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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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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]

troll doll

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

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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.

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Human Birth Is Unique in Nature in Its Trauma and Its Role in Creating Our “Human Nature”: The Perinatal Unconscious Driving Our Humanicide

We Are a Fever, Part Five, The Perinatal Unconscious: Why We Are Committing Ecocide and Seeking Species Suicide

I believe that this prenatal area in particular is ripe for reaping what it can teach us about what is human, about “human nature.” While Stanislav Grof and Lloyd deMause have written on the implications and ramifications of birth on society, culture, history, and current events, not much has been said on the prenatal influences on our world, with the few exceptions mentioned in the overview in this chapter, especially David Wasdell. However, prenatal influences, especially those of the third trimester, are dealt with in considerable detail in this book, Wounded Deer and Centaurs. In upcoming works and one previous one, Falls from Grace, I discuss the influence of first trimester and sperm/egg and cellular events.

What I put forth in the current work is my understanding of how both these perinatal and prenatal events shed so much light on what that “human nature” is that is bringing about our environmental and global crises, which currently have a life and death urgency about them. I believe we need to understand these factors to survive. For I am convinced they are the forces that are strongest in shaping our present times and its events, creating an ever more discernible perinatal zeitgeist for postmodern times.

“Perinatal” = “Surrounding Birth”

“We Are a Fever”

Let us start with birth and its effects on shaping our current global crises. To do that we need to first look more deeply at what constitutes our perinatal influences.

So, how are we to characterize these strangest of days and the current unprecedented global condition? As I have said, they are driven by what I call an emerging perinatal unconscious. As The Kills sing it, most aptly, “We ain’t born typical.” [Footnote 1]

Perinatal Unconscious

Why perinatal? First, let us remind ourselves that perinatal means, literally, “surrounding birth.” As a one-time university instructor of pre- and perinatal psychology and as an editor of a professional journal concerned with perinatal psychology— as well as a psychohistorian, let me explain what might be considered elements of a perinatal unconscious. [Footnote 2]

Unconscious Matrices = “Human Nature”

The elements I will describe are near universally accepted among perinatal psychologists as unconscious forces, factors, matrices that exist in us all as a result of a human birth that is unique, by comparison to all other species, in its degree of trauma and hence of its impact or imprint on what we might call—dare I say the word—our “human nature.”

These perinatal elements have come to our understanding through the efforts of both the inner explorations of experiential pioneers into the perinatal, as well as the hard empirical work of pre- and perinatal researchers. I might also point out that I, myself, have forty years of experiential exploration into these perinatal elements, in addition to my scholarly work and research in this field. My experiences confirm, in my own mind, their absolute validity, as well as validating for myself the theoretical constructs put forth by others to describe and explain them.

Pre- and Perinatal Psychology, Experiential Voyagers

Be that as it may, these perinatal elements of the unconscious have been described most thoroughly be three figures in particular: Stanislav Grof, Arthur Janov, and Lloyd deMause. It might help, also, to keep in mind that entire new fields of pre- and perinatal psychology, primal psychology, and to some extent, transpersonal psychology have grown up around the existence of these perinatal factors. Entire modalities of healing tap in to and are based on the existence of this perinatal unconscious, including primal therapy, holotropic breathwork, and rebirthing, to name just the few that I happen to be trained in. These unconscious perinatal elements have, at this point, been confirmed by thousands of researchers and hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of experiential voyagers into the perinatal unconscious.

Elements of Birth Experience

Based upon all this, then, let us look at some of the elements, in general, that characterize this perinatal unconscious.

Perinatal Matrix ~ Societal Matrix

Stanislav Grof describes basic perinatal matrices (BPMs)—in other words, typical experiential constellations related to our births. These happen to be very much akin to deMause’s perinatal schema, with some slight differences in emphasis, and more elaboration on the part of Grof. So let us use Grof’s schema as a basis. [Footnote 3]

All Needs Met . . . With Luck – Matrix 1

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Grof’s Basic Perinatal Matrix I, or BPM I, involves the experiences and feelings related to the sometimes, or at least relatively, undisturbed prenatal period. The prenatal period is that time in the womb sometimes characterized by feelings of peace, complete relaxation, and a feeling of all needs met, or “oceanic bliss.”

