Posts Tagged primal therapy

The Beginning of Change

The Beginning of Change

by Debbie Condon


[This is a review of the book Apocalypse NO: Apocalypse or Earth Rebirth and the Emerging Perinatal Unconscious]

Reading Apocalypse No is the answer to all of the questions I’ve had about what is really going on this world today. This book is fascinating in the way that the author, Michael Adzema, brings to light the reasons for the apathy that haunts our planet today. His concerns for this planet mirror my own which was the reason I bought it. He actually brings us to the beginning of our problems and was my introduction to the experiential therapies. He has put many years of additional research into the therapies that go beyond the “band aids” being administered today by taking us back to our blatantly overlooked beginning. He successfully brings to attention the parallels between our beginnings to every day modern life which is also heavily mirrored in today’s pop culture; that is not inherent to our species at all. I’ve been following Michael Adzema for a couple of years online and happy he has finally brought his work to a format that can reach many more so we can begin collectively working together to heal ourselves and hopefully, this world we live in. I believe this book as well as the other books in this series he has written is rudimentary to the solutions this planet is in dire need of which has to begin within ourselves. I highly recommend this book for everyone because, as he points out, we all begin at the same point and are so deeply affected by these beginnings that we subconsciously reenact and unconsciously accept the often vague yet potent facsimiles in our everyday lives. I have found this book to be the beginning of healing and positive change for myself and hopefully for you as well. This is the book of change! 

[More at Apocalypse NO: Apocalypse or Earth Rebirth and the Emerging Perinatal Unconscious]

http://www.amazon.com/Apocalypse-NO-Emerging-Perinatal-Unconscious/dp/1492347213/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1387062064&sr=1-2&keywords=michael+adzema

 

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Levels of Pain, Levels of Bliss and the First Shutdown: “I Went from Birth to an Intrauterine State to Conception to Floating in the Icy Vastness of Space.”

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Experiences of Overwhelming Energy and Joy Have Been Described: A Primal Perspective, Part Six — Four Levels of Psychedelic Experience and a Primal Spirituality

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LSD Therapy

The strongest support for the alternative explanation, however, comes from research done by Stanislav Grof with LSD. Grof has described the reliving of traumatic experiences from childhood, birth, and in the womb, of people under the influence of LSD, that seem almost identical to experiences described by primalers. [Footnote 5]

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Four Levels of Deep, Psychedelic Experience

Grof delineates four levels of the drug state, each deeper than the preceding one: the aesthetic, the psychodynamic, the perinatal, and the transpersonal. These also represent a progression in that the usual course, over a series of LSD sessions, is to go beyond the initial levels, after having experienced and resolved the particular tasks/problems on those levels (1970, pp. 19-20). Consequently, the transpersonal level is only reached by persons in advanced stages of LSD therapy.

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The psychodynamic and perinatal level experiences, although containing additional symbolic elements not always found in the primal process, show striking similarities to experiences of what Janov has termed “second-line” and “first-line” pain.

Levels of Primal Experience, Levels of Pain

First-line pain is preverbal. It relates to traumatic experiences that occurred en utero, at birth, and for a period of about six months after birth. There is a life and death urgency about these kinds of feelings, relating as they do to a time of complete helplessness and dependence on others and an inability to separate one’s self from painful experience by conceptualizing it. This kind of pain often relates to matters of biological necessity, and the memories of the traumatic experiences are registered in subcortical parts of the brain. First-line appears to be identical to Grof’s perinatal level of the unconscious.

Second-line pain is more verbal and relates to traumatic or hurtful events from childhood, after the child has begun to use concepts to structure his or her experience. The memories associated with this level are more accessible to consciousness, registered, as they are, in the cortex. Second-line appears to be identical to Grof’s psychodynamic or biographical level.

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Levels of Pain, Levels of Bliss

The manner in which these levels are experienced, the progression from later and more accessible to earlier and deeper, the way that the pains are resolved, and the manner in which unresolved pains influence postsession intervals—all seem to be similar and often identical in the primal and the LSD experiences.

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However, one striking difference exists. Beyond the “primal” levels of the LSD experience, Grof has described experiences of a transpersonal nature that do not appear to have any roots in the personal pain of the participant and appear to be experiences sui generis. The experiences on this level are incredibly varied and range from past-incarnation experiences to ancestral memories, certain kinds of archetypal experiences, and, on what appears to be its most profound level, consciousness of “Universal Mind” and “Metacosmic Void.”

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Primal-Spiritual Feelings

The question naturally arises as to why primalers who are able to experience psychodynamic and perinatal phenomena without drugs are not reported to be contacting feelings of a transpersonal nature. Contrary to Janov’s published reports, there are some indications of it occurring. Some long-term primalers with whom I have contact have talked of receiving love, helping, strength, or bliss that seemed to be coming from a place beyond the scope of their current physical existence, to be emanating from a “higher power” of some sort. Their descriptions have many parallels to some descriptions of spiritual experience.

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“I Was Three Things: Sperm, Egg, and a Cosmic Life Force.”

Experiences of overwhelming energy and joy have been described. One person used the terms “cosmic life force,” “cosmic energy,” and “God power” to describe his experience. He remarked that it was of such intensity that it would have been too much to experience at an earlier stage in his therapy and related it to a time before he was conceived. He said that he had the realization that “I was three things: sperm, egg, and a cosmic life force.”

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Another primaler, Belden Johnson (1991) described his experience:

In a sort of sped-up time-lapse film that ran quickly backwards, I went from birth to an inter-uterine state to conception to floating in the icy vastness of space, surrounded by the faint light pricks of distant stars. At first my Observer-mind came in with, “Hm. Symbolic ideation. The soul floating in space between embodiments and all that.”

But he quickly changed his diagnosis:

“Nope. You’re a tiny part of the whole shtick , old boy. An atom in space, a mote of consciousness, a tiny fragment of the God head.” (p. 54)

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The First Shutdown

0034-icarus61It is no coincidence that these last two experiences revolve around conception and cellular consciousness. Indeed, our sense is that these spiritual experiences often are related to gaining access to a time before the first “shutdown,” which is the first time that trauma forces a retreat from one’s full capabilities and consciousness. Our experience has been that the time before initial shutdown varies among people, but usually ranges from before the fertilization of the egg to some time en utero.

Exactly when and how this shutdown occurs will be the major theme of the rest of this book, Falls from Grace. While the time of major shutdown appears to vary, shutting down or retreat from full capabilities appears to happen gradually, and in stages—with earlier access correlating with relatively more spiritual, transpersonal access.

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Footnote

5. Grof (1980, p. 10) acknowledges the convergence of LSD therapy and primal therapy.

Continue with The Joy Beneath the Pain and Positive Possibilities of Experiential Process: A Primal Perspective on Spirituality, Part Seven — The Roots of Bliss

Return to Approaching the “Source”: Right-Left Brain Integration, Theta Waves … Hypnogogic Experiences, and Delta Waves … A Nightly Return to Our Roots in the Infinite

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Approaching the “Source”: Right-Left Brain Integration, Theta Waves … Hypnogogic Experiences, and Delta Waves … A Nightly Return to Our Roots in the Infinite

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The Awareness of a “Larger Reality”: A Primal Perspective on Spirituality, Part Five — Brain Correlates to Primal and Spiritual Experience … Wave and Structure

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Brain Waves

The relations between these levels of growth and the techniques under consideration can be demonstrated by their correlations with brain wave activity.

Theta Waves … Hypnogogic Experiences

Beta waves on the EEG correspond to normal waking consciousness while alpha indicates a more relaxed, tranquil state. The consciousness correlated with theta waves, which are even slower than alpha, is characterized by a dream-like or “reverie” state during which one is immersed in a world of images. It has long been known that these dream-like states (called “hypnogogic experiences”) play some part in scientific and artistic creation. (Rama, Ballentine, & Ajaya, 1976, pp. 146-147)

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Delta Waves—A Nightly Return to Our Roots in the Infinite

An even more relaxed state is the delta state, which usually is only experienced in the phase of “deep sleep.” It is unknown what exactly goes on during this state of sleep as, unlike REM sleep, which is characterized by dreaming, this appears to be a dreamless state. Yogananda (1946, p. 493) has indicated that it represents a nightly return to our roots in the infinite. Regardless, it is a more relaxed state than even the very relaxed and creative theta state.

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Theta has been called a measure of feeling states by Janov (1974b, p. 40). He also has brought forth research showing a trend toward theta and delta states in advanced primalers (cf. Janov & Holden, 1975, p. 493; Janov, 1971, pp. 214-215). Lake (1981) also makes this connection between theta states and integrative primal access and relivings. Similarly, research on meditators has indicated that they also exhibit alpha, theta, and delta wave patterns while awake, with more advanced meditators exhibiting the slower brain-wave patterns (cf. Rama et al., 1976, pp. 159-161; Walsh, 1979, p. 166).

The Awareness of a “Larger Reality”

We see that at least in regard to brain-wave activity the effects of primal and meditation are parallel. The effects include increasingly relaxed patterns and greater synchronization. One might speculate that the correlate of these slower rhythms is the awareness of subtler and subtler energies (a primaler would say “feelings”). These energies and awarenesses are unavailable in the normal beta state and could therefore be said to represent the awareness of a “larger reality.”

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Brain Structure

In addition to brain-wave activity, one might also find correlates to this process in terms of actual parts of the brain.

Right Brain—Left Brain Integration

Much has been made of late correlating states of consciousness and areas of the brain along right brain/left brain lines. Left brain dominance has come under attack and an integration of the two is called for. It is becoming clear that this kind of integration is an important aspect of both the primal and spiritual processes. Evidence for this is presented by Janov (1973; Janov & Holden, 1975). And evidence of this kind of integration occurs in the spiritual disciplines, particularly in its most advanced stages (Earle, 1981).

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Approaching the “Source”

What I am saying is that contact with subtler energies may involve awareness of brain activity existing closer to the brainstem, the “source” of brain activity, while normal consciousness is awareness of brain activity that is primarily cortical. Both the much acclaimed ability of yogis to control physiological processes that normally are unconsciously regulated and the reports that primalers are more aware of internal biological processes attest to this conception of the process.

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Continue with Levels of Pain, Levels of Bliss and the First Shutdown: “I Went from Birth to an Intrauterine State to Conception to Floating in the Icy Vastness of Space.”

Return to The Primal Serene — A Primal Perspective on Spirituality, Part Four: How Passion Promotes Serenity and the Detached Observer in Catharsis — The Eye of the Storm

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What’s Involved in Stopping War and Ecocide and the Necessary Mess of Transformation: Hard to Believe, But We’re Getting Saner

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The Cycle of All Events, the Evolution of Parenting, and Auspicious Collective Regressions: Being Crazy in an Insane World Might Mean You’re the Sane One

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Chapter Nine: Regressions in the Service of Society — Messy Healing

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There Is a Cycle to All Events … The Spiral Dance, Why We Can’t Get No Satisfaction, and Where There Is Real Hope

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The Spiral Dance – The Cycle of All Events: Wedded to Rebirthing Rituals, the Inevitability of Disappointment, and Where There is Real Hope

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Wedded to Rebirthing Rituals

clip_image002clip_image004At the point when the perinatal unconscious arises, individuals — and collectively, society — have the choice to turn toward the emergence of these feelings or to turn away from them.

In turning toward these feelings we embrace, feel, and if we go deeply enough into that, we relive the roots of them and resolve them finally.

clip_image006In turning away from them we shun them, act them out, and are enslaved by them…thus we act unconsciously, trance-like, zombie-like.

If we face these inner forces—we call that feeling them…in this instance, feeling through or reliving one’s birth—we integrate them and heal the underlying trauma, the perinatal trauma.

Satan.symbolCD_0094Or the individual and society can avoid this going within—as depicted in the peace symbol—and can choose instead to act them out, which is the peace symbol upside down—the Satan symbol, the pentagram.

one.tries.to.be.strongIn acting them out, one distracts oneself from the uncomfortable feelings, which though not focused on, are still there. POSSESSED-PERSONOne tries to be “strong” in the face of feelings but one is actually driven and directed by them—they “take over one’s mind.” maya-deren-photo-of-her1This is the source of the idea of spirit possession and in general of the idea that a devil or Satan can take over one’s soul.

So in running from our feelings we are captured and enslaved by them, we are forced to act them out in ways we would not otherwise choose which are negative to horrible but in all cases self-sabotaging. Of course war is the most horrible, most self-sabotaging, greatest, and most all-consuming form of such acting-out…the greatest struggle.

Humans are characterized by a particular kind of birth process.clip_image012 It is a coming into being that is traumatic and which is related to our distinction of standing upright and thereby decreasing the pelvic opening as well as suffocating the fetus prior to birth. The fact is that because of this “distinction” we are destined to go through periods of rebirthing purificatory rituals, whether for good or ill. [Footnote 1]

For we are psychologically wedded to reliving that which we could not fully experience at the time because of the overwhelming quality of pain associated with it.

A “Spiral Dance”

These rebirthing rituals we are doomed to repeat, one way or the other. We are going to act out this primal pain—this birth trauma—in an unending cycle of feelings having these components

    • Periods of feelings of expansion
    • Closedness or entrapment, guilt, and depression
    • Aggression
    • Release

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Ritter3Tao_YinYangEarth2Then back around again.

In winning the “war” or having the success or achievement, there begins the same cycle of expansion followed by entrapment. Losing the war…the struggle, the battle…is akin to death, even if there is no death. There is numbness and repression…akin to a kind of “limbo”…before life can begin anew. A reconception is necessary.

