many levels at once, or to be fully immersed in the experience so that aspects of it that formerly seemed more “walled off” from one can seem almost tangible in one’s ability to experience it; one can become so immersed in experience that complexities of it can be taken in and enjoyed, which one never even noticed before. [Footnote 2]
Part of the reason for this type of effect of “pot” is that it lowers blood sugar and thus causes the normal cortical defenses to be less effective in blocking out experience. Related to this is a feeling of timelessness—a feeling of being in the Now—which can also be related to the diminished cortical functioning which is goal-oriented and related to linear time. Which brings up another effect: It reduces one’s feelings of needs to achieve or to be goal- or achievement-oriented. The sensory world is what is initially enhanced in the course of one’s experience with this drug; and the experience of the sensory world in its own right does not engage more complex, more “inward,” and more individually unique goals, feelings, scripts, dramas, scenarios, or motivations.
Robert Masters and Jean Houston, in their book, The Varieties of Psychedelic Experience, provided an architecture of the psyche, derived from their study of the effects of LSD, that is useful in understanding what can happen eventually with continued use of marijuana. They conducted “depth soundings” of the LSD experience and discovered that there were four levels of the experience: the sensory, the recollective-analytic, the symbolic, and the integral. While marijuana is not as powerful in its effects as LSD, it has a similar effect on consciousness; one might say it acts in the same direction as LSD. In contrast to drugs like alcohol and nicotine, which serve to aid repression and to help to numb or reduce one’s perception of both inner and outer reality, both marijuana and LSD have the effect of opening or enhancing one’s awareness of inner and outer reality.
However, the effects of marijuana are complex because they do not as consistently open one to inner realities as does LSD. Pot opens or enhances one’s experience of the sensory world initially, and as long as it does just this it can be used as a drug of avoidance of painful (inner) reality just like alcohol and nicotine do. That is, one with sufficient repression and defenses can use marijuana to flee from inner pain, depression, or whatever, into an enhanced, pleasurable sensory world that does not trigger one’s pain. At this stage, only, pot can be used to defend against pain and can be psychologically addictive in providing a palliative to pain. Once again, it can do this because it serves only to “bend” not to bust one’s defenses against one’s pain.
Yet for some people this effect of marijuana changes with continued drug use. It is as if the continued “bending” of defenses can eventually lead to a “loosening” of them, and with that loosening comes the deeper level of experience described by Masters and Houston and termed the recollective-analytic. At this level, enhanced sensory experience opens the door, so to speak, to enhanced inner awareness. This enhanced inner awareness can include the awareness of the underlying motivations of oneself and others, and this is mostly not pretty.
Because the normal person is motivated mostly by past, or primal, pains or traumas and is acting out scripts or roles that are pathetic attempts to re-create or struggle with events that happened a long time ago, the normal person is not really IN the present. The person is, as the great religions have described it, in ignorance, in samsara , in dukha, and is basically unreal. The person, as humanistic psychologists have described, is inauthentic and is acting out games or scripts, which they are totally unconscious of. They have identified with these scripts, roles, goals, and motivations—the outgrowth of a completely unique set of past experiences of pain and trauma—and haven’t a clue as to their arbitrary character, let alone of the fact that other people are similarly acting out their own unique roles which are just as arbitrary and, well yes actually, pathetic.
However, pot, just like LSD, can eventually (sometimes even initially for persons who are, perhaps because they are young, or whatever, are unusually undefended, more sensitive, and more open to actual reality) open one to the horrifying perception of the inauthentic and unreal nature of ordinary social behavior. In this state of heightened awareness of the inner world of oneself and others, one perceives oneself and others as puppets or windup dolls, pathetically seeking to satisfy very old needs, which are totally irrelevant to the present context, with others who are similarly and robotlike also seeking to satisfy very different past deprivations. In common parlance, it is said that most actions of people are just “games.” So, part of the horrifying nature of this perception, on the recollective-analytic level of awareness, is that indeed people are not truly relating to each other at all, that they are like people trapped in spacesuits trying to communicate with each other through the layers of barriers between them. [Footnote 3]
What follows from this perception is the conclusion that people are basically phony, or plastic; that life is unreal; that normal motivations in pursuit of normal social values such as achievement, status/popularity, and pleasing appearance are meaningless rituals—games—that are totally irrelevant to the true nature of one’s being or reality; and that one is trapped in this prison of unconscious scripts, with no chance of release or true perception of reality.
The “Beats” – “Phoney Baloney,” So, “YOU do it!”
The “Beat Generation” of the Fifties used marijuana and caffeine, predominantly. Their culture included the rise of existential belief, the glorification and poetification of angst, and the belief that their contemporary society was characterized by alienation, conformism, inauthenticity, and, most tellingly, “phoniness.” The normal life of the World-War-Two Generation was seen as a “rat race,” motivated by such high ideals (sarcasm intended) as “keeping up with the Joneses,” and pervasive materialism and consumerism.
Yet activism was not the Beat Generation’s response to this perceived negative social context, as it would be only a generation later. Passivism, apathy, pessimism, and defeatism were the most common attitudes expressed. This is what one would expect as a result of marijuana use.
Nonetheless, art was deemed a weapon, however impotent, with which to rail against what seemed an overwhelming, huge mainstream ignorance or unconsciousness. So the only apparent activism of that time is found in rebellious poetry, folk music, and fine arts of all kinds, especially literature, theater, painting, and some film.
