People Who Have It All Figured Out Are the Ones to Watch Out For … Emotional “Sickness” Might Indicate More “Wellness”: Rebirthing Rituals, Part 3
Being Crazy in an Insane World Might Mean You’re the Sane One: Rebirthing Rituals, Part Three – Auspicious Collective Regressions
Regression in the Service of the Ego
With the exposure of the ineffectiveness of the Freudian tactic of intellectual understanding has come the Freudian movement’s disintegration into schools advocating various other strategies for change.
These schools/strategies include the psychiatric—the use of drugs; the neo-Freudians who acknowledge and use regression in the service of the ego and abreaction; the humanistic-existential approaches, stressing the “experiential”; and the Jungians and neo-Jungians, who would seek the resolution of these cycles in their inner archetypal acting out, resulting in an eventual rootedness of the ego in a higher Self (a spiritual center) beyond or transcending the cycles. [Footnote 9]
Other approaches include the bulk of the spiritual, new-age, or transpersonal means that are flourishing these days. These alternative paths basically differ from all others in their belief that one can simply bypass these perinatal pulls and pushes and go directly to the Light or the Self by dismissing the birth cycles, or the Darkness or Shadow, through affirming the Light, meditating the Darkness out or the Light in, changing one’s thoughts, creating one’s reality, and various combinations of these.
Finally, these newer schools and strategies for healing include those of what might be called experiential psychotherapy, which includes primal therapy, holotropic breathwork, some forms of (experiential) meditation (Vipassana meditation, for example), Reichian and bioenergetic approaches, some forms of hypnotherapy—experiential ones—ones that involve reliving traumas—and virtually all the techniques, treatments, and correctives that are espoused in the field of pre- and perinatal psychology.
The point is that from a good number of these other-than-Freudian perspectives—and all of those that acknowledge the importance of regression in the service of the ego—and from the perspective of the entire field of experiential psychotherapy, the answer to the cycles of violence, war, and death-rebirth is to stop the acting out, not by simply intellectually decrying it—as if one can actually talk oneself out of one’s inner fears and one’s Darkness/Shadow—but by reliving those cycles of violence at their origins…their primal roots. In the case of perinatal forces, those forces from “the dark side,” this is accomplished by reliving the violence of birth, a perinatal trauma that is thoroughly and masterfully delineated by Grof and deMause. [Footnote 10]
Auspicious Collective Regressions
But from this perspective of experiential psychotherapy—one completely congruent with and grateful of deMause’s contributions in psychohistory as well—regression, in Europe, or elsewhere, is not seen as something to decry, disclaim, be horrified of, or be seen as dangerous but is seen as an opportunity. Regression is certainly not seen as a form of defense but as the opposite of that. Regression is part of a process of diminishing one’s defenses against one’s internal reality of pain and trauma.
Thus, examples of blatant collective regression as in Europe—more so to the extent they are relived, released, and integrated—are entirely auspicious for the eventual elimination of war as a collective device of acting out—defending against—the painful feelings coming from one’s personal history which one carries around, all unknowingly, and which pervade, in one way or another, in forms subtle and not so subtle, every moment of one’s consciousness in the present.
From this experiential psychotherapeutic perspective, we have a different feeling about developments like those that Mayr and Boelderl describe as collective regression in Europe and Lawson describes as occurring at rock concerts. [Footnote 11]
From a more enlightened viewpoint these cultural phenomena should have us, if not dancing in the streets, at least hopeful of a gradual decrease in the use of war and violence. Why? It is because the youth who display this “regression” so blatantly were brought up by an “advanced” form of child-rearing than that of previous generations, that they have fewer defenses, fewer layers of obfuscation covering up their unconscious psychodynamics; consequently the regression is seen more clearly in their behavior. [Footnote 12]
Unflinching Belief Related to Total Dissociation
Why is this important? DeMause points out that people do go to war, and that prior to it their perinatal dynamics come to the fore, as evidenced by perinatal-laden words and images in the media and in leaders’ speeches used to describe the situation and its dynamics. Thus, our leaders take us into war, they act out their perinatal dynamics…and we in following them act out ours…in such gruesomely overt ways because these dynamics are so hidden, repressed, and overlaid with defenses that the conscious mind has absolutely no access to, and hence insight into, them as being part of one’s unconscious dynamics.
Consequently the conscious mind is completely able to convince itself that those dynamics are actual, real, and doubtless parts of the situation and therefore require an actual, real, and extreme response. The amount of resolve required to act out war can only be wrought of an unflinching belief in the rightness, the absolute correctness of one’s perspective of the situation and therefore of that extreme course of response. And that can only be brought about by a total dissociation from one’s perinatal traumas, and a complete and utter projection of it on the outside—the enemy, to be specific.