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The Pattern of Our First Nine Months Imprints Us For Our Entire Human Lives

pt654_84-croppedThe reemergence of hope in individuals and societies is biologically equivalent to conception. And following this reconceiving, there is a similar cycle of reemerging strength—akin to the expansion that follows winning. C11Then there is continuing depression or overarching gloom and helplessness feelings coupled with revenge feelings and blame as individuals and societies stew in the vessel of indecision, inaction, and doubt. This is quite like the closedness and guilt which follows achievement-success-victory. Note, however, that the revenge and blame feelings here are aspects of the BPM II matrix, just as is closedness and guilt.

Can’t Get No Satisfaction

highlights_pk2And then the cycle is the same again. Specifically, there is aggression against the oppressor (War and revolution both see the foe as an oppressor, even if one is actually the one who is the aggressor.) What follows upon fighting is release or “death”; and so on around. The “happily ever after” that inspires such battle truly only exists in fantasies and fairy tales. Prosperity and feelings of success are unfortunately doomed, on this physical plane of existence, to be short-lived.

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Where There Is Real Hope

facefeelingsagainandagainvulnerableinwombIt would seem we are fated to never be happy, for long. But progress is possible; herein lies our only real choice in the entire scenario. For we either work through these cycles in some deep psychologically BreathofLife (3)transformative way that helps us deal with and pass beyond the difficult and painful parts of the cycle as well as helps to fade the imprints’ potency in determining our behavior zombie_reaganor we are doomed to act them out in the external world in ways that we are blindly unaware are not congruent with the actual facts of our circumstances and are harmful to ourselves and others around us.

Self-Reflection-in-a-Cup-of-TeaWe are fated to experience these cycles of birth, and we will either act them out disastrously or we find ways KumbayaCrowdof dealing with them inside of ourselves in some way—and some ways are better than others for doing this—so that we can have some inner distance from these patterns and therefore some conscious ability or choice around our actions when these pushes and pulls arise.

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Railing Against the Darkness: The Vanity of Will, The Impotence of Reason, Progress Requires Regress, and Healing Is Nothing if Not Messy

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Railing Against the Darkness, The Vanity of Will, The Impotence of Reason, and Social Progress Requires Regression

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The Vanity of Will, The Impotence of “Reason”

pt654_84-croppedWhat we absolutely don’t have, yet arrogantly think we do, is the ability—through will or reason alone—to choose light over darkness, to replace these inner veils of distortion with clarity of thought and perception and hence of positive behavior and actions while in the midst of them.more-easily-irritated Trying to reason with and to obtain truly desired outcomes is about as possible as trying to reason with a lizard and convince it to conform to one’s wishes for its behavior. For good reason: Indeed our rational mind is as split off from the “reptilian brain” inside us within which these imprints circulate and from which they arise as are we from the consciousness of a gila monster.

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What We Call “Reason” Is Largely Just Rationalization

This impotence of intellectual understanding in the face of these patterns of self-destruction occurs because these schemas are rooted in memories existing in an emotional and entirely dissociated part of the brain, which is hardly touched by neocortical admonishing of any kind. As deMause correctly points out,

[The fetus’s] “early experiences have been found to be recorded in a separate early neural network—a dissociated emotional memory system centering in the amygdala, quite distinct from the declarative memory system centering in the hippocampus that is established in later childhood.” [Footnote 2]

Disclaiming these cycles, which inevitably pass through darkness, and reliance on “will-power” to change one’s patterns, which includes self-sabotage, has been exposed in its impotence in modern times. We see as evidence the growing acknowledgment of the ineffectiveness and, indeed, counter-effectiveness of psychoanalysis. [Footnote 3]

Railing Against the Darkness

So the question begging to be asked is “What do we do about it?” What do we do about these pernicious cycles?

bill-owensclip_image002And when these elements erupt in society in harmless, possibly healing ways, how do we view them? Do we, as Mayr and Boelderl do in their article, “The Pacifier Craze: Collective Regression in Europe,” decry the regression…as if by disclaiming it we could somehow keep the cycle from happening? [Footnote 4]

Mayr and Boelderl write, for example, that the situation of collective regression in Europe “strikes us as being high-explosive [sic] and bitter enough.” [Footnote 5]

In another place they exclaim, “What is horrible about this insight [about the increasing collective regression in Europe] is the additional observation that regression is becoming still more radical.” [Footnote 6]

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This response of railing against the “Darkness” is a Freudian response. Yet it is not even a neo-Freudian one, since regression in the service of the ego—which began to be seen as ever more important by neo-Freudians—is not acknowledged, let alone considered.

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Social Progress Requires Regression

406327_251312034972552_198185372_ngeologicallycuriousThat regression in the service of the ego is not considered is confirmed by Mayr and Boelderl in their statement that “[R]egression by definition is a process of repression and a defense mechanism.” [Footnote 7]

These are surprising words, in light of the concept of regression in the service of the ego and awareness of the clinically based evolution of psychotherapeutic theory since Freud’s original postulations, over a half-century ago.

death-as-an-allyclip_image004They are even more awry if one considers the universal, cross-cultural, implementation by societies of rebirthing rituals to handle the same kinds of forces we are confronted with. The anthropological literature is rife with these accounts.

Further, Grof has meticulously shown that regularly going into altered states of consciousness where one confronts this material is a prime function of cultures, and it occurs nearly universally although it is woefully lacking in Western culture for the most part.

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Moreover, these words by Mayr and Boelderl indicate a conflict with or ignorance of the fact that deMause’s theory of evolution of historical change requires regression on the part of parents, while parenting their children, as the primary “engine” of sociopsychological progress.

For deMause writes,

“[T]he ultimate source of all historical change is psychogenesis, the lawful change in childrearing modes occurring through generational pressure…. Psychogenesis depends upon the ability of parents and surrogates to regress to the psychic age of their children and work through the anxieties of that age better the second time than in their own childhood.” (op. cit., 1982, p. 135, emphasis mine.)

clip_image006satanBut this mistake by these two social scientists would not be all that important if it was not the perfect example of the kind of uninformed attitude we have, generally speaking, in Western societies about these forces. This attitude is reinforced by a Judeo-Christian tradition of specialness and scapegoating in the West. It is a pervasive feeling about these things; specifically it, itself, is the actual defense. While this is a widespread reaction to our inner realities it is far from science, and even further from the truth or reality about these things.

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“Stop It!” … Yeah, That’s Gonna Work

At any rate, if we adopt this Western, Judeo-Christian, Freudian tactic of decrying the darkness, we are as effective in derailing the cycle of violence and war as Freudians are in what amounts to admonishing their clients to “stop it!” when it comes to their neurotic self-sabotaging.

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For people cannot will themselves to merely stop their cycles of neurotic self-sabotage and self-destruction, which are the individual manifestations/ acting out of their birth traumas. As mentioned these directors of action operate out of a different part of the psyche, and brain, than one’s conscious willing part. They are simply not accessible, so hardly amenable, to rational or willful input. And changing one’s thoughts to affect them is about as helpful as rearranging the furniture on the deck of the Titanic.

Being Crazy in an Insane World Might Mean You’re the Sane One: Auspicious Collective Regressions

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People Who Have It All Figured Out Are the Ones to Watch Out For … Emotional “Sickness” Might Indicate More “Wellness”

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Regression in the Service of the Ego

With the exposure of the ineffectiveness of the Freudian tactic of intellectual understanding has come the Freudian movement’s disintegration into schools advocating various other strategies for change.

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doctor-handing-pills-to-a-patientEponahorsegoddessThese schools/strategies include the psychiatric—the use of drugs; the neo-Freudians who acknowledge and use regression in the service of the ego and abreaction; the humanistic-existential approaches, stressing the “experiential”; and the Jungians and neo-Jungians, who would seek the resolution of these cycles in their inner archetypal acting out, resulting in an eventual rootedness of the ego in a higher Self (a spiritual center) beyond or transcending the cycles. [Footnote 8]

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cant.luxury.negative.thoughtOther approaches include the bulk of the spiritual, new-age, or transpersonal means that are flourishing these days. These alternative paths basically differ from all others in their belief that one can simply bypass these perinatal pulls and pushes and go directly to the Light or the Self by dismissing the birth cycles, or the Darkness or Shadow, through affirming the Light, meditating the Darkness out or the Light in, changing one’s thoughts, creating one’s reality, and various combinations of these.

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normal_ButterflyOfHealingFINAL_LG_Jpg2Finally, these newer schools and strategies for healing include those of what might be called experiential psychotherapy, which includes primal therapy, holotropic breathwork, some forms of (experiential) meditation (Vipassana meditation, for example), Reichian and healingcrisisbioenergetic approaches, some forms of hypnotherapy—experiential ones—ones that involve reliving traumas—and virtually all the techniques, treatments, and correctives that are espoused in the field of pre- and perinatal psychology.

reunionThe point is that from a good number of these other-than-Freudian perspectives—and all of those that acknowledge the importance of 947867-lightdarkness_largeregression in the service of the ego—and from the perspective of the entire field of experiential psychotherapy, the answer to the cycles of violence, war, and death-rebirth is to stop the acting out, not by simply intellectually decrying it—as if one can actually talk oneself out of one’s inner fears and one’s Darkness/Shadow—but by reliving those cycles of violence at their origins…their primal roots. In the case of perinatal forces, those forces from “the dark side,” this is accomplished by reliving the violence of birth, a perinatal trauma that is thoroughly and masterfully delineated by Grof and deMause. [Footnote 9]

Auspicious Collective Regressions

But from this perspective of experiential psychotherapy—one completely congruent with and grateful of deMause’s contributions in psychohistory as well—regression, in Europe, or elsewhere, is not seen as something to decry, disclaim, be horrified of, or be seen as dangerous but is seen as an opportunity. Regression is certainly not seen as a form of defense but as the opposite of that. Regression is part of a process of diminishing one’s defenses against one’s internal reality of pain and trauma.

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Thus, examples of blatant collective regression as in Europe—more so to the extent they are relived, released, and integrated—are entirely auspicious for the eventual elimination of war as a collective device of acting out—defending against—the painful feelings coming from one’s personal history which one carries around, all unknowingly, and which pervade, in one way or another, in forms subtle and not so subtle, every moment of one’s consciousness in the present.

From this experiential psychotherapeutic perspective, we have a different feeling about developments like those that Mayr and Boelderl describe as collective regression in Europe and Lawson describes as occurring at rock concerts. [Footnote 10]

From a more enlightened viewpoint these cultural phenomena should have us, if not dancing in the streets, at least hopeful of a gradual decrease in the use of war and violence. Why? It is because the youth who display this “regression” so blatantly were brought up by an “advanced” form of child-rearing than that of previous generations, that they have fewer defenses, fewer layers of obfuscation covering up their unconscious psychodynamics; consequently the regression is seen more clearly in their behavior. [Footnote 11]

Unflinching Belief Related to Total Dissociation

Why is this important? DeMause points out that people do go to war, and that prior to it their perinatal dynamics come to the fore, as evidenced by perinatal-laden words and images in the media and in leaders’ speeches used to describe the situation and its dynamics. Thus, our leaders take us into war, they act out their perinatal dynamics…and we in following them act out ours…in such gruesomely overt ways because these dynamics are so hidden, repressed, and overlaid with defenses that the conscious mind has absolutely no access to, and hence insight into, them as being part of one’s unconscious dynamics.

clip_image008Consequently the conscious mind is completely able to convince itself that those dynamics are actual, real, and doubtless parts of the situation and therefore require an actual, real, and extreme response. The amount of resolve required to act out war can only be wrought of an unflinching belief in the rightness, the absolute correctness of one’s perspective of the situation and therefore of that extreme course of response. And that can only be brought about by a total dissociation from one’s perinatal traumas, and a complete and utter projection of it on the outside—the enemy, to be specific.

Blatant “Sickness” Related to Being Real

The contrary is also true: When there does not exist that total and complete dissociation of the perinatal trauma—when it is, as in Europe and rock concerts currently, closer to the surface, less defended against, less repressed and, hence, more blatant—it is more accessible to consciousness and less likely to be acted out in the extreme as in war. Instead it is more likely to be acted out in less extreme forms, such as jumping into mosh pits, carrying pacifiers, listening to baby tunes about the, very real, difficulties of being a baby, and so on.

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Finally, it is more likely to be actually allowed to emerge in consciousness and be relived, and thereby “healed”…and gone beyond, to be replaced by something more benign and more socially constructive, and thus to be removed forever as a motivation to war or violence. This is the auspicious view of the developments described by Mayr and Boelderl. [Footnote 12]

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Janov was the first to point out that a permanent resolution of underlying trauma initially entailed an aggravation of symptoms and symbolic acting out. That is to say, the underlying dynamics become more blatant and apparent in behavior. [Footnote 13]

Janov was also the first to note that the acting-out and overt neurotic was closer to being “real,” and therefore really sane, than his or her highly functioning and “normal,” but repressed, rigidly defended, and unfeeling neighbor. [Footnote 14]

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The Most Evolved Parenting … Boomers and Millennials … and The Cyclical Nature of History: I Know It’s Hard to Believe But We’ve Been Getting Saner

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Thanks to You We’re Getting Saner: The Most Evolved Parenting … Boomers and Millennials … and The Cyclical Nature of History

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Evolution of Parenting – We’ve Been Getting Saner

Finally, the correctness of the view that being “crazy” in an insane world might be more sane has been borne out in recent history. DeMause describes an evolution of parenting from ancient times to the present which involved ever decreasing psychosis and violence and increasing caring and consciousness of the needs of children. He connects this decrease in violent child caring to ever decreasing violence and psychotic acting out in societies.

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DeMause labels the most common modern parenting mode the socializing mode. Short of the quite recent helping mode—which only really rose to prominence in the last three decades—the socializing mode is the most advanced and most humane.