Drugs and Generations: Drug Effects, LSD and “My Generation”
Drugs and Generations
The preeminent researcher on the effects of LSD on consciousness is, without question, Stanislav Grof. In his many works, he concurs with Masters and Houston’s early work that the initial phases of psychedelic experience are predominantly enhanced sensory awareness. It is this type of experience that is usually related to the use of LSD as when the experience is expressed in colorful and swirling images, which has been called psychedelic art. And for many people who used LSD, the experience remained on this level of surface, enhanced sensory awareness. Thus they could use it for “recreational” purposes.
But more often with LSD people accessed deeper levels of the mind, so that the recollective-analytic (Grof calls it the biographical or psychodynamic level) is reached, as well as levels beyond it. These levels were accessed even when the drug was used “recreationally,” because of the relative potency of the drug as compared with marijuana.
So it was that while Grof and other researchers like Masters and Houston were studying the drugs effects in controlled settings and with sessions guided by researchers who had experience with accessing deeper levels of the experience (as, for example, Grof himself), there was some degree of access of the deeper levels of the experience even by people using it in uncontrolled situations and with no guidance. It if for this reason that there were some calamities that occurred under the influence of the drug, which gave it the bad reputation that caused it to be banned. Yet for every disaster, there were many more whose experience of LSD was transformative, simply due to the fact that, even without a guide, the psyche’s normal tendency is toward growth and resolution; so, many people were able to flow with and be taken to deeper, more transformative levels of the experience.
For example, Stanislav Grof terms the third level of psychedelic experience the perinatal, meaning “surrounding birth.” It is equivalent to what Masters and Houston termed the symbolic level—the difference being due to the fact that perinatal material is initially experienced in highly symbolic ways, and it is only in later sessions with the drug that the birth material becomes more apparent. Since Masters and Houston’s research method was to study the effects of one session of the drug on over two hundred subjects and Grof’s method included its use with some individuals over a number of sessions, it is understandable why Masters and Houston did not discover the birth material laced through the encounters with their “symbolic” level. But beyond the symbolic level the researchers concur once again, with Masters and Houston calling the deepest level integral, and describing a number and variety of spiritual experiences that can happen at that level, and Grof terming the same level the transpersonal , and presenting in exquisite detail in his works a vast array of “spiritual” type experiences at that level.
With this in mind, I wish to point out that the Sixties Generation did not know of these levels and, for the most part, were totally unaware of the research that was coming up with these typographies or architectures of the psyche, or of at least the drug experience. Nevertheless, those of us who lived through that period and either participated in LSD use or heard the stories of psychedelic experiencers can attest that transformative spiritual experiences were quite common, even when the drug was used just for the “fun” sensory part, and people also described experiences of curling up in fetal position and reliving their births, long before anyone even heard the term perinatal. As concerns the spiritual level, it was not uncommon to hear of people who saw Jesus, or who went to a place they could only describe as “heaven,” and this is only the tip of the iceberg in terms of the varieties of spiritual experiences that were had.
For our purposes here, however, it is important to keep in mind that LSD had the capacity to take one to deeper realities than the horrifying recollective-analytic one. One might say that the recollective-analytic perception is a cognitive view, an intellectual view, or an existential view, and it is certainly an alienated one; but that most of all it lacks the aspect of “the heart.” In other words, it is only when one goes deeper into the psyche and “feels” the Pain of that estrangement, or in psychedelic terms goes deeper into the actual reliving of the traumas that caused the creation of those alienating scripts (as happens on LSD when the biographical or psychodynamic level is reached; and even more so when the perinatal level is worked through, relived), that one can go beyond the horrifying reality of estrangement to a reality in which one’s “heart” is opened and one can catch a glimpse of a reality beyond the normal one—one in which we are all spiritually connected, in Love.
It is significant to point out that LSD has this capacity beyond the use of pot so we might understand the differences between the Beat Generation’s reaction to their perception of the unreality of existence, obtained in their use of marijuana, and the Sixties Generation’s quite different reaction to that perception of social phoniness, who were influenced by the use of both marijuana and LSD.
Vietnam-Era Generation–“Wow, Man!” “Just Do It” “Go With the Flow”
The Vietnam-War, or Baby-Boomer, Generation was noted for their use of a number of drugs. Marijuana, wine, “speed” (amphetamines), “downers” (e.g., “ludes” or qualudes, also “reds”—i.e., barbiturates), LSD, other hallucinogens such as mescaline, “magic mushrooms,” psilocybin, and peyote were all in use. It was a culture of experimentation in all areas, including drugs, which grew out of beliefs (following in the footsteps of the Beat Generation) that normal life/people were characterized by phoniness (plastic was the Vietnam-era Generation’s word for it), alienation, conformism, robotism, and lack of feelingness…and hypocrisy.
Though the Sixties Generation (another term used for this generation) experimented widely with drugs, their predominant drugs of choice were “pot” (marijuana) and LSD. Alongside this sort of drug use were attitudes of activism, free love, love as the ultimate value and/or as equivalent to God, pacifism in regards to the war, the valuing of openness, authenticity, “real” communication, and passion and/or feelingness, including sensory awareness or heightened perception of the physical world.
It is easy to make the connection between the spiritual access capable with LSD and the emphasis on feeling, community, communication (‘rapping”), transcendence, and sensory enhancement that characterized the Sixties Generation. On the negative side, there was sometimes apathy and defeatism, like the Beat Generation, associated with marijuana use.