Blatant “Sickness” Related to Being Real
The contrary is also true: When there does not exist that total and complete dissociation of the perinatal trauma—when it is, as in Europe and rock concerts currently, closer to the surface, less defended against, less repressed and, hence, more blatant—it is more accessible to consciousness and less likely to be acted out in the extreme as in war. Instead it is more likely to be acted out in less extreme forms, such as jumping into mosh pits, carrying pacifiers, listening to baby tunes about the, very real, difficulties of being a baby, and so on.
Finally, it is more likely to be actually allowed to emerge in consciousness and be relived, and thereby “healed”…and gone beyond, to be replaced by something more benign and more socially constructive, and thus to be removed forever as a motivation to war or violence. This is the auspicious view of the developments described by Mayr and Boelderl. [Footnote 13]
Janov was the first to point out that a permanent resolution of underlying trauma initially entailed an aggravation of symptoms and symbolic acting out. That is to say, the underlying dynamics become more blatant and apparent in behavior. [Footnote 14]
Janov was also the first to note that the acting-out and overt neurotic was closer to being “real,” and therefore really sane, than his or her highly functioning and “normal,” but repressed, rigidly defended, and unfeeling neighbor. [Footnote 15]
9. Regarding the “experiential,” I should make clear that this approach is, from the perspective of the experiential psychotherapeutic approach I will be describing shortly, actually the superficial symbolic acting out of these underlying and powerful cycles in a way that is only a little less impotent than the Freudians.
12. Mayr and Boelderl claim quite wrongly and quite strangely—as if to make the facts not conflict with DeMause’s psychogenic theory, or as if to cover up some hole in their analysis—that those caught up in the pacifier craze were raised under the intrusive and socializing parenting modes (op. cit., 1993, p. 145) and yet, in 1992, were between the ages of 15 and 30 (Ibid., p. 143). This is hard to understand because these youth would have been born between the years 1962 and 1977 in advanced Western countries of mostly Western Europe—Italy, Germany, Austria, all of Europe, and even the U.S. (Ibid.).
However, the intrusive and socializing modes are associated, by DeMause, with the eighteenth century and the nineteenth to mid-twentieth centuries, respectively, in the Western world (DeMause, op. cit., 1982, p. 62). On the other hand, the helping mode begins mid-twentieth century in the Western world (Ibid., p. 63).
The conclusion from this is that these youth, described by Mayr and Boelderl, would have been greatly influenced by the helping mode. They would be expected, at least, to have received the most advanced methods of child-caring overall in the world at this time—considering DeMause’s theory—since they are the most recent progeny of the Western world!
Indeed, if these cannot be considered products of the helping mode, who can be? In order for Mayr and Boelderl to dispute this and claim they were exceptions to the rule and were raised under intrusive and socializing modes, they would have had to do a study demonstrating this, or at least cite one done. And this they do not do.
13. Michael D. Adzema, “Reunion With the Positive (Self), Part 1: The Other Half of ‘The Cure.’” Primal Renaissance: The Journal of Primal Psychology 1(2): 72-85. Reprinted on the Primal Spirit site.
Continue with The Most Evolved Parenting … Boomers and Millennials … and The Cyclical Nature of History: Rebirthing Rituals, Part Four – I Know It’s Hard to Believe But We’ve Been Getting Saner
Return to Railing Against the Darkness: The Vanity of Will, The Impotence of Reason, Progress Requires Regress, and Healing Is Nothing if Not Messy
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Worse Homes and Gardens – Houses, Prisons, Schools, Dungeons, UFOs and Spaceships…and Their Obstetricians: Perinatal Media, Part 5
Perinatal Media, Part Five: Worse Homes and Gardens – Houses, Prisons, UFOs and Spaceships, Dungeons…and Their Obstetricians
House, Cave, Squids
Anyway, this portrayal of a house that gobbles up its victims, bizarre as it sounds and as it looked, can only be explained by looking into our perinatal imprints; and it is rife with such elements.
To start with, a house — being an enclosure in which humans protect, nurture, and take care of themselves once born into the world—is perhaps the most prevalent womb symbol that exists. It is right up there in importance with caves, oceans, swallowing beasts—especially beasts of the ocean like whales (Jonah), sharks (Jaws), and octopi or giant squids.
There was a recent movie of this squid variation. Its plot development was of the “Jaws” genre. But in adding tentacles, it added elements of pubic hair and umbilical strangulation to the normal aspects of womb torture such as simple compression and suffocation.
House; cave; water; devouring dragon, as in Harry Potter; whale or shark; automobile, especially buses or motorhomes; boat, especially a submarine; indeed all vehicles of transition, nonmechanical as well as mechanical as in trains and airplanes; the deep forest, as in Avatar—anything in fact with elements of being surrounding and engulfing of one and as nurturing or threatening one, or both, are womb symbols, as we have known for a long time.