Lest there be any confusion, I wish to point out that my own theoretical first_peopleunderstanding differs from deMause’s in one important respect. While I agree with his evolution of child-rearing over the course of civilization and within recorded time, I believe he is wrong about prehistory and what primal peoples were like and the kind of child-caring they engaged in. He depicts prehistoric societies as psychotically oblivious of the needs of children, engaging in, first, infanticidal; then, second, abandoning; then, third, ambivalent modes of child-rearing. Whereas it seems to me the overwhelming evidence and increasing numbers of anthropologists point to a natural “organic” child-caring being employed in the the mists of the past quite a bit more “advanced” than even many modes employed today.

kapstadt-wandern-mit-pavianenI believe the change from the loving parenting we see in many primal peoples and in Nature among many of our planetmates to the infanticidal, abandoning, and ambivalent modes he has described for early historic cultures is a product of that ever increasing control of Nature that went into full gear with the agrarian revolution, some ten to twenty-five thousand years ago. So, I am saying that brutal parenting was a consequence of “civilization” and was at its worst at the beginnings of recorded time.

But I agree we have been gradually evolving to better modes of child-caring over the history of civilization to the most sane and psychologically beneficial modes employed in recent decades, which, you might want to note, are very much like the modes of the earliest humans. I describe why and how we lost our connection with Nature and loving ways of parenting—how we left “Eden”—in my book and blog “The Great Reveal.”

The Cycles of Time

I believe my understanding shows once again how much of what modern folks thought of “development”—including it being linear and increasing from “darkness” to “light” with ourselves always at the top (conveniently)—is wrong and merely part of an anthropocentric bias and an ethnocentric heritage. For more and more, as we lay down those blinders to reality, we notice the evidence of the cyclical nature of everything—from our lives (ashes to ashes) to the physical Universe’s expansion and contraction, to the vibrations at the subatomic level, the waves in the sea, the turning of the Earth and the revolutions of the solar systems, and I contend now also, the so-called “history” of our species on Earth. This is the thoroughly postmodern idea that human time is also cyclical, with over and again peoples returning to earlier halcyon times only to “fall” away from them.

The Worst of Times Quality of Current Events

This idea of time as cyclical not linear is in keeping with Eastern philosophies, as well as indigenous ones. Hindu thinking currently has us at the depths of the Kali Yuga, the worst part of the cycle right now, with matters to be reversed very soon and the best of times just ahead. And, as I have been describing in my books Falls from Grace and Primal Renaissance and will be directly pointing out in my upcoming book, Primal Return, we are currently seeing a most necessary return to a more harmonious way of being and a more natural self. And with it, requiring it, to some extent preceding it, we are evolving to the most advanced mode of loving parenting.

The “Best of Times” Nature of Our Parenting

Psychohistorian Glenn Davis, following deMause, analyzed the most advanced form of child-caring short of the most recent helping mode—the psychogenic parenting mode deMause termed socializing—and found that it comprised four submodes. In order, beginning in the mid-nineteenth century to the mid-twentieth century and each one a more “evolved” and humane one than the previous one, they are the submodes of psychic control, aggressive training, vigorous guidance, and delegated release. [Footnote 15]

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Oh, Be-HAVE. WWII Generation … Received Aggressive-Training and Vigorous-Guidance Parenting

Davis concluded that in America the Vietnam War was perpetrated by individuals belonging almost entirely to the aggressive-training and vigorous-guidance psychoclasses. [Footnote 16]

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Questioning Authority and Oneself Is Good. Boomers … Received Delegated Release Parenting

clip_image0048065543_origYet the Vietnam War was brought to an end largely as a result of the efforts of an antiwar movement whose largest component was a Sixties youth brought up under a more advanced delegated-release child-caring mode. [Footnote 17]

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The delegated release mode, which resulted in the phenomenon of Sixties youth and the counterculture, is the most “advanced” mode short of the helping mode.

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“Let’s Collaborate” – Millennials. Received the Most Advanced Parenting – Helping … “We Just Want You to Be Happy.”

trust-father-sonboyjumpintomanshandsclip_image006The helping mode is the child-caring mode employed widely by the Sixties generation for their children, the Millennial Generation, also known as Generation Y. So, a helping mode of parenting was enjoyed by the children of a delegated-release psychoclass, the Boomers. Sixties youth are seen, psychologically, to have the most the most “advanced” ego structures short of their children taught within a helping mode. [Footnote 18]

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What’s Involved in Stopping War and Ecocide – Peace Is Painful: But Better Psychotic Than Warring

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Ending War and Humanicide—Peace Is Worth its Price of Suffering: Better “Emotionally Disturbed” Than “Healthily” Fighting in War

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Walking In Another’s Moccasins

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It is obvious that these Sixties youth did not have the same unflinching and unqualified belief in the absolute rightness of their country’s position in Vietnam as did many of their parents. clip_image009[1]This is obviously the case in a psychoclass of youth chanting a generational mantra, “Question authority!” and whose more extreme members would at times even go over to the perspective of seeing the war from the eyes of the “enemy,” the Other.

As I mentioned earlier, among the Sixties Generation we saw Jane Fonda’s journey to Hanoi, the waving of North Vietnamese flags by protesters, clip_image011[2]and the carrying of little red books on the sayings of Chairman Mao. These are obvious indicators that the generation as a whole was open to seeing the war from the North Vietnamese perspective: That is, as a conflict perpetrated by a foreign nation that was hypocritical in its espousal of democracy in that it prevented democratic elections that would have without doubt elected Ho Chi Minh and instead it installed a puppet-ruler in the South, making Vietnam a virtual colony of the United States. From this perspective, the clip_image013_thumb[3]Vietnam War was for the Vietnamese as much a war for independence as the American Revolution was for the U.S.

This is just an example of how there are two sides to every issue and how an attempt at empathy or “walking in The Other’s moccasins”—made possible by a closeness to a perinatal unconscious that is also an opposite perspective than that of the conscious mind—can lead, at the minimum, to the reluctance necessary to prevent engaging in at least the most blatant and horrific forms of violence…against others, but consider also, against Nature.

The Perinatal Generation

clip_image0143At any rate, is there evidence that this undermining of the self-righteous position necessary for the instigation and carrying out of war and ecocide—this ability to see at least somewhat from The Other’s perspective and not just one’s own—is in truth correlated with a closeness to perinatal dynamics, a closeness to the unconscious for that generation of youth, those of the Sixties? The answer: Absolutely yes!

clip_image016_thumbAs mentioned in a previous part, sociologist Kenneth Keniston did psychological studies of members of the Sixties Generation.

He was inspired to do so through his noticing that he was seeing something really unusual and radically different in these youth than what he had ever seen. This led to his fascination with discovering what made them so different. And he documented his findings in two books—The Uncommitted: Alienated Youth in American Society and Young Radicals: Notes on Committed Youth. Roughly speaking he chose to study the unconscious dynamics of both the “alienated-hippie” and the “activist” sectors, respectively, of that generation. [Footnote 19]

Blushing Troll-Handlers

pacifier.millennial.gen_thumbbill-owens_thumbAt the risk of repeating myself, I wish to remind the reader that a reading of his books—keeping in mind that Keniston knew nothing of perinatal dynamics at that time, and few people did, for that matter—reveals a degree of perinatal imagery, fantasy, and acting out—especially among “the uncommitted”—enough to make a troll-handling, pacifier-wearing, mosh-pit jumping youth of today to blush! [Footnote 20]

Self-Analysis and Psychological-Mindedness

woman-looking-in-mirror_thumbcandle.666655jpg_thumbBecause of this peculiar perinatal access, I don’t believe it is any coincidence that Keniston also found an unusual amount of inner reflection—questioning oneself—alongside the more well known questioning authority. This he labeled “overexamined life” for the alienated sector and “psychological mindedness” for the activists.

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Better Emotionally Disturbed Than “Healthily” Engaging in War

So, being close to one’s perinatal imprints, being less defended against one’s inner unconscious painful memories, leads to one being able to question not just oneself—and therefore to be a catalyst to personal growth and a quest for truth—but also the actions of one’s society. It is a counterbalance to our tendency to act out in violence to others as in war and to Nature as in ecocide. It means people will suffer more inner turmoil and pain, will feel more psychologically “disturbed,” and will be less likely to take it out on others, will be less likely to make others or the environment “pay” for what happened to them.

Let us contrast that with its opposite. DeMause writes,

Hitler’s projection of his fears…into Jews and foreigners helped him avoid a psychotic breakdown and enabled him to function during his later life, as long as others shared his delusion of poisonous enemies.

Therefore acting out collectively, as in war, can prevent a psychotic breakdown in certain individuals.

Better Psychotic Than Waging War

clip_image0173But when the consequences of acting out one’s birth trauma, collectively, is millions of people—including oneself—dead, not to mention the uncountably large loss of material and personal resources, it is clear that by comparison a psychotic breakdown is a more benign alternative for either the individual or the society in which that or those individuals act.

Similarly, not providing the outlet of war as a collective birth ritual…oftentimes, for the soldier involved, euphemistically called a “rite of passage”…would allow the genuine neurotic breakdowns, the collapse of people’s defenses, and their opening up to their underlying perinatal dynamics. Thus accessed, they can be healed, or in the least they would prevent the kind of unflinching belief or self-righteousness required for war and violence.

Some folks might even be motivationally paralyzed—receiving information from the unconscious that contradicts and undermines the stance and beliefs of their conscious ego. But when that egoistic stance is slanted, commonly, towards war, violence, selfishness and greed and corresponding environmental apathy, then better one would be indecisive, overwhelmed, and doing nothing.

The Price of Emotional Pain Is Minuscule Compared to That of War

Yet it is true that this neurotic breakdown, of at least a small amount, on the scale of society would result in the kind of collective regressions that Mayr and Boelderl, and Lawson describe. That is, the cause of peace, of the saving of human lives, requires that people pay the price of encountering their primal pain.

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clip_image019[1]By all measures, this peace price is minuscule. It is even more worth it when you take into account the fact that many people, after initially “breaking down” for lack of a collective…and highly destructive…act-out like war/aggression, will actually succeed in reconstructing a self more in line with reality, through the dynamics and means categorized under the term regression in the service of the ego, desccribed above. Regardless of professional help…which would be nice but is not always available or practical…some people just find a way.

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Continue with Chapter Ten: Where There Is Hope, Cultural Rebirthing

Return to Apocalypse No! Chapter Eight:
Derailing the Cycles of War and Violence

Footnotes

1. A. Briend, “Fetal Malnutrition: The Price of Upright Posture?” British Medical Journal 2 (1979): 317-319.

2. DeMause, op. cit., 1995, p. 12, emphasis in original.

3. See, for example, Alice Miller, For Your Own Good: Hidden Cruelty in Child-Rearing and the Roots of Violence, trans. by Hildegarde and Hunter Hannum. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, especially “Vantage Point 1990,” pp. vii-ix.

4. Daniela F. Mayr & Artur R. Boelderl, “The Pacifier Craze: Collective Regression in Europe.” The Journal of Psychohistory 21 (1993): 143-156.

5. Ibid., p. 144.

6. Ibid., p. 148, emphasis mine.

7. Ibid., pp. 149-150.

8. Regarding the “experiential,” I should make clear that this approach is, from the perspective of the experiential psychotherapeutic approach I will be describing shortly, actually the superficial symbolic acting out of these underlying and powerful cycles in a way that is only a little less impotent than the Freudians.

9. DeMause, op. cit., 1995.

10. Alvin H. Lawson, “Placental Guitars, Umbilical Mikes, and the Maternal Rock-Beat: Birth Fantasies and Rock Music Videos.” The Journal of Psychohistory 21 (1994): 335-353.

11. Mayr and Boelderl claim quite wrongly and quite strangely—as if to make the facts not conflict with DeMause’s psychogenic theory, or as if to cover up some hole in their analysis—that those caught up in the pacifier craze were raised under the intrusive and socializing parenting modes (op. cit., 1993, p. 145) and yet, in 1992, were between the ages of 15 and 30 (Ibid., p. 143). This is hard to understand because these youth would have been born between the years 1962 and 1977 in advanced Western countries of mostly Western Europe—Italy, Germany, Austria, all of Europe, and even the U.S. (Ibid.).

However, the intrusive and socializing modes are associated, by DeMause, with the eighteenth century and the nineteenth to mid-twentieth centuries, respectively, in the Western world (DeMause, op. cit., 1982, p. 62). On the other hand, the helping mode begins mid-twentieth century in the Western world (Ibid., p. 63).

The conclusion from this is that these youth, described by Mayr and Boelderl, would have been greatly influenced by the helping mode. They would be expected, at least, to have received the most advanced methods of child-caring overall in the world at this time—considering DeMause’s theory—since they are the most recent progeny of the Western world!

Indeed, if these cannot be considered products of the helping mode, who can be? In order for Mayr and Boelderl to dispute this and claim they were exceptions to the rule and were raised under intrusive and socializing modes, they would have had to do a study demonstrating this, or at least cite one done. And this they do not do.

12. Michael D. Adzema, “Reunion With the Positive (Self), Part 1: The Other Half of ‘The Cure.’” Primal Renaissance: The Journal of Primal Psychology 1(2): 72-85. Reprinted on the Primal Spirit site.

13. Arthur Janov, The Primal Scream: Primal Therapy: The Cure for Neurosis. New York: Dell, 1970.

14. Ibid.

15. Glenn Davis, Childhood and History in America. New York: The Psychohistory Press, 1976.

16. Ibid., especially Ch. 7, “The Great Society and the Youth Revolt,” and p. 240.

17. Ibid.

18.Ibid., p. 241.

19. Kenneth Keniston, The Uncommitted: Alienated Youth in American Society. New York: Dell, 1965; Young Radicals: Notes on Committed Youth. New York: Harcourt, Brace & World, Inc., 1968.

20.While these aspects of youth are laid out by Keniston, a fuller delineation of these dynamics are to be seen in my work-in-progress, tentatively titled The Once and Current Generation: “Regression,” Mysticism, and “My Generation.” [Stay tuned.]

