Archive for September, 2012

Religions Are About Control; Spirituality, Surrender; and the Cure for the Arrogant Modern Ego: Dreaming Out Loud, Part 2: We Need a Different Hero

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Religions Are About Control; Spirituality, Surrender. Let Go, Let God to Correct an Arrogant Modern Ego

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The Path to Heaven Leads Through Hell

Those in the know about the pervasive pre- and perinatal influence on personality and behavior, and especially those of us actively engaged in working through the effects of such early traumas, are fully aware, like Dante, that the path to heaven leads through hell. We have found that the path to the transpersonal light leads through the psychodynamic and perinatal darkness, that the path up and the path down are parts of the same path outward. [Footnote 2]

A Dark and Hideous Shadow World

Our experience has been that the information avalanche and multicultural onslaught have eroded our personal boundaries to an influx, not only of transpersonal bliss-love-compassion, but equally—and very often, initially—to a dark and hideous shadow world, a backwards bizarro world, of pernicious and insidious disorganized feelings comprised of elements ancient, infantile, pathological, biological, scatological, and perinatal. These are some of the forms spiritual emergence can take, especially initially. And they are the ones most likely to be seen as spiritual emergencies.

Pre- and Perinatal Themes in Cinema

Therefore, it is interesting to see these views confirmed by the bubbling up of psychodynamic and perinatal themes in our collective consciousness as evidenced by current films, books, and music. I have mentioned the pre- and perinatal themes and symbolism in films and explained why, along with other elements of postmodern times, they are evidence of something significant occurring in the consciousness of our age—an emerging perinatal unconscious.

But there is another element evolving in current films which has to do with a changing or evolving collective attitude toward these perinatal elements. And along with a changing attitude, there is evidence pointing to an evolving collective response to it.

Control vs. Surrender, Death vs. Life

“Control Spiritualities” and Patriarchal Cultures

Specifically, a different kind of heroic response, which characterizes the perinatal arena, can be said to characterize the postmodern movies replete with perinatal symbolism. Most striking of all, this different kind of heroic response corresponds to a different kind of spirituality than what is commonly portrayed in this society, or at least has been the norm up until now.

For basically there are “control” spiritualities and “surrender” spiritualities, with rarely the twain meeting. “Control spiritualities” are adapted to patriarchal cultures and involve the use of the ego to “control” and be in charge of even the realms of the supernatural. This is so because an ultimate evil—a devil or Satan—is postulated, which is given equal weight along with God in determining one’s ultimate fate. This type of spirituality is normally what is called religion.

“Surrender Spiritualities” and God As Being Good

But there is another brand of spirituality that is based on a belief in the ultimate goodness and rightness of All That Is. God’s goodness being essentially the dominant force in the Universe, herein it is considered safe to “surrender” in one’s relation to Reality, to expect that one will be guided correctly, in fact perfectly, in the act of letting go. Thus letting go is not to be feared—as in the control spirituality—but is to be practiced and fostered. In this perspective, which we might call surrender spirituality, control is seen as the problem, not the solution.

“Control” and “Surrender” Psychotherapies

Of course these two approaches to spirituality represent two approaches to psychotherapy as well. The control attitude is the dominant mode of psychoanalytically-based approaches—those in which the “demon” of the id is postulated.

The attitude of “letting go” and “surrender,” on the other hand, is the dominant mode of the experiential psychotherapies, which are themselves rooted in the tradition of humanistic psychology with its belief in the ultimate goodness of the human organism and which thus allows a faith in the ultimate rightness of human processes.

“Hero’s Journey” As “Control” Psychotherapy

the.control.attitudeSince the control attitude, in any of its manifestations, requires the postulation of an ultimate evil against which one must remain vigilant and must fight, the common “hero’s journey” myth—with its typical fighting and slaying of supposedly evil parts of the personality and reality symbolized as dragons and other monsters—is a prevalent focal myth to this attitude. Corresponding to this myth are the emphasis on disciplines and practices seeking to develop the ego and the will…over against the dangers that are postulated to exist in the Universe requiring these disciplines and, so-called, ego developments.

A Different Heroic Response in “Surrender” Paths

Since the “feeling” therapies and the other spiritual and experiential psychotherapeutic modalities with which they are allied are so different in attitude to the traditional “control” attitude, should there not be corresponding differences in myths to exemplify them? Indeed, there are.

In history, the surrender spiritualities have had correspondences in myth in which the dragon is not fought, conquered, and slain, but rather is either tamed and becomes one’s ally or pet—Saint Margaret is the prime example in the West, but this is a depiction prevalent in the East—or else one is swallowed by the “dragon” or monster and, after a while, is reborn.

Jonah is the prime example in the West for this latter depiction. But again this reaction to the fearful dissociated aspects of the personality, or the Shadow, is not a common one in the Western patriarchy, and it is much more common in traditional cultures and in the East.

