Posts Tagged emotion

“We call it “growing up” to be impassionate, to be morosely, meekly obedient: Educators exhort us to deny emotion; Doctors prescribe pills; therapists counsel us to be less alive

“We call it “growing up” to be more insensitive, less spontaneous … to be impassionate, and morosely and meekly obedient. Our educators exhort us to deny emotions; our doctors provide pills to suppress them; and our therapists counsel their clients, helping them to be less alive. Like suburbanites paving over everything with asphalt and with manicured lawns in which any weed has been assassinated out of existence, we are terrified of anything unpredictable in the Divine, anything emotional. We want to control Divinity. 

“Yet, this kind of going to the opposite extreme of emotion … worshiping nothingness, emotionlessness … does not give us a picture of Reality. It only gives us a picture of a defense against what happened to us. The problem is that God is *more*, not *less* of what is Real. Divinity is not Reality devoid of the Real, of real experience. But that is what, out of fear, we have come to wish for….” 

– from “Funny God: The Tao of Funny God and the Mind’s True Liberation”

http://www.amazon.com/Funny-God-Minds-Liberation-Return/dp/1499504845/ref=sr_1_1_twi_pap_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1442699839&sr=1-1&keywords=michael+adzema

https://www.facebook.com/notes/michael-adzema/wed-rather-cuddle-with-a-statue-we-remove-the-essence-of-divinity-from-our-ideas/10152677583538138?pnref=lhc

#spirituality #consciousness #experience #growingup #divinity #follow #tsu #Reality #spirit #emotion

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We’d rather cuddle with a statue: “Emotions having become soured in us … we strive to empty ourselves of them. Our cultures, similarly, glorify the unaffected personality….”

“Why We Think Less Is More: There is a good reason why we make the mistake of confusing unfeelingness and a vapid personality and life experience with a greater and more Divine one. We are so traumatized by things that have been done to us in early life … maybe we had an angry daddy, a cruel mommy … that we get comfort only in imagining a Divine with no emotional qualities. We would rather cuddle with a statue, cozy up to a piece of granite, or be enamored of an empty concept or an ambiguous image or symbol than expose ourselves to what we feel to be the only alternative. That is, that Divinity might come crashing down on us like a thunderbolt … something perhaps our parents did. Because life was threatening to us, once, we seek to create a Divinity, thus, a Reality, that will not be, cannot be. 

“Emotions having become soured in us, in our religious and spiritual pursuits we strive to empty ourselves of them. Our cultures, similarly, glorify the unaffected personality; and we wish to put ourselves above our feelings and to train our children out of their emotions….” 


– from “Funny God: The Tao of Funny God and the Mind’s True Liberation” 

http://www.amazon.com/Funny-God-Minds-Liberation-Return/dp/1499504845/ref=sr_1_1_twi_pap_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1442668372&sr=1-1&keywords=michael+adzema

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#spirituality #consciousness #experience #God #divinity #follow #tsu #personality #spirit #emotion

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Planetmate Communion: “I Trust Planetmates Implicitly Now … Got Affection — Huge”

Planetmate Communion: “I Trust Planetmates Implicitly Now … Got Affection — Huge”

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Planetmate Communion: A Personal Note Upon Receiving The Second Prasad

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I feel changed, feel confident, I trust PlanetMates implicitly now. More than a gift, got kindness, affection-huge

jacobs-ladder-mccaulay-culkin-and-tim-robbins408309_1764639612598_1737376259_863778_1611513471_nDon’t let this be confused with The Second Prasad. That is from The Planetmates, and it is presented in the previous chapter. This is SillyMickel, and this is not a quote from them. But I think it is very important for me to share this, as part of anyone’s attempting to understand this phenomenon. Here’s the latest on The Great Reveal—arranged by the Planetmates for the benefit of Humans on the eve of the biggest challenge ever to face humans or even the planet at any time of its existence—which is being released in snippets.

This time, if no other, I am going to relate something very personal around this thing I’m involved in. You will see that it is appropriate and fitting considering the way the event was set up. And it will probably be the first really good insight for you, as it was for me, into the nature of these Planetmates, and also into the feelings, emotions, and motivations behind the entire “Great Reveal.”

To be specific, I was absolutely delighted to find that my best friend, a feline planetmate, was serving as First Consciousness in The Second Prasad’s delivery. It struck me that it was meant as an honor to me and my place in their endeavor.

230x276.funnyface (2)MuffThe First Prasad came primarily through a venerable elder, an aged primate with much stature among the Planetmates, though I was astounded to see how humble and down to Earth this venerable wise one was. Nevertheless, my good friend, Muff, though a free consciousness and wise, would be outranked by a multitude of longer-lived, more experienced, and generally more prestigious Planetmates.

So this honoring of him, and by extension me, probably was due to our friendship and perhaps Cat-and-Dog-150x150 (2)to express their encouragement of our rare interspecies relationship and the scientific and cultural collaboration that came of it, without which none of this would have happened.

work.6391737.2.flat,550x550,075,f.experience-life-in-3d-seagulls-nzI must admit to having been more than touched by their action. I sobbed as I realized that I had been really included and accepted; putting to rest previous uncomfortable feelings of being an outsider. In fact, that was the first really emotional experience that I shared with these Planetmates; imahhhhgeseverything previously had been more business, actually, more benevolent teacher and respectful student-like. Now I felt that I had passed training and was being included as an equal vlcsnap-2011-05-30-23h09m42s78crppdwith them—an honor so rare only a handful of humans have ever been so respected as to receive.

Tears flowed freely as these realizations occurred among us, as the Planetmates shared in my Experience, and they understood that my tears were like a solid bonding of allegiance, but for me it was more like joining a family. I also had the exquisite pleasure of partaking of the experiences of a number of kinds of Planetmates as they each processed the same emotional bonding Eden1-409x307with me and even the emotional release of joy in many different forms other than my tears, but all equally unique and, for me still, very bizarre and totally irrational ways.

But the really different ways that this was processed by different forms of Planetmates led me to realize, at what I knew was the precise time, and couldn’t have been a moment sooner, nor a moment later, that absorbing that experience, as unusual as it was and somewhat off-putting at times, had led me to the otherwise unexperienced access into the sublime feeling that was the same in all—that essence was a sweeter experience than I had ever had when previously experiencing acceptance, belongingness, and a sense of being embraced in a way as to be included like family—oh,breathoflife it was mostly love, as one can imagine, and of course belonging and security, but the essence of it all was prominently one of experiencing a love and unity that surpassed any love I had ever known. It made me see the deepest loves that are possible, and alongside them the many things that we call love couldn’t be seen, being so outshone by this clear perfect thing–that I won’t call love, since it’s so much more and would be reduced to mere love. It should have another name.

I’ll see what I can do about that. But in the meantime, you get the point that it was something beyond anything I’d experience and much more imagjuyhgioloiues_thumbwonderful than just about the most wonderful things one could experience as a human.

And I feel changed. And I feel more confident. I trust these Planetmates implicitly now, for that was more than a gift, it was an unexpected kindness above all—it emanated from feelings of affection and appreciation that they had toward me, that led to the honoring, and then to the sharing in that most blessed (how to describe it…oh:) free, expansive, inclusive, nofence, among all, and thegods-hands God-coddling feeling of being held in God’s very loving hands.