Continue with Chapter Ten: Where There Is Hope, Cultural Rebirthing

Return to Apocalypse No! Chapter Eight:
Derailing the Cycles of War and Violence

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Is God a Defense? Is Passion not Spiritual? A Primal Perspective on Spirituality, Part Two — To Travel Unafraid Through All the Rooms of One’s House

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Stopping the “Internal Dialogue”: Meditation and Primal Are Attempts to Experience Aspects of Consciousness That Are Nonverbal, Noncortical, and Non-Neurotic

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Is God a Defense?

This chapter is part of the development in primal in correcting one inaccuracy of the early “primal scream,” which is Janov’s attitude regarding the relation between feeling one’s feelings and the spiritual process. Janov would claim that religion and the belief in a God are defenses, and that spiritual experiences employ the energy of repressed material, as in sublimation, or are reaction formations to such pain. Specifically, Janov has stated that meditation is “anti-Primal.”

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Is Catharsis Anti-Spiritual?

Attacking from the other side we have Wilber (1982) claiming that preverbal experiences are to be distinguished from transpersonal experiences. He claims that “[b]ecause both pre-X and trans-X are, in their own ways, non-X, they may appear similar, even identical, to the untutured eye,” whereas in reality they are profoundly different (p. 5). He posits a structure of linear development in which one conceivably could “regress” to pre-X, to prepersonal experience, and mistake it for transpersonal experience.

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Therefore he would claim that such experiences as we undergo in the phenomenon of re-experience are actual “regressions” on the spiritual path and are antithetical to a true spiritual quest. He would also claim a spiritual meditative practice is antithetical to one of re-experience or “regression therapy.”

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Meditation Is Often Emotionally “Messy”

chiron_by_summitstudios_thumbWilber’s theory strikes me as a curiously dualistic way of interpreting a nondichotomous reality. And although his reasoning is tight and internally consistent, it excludes the evidence of transpersonal experience as exhibited in the spiritual, psychedelic, and ethnographic literature, or the evidence of meditation research. For, as Epstein and Leiff, (1981, p. 140) wrote in commenting on Wilber’s distinctions between supposed pre- and transpersonal experience: “In fact, meditation experiences embody all of the above. Confusion arises when meditation is analyzed as one discrete state, rather than as a developmental process.”

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Spiritual Growth Is Not a Linear Path, It is an Expanding Outward

Thus, I differ with Wilber in that I do not see preegoic influences as counter to a transcendental path; rather, I see them as distortions to be worked through.

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This stems from the basic difference between our developmental frameworks in that Wilber sees a linearity, and I see a dialectic in which a transcendental jump “forward” may require an incorporative “backward” step. I do not see growth at all as a linear progression, but more like an expanding outward.

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To Travel Unafraid Through All the Rooms of One’s House

602672_10151206947496725_1953993973_nWhat we find, in primal anyway, is that one actually is more adult when one can let one’s self be childlike at times. Wilber’s theory seems to exclude the possibility that the “healthiest” state may be, as many have described it, one in which we have access all the way “up” and “down” the “spectrum,” in which we can travel unafraid through all the rooms of our house. In this context regression can seem a meaningless term and discussion of it appear spurious.

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An Alternative Explanation

Thus, unlike Janov who casts a dark light on spiritual pursuits in affirming the importance of primal experience (re-experience), Wilber impugns the validity of “pre-” experiences (re-experience) in affirming the importance of spiritual and meditative experiences.

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Regression Is the Left Hand of Progression

My purpose here will be to counter both theorists in affirming that “pre-” is not distinct from “trans-,” as Wilber stated, nor primal distinct from meditation, as Janov stated.

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Basically, the evolved primal therapy I participated in differs with Janov in discovering that primal and meditation are congruent techniques beneath their surface differences. This is evident in the similarity of the phenomena experienced in each and in the similarity of effects each has on the personality.

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Their congruence is further indicated by the fact that transpersonal phenomena do seem to occur to advanced primalers, contrary to Janov’s claims. 1000168-2-the-cottage-in-the-woods_thumbThough experiences of both primalers and LSD subjects seem to indicate that much of what is generally considered transpersonal phenomena is derivative of traumatic life experiences, particularly those occurring at birth or in the womb, there is much of transpersonal experience that cannot be explained away in that manner.

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Stopping the “Internal Dialogue”

The alternative explanation I am presenting rests on the idea that the purpose of the spiritual disciplines is, as Castaneda has termed it, to stop the “internal dialogue.” This corresponds in primal therapy to the attempts to get “below” the rationalizations, intellectualizations, and defenses that are laid down in the cortex, to the real body feelings underneath. It would seem that both methods are engaged in an attempt to delve into and experience aspects of consciousness that are nonverbal, nonsymbolic, noncortical, and nonneurotic.

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0009-487505594_68909d3e97_mhealingcrisisNeurosis has often been defined as a narrowing of consciousness. One way of viewing this is that it entails being cut off from large areas of awareness and experience that are tied up with painful memories and feelings. In this light it is interesting to consider a statement by Paramahansa Yogananda, who was discussing his experience of returning to a physical body in his reincarnation on earth. He writes, “Like a prodigal child, I had run away from my macrocosmic home and imprisoned myself in a narrow microcosm” (1946, p. 168).

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“Imprisoned in a Narrow Microcosm” = Human

One way of viewing the human condition, then, is as a “neurotic” state in that it entails a narrowing of consciousness. 0007-monster-under-the-bed-crpd_We see neurosis in the pathological sense as simply a more extreme narrowing of consciousness than what is accepted as normal.

In this way we can see the function of the spiritual disciplines, which is to increase the capacity of the individual to accept the “larger reality,” as parallel to the purpose of primal therapy, which is to increase the capacity of the person to accept walled-off portions of her or his personal reality. As they apparently deal with different “levels” of reality, one might suspect that there would be differences in technique.

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Catharsis and Calmness Alternate on Liberation’s Highway

But, conversely, I propose that primal and spiritual techniques are complementary, despite their surface differences, with either being helpful depending on the material to be worked through. Further and more specifically, I propose that primal can aid the spiritual process by clearing out negative material from the personal unconscious that would otherwise distort and impede that process, whereas spiritual techniques sometimes can be helpful in extending the arena of growth beyond the borders of strictly primal (or personal) reality.

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Continue with “At Times I Hopped Like a Frog … Between Smiles and Tears, I Continued my Inward Journey.” — Guru Muktananda: A Primal Perspective on Spirituality, Part Three — Cathartic Meditation

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

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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.

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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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1 Comment

Psychology of Generations —The Changing of the Generational Guard: Why There Is Less Violence but More Depression…. And What’s Good About That

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Consciousness Evolution from the WWII to the Millennial Generations:  A Hierarchy of Healing, a Global Healing Crisis, and the Unseen Revolution 2815392174_178ecaa9bf_o

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Wounded Deer and Centaurs, Chapter Fourteen:  Psychological History of Today’s Generations and Changing of the Guard ss-110128-egypt-protest-05-eg.ss_full

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

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? And what is the meaning of this change in consciousness and of these wounded deer and centaurs? Is there hope in this development?

To answer what is the portent of these wounded deer and centaurs and what the 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 from 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 up in horrific actions.

Wounded Deer and Centaurs

However, being aware of one’s discomfort (having “more access” to the perinatal), one suffers like the wounded deer—the innocent who feels things and so struggles with society’s sickness that many others are unconsciously perpetrating. But, with time and success in handling this pain, one can become the wounded healer—the Centaur.

Now, why and how would this occur? As I’ve said, some access to the perinatal and more blatant and direct acting it out is exhibited by many of the baby-boomer generation. This is in large part due to their having been raised in a way that required less in the way of ego defenses to keep their primal pain suppressed. Psychohistorians like Glen Davis and Lloyd deMause have detailed a slow advance of child-caring techniques, with generations since the WWII Generation being raised with more attention to their needs and less harshness and cruelty…increasingly more love.

“What the World Needs Now, Is…”

Before anyone begins thinking “permissive” or “spare the rod, spoil the child,” let me point out that I will be continually stressing how this development is not only a good thing (why wouldn’t love be good?) but is one of the few sources of hope for our future we really do have.

For less childhood pain and trauma means one is stronger and more able to face the even deeper perinatal pain.

Choosing Lesser Evils

At any rate, the extreme acting-out and total dissociation from the perinatal exhibited by the World-War-Two Generation was followed, in the generations coming after, by less relative dissociation and less horrific forms of acting it out. Quite simply, generations as a whole had better ability to refrain from the more blatantly evil act outs—wholesale murders and world wars, pogroms and genocide, inquisitions and witch-burning, racism and slavery. They were more able to choose seemingly milder forms of suffering and self-destruction — polluting the atmosphere, water, and food; population explosions and crowding of cities; and traffic jams.

The common everyday traffic jam is especially instructive of perinatal dynamics as traffic congestions replicate asphalt birth tunnels where one not only breathes exhaust fumes from trucks and other autos—fetal malnutrition—but also can become gridlock at any moment, thus re-creating the intense frustration and no-exit hopelessness, and rage, of BPM II.

Baby-Boomer Perinatal Awareness

Other examples of the scenery of modern times where the perinatal is manifesting but is less projected onto another:

We Know THAT We Don’t Know…We Could Be Wrong.

clip_image002Many baby-boomers had enough access to their perinatal underbellies to question the absolute rightness of the Vietnam War and so they campaigned against it. This is indicative of closeness to the perinatal because it shows an ability to doubt one’s egocentric defenses—as given by society and family of origin—and to look at situations from the eyes of the Other.

clip_image004So much was this evident in boomers that some were even able to see the Vietnam War through the eyes of the enemy—exemplified by Jane Fonda’s trip to Hanoi, the waving of North Vietnamese flags at demonstrations, and the carrying of little red books of the sayings of Chairman Mao tse Tung.

But It’s Clear You’re Wrong.

clip_image006The baby-boomer—or Sixties—generation also indicate their closeness to their perinatal in their campaigns against some of the act-outs of the perinatal mentioned above: These include actions against pollution; a rejection of city life, with its gridlocks, pollution, and crowding , and a return to the country, in communes or otherwise; an awareness and rejection of polluted foods and creation of a natural and organic foods movement; and actions against global overpopulation including support for birth control, a pro-choice stance on abortion, and delaying of baby-making on their own parts along with a reduction in the size of their families.

The sexual excess that is characteristic of the perinatal, specifically BPM III, was evident in boomers’ free love and promiscuous sexual behavior.

clip_image007Many more examples could be given. But the proof of their closeness to their unconscious dynamics lies not only in their actions—as mentioned above, in their more blatant acting them out or in their actual actions against the blatant acting out, both of which indicate closer access—but also in the study of their unconscious dynamics. As mentioned in Chapter Twelve, Kenneth Keniston found in his study of the psychodynamics of the Sixties generation when they were in their youth an unusual amount of perinatal symbolism and self-analysis. (See “Raging to Reenter, Digging Under Ground.”)

Boomer Rage, Perinatally So

We Shall Overcome.

We also see perinatal feelings in the focus of the baby-boomers on empowerment. This word appears to come up in every area of their lives. It can be seen as the natural focus of a generation that feels itself inside to be a helpless fetus facing an overpowering obstruction of a womb.

Hence baby-boomers are of course also closer to the frustration, rebellion, and yes, rage, that is part of the perinatal complex. We saw it exhibited by them in their anger at authority in the Sixties, their rebellion against the Vietnam War.

“Get the &%$ OFF Me!”

clip_image009Keep in mind that a huge aspect of the perinatal is feelings of restriction, thus frustration, and, consequently rage against large entities of obstruction—like the womb was in relation to the small and helpless fetus. In doing so, we see that the reason for their rage is simple and understandable.

Baby-boomers, characterized as being closer to their unconscious, especially the perinatal, have more access to their anger: This means they feel their anger and are less likely to act it out in more hidden, disguised, and dire ways such as war-making, racism, and anti-Semitism.

This does not mean their rage would not be troublesome. The perinatal lets no one get off scot free. We see lots of pre- and perinatal anger coming out in the last few decades in the phenomenon of the “angry electorate.” Let’s look at that next.

You Didn’t Really Believe Elections Had Anything to Do With Issues, Did You? Biting the Feeding Hand … Perinatal Rage and Panicky Electorate

Don't Bite The Hand That Feeds You

Seriously? You Actually Think Elections Have Something to Do With Issues? Biting the Feeding Hand … Perinatal Rage and Panicky Electorate

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More recently these baby-boomers have been coming into the triumphant phase of their lives. They make up the largest sector of the electorate, and their influence is reflected more as they come into positions of power in the media and elsewhere.

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The Angry Electorate and Boomers

tumblr_m1o7axBksC1r51xsro1_400AngryElectorateBut their influence has been diffused and confused because of the anger of some of them. Their irrational rage—combined with the reactionary consciousness of the Fifties Generation, many of the Fifties Gen children of Yuppies-Gen Xers, and the remaining WWII folks—has most often skewed election results against the Boomers interests and their true desires. Though not the majority of boomers, enough of them expressed their rage to swing election results in favor of the other side.

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1992 – “Mad as Hell”

Beginning in the 1992 and 1994 national elections, these baby-boomers exhibited their perinatal influences in contributing to the totally unexpected phenomenon of the “angry electorate.”

clip_image003clip_image002At the time, pundits and media analysts were at a total loss to explain the rage of the electorate that was affecting these elections. In 1992, they were totally surprised by the showing of three men in particular—Jerry Brown, Pat Buchanan, and Ross Perot—who seemed to have one thing in common: the angry tones and rebelliousness that characterized their speeches, as compared to others. [Footnote 4]

clip_image004The demeanor of these candidates was at such odds with the other candidates that when Bill Clinton one night responded angrily to a comment by Jerry Brown about Hillary, Clinton’s wife, it was that part of the debate—of Clinton being angry, all issues aside—that made the news that night!