Drugs and Generations
Marijuana “Cocktails,” History, and Culture
Once the pot experience opens to the second level of awareness—the recollective-analytic, which is deeper and more real than the initial enhanced sensory awareness—there is no going back. That does not mean that people will not try to recapture the earlier type of experience. Very often it is at this point that the person will begin mixing the pot with other drugs, in particular, alcohol, because they will try to block out the deeper awareness with these other drugs that diminish awareness.
Indeed, we saw this happen on a massive scale in the Sixties. Initially, pot users were disdainful of people who used alcohol, calling them “juiceheads.” They were disdainful of alcohol use because they were aware that it reduced awareness and that it had served that purpose for their World-War-Two-Generation parents, who they saw as in great denial of obvious realities—about themselves and the world—as people who did not “walk their talk,” and were…a charge leveled like an arrow at the heart of the WWII Generation’s values and world…”hypocrites”! Thus, regardless the cost the one thing the Sixties Generation did not want to do was to end up like their parents; thus, the disdain for the use of alcohol.
Booze Was the “Apple” in the Psychedelic Eden
However, it is said that the movement changed, exemplified by the differences between Woodstock and Altamont. Woodstock epitomized the height of euphoric use of mind-expanding substances like LSD and marijuana, undiminished by awareness-diminishing drugs like alcohol. And Woodstock was, of course, noted for the fact that it brought together a million people for three days of peace and harmony, a model of nonviolent behavior under adverse conditions that, it was said, was never before exemplified by the alcohol or “juicehead” celebrations or gatherings of the past.
By the time of Altamont—another huge musical event held in California after Woodstock—the change was apparent. Alcohol was now being used, with the other drugs, in abundance; there was no disdain for its use; and violence and death at the event coincided with this change. It might be concluded that the “honeymoon phase,” let us say, of marijuana use had passed for many who were using it, that the heightened sensory awareness was now opening more and more people to the deeper awareness of horrifying psychological realities, which needed to be blocked from awareness by mind-diminishing drugs.
At any rate, the other response to the deeper awareness of horrifying inauthenticity that pot was revealing was for people to stop using marijuana. Indeed, a great many “potheads” abruptly discontinued its use.
And they dealt with the horrifying reality that it had revealed to them in a number of ways, oftentimes turning them into activists to change the social reality, into psychologists or personal growth facilitators to change it on the individual level; but sometimes they tried to retreat into traditional values and culture, only doing it one better—becoming “Jesus freaks,” for example; or they hid away in career and family; or they attempted to build utopian and “authentic” communities of relationship, sans pot.
Some took up the the use of cocaine or amphetamine, finding that the reality that speed revealed hid the horrifying reality of pot, replacing it with an avid and manic identification with one’s roles and scripts. In fact, some used speed with alcohol, then added pot, for a “twist,” and in this way sought to regain the initial innocent sensory euphoria. As the popular song described it at the time, “Just give me weed, whites, and wine….”
Nevertheless, some people simply never had the experience of the horrifying inner inauthenticity of normal existence. Being very defended, they were able to continue to use pot for pleasure, and some of them are able to continue to use it this way to this day. Older folks—middle-aged and up—are especially well-defended and repressed in general. As Janov has pointed out, such persistent and long use of defenses against reality reinforces and strengthens them to such a point as to make them inaccessible to change. Their defenses against painful perceptions cannot be brought down by primal therapy OR pot. In common parlance, “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks” and older people are more “set in their ways.” So it is that when some of these, having missed the “party” during the Sixties, use pot hoping to get a taste of what they missed, they almost never experience anything but the initial sensory awareness and relaxation, that is, if they are able to experience the drug’s effects at all.
Continue with “Culture War, Class War Chapter Four:
Drugs of Choice and Generational Cultures – Concocted Worlds”
Return to Culture War, Class War Chapter Two: Matrix Aroused, the Sixties: How We Became a Nation of Puppets, and the Hidden Puppeteers
1. Just as in the alcohol use, the “positive thinking” fad continues—both of them much abated, of course, since the World-War-Two Generation gradually leaves the scene. Astonishingly, even in this postmodern era, one World-War-Two Generation author admonishes, in huge text no less, in the title on the cover of his popular book: “You Cannot Afford the Luxury of a Negative Thought”! (yipes!)
2. An extremely funny exposition of the effects of marijuana is contained in an album put out during the Sixties titled Child’s Garden of Grass. While its intent is completely comedic—at which it succeeds masterfully—it succeeds more than anything else I know of in depicting, to both the experienced and inexperienced, the most common effects of this trickster drug. Enjoy it below (seriously, only when you have the time to really “grok” it) as it has been reproduced for sharing on youtube.
There are a total of ten parts to “Child’s Garden of Grass.” The ones that follow part one above can be accessed by clicking the youtube link on the player.
3. “Like people trapped in spacesuits trying to communicate with each other through the layers of barriers between them” is the way one person described it, as reported in a book by Kenneth Keniston titled The Uncommitted, which delved into the psychology of one segment of Sixties Youth.