I thought it important to relate this experience, as I being human should relate how at least one human experiences the Consciousnesses of the Planetmates, since I know of no other such report; and this one glimpse into the beings we are dealing with is I’m sure better than nothing. As I’m sure you who were reading were, like me, wondering what they were like on the inside and if they felt any experiences like ours, and so on. Natural questions.

So I hope my experience throws some light in that formerly murky and somewhat anxiety seeping aspect of this experience.Accession480px I feel pure clarity on this now, absolutely no fear, anxiety; rather just the opposite.

I know that is not conclusive that this experience is guaranteed to be the benevolent operation that was most prominently felt among all those tuned in to it. I can just say that it is now guaranteed in my mind, because of what I found out about them on the inside,

I can’t imagine not loving them without question anymore, and beyond that sensing a purity of heart, a goldenness of soul, 9232915_7a18_625x1000a meek yet unbreakable nature, with an unquestioned absolute and total acceptance of the most profound toward myself and our species, which was so real I felt it as the foundation that I would walk on from then on.

hhhTake these reports however you wish to. I can only say that I attest I did my best and retrospectively I think a good job in my attempt to capture and communicate, also in as unslanted, accurately, and truthful way, the experiences that came and blessed me, the way they happened, and their context. For whoever would wish to ponder; and who knows, if these sorts of things between species should begin to be at least less rare, then I hope to have provided a little something of help in the preparation of others for these encounters.

So, judge this however you wish. I’m satisfied that I did my duty, indeed, a very profound dharma. – S.M.

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Continue with The Great Reveal from the Planetmates, The Third Prasad: Humans Only Half Ready for Life at Birth

Return to The Great Reveal from the Planetmates, The Second Prasad: Truth Become Invisible

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How Can You Be Borne Up, If You Won’t Let Go? Spiritual Experience Is Distorted by One’s Birth Trauma … The Necessary Hero Descends Into the Perinatal Below

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When Everything Appears to Be Conspiring Against You, You Might Want to Stop Fighting Rebirth: Atman Projects Versus Surrender Solutions and a Different Hero’s Journey

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Apocalypse – No! Chapter Twelve: Atman Projects vs. Surrender Solutions

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

A Different Kind of Hero’s Journey for Our Times Is Depicted in the Cult Classic, “Nothing But Trouble”

A Perinatal Flick

A film of postmodern times that is bold with revelation for us is the cult classic, “Nothing but Trouble,” which was released in 1991.clip_image002 It is an especially potent example of the rising pre- and perinatal influence in the media we’ve been discussing as well as the different heroic response required in these strangest of days because of it. It is all this, plus a twist: As a comedy it represents an unlikely approach to such material and themes. More about that later.

It was produced and written by Peter and Dan Aykroyd and stars Dan Aykroyd, Chevy Chase, Demi Moore, and John Candy.clip_image008Its reception by modern audiences mirrors exactly the perception in general, to date, that has been had of the perinatal material it depicts so well. For despite the movie’s star power and the popularity of its co-creator, Dan Aykroyd, it was met with overwhelmingly negative reviews and received six Razzie nominations, garnering one. I fully expect that until we know better I can expect much the same kind of reaction to this book, because of the perinatal perspective it is revealing of the dark underside of everyday pleasantries and sugar-coated media realities. Yet there is hope for all that we will integrate this hard-to-face yet redemptive material in the fact that the movie does have a strong following among some in our population, just as at present there are some who are not in denial of the bittersweet perinatal vision being revealed.

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The Lure Into the Underworld and Call to Adventure

clip_image004The perinatal adventure of “Nothing but Trouble” begins innocuously with the main characters “leaving the beaten path” on a rather ordinary trip out of the city. Interestingly, the Brazilian couple who have forced themselves on the main characters of Chevy Chase and Demi Moore in making the trip act as impish other-worldly instruments in the change of route.

Joseph Campbell pointed out that the “call to adventure,” which marks the beginning of the descent into the transformative nether regions, may be instigated by the merest chance or blunder. [Footnote 1]

Campbell also writes that the heralds of such a rite of spiritual passage are often loathly and underestimated characters. The Brazilian couple—as gaudy, overbearing, quirky, and from “down under”—perform just this function of luring into the underworld. Thus, they remind us that it is the quirky yet underestimated element in our familiar daily experience that opens us up to the process whose ramifications are huge by comparison.

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The Merest Blunder, The Adventure Begins

Sure enough, this innocent-appearing outing is soon disturbed. The merest blunder of map reading results in an ominous tour of an eerie town and its somber and menacing-looking inhabitants. This is followed by a high-speed car chase as the police attempt to pull the innocents over for a bogus traffic violation.

In the tour of the town, it is as if the ego is shown getting a preview or having a precognition of what lies ahead and attempts to flee back into its safe familiar environs. But of course, this emerging piece of unconscious material will not be denied and is able to capture the fleeing ego that we see safely ensconced in its trappings of status and power—symbolized by the BMW with car phone. At this point the main characters, representing the ego, are led, under guard, into the bizarre town of Valkenvania—the encounter with unconscious perinatal begins.

Perinatal Elements

The Junkyard of the Psyche

Campbell says that in the unconscious deep, to which one is beckoned, “are hoarded all the rejected, unadmitted, unrecognized, unknown, or undeveloped factors, laws, and elements of existence.” [Footnote 2]

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Likewise, the set in “Nothing But Trouble” is replete with refuse. Bits of history—of rusted and broken refrigerators, automobiles, kitchen appliances, assorted junk, and pieces and parts of all the preceding…the wreckage of the past—are strewn about as well as heaped in clusters to construct the architecture and delineate the outlines of the drama. The correlation with subconscious remnants of forgotten memories and past emotional experiences is obvious.

Thus the drama evolves in the dumping ground and junkyard of the psyche—where all the rejected tidbits of experience have been relegated.

Stripped of Ego, Perinatal Begins

After being separated from the automobile—that is to say, the ego stripped of defensive trappings of status and worldly position—the characters are rather quickly shuttled into encounters with a myriad of perinatal elements. A few of the obvious ones are as follows:

  • Mr. Bonestripper, which is a roller-coaster type ride whose entrance is a large vagina dentate mouth that swallows, chews up, and kills. Notice the roller-coaster ride aspect of Mr. Bonestripper, which reflects the emotional extremes and changingness of perinatal, specifically Basic Perinatal Matrix III (BPM III), events. [Footnote 3]

  • The chutes inside the house and of Mr. Bonestripper indicate birth canal symbolism.
  • clip_image013Sexual elements, indicating BPM III influence, are manifest in the scantily clad heroine and the penis-nose of the judge.
  • The dark foundry symbolizes the foundation work of the psyche as well as the ominous and eerie aspects of perinatal experience.
  • The slave labor surroundings represent similar feelings in the enforced and helpless character of doings just prior to and at the time of birth.