Though the rage of the electorate in 1992 caused the Brown, Perot, and Buchanan phenomena, it was split among them, so Clinton ended up winning. clip_image007This of course was also OK with the baby-boomers in that (1) Clinton and Gore were baby-boomers like themselves and (2) in the race against Bush, Clinton was the challenger, and thus the rebel; and Bush was the “bum to be thrown out.”

However, this rage did not go away after the election, which highlights its having perinatal origins. In fact, after the shortest “honeymoon period” in history, by some accounts, it became directed at the most likely target/center—the President, Bill Clinton, himself.

We all know how despite the successes and progress of Clinton’s first year, he was especially singled out for ridicule and denigration by the media. He could not seem to do anything right, and the most incredibly outrageous behaviors were attributed to him.

1994 – “Throw the Bums Out … Again.”

clip_image009This rage spilled over into the next year and, sure enough, during the midterm election—the issues be damned—the angry electorate was in a mood to “throw the bums out” again. It did not matter the party….I do not claim that all those of my generation are always as politically astute as they are angry.

The Republicans called it a “revolution.” It was simply the acting out of an electorate in the throes of perinatal feelings—that is, feelings of frustration, clip_image011being “tied up” by red tape, an inability to go forward…that is, up the economic ladder—wages had been stagnating since the early 80s…being overcontrolled and pushed around by regulations…big government being the big mother womb keeping the fetus locked in and unable to move…and out of all this, the consequent anger and rage.

1996 and 1998 — “To Hell With You!”

clip_image012At any rate, succeeding elections bear out this analysis of an angry electorate. In 1996, despite the much ballyhooed “Republican Revolution,” sure enough, the electorate was spoiling to “throw the bums out” again—only this time it was the Republican Congress. So there were Democratic gains at the time.

And in 1998, when everything pointed to a huge Republican landslide because of the Lewinsky scandal, the electorate again showed their rebellion and anger toward both the pundits and the Republicans who had been lambasting them with details of the scandal for nearly a year by giving the Democrats gains again! [Footnote 4]

2006, 2008, and 2010 — Panicky Electorate

In 2006, 2008, and 2010, it was an angry electorate reeling against oppression; and in the case of 2010, doing it mindlessly, against their own interests. If there were not perinatal charge to all this, Americans would not be so irrational about their choices.

Perinatal Rage

People have had good reasons to feel oppressed since the Eighties when Reagan began the giveaways to the rich and the budget cutbacks, continuing to this day, that have caused the masses to feel constricted and oppressed.

Yet, if this did not result in their being perinatally overloaded so that they cannot reason, they would not have been able to be led to fight their own interests as they were in 2010 and in an ongoing way as exemplified by the Tea Party and the success of right-wing agendas.

Reacting, Too Angry and Confused to Think

clip_image016Another aspect of this irrationality on both sides of the political spectrum has to do with this idea that there is no difference between the two major parties. Feeling oppressed perinatally is characterized by a pressure from all sides simultaneously. There is an inability to distinguish or discriminate between forces that are helpful and those that are dire, as any and all developments seem threatening in situations of crisis. In a situation of overwhelm, further, there is an inability to think clearly. One just fights back, explodes, reacts. It’s no coincidence that righties are called reactionaries.

Biting the Feeding Hand

clip_image018The upshot is an inability, under the pressure of perinatal feelings, provoked endlessly by actual oppression economically, environmentally, socially, and culturally, to rail against any authority, to bite the hand that feeds one. This is exactly like the panicked swimmer who in danger of drowning fights off his or her rescuer.

Can anyone at this point still maintain that the politics of the last few decades had anything at all to do with ideology or issues?

Millennials and Their Opposites – Fifties Generation Tea Partyers … How OWS and Tea Party Movements Are Generationally and Perinatally Different

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Millennial Gen Occupiers and Eisenhower Gen Tea Partyers Are Perinatally As Well As Generationally Opposed

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Right-Wing “Hate Groups,” the Tea Party, and the Fifties Generation: Perinatally Oblivious

clip_image004[5]tea party teaOne might also note the rise of “hate groups” occurring at the same time as the phenomenon of the angry electorate. Hate groups fill their ranks from folks on the extreme right and their actions are exemplified in the Oklahoma bombing tragedy and more recently in the Tea Party.

Perinatally Clueless

But notice again then that these hate groups are always on the extreme right of the political spectrum and thus exemplify a World-War-Two mindset in relation to their perinatal unconscious: Specifically, the mindset is one of being completely cut off from one’s unconscious dynamics and being in total denial of unconscious motivations so that one can have the complete certitude—lacking any access to the unconscious which would give rise to doubts—that makes violent actions possible.

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clip_image007[4]However the reason for bringing up the hate groups is to show how much their actions as well are dominated by perinatal—in their case, totally unconscious—dynamics.

For without exception their reasons for rising up against the government—representing the overwhelming womb—has to do with frustrations, like the trapped fetus feels, in regards to “oppressive” taxes, governmental red tape, laws, and other regulations that they feel restrict their freedom…to move freely, as one wanted to but couldn’t, in the womb.

Tea Party and hate group ranks are prevalent with Fifties Generation folks. The Eisenhower Generation after the WWII Gen and before Boomers were born just before or during WWII. They are mired in prenatal fears coming from the fact that their parents were living through such distressing times as WWII and the Great Depression when they were inside their mothers. They were “marinated” in the womb with fear and insecurity. They also were not brought up with the societal advance in child-rearing the next generation of boomers, and those afterward, would be granted. So it is understandable they would be both cut off from perinatal access yet full of perinatal pushes and pulls to act out in confused and self-destructive ways.

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Perinatal Access of Millennials

Being Boomer Kids, Wouldn’t You Kind of Expect That?

Now on the other end of this perinatal spectrum we have the most recent generational cohort to be making a mark. The Millennial, or Baby-Boomer Echo generation, show the same inner access as their Boomer parents. They demonstrate as well their parents’ consequent refusal to act it out on a larger scale: It has been said that the greatest concerns of those in this generation, now in their twenties and thirties, are the environment and racism-bigotry.

Activist, Progressive

clip_image001[4]They show the progressive bent of their parents, also, in their having a lot to do with giving America its first African-American president. And to the environment and minority rights, we need to add classism, economic fairness, and human rights because of their phenomenal outpouring of support in the past year for Occupy Wall Street and for union rights in Wisconsin and other states. They are showing global strength in opposing fascism, economic injustice, political oppression, and human rights abuses in Occupy and Arab Spring movements. They’ve filled massive demonstrations against the draconian economic policies of Republicans in Wisconsin.

Climate Change and The Environment

We know how pollution and action against pollution indicates a closeness to one’s perinatal. To put it another way, it is clear that only a total denial and disconnect between one’s consciousness and one’s unconscious perinatal dynamics would allow one to act it out unconsciously in the creation of pollution and in the denial of it as a problem or a mindless neglect of it. So the fact that these Baby-Boomer children, the Millennials, are so cognizant, concerned, and active in relation to global pollution and climate change shows their lack of denial of this perinatal act-out.

Multicultural, Resisting Racism and Oppression

But what of racism and bigotry? How is this an indication of a closeness to the perinatal. There are several ways in which this is so. As mentioned, a closeness to the perinatal allows one to doubt one’s given defenses and to glimpse alternate perspectives—in particular to look at things from the eyes of The Other.

In this way, the baby-boomer echo generation are able to see oppression, injustice, and unfairness as it is played out in the lives of minorities who don’t share their (predominantly) middle-class advantages. They simply don’t “get” racism, sexism, or bigotry of any kind; it is incomprehensible to them. They strongly oppose imperialism, colonialism, or oppression of any kind. Relatedly, they support animal rights and oppose animal abuse and cruelty. They don’t understand torture and violence against fellow planetmates.

clip_image002[4]Naturally they were helped in that awareness by the gains of previous decades, beginning in the Sixties, which had them growing up with diversity of racial and ethnic heritages—seeing things multiculturally not narrowly—in their schools and in the omnipresent media. They grew up with the environmental awareness that was set in motion in the Sixties; they don’t know of a world before recycling and energy conservation. Activism, demonstrations, and political action have been a part of their lives since they were born, unlike the several generations that preceded them and even their Boomer parents who grew up in a politically castrated Fifties.

But there is another, stronger element. This is the factor of oppression and unfairness itself. We experience compression (oppression), and frustration at our attempts to go forward, and what feels like hopeless unfairness and injustice, when in the throes of BPM II birth trauma. To see these facets of the fates of minorities, as in racism, or gender or sexual bias, points to this echo generation’s closeness to their own perinatal oppression; hence their ability to empathize with oppressed minorities.

This ability to realistically sense and respond to oppression is also the reason they would throw themselves in heartily in defense of unions, an increasingly oppressed middle class, and public sector employees.

Of Goths, Gen X, Anti-Abortionists, Pacifiers, and a Hierarchy of Healing … You Make It When You DON’T Fake It

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Flaunting One’s Sickness Is Healthier Than Hiding It … Gen X, Goths, Pacifiers, and The Hierarchy of Healing

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A Hierarchy of Healing?

This idea that those close to their unconscious conflicts are more likely to act them out blatantly goes completely against one of DeMause’s tenets. He wrote, “The higher the psychogenic mode of the psychoclass, the less it is necessary for it to act out its conflicts.” [Footnote 5]

However this is exactly the crux of my difference with his theory and is a Zombie-Landscaping-300x217central point I am making. For from my perspective, the higher the mode of child-caring equals the less the defenses. Hence, the more it is likely that that generation’s conflicts will be close to the surface, seeking resolution … like Maslow’s hierarchy of needs theory. We might want to call it a hierarchy of healing theory. [Footnote 6]

clip_image002In other words, our observing the supposed “acting out” of an underlying trauma does not mean that the group or person in question is actually or, at least completely, “acting it out” and defending against it. It may be that that group is resolving, healing, or integrating it—taking it inward rather than acting it out…in the world, on others…whether to a small or great extent. Using the analogy of Pandora’s Jar, described earlier, they are opening the jar, at least a little. And I disagree with deMause in that I wish to stress that it is healthier by far to do that. Let me explain:

The difference between acting out and resolving is whether the actions are done in total dissociation from the unconscious dynamics, that is to say, in a trance state—as explained earlier in regard to the World War Two generation and the Tea Party—or whether there is at least a modicum of insight into it occurring as a result of things inside of oneself, not completely projected onto the outside.

The attitude that leads to total dissociation and acting out was expressed in a recent 2012 military movie, Act of Valor, which depicted Navy Seals engaged in anti-terrorism activity. At the end, the manner of dealing with pain recommended for these American soldiers and “men of valor” was to (paraphrasing) put all the pain in a box, shut it tight, press it down till it is smaller and smaller, and never, under any circumstances, let it out!

However, in non-acting-out—“acting inward” or taking back the projection—there is a tad of insight, as, for example, in the “overexamined life” of the “uncommitted” and the “self-analysis” of the young radicals of the Sixties generation. Similarly, the rock concert revivication of all current generations except the Fifties and WWII ones, as I’ve mentioned, is clip_image004about personal experience and growth, and it is not about acting out on another; whereas an example of the extreme other end of that would be engaging, trance-like, in a mass killing against a perceived political enemy, as Loughner did, and as we do as nations in wars.

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Another example of complete dissociation are the anti-abortion folks. They don’t have a clue of the connection between their own unconscious prenatal pain and the feelings they have about unborn others. They are not wrestling with their feelings, they are trying to change the world to conform to their defenses around those feelings—that is, they want the world to suppress that womb time out of existence like they have done to it in their own minds. The proof that it is acting out is that it is all about changing others’ behavior, and it involves imposing one’s inner pain on others forcefully and aggressively—which we have seen in its extreme form with the murders of physicians committed by anti-abortionists

Flaunting One’s Sickness Beats Hiding It—Generation X

The self-analysis of the Sixties Generation was followed by a different mode of struggling with perinatal pain by Generation X, which continues in abated form with the Millennial Generation. It was manifest rather strikingly with the Goth phenomenon and the vampire fascination that began in the Eighties, coincident with Gen X’s coming of age. Goth and vampirism show blatant perinatal dynamics that are not unfelt and completely repressed as in dissociation with its trance-state aggression against others. An example of Gen X perinatal acting out of these dynamics in total dissociation and trance state was given above in the anti-abortionists. But Goth and vampire culture show folks feeling and immersed consciously in these pushes and pulls and wrestling with them, trying to work them out as opposed to act them out.

Hey, It Was Tough!

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This is rather clearly shown in looking at the “regression” in Europe, described by psychohistorians, which occurred in the Nineties. This behavior showed a bit of insight…and resolution happening…in that the baby song being hummed was about the very real hardships of being a baby. Therefore, an actual truth about their own lives was being faced there by those singing along with it. The song was not being used to deny or defend against those traumas.

One might suspect that as well in carrying around such blatant examples of regression as a pacifier. For someone in a more defended mode would be highly threatened by such an obvious symbol that they are really needy children inside. More defended folks would be terrified such overt behavior would make them look wussy or sissified—that is, look like that vulnerable, frightened baby that they clip_image009really feel themselves to be but are doing their damnedest to hide from everyone. Imagine how those Navy Seals described above would feel walking around sucking on a pacifier, for example.

So in actually carrying around a pacifier these youth were not only displaying an insight into their feelings of sometimes being needy babies, on the inside, but clip_image007are actually flaunting this awareness, as if to shame, or slap the face of, or be “in the face” of a generation of their parentsthe Fifties Generation for the most partwho did not see their needs when they were babies—however effortfully and obviously they sought to demonstrate them. Thus the symbols needed to become more and more shocking and obvious.

