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.
11. 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.
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.
14. Arthur Janov, The Primal Scream: Primal Therapy: The Cure for Neurosis. New York: Dell, 1970.
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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War, Wounded Deer, Tea Party, and Zombies – Putting Generations on the Couch, A Hierarchy of Healing
Apocalypse No! Chapter Eleven:
Healing Crisis – Getting “Sick” To Be Well
Getting Sick In Order to Get Well
What does this all mean? What does this portend? What might be the outcome of this emerging perinatal unconscious? In other words, consciousness evolution or apocalypse?
To answer what an emerging perinatal unconscious might mean on a macrocosmic or societal-global scale, it is helpful to look at what an emerging perinatal unconscious portends on the individual or microcosmic level.
What we have learned from the experiential modalities—holotropic breathwork™, primal therapy, rebirthing, vivation, and others like them—is that unerringly people need to get “sicker” before they can get well. This should not be news to psychoanalysts or any of the other mainstream psychotherapists or counselors either.
Basically, the underlying repressed material must come to the “surface,” must become more conscious…and obviously when it becomes more conscious its accompanying symptoms are exacerbated. This can be called a healing crisis in that the symptoms get worse, more obvious, more blatant; and there is a period of acting them out before integration and resolution happens.
“Die” to one’s sickness before one can be “born” well
When Grof talks about birth/death scenarios in the perinatal unconscious, he is including these sorts of healings, where one must “die” to one’s sickness before one can be “reborn” into another way of being, without those sick patterns or symptoms.
Degrees of Disease
Dissociation – Completely Split Off
It’s YOU! YOU’re the f&^$#r!
We see a progression over the last century in which there was complete dissociation from the perinatal unconscious by those of the World-War-Two and previous generations—hence complete projection of it on The Other—to lesser dissociations from it by the generations since, baby-boomer and afterward, which involve more awareness of it as being a part of oneself and less projection of it on The Other.
In this latter instance, there is more suffering from it and more individual acting out of it, so that in a sense one appears “sicker”—the perinatal is more obvious in one’s behavior, taking more individual forms, and it is more easily recognized and seen to be a personal problem…a “sickness.”
To understand the ways the perinatal manifests depending upon one’s “closeness” to it, let us contrast the two extremes of being split off from it and being close to it.
Being Really Sick, But Denying It: WWII Generation, Nazis, KKK, Right Wing, Tea Party
Can’t know what you don’t know.
First let us take a look at what the perinatal appears like when it is completely split off from one’s conscious personality. This complete splitting off from the perinatal entails a complete repression and denial of it. Consequently, one has absolutely no access to it, and thus one is in total ignorance of the underlying motivations of one’s actions. One unconsciously acts out perinatal elements and traumas and manifests them in one’s behavior, rationalizing all the while that one has really good—non-perinatal, “real world”—reasons for why one is doing the things one is doing.
What”s in your head, zombie?
Psychohistorians deem this state to be such an oblivious one that they use the term trance-state for it, fully intending all the implications and connotations that term engenders. That is, they are saying that people who are this repressed and split off do their acting zombie-like and out of motivations completely hidden to themselves. [Footnote 1]
Birth Wars = World Wars.
In such total ignorance, and of course being totally ignorant that one is in ignorance, people in the past century have been able to act out their perinatal underbellies in ways to make such hideous and all-encompassing wars as World War I and World War II possible.
Leaving aside for a moment the myriad ways the perinatal has unconsciously been acted out in this century in creating the current situation in which we are on the brink of extinction—which can be considered the most serious consequences of this splitting off imaginable—simply focusing on this century’s major wars as evidence of perinatal acting-out alone is instructive.