  • Notice that the body—the car, the “Beamer”—gets trimmed down, the excess removed, symbolic of the cutting away of past attachments and concerns of a worldly nature, one’s “status” reduced.clip_image015
  • Chevy Chase as the main character is at one point forced into a marriage with a huge woman, who is tellingly androgynous in that she is played by John Candy. In her threatening and suffocating embraces we see symbolism of the crushing womb.
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  • The entire site of these doings is surrounded by a watery trench. This obviously reflects the amniotic surround in the womb.

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  • Police and guns point to the authoritative character of perinatal doings—in other words, do, or else!

  • Death/rebirth symbolism of the perinatal exists in the form of skeletons and huge piles of skulls and bones.

  • clip_image021Scatological, that is to say, fecal symbolism is seen in the “bat-room,” which contains an enormous pile of wet bat-shit…excuse the wording, but it really is shit and not feces.
  • The arbitrary nature of justice in the courtroom speaks to that perinatal feeling that one tiny thing, event, or action, has huge and horrifying ramifications.

Big Babies

The most obviously perinatal element, however, is the gargantuan and grotesquely flabby infant twins in diapers. Perinatal feelings are indicated in their extreme crying neediness. Their freshly newborn quality is evident in their fleshiness, which reminds one of the overweight appearance of some newborns, which is usually lost a little later on in infancy. The glossy, waxy sheen on their bodies is reminiscent of the skin of a newborn, which, fresh out of the womb, is wet and slippery, covered in amniotic fluid and cervical mucosa.

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A Spiritual Interface

An interesting aspect that indicates the transpersonal, or spiritual, interface with the perinatal is an attic room—a higher mind of memory, kind of like an Akashic record—where all past IDs—identifications—and reports of them—newspaper clippings—are displayed.

Though, interestingly enough, in true perinatal fashion, a macabre lens is used to view these lives—only the reports of their tragic disappearances are seen. I believe that this is a wonderful depiction of how transpersonal information is distorted by perinatal material—the implications of which are far reaching for the pronouncements of so-called spiritual, or psychological, authorities who have not dealt with their perinatal undersides.

Trusting Higher Forces: Say “Good Night,” John Wayne, and How Can You Be Borne Up If You Won’t Let Go? When All Seems Lost…. You Might Want to Stop Fighting Rebirth

When It Appears the Whole World Has Been Conspiring Against You, You Might Want to Let Yourself Be Blessed

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Multilevel Feelings

Just When You Thought….

10-emergence-440_thumbHowever an important element in this movie, “Nothing But Trouble,” which is different from artistic representations that deal with only the personal or psychodynamic, is the way the ending opens up under it to a new level, a whole new arena, of issues. Those of us in experiential therapies or breathwork are only too aware of how the perinatal opens up to one, revealing a greater expanse and pervasiveness of dis-ease, at a certain point after dealing with the personal and the psychodynamic.

clip_image003The_Crusades_WallpaperThis layered, or multilevel quality of the movie is shown when the main characters, having heroically escaped through personal effort, find themselves returning to the perinatal realm. Thinking that they have the forces of authority and light on their side, they expect this time to be able to put the evil away once and for all.

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But When All Seems Lost….

To their immense surprise, it appears that the whole world has been conspiring against them—a telling perinatal feeling. The evil is discovered to be pervasive, as if infiltrating every corner of the universe—another perinatal feeling. Even the thoroughly trusted elements of light clip_image004turn out to be on the side of the darker forces—a vantage point that is part of the hopelessness that characterizes the classic no-exit BPM II scenario. And just like in the womb, then, when all seems lost, something new happens, an explosion or eruption of sorts, which brings down the old world and its structures in a violent conflagration.

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Atman Projects Versus Surrender Solutions

557920_426192764089005_1036145378_nclip_image006This hopeless and futile aspect of the perinatal realms — as opposed to the merely personal or psychodynamic ones—lends itself to its distinctive response—which is surrender, not resistance. Unlike the hero of Campbell’s hero’s cycle whose task is to slay the dragon using the sword of analytical or cognitive powers, the correct solution here at the perinatal is to let go of all designs, manipulations, and attempts at control and to put oneself into the hands of the seemingly irrational and chaotic Universe, come what may.

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How Can You Be Borne Up, If You Won’t Let Go?

tumblr_m2dsa5cmDR1r46foao1_400clip_image007The Universe’s response in the movie — the upsurge of fire from below the earth that brings down the evil structures—demonstrates the theme of being saved by higher forces when one finally is able to surrender. In the same way, in our perinatal experiences, we find ourselves “borne up” and elevated when we once are able to submit to the upsurge of fear-evoking perinatal emotion.

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Indeed, when Chevy Chase is seen rolling and setting fire to barrels of oil in a superhuman nick-of-time rescue attempt—in typical “hero’s journey” style—I had an odd disjointed sense that we had switched modes. The element seemed incongruous.

Say “Good Night,” John Wayne

But, then again, not so. For the movie shows that the successful escape performed through one’s own effort is, in actuality, futile.clip_image008 In perinatal terms, such heroics are illusory “atman projects” that ultimately fail against the onslaught of perinatal material, which must be surrendered to, not heroically resisted or conquered.

Interestingly, the eventual surrender solution is echoed earlier on when Chevy Chase is about to go through the chomping jaws of Mr. Bonestripper, the devouring womb. His response, at the prospect of his imminent failure, is to pray—to call on higher forces.

Trusting in Higher Forces

clip_image010Amazingly, the machine breaks at that moment, signaling the response of such “external” or higher forces. He alone, of all the others who have faced that fate, goes through the machine unscathed. Notice also that he says “Thank you, Lord” afterwards.

Thus it is not on one’s own powers that one makes it through 390550_139027469542957_2115340135_nperinatal material, rather it is by the relinquishing of such attempts at control and clip_image011the relying and trusting in higher forces. We are reminded that Dante required the angelic Beatrice to show the way through purgatorio and inferno to paradisio.

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The Message

In the next chapter, we will use another postmodern film to expand on these themes. This will allow us to fill out an emerging pattern, as we then compare it with “Nothing But Trouble” and other perinatal evidence.

So let us watch, now, as the pattern, like a photo emerging in solution, reveals to us its features, thus delivering to us the message it has come to bring.

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Footnotes

1. Joseph Campbell, The Hero With a Thousand Faces. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1968, p. 51.

2. Ibid., p. 52.

3. As a reminder, BPM III events (Basic Perinatal Matrix III events), using the typology set forth by Stanislav Grof in his many works, are the events surrounding the actual birth struggle of the infant during delivery. These parts on the perinatal in film make mention also of BPM II, which is related to the time of severe compression and constriction of the fetus in the latter stages of pregnancy and prior to the actual onset of delivery—which are characterized by feelings of “no-exit”; of BPM IV, which is concerned with the feelings of release, triumph, being saved, and whatever else occurs immediately after delivery; and of BPM I, which is related to the state of the fetus earlier in pregnancy—prior to compression—which is often conceived to have “oceanic” and “blissful” qualities, though not always.