A Shift to “Surrender” As a Corrective to a Western Overweening Ego?

All of this may be changing in recent times in the West, as once again the humanistic attitude and the new spiritual perspectives, as well as the experiential psychotherapies such as primal therapy, make us increasingly aware of the ultimate beneficence of the body, and of the Universe beyond even that, and of the importance of surrender and letting go as a corrective to the overweening control and defensiveness of the diminutive Western ego.

Footnote

2. See, for example, Michael Adzema, “A Primal Perspective on Spirituality,” Journal of Humanistic Psychology, 25(3), 83-116. Reprinted online at the Primal Spirit site at “A Primal Perspective on Spirituality.”

Continue with The Necessary Hero and Descent Into the Underground–When There’s “Nothing But Trouble,” You Know You’re in The Perinatal Below

Return to Does It Look Like We’ll Duck Armageddon? The Information Tsunami, Ego Erosion, and Movies Are Collective Dreaming: Dreaming Out Loud, Part One

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Does It Look Like We’ll Duck Armageddon? The Information Tsunami, Ego Erosion, and Movies Are Collective Dreaming: Dreaming Out Loud, Part One

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Dreaming Out Loud, Part 1: Are the Changes Needed to Avoid Apocalypse Occurring? The “Royal Road” to Our Collective Mind, Putting Our Society “on the Couch”

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Is there any evidence that the changes that need to happen for us to stave off apocalypse and save our world are actually occurring?

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The “Royal Road” to Our Collective Mind

I have mentioned there are studies of the psychology of generations, beginning with the Baby-Boomers or Sixties Generation, child.centered.parentingthat show both an increased access to the perinatal as well as a tendency to act out perinatal influences in less harmful…though more blatant…ways than generations prior. We have seen that this tendency goes hand in hand with actual engagement in activities to counter the negative perinatal act-outs that exist in our environment, moviesfor example, campaigning against war, pollution, racism, violence, and so on.

But in “Chapter Eight: The Perinatal Media,” I introduced the common anthropological tenet that the projective systems of a culture—that is, its art and artifacts—can be analyzed to get a glimpse into the worldview of a particular society. For our purposes, I pointed out how our movies are especially potent glimpses into our collective consciousness as well as our collective unconscious. You might say that our cinema is the “royal road” to our collective unconscious.

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Movies As Collective Dreaming

movies.as.collective.dreamingOur flicks perform admirably well as collective dreams in that, unlike the other products of our collective consciousness such as other art and artifacts, they are multimedia stories, much like dreams are. But more than that, they are shared by more of the populace than any other art form. I am not including TV separately as an art form, since I put it in the same category as films, especially when many films are broadcast on TV and much else on TV also has the same character of being multimedia stories.

Finally, the strength of a particular element of the collective consciousness can be easily determined by the popularity of a particular movie that represents it or by that element’s increasing inclusion in a number of films. For example, in “The Perinatal Media,” I discussed the emerging new elements of faces coming out of walls and forceful oral insertion.

Putting Our Society “on the Couch”

All together, these mean that, just as a psychotherapist might analyze a client’s dreams to get an idea of his or her unconscious workings and contents, one can interpret mainstream movies to get an idea of the workings and contents of our society’s “collective mind”—both conscious and unconscious.

we.are.attracted.by.art.thats.inside.usThis is no more complex than saying that when we see things in movies that people rush to see, they are drawn to it because those things are also in their own minds. And the more they flock—the greater the success of a movie—the more pervasive in a society are those themes, elements, and contents. Certain aspects—themes or elements in films—are said to really “resonate” with people and therefore people make the movies that contain them popular and successful.

When this is said, it only means that people are consciously or unconsciously drawn to things that exist within themselves. Conversely, no existence inside? No interest.

lets.analyze.filmSo in this and upcoming chapters I will use films as the dreaming out loud of our collective mind. Put less esoterically, I will be analyzing a few examples of mainstream movies for their content, and I will be assuming the content I find there exists as well in the society that has watched it…has dreamt it.

I will also be assuming that movies that are mainstream, by which I mean can be found readily for sale as DVDs on-line or in retail stores and have become part of the popular conversation are indicative of pervasive elements in our collective consciousness and unconscious. brazil.faces.from.wallsThey can be looked at for the unacknowledged workings of our society as a whole.

I will not deal with the actual numbers of people who have attended particular movies. For I will assume out of the tens of thousands of movies that are produced each year—by small and large producers—those that have made it into the theaters of virtually all the communities of our society, and from there onto the DVD lists and the shelves of stores of all those communities, have by those facts alone demonstrated their resonance with the collective social mind. Otherwise, we would get into the maelstrom of analyzing critic’s opinions of these movies; and with that, to modify a saying, opinions are like asses: everyone has a different one.