The Nazis, in particular, were extreme in their dissociation from their perinatal, in their projection of it onto the Jews, and their consequent ability to act it out in horrific ways on them and others. Alice Miller and Lloyd deMause have each detailed the psychodynamics of this projection of primal pain—both perinatal and childhood—in the creation of the people that Adolf Hitler and the Nazis became in their adulthood. [Footnote 2]
The Nazis present us with the patterns of these processes of dissociation and projection in blatant and obvious relief. The way Nazis, especially in concentration camps, acted out perinatal trauma on their prisoners has been described in great detail by Grof as well. [Footnote 3]
Wounded Deer: Being “Weller,” But Appearing Sicker—Generations Since
The extreme acting-out and total dissociation from the perinatal exhibited by the World-War-Two Generation was followed, in the generations coming after, by less relative dissociation and less horrific forms of acting it out as exemplified by polluting the atmosphere, water, and food; population explosions and crowding of cities; and traffic jams.
The common everyday traffic jam is especially instructive of perinatal dynamics as traffic congestions replicate asphalt birth tunnels where one not only breathes exhaust fumes from trucks and other autos—fetal malnutrition—but also can become gridlock at any moment, thus re-creating the intense frustration and no-exit hopelessness, and rage, of BPM II.
Baby-Boomer Perinatal Awareness
Other examples of the scenery of modern times where the perinatal is manifesting but is even less projected onto the other: Some access to the perinatal and more obvious acting it out personally is exhibited by many of the baby-boomer generation.
We know THAT we don’t know…We could be wrong.
On the one hand, many baby-boomers had enough access to their perinatal underbellies to question the absolute rightness of the Vietnam War and so they campaigned against it. This is indicative of closeness to the perinatal because it shows an ability to doubt one’s egocentric defenses—as given by society and family of origin—and to look at situations from the eyes of the Other.
So much was this evident in the baby-boomer generation that some were even able to see the Vietnam War through the eyes of the enemy—exemplified by Jane Fonda’s trip to Hanoi, the waving of North Vietnamese flags at demonstrations, and the carrying of little red books of the sayings of Chairman Mao tse Tung.
But it’s clear you’re wrong.
The baby-boomer—or Sixties—generation also indicate their closeness to their perinatal in their campaigns against some of the act-outs of the perinatal mentioned above: These include actions against pollution; a rejection of city life, with its gridlocks, pollution, and crowding , and a return to the country, in communes or otherwise; an awareness and rejection of polluted foods and creation of a natural and organic foods movement; and actions against global overpopulation including support for birth control, a pro-choice stance on abortion, and delaying of baby-making on their own parts along with a reduction in the size of their families.
Many more examples could be given. But the proof of their closeness to their unconscious dynamics lies not only in their actions—as mentioned above, in their more blatant acting them out or in their actual actions against the blatant acting out, both of which indicate closer access—but also in the study of their unconscious dynamics. As mentioned in Chapter Nine, Kenneth Keniston found in his study of the psychodynamics of the Sixties generation when they were in their youth an unusual amount of perinatal symbolism and self-analysis. (See “Raging to Reenter, Digging Under Ground.”)
The Factor of the Angry Electorate…the Tea Party
And more recently—beginning in the 1992 and 1994 national elections—these baby-boomers continued to exhibit their perinatal influences in the totally unexpected phenomenon of the “angry electorate.”
At the time, pundits and media analysts were at a total loss to explain the rage of the electorate that was affecting these elections. In 1992, they were totally surprised by the showing of three men in particular—Jerry Brown, Pat Buchanan, and Ross Perot—who seemed to have one thing in common: the angry tones and rebelliousness that characterized their speeches, as compared to others. [Footnote 4]
The demeanor of these candidates was at such odds with the other candidates that when Bill Clinton one night responded angrily to a comment by Jerry Brown about Hillary, Clinton’s wife, it was that part of the debate—of Clinton being angry, all issues aside—that made the news that night!
Now, keep in mind that a huge aspect of the perinatal is feelings of restriction, thus frustration, and, consequently rage against large entities of obstruction—like the womb was in relation to the small and helpless fetus. In doing so, we see that the reason for the rage is simple and understandable. Baby-boomers, as I have explained, are characterized as being closer to their unconscious, especially the perinatal. This is in large part due to their having been raised in a way that required less in the way of ego defenses to keep their primal pain suppressed.