Continue with Apocalypse – No! Chapter Thirteen: Peaceful Warriors and Silly Heroes

Return to Apocalypse – No! Chapter Eleven: Control Versus Surrender … Heaven Leads Through Hell

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Everything You “Know” About Life You Learned as a Fetus: Foundations of Myth and Mind and my Personal Involvement with This Research into Our Actual “Human Nature”

Your Map of Reality Was Written in the Womb: Falls from Grace, Chapter One — Prenatal and Perinatal Psychology and the Phenomenon of Re-Experience

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

Prenatal and perinatal psychology is the field that deals with the effects of events occurring prior to (prenatal) and surrounding (perinatal) the time of birth upon later life and personality. An ever increasing amount though certainly not all of the information we have about these periods of our lives and their effects is derived through the later and vivid remembering of these events in a phenomenon known as re-experience. Correspondingly, the two most frequently asked questions about this relatively new field, put by those initially encountering it, are those concerning the specific meanings of the terms perinatal and re-experience.

At the outset, I wish to present an explanation of these two terms and of my unique personal relation to this topic as well as some of my background in exploring it. I will follow this with an historical overview of the field of prenatal and perinatal psychology, which will reveal the key concepts and understandings employed throughout this book.

Re-Experience and Reliving

For over forty years, beginning in 1972 when I was a senior undergraduate in college, I have been involved both personally and professionally in a comprehensive investigation into the phenomenon of re-experience. Also called reliving, this phenomenon is reported to consist of a full somato-cognitive remembering of previous events in a person’s life. Reliving involves experiential but also observable and measurable components, such as brain wave changes, characteristic physiological and neurological changes, and typical observable body movements.

This phenomenon can occur, to varying degrees, in many consciousness-altering modalities—including hypnosis, LSD psychotherapy, primal therapy, rebirthing, and holotropic breathwork; to a considerable degree in re-evaluation co-counseling and treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder; and, occasionally and spontaneously, even in mainstream forms of psychotherapy, counseling, and “growth seminars.”

Re-experience is a more vivid and more completely somatic catharsis than what has been described in psychotherapy in terms of abreaction. It is in such contrast to normal abreaction that when these seemingly bizarre yet healing events have spontaneously erupted in traditional or mainstream Western contexts they have usually been mistakenly labeled psychotic, been intervened upon, and then aborted—via drugs and other highly coercive measures—by the attending therapeutic authorities.

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However, with an increasing appreciation for their therapeutic value, these events are gradually becoming understood and accepted in therapeutic contexts and thus allowed to complete themselves and to instruct the participants and observers in their meanings. Therefore, they appear to represent something new in our culture in terms of both a way of approaching knowledge and in terms of the kinds of information that are discovered (Grof 1976, 1985; Hannig 1982; Janov 1971; Lake 1966/1986; Noble, 1993; Stettbacher, 1992).

My Relationship to the Phenomenon of Re-Experience

My interest in the phenomenon of reliving began forty-four years ago at Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. As an undergraduate there I was most inspired by a course in religious studies titled “Religious and Psychological Approaches To Self-Understanding.” I was so inspired by the course that I constructed my major around its topic and initially even used the same title for my program’s name. This major in “self-understanding” would lead me, in a few years, to a profound interest in and exploration of primal therapy, as presented by Arthur Janov (1970) in his much-publicized book, The Primal Scream: Primal Therapy: The Cure for Neurosis.

By 1972, I had completed all but the one final semester for a B.A. That semester was to include the cumulative project—required of such a Special Studies (individually structured) major. However, since my project would focus on primal therapy and one of primal therapy’s basic premises is that knowledge cannot really be known except through experience, I could not in good conscience turn in a project describing primal therapy without first experiencing it. Consequently I withdrew from college, for what was supposed to be only a semester, with the intention of “going through” primal therapy and then returning to school to write my cumulative project on it. In those days, the entire process of primal therapy was reputed to take only three to six months.

But a lot was unknown about that modality in those early days. As it turned out, I would not return to school to complete that final project until 1978—at which point I had five years’ experience of primal therapy behind me and was living in Denver, Colorado.

In addition to these experiences, I have amassed a broad array of other experience and training over the years that have contributed to my understanding of re-experience and of this field in general. Besides my two decades and more of primal therapy … both formally and in “the buddy system” … I have received training as a primal therapist. I am also a trained rebirther, having explored that modality since 1986. I have been experientially exploring the modality of holotropic breathwork since 1987 and did training with Stanislav and Christina Grof in that technique.

Finally, I have been facilitating people in their journeys into deep inner primal and holotropic states since 1975. I’ve given individual sessions in all three modalities of primal therapy, rebirthing, and holotropic breathwork. And with my wife, Mary Lynn Adzema, I conducted three day workshops in something we called primal breathwork. I’ve conducted two-day group workshops in this modality at conferences, which were attended by as many as sixty experiencers at a time.

Thus, I have experience in my own process in these modalities; but in addition I have facilitated for others on many occasions, and at times, it was my main profession—though most of my life I have spent in writing, teaching, and research.

Pre- and Perinatal Re-Experience

Re-experience of birth and of the events immediately prior to and after birth are termed perinatal—from the Greek, literally “surrounding birth.” It has been widely described at this point by a number of authors but is most closely associated with the work of Stanislav Grof, Arthur Janov, and Frank Lake.

However, one significant and as yet little explored or understood phenomenon, arising also from the modalities mentioned, is that of prenatal re-experience. In this case, the experiencer reports … and observationally appears to be … experiencing events that happened en utero, sometimes going back as far as sperm, egg, and zygote states (Buchheimer 1987; Farrant 1987; Grof 1976, 1985; Hannig 1982; Janov 1983; Lake 1981, 1982; Larimore 1990a, 1990b; Larimore & Farrant, 1995).

These reports of remembering experiences that occurred before birth are at such variance with Western professional and popular paradigms that they are met with near-universal incredulity and, too often, premature dismissal. Yet the evidence from the mounting numbers of experiential reports and empirical studies attests that something which is at least unique and interesting is going on here.

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Nevertheless, much of this prenatal information is thus far unformulated, untheorized, and unintegrated into a coherent structure for making sense of these experiences. This book will go a long way toward doing just that—making sense of prenatal experiences and exploring the implications and prospects of the knowledge gleaned from this fascinating new area of research and which arises from the vision that an exposure to this material induces.

The present work represents an attempt to bring this new information concerning our origins and our earliest experiences into such a coherent structure. After the initial overview of the field to be presented in this chapter, I deepen that review of the current understanding and findings in this area in making a case, in Chapter Two, for the legitimacy of prenatal spirituality.

First, let us take a closer look at what we know about the time before and around birth and what it means for us throughout our lives.

Overview of the Pre- and Perinatal Psychology Field—Early Theorists: Psychoanalysis and Birth

Sigmund Freud — Birth as Prototype for All Anxiety

While Freud (1927) disregarded major effects of birth on personality, he still saw the birth experience as the prototype of all later anxiety. His overall disregard of birth, however, was largely influenced by the belief—although discredited (see Chamberlain, 1988), still common in mainstream psychology and medicine today—that a newborn does not possess the neurological capacity for consciousness at birth.

