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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Children a Burden … Unfit Parents: Children Became the Ultimate Repository for the Suffering Resulting from Social Conformity and Its Humiliation, Say Planetmates in the 21st Prasad
“You are Babies Raising Babies”: Consumed with Baseless Terrors and Caught up in Relentless Mental Machinations, Humans Are Hardly Fit Care-Givers, According to the Planetmates
The Great Reveal from the Planetmates, the Twenty-First Prasad: Children a Burden … Unfit Parents
Planetmates Release The Twenty-First Prasad
Fully Growns Hardly Fit Care Givers for Newborns
Tree Frog is First Consciousness at The Twenty-First Prasad. Alongside the increasing time of helplessness and dependence of newborns was the increasing reluctance of fully growns to jeopardize their survival for their own newborns.
The Twenty-First Prasad – Children a Burden
But the fully growns are at the same time consumed by the controlling, conforming, backwards thinking, and the alien and crazed overstimulation of consciousness that we’ve been describing. In this state they are hardly fit to be good care givers to newborns. Remember that fear for your survival—of deprivation and uncertainty—drives your obsessive controlling and conforming. So there was an increasing tendency, as you became more “human,” as we’ve defined you, to not want to add the burden of caring for dependent young ones to your already uncertain state. Alongside the increasing time of helplessness and dependence of newborns was the increasing reluctance of fully growns to jeopardize their survival for their own newborns. These reluctant feelings did not fully manifest, however, until around the time of ultimate control and crazed beingness that occurred with the switch to sedentary and accumulating-conforming ways.
Paraphrase/Elaboration of the Twenty-First Prasad — by SillyMickel Adzema
For your adults are not passive actors in these developments. As we have been saying, this is the ultimate and easiest arena of control for humans.
Sure enough, your adults consciously and unconsciously foster and constrain the Ego creations of your young ones in the course of their care giving.
You know how you seek to do it consciously. You call it “raising” your children; again, you show how you objectivize the world and how its people look to you like things to be grown for your use and consumption, much like your crops or chickens. More kindly, you view it as “training” them; though you would never acknowledge, however true, that your aim is to mold and force upon them a shape that makes of them just another extension of you … a mini-me. Again, there is that Ego of you. And here you see how your effects on your children begin to become unconscious influences: You affect them in ways of which you are completely oblivious and always and everywhere have vehemently denied. Still, we must tell you, for those who, because of the pressing and intense nature of these times and their unusual sensitivity to the needs of those beyond just themselves, are able to hear it.
What you are always and everywhere ignorant of is your biological, species-determined inability to give adequate care to those dependent on you. You are, for all the reasons we have been listing, “not quite here,” virtually all of the time.
You are distracted and self-obsessed. While responsible for tending the young’s needs,
you are forever distracted by your controlling and conforming obsessions; you are continually derailed and led astray by your backward thinking. You are barely able to focus outside of yourselves, as you are constantly consumed by the alien and crazed, overstimulated consciousness that characterizes you.
You cannot help but be poor caregivers, with all these other things going on inside you. For children require attentiveness and focus on their needs, and you are ever self-obsessed, and your minds are busy building walls to buffer reality and bridges over unpleasant Nows to fantastical and ever receding futures of ease.
Looking back at the deepest origins of that feverish controlling and fearful conforming we remember that it is rooted in and driven by your underlying — exaggerated and foundationless — fears of death — the supposed end of your beingness.
This fear for your survival is made keen by your incessant paranoia of becoming deprived and of facing uncertainty, as you actually did, in most horrifying ways, as infants.
So, the very same deprivations and uncertainty we planetmates embrace as providing the spice and delightful play of life for you are the forces to drive your obsessive controlling. Furthermore, as you became more “human,” you became that much more, not less, fearful of death; you became ever more terrified of an imaginary future containing uncontainable levels of pain of not getting what you want. You became ever more deranged when confronting uncertainty in your present.
So, consumed with baseless terrors and caught up in your relentless mental machinations around them, you cannot bear the thought of adding the burden of children to all that.
Hardly able to focus outside yourselves and lost in a matrix of long-ago schemas of feelings (from infancy and birth)—pushing and pulling you all about regardless of what you are confronted with in the present—you are babies raising babies.
You would like to make up for your inability by having your newborns simply grow up faster and not be such babies for so long. For after all, it is only their neediness that offends you. It drags you down and requires that you leave off some of your activities and thoughts in the efforts of defense and come out of yourself to heed another’s needs. “If only they would cry less”; “If only they would sleep through the night”; “If only they would poop in the right place.”
Forever falling short of filling your needs in the present, as you go about doing that along with attempting to fill the ever present list of imaginary “needs” left over from your past, you cannot be good caregivers for needy others. Put another way, burdened as you are with imaginary struggles, it does not behoove you to attend to another’s real needs.
Bad enough, all this was when you were nomadic, gatherers and hunters, but all of this was made worse by the switch to sedentary living. For with fixed abodes, inequality of stores, and the resulting social hierarchy came all its requirements to conform increasingly to the demands of a social arena for the satisfaction of one’s needs. Remember that in Nature you enjoyed a relative independence of action in satisfying your basic needs. In Nature, you knew the relative self-assurance that one could always fend for oneself, if need be.