Continue with “Culture War, Class War Chapter Four:
Drugs of Choice and Generational Cultures – Concocted Worlds”
Return to Culture War, Class War Chapter Two: Matrix Aroused, the Sixties: How We Became a Nation of Puppets, and the Hidden Puppeteers
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War, Wounded Deer, Tea Party, and Zombies – Putting Generations on the Couch, A Hierarchy of Healing
Apocalypse No! Chapter Eleven:
Healing Crisis – Getting “Sick” To Be Well
Getting Sick In Order to Get Well
What does this all mean? What does this portend? What might be the outcome of this emerging perinatal unconscious? In other words, consciousness evolution or apocalypse?
To answer what an emerging perinatal unconscious might mean on a macrocosmic or societal-global scale, it is helpful to look at what an emerging perinatal unconscious portends on the individual or microcosmic level.
What we have learned from the experiential modalities—holotropic breathwork™, primal therapy, rebirthing, vivation, and others like them—is that unerringly people need to get “sicker” before they can get well. This should not be news to psychoanalysts or any of the other mainstream psychotherapists or counselors either.
Basically, the underlying repressed material must come to the “surface,” must become more conscious…and obviously when it becomes more conscious its accompanying symptoms are exacerbated. This can be called a healing crisis in that the symptoms get worse, more obvious, more blatant; and there is a period of acting them out before integration and resolution happens.
“Die” to one’s sickness before one can be “born” well
When Grof talks about birth/death scenarios in the perinatal unconscious, he is including these sorts of healings, where one must “die” to one’s sickness before one can be “reborn” into another way of being, without those sick patterns or symptoms.
Degrees of Disease
Dissociation – Completely Split Off
It’s YOU! YOU’re the f&^$#r!
We see a progression over the last century in which there was complete dissociation from the perinatal unconscious by those of the World-War-Two and previous generations—hence complete projection of it on The Other—to lesser dissociations from it by the generations since, baby-boomer and afterward, which involve more awareness of it as being a part of oneself and less projection of it on The Other.
In this latter instance, there is more suffering from it and more individual acting out of it, so that in a sense one appears “sicker”—the perinatal is more obvious in one’s behavior, taking more individual forms, and it is more easily recognized and seen to be a personal problem…a “sickness.”
To understand the ways the perinatal manifests depending upon one’s “closeness” to it, let us contrast the two extremes of being split off from it and being close to it.
Being Really Sick, But Denying It: WWII Generation, Nazis, KKK, Right Wing, Tea Party
Can’t know what you don’t know.
First let us take a look at what the perinatal appears like when it is completely split off from one’s conscious personality. This complete splitting off from the perinatal entails a complete repression and denial of it. Consequently, one has absolutely no access to it, and thus one is in total ignorance of the underlying motivations of one’s actions. One unconsciously acts out perinatal elements and traumas and manifests them in one’s behavior, rationalizing all the while that one has really good—non-perinatal, “real world”—reasons for why one is doing the things one is doing.
What”s in your head, zombie?
Psychohistorians deem this state to be such an oblivious one that they use the term trance-state for it, fully intending all the implications and connotations that term engenders. That is, they are saying that people who are this repressed and split off do their acting zombie-like and out of motivations completely hidden to themselves. [Footnote 1]
Birth Wars = World Wars.
In such total ignorance, and of course being totally ignorant that one is in ignorance, people in the past century have been able to act out their perinatal underbellies in ways to make such hideous and all-encompassing wars as World War I and World War II possible.
Leaving aside for a moment the myriad ways the perinatal has unconsciously been acted out in this century in creating the current situation in which we are on the brink of extinction—which can be considered the most serious consequences of this splitting off imaginable—simply focusing on this century’s major wars as evidence of perinatal acting-out alone is instructive.
The Nazis, in particular, were extreme in their dissociation from their perinatal, in their projection of it onto the Jews, and their consequent ability to act it out in horrific ways on them and others. Alice Miller and Lloyd deMause have each detailed the psychodynamics of this projection of primal pain—both perinatal and childhood—in the creation of the people that Adolf Hitler and the Nazis became in their adulthood. [Footnote 2]
The Nazis present us with the patterns of these processes of dissociation and projection in blatant and obvious relief. The way Nazis, especially in concentration camps, acted out perinatal trauma on their prisoners has been described in great detail by Grof as well. [Footnote 3]
Wounded Deer: Being “Weller,” But Appearing Sicker—Generations Since
The extreme acting-out and total dissociation from the perinatal exhibited by the World-War-Two Generation was followed, in the generations coming after, by less relative dissociation and less horrific forms of acting it out as exemplified by polluting the atmosphere, water, and food; population explosions and crowding of cities; and traffic jams.
The common everyday traffic jam is especially instructive of perinatal dynamics as traffic congestions replicate asphalt birth tunnels where one not only breathes exhaust fumes from trucks and other autos—fetal malnutrition—but also can become gridlock at any moment, thus re-creating the intense frustration and no-exit hopelessness, and rage, of BPM II.
Baby-Boomer Perinatal Awareness
Other examples of the scenery of modern times where the perinatal is manifesting but is even less projected onto the other: Some access to the perinatal and more obvious acting it out personally is exhibited by many of the baby-boomer generation.
We know THAT we don’t know…We could be wrong.
On the one hand, many baby-boomers had enough access to their perinatal underbellies to question the absolute rightness of the Vietnam War and so they campaigned against it. This is indicative of closeness to the perinatal because it shows an ability to doubt one’s egocentric defenses—as given by society and family of origin—and to look at situations from the eyes of the Other.