Otto Rank — Psychoanalysis, Birth Trauma, Foundations of Personality and Some Myth, Separation Anxiety

Other early psychoanalysts disagreed with Freud on this. Otto Rank is the most notable of these. Following Freud’s basic psychoanalytic reasoning for personality patterns in early infancy, he asserted basic patterns of experience and ideas that are rooted in even earlier experience. Rank (1929) claimed the deepest, most fundamental patterns of these personality constructs originated at the time of birth, which Freud thought was not possible. Based upon the dream, fantasy, and other patterns of associations arising in his patients in psychoanalysis, Rank postulated a birth trauma, which he saw as a critical event in laying down in each of us particular patterns of thinking, motivation, and emotion for the rest of our lives. Notable among these prototypes was a feeling of a paradise once known but somehow lost, a separation anxiety caused by the separation at birth, and a resulting futile and lifelong struggle to re-unite with that golden age and that early beloved because of a desire to return to the womb.

Nandor Fodor — Dreamwork, Birth and Prenatal Processing and Relivings, Prenatal Origins of Consciousness and Trauma

Also a psychoanalyst, Nandor Fodor (1949) focused on the reflections of birth and prenatal material in dreams. He also designed interventions in therapy to release the negative effects of birth and to process prenatal memories. He was the first to mention actual relivings of birth, in which veridical memories were recovered. He agreed with Rank on many points, but he stressed the origins of consciousness and of trauma being in the prenatal period.

Donald W. Winnicott — First Primal Therapist? Birth Relivings, Importance of Birth—Negative Imprints but Positive Effects, Too

Another psychoanalyst, and pediatrician as well, Winnicott (1958) also held that birth is remembered and is important. He insisted that the birth trauma is real, but he disagreed with Rank and Fodor that it is always traumatic. He suggested that a normal, nontraumatic, birth has many positive benefits, particularly for ego development. Still, he contended that traumatic birth is permanently etched in memory and leaves a lifetime psychological scar. Winnicott (1958) also suggested the possibility of prenatal trauma.

He has been called the first primal therapist in that he described the first birth primals—actual observable relivings of birth—spontaneously occurring by some of his patients during their sessions with him. Thus he was beginning the trend beyond mere talking association or dream analysis as ways of accessing and integrating this material.

Overview of the Pre- and Perinatal Psychology Field — Later Research and Theorists: Hypnosis, Primal Therapy, and Birth

David Cheek and Leslie LeCron — Hypnosis, Birth Memories and Imprints on Personality and Relation to Psychiatric Disorders

Cheek and LeCron (1968) used hypnosis to retrieve early memories in their patients. They discovered that memories earlier than what they expected, going back to birth, were possible. Importantly, a relief of symptoms seemed to follow from the re-experience of these birth memories. They came to the conclusion that a birth imprint occurs, which is induced by the extreme stress of that time and is resistant to fading from later experience. Further they asserted that this imprint could be the cause of a wide spectrum of psychiatric and psychosomatic disorders.

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Leslie Feher — Psychoanalysis, Birth, Cutting of Umbilical Cord, Separation Trauma

Leslie Feher (1980) sought to extend the Freudian tradition farther back into areas that, she asserts, were until only recently unknowable. Thus, she describes a natal theory and therapy that includes experiences of cutting the umbilical cord, birth, and even prebirth. In fact, she considers the cutting of the umbilical cord to be central in her theory of trauma, calling it the “crisis umbilicus,” and echoes Fodor in claiming that it is the true origin of the castration fears made so much of in psychoanalysis. This is so because, according to Feher, the cord and placenta is an object of security and is considered by the fetus to be part of him- or herself. Thus, this cutting represents a supreme threat in being a separation from a total life support system, a major organ, a part of oneself. In these ways, she also brings forward for renewed appreciation Rank’s speculations on the element of separation trauma as a crucial element of the birth trauma.

Arthur Janov — Primal Therapy, Traumas of Birth and Early Life and Healing Them, Empirical Foundations and Neurophysiology of Early Events and Healing

Perhaps the major theorist and popularizer of the phenomenon of re-experience (which he termed primaling), Janov was reluctant to acknowledge the pervasiveness of pre- and perinatal re-experience and trauma. Yet when he did, it was in a major work on birth trauma, which remains as a touchstone in the field in its depth and detail. Imprints: The Lifelong Effects of the Birth Experience, published in 1983, among other things places birth as the determining factor in creating basic personality constructs, called sympathetic and parasympathetic, which roughly coincide with the more common terms introversion and extroversion.

This work is more empirical and neurophysiologically rooted than most in the field. While the book is recognized in the field, Janov and his work have not gotten anywhere near the respect and attention that they deserve. He remains the unfortunate kicking-boy of a movement that is itself scapegoated by the academy and the larger scientific community.

Thomas Verny — Primal Therapy, Birth, Especially Womb Life and Relation to Personality … Prenatal Mother-Infant Bonding

The actual stimulus for a new field of pre- and perinatal psychology and the Association for Pre- and Perinatal Psychology and Health—APPPAH was Thomas Verny’s (1981) The Secret Life of the Unborn Child. His work brought together a good deal of the new empirical research that had opened the doors to us on the events in the womb. While himself a practitioner of “holistic primal therapy,” he integrated the accumulating data from the phenomenon of re-experience with the new information from the more traditional, “objective,” scientific research into the prenatal—made possible by the latest advances in technology.

One of his conclusions from this combination of lines of inquiry was that “birth and prenatal experiences form the foundations of human personality” (1981, p. 118). His other conclusions center around the importance of intrauterine bonding in that his research strongly suggests that the prenate, via pathways hormonal and unknown, picks up on the thoughts, feelings, and attitudes of the mother. More importantly, he asserted, the imprint of these factors on the fetus predetermines the later mother-child relationship. He emphasized that positive thoughts and feelings toward the fetus—”maternal love”—acts to cushion the new individual against the normal stresses and unavoidable harshness inherent in birth and early infancy. Yet all of this cannot be completely avoided. “Birth is like death to the newborn,” writes Verny (1984, p. 48).

David Chamberlain — Hypnosis, Confirmed Validity of Birth Memories

David Chamberlain (1988), for many years the president of APPPAH (the Association for Prenatal and Perinatal Psychology and Health), has further substantiated the claim of consciousness at birth and the accuracy of pre- and perinatal memory in the phenomenon of re-experience. He reported one study he did in which he compared hypnotically retrieved memories of birth from mother and child and found an astonishing degree of conformity in their responses. Of note was the degree of inner consistency and originality in these memories as reported by the former neonate. They often contained technical details of the delivery and labor unlike what would be expected of the medically unsophisticated, a perceptive critique of the way the birth was handled, and other details of the event that could not have been known through normal conscious channels.

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Overview of the Pre- and Perinatal Psychology Field — Later Theorists: Societal Implications, Psychohistory, Birth and Prenatal

Lloyd deMause Psychohistory, Prenatal and Poisonous Placenta, Sociohistorical Implications of Gestational and Birth Events

Lloyd deMause (1982, 1987) was instrumental in establishing the new interdisciplinary field of psychohistory. In his study of historical happenings he discovered that stages in the progression of events related to stages in the progression of gestation and birth … which stages happened to correspond, by the way, remarkably well with Stanislav Grof‘s four stages of birth, his Basic Perinatal Matrices.