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Look at What You Did to Me!

For example: the jeans with requisite holes around the knees was screaming out, “You did not take care of me; you made me feel like a poor, orphaned, ragamuffin child.”

The piercing of mouths, nose, ears, and even tongues shouted,

clip_image011I am in pain, dammit! Can’t you see that when you stick needles in me as a little baby that I hurt? How can you be so insensitive? Can’t you see that when you refuse to breastfeed and thus nurture me orally that I am forever damaged there, ever painful there? What does it take, my sticking pins—safety pins make the point even more that it was when I was in diapers—in myself to make you see that I hurt there?”

clip_image013And, of course, the black clothes, the hideous macabre makeup, and depressed, sullen expressions was exclaiming,

“Look, you might think we’re a wonderful family and everything is hunky-dory here; but I wish I were dead! I’ve felt so much pain, from in the womb, at birth, and right after birth, that I wish I’d never been born.

“Also, somehow in courting death, I have the feeling that I might somehow be reborn again into a good life, not like this place of torture and tears, right from the beginning, where my welcome into the world consisted of being drugged, handled like an object or piece of meat, blasted by bright lights, scrubbed by rough cloths, having needles and suctions stuck in me, blasted with noise, made to lie on cold stainless steel surfaces, and then bundled like a tamale so that I could not move…making me feel againclip_image015 like I was back in the hellish womb where in the later stages, for a time that felt like an eternity, I felt unable to move and was suffocating for lack of sufficient oxygen…and the only action that was possible was for me to scream my bloody head off for long periods of time or go into a stupor—which is what I did, alternating between them.

“Can’t you see that I’d rather be dead than live in such a world of insensitive zombies like you. Hell, in fact, to clip_image017further drive the point home, I’ll even look and act like a zombie, I’ll try to appear as unfeeling and morose as you all seemed to me, especially at my birth. And I’ll go a step further and mirror yourselves back to you by becoming enamored of vampires….

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“Can’t you see that you sucked my very life force, my blood, and turned me into an unfeeling vampire like you, by suffocating me in the womb, poisoning me with your toxic blood which you both sucked from me and then forced down my throat!”

The Consciousness Revolution They Don’t Want You to Notice. It’s Inconvenient for Them, Initially Hard for Us, and Hopefully Not Too Late

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The “Inconvenient” Revolution – Unacknowledged Consciousness Evolution from the WWII Generation to the Millennials … More Suffering, Less Killing

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Different Levels, Different Defenses

Obama Health Caretheyputyouinajarcoveryouwithgrass.consciousnessrepressedIt is instructive at this time to note that Arthur Janov once compared the defenses that characterized the youth of the time—the late Sixties, early Seventies—with those of their parents and older people in general and came up with findings that amplify my own assertions here.

“Mind’s Made Up, Don’t Confuse Me With the Facts!”

Specifically, Janov found that older people—clients of his as well as others of whom he was aware—were characteristically more repressed, more split off, clip_image001more prone to dissociation, more defended and, most importantly for our uses here, tended to use defenses of denial and obfuscation against inner information and impulses. Correspondingly, they tended to use drugs that repressed and blotted out reality, such as alcohol and nicotine; and they tended to be sexually repressed. They were also more compulsive. They tended to suppress their tension and hold it in for all their worth.

“How Can You Have Any Pudding if You Don’t Eat Your Meat?”

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Truth was greatly feared, and all attempts were made to fend off incoming information that might threaten the delusional reality set of the conscious mind. This left them open to the characterization: “My mind’s made up! Don’t confuse me with the facts!” which was leveled at them by anti-Vietnam War protesters. In more recent years, it is no wonder they have engaged in a war against education and against Hollywood, as really they are at war with new information. Consequently, Janov found that the dominant mode of reaction, when threatened, was to act out aggressively against the supposed “oppressor.” Like prenates up against an overpowering womb, they are in constant war with overwhelm.

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“Peace, Out.”

angels-of-zodiac-aquarius-the-water-bearer-elisheva-nesisOn the other hand, he found that his youthful clients—under 30—tended to use defenses of excess, release, and addiction, or to be unusually lacking in defense mechanisms. They were more impulsive. They tended to have weak barriers to incoming information, to be open to negative unconscious content, even at the expense of their self-esteem, and to be tension expressers. They were therefore more likely sexually promiscuous than repressed, and they tended to drugs that opened them to information and unconscious knowledge – such as marijuana and LSD.

Consequently they were less split off from their unconscious truth…though it made them uncomfortable…were less repressed, and, if anything, used defenses of masochism, self-denial, and self-inflicted aggression or depression. Truth was more important to them than emotional comfort. They tended to go out of their way to dig up negative information about themselves, and they accepted the low self-esteem and sense of self-worth that came with that kind of openness to truth.

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Chiron_by_summitstudiosjacobfightangelmodernAAAADCVGyhkAAAAAALrdqQTheir delusional reality set — if it could be called that — entailed taking on the worries and cares of the world as their own, since their openness to their own cares and worries allowed them to empathize with others in obviously AngryElectorateimagessimilar situations. When triggered into their pain, their dominant reaction was to take it inward and to take it out on themselves causing depression. In doing so they showed they would rather hurt themselves than hurt another.

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Generation Gaps … Again

BTHTFYPart2Image5clip_image010I don’t believe you need to be a rocket scientist to see that Janov was discovering an historical — one might say millennial — ”changing of the guard” as regards access to the unconscious, openness to personal truth, and lessening of the tendency to act out early trauma in icarus-copy1legiondefygod300full (2)violent or belligerent ways. The older generation had more tendencies to blame others, to find scapegoats for their ills, and to act out violently on them. The younger generation had more tendencies to look inward and to blame and punish themselves … and to prefer to hurt themselves before hurting another. They would more likely cut themselves than cut another; they would more likely commit suicide than kill.

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The youthful generation might also become alcoholic, addicted to drugs, or do something else to injure themselves…rather than act it out on another.

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Less Wars, More Suicides

clip_image011FantasyPic8 snakeAnd this “acting in,” as opposed to acting out, is indicated as well in the rise of teen suicides in recent decades. So you might say that the tradeoff we are currently getting is a reduction in the use of wars and racism to solve problems—that is, a reduction in the tendency to act out one’s Pain on others and to scapegoat. But, since the perinatal trauma is still there, and one is even more conscious of it, we have increased suicides. We have not had a world war or dropped a nuclear weapon on people since World War II; but we suffer unceasingly from relatively less loss of life in regional conflicts and the self-inflicted harm of air, water, and food contamination and from radiation poisoning from nuclear power plants. We have not had millions killed in genocides or purges since World War II, but we have suffered lesser loss of life in uprisings for democracy in China, Iran, Syria, Southeast Asia, and the Arab world. We have not had lynchings and racial riots have ceased, but we have suffered less lethal damage from culture and class wars, increased incarceration, creeping fascism, and struggles for economic justice.

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Finding Athena

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MillennialsFavorEnvironmentOpposeRacism

Overall then, less death, more suffering. Less killing in wars, more suicides. Less large scale atrocities, more depression. On a collective level, we are taking our conflicts increasingly inward.

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As deMause pointed out,

Those considered ‘neurotic’ in each age may often be a higher psychogenic mode than those considered ‘normal,’ only they must stand the anxiety of not sharing the group-fantasies of the age. [Footnote 7]

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Away From Hubris: Nature Balances HerSelf

clip_image012In this part on healing crisis, we have seen how perinatal acting out can be of two kinds: totally unconscious and trance-like, or semi-conscious with at least some access. We have looked at how a progression to more access to one’s perinatal underbellies has led to more acting in than acting out. We have seen how it has led to less violence and more depression.

Suffering Beats Dying.

At this point, one could make the point that the tradeoff is worth it: That individuals suffering more emotional pain and trauma is preferable to the horrors of world war and nuclear or genocidal holocaust…put bluntly, suffering beats dying.

clip_image013But we are still looking at the situation from the microcosmic scale. We are talking and acting here like we are the only ones on Earth that matter.

This is natural of course, in that this is always the way we have thought of thingsthat is to say, as if all things were to be considered around the concerns of humans. This is called anthropocentrism—a form of species-centrism—in which Homo sapiens is considered the reason for the existence of the rest of the Universe.

clip_image015With the Universe as awesomely and unimaginably large as it is, one might wonder at our hubris in our considering things in only this way—that is, from our perspective.

Likewise, with a mind-boggling number of species living or having lived on this planet alone—species numbering in the hundreds of millions, if not trillions—again one might question the validity of choosing the perspective of our species alone in making our analyses.

How ‘Bout We Step Outside?

Yet this is the way we have always done it. And this is the way I have been slanting my perspective so far in this book.

clip_image017But now let us do something radically different. Let us walk out of ourselves — figuratively speaking — and seek to stand upon that Archimedean point from which we might view the events currently transpiring.

From such an attempted non-species-centric viewpoint let us view this emerging perinatal unconscious, with its wounded deer and centaurs, as it is currently manifesting in humans. However tenuous our attempt, let us at least try such a new-paradigm viewpoint. For certainly all old-paradigm ones—containing all the hubris of anthropocentrism that they do—have failed in their attempts to save our species and indeed have contributed to such a likelihood.

Let us attempt to see through the eyes of Gaia, nowfrom the viewpoint of Earth itselfas we look at how the current human predicament may in fact be an example of Nature balancing HerSelf. With both perspectives in mind, we can have a complete picture. We will return then to look at where there is cause for hope, what we are doing wrong as well as where there are positive trends and forces at work, and how we might let go of the self-defeating and instead apply ourselves to fostering the forces of good going on in global consciousness and the globe itself.

Continue with Eden Arise and a Message to All Wounded Deer and Centaurs: It’s a Consciousness Revolution, Aided by Gaia We Are Rediscovering Our Natural Self

Return to We Have Manifested a World That Mirrors and Re-Creates Our Traumatic Human Births: Life or Death Matters We Need to Face to Survive

Footnotes

1. “Zombie” by the Cranberries lyrics:

Another head hangs lowly
Time is slowly taken
And the violence causes silence
Who are we mistaken?
Let he see, it’s not me
It’s not my family
In your head, in your head
They are fightin!
With their tanks, and their bombs
And their bombs, and their guns
In your head, in your head
They are cryin!
In your head! In your head!
Zombie! Zombie! Zombie!
Whats in your head, in your head?
Zombie! Zombie! Zombie!
Another mother’s breaking
Heart is taken over.
When the violence causes silence
We must be mistaken.
It’s the same old theme
Since 1916!
In your head, in your head
They’re still fightin!
With their tanks, and their bombs
And their bombs, and their guns
In your head, in your head!
They are dyin!
In your head! In your head!
Zombie! Zombie! Zombie!
What’s in your head, in your head?
Zombie! Zombie! Zombie!

2. Alice Miller, For Your Own Good. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1984; and Lloyd deMause, “Restaging Early Traumas in War and Social Violence.” The Journal of Psychohistory 23 (1995): 344-391. Reprinted, with permission, on Primal Spirit site as “Restaging Prenatal and Birth Traumas in War and Social Violence”

3. Stanislav Grof, “Planetary Survival and Consciousness Evolution: Psychological Roots of Human Violence and Greed.” Primal Renaissance: The Journal of Primal Psychology 2(1): 3-26, p. 23. (Article reprinted, with permission, on this Primal Spirit website).

4. See “It’s the Attack on Privacy, Stupid! What Republicans and Pundits Don’t Get About Clinton’s Support,” on the Primal Spirit site, for more on the angry electorate and how it played out in the 1996 election.

5. Lloyd deMause, The Foundations of Psychohistory. New York: Creative Roots, 1982, p. 139. See also “Are Some ‘Sick’ People More Healthy Than Normals?”

6. See also “Are Some ‘Sick’ People More Healthy Than Normals?” on the Primal Spirit site.

7. Lloyd deMause, The Foundations of Psychohistory. New York: Creative Roots, 1982, p. 143.

Continue with Eden Arise and a Message to All Wounded Deer and Centaurs: It’s a Consciousness Revolution, Aided by Gaia We Are Rediscovering Our Natural Self

Return to We Have Manifested a World That Mirrors and Re-Creates Our Traumatic Human Births: Life or Death Matters We Need to Face to Survive

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“Don’t Despair. There Are Others Doing It With You, and We’re Here, Too”: Ritual As Shadow Experience, Part Eight — Always Are We Helping You

Sins of the Father and Cosmic Encouragement: What Real and Unritualized Spiritual Experience Looks Like — “But Always Are We Here Helping.”

I wish now to provide another example of real, unritualized spiritual experience … this time from my own life. What these experiences—that of my wife and myself—have in common are these things: (1) they were spontaneous occurrences … in no way planned, anticipated, or orchestrated by self or other; (2) they were growthful … they led to greater awareness, positive change, and in my case I can say for certainty, life transformation; (3) they came about in ways that had a supernatural quality about them, that is, transcending what is thought to be laws of nature or physics, and (4) they were experienced as a gift … a “blessing” — that is, the recipients did not feel they earned or deserved them.
So, the first quality of these experiences corresponds to my referring to them as unritualized; the next three, together, to why I put them in the category of spiritual.

Keeping those characteristics in mind, let us look at what I experienced one night in 1980, which I would remember ever afterward as perhaps the most unusual experience of my life but certainly the most transformative. It is not that I was not already looking in the direction this experience opened to me; it is not that I did not already have the beliefs or values it embodied; it is not that I was completely unaware of the kinds of things about us and our history that it clarified. No, I was fully prepared to receive what I got; spiritual experiences don’t make you something other than what you are … they facilitate you in becoming more of what you are already. So it is that I was confirmed in a path, I was given a profound direction for a lifetime, I was given … shown actually … knowledge about our history and our situation that was beyond anything anyone could know through normal channels of scholarship and research. And I was given reassurance and a promise of support and assistance in my life’s path.