BPM I corresponds to deMause’s societal periods of “prosperity and progress,” which he claims are accompanied by feelings and fears of being “soft” and “feminine” — understandably here, for in BPM I, that is, prenatally, the fetus is largely identified with his or her mother and is very much “soft,” i.e., undefended.

Since the time in the womb may also be disturbed by toxic substances that the mother ingests—drugs, chemical additives, and so on—as well as by disturbing emotions that the mother experiences, which release stress hormones into the mother’s bloodstream, which then cross the placental barrier and affect the fetus, BPM I is also sometimes characterized as feelings of being surrounded by a polluted environment and being forced to ingest noxious substances, toxins, and poisons, which sickens the fetus.

No-Exit Despair – Matrix 2

In Grof’s schema, BPM I is followed by BPM II—that is, Basic Perinatal Matrix II—which are experiences and feelings related to the time of “no exit” in the womb and claustrophobic -like feelings occurring to nearly all humans in the late stages of pregnancy and especially with the onset of labor, when the cervix is not yet dilated. Since there does not seem to be any “light at the end of the tunnel”—metaphorically speaking—it is characterized by feelings of depression, guilt, despair, and blame, and a characterization of oneself as being in the position of “the victim.”

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It is very much like DeMause’s period of collective feelings of entrapment, strangulation, suffocation, and poisonous placenta, which he has found to precede the actual outbreak of war or other violence. [Footnote 4]

Birth Wars – Matrix 3

imageThis of course is followed by BPM III (Basic Perinatal Matrix III), which involves feelings and experiences of all-encompassing struggle and is related to the time of one’s actual birth. Characterized also by intense feelings of aggression and sexual excess—in the position, now, of “the aggressor”—it is related directly, in deMause’s schema, to a time of actual war.

Hallelujah! . . (I think. . . . ) – Matrix 4

Basic Perinatal Matrix IV (BPM IV) follows this. It corresponds to the time of emergence from the womb during the birth process and is characterized by feelings of victory, release, exultation.

But sometimes, that initial relief is followed by depression. For too often, and especially in current Western culture, the struggle of birth does not bring the expected rewards of reuniting with the mother and the comfort of nursing. Instead, during modern obstetrical births, the neonate is harshly treated and then taken away from the mother, disallowing the bonding which should occur, naturally, immediately after birth.

In my own experience, the exultation and relief of release was replaced suddenly by feelings of being assaulted by the attendants at my birth … which of course they thought of as “attending” to me … imageas they went about roughly removing mucous from my mouth; prematurely cutting my umbilical cord to leave me struggling for breath; scrubbing, weighing, measuring, and otherwise probing me; and wrapping me like a tamale and taking me away from all I had previously known … that is to say, my mother. This felt like ritual abuse to me, and I have often likened it, after the intense period of compression and crushing before birth, to a situation of “going from the frying pan into the fire.”

At any rate, this experience of actual emergence or birth coincides, societally, with deMause’s period of the ending of a war.

Heaven and Hell

In summary, we have euphoric, oceanic, blissful feelings, sometimes feelings of being poisoned or being in a toxic or polluted environment; followed by crushing, no-exit, depression, claustrophobia, compression, strangulation, suffocation, and being force-fed by a poisonous placenta; followed by struggle, violence, war scenarios, birth/death fantasies, sexual excess; and finally release, triumph, feeling of renewal or rebirth and a new golden age, but also possibly of being abandoned, tortured, ritually sacrificed, probed medically, and assaulted by sensations. These are some of the elements that characterize the experience of the perinatal unconscious.

For Dreaming Out Loud! Projecting the Perinatal Zeitgeist

In the next chapter, we will take a look at how these elements have erupted into our collective dreams in recent history. By this I mean, we will see how our artists and creative people have projected them into the media, movies, and TV–in which we all participate–and how our fascination with them, because these artists are reflecting things that exist deep inside of ourselves as well, has caused them to grow, creating the dominant underlying zeitgeist of our time.