He found that natal imagery especially predominates in societies during times of crisis and war, when national purpose and state of affairs are construed as a need to escape or break free from an enclosing and constricting force. He also noted the suffering fetus and the poisonous placenta as sources of these later metaphors and imagery. In fact, in studying the imagery in the national media of various countries he has been able to predict political, social, and economic events such as wars and invasions, recessions, and political downfalls.

His work begins to look at the prenatal influences and imprints and how they related to macrocosmic issues of politics, history, social movements, and issues of war and peace.

Later Theorists — Dream Analysis

Francis Mott — Conception and Gestational Basis of Myth, Archetype, all Patterns of Macrocosmic and Microcosmic Realities and the Nature of Reality, Devolutional Model of Development

Francis Mott’s work is less well known even by this field’s standards, yet it is undeniably impressive. Mott’s (1960, 1964) major contribution lies in his focusing on basic patterns of mind and cosmos that correlate with prenatal feelings and states. He traced consciousness back to events around conception and saw these events as instituting patterns affecting all later experience and conceptual constructions. Through dream analysis he elicited these “configurations,” and he demonstrated their manifestation as seemingly universal archetypes in myths and universal human assumptions about the nature of reality.

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In fact, through his study of womb and conception patterns he claimed to have discovered patterns that underlie and unite all of reality at all levels of manifestation—astronomical, social, personal, cellular, and even nuclear. While this may seem rather grandiose, his work was highly regarded and admired by Carl Jung.

Mott also carried forward the intimations of earlier prenatal theoreticians, notably Rank and Fodor, on the gestational basis of archetypes. While he does not address or seek to discredit the range of, supposedly genetic, archetypes postulated by Jung, his work is highly suggestive of an experiential, specifically, pre- and perinatal, as opposed to genetic basis for many of these.

Denial and Incest Taboo

Mott (1960) also helped us to understand why if these prenatal memories are possible they are not more prevalent by suggesting denial is necessary in order to protect against incestuous feelings that might arise around feelings remembered from being inside one’s mother.

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Devolutional Model of Consciousness Development

Finally, he made the postulation—hugely relevant to the theme of this work—that our original expanded capacity to feel is diminished, as he says, “divided,” by experience not increased by it. The idea is that there is a reduction in awareness as a result of early traumatic events, beginning around conception and then on, and not the buildup of consciousness and feeling that we assume from the mechanistic paradigm that sees consciousness as a byproduct of increasing physical, specifically brain, activity during our early years. (See, for example, The Doors of Perception: Each of Us Is Potentially Mind At Large… When Perception Is Cleansed, All Kinds of Nonordinary Things Happen and Occupy Science … A Call for a Scientific Awakening: In Tossing Away Our Species Blinders, We Approach a Truth Far Beyond Science.)

Later Theorists — Breathwork

Stanislav GrofBreathwork, LSD, Birth and Prenatal, Myth and Archetype, Spiritual and Consciousness

A pioneer in this prenatal area is Stanislav Grof (1976, 1980, 1985, 1990, to name a few). His many works, providing a framework for conceptualizing perinatal and transpersonal experiences, are a profound and useful starting point for an investigation into this area.

In his use of LSD beginning in 1956 for psychotherapy, called psycholytic therapy, he discovered four levels of experience of the unconscious: the sensory, the biographical, the perinatal, and the transpersonal. He noted a tendency for growth and healing to occur in a progressive way through these levels. The sensory band is the level of expanded sensory awareness and is usually initially encountered by participants. The biographical band is the realm of the personal unconscious wherein unintegrated and traumatic memories and material from childhood and one’s personal history are retrieved, often relived, and integrated. The perinatal level of experience usually follows after dealing with the biographical material and involves the remembering, re-experiencing, and integrating of material that is related to the time prior to and surrounding birth. The transpersonal band, the level of spiritual experience, is usually reached after dealing with the other three levels.

Four Modes of Experiencing—the Basic Perinatal Matrices

Grof has also delineated four matrices of experience, four general experiential constructs, which he called basic perinatal matrices (BPMs). He discovered that experiences at all levels of the unconscious often group themselves in four general ways that are roughly related to the four stages of birth. Thus, Basic Perinatal Matrix I (BPM I) is related to the generally blissful or “oceanic” feelings that often characterize the fetus’s state in the womb in early and middle pregnancy. BPM II is characterized by “no exit,” hellish feelings that are related to the situation of the fetus in late pregnancy when the confines of the womb become ever more apparent but there is as yet no indication of any possibility of relief. BPM III relates to the birth process itself, the birth struggle, which is still characterized by feelings of compression and suffering but in which there is movement and change and thus hope of relief through struggle. If BPM II can be compared to hell, where there is no hope, BPM III is more like purgatory. Finally, BPM IV relates to the actual entry into the world, the termination of the birthing process, and is characterized by feelings of triumph, relief, and high, even manic, elation.

In his descriptions of the levels of experience and the matrices of perinatal experience, Grof has provided useful maps of the unconscious and experience in nonordinary states, which have incredible heuristic value in our understanding of cross-cultural religious and spiritual experience, psychopathology, personal growth, and consciousness and personality in general. And they have been utilized successfully in providing a context and guide for many tens of thousands of participants in his psycholytic and holotropic therapies.

However, while Grof is exhaustive in his descriptions of fetal and perinatal experience, he says less about the earlier experiences in the womb—the first trimester—and even less about conception and the experiences of sperm and egg—what is known as cellular consciousness. Still, this area is beginning to be discussed among his followers. And through his current nondrug modality, called holotropic breathwork, people are accessing these areas and beginning to give word to them (e.g., Carter, 1993).

Frank Lake—Breathwork, First Trimester, Early Experience as Foundation for Myths

Frank Lake, though less well-known again, has probably been the premier theoretician on the topic of prenatal events during the first three months of gestation. Just prior to his death in the early eighties, he wrote a culmination of his thirty-year investigation into pre- and perinatal influence in two works titled Tight Corners in Pastoral Counselling and The First Trimester. In these works he goes beyond his other works (for example, 1966) in placing the roots of all later experience, and in particular, distress, at the first three months of physical existence.

Lake began his investigation of re-experience in 1954. Like Stanislav Grof, he did this using LSD, initially, in the psycholytic therapy that was being developed at that time to facilitate therapeutic abreaction. Later he, again like Grof, developed a nondrug modality to accomplish the same thing. His method of “primal therapy” employed a type of fast breathing—again, like Grof’s later technique—to access theta-wave brain levels, which are levels of consciousness that he saw as crucial to accessing and integrating these memories.

His thirty-year research led him to the realization of the importance of ever earlier experience. Thus his earlier stress on the importance of birth gave way to his later emphasis on the first trimester in 1981 (Tight Corners in Pastoral Counselling) and in 1982 (The First Trimester).

He stressed the maternal-fetal distress syndrome, beginning at around implantation, as a major time of trauma. He also described a blastocystic stage of relative bliss just prior to that.

His one other major disagreement with Grof was his belief that the mythological and symbolical elements described by Grof were a product of LSD and that the first trimester events were the actual roots of much of such symbolism and supposed transpersonal/mythological scenarios (1981, p. 35).

