Apocalypse No! Chapter Five:
Birth Wars, World Woes
Our Global Crises Are Manifesting Our Unfaced Painful Experiences: Birth Wars ~ World Woes
Perinatal and Global Situation Mirroring Each Other
We Interrupt This Book for a Breaking News Bulletin: “Hellacious Birth Traumas Making Headlines Worldwide!” Film at Eleven.
The connections between the physical conditions and symbols discussed in previous chapters and the perinatal unconscious should be obvious and may have already to some extent been spelled out. But let me finish connecting the dots, so to speak:
As Stanislav Grof put it,
[W]e have exteriorized in the modern world many of the essential themes of the perinatal processes that a person involved in deep personal transformation has to face and come to terms with internally. The same elements that we would encounter in the process of psychological death and rebirth in our visionary experiences make today our evening news. This is particularly true in regard to the phenomena that characterize what I call BPM III.
We certainly see the enormous unleashing of the aggressive impulse in the many wars and revolutionary upheavals in the world, in the rising criminality, terrorism, and racial riots. Sexual experiences and behaviors are taking unprecedented forms, as manifested in sexual freedom of youngsters, promiscuity, open marriages, overtly sexual books, plays, and movies, gay liberation, sadomasochistic experimentation, and many others. The demonic element is also becoming increasingly manifest in the modern world.
A renaissance of satanic cults and witchcraft, the popularity of books and horror movies with occult themes, and crimes with satanic motivations attest to that fact. The scatological dimension is evident in the progressive industrial pollution, accumulation of waste products on a global scale, and rapidly deteriorating hygienic conditions in large cities [Footnote 1]
No-exit Car Jams and People Clusters
In addition to the myriad of ways that Grof has detailed…and there are many more he could have mentioned…I would like to add a few obvious commonplace examples.
Another one: the population explosion. Simple overpopulation of the globe sets up scenarios exactly analogous to the negative conditions that existed toward the end of pregnancy when we grew/expanded too much to be any longer comfortable in the womb. The way this global overpopulation impacts us: the overpopulation and frenzy in a big city, manifesting the situation of a crushing womb.
Global “Therapeutic” Carbon-Dioxide Chamber
However, there is an interesting sidelight to this. For both Arthur Janov and Stanislav Grof, at one time early on, experimented with a technique of carbon dioxide ingestion for getting people into primal and perinatal states. In fact, at the time—in the late Sixties, early Seventies—though not on a large scale, a number of professionals were experimenting with this procedure and even offering it as a means of “expanding consciousness.”
The point is that increased carbon dioxide and decreased oxygen naturally stimulate perinatal feelings. Lucky us, as we continue to turn the entire atmosphere of the Earth into such a “therapeutic” carbon-dioxide chamber.
After all this, if you still do not believe that a perinatal unconscious is emerging at this time in history, I ask you how else to explain how the simple act of being “cut off” in traffic can trigger so much perinatal “no exit” frustration as to enrage an “otherwise normal” person to pull out a gun and blow another’s life away. Incidentally, I myself had a shotgun pulled on me in such a situation and only escaped through a high-speed car chase.
Birth Wars ~ World Woes
The upshot of it all is that somehow or other we have managed to create a world situation that mirrors in a way unlike any other time in history our perinatal imprints and thus triggers the emergence of this perinatal unconscious.
Or, you might reverse that and say that an emerging perinatal unconscious—brought about by other factors, improved “child-caring” methods perhaps…more about that later—has resulted in our creating a world situation manifesting or acting out those unconscious perinatal elements, which are having increasing influence on our consciousness and on our behavior.
I suspect both of these processes are occurring—each one augmenting the other.
Noticing Our Underbellies … What It Is That’s Happening Here
Noticing Our Underbellies
Let me make this latter scenario clearer. What I am saying is that we all have birth trauma and we must distance ourselves from this birth trauma so that we can function. If the birth trauma is extreme, or if subsequent child-caring is abusive and neglectful [Footnote 2]—as is the case in any of the “less enlightened” of deMause’s psychogenic modes of child-rearing [Footnote 3]—or both, then complete splitting, repression of the perinatal, and dissociation from the perinatal occurs. Thus a person can project his or her perinatal unconscious onto the world and be completely unaware that it has anything to do with him- or herself.
Can You Look Your Belly in the Face?
However, with more humane child-caring modes—deMause’s latest psychogenic mode, for example [Footnote 3]—less repression, and less defenses, are necessary and total dissociation does not occur. In this situation, the perinatal is not completely projected onto the outside world. We have more access to it, hence we act it out and manifest it in lesser ways, which reflect back to us, for the times when we are able to see them, our perinatal underbellies.
On the one hand, the world is becoming increasingly perinatal and thus is stimulating more of the perinatal unconscious than previously. On the other hand, we have more access to and are closer to our perinatal unconscious so that we exhibit it more blatantly in our behavior and cultural creations and thus stimulate, again, in ourselves and others, the underlying perinatal matrices.
This is a chicken-and-the-egg process. And I suspect, in the same way, that these processes are going on simultaneously and hence augment each other.
Life or Death Matters
In Chapter Six, “Strange Days,” we entertained the notion that the reason things seem so much different nowadays than anytime we can imagine from the past is because they are different. We have looked at how the character and events of our age are remarkably like the feelings and events surrounding our births and, unfortunately: traumatic births, traumatic times! Lastly, we have considered a few reasons…more coming…as to why these times might be uniquely imbued with our perinatal events.
Still, the biggest questions lie begging: What does this all mean for us? Is it the “end of the world,” really, like some are claiming? Or are we seeing the “dawning of a new age”? (Now why is it that I cannot restrain the strains of the group The Fifth Dimension, in full orchestration no less, intoning in my mind the song “The Age of Aquarius” as I write this!?)
What Can You Me Do?
Will we live? Will we survive? Or are we doomed? Kinda important to think about, don’t you agree?
And if it is within our power to decide our fate, well, just what the hell are we going to do about it? What can be done about our situation? What can each of us—you…me—do?
What It Is That’s Happening Here
We will begin addressing these questions in “Part Two: What It Is That’s Happening Here,” beginning with the next chapter. There are some processes of change in these times—processes of change unlike any that we normally encounter—that will weigh heavily on the outcome of the current emerging perinatal unconscious. These include not only the concepts and processes of the healing crisis—or as stipulated in the next chapter, “Getting Sick in Order to Be Well“—but also that of macrocosmic processes beyond our human scope, as will be explained in “Chapter Twelve: Through Gaia’s Eyes, Nature Balances HerSelf.”
Apocalypse, Or Earth Rebirth?
Finally, having considered the perinatal nature of our times in Part One, The Perinatal Unconscious (Chapters Seven, Eight, and Nine), and then the corresponding unique processes at work in these times in Part Two, What It Is That Is Happening Here (Chapters Ten, Eleven, and Twelve), we can look at some likely propensities for our future (Chapters Thirteen thru Eighteen). Considering what we know at that time, we will see that there are also some directions in which to look for a solution. We will then be able to look deeper, daring to ask: Apocalypse? Or Earth Rebirth?
But next we need to consider how in order to save ourselves we need to bring to the surface all the rotten ugliness of perinatal trauma that for millennia our species has been keeping inside.
1. 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 Primal Spirit site.
2. See Solter, Aletha, (1996), “Tears For Trauma: Birth Trauma, Crying, and Child Abuse” on Primal Spirit website on how birth trauma sometimes contributes to and/or triggers child abuse.
3. For an at-hand description of DeMause’s psychogenic modes click on “The History of Childhood As The History of Child Abuse” for deMause’s article on Primal Spirit.
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