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Footnotes

1. Chapter titled with appreciation and admiration to The Kills for their recording, U R A Fever. The lyrics go, “I am a fever, you are a fever, we ain’t born typical….” and so on. The music video produced is similarly brilliant. Together, it is a production bordering on genius. The video contains levels of meaning that are only obvious on subsequent viewings. The video and its lyrics follow:

Lyrics – U.R.A. Fever – The Kills

Walk you to the counter
What do you got to offer

Pick you out a solder
Look at you forever

Walk you to the water
Your eyes like a casino
We ain’t born typical

Find a piece of silver
Pretty as a diagram
And go down to the Rio

Put it in my left hand
Put it in a fruit machine
Everyone’s a winner
Laughing like a seagull

You are a fever
You are a fever
You ain’t born typical

You are a fever
You are a fever
You ain’t born typical

Living in a suitcase
Meet a clown, fall in love
went down to have you over

Going ’round a break up
Take you to a jukebox
That’s the situation
Pick you out a number
And that’s our arrangement

Dancing on the legs of a new-born pony
Left right left right
Keep it up son

Go ahead and have her
Go ahead and leave her
You only ever had her
When you were a fever

I am a fever
I am a fever
I ain’t born typical

I am a fever
I am a fever
I ain’t born typical

We are a fever
We are a fever
We ain’t born typical

We are a fever
We are a fever
We ain’t born typical

We are a fever
We are a fever
We ain’t born typical

We are a fever
We are a fever
We ain’t born typical

2. In the Pre- and Perinatal Psychology Newsletter I was applauded for being the first person in the United States to teach the subject of pre- and perinatal psychology at the university level and—as it was said, remarkably—for doing it while still a student. I did this at Sonoma State University, in Rohnert Park, California, in the years 1994 and 1995, beginning while I was a graduate student there and continuing afterward.

My graduate thesis became the book, Falls From Grace: Spiritual and Philosophical Perspectives of Prenatal and Primal Experience, which is listed in Wikipedia as a reference under the topic of prenatal and perinatal psychology.

Subsequently, I became the editor of the professional journal, Primal Renaissance: The Journal of Primal Psychology, formerly published by the International Primal Association. Much of the contents of its issues were later posted to my website, Primal Spirit, where they can still be viewed.

I have had my writings published in The Journal of Psychohistory, including some that later became part of this book. In fact, I presented some of my original thinking on these matters at an Institute for Psychohistory Association convention, and those parts were also published in The Journal of Psychohistory under the title, “The Scenery of Healing: Commentary On DeMause’s ‘Restaging Prenatal and Birth Trauma’s in War and Social Violence’”” 23/4, 395-405.

These are among my many credentials in this field of pre- and perinatal psychology, where I have studied and trained from 1972 till this day.

3. 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.

4. Lloyd deMause, “Restaging Early Traumas in War and Social Violence.” The Journal of Psychohistory 23 (1995): 344-391. (Reprinted, with permission, on the Primal Spirit website as “Restaging Prenatal and Birth Traumas in War and Social Violence“)

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Your Map of Reality Was Drawn When You Were But a Cell: We Are a Fever, Part Four — Sperm and Egg Consciousness, Spirituality and Soul, and Vision of a New Person and Society

The First Trimester, Cellular Memory and Conception, and Foundations of Myth and Personality: Your View of the World Was Stamped on You When You Were Just a Cell

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? (See my article “A Primal Perspective on Spirituality,” which makes this exact same case and was published prior to my knowing of Peerbolte’s work.)

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.

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.

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. 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.

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.” While Stanislav Grof and Lloyd deMause have written on the implications and ramifications of birth on society, culture, history, and current events, not much has been said on the prenatal influences on our world, with the few exceptions mentioned in the overview in this chapter, especially David Wasdell. However, prenatal influences, especially those of the third trimester, are dealt with in considerable detail in this book, Wounded Deer and Centaurs. In upcoming works, and one previous one, Falls from Grace, I discuss the influence of first trimester and sperm/egg and cellular events.

What I put forth in the current work is my understanding of how these prenatal events shed so much light on what that human nature is that is bringing about our environmental and global crises, which currently have a life and death urgency about them. I believe we need to understand these factors to survive. For I am convinced they are the forces that are strongest in shaping our present times and its events, creating an ever more discernible perinatal zeitgeist for postmodern times.