Hence baby-boomers are of course also closer to the frustration, rebellion, and yes, rage, that is part of the perinatal complex. We saw it exhibited by them in their anger at authority in the Sixties, their rebellion against the Vietnam War. The sexual excess that is characteristic of the perinatal was evident in their free love and promiscuous sexual behavior.
More recently these baby-boomers have been coming into the triumphant phase of their lives. They make up a larger sector of the electorate than they ever have before, and their influence is reflected more as they come into positions of power in the media and elsewhere.
Though the rage of the electorate in 1992 caused the Brown, Perot, and Buchanan phenomena, it was split among them, so Clinton ended up winning. This of course was also OK with the baby-boomers in that (1) Clinton and Gore were baby-boomers like themselves and (2) in the race against Bush, Clinton was the challenger, and thus the rebel; and Bush was the “bum to be thrown out.”
However, this rage did not go away after the election, which highlights its having perinatal origins. In fact, after the shortest “honeymoon period” in history, by some accounts, it became directed at the most likely target/center—the President, Bill Clinton, himself.
We all know how despite the successes and progress of Clinton’s first year, he was especially singled out for ridicule and denigration by the media. He could not seem to do anything right, and the most incredibly outrageous behaviors were attributed to him.
“Throw the bums out…again.”
This rage spilled over into the next year and, sure enough, during the midterm election—the issues be damned—the angry electorate was in a mood to “throw the bums out” again. It did not matter the party….I do not claim that all those of my generation are always as politically astute as they are angry.
The Republicans called it a “revolution.” It was simply the acting out of an electorate in the throes of perinatal feelings—that is, feelings of frustration, being “tied up” by red tape, an inability to go forward…that is, up the economic ladder—wages had been stagnating since the early 80s…being overcontrolled and pushed around by regulations…big government being the big mother womb keeping the fetus locked in and unable to move…and out of all this, the consequent anger and rage.
We shall overcome.
We also see perinatal feelings in the focus of the baby-boomers on empowerment. This word appears to come up in every area of their lives. It can be seen as the natural focus of a generation that feels itself inside to be a helpless fetus facing an overpowering obstruction of a womb.
At any rate, succeeding elections bear out this analysis of an angry electorate. In 1996, despite the much ballyhooed “Republican Revolution,” sure enough, the electorate was spoiling to “throw the bums out” again—only this time it was the Republican Congress. So there were Democratic gains at the time.
And in 1998, when everything pointed to a huge Republican landslide because of the Lewinsky scandal, the electorate again showed their rebellion and anger toward both the pundits and the Republicans who had been lambasting them with details of the scandal for nearly a year by giving the Democrats gains again! [Footnote 4]
In 2006, 2008, and 2010, it was an angry electorate reeling against oppression; and in the case of 2010, doing it mindlessly, against their own interests. If there were not perinatal charge to all this, Americans would not be so irrational about their choices. People have had good reasons to feel oppressed since the Eighties when Reagan began the giveaways to the rich and the budget cutbacks, continuing to this day, that have caused the masses to feel constricted and oppressed.
Yet, if this did not result in their being perinatally overloaded so that they cannot reason, they would not have been able to be led to fight their own interests as they were in 2010 and in an ongoing way as exemplified by the Tea Party and the success of right-wing agendas.
Reacting, too angry and confused to think
Another aspect of this irrationality on both sides of the political spectrum has to do with this idea that there is no difference between the two major parties. Feeling oppressed perinatally is characterized by a pressure from all sides simultaneously. There is an inability to distinguish or discriminate between forces that are helpful and those that are dire, as any and all developments seem threatening in situations of crisis. In a situation of overwhelm, further, there is an inability to think clearly. One just fights back, explodes, reacts. It’s no coincidence that righties are called reactionaries.