So you might say it was more like an initiation. But unlike normal societal initiations that indoctrinate one into the roles of society and culture, this one initiated me on a singular spiritual path. So it is more like what a Native American might get on a vision quest. The other thing that comes to mind is the word confirmation. Brought up Catholic I once received a sacrament of confirmation. It involved a ritual that I can barely remember anything about. One becomes “confirmed” in the faith. Well this experience was not ritualized yet it definitely confirmed me on a path and with a set of beliefs and way of thinking about things that has stayed with me throughout the thirty-two years since it happened. Also, it is something I can remember in detail, as though it happened days ago … quite unlike the ritual “confirmation” I received at the age of … it was such a nonevent I can’t even remember my age at the time … about 13 or 14.

So let me share my story of my spontaneous, unritualized spiritual experience. First I wish to give you its context. 

A Cosmic Slap on the Back

In the course of my own struggling to change, in primal therapy, I was at a particular place in 1980 where I was very much in despair at the immensity of the task of changing the programming that was dragging me down, that was keeping me from being the full human being — happy, fulfilled, fearless, and doing what I was meant to do in life — that I could see lying there in potential and that I could only sometimes be. It was therefore an encouragement to me when I had the experience that follows — like receiving a cosmic slap on the back, a gift from the Universe, and it helped me through that time. But I am convinced this experience has relevance also for all who are working hard at growing beyond their limited selves. I feel it might especially be of use to someone in a similarly hopeless-seeming place.

For these reasons I wish to share this experience. You can do with it whatever you like.

Before relating what happened, I want to say that although some might be tempted to call this experience a fantasy or a dream, it certainly did not feel that way to me at the time. I cannot doubt that an unusual thing happened to me, which was unlike anything else that I’d experienced prior to it or since. It was related to certain experiences I was having in my primaling but was very different from “having feelings.” I was not under the influence of any drugs, nor had I been previous to the incident. I had one beer that night.

One other note: I will leave the determination of who the “she” and the “we” were in the experience to the interpretation of the reader. I certainly don’t know for sure who she and they were, though I have my ideas — all of them highly positive. Also, the following, except for some minor editing, is exactly the way I wrote it the morning following the experience.

Journal Entry of June 28, 1980:

I was lying in bed last night with Maddie. Couldn’t sleep, air conditioner too loud. Suddenly I was aware of all this energy coursing through my body. Was really scaring me. My body zinging, intense ringing (buzzing?) in my ears, rushes flowing through me. Was scared I was going crazy, would hurt Maddie, would become possessed or something, etc. Tried focusing on my third eye so as to control it like I did in Portland.

That may have helped some, but I could sense, and was scared of, other “presences” in the room. I thought I heard a woman’s voice behind me over my left shoulder and that scared me. Without realizing the transition, I found myself projected into this panorama of history and a woman’s voice was narrating.

She described how once there had lived “noble” beings. I could see vast and colorful panoramas of peoples exuding “nobility” and “integrity” (for want of better words to describe what they were like). They walked and paraded before me and were all around me.

Then the woman explained that the peoples degenerated and, as if in demonstration, I began seeing battles and wars played out before my eyes. I was in the midst of them!

However, I was still aware that I was in my body lying on my bed, because I could feel myself against it. Even so I was afraid that I would begin taking on the bodies of participants in the battles and would feel pain like they were obviously feeling. This feeling was especially strong when I was in the midst of the convergence of two groups of warring parties (their garb reminded me of Israelites or people of Biblical times or something). The group I was facing were going at each other with hatchets and I was afraid of becoming a participant and possibly feeling an ax chunking into my neck or skull. But although it was happening all around me, nobody in the crowd noticed me; it was as if I wasn’t there. In fact at one point I believe they actually may have passed through me!

This scene passed, along with other dramas, and it was explained to me that now it was time for a regeneration of peoples on this “plane[?]” to regain their former “nobility[?],” “integrity[?]” (again for lack of better words).

Still feeling that I was conscious, i.e., knowing that it was all happening to me while I was really lying in bed; I let myself walk through many landscapes and terrains, which I felt I could easily have lived in at one time and which I felt had all existed at some time or place or did now exist somewhere in the world or Universe. I walked through small shack towns. I remember a small group of bedraggled people huddled together in one. There were many kinds of pastoral settings also: some beautiful with rolling, lush hills, and some not as beautiful — rocky terrain, etc. All seemed to be viable habitats for different people. I had the thought that these may have been places/lives that I had lived in at one time.

Certain places brought up bad feelings in me, foreboding, scared feelings. In fact it can be said that the whole time it was happening I was scared about the experience. I feared meeting some dangerous and evil entity or being stuck in an undesirable place. When I was in one particular environ/habitat that wasn’t very pleasant, I remembered something that Seth had said about consciously altering and changing his environment. In line with that I decided to stop believing in the one that I was in and see what happened.

What happened was that environment went away and then there was a blank grayness as I waited for a new scene to appear. I continued to be aware that I was in a trancelike state and that I had a body lying in bed. I would at times vaguely return to the feeling in my body and would feel myself on my back, hands and arms outstretched, mattress against my back, in a very deep state of relaxation and suspended animation which had a feeling of heaviness or deadness about it. My body didn’t need to move and it was perfectly comfortable.

I could hear the air conditioner running, also, and even Maddie’s breathing next to me. Several times, I don’t remember exactly when, Maddie had reached over and put her arm around me, both times only for an instant, before she rolled back away from me. Neither of the times did it disturb the deep state that I was in or cause me to rise at all out of it. I simply felt warm and good towards her at the affection she was showing me. I even had the thought that, considering the fact that she only did it for a moment before turning away, that somehow she knew what was going on, in some deeper, nonconscious part of herself, and was reassuring or encouraging me.

Anyway, I was securely very deep and felt that I wasn’t going to be suddenly disturbed from it unless, perhaps, I let it. But I really didn’t want to do that. I was rather scared and apprehensive most of the time, as mentioned, but, more importantly, it was all so damned interesting!

There is no doubt that I was thoroughly enjoying the color, the panorama, the expanse and freedom of consciousness, the fact that I was experiencing something important and that I had never experienced before, so that I dearly wanted to stay there despite the fear.

Sometime after the gray place, I believe it was, I was aware of some kind of light far off in the distance that I could travel to if I liked. At around that time I could hear Maddie saying to somebody (about my body in bed): “Is he moving at all? Is he breathing? Do you think he’s dead?” and so on. I remember thinking to myself how silly that sounded and that “No, I’m not dead, I’m just in this deep trance and everything.” But then suddenly I began to wonder if maybe I was dead! It had all been so strange that maybe I had actually died in my sleep!

At that point I recalled the accounts I’d heard and read about of people dying and not knowing they were dead, how they would often hang around and watch other people’s reaction to their death (and this could go on for days). I remembered how Steve had once told me something to the extent that if that should happen that one shouldn’t get carried away and fascinated by the after-death state but that one should “get down on one’s knees” (figuratively speaking) and search out the source and the presence of God. Thinking that was perhaps when I actually looked around and saw the light.

At any rate, I found myself wondering if I wanted to be dead. This place was certainly an interesting one, even with the apprehensions. And it sure seemed to be a change (so far, anyway) from the constant struggling to survive and grow. But I also felt that there were just so many loose ends left unresolved in my life. There were so many areas that I’d made good progress in but had not yet taken to completion. My love for Maddie (next to me), which was only just beginning, came to my mind as an example.

And so I decided to find out if I was dead or not, both to know if I should go heading for the light (if I was) or to reassure Maddie (if I wasn’t). I determined to get into my body and, with an effort and strain, I forced myself up from the depths, forcing my body to move and sit up. I was mildly surprised to find that I was able to do this, bringing myself into physicality and into a half-sitting position. In this position I looked over to see Maddie sleeping next to me, I could hear the air conditioner whining, and so forth. I realized then that she hadn’t “physically” been sitting over me, talking about me, but I also felt that some part of her must have. (We used to have this thing when we slept together that often we would feel like we had been communicating with each other on some kind of subconscious level the whole night long. We wouldn’t ever remember all that we had said but we would often both remark about it the next morning).

Realizing that I wasn’t dead, I lay back down and let myself drift back into the deepness. All I remember, after this point, is talking to Maddie, probably about what had happened to me, explaining it to her, though I’m not sure that was all of it. Also I remember at least one other time, maybe two, forcing myself to waking consciousness to see if Maddie was awake (as if in an experiment), because it really seemed that we were actually, physically awake and talking to each other. I thought we were lying in bed physically talking. It was hard to believe it when I forced myself awake only to find her lying beside me asleep.

After that there were some actual dreams, quite different from what had been going on earlier. I fell into sleeping and dreamed of being in my Grandmother’s home. I remember reading a book, sitting in a chair in her kitchen. There were other people there also; they were sitting in the same kind of straight-backed, none-too-comfortable wooden chairs.


I remember that early on, when I was doing all the traveling and stuff, that I didn’t know how I’d possibly remember all the experiences that happened to me and all the things that I saw and learned. It seemed like a lot of time was crammed into that short period. I remembered hoping just that I would retain as much of it as I could, especially hoping that I wouldn’t just blot it all out as it felt important.

Don’t Despair, There Are Others Doing It With You, and We’re Here, Too

I feel like the meaning of the part about the regeneration of the peoples on this plane was an answer to my despair at working on getting through my feelings. It’s like it was saying: “Sure it’s hard! What you’re talking about is the reversal of hundreds of generations of degenerate and violent habit, custom, and activity. But we’re talking about changing that also, and you’re not the only one working at it. There are many others in your time period struggling to do it just like you.”

And the feeling that left me with was/is “So don’t despair. There are others like you doing it, and we’re (out here) helping you too.”

Sins of The Father

Now, having conveyed what I wrote the morning after the experience, I wish to add that regardless of how you may wish to label the preceding experience, it remains one whose message has stayed with me through all the intervening years thirty-two of them in fact. It is a message that has rung true and helped me through other difficult spaces. Indeed, I still reflect on it and can’t help believing there is a lot to it. Consider:  Generation after generation of Western culture has engaged with little awareness of the consequences in passing down their personal pain and trauma, in some form or other, onto their offspring.  And they in turn dump it on theirs.  We know that child abusers were themselves abused as children; but this is just a very blatant example of how the pattern operates.  On and on and back through into hazy unrecorded history this situation has existed; this vicious cycle has perpetuated itself.

But many of us in these extraordinary times, and goaded on by the specter of global catastrophe, for one thing are saying:  “Let it end with me!”; “Let us not continue this madness any further!”  Attempting to break the cycle of “kill and be killed,” of hurting and then inflicting hurt, attempting to halt the prevailing insanity, we make the Gandhian effort to take the energy into ourselves, to change ourselves lest we, also, be like the generation before — forever passing on the insane legacy.

So why should we think this would be easy?!  We are trying to bring to an end, in our single lifetimes, the accumulated results of untold generations of our ancestors dumping their pain and insanity onto their descendants.

But Always Are We Here Helping

So of course it’s hard!  And for me to realize this fact allows me to accept it.  That is, it allows me to accept this task and to take up my place in the ranks of those arrayed in the purpose of undoing the craziness rather than to turn away in despair at the immensity of the task or to quaver in paralysis before it.

This experience has also provided me with a wonderful outlook on the people around me.  I look around to the many people who are working spiritually to change themselves and this crazy world — who are serving, mending, and healing others and themselves.  In doing so I have this sense of brother/sisterhood — that we are all engaged in an immense undertaking . . . that we are synergizing our energies in an endeavor which is not merely crucial, it is imperative . . . not just for our personal growth, for our personal satisfaction or well-being — although that’s not to be discounted — it is necessary for the very survival of this planet.

I feel that if this task had been easier it would have been done long ago by well-intentioned ancestors.  Indeed, it may only be because the survival of this planet is now at stake that substantial numbers of us have at this point, finally, accepted the challenge.

Many of us are aware of the seeming intractability of the situation we face — both personally and globally.  But what I feel now is not so much the despair at the difficulty of the task but rather, because of what I was taught through this experience, I feel a sense of belongingness, cosmic belongingness, if you will . . . a sense that I’m not alone.  I feel that many others are working at this same thing in this day and age.  Our combined energies — along with the energies of the Universe that are working with us — together constitute an incredible force.  Confronted with the enterprise we have before us, this force may just be sufficient to do on this planet what has never been done before here (as far as we know).

So to all who occasionally despair, I can only repeat, “Sure it’s hard, but always are we here helping you.”

Continue with Vision Quests, UFO Abductions, Brainwashings, and Boot Camps: Ritual As Shadow, Part Nine — Initiation, Authentic and Inauthentic

Return to “You Shall Know the Truth and the Truth Shall Make You Free” … What Real and Unritualized Spiritual Experience Looks Like

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Love’s Comforting Surround and the Beauty of It All Behind the Pain: Ritual As Shadow Experience, Part Six, and What Real Spiritual Experience Looks Like

“God Is So Merciful” … Let Go, Let God: An Example of Unritualized Primal Spirituality, A Primal Re-Experience after Birth

Part Two of a Primal Re-Experience after Birth: God’s Omnipresent Comforting Surround

In the first part—“Excerpt from Actual Primal Re-Experience after Birth“—the experiencer in this actual primal therapy session reconnected to and released primal pain related to her having her umbilical cord cut too early and then being swaddled tightly making her feel suffocated and unable to move. She felt this had contributed to lifelong feelings of being held back and unable to assert herself.

In this second part—another excerpt from the same much longer session, which takes up only moments after the first part ends—Mary Lynn Adzema, the experiencer, begins to feel a glowing light of protection enveloping her, which she senses as being, perhaps, a “guardian angel” then simply God, or God’s Love. She experiences the spiritual idea that God gives you only that much pain that you can bear, but no more, which is accompanied by tears of gratitude.