Something’s Happening Here … Again

masks.are.like.faces.from.wallsOne final point about the heuristic value of the analysis of films for the workings of the collective mind: Elements and themes in movies change over time. I have shown how new elements may be evidence of new elements of our collective unconscious minds coming into consciousness in detailing how the faces-in-the-wall element has developed. (See “All in All It’s Just Another Face in the Wall.”)

But when old, familiar plots have different outcomes, this is important as well. When elements change or evolve over time, this speaks of something going on. This points to changes or evolutions in our collective consciousness. And when elements and themes and plots change or evolve rapidly, we can accurately faces.from.walls.everywheresay that the changes in consciousness are equally swift.

These are some of the tools we will be using in this and upcoming chapters as we take a look at a few examples of mainstream films and what they might be reflecting back to us about our own society’s changes in consciousness. But first let me say something about what may turn out to be the most important of the thematic evolutions or changes in film elements that we have been seeing.

Information Avalanche and Pre- and Perinatal Themes

In the last half century we have been hearing a great deal about the need to expand consciousness to balance the negative effects of the extremes of technological advance. Fortunately this change of consciousness is to some extent inevitable—or at least greatly aided—by certain side effects of the technological explosion…specifically in the area of telecommunications.

Ego-Eroding Information Deluge

As cultural boundaries are eroded by a multicultural information avalanche, people are forced to lower their inner defenses and ego boundaries. Confronted by such incoming information people will either take some of it in, learn, and thereby grow beyond their former selves or they will need to expend themselves in an all-out effort to shore them up.

A potent example of the first, currently, is the way people worldwide are opening to and learning from each other using social media via the internet; the revolutionary potential of this creation of an open global consciousness is already showing itself in uprising for democracies and economic justice virtually everywhere on Earth. A clear example of the second—where folks are putting everything into blocking out information and beating back the personal growth that would result—is in the backlashes to these liberal forces, which are also occurring throughout the world—as a Tea Party in the United States and as the fortification of authoritarian regimes from China to Syria, from Iran to Israel.

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We have seen that the first response—where folks allow the discomfort inherent in personal growth—is typical of a more advanced form of child-caring that is centered on the needs of the child. We know also that the latter reaction goes with child-caring centered on the needs of the care-givers, or parents…and not the child. In this latter instance of parenting, it is understandably called child-rearing or raising a child as opposed to child-caring. We have noticed that the first response goes along with increased self-analysis and introspection and the latter one with acting out, aggression, and culture war.

Information Tsunami Pushes Consciousness Revolution

tidal.wave.of.informationSo, this tsunami of information in all areas, where previously we could smugly hold forth ego-satisfying views, pushes both toward an overthrow of those narrower perspectives and the establishment of broader, more encompassing ones as well as toward an ever increasing irrationality in fending off this information, at any and all costs.

I discussed at length in a previous section how this informational upswelling has led to a need to process it all in new social formats and the rituals of the talk and reality shows.

“Consciousness Raising” As “Shoveling It”

new.information.some.just.pile.it.onFor the most part, this growth or expansion of consciousness, when it happens, is seen as a linear increase and correspondingly is labeled a “raising” of consciousness. This is true whether we are talking about societal or individual progress.

Ken Wilber’s transpersonal theory is the most popular version of such a ladder-style path. In it the process of growth is analogous to that of climbing a mountain or shoveling compost into a pickup truck—one simply moves upward or piles it on. [Footnote 1]

But there are those who think otherwise.

Footnote

1. See especially Ken Wilber, The Atman Project. Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1980.

Continue with Yes, Tina Turner, We Do Need Another Hero … a Different Kind. Dreaming Out Loud, Part 2: The Path to Heaven Leads Through Hell

Return to Better Hitler Had Jumped Into Mosh Pits. Rebirthing Rituals, Part 8: A Drive to Healing, the Hard Rain Fallin’, and Millennial Promise

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It Was Hardly Narcissistic, It Was About Needing to Redo Everything from Scratch as a Rational Response to the Horrors We Saw Around Us: Sixties … Know Thyself!

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Moratorium … Let the Buck Stop Here! Rebirthing Rituals, Part 7: We Could Use More “Narcissistic” Generations

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“Know Thyself” ~ “Narcissistic”?

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Self-Discovery, Soul-Searching, Psychological-Mindedness, Self-Analysis – Sixties Generation

clip_image0033So, we have taken a look at the need for societies to “do therapy” on themselves, to hash out and process, however messy that might seem to be, the perinatal projections from the unconscious, as they manifest in the tribulations of the times—both profound and mundane. It must be kept in mind that it is the products of nearly the most Painted Glass Ball Illusion“advanced” mode of butterfly-transformationchild-caring—the delegated-release subclass of the socializing psychoclass — who have proved most willing to pay such prices for peace, as for example, in increased soul-searching. In fact they would be later stigmatized for just this quality of introspection, this supposed fault of looking into themselves, through the derogatory appellation, narcissistic.