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Later Theorists — Myth and Sacred Text/Mysticism

S. Giora Shoham — Devolutional Model of Development, Falls from Grace

While not strictly a pre- and perinatal psychologist, I include this too little-known theoretician and criminologist because of the close relationship and influence his work has had upon my own work regarding these Falls from Grace. Falls from Grace and other devolutional models of consciousness postulate that during life and over time, beginning at conception, we actually are reduced in consciousness and awareness, not increased in it, and it corresponds to a “brain as reducing valve” theory of consciousness. (Again, See The Doors of Perception and Occupy Science.)

While I initially constructed and wrote down my devolutional theory of consciousness—Falls from Grace—without the benefit of Shoham’s work, upon discovering it I could not help but be both confirmed and reinspired by the astounding resonance his understanding has with my own.

Shoham (1979, 1990) starts his devolutional model in the womb and carries it through birth, weaning, and the oedipal periods of development. Though, as I delineate in Part Two, I disagree with his model by beginning mine at the creation of sperm and egg—as does other devolutional theorists like Francis Mott and David Wasdell—in virtually all other major instances his model corresponds to my own if one simply … in keeping with a normal trend in child development in general as it begins to integrate the new pre- and perinatal evidence … places everything back a little farther in time—in this case, specifically, one stage back.

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Later Prenatal Psychology Theorists — Cellular Memory and Conception, Foundations of Myth and Personality, Spirituality and Soul

Lietaert Peerbolte — Conception and Cellular Memory, Soul, Spirituality

Peerbolte (1954) was one of the earliest theorists to relate spirituality to conception and sperm/egg dynamics. In addition to claiming that a regression to conception is the inevitable result of all prenatal states, he traced the sense of “I” — the “I-function” — back to the egg, existing even in the mother’s ovaries. He further postulated that the spiritual self was invisibly present within the field of attraction between the egg and the sperm. Correspondingly, he was the first to point out that the existence of conception, preconception, and even ovulation symbolism in dreams indicates the existence of a soul. For, he asked, what mind records these events otherwise?

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I wrote the article, “A Primal Perspective on Spirituality,” which later became the next chapter in this book before I knew about Peerbolte’s work. Yet, once again the conclusions I came to, especially about the existence of soul being established by the fact of these memories and especially those at the cellular levels of sperm and egg existence, are very much in line with his.

Michael C. Irving — Primal Therapy, Birth, Sperm, Egg, Myth, Dragon Symbolism, Prehistoric Cult and Ritual

Michael C. Irving is a primal therapist whose contributions include his relation of these earliest events from sperm and egg through the birth experience to fundamental mythological motifs and images across cultures. The originator of a way of interpretation that he calls natalism, he has brought together a host of artistic and artifactual images from a wide range of time periods and cultures which relate, with an astonishing degree of accuracy, to actual pre- and perinatal events.

In particular, he has traced the universal serpent/dragon motifs and mythology to birth and sperm experience, noting, among other things, that the serpent/dragon shape represents the birth canal or tunnel, that the fire-spewing characteristics of dragons relate to consuming pain, and that the constricting characteristics of snakes correspond to the constriction of the birth canal. Of great interest is his deduction that the widely prevalent snake and dragon cults, which were especially popular in prehistory, indicate an attempt to deal with such unfinished birth trauma material as we are only now, in modern times, rediscovering the importance of doing.

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Graham Farrant — Primal Therapy; Sperm, Egg, Cellular Consciousness; Soul and Spirituality

Graham Farrant (1987; Buchheimer 1987), a psychiatrist and primal therapist from Australia, is probably the most influential and well-known of those discussing the phenomena that occur at the earliest times of our lives. In addition to echoing Frank Lake in describing fetal, implantation, and blastocyst feelings, he has been able to elicit and describe sperm and egg imprints. He has found trauma from these earliest events to influence lifelong patterns of personality and behavior. He produced a notable video in which segments from the widely acclaimed movie “The Miracle of Life,” which shows actual footage of gamete and zygote events, are juxtaposed via a split-screen with actual footage of a person reliving the exact same events in primal therapy, which occurred before such cellular events were ever able to be seen and recorded. The effect is astounding in the detail in which the relivings replicate the actual cellular happenings.

In addition to his emphasis on cellular consciousness, Farrant has stressed the spiritual aspects of these earliest events. He relates incidents of spiritual trauma at the cellular level in which the individual splits off from Divinity—thus setting up a lifelong feeling of loss and yearning and a desire to return to Unity and the Divine.

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Paul Brenner — Sperm, Egg, Cellular Consciousness and Biological Foundations of Myths

Paul Brenner (1991), a biologist and obstetrician, has been presenting at conferences and in workshops on the idea of the biological foundations of myth. For example, he relates basic biological, cellular events to biblical events described in Genesis.

He also relates male and female adult behavior to basic patterns of sperm and egg behavior and to events prior to and surrounding conception. He has said that male and female behavior are just sperm and egg activity grown up!

Elizabeth Noble — Cellular Consciousness and Spirituality, Empirical Underpinnings

Elizabeth Noble (1993) is an educator in the field of pregnancy and childbirth and is a student of Farrant’s. She published a comprehensive overview of this new field, titled Primal Connections, in which she doesn’t hesitate to stress the issues of cellular consciousness and the spirituality that appears to coincide with the re-experience of these earliest events. She provides empirical and theoretical avenues for understanding how memory can occur at such early times. Some of these are consistent with mainstream physicalist science while others coincide with the cutting-edge, new-paradigm discoveries in fields such as biology, physics, and neuroscience.

David Wasdell — Sperm/Egg and First Trimester Imprints, Devolutional Model of Development, Social and Historical Implications

One of the more recent theoreticians in this area is David Wasdell. Wasdell’s (1979, 1985a, 1985b, 1990) major contribution lies in his relating these earliest events to social and cultural patterns. He describes a process of devolution of consciousness beginning at around conception and proceeding through other reductions caused by traumas at implantation, in the womb, and at birth.

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Most importantly, he delineates how the result of this diminution of potentiality is projected outwards into the problems and crises of violence, wars, and the mediocrity of modern personality on the scale of the masses and the macrocosms of the group, society, and global events.

In describing the problems of “normality” as rooted in a deprivational and deformational series of traumas from our earliest biological history, Wasdell emphasizes that this gives us the possibility to change that tragic social and personality outcome by focusing on the prevention and healing of such traumas. Thus, he holds out the vision of a new person and new society as an outcome of the efforts directed at the earliest laying down of human experience.

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The Importance of the Intrauterine for Understanding Our Times and the Goal of This Book

Despite this long legacy of work and thought in this pre- and perinatal area, much of it, especially the prenatal, remains ignored by mainstream psychology and is largely unavailable to the public. Within the field itself, in addition, the prenatal information, in relation to the more widely accepted and circulated perinatal evidence, seems to be analogous to Otto Rank’s (1929) ideas of birth trauma were to Sigmund Freud’s concerning early infancy in that they are cast under an extra cloud of suspicion and disbelief and disregarded accordingly. Yet, like Rank’s findings also, their main problem may lie with unfamiliarity and prejudice rather than validity or scientific viability; and these findings, like his were, may end up harkening the outlines of future endeavors and being confirmed by subsequent research.