Prison, Jail Cell, Schoolroom = Womb
In the category of womb symbols that are places that enclose or “house” one that are uncomfortable, constricting, limiting of one’s ability to move around and in which one is made to suffer, even be tortured, we need to add prisons, dungeons, jail cells, and schoolrooms. Breaking out of prisons, being rescued from tight, enclosing places or situations in which one is not free—that is, can not “move freely”—are specific portrayals of the birth process itself. Contemporary film is flooded with plots and scenes depicting such escapes and/or rescues. Any constricting surround is a womb symbol, including oppressive social and political conditions from which one cannot escape and under which one is not able to move freely, to enjoy “freedom”; especially regimented ones under which one is tortured, processed, and treated anonymously and in an unfeeling, insensitive manner.
Schools and schoolrooms are especially strong womb symbols for they are places in which a person is supposedly nurtured and helped along in one’s development, exactly as was the purpose and situation in the womb. Libraries are the benign version of womb-like “schooling” in that the element of volition or choice in the matter exists. When they depict being constricted or made to suffer, it becomes even more obvious, depicting as that does the later stages in the womb which are uncomfortable and often hellacious.
In the school sequences in the movie, “The Wall,” there are other perinatal elements potentiating some of the scenes. We have anonymity, indicating not being seen in the womb; fetal faces; tortuous “development” and passage from one state to another especially as in being shoved through a wringer or meat grinder; and faces coming out of walls or having an appearance similar to that.
Houses and Spaceships Are Real “Mothers”
One lengthy explanation of this kind of symbolism as it is connected with “the Mother” is the classic work by the Jungian, Erich Neumann, titled, The Origins and History of Consciousness, which he himself based on other even earlier analyses of mother symbolism and its association with enclosing and enveloping sorts of thing.
At any rate, among all these, the house is probably the most popular symbol today. It would seem to be used more in the visual media as a womb symbol than any other, currently. With the increased interest in science fiction, the spaceship is perhaps coming in second, but even that distantly.
Being spaceships, UFOs are obviously womb symbols. Carl Jung once speculated in writing that the upsurge of UFO sightings indicated a rising urge for psychic unity in humans. While this is true on one level, on a deeper level, they are symbols of reintegration with our repressed traumatic womb experiences. Space travel is transition from one world to another in general. And the vehicle of passage is a UFO or spaceship … in which one’s needs are taken care of and one is involved in passage or transition … It is not surprising that often in the course of this transition, space travel, the space voyagers of the silver screen encounter odd and horrifying developments.
Notice how we say “mother ship.” UFO type spaceships are so often depicted as round or spherical. Indeed, we have elaborate developments of these themes in the Death Star depiction of Star Wars–a round enclosed place and habitat associated with dread and death …
“You Will Be Assimilated.”
The variations on this are themselves telling. We have one instance of a cubical habitat in space…a square, not round, spaceship. What better way to show how terrifyingly different the inhabitants are from natural, biological beings. For womb equals round, flowing lines as in Nature, products of a physical or biological world, one of life and dealing with living and animate things. Whereas to indicate that these beings are mechanical, unnatural, robotic…products of a mental world only, one of death and dealing with inanimate, non-living things…machines…straight lines are employed, implying the worlds of engineering, mathematics, geometry…of the mind only, not of the physical or biological worlds or the worlds of feeling and experience. Implying a world of non-feeling and non-experience is horrifyingly akin to implying a death-like existence.
Star Trek aficionados will have picked up by now I am referring to the Borg and to their cubical spaceships/habitats. We have to make the connection that the appearance of symbols of machines, robots, androids, and such with womb symbols–increasingly prevalent in modern and postmodern times–is easily attributable to the fact of our ever increasing mechanization of birth…in which, as I was pointing out in the previous post/section, humans are “thingified” and turned into “human robots.” And, yes, these are horrifying and death-like experiences that we undergo at our beginnings and subject our incoming members to.
Worse Homes and Gardens. Is It Any Wonder It Is Haunted?
I remember watching an old movie from the “Amityville” series. As most people are aware, in any of these movies, it is the evil house that is the source of the horror. This goes back at least to Edgar Allen Poe’s “The House of Usher.”
Yet this plot idea of an evil house, which must, in the end, come crashing down in flames—indicating the explosive and fiery birth, BPM III, which signals the release from the evil forces—was boringly evident in films in the Twentieth Century.
Mad Doctor Frankenstein, the obstetrician
At any rate, in this idea of a house that “gobbles” one up, as in “The Frighteners,” we have the bringing together of two of the most predominant birth elements in film—an evil house and a devouring beast. That fact of a doubling of perinatal elements alone is indicative of a plot saturated with perinatal influence.
Continue with Through the Looking Glass Into Parallel Universes…But “There’s No Place Like Home”: Perinatal Media, Part 6
Return to All in All, It’s Just Another Face in the Wall–Enclosing, Threatening Things From Which One Wishes to Push Out or Escape: Perinatal Media, Part 4
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