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Grof_AdventureSelf-Discoveryiconclip_image0053Indeed, Keniston foresaw this when he studied the Sixties generation as college students. Observing the amount of inner exploration they engaged in during their quests for self-discovery, he would describe this attribute in a biased way as “the overexamined life,” and more fairly, for the activist youth, as a “psychological-mindedness” and “self-analysis.” [Footnote 22]

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“Let It All Out? No, Leave Some of It In!” – Pat Buchanan, Fifties Generation

clip_image007_thumbNo doubt those who criticized these youth in the past are some of the same ones or their surrogates who, now older, are wrongly castigating the self-analyzing characteristics of contemporary society as the Sixties generation is now in its “triumphant” phase—the time when as adults a psychoclass takes over the reins of society and most strongly influences it. I have already taken note of the tendencies of the right to rile against the collective processing that is happening in their attacks on popular culture and in particular what they call “hollywood.” They express their desire that “such matters” not come to public light, for they deem them “offensive” or an affront to their (oh so delicate) sensibilities. 181264_233235313453542_936852846_nThey sense a threat to the precious untruths that prop up their self-destructive way of life, woven through as it is with war, fascism, planetary and planetmate annihilation, and the other horrors mushrooming about them in the postmodern era. [Footnote 23]

These highly defended and fear-minded conservatives, prone to projection, are incapable of appreciating the integrity of an inner-thinking generation like the Boomers are. These outer-minded authoritarians would not get, would outright hate those who “questioned authority” in the Sixties.

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clip_image0091These defended entrenched egos would be secretly jealous of and overtly aggressive to a generational emergence that since the Sixties has been psychologically, emotionally, and spiritually working on themselves to be free of inner tyranny. As one of their exemplars, Pat Buchanan, long ago phrased it, “Let it all out? No, leave some of it in!”

Let the Buck Stop Here!

CD_0094MillionProtestersDisappearNonetheless this cadre of kindred Sixties spirits would in their actions declare for the first time in history as a generation, “Let the buck stop here!” And they would seek to turn themselves, and by extension their children and society-at-large, into a more loving, wise, and less acting-out humanity…most importantly, one willing to cooperate rather than war with Nature, or other nations.

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If Not Us, Who? If Not Now, When?

baker_conceptioniconwe.said.let.the.buck.stop.hereWhat virtually all the folks outside “my generation” never get is the unimpeachable vision we had of the complete and utter wrongness of the path and tendencies of modern times and the abyss toward which civilization was heading. We were proven right, of course, as especially in the last decade we have seen the disintegration wrought of those tendencies on all fronts—political, environmental, personal. The Sixties generation saw modern civilization as being unreformable and needing complete remaking, so that everything we did was an attempt to create reality and culture from scratch, sans tradition.

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We had seen normal ways of doing things to be impotent and often dangerous and most importantly leading to apocalyptic endings in our near future. This understanding is what was responsible for all the “non-normal” behaviors my generation displayed—communes, confrontations, clothes, relationships, organics, alternative ways of everything…an entire counterculture. We have been laughed at for essentially being ahead of the curve on the messages of modern events. We have been called crazy for our inconvenient prophecies, virtually all of which are now coming to pass.

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While I and my cohorts, to use just one example, spoke out on the dangers of nuclear energy and in particular the insanity of building plants on fault lines, the professional pundits scoffed and boasted they lived near nuclear plants. This was thirty years and more before the world ever heard the word, Fukushima. The examples like this are endless. We saw all these unworkable endings and asked ourselves, “What would be a real way of doing that?” “What would be a workable, sustainable way?” “What would be a sane and happy life, ethic, and lifestyle.” “What would be a loving, peaceful mode of being?”

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While we sought to redo culture from scratch, building it on perennial and unimpeachable principles, the threatened elders and the jealous youngers, who would soon enough come behind, poked fun from within the confines of their assured and comfortable wrongness. rainbowThey called us narcissistic for thinking we could look at ourselves and the world and dare to think we could change it from ancient ways. They thought we were making ourselves important that way, putting on airs, even. Actually we were shouldering responsibility we did not want—yearning for a simpler, less serious time—but which we accepted for the sake of all those who would come after, knowing their very existence depended on our actions. We took faith in the touchstone of love itself—the only thing that did not crumble under examination—and sought to bend all emerging along its outlines.

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candle.666655jpgSo our seeming impertinence was born of an inconvenient prompting, an unwanted vision now proving prophetic. It was hardly selfish, as many of the best of my generation paid the ultimate price and are no longer with us or they are imprisoned. It was hardly narcissistic as it was done out of love…for each other, for the peoples of all the world and of all the religions, for our children, for the planetmates and for the Nature of which we learned we were a part, and for the generations unborn.