But hierarchy and increased specialization of function—which was a narrowing of the fullness of life experience down to a focus on the aspect of it which could be traded in society for survival—made one dependent on the good will of others for survival. It re-created the state of infantile dependence on one’s care-givers. You were thrust ever, triggered ever, into feelings of helplessness vis-à-vis the Other, which now would include the social matrix within which you were nurtured and fed.
We will leave for later how this, in itself alone, transformed your ideas of Divinity, again … this time it took on more of the qualities of the ones you were most dependent upon—strong men or a man, patriarchal elders, and chiefs—instead of the forces of Nature and its central experience of rebirth. For now it is more important to notice that the major effect this fundamental helplessness in relation to society had upon your feelings and thoughts was the requirement, always, that one’s actions be not just sufficient (for survival) but pleasing (to Other). So, to a consciousness caught up in pushes and pulls left over from early deprivations and trauma in interaction with an inattentive, sometimes harsh, Other (one’s caregiver/parent) was added the pushes and pulls to appeal to, and be approved by, similar unconcerned, careless, sometimes brutal Others in the present, which were one’s higher ups.
This could not help but make it even more difficult to attend to the needs of your young. In the drama of intrigue and chicanery, which erupted out of the necessary interaction for fulfillment of needs with increasingly larger numbers of similarly helpless and equally desperate others in society, you were engaging the majority of the attention and focus you did have. Caught up in the necessary wiles of life left you with little over. The persistent and undeniable needs of children, arising at any time of the day or night, was an unwanted addition to the increasing demands and complexities of daily life.
The result? From the preceding prasads it can easily be guessed what transpired: Children were the lowest in the hierarchy of importance in any society—they were often abandoned or even killed, oftentimes right at birth—for they were the least able to defend themselves and represented the biggest additional outlay of resources and effort of anything coming into an adult’s life. But they were under the most pressure and were the most scapegoated in the hierarchical societies which came with sedentary living.
In ways very similar to the change in the perceptions of women, with hierarchy—that is, with there being controlling and demanding persons ever above one—came incredible pressure to extract from others below oneself amounts of complicity and service equal to what was being demanded from above. It was the unconscious trade-off that men sought for the sacrifice of their energy, time, and self-esteem to those above.
By that we mean that men knew and secretly resented the fact that they needed to put time and effort into the needs and wants of those above them, rather than their own. They felt they could live with that as long as they could balance that suck of energy from them to above with acquisition of unworked for boons from those below. More simply, if you had to suck up to those above you, you could console yourself with the fact that others below you sucked up to you. This was all decided unconsciously, of course. So men used women and controlled them in an amount equal to that which they themselves felt controlled and dominated from above. Men knew they were humiliated and denigrated to an intolerable degree by those above, but they were able to live with that if at other times they also could dominate and bully.
And, of course, women were always targets for all this scapegoating and abuse. But even further down—and available to be scapegoated even by women—were the children. So, again, children were felt to be both the one excludable variable in life’s burdens as well as the ultimate repository for the suffering brought about by such burdens. They were not wanted and were killed or abandoned, being felt to be additional burdens on psychologically and economically distracted adults. But if they were allowed to live, their needs would be set aside in accordance with the pathetic needs of caregivers who desperately sought dependent underlings (of any kind, women or children, fringe group or subservient class) upon which to balance the injustices of one’s adult life.
It is no coincidence, either, that women, being the easiest ones to burden, the ultimate societal scapegoats, would have thrust upon them the burden of caregiving that men did not want. Being the child-bearers they were obvious candidates; but these societal pressures that came with sedentary living increased and reinforced that relation. And men were both more anxious as well as more able—more easily beginning with sedentary life—to cut themselves away from any such responsibilities regarding children. However, they heaped extra pressure on women. For the fact that women, being lowest on the totem pole, were the most supervised of all sectors of adults meant that although men would not want to help in child caregiving, they certainly did not want women to be so cavalier about it.
So, women were in the worst situation. Being the repository of the suffering of their men, who themselves were the repository of the misery of the strong men above them, women carried the heaviest burden yet were left with no one below them to pass along the burden of caregiving.
Further, this task of attentiveness to children is a complication that just adds to your considerable discomfort around not knowing things, not being able to control things … around uncertainty. For while you sought to control everything about you, your children would be the one major factor upsetting your carefully made plans and throwing the monkey wrench into any laboriously constructed ease you were able to carve out for yourself.
So while your newborns required more, you would prefer to give less. Your newborns required ever longer periods in the dependent and helpless state as you changed over time, while
with your increasing fears you felt it risky to focus on a helpless other and away from your attention to warding off present and future imaginary threats.
This reluctance to care for your newborns only became truly apparent and blatant after your transition from nomadic ways to sedentary ones, however.
For this switch allowed full rein to your mania to
accumulate and control and,
with this increased separation from the natural, a greater state of ordinary madness. You peaked, at this point, as far as your desires for controlling. So the unpredictability brought by newborn others was that much more unappealing.
Return to The Great Reveal from the Planetmates, the Twentieth Prasad: Obsessive Control — Controlling Your Young
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