Continue with We Are a Fever, Part Five, The Perinatal Unconscious: Why We Are Committing Ecocide and Seeking Species Suicide

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

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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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The Vision of Ourselves Arising from This New Research Is the Most Important One for Understanding Our Humanicidal, Ecocidal Plunge and for Doing Something to Reverse It

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”

How do we go about changing the patterns of millennia? How do we change, and change radically … and soon? How do we bring about the consciousness transformation that will allow us to avert the humanicidal, indeed ecocidal, scenario we are currently bringing about at breakneck speed.

Well, it is pretty clear that it is ignorance pushing these trends, along with unconscionable doses of denial and ignore-ance. So, reversing this means learning why it is humans can be so self-destructive. Ignorance must be replaced with awareness and understanding. Looking at our problems must be happening more than our current denial is. And we must trace our current ecocidal tendencies to their roots, and we must do something about them there.

This is something I have been doing for over forty years. I sought the answers to our most important questions. I did not know that someday these questions would be as pressing as they are currently. I thought we would have turned the corner on these problems a long time ago, as indeed we should have done if we were to give ourselves any real chance.

Be that as it may, I have researched and studied in this area. I have undergone many years of deep experiential psychotherapy to trace the roots of these human tendencies within my own mind and psyche. (See, for example, Wounded Deer and Centaurs, Prologue: Sure It’s Hard).

And I have studied humanity—it’s mind and it’s culture—in depth.

What I have discovered is that our current humanicidal tendencies are rooted in a particular birth that characterizes humans. Elsewhere  I have delineated how we humans, among all species, have come to be unique in this manner. In another book, I have laid out how and why these unconscious traumas from our birth—our perinatal unconscious—are rising more than ever before, whether to our detriment or in some uncanny method of healing.

In this book, Wounded Deer and Centaurs: The Perinatal Zeitgeist of Postmodern Times and the Necessary Hero, we look deeper. We trace those tendencies further, to even deeper roots. We find patterns even more profound; we see possibilities even more promising.

But before going deeper even than birth, in teasing out our patterns and predilections, we need understand birth. We must review the perinatal imprints on our personality and remember how we are affected, indeed, pushed and pulled by forces those early events have set in motion.

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

Pre- and perinatal psychology is the field that deals with the effects of events occurring prior to (prenatal) and surrounding the time of birth (perinatal) 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.

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-three 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 60 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 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.

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.

Indeed, the earliest indications are that the implications from including the prenatal and primal perspective are vast—one might even say revolutionary, in the true sense of the word. For indeed this new perspective, this new information seems to call for an overthrow, or at least a reversal, of many of the aspects of the dominant paradigms in child-caring, child development, psychotherapy, and spiritual growth. Not the least important, these findings and insights have direct bearing on our current ecocidal and humanicidal plunge to oblivion. So, the vision is the most important one for understanding why we are doing what we are doing and then how we might do something to actually reverse our course.

To begin, then, let us review what has so far been conceived in relation to our life and our worldview in the arena of pre- and perinatal psychology.

Continue with 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

Return to The Sins of the Fathers: I have This Sense of Brother/ Sisterhood — That We Are Engaged in an Immense Undertaking … Necessary for the Survival of This Planet.

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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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troll doll

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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Dangling Above the Abyss and Perinatal Aliens, Pretty Much: 21st Century and Its Discontents, Part 1

Kaleidoscope of Postmodern Life, Part One: 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.

Continue with Rock Concert Rebirthing, Mosh Wombs, and the Doors of Perception…Stormed: 21st Century and Its Discontents, Part 2

Return to Aliens, Abductions, Hell…Birth and Death: Freedom Is Just a Membrane Away: Perinatal Media, Part 7


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. [return to text]

Continue with Rock Concert Rebirthing, Mosh Wombs, and the Doors of Perception…Stormed: 21st Century and Its Discontents, Part 2

Return to Aliens, Abductions, Hell…Birth and Death: Freedom Is Just a Membrane Away: Perinatal Media, Part 7

Invite you to join me on Twitter:
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