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What others will never get is that our “overexamined life,” our “psychological-mindedness,” our perinatal propensities, and our soul-searching and self-analysis were not about being narcissistic. It was about needing to start everything anew as a rational response to the horrors we saw about us in our culture and in the world… horrors which we were correct in trying to address at the time. For their existence today, because of our inability to be completely successful in remedying them, are bringing about all the political, economic, and environmental armageddons I’ve been discussing in this, and its related, books. And we knew, and still know, that only some change huge and radical will help us, and for that we need to find and stand upon the deepest and firmest of ground within us. That is what we’ve been looking for, are still looking for…only now we have lots of company .

Wall Street Protest

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Continue with Better Hitler Had Jumped Into Mosh Pits. Rebirthing Rituals, Part 8: A Drive to Healing, the Hard Rain Fallin’, and Millennial Promise

Return to Rebirthing Rituals, Part – 6: Societal Self-Analysis and Talk Show Soul-Searching for Peace … Sorry, I Know You Wanted to Hate Reality Shows.

Footnotes

22. For “overexamined life”see Keniston, op. cit., 1965; for “psychological-mindedness” and “self-analysis” see Keniston, op. cit., 1968, especially p. 81.

23. Davis, op. cit., especially Ch. 7, “The Great Society and The Youth Revolt.”

Continue with Better Hitler Had Jumped Into Mosh Pits. Rebirthing Rituals, Part 8: A Drive to Healing, the Hard Rain Fallin’, and Millennial Promise

Return to Rebirthing Rituals, Part – 6: Societal Self-Analysis and Talk Show Soul-Searching for Peace … Sorry, I Know You Wanted to Hate Reality Shows.

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Rebirthing Rituals, Part – 6: Societal Self-Analysis and Talk Show Soul-Searching for Peace … Sorry, I Know You Wanted to Hate Reality Shows.

Rebirthing Rituals, Part – 6: Societal Self-Analysis and Talk Show Soul-Searching for Peace … Sorry, I Know You Wanted to Hate Reality Shows

Societal Self-Analysis

Culture War Replaced Cold War

We see the workings of these opposing tendencies to look away from problems or to embrace them by examining the reactions in America to the collapse of the Soviet Union. The disappearance of this huge object for distraction from inner unhappiness, about which one could rationalize the use of defensiveness and scapegoating, led to continued turning away through the emergence, in America, of a search for other societal scapegoats and therefore the “Republican revolution.” Culture War replaced the Cold War as the way one could be comfortably ignorant of one’s insides and self-assuredly distracted, self-righteously engaged.

This removal of a collective punching bag or scapegoat also resulted in a healthy turning toward the darkness within and a collective self-analysis in America. This reaction has brought to the fore many of our social and political shortcomings.

Talk Show Soul-Searching

For evidence of this latter response we notice beginning in the Nineties the rise of the talk show; the rituals of nationwide self-examination over issues of sexual harassment, spouse abuse, and race relations played out in the Anita Hill–Clarence Thomas hearings and the O. J. Simpson trial; the hashing out of controversial and formerly hidden personal issues around sex, lies, and marital fidelity, played out in the Clinton-Lewinsky Scandal; the reevaluation of matters of faith precipitated by priestly sexual abuse; and many other such national psychodramas staged on cable news networks and the magazine-style, documentary-type TV shows like Frontline, Nightline and the like.

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We also witnessed the rise of reality shows as part of this societal pull to see beneath the covers of what is thought to be real. Now, progressives and intellectuals have lots of fun vamping about how superior they themselves are to such interests, as exemplified in reality shows. This can only be the position of elitists out of touch with the ways ordinary folks live their lives.

Sitcom Socialization

To make my point, let me back up a bit. The swagger that the Left, and intellectuals in general, display around reality shows is the same superiority they have expressed for decades concerning sitcoms. First, let me say that I consider most sitcoms and reality shows to be rather boring and a bit inane with their laugh and soundtrack framing. father-knows-bestYet, when I was a child, growing up in a medium-sized city in the coal country of Pennsylvania and coming from a very traditional family, it was only through such sitcoms that I had a chance to find out what a different style of family and parenting would be. Today, I would laugh at a “Father Knows Best.” But it was a step up and into socialization from the “Father Knows Little” or “Father Not Around” of many in my social stratum when I was a kid. This exposure allowed me, and many of my generation, to seek for more in our life and for better interpersonal family relationships…and eventually better parenting.

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This presentation of better alternatives—middle-class, liberal, “hollywood” ones—to everyone in America has a lot to do with the fact that the Sixties were so explosive. It was the first decade after the introduction of a national culture through the medium of television. Much has been made of the fact that newscasts brought information into living rooms for the first time in that era—which is the thing that intellectual elitists will focus on, blinded by their quaint beliefs that humans are rational actors. It takes an experiential psychologist and social scientist like myself to notice that most folks act out of ideas and attitudes that are rooted in experiences and information that are hardly rational. So, the modeling of a more “advanced” way of family life—not perfect but for many better than the traditional ways they had known, which included things like spanking and attitudes like “children are better seen not heard” and “spare the rod, spoil the child”—through the TVs and cinemas of America was vastly more influential in changing society than newscasts, whose information could just as easily have been shared through the print media. The sitcoms brought liberal middle-class values to everyone in America who owned a tv set; and this was a huge step forward at the time.