So much was this evident in the baby-boomer generation that some were even able to see the Vietnam War through the eyes of the enemy—exemplified by Jane Fonda’s trip to Hanoi, the waving of North Vietnamese flags at demonstrations, and the carrying of little red books of the sayings of Chairman Mao tse Tung.
But it’s clear you’re wrong.
The baby-boomer—or Sixties—generation also indicate their closeness to their perinatal in their campaigns against some of the act-outs of the perinatal mentioned above: These include actions against pollution; a rejection of city life, with its gridlocks, pollution, and crowding , and a return to the country, in communes or otherwise; an awareness and rejection of polluted foods and creation of a natural and organic foods movement; and actions against global overpopulation including support for birth control, a pro-choice stance on abortion, and delaying of baby-making on their own parts along with a reduction in the size of their families.
Many more examples could be given. But the proof of their closeness to their unconscious dynamics lies not only in their actions—as mentioned above, in their more blatant acting them out or in their actual actions against the blatant acting out, both of which indicate closer access—but also in the study of their unconscious dynamics. As mentioned in Chapter Nine, Kenneth Keniston found in his study of the psychodynamics of the Sixties generation when they were in their youth an unusual amount of perinatal symbolism and self-analysis. (See “Raging to Reenter, Digging Under Ground.”)
The Factor of the Angry Electorate…the Tea Party
And more recently—beginning in the 1992 and 1994 national elections—these baby-boomers continued to exhibit their perinatal influences in the totally unexpected phenomenon of the “angry electorate.”
At the time, pundits and media analysts were at a total loss to explain the rage of the electorate that was affecting these elections. In 1992, they were totally surprised by the showing of three men in particular—Jerry Brown, Pat Buchanan, and Ross Perot—who seemed to have one thing in common: the angry tones and rebelliousness that characterized their speeches, as compared to others. [Footnote 4]
The demeanor of these candidates was at such odds with the other candidates that when Bill Clinton one night responded angrily to a comment by Jerry Brown about Hillary, Clinton’s wife, it was that part of the debate—of Clinton being angry, all issues aside—that made the news that night!
Now, keep in mind that a huge aspect of the perinatal is feelings of restriction, thus frustration, and, consequently rage against large entities of obstruction—like the womb was in relation to the small and helpless fetus. In doing so, we see that the reason for the rage is simple and understandable. Baby-boomers, as I have explained, are characterized as being closer to their unconscious, especially the perinatal. This is in large part due to their having been raised in a way that required less in the way of ego defenses to keep their primal pain suppressed.
Hence baby-boomers are of course also closer to the frustration, rebellion, and yes, rage, that is part of the perinatal complex. We saw it exhibited by them in their anger at authority in the Sixties, their rebellion against the Vietnam War. The sexual excess that is characteristic of the perinatal was evident in their free love and promiscuous sexual behavior.
More recently these baby-boomers have been coming into the triumphant phase of their lives. They make up a larger sector of the electorate than they ever have before, and their influence is reflected more as they come into positions of power in the media and elsewhere.
Though the rage of the electorate in 1992 caused the Brown, Perot, and Buchanan phenomena, it was split among them, so Clinton ended up winning. This of course was also OK with the baby-boomers in that (1) Clinton and Gore were baby-boomers like themselves and (2) in the race against Bush, Clinton was the challenger, and thus the rebel; and Bush was the “bum to be thrown out.”
However, this rage did not go away after the election, which highlights its having perinatal origins. In fact, after the shortest “honeymoon period” in history, by some accounts, it became directed at the most likely target/center—the President, Bill Clinton, himself.
We all know how despite the successes and progress of Clinton’s first year, he was especially singled out for ridicule and denigration by the media. He could not seem to do anything right, and the most incredibly outrageous behaviors were attributed to him.
“Throw the bums out…again.”
This rage spilled over into the next year and, sure enough, during the midterm election—the issues be damned—the angry electorate was in a mood to “throw the bums out” again. It did not matter the party….I do not claim that all those of my generation are always as politically astute as they are angry.
The Republicans called it a “revolution.” It was simply the acting out of an electorate in the throes of perinatal feelings—that is, feelings of frustration, being “tied up” by red tape, an inability to go forward…that is, up the economic ladder—wages had been stagnating since the early 80s…being overcontrolled and pushed around by regulations…big government being the big mother womb keeping the fetus locked in and unable to move…and out of all this, the consequent anger and rage.
We shall overcome.
We also see perinatal feelings in the focus of the baby-boomers on empowerment. This word appears to come up in every area of their lives. It can be seen as the natural focus of a generation that feels itself inside to be a helpless fetus facing an overpowering obstruction of a womb.
At any rate, succeeding elections bear out this analysis of an angry electorate. In 1996, despite the much ballyhooed “Republican Revolution,” sure enough, the electorate was spoiling to “throw the bums out” again—only this time it was the Republican Congress. So there were Democratic gains at the time.
And in 1998, when everything pointed to a huge Republican landslide because of the Lewinsky scandal, the electorate again showed their rebellion and anger toward both the pundits and the Republicans who had been lambasting them with details of the scandal for nearly a year by giving the Democrats gains again! [Footnote 4]
In 2006, 2008, and 2010, it was an angry electorate reeling against oppression; and in the case of 2010, doing it mindlessly, against their own interests. If there were not perinatal charge to all this, Americans would not be so irrational about their choices. People have had good reasons to feel oppressed since the Eighties when Reagan began the giveaways to the rich and the budget cutbacks, continuing to this day, that have caused the masses to feel constricted and oppressed.