The upshot is an inability, under the pressure of perinatal feelings, provoked endlessly by actual oppression economically, environmentally, socially, and culturally, to rail against any authority, to bite the hand that feeds one. This is exactly like the panicked swimmer who in danger of drowning fights off his or her rescuer. Can anyone at this point still maintain that the politics of the last few decades had anything at all to do with ideology or issues?
Perinatal Access of “Baby-Boomer Echo Generation”
The most recent cohort of youth, often called the millennial or baby-boomer echo generation, show the same inner access as their baby-boomer parents. They demonstrate as well their parents’ consequent refusal to act it out on a larger scale: It has been said that the greatest concerns of those in this generation, now in their 20s and early 30s, are pollution and racism.
They show the progressive bent of their parents, also, in their having a lot to do with giving America its first African-American president and in their support for union rights and in the massive demonstrations against the draconian economic policies of Republicans in Wisconsin and other states.
We know how pollution and action against pollution indicates a closeness to one’s perinatal. To put it another way, it is clear that only a total denial and disconnect between one’s consciousness and one’s unconscious perinatal dynamics would allow one to act it out unconsciously in the creation of pollution and in the denial of it as a problem or a mindless neglect of it. So the fact that these baby-boomer children—the baby-boomer echo generation—are so cognizant, concerned, and active in relation to global pollution shows their lack of denial of this perinatal act-out.
But what of racism? How is this an indication of a closeness to the perinatal. There are several ways in which this is so. As mentioned, a closeness to the perinatal allows one to doubt one’s given defenses and to glimpse alternate perspectives—in particular to look at things from the eyes of The Other.
In this way, the baby-boomer echo generation are able to see oppression, injustice, and unfairness as it is played out in the lives of minorities who don’t share their (predominantly) middle-class advantages.
Naturally they were helped in that awareness by the gains of the Sixties and previous decades that had them growing up with diversity of racial and ethnic heritages—seeing things multiculturally not narrowly—in their schools and in the omnipresent media. But there is another, stronger element. This is the factor of oppression and unfairness itself. We experience compression (oppression), and frustration at our attempts to go forward, and what feels like hopeless unfairness and injustice, when in the throes of BPM II birth trauma. To see these facets of the fates of minorities, as in racism, points to this echo generation’s closeness to their own perinatal oppression; hence their ability to empathize with oppressed minorities.
This ability to realistically sense and respond to oppression is also the reason they would throw themselves in heartily in defense of unions, an increasingly oppressed middle class, and public sector employees.
Right-Wing “Hate Groups”…the Tea Party: World-War-Two Mindset in the Extreme
One might also note the rise of “hate groups” occurring at the same time as the phenomenon of the angry electorate. Hate groups fill their ranks from folks on the extreme right and their actions are exemplified in the Oklahoma bombing tragedy and more recently the Tea Party.
But notice again then that these hate groups are always on the extreme right of the political spectrum and thus exemplify a World-War-Two mindset in relation to their perinatal unconscious: Specifically, the mindset is one of being completely cut off from one’s unconscious dynamics and being in total denial of unconscious motivations so that one can have the complete certitude, lacking any access to the unconscious which would give rise to doubts, that makes violent actions possible.
However the reason for bringing up the hate groups is to show how much their actions as well are dominated by perinatal—in their case, totally unconscious—dynamics. For without exception their reasons for rising up against the government—representing the overwhelming womb—has to do with frustrations, like the trapped fetus feels, in regards to “oppressive” taxes, governmental red tape, laws, and other regulations that they feel restrict their freedom…to move freely, as one wanted to but couldn’t, in the womb.
A Hierarchy of Healing?