A Modern “Priesthood”

This is where righties have it right when targeting “hollywood” for many of the changes in our culture over the last half century…though they see that as a negative influence. But intellectuals and lefties blow an opportunity and lose support among ordinary folks through an unconscious haughtiness and a cultural snobbery they are blind to but display in their turning up their noses at popular culture. Luckily, as an anthropological social scientist, I can study popular culture and get away with it, though not without some snide commentary coming my way from progressive and professional circles. They simply will never understand an intellectual who can speak to working folks because he’s one of them. They simply don’t get my attempts to package the crucial understandings of modern science and social sciences, on which the existence of our very world depends, in words that are not primarily directed to and meant to appease the gods of academia. They consider themselves important within their tiny professional circles, thinking they are changing the world when no one even knows what they are doing beyond that constrained perimeter.

Keeping the People Down

Indeed the attitude of academics and progressives about popular culture, especially talk and reality show tv programming and although they would be appalled to ever think it, is no different from the attitudes of the Catholic church and the clergy about matters of faith during medieval times. There, too, we had an elite wanting to “keep out the unwashed.” There, too, we had a distinction between people in the know and the rabble, with the anointed ones requiring ordinary folks to go through them for matters of truth and faith. We had then also this sharp distinction between the “high culture” of the Church and aristocracy—exemplified in the chamber music of the time—and the “low culture” of the masses—exemplified by the folk music of the troubadours of that day.

Nowadays this poo-pooing of tv culture by intellectuals is the same kind of attempt to funnel reality to the masses through the filters of a new “priesthood.” The cultural purists and intellectual elites would prefer that for truth you go through them in academia, where you ‘d have to pay a toll of course, just as the priests of the Middle Ages required you to pass their way on the road to the divine.

Therapy for the Masses

At any rate throwing off the snootiness of intellectualism, I contend, allows us to notice that sitcoms, reality shows, and talk shows serve functions in society that are, overall, beneficial in advancing our culture and catalyzing increased growth. They may not reflect, yet, where intellectuals and progressives think we should be, but for many they show something beyond where they are.

We should know that they are overall helpful in our cause from the fact that conservatives want to attack hollywood and limit freedom of expression on any airwave. The fact that many reactionaries want to keep their children out of schools, home-schooled, and away from tv sets should be telling progressives something about the value of popular culture.

Rebirth Denied

My point is that the rise in reality and talk shows are coincident with a need for a kind of societal “therapy” that came about when we took back our projections from the Soviets and were forced to look at ourselves. I’m saying this was a healthy way of doing it, and this was helping us, though it was tumultuous and difficult, in the Nineties. It is unfortunate, but it suited the forces of war and fascism, for the 1% to bring forth in the millennium the bugaboo of terrorism…perfectly bringing about another endless feud with another concocted enemy to project our own darknesses onto so we can escape from having to notice them ourselves and bring about actual personal growth and cultural advance…let alone the cultural rebirth that has been trying to happen for decades.

American Rehab

Reality shows are like watching group therapy happening. It is not surprising that there was even one reality program that was about therapy—Celebrity Rehab. Reality shows also expose ordinary folks to what amounts to crude but informative sociological experiments. If academics could see beyond their pretensions they would applaud this sort of, however haphazard and imprecise, understanding of group processes and individual psychology arising in the masses.

If there weren’t reality shows, folks would have a harder time knowing appropriate ways for men and women to act with each other. The gains of feminism would not have spread so widely or as fast if they were not being modeled and reinforced repeatedly on talk and reality shows. They demonstrate parenting and social skills—“politically correct” ones, in the good sense—to folks who would otherwise not know any better than to behave crudely and abusively. They bring the world, geography, travel, and history to the masses.

Intellectuals quibble about the quality of that, which comes across as quite childish, for it arises as if out of a jealousy of others getting the attention they want and out of a fear of competition for informational matters around science, culture, and humanities. It strikes me as more than ironic that those on the Left who would wish people to wake up from their zombie slumber would want to push programs of literature or drama where truths are filtered through the consciousness, and unconscious, of the artist, while wishing to deprive folks of a direct look—however contrived, it is actual reality and not scripted—at the world around them and people’s actual unplanned behavior and spontaneous reactions to unusual events.