Yet, if this did not result in their being perinatally overloaded so that they cannot reason, they would not have been able to be led to fight their own interests as they were in 2010 and in an ongoing way as exemplified by the Tea Party and the success of right-wing agendas.
Reacting, too angry and confused to think
Another aspect of this irrationality on both sides of the political spectrum has to do with this idea that there is no difference between the two major parties. Feeling oppressed perinatally is characterized by a pressure from all sides simultaneously. There is an inability to distinguish or discriminate between forces that are helpful and those that are dire, as any and all developments seem threatening in situations of crisis. In a situation of overwhelm, further, there is an inability to think clearly. One just fights back, explodes, reacts. It’s no coincidence that righties are called reactionaries.
The upshot is an inability, under the pressure of perinatal feelings, provoked endlessly by actual oppression economically, environmentally, socially, and culturally, to rail against any authority, to bite the hand that feeds one. This is exactly like the panicked swimmer who in danger of drowning fights off his or her rescuer. Can anyone at this point still maintain that the politics of the last few decades had anything at all to do with ideology or issues?
Perinatal Access of “Baby-Boomer Echo Generation”
The most recent cohort of youth, often called the millennial or baby-boomer echo generation, show the same inner access as their baby-boomer parents. They demonstrate as well their parents’ consequent refusal to act it out on a larger scale: It has been said that the greatest concerns of those in this generation, now in their 20s and early 30s, are pollution and racism.
They show the progressive bent of their parents, also, in their having a lot to do with giving America its first African-American president and in their support for union rights and in the massive demonstrations against the draconian economic policies of Republicans in Wisconsin and other states.
We know how pollution and action against pollution indicates a closeness to one’s perinatal. To put it another way, it is clear that only a total denial and disconnect between one’s consciousness and one’s unconscious perinatal dynamics would allow one to act it out unconsciously in the creation of pollution and in the denial of it as a problem or a mindless neglect of it. So the fact that these baby-boomer children—the baby-boomer echo generation—are so cognizant, concerned, and active in relation to global pollution shows their lack of denial of this perinatal act-out.
But what of racism? How is this an indication of a closeness to the perinatal. There are several ways in which this is so. As mentioned, a closeness to the perinatal allows one to doubt one’s given defenses and to glimpse alternate perspectives—in particular to look at things from the eyes of The Other.
In this way, the baby-boomer echo generation are able to see oppression, injustice, and unfairness as it is played out in the lives of minorities who don’t share their (predominantly) middle-class advantages.
Naturally they were helped in that awareness by the gains of the Sixties and previous decades that had them growing up with diversity of racial and ethnic heritages—seeing things multiculturally not narrowly—in their schools and in the omnipresent media. But there is another, stronger element. This is the factor of oppression and unfairness itself. We experience compression (oppression), and frustration at our attempts to go forward, and what feels like hopeless unfairness and injustice, when in the throes of BPM II birth trauma. To see these facets of the fates of minorities, as in racism, points to this echo generation’s closeness to their own perinatal oppression; hence their ability to empathize with oppressed minorities.
This ability to realistically sense and respond to oppression is also the reason they would throw themselves in heartily in defense of unions, an increasingly oppressed middle class, and public sector employees.
Right-Wing “Hate Groups”…the Tea Party: World-War-Two Mindset in the Extreme
One might also note the rise of “hate groups” occurring at the same time as the phenomenon of the angry electorate. Hate groups fill their ranks from folks on the extreme right and their actions are exemplified in the Oklahoma bombing tragedy and more recently the Tea Party.
But notice again then that these hate groups are always on the extreme right of the political spectrum and thus exemplify a World-War-Two mindset in relation to their perinatal unconscious: Specifically, the mindset is one of being completely cut off from one’s unconscious dynamics and being in total denial of unconscious motivations so that one can have the complete certitude, lacking any access to the unconscious which would give rise to doubts, that makes violent actions possible.
However the reason for bringing up the hate groups is to show how much their actions as well are dominated by perinatal—in their case, totally unconscious—dynamics. For without exception their reasons for rising up against the government—representing the overwhelming womb—has to do with frustrations, like the trapped fetus feels, in regards to “oppressive” taxes, governmental red tape, laws, and other regulations that they feel restrict their freedom…to move freely, as one wanted to but couldn’t, in the womb.
A Hierarchy of Healing?
Now this idea that those close to their unconscious conflicts are more likely to act them out blatantly goes completely against one of DeMause’s tenets. He wrote, “The higher the psychogenic mode of the psychoclass, the less it is necessary for it to act out its conflicts.” [Footnote 5]
However this is exactly the crux of my difference with his theory and is a central point I am making. For from my perspective, the higher the mode of child-caring equals the less the defenses. Hence, the more it is likely that that generation’s conflicts will be close to the surface, seeking resolution…like Maslow’s hierarchy of needs theory. We might want to call it a hierarchy of healing theory. [Footnote 6]
In other words, our observing the supposed “acting out” of an underlying trauma does not mean that the group or person in question is actually or, at least completely, “acting it out” and defending against it. It may be that that group is resolving, healing, or integrating it—taking it inward rather than acting it out…in the world, on others…whether to a small or great extent.