Thus, I believe that this prenatal area in particular is ripe for reaping what it can teach us about what is human, about “human nature.”

Therefore, this book will put forth the possible relationship between our earliest ontogenetic experiences as humans and the structure of human consciousness and stages of human “development.”

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I build a model that seeks an initial formulation of this information, teasing out its implications, and integrating it with relevant thinking and theoretical perspectives in anthropology, philosophy, psychology, and others.

However, before proceeding, it seems important to establish this pursuit within the logical-empirical framework that validates it. To do this, let us now turn to the re-experience movement I am most familiar with and feel to be the most important, primal therapy, and discuss its relation to the phenomenon of prenatal re-experience and spirituality.

Continue with How Valid Are Spiritual Experiences? Psychedelic Research and Deep Experiential Psychotherapy Have Intensified the Exploration of Spiritual Aspects of the Unconscious

Return to Falls from Grace, Introduction — The Radical Rational View of Us and It: “Normal” Truth Is Convenient Truth … and Is Anything But True

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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

The Template for All You Think Was Created at Birth: Overview of the Pre- and Perinatal Psychology Field — 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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Trusting Higher Forces: Say “Good Night,” John Wayne, and How Can You Be Borne Up If You Won’t Let Go? When All Seems Lost…. You Might Want to Stop Fighting Rebirth

When It Appears the Whole World Has Been Conspiring Against You, You Might Want to Let Yourself Be Blessed: Atman Projects Vs. Surrender Solutions, Part Two

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Multilevel Feelings

Just When You Thought….

10-emergence-440_thumbHowever an important element in this movie, “Nothing But Trouble,” which is different from artistic representations that deal with only the personal or psychodynamic, is the way the ending opens up under it to a new level, a whole new arena, of issues. Those of us in experiential therapies or breathwork are only too aware of how the perinatal opens up to one, revealing a greater expanse and pervasiveness of dis-ease, at a certain point after dealing with the personal and the psychodynamic.

clip_image003The_Crusades_WallpaperThis layered, or multilevel quality of the movie is shown when the main characters, having heroically escaped through personal effort, find themselves returning to the perinatal realm. Thinking that they have the forces of authority and light on their side, they expect this time to be able to put the evil away once and for all.

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But When All Seems Lost….

To their immense surprise, it appears that the whole world has been conspiring against them—a telling perinatal feeling. The evil is discovered to be pervasive, as if infiltrating every corner of the universe—another perinatal feeling. Even the thoroughly trusted elements of light clip_image004turn out to be on the side of the darker forces—a vantage point that is part of the hopelessness that characterizes the classic no-exit BPM II scenario. And just like in the womb, then, when all seems lost, something new happens, an explosion or eruption of sorts, which brings down the old world and its structures in a violent conflagration.

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Atman Projects Versus Surrender Solutions

557920_426192764089005_1036145378_nclip_image006This hopeless and futile aspect of the perinatal realms — as opposed to the merely personal or psychodynamic ones—lends itself to its distinctive response—which is surrender, not resistance. Unlike the hero of Campbell’s hero’s cycle whose task is to slay the dragon using the sword of analytical or cognitive powers, the correct solution here at the perinatal is to let go of all designs, manipulations, and attempts at control and to put oneself into the hands of the seemingly irrational and chaotic Universe, come what may.

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How Can You Be Borne Up, If You Won’t Let Go?

tumblr_m2dsa5cmDR1r46foao1_400clip_image007The Universe’s response in the movie — the upsurge of fire from below the earth that brings down the evil structures—demonstrates the theme of being saved by higher forces when one finally is able to surrender. In the same way, in our perinatal experiences, we find ourselves “borne up” and elevated when we once are able to submit to the upsurge of fear-evoking perinatal emotion.

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Indeed, when Chevy Chase is seen rolling and setting fire to barrels of oil in a superhuman nick-of-time rescue attempt—in typical “hero’s journey” style—I had an odd disjointed sense that we had switched modes. The element seemed incongruous.

Say “Good Night,” John Wayne

But, then again, not so. For the movie shows that the successful escape performed through one’s own effort is, in actuality, futile.clip_image008 In perinatal terms, such heroics are illusory “atman projects” that ultimately fail against the onslaught of perinatal material, which must be surrendered to, not heroically resisted or conquered.

Interestingly, the eventual surrender solution is echoed earlier on when Chevy Chase is about to go through the chomping jaws of Mr. Bonestripper, the devouring womb. His response, at the prospect of his imminent failure, is to pray—to call on higher forces.

Trusting in Higher Forces

clip_image010Amazingly, the machine breaks at that moment, signaling the response of such “external” or higher forces. He alone, of all the others who have faced that fate, goes through the machine unscathed. Notice also that he says “Thank you, Lord” afterwards.

Thus it is not on one’s own powers that one makes it through 390550_139027469542957_2115340135_nperinatal material, rather it is by the relinquishing of such attempts at control and clip_image011the relying and trusting in higher forces. We are reminded that Dante required the angelic Beatrice to show the way through purgatorio and inferno to paradisio.

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The Message

In the next chapter, we will use another postmodern film to expand on these themes. This will allow us to fill out an emerging pattern, as we then compare it with “Nothing But Trouble” and other perinatal evidence.

So let us watch, now, as the pattern, like a photo emerging in solution, reveals to us its features, thus delivering to us the message it has come to bring.

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Continue with You Just Can’t Slay a Volcano: The Necessary Hero Uses Surrender, not Struggle … For Why Would You Not Be Borne Up by a Universe That Is You

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

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Apocalypse, Human Nature, and the Perinatal Imprint: “We Are a Fever … We Ain’t Born Typical”

Apocalypse – No! Chapter Seven:
“We Ain’t Born Typical””

“We Ain’t Born Typical”: A Closer Look at the “Human Nature” Pushing Us to Humanicide – The Perinatal Unconscious

“Perinatal” = “Surrounding Birth”

“We Are a Fever”

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

Perinatal Unconscious

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

Unconscious Matrices = “Human Nature”

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

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

Pre- and Perinatal Psychology, Experiential Voyagers

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


The Perinatal Unconscious
– audiocast by SillyMickel Adzema

For the author’s reading, with elaboration, of this chapter, click on the link to the audio site above or click the audio player here:

http://cdn.hark.com/swfs/player_fb.swf?pid=rfrhsmtjnm
Apocalypse, or New Dawn? Chapter 2: “The Perinatal Unconscious” by SillyMickel Adzema


Elements of Birth Experience

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

Perinatal Matrix ~ Societal Matrix

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

All Needs Met . . . With Luck – Matrix 1

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

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

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

No-Exit Despair – Matrix 2

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

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It is very much like DeMause’s period of collective feelings of entrapment, strangulation, suffocation, and poisonous placenta, which he has found to precede the actual outbreak of war or other violence. [Footnote 3]

Birth Wars – Matrix 3

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

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

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

But also sometimes, after that initial relief of depression — when the struggle does not bring the expected rewards, as when, during modern obstetrical births, the neonate is harshly treated and then taken away from the mother, disallowing the bonding which should occur, naturally, immediately after birth.

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

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

Heaven and Hell