Seeing people’s behavior in some of these shows does often remind me of the dynamics I’ve seen in therapy groups, and some of the personal changes in the participants mirror some of the evolutions I’ve seen in folks undergoing deep experiential psychotherapy. The audience participation part often sounds like group therapy or an intervention. I’ve been struck by how some of the group processes in the show remind me of family day in rehab, with folks reflecting back what they see in each other and how others’ behavior has affected them. These are all things that conservatives cringe at…actually hate. Yet liberals, except for notable exceptions like Jerry Springer, are not seeing the opening they have here. Lefties are fighting rather than using these forces, which are in the direction of personal growth and, cumulatively, much needed societal change.

As a psychologist and simply someone who loves people, I am fascinated by some of the things I see in these shows. They can be heart-wrenchingly real at times. So it occurs to me that folks who disparage these shows, comparing them with literature and dramatic productions, is another thing where some are wanting to have their reality filtered, managed, and packaged for them, lest it be too “disruptive” to their prejudices of things.

The Price of Peace Is Inner Sight

The upshot of all this is to say that just as a lack of a Cold War caused both collective acting out—another war, a Culture War—and collective inner searching via television talk shows, documentaries, and such. So also the prevention of “hot” wars on an international, not just intercultural, scale and the cause of peace in general require such inner soul-searching and such confrontation with one’s darker sides. And if we must, it is better to endure the psychotic acting out of a culture war—with its battles played out on the airwaves—than an actual war.

For is there any doubt that either of these or any combinations of these alternatives, however uncomfortable and even violent…on a smaller scale…at times, is a small price to pay compared to the price of outright war and violence which, by any measurement, is a cost horrifyingly huge and unacceptable?

America Currently Refusing to Pay Such Price

The converse of this is also true: When the dramas wanting to be discussed are suppressed in the mainstream media, it is as stifling of the growth of a nation as an individual’s growth. Unfortunately we have seen this as well recently. There have been massive worldwide and nationwide Occupy Wall Street demonstrations, massive Wisconsin union outpourings, and events in Japan and about Fukushima that the American people really want to and need to know and discuss, but they are being blacklisted from being broadcasted on. There has been a change in government in Iceland, with banksters being jailed, that Americans are not hearing about; there have been demonstrations in Japan about their insane response to their tragedy, which Americans won’t be told about; there have been massive demonstrations in Israel against the colonial policies of their own government that curiously do not make it into the offerings of news programs. These are things that in the Nineties would have fed the talk on tv and stimulated the necessary societal hashing out for there to be a chance of going beyond them.

What Is the Cost of Denial? Of Complacency?

It is hard to know, though, what happens when the natural urges of a nation to grow and change are thwarted. While I discussed this abortion of cultural renewal and the abomination that results from it at length in Chapter Seven of a companion book to this one, Culture War, Class War, under the title Cultural Rebirth, Aborted, the question remains what happens when this societal “rebirthing” is more urgent than ever. What happens when—for the sake of the survival of the human race and of the planet—it is necessary that this growth happen and instead it is continuously derailed and snuffed out of the light of collective consciousness?

Internet Revolution Is Another Reformation

Luckily all this is changing as the internet and social networking have upended the academic elitists, swarming around and over their petty barriers of intellectual privilege. The blogsters and “rabble” of the net have taken over the cultural dialogue of the time as assuredly as Martin Luther and the Reformation changed religion forever and helped to bring to an end the cultural stagnation of the Middle Ages and to ignite an Age of Reason and of Enlightenment.

Continue with We Could Use More “Narcissistic” Generations. Rebirthing Rituals, Part 7: Know Thyself … Let the Buck Stop Here!

Return to What’s Involved in Stopping War and Ecocide – Peace Is Painful: Rebirthing Rituals, Part Five – But Better Psychotic Than Warring

Footnotes

22. For “overexamined life”see Keniston, op. cit., 1965; for “psychological-mindedness” and “self-analysis” see Keniston, op. cit., 1968, especially p. 81.

23. Davis, op. cit., especially Ch. 7, “The Great Society and The Youth Revolt.”

Continue with We Could Use More “Narcissistic” Generations. Rebirthing Rituals, Part 7: Know Thyself … Let the Buck Stop Here!

Return to What’s Involved in Stopping War and Ecocide – Peace Is Painful: Rebirthing Rituals, Part Five – But Better Psychotic Than Warring

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Wounded Deer and Centaurs: The Hierarchy of Healing, An Inconvenient Revolution, and Flaunting One’s Sickness Is Healthier Than Hiding It

Healing Crisis Means Needing to Get “Sicker” Before We Can Be “Weller” and Making It When You DON’T Fake It: Centaurs, Wounded Deer, and the Consciousness Revolution, Untold

Apocalypse No! Chapter Eleven:
Healing Crisis – Getting “Sick” To Be Well

What’s in Your Head, Zombie? Being Really Sick, But Denying It — WWII Generation, Nazis, KKK, Right Wing, Tea Party

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Birth Woes ~ World Wars and Can’t Know What You Don’t Know … What’s in Your Head, Zombie? 1350003L

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.