The difference between acting out and resolving is whether the actions are done in total dissociation from the unconscious dynamics, that is to say, in a trance state—as explained earlier in regard to the World War Two generation and the Tea Party—or whether there is at least a modicum of insight into it occurring as a result of things inside of oneself, not completely projected onto the outside. So in non-acting-out behavior there is a tad of insight, as, for example, in the “overexamined life” of the “uncommitted” and the “self-analysis” of the young radicals of the Sixties generation.
Flaunting One’s Sickness Beats Hiding It
Hey, it was tough!
In more recent times, the regression in Europe shows a bit of insight…and resolution happening…in that the baby song being hummed is about the very real hardships of being a baby. Therefore, an actual truth about their own lives is being faced here by those singing along with it. The song is not being used to deny or defend against those traumas.
One might suspect that in carrying around such blatant examples of regression as a pacifier—someone in a more defended mode would be highly threatened by such an obvious symbol that they are really needy children inside. More defended folks would be terrified such overt behavior would make them look wussy or sissified—that is, look like that vulnerable, frightened baby that they really feel themselves to be but are doing their damnedest to hide from everyone.
So in actually carrying around a pacifier these youth are not only displaying an insight into their feelings of sometimes being needy babies, on the inside, but are actually flaunting this awareness, as if to shame, or slap the face of, or be “in the face” of a generation of their parents who did not see their needs when they were babies—however effortfully and obviously they sought to demonstrate them. Thus the symbols needed to become more and more shocking and obvious.
Look at what you did to me!
For example: the jeans with requisite holes around the knees saying, “You did not take care of me; you made me feel like a poor, orphaned, ragamuffin child.” The piercing of mouths, nose, ears, and even tongues saying
I am in pain, dammit! Can’t you see that when you stick needles in me as a little baby that I hurt? How can you be so insensitive? Can’t you see that when you refuse to breastfeed and thus nurture me orally that I am forever damaged there, ever painful there? What does it take, my sticking pins—safety pins make the point even more that it was when I was in diapers—in myself to make you see that I hurt there?”
And, of course, the black clothes, the hideous macabre makeup, and depressed, sullen expressions saying,
Look, you might think we’re a wonderful family and everything is hunky-dory here; but I wish I were dead! I’ve felt so much pain, from in the womb, at birth, and right after birth, that I wish I’d never been born.
Also, somehow in courting death, I have the feeling that I might somehow be reborn again into a good life, not like this place of torture and tears, right from the beginning, where my welcome into the world consisted of being drugged, handled like an object or piece of meat, blasted by bright lights, scrubbed by rough cloths, having needles and suctions stuck in me, blasted with noise, made to lie on cold stainless steel surfaces, and then bundled like a tamale so that I could not move…making me feel again like I was back in the hellish womb where in the later stages, for a time that felt like an eternity, I felt unable to move and was suffocating for lack of sufficient oxygen…and the only action that was possible was for me to scream my bloody head off for long periods of time or go into a stupor—which is what I did, alternating between them.
Can’t you see that I’d rather be dead than live in such a world of insensitive zombies like you. Hell, in fact, to further drive the point home, I’ll even look and act like a zombie, I’ll try to appear as unfeeling and morose as you all seemed to me, especially at my birth. And I’ll go a step further and mirror yourselves back to you by becoming enamored of vampires….
Can’t you see that you sucked my very life force, my blood, and turned me into an unfeeling vampire like you, by suffocating me in the womb, poisoning me with your toxic blood which you both sucked from me and then forced down my throat!
Different Levels, Different Defenses
It is instructive at this time to note that Arthur Janov once compared the defenses that characterized the youth of the time—the late Sixties, early Seventies—with those of their parents and older people in general and came up with findings that amplify my own assertions here.
“How can you have any pudding if you don’t eat your meat?”
Specifically, Janov found that older people—clients of his as well as others of whom he was aware—were characteristically more repressed, more split off, more prone to dissociation, more defended and, most importantly for our uses here, tended to use defenses of denial and obfuscation against inner information and impulses. Correspondingly, they tended to use drugs that repressed and blotted out reality, such as alcohol and nicotine; and they tended to be sexually repressed. They were also more compulsive. They tended to suppress their tension and hold it in for all their worth.
Truth was greatly feared, and all attempts were made to fend off incoming information that might threaten the delusional reality set of the conscious mind. This left them open to the characterization: “My mind’s made up! Don’t confuse me with the facts!” which was leveled at them by anti-Vietnam War protesters. Consequently, Janov found that the dominant mode of reaction, when threatened, was to act out aggressively against the supposed “oppressor.”
On the other hand, he found that his youthful clients—under 30—tended to use defenses of excess, release, and addiction, or to be unusually lacking in defense mechanisms. They were more impulsive. They tended to have weak barriers to incoming information, to be open to negative unconscious content, even at the expense of their self-esteem, and to be tension expressers. They were therefore more likely sexually promiscuous than repressed, and they tended to drugs that opened them to information and unconscious knowledge–such as marijuana and LSD.
Consequently they were less split off from their unconscious truth…though it made them uncomfortable…were less repressed, and, if anything, used defenses of masochism, self-denial, and self-inflicted aggression or depression. Truth was more important to them than emotional comfort. They tended to go out of their way to dig up negative information about themselves, and they accepted the low self-esteem and sense of self-worth that came with that kind of openness.