Now this idea that those close to their unconscious conflicts are more likely to act them out blatantly goes completely against one of DeMause’s tenets. He wrote, “The higher the psychogenic mode of the psychoclass, the less it is necessary for it to act out its conflicts.” [Footnote 5]
However this is exactly the crux of my difference with his theory and is a central point I am making. For from my perspective, the higher the mode of child-caring equals the less the defenses. Hence, the more it is likely that that generation’s conflicts will be close to the surface, seeking resolution…like Maslow’s hierarchy of needs theory. We might want to call it a hierarchy of healing theory. [Footnote 6]
In other words, our observing the supposed “acting out” of an underlying trauma does not mean that the group or person in question is actually or, at least completely, “acting it out” and defending against it. It may be that that group is resolving, healing, or integrating it—taking it inward rather than acting it out…in the world, on others…whether to a small or great extent.
The difference between acting out and resolving is whether the actions are done in total dissociation from the unconscious dynamics, that is to say, in a trance state—as explained earlier in regard to the World War Two generation and the Tea Party—or whether there is at least a modicum of insight into it occurring as a result of things inside of oneself, not completely projected onto the outside. So in non-acting-out behavior there is a tad of insight, as, for example, in the “overexamined life” of the “uncommitted” and the “self-analysis” of the young radicals of the Sixties generation.
Flaunting One’s Sickness Beats Hiding It
Hey, it was tough!
In more recent times, the regression in Europe shows a bit of insight…and resolution happening…in that the baby song being hummed is about the very real hardships of being a baby. Therefore, an actual truth about their own lives is being faced here by those singing along with it. The song is not being used to deny or defend against those traumas.
One might suspect that in carrying around such blatant examples of regression as a pacifier—someone in a more defended mode would be highly threatened by such an obvious symbol that they are really needy children inside. More defended folks would be terrified such overt behavior would make them look wussy or sissified—that is, look like that vulnerable, frightened baby that they really feel themselves to be but are doing their damnedest to hide from everyone.
So in actually carrying around a pacifier these youth are not only displaying an insight into their feelings of sometimes being needy babies, on the inside, but are actually flaunting this awareness, as if to shame, or slap the face of, or be “in the face” of a generation of their parents who did not see their needs when they were babies—however effortfully and obviously they sought to demonstrate them. Thus the symbols needed to become more and more shocking and obvious.
Look at what you did to me!
For example: the jeans with requisite holes around the knees saying, “You did not take care of me; you made me feel like a poor, orphaned, ragamuffin child.” The piercing of mouths, nose, ears, and even tongues saying
I am in pain, dammit! Can’t you see that when you stick needles in me as a little baby that I hurt? How can you be so insensitive? Can’t you see that when you refuse to breastfeed and thus nurture me orally that I am forever damaged there, ever painful there? What does it take, my sticking pins—safety pins make the point even more that it was when I was in diapers—in myself to make you see that I hurt there?”
And, of course, the black clothes, the hideous macabre makeup, and depressed, sullen expressions saying,
Look, you might think we’re a wonderful family and everything is hunky-dory here; but I wish I were dead! I’ve felt so much pain, from in the womb, at birth, and right after birth, that I wish I’d never been born.
Also, somehow in courting death, I have the feeling that I might somehow be reborn again into a good life, not like this place of torture and tears, right from the beginning, where my welcome into the world consisted of being drugged, handled like an object or piece of meat, blasted by bright lights, scrubbed by rough cloths, having needles and suctions stuck in me, blasted with noise, made to lie on cold stainless steel surfaces, and then bundled like a tamale so that I could not move…making me feel again like I was back in the hellish womb where in the later stages, for a time that felt like an eternity, I felt unable to move and was suffocating for lack of sufficient oxygen…and the only action that was possible was for me to scream my bloody head off for long periods of time or go into a stupor—which is what I did, alternating between them.
Can’t you see that I’d rather be dead than live in such a world of insensitive zombies like you. Hell, in fact, to further drive the point home, I’ll even look and act like a zombie, I’ll try to appear as unfeeling and morose as you all seemed to me, especially at my birth. And I’ll go a step further and mirror yourselves back to you by becoming enamored of vampires….