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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.

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Healing Crisis

adkfjafkdj;clip_image004_thumbBasically, 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.

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One Must “Die” to One’s Sickness Before One Can Be “Born” Well

enchufesImages-of-Scotland---The-Innocent-Railway-Tunnel-EdinburghWhen 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.

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Degrees of Disease

Dissociation – Completely Split Off

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It’s YOU! YOU’re the f&^$#r!

350x259px-LL-3357ab07_Poster-12AngryMen_06We see a progression over the last century in which there was complete dissociation from the perinatal unconscious by those of the Fifties, 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.

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Wounded Deer

natalie-portman-black-swan-2woundeddeerIn 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.” Earlier I described this consciousness as being the way of the centaur, for it reflects Chiron, in ancient myths, having an ongoing wound but eventually becoming a teacher and healer.

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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.

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Being Really Sick, But Denying It: WWII Generation, Nazis, KKK, Right Wing, Tea Party

Can’t Know That You Don’t Know

clip_image010[3]tea party teaFirst 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 teacherteethM220px-Mitt_Romney_by_Gage_Skidmore_3a 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.

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Thousands turn out at the State Capitol to rally against Obama policies, huge deficits, bigger government and higher taxes.  Corneliu Constantinescu (CQ) wears tea bags on his hat at the rally on the steps of the Capitol.  Photo by Doug Beghtel/ The Oregonian

What”s in Your Head, Zombie?

enrapturedreaction.crpdcrpdPsychohistorians 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]

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Birth Woes ~ World Wars

Cheney-LookinForwardtoMadMaxinagentsmithsplitoffIn 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.

clip_image013[3]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.

clip_image014[3]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]

clip_image016[3]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]

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Wounded Deer and Centaurs – Being “Weller,” But Appearing Sicker – Perinatal Awareness of Boomers and Beyond

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Perinatal Boomers and Beyond—We Know THAT We Don’t Know…We Could Be Wrong.… But You Certainly Are

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Being “Weller,” But Appearing Sicker—Generations Since

As I said, contrasted with being completely split off — dissociated — from one’s perinatal unconscious, as the Fifties and WWII Generation are predominantly, is being less cut off from it and having artistcliffjoseph.lrgrcrppdsome access to its energies. This means that rather than being totally and blindly driven by these forces, which are acting on one indirectly,iLM6lBbT4w5BPeusSTPeb4xhkJXcrppd one actually feels them somewhat: One has a sense of their being a part of one’s experience as opposed to living within them so thoroughly that one has not a clue of their existence.

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This means that one has more options than to act them out, but it also means they make one aware of one’s perinatal sickness. One feels them, suffers from them, struggles with them.

On the other hand, one does not suffer or struggle from unconscious energies that one is compliant with and that are completely manifest and supported in one’s social and cultural environments (for example, the worlds of the WWII and previous generations), however destructive that makes one’s actions.

Trancing Vs. Suffering

This difference may be likened to the difference between being a fish in water and totally oblivious to that fact versus living out of water and experiencing a downpour. When one is in less of a trance state, one is aware of alternative ways of being; in the example, that would be being dry. Consequently, one suffers and struggles amidst these forces and options…and one has at least some ability to choose one’s actions.

I do not believe it is simply coincidence that we are currently going from the Piscean Age — symbolized by fish in water — to the Aquarian Age — symbolized by a water bearer. This change was a big part of the consciousness during the Sixties, and I think we are beginning to see why: Going from a state where one is oblivious to the forces around one to a state where one can see the things one is dealing with (carrying the water) is no small thing.

It seems everything about evolution in humans has something to do with being between two mediums and the advance/the added perspective that comes with that, going all the way back to being the only ape to take to the water so much as to become partly aquatic—placing our species between water and land, halfway between a dolphin and a chimpanzee. I think we are heading toward being like the fairies and angels we imagine—halfway between land and air—but that is a whole other post.

Another analogy I’ve heard of this difference between the two modes of being completely oblivious and somewhat aware of one’s unconscious is that between living full-time in an arctic environment where one has to wear a heavy coat versus living in a milder climate. In the warmer climes, one is both aware of what it is like to not have a coat—one has capacity to feel better ways of being—as well as how bulky, obstructing, and uncomfortable it is to have the coat on—suffering more from it, suffering from one’s perinatal memories. Finally one is better able to decide when to have it on and not—one has more options. At some point I will discuss what this has to do with the increase of bipolar disorders, but not now.

One analogy I find especially provocative is the difference between watching a movie and being fully engrossed in it so that one does not know it is a movie, which is equivalent to acting out unconsciously from one’s early imprints. Compare this to watching the same movie with equal interest, but being aware that one is in a theater. You can see where in the second instance one would feel there are more options; and one would feel that one could step back before finding oneself caught