Primal Spirituality

The facilitator is Michael Adzema, the experiencer’s husband and the author of these words. I have forty years experience in deep experiential modalities, including primal therapy, holotropic breathwork, and rebirthing; and I have been trained in these three modalities. I have been facilitating others in these—especially primal therapy—since 1975. I wrote “A Primal Perspective on Spirituality” in 1979, which was published by the Journal of Humanistic Psychology in 1985. This article was the first to proclaim the occurrence of spiritual experiences occurring to long-term primallers, which take them further along in healing beyond what Arthur Janov contended could occur by just feeling through one’s primal pain.

The article presented a theory of primal pain, healing, and spirituality congruent with Janov’s theories but totally at odds with Janov’s early on proclamation and then continued insistence, based solely on speculation, that all spiritual experiences were derivative of underlying primal pain. That is a notion I believe has at this point been thoroughly disproved by my work, by the experiences of some other long-term primallers, and by the experiences common to Stanislav Grof‘s holotropic breathwork — a modality in which primal pain is accessed as well as a diverse array of transpersonal experiences and phenomena. In addition, they are confirmed by prenatal/perinatal researchers as I have explained elsewhere.

I have no doubt on this matter, personally, since I have had many primal-spiritual experiences through primalling and breathwork over the decades, some of which I was able to corroborate through outside sources. I began having these only after I had been doing deep experiential primal work for several years that did not involve transpersonal/ spiritual experiences. So I feel my primal work opened me up to being able to go beyond the strict designs of primal therapy in a way that would otherwise not have been possible if I had not gone through it.

At any rate, my wife’s primal experiences contain spiritual elements, though they were not sought and, like myself, they did not occur in the early years of her primal experiences. As her facilitator in primal therapy in the most recent years, I did not encourage them either … I simply did not discourage them or encourage her to reinterpret her experience in any other way than of her choosing, as was done in the early years of primal therapy and for those who undergo Janovian-style primal therapy.

In this video—the next part of her primal session—other aspects of her primal-spiritual experience unfold.

Part Three of a Primal Re-Experience After Birth: “Let Go, Let God”

The experiencer, Mary Lynn Adzema, had earlier (video 1) re-experienced the pain of being forcibly removed from the womb before she was ready—she was caesarean born. And she had felt a sudden assault of sensation upon removal from the protection of the womb without any transition time, which caused her to fear sensation and even wanting to feel or be in her body much throughout her life. She had re-experienced the cutting of the umbilical cord, which occurred too soon, and which made her feel, directly upon coming into the world, that the doctor was actually trying to kill her.

Incidentally, from sessions previous to this one, the experiencer had learned that this cesarean removal by surgical knife, the assault of sensations following it, and then the cutting of the umbilical cord too soon had caused her a lifetime of complications. She had made the connection that these events were the roots of a considerable amount of fear she had lived with.

She knows that these were the causes of a frequent recurrent dream of a life-and-death struggle with a man who would try to get into her house, who had a knife, and who she thought was trying to kill her. These dreams were so powerful, and I can attest to this, that she would have violent movements, would shout out loudly in a ferocious voice to “get away” “get out of here,” and so on, and she would clench her fists and pound them into the air. She would do all this while sleeping and without any remembrance afterward. These dreams stopped after she began re-experiencing the events in sessions such as the one shown.

The second video continues with her relating more about the assault of sensations but also depicts how after her cesarean birth she experienced being swaddled tightly making her feel suffocated, which she related to a lifelong feeling of being “held back.” But she also has experiences of being comforted by a light that envelops her and which she equates with God. She has realizations of the omnipresence of God throughout life’s trials.

The events here in part three follow directly after those of part two. In this video, the experiencer relates her exhausting struggle to keep fear at bay her whole life and how in the therapy she learned that she could let go, that she did not have to struggle, that instead she felt comforted instead of being overwhelmed with fear (Let Go, Let God).

She makes the statement that “God is so merciful.” At the same time she is having feelings of love and gratitude for the blessings of the experience she has undergone, for what she has learned, for the help of the facilitator in coming through this harrowing experience, and for being able to end with such insight and glorious feelings of the beauty of it all behind the pain.

Continue with “You Shall Know the Truth and the Truth Shall Make You Free” … What Real and Unritualized Spiritual Experience Looks Like

Return to Ritual As Shadow Experience, Part Five: What Real and Unritualized Spiritual Experience Looks Like — An Example of Primal Spirituality

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Ritual As Shadow Experience, Part Five: What Real and Unritualized Spiritual Experience Looks Like — An Example of Primal Spirituality

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An Example of Primal Spirituality, The Moments After Birth: Ritual As Shadow Experience, Part Five: So, What Is Real Unritualized Spiritual Experience?

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When people go through weddings and other kinds of rituals it’s like they are trying to fool their psyche into thinking they are dealing with their real experience and their underlying transformative needs, but they in actuality are not . . . because in fact ritual is nothing more than elaborate act-out…. And acting out of a feeling and not feeling the feeling is substituting a ritual for real experience.

Why societies have these reenactments is for the person to bring forward and bring to bear those memories of an important and traumatic time and associate it with coming more into alignment with society and its needs … that is, as if to die a little more to one’s real self and to create or birth a fake self in line with and to the liking of one’s culture. The most obvious example of that is the way men and women are turned into killers and pawns of society through the elaborate rituals of becoming soldiers, as in boot camp. This is exactly the opposite of real inner transformation which happens, in a non-ritual-like manner, and in which one “dies” to some elaborate act outs in society and culture—as they say, the giving up of “desires” or the relinquishing of false hopes and cherished dreams—and is reborn into one’s real self, rediscovering one’s real potentials and connection with Nature and the Divine.

From—Ritual As Shadow, Part Four: Ritual Is Hardly Transformation … In Actuality, We “Die” to Our Real Self and Are Remade Into Something Society Can Use

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So, if ritual is a substitute for real spiritual experience, what does real spiritual experience look like? What follows is an example of a spontaneous, unritualized spiritual experience. But first let me put it in its context.

An Example of Primal Spirituality — Unritualized Spiritual Experience

These videos provide a rare peek into a phenomenon which for forty years has been overflowing with misunderstanding, misinformation, and a cloud of mystery — much of which could have been dispelled by videos such as the ones being offered for the first time here. These looks into primal experience have been verboten because the people involved have been well aware that most of the time they will be misperceived or misinterpreted. So it is no small thing that my wife, Mary Lynn, and I, the facilitator and the experiencer in these videos respectively, make these videos of very personal and private experience available to anyone in the world to watch.

We accept the misunderstanding and even ridicule that will come from some uninformed and deluded quarters for the greater good of providing for those who have eyes to see some understandings that the world can no longer afford not to know.

Don’t Try This at Home?

Something like this usually is preceded by “Don’t try this at home.” I don’t think that could apply here in any way that I can foresee. For the videos depict the experiences of a person who is not influenced by any drugs but simply through prior primal sessions has become more open to letting her body/spirit/soul heal itself … in allegiance to her “inner authority” and with commitment to the truth, and in Mary Lynn’s case, with faith in God. Also, I as the facilitator have forty years experience in this modality, and its nearest cousins, and what I do and say comes out of that accumulated experience: What I say is, every word, though it might not seem so, precise, intentional, and done in full consciousness of its possible effects on the experiencer.

This is exactly not to say that the words are directional or meant to bias or guide; but rather that I am highly trained in saying that which might open up, that which might support, that which might lead the person to discover their real inner self (which is not known to me). Indeed, I am trained in helping people to go into areas inside themselves where they will discover things that neither of us know in advance. The biggest part of this sort of training is about how to keep one’s ego completely out of the person’s’ inner journey, while at the same time being able to surf along empathetically with their experience. Therefore, based on my year’s of experience, I might at times have suggestions as to where an experiencer might want to look, what she might want to try, and so on, because of a developed intuitive sense. But the idea is to do this while being completely nonattached to any particular outcome … or even that there be an outcome … and never presuming to know what will work or not, in advance. Most of all, the facilitator learns to stay completely out of the process when the experiencer’s Inner Guide is fully in charge, and then just to be supportive and accepting of wherever that might lead the experiencer to go.

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So, “don’t try this at home”? Ok, read the above. Now you can see why there is hardly any danger of that.

Part One: Video of Actual Primal Re-Experience of the Moments after Birth

The experiencer, Mary Lynn Adzema, who was born caesarean and thus before she was ready, re-experiences the pain of the umbilical cord being cut too early and of being swaddled tightly so that she cannot move. She connects this to feelings of being held back throughout her life. This is only the first part from a much longer session; there are four more videos coming.

It was a spontaneously occurring experience. What is not caught is only how this primal was triggered and the very beginning of it, which was much like what is seen at the start of the video. How this event was triggered is brought out and explained shortly, together with the videos of the events that followed the ones seen here.

The events in this video many will see as being painful, perhaps strange, gruesome, excruciating, torturous, or worse. Over the years many extreme adjectives have been used to describe what primal experiences look like to an outsider who has never experienced a primal; including the very bizarre—for example, demonic, possession, Satanic. That is one of the reasons that only now, after nearly forty years, as far as I know this is the first time that a video is being published to the public at large—leaving it open to the projections of the extreme crazies in our world, who, full of their own Pain, are prone to seeing their own craziness in such an event as this and to attack upon what is different and scary to them.

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Yet, it is new and strange; and Westerners who are largely cut off from deep experiences compared to virtually all of the cultures of the world that ever existed, might be tempted to view this negatively, to miss the healing that is occurring; in general to be turned off and to turn away; perhaps scared; perhaps thinking that the experiencer is being tortured.

To those, and to those of those who are capable of hearing and learning something outside of their normal experience, grant me your trust—which I will prove to you is warranted very soon—that these negative feelings and/or perceptions of yours are easily, and will soon be, thoroughly dispelled. In fact, they will be replaced by a perception and understanding of great wonder, beauty, and Divine Love.

First: Trust me that the experiencer is undergoing no real “pain” as it is normally thought of. She is “in” her experience and is releasing Pain from a long time ago. And though that release might look painful, gruesome, or torturous, the experiencer is feeling great relief at releasing it from her system. The experiencer—and I have had thousands of these experiences myself over the course of 40 years—is actually feeling more alive than normal, very happy—on a level within—that true answers to life long questions are finally coming forth, and while expressing the Pain in a way that might seem very dramatic, the experiencer is actually not reliving the Pain of that earlier time in the exact painful way that it occurred and which was traumatic.

I like to say it this way: The experiencer is getting to experience the Pain for the first time because when it originally occurred, it was too overwhelming to be handled and was suffered through, not experienced or felt. If it had been felt and processed at the time, it would not have lingered on to affect the person from that time forward. No, what I like to tell clients is that “You couldn’t feel it back then, you were only a child (a baby, were prevented from feeling it by someone else, or whatever it was), but now you, as an adult can resolve it the way you wished you could have then.” And it is quite a relief to be able to fight back, to get angry, to cry, and so on—all the things adults do to cope—for the first time about an experience, never resolved, that has been sticking in one’s craw so long it is often forgotten. But when one remembers one remembers it has always been there in the background. It is quite a relief to—metaphorically speaking—get to scratch an itch that was layered so deep it just made one uncomfortable throughout one’s life without any recourse.

So, though this may look torturous, trust me that these are great discoveries for the experiencer and the chance to do something about them, though it might seem gruesome, is the release of a lifetime of wanting to do something about a thing that has until the moment you observe been unable to be reachable and only caused one misery.

Finally, if you get through this first video based on what I have told you. Go to the next ones, and you will see that I have not really adequately put in words how actually wonderful and beneficial these experiences are from the experiencer’s point of view.

Those few who are familiar with these types of deep experiences, please excuse the above explanations. Realize that the vast majority of Westerners do not live lives like we do, experience the things we do, and are for the most part very alienated from deep experiences—something that is not their fault—and so they need education, explanation, and understanding of where these events come from.

OK, enough on that. As I was starting to say at the outset, as for the four videos after this one of the events that come later, these experiences are part of process. In fact, in the very next video, part two, the experiencer reports spiritual experiences of a comforting nature occurring. I don’t want to say any more, because I don’t want to spoil it. Prepare to have your prejudices challenged and to come back a little changed (for the better) for watching what evolved in the course of this session.

Finally, lest this part not have been made clear, I, Michael Adzema, aka sillymickel, am the disembodied voice in the video. That means I am the facilitator.

First video: Mary Lynn’s attempt to look inside to answer a question as to why she lied about something, especially when it was completely inconsequential, leads to a spontaneous “regression” to a time right after she had been removed by c-section from her mother’s womb. You see her here only a few minutes after that question elicited a response from her that she thought it had to do with the fear of the obstetrician after being born. In a previous session, she had realized that she thought the doctor was going to murder her, after she came out of the womb. Meanwhile, in the present, noticing in her behavior the signs of something about to happen, I, her therapist and husband, encouraged her to lie down. No sooner did she do that than she went into the kind of emotional release … I did not say another word; she needed and received no prompting … much like you observe at the outset of the video, which is about two or three minutes after her lying down.

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Needless to say neither this experience nor the recording of it were planned, let alone scripted. It is only by chance that a camera happened to be nearby when it happened. We had been recording Mary Lynn’s regularly scheduled sessions, with the idea they might be helpful in educational or training endeavors in the future, and so this struck me to record as part of adding to that record.

Continue with Love’s Comforting Surround and the Beauty of It All Behind the Pain: Ritual As Shadow Experience, Part Six, and What Real Spiritual Experience Looks Like

Return to Ritual As Shadow, Part Four: Ritual Is Hardly Transformation … In Actuality, We “Die” to Our Real Self and Are Remade Into Something Society Can Use

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