Can’t you see that you sucked my very life force, my blood, and turned me into an unfeeling vampire like you, by suffocating me in the womb, poisoning me with your toxic blood which you both sucked from me and then forced down my throat!
Different Levels, Different Defenses
It is instructive at this time to note that Arthur Janov once compared the defenses that characterized the youth of the time—the late Sixties, early Seventies—with those of their parents and older people in general and came up with findings that amplify my own assertions here.
“How can you have any pudding if you don’t eat your meat?”
Specifically, Janov found that older people—clients of his as well as others of whom he was aware—were characteristically more repressed, more split off, more prone to dissociation, more defended and, most importantly for our uses here, tended to use defenses of denial and obfuscation against inner information and impulses. Correspondingly, they tended to use drugs that repressed and blotted out reality, such as alcohol and nicotine; and they tended to be sexually repressed. They were also more compulsive. They tended to suppress their tension and hold it in for all their worth.
Truth was greatly feared, and all attempts were made to fend off incoming information that might threaten the delusional reality set of the conscious mind. This left them open to the characterization: “My mind’s made up! Don’t confuse me with the facts!” which was leveled at them by anti-Vietnam War protesters. Consequently, Janov found that the dominant mode of reaction, when threatened, was to act out aggressively against the supposed “oppressor.”
On the other hand, he found that his youthful clients—under 30—tended to use defenses of excess, release, and addiction, or to be unusually lacking in defense mechanisms. They were more impulsive. They tended to have weak barriers to incoming information, to be open to negative unconscious content, even at the expense of their self-esteem, and to be tension expressers. They were therefore more likely sexually promiscuous than repressed, and they tended to drugs that opened them to information and unconscious knowledge–such as marijuana and LSD.
Consequently they were less split off from their unconscious truth…though it made them uncomfortable…were less repressed, and, if anything, used defenses of masochism, self-denial, and self-inflicted aggression or depression. Truth was more important to them than emotional comfort. They tended to go out of their way to dig up negative information about themselves, and they accepted the low self-esteem and sense of self-worth that came with that kind of openness.
Their delusional reality set—if it could be called that—entailed taking on the worries and cares of the world as their own, since their openness to their own cares and worries allowed them to empathize with others in obviously similar conditions. When triggered into their pain, their dominant reaction was to take it inward and to take it out on themselves causing depression. In doing so they showed they would rather hurt themselves than hurt another.
I don’t believe you need to be a rocket scientist to see that Janov was discovering an historical—one might say millennial—”changing of the guard” as regards access to the unconscious, openness to personal truth, and lessening of the tendency to act out early trauma in violent or belligerent ways. The older generation had more tendencies to blame others, to find scapegoats for their ills, and to act out violently on them. The younger generation had more tendencies to look inward and to blame and punish themselves…and to prefer to hurt themselves before hurting another.
The youthful generation might also become alcoholic, addicted to drugs, or do something else to injure themselves…rather than act it out on another.
Less Wars, More Suicides
And this “acting in,” as opposed to acting out, is indicated as well in the rise of teen suicides in recent decades. So you might say that the tradeoff we are currently getting is a reduction in the use of wars and racism to solve problems—that is, a reduction in the tendency to act out one’s Pain on others and by scapegoating. But, since the perinatal trauma is still there, and one is even more conscious of it, we have increased suicides.
Thus less wars, more suicides.
As DeMause pointed out,
Those considered ‘neurotic’ in each age may often be a higher psychogenic mode than those considered ‘normal,’ only they must stand the anxiety of not sharing the group-fantasies of the age. [Footnote 7]
Away From Hubris: Nature Balances HerSelf
In this part we have seen how perinatal acting out can be of two kinds: totally unconscious and trance-like, or semi-conscious with at least some access. We have looked at how a progression to more access to one’s perinatal underbellies has led to more acting in than acting out. We have seen how it has led to less violence and more depression.
Suffering Beats Dying.