Their delusional reality set—if it could be called that—entailed taking on the worries and cares of the world as their own, since their openness to their own cares and worries allowed them to empathize with others in obviously similar conditions. When triggered into their pain, their dominant reaction was to take it inward and to take it out on themselves causing depression. In doing so they showed they would rather hurt themselves than hurt another.
I don’t believe you need to be a rocket scientist to see that Janov was discovering an historical—one might say millennial—”changing of the guard” as regards access to the unconscious, openness to personal truth, and lessening of the tendency to act out early trauma in violent or belligerent ways. The older generation had more tendencies to blame others, to find scapegoats for their ills, and to act out violently on them. The younger generation had more tendencies to look inward and to blame and punish themselves…and to prefer to hurt themselves before hurting another.
Less Wars, More Suicides
And this “acting in,” as opposed to acting out, is indicated as well in the rise of teen suicides in recent decades. So you might say that the tradeoff we are currently getting is a reduction in the use of wars and racism to solve problems—that is, a reduction in the tendency to act out one’s Pain on others and by scapegoating. But, since the perinatal trauma is still there, and one is even more conscious of it, we have increased suicides.
Thus less wars, more suicides.
As DeMause pointed out,
Those considered ‘neurotic’ in each age may often be a higher psychogenic mode than those considered ‘normal,’ only they must stand the anxiety of not sharing the group-fantasies of the age. [Footnote 7]
Away From Hubris: Nature Balances HerSelf
In this part we have seen how perinatal acting out can be of two kinds: totally unconscious and trance-like, or semi-conscious with at least some access. We have looked at how a progression to more access to one’s perinatal underbellies has led to more acting in than acting out. We have seen how it has led to less violence and more depression.
Suffering Beats Dying.
At this point, one could make the point that the tradeoff is worth it: That individuals suffering more emotional pain and trauma is preferable to the horrors of war…put bluntly, suffering beats dying.
This is natural of course, in that this is always the way we have thought of things: That is to say, as if all things were to be considered around the concerns of humans. This is called anthropocentrism—a form of species-centrism—in which Homo sapiens is considered the reason for the existence of the rest of the Universe.
Likewise, with an uncountable number of species living or having lived on this planet alone—species numbering in the millions—again one might question the validity of choosing the perspective of our species alone in making our analyses.
How ‘Bout We Step Outside?
Yet this is the way we have always done it. And this is the way I have been slanting my perspective so far in this book.
But now let us do something radically different. Let us walk out of ourselves now—figuratively speaking—and seek to stand upon that Archimedean point from which we might view the events currently transpiring.
From such an attempted non-species-centric viewpoint let us view this emerging perinatal unconscious as it is currently manifesting in humans. However tenuous our attempt, let us at least try such a new-paradigm viewpoint. For certainly all old-paradigm ones—containing all the hubris of anthropocentrism that they do—have failed in their attempts to save our species and indeed have contributed to such a likelihood.
Let us attempt to see through the eyes of Gaia, now, as we look at how the current human predicament may in fact be an example of Nature balancing HerSelf.
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Apocalypse – No! Chapter Twelve:
Through Gaia’s Eyes – Nature Balances HerSelf
Another head hangs lowly
Time is slowly taken
And the violence causes silence
Who are we mistaken?
Let he see, it's not me
It's not my family
In your head, in your head
They are fightin!
With their tanks, and their bombs
And their bombs, and their guns
In your head, in your head
They are cryin!
In your head! In your head!
Zombie! Zombie! Zombie!
Whats in your head, in your head?
Zombie! Zombie! Zombie!
Another mother's breaking
Heart is taken over.
When the violence causes silence
We must be mistaken.
It's the same old theme
In your head, in your head
They're still fightin!
With their tanks, and their bombs
And their bombs, and their guns
In your head, in your head!
They are dyin!
In your head! In your head!
Zombie! Zombie! Zombie!
What's in your head, in your head?
Zombie! Zombie! Zombie!
2. Alice Miller, For Your Own Good. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1984; and Lloyd deMause, “Restaging Early Traumas in War and Social Violence.” The Journal of Psychohistory 23 (1995): 344-391. Reprinted, with permission, on Primal Spirit site as “Restaging Prenatal and Birth Traumas in War and Social Violence”) [return to text]
3. Stanislav Grof, “Planetary Survival and Consciousness Evolution: Psychological Roots of Human Violence and Greed.” Primal Renaissance: The Journal of Primal Psychology 2(1): 3-26, p. 23. (Article reprinted, with permission, on this Primal Spirit website). [return to text]
4. See “It’s the Attack on Privacy, Stupid! What Republicans and Pundits Don’t Get About Clinton’s Support,” on the Primal Spirit site, for more on the angry electorate and how it played out in the 1996 election. [return to text]
5. Lloyd deMause, The Foundations of Psychohistory. New York: Creative Roots, 1982, p. 139. See also “Are Some ‘Sick’ People More Healthy Than Normals?” [return to text]
6. See also “Are Some ‘Sick’ People More Healthy Than Normals?” on the Primal Spirit site. [return to text]
7. Lloyd deMause, The Foundations of Psychohistory. New York: Creative Roots, 1982, p. 143. [return to text]
Copyright © 1999, 2011 by Michael Derzak Adzema
Continue on this site with
Apocalypse – No! Chapter Twelve:
Through Gaia’s Eyes – Nature Balances HerSelf
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