At this point, one could make the point that the tradeoff is worth it: That individuals suffering more emotional pain and trauma is preferable to the horrors of war…put bluntly, suffering beats dying.
But we are still looking at the situation from the microcosmic scale. We are talking and acting here like we are the only ones that matter.
This is natural of course, in that this is always the way we have thought of things: That is to say, as if all things were to be considered around the concerns of humans. This is called anthropocentrism—a form of species-centrism—in which Homo sapiens is considered the reason for the existence of the rest of the Universe.
With the Universe as awesomely and unimaginably large as it is, one might wonder at our hubris in our considering things in only this way—that is, from our perspective.
Likewise, with an uncountable number of species living or having lived on this planet alone—species numbering in the millions—again one might question the validity of choosing the perspective of our species alone in making our analyses.
How ‘Bout We Step Outside?
Yet this is the way we have always done it. And this is the way I have been slanting my perspective so far in this book.
But now let us do something radically different. Let us walk out of ourselves now—figuratively speaking—and seek to stand upon that Archimedean point from which we might view the events currently transpiring.
From such an attempted non-species-centric viewpoint let us view this emerging perinatal unconscious as it is currently manifesting in humans. However tenuous our attempt, let us at least try such a new-paradigm viewpoint. For certainly all old-paradigm ones—containing all the hubris of anthropocentrism that they do—have failed in their attempts to save our species and indeed have contributed to such a likelihood.
Let us attempt to see through the eyes of Gaia, now, as we look at how the current human predicament may in fact be an example of Nature balancing HerSelf.
Continue on this site with
Apocalypse – No! Chapter Twelve:
Through Gaia’s Eyes – Nature Balances HerSelf
1. “Zombie” by the Cranberries lyrics:
Another head hangs lowly
Time is slowly taken
And the violence causes silence
Who are we mistaken?
Let he see, it's not me
It's not my family
In your head, in your head
They are fightin!
With their tanks, and their bombs
And their bombs, and their guns
In your head, in your head
They are cryin!
In your head! In your head!
Zombie! Zombie! Zombie!
Whats in your head, in your head?
Zombie! Zombie! Zombie!
Another mother's breaking
Heart is taken over.
When the violence causes silence
We must be mistaken.
It's the same old theme
In your head, in your head
They're still fightin!
With their tanks, and their bombs
And their bombs, and their guns
In your head, in your head!
They are dyin!
In your head! In your head!
Zombie! Zombie! Zombie!
What's in your head, in your head?
Zombie! Zombie! Zombie!
2. Alice Miller, For Your Own Good. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1984; and Lloyd deMause, “Restaging Early Traumas in War and Social Violence.” The Journal of Psychohistory 23 (1995): 344-391. Reprinted, with permission, on Primal Spirit site as “Restaging Prenatal and Birth Traumas in War and Social Violence”) [return to text]
3. Stanislav Grof, “Planetary Survival and Consciousness Evolution: Psychological Roots of Human Violence and Greed.” Primal Renaissance: The Journal of Primal Psychology 2(1): 3-26, p. 23. (Article reprinted, with permission, on this Primal Spirit website). [return to text]
4. See “It’s the Attack on Privacy, Stupid! What Republicans and Pundits Don’t Get About Clinton’s Support,” on the Primal Spirit site, for more on the angry electorate and how it played out in the 1996 election. [return to text]
5. Lloyd deMause, The Foundations of Psychohistory. New York: Creative Roots, 1982, p. 139. See also “Are Some ‘Sick’ People More Healthy Than Normals?” [return to text]
6. See also “Are Some ‘Sick’ People More Healthy Than Normals?” on the Primal Spirit site. [return to text]
7. Lloyd deMause, The Foundations of Psychohistory. New York: Creative Roots, 1982, p. 143. [return to text]
Copyright © 1999, 2011 by Michael Derzak Adzema
Continue on this site with
Apocalypse – No! Chapter Twelve:
Through Gaia’s Eyes – Nature Balances HerSelf
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