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The Emotional Life of Nations
by Lloyd deMause
Chapter 4--Restaging Early Traumas in War and Social Violence

"A just war for the true interests of the state advances its development within a few years by tens of years, stimulates all healthy elements and represses insidious poison."
--Adolf Lasson

When Adolf Hitler moved to Vienna in 1907 at the age of eighteen, he reported in Mein Kampf, he haunted the prostitutes' district, fuming at the "Jews and foreigners" who directed the "revolting vice traffic" which "defiled our inexperienced young blond girls" and injected "poison" into the bloodstream of Germany.1

Months before this blood poison delusion was formed, Hitler had the only romantic infatuation of his youth, with a young girl, Stefanie.2 Hitler imagined that Stefanie was in love with him (although in reality she had never met him) and thought he could communicate with her via mental telepathy. He was so afraid of approaching her that he made plans to kidnap her and then murder her and commit suicide in order to join with her in death.

Hitler's childhood had been so abusive-his father regularly beat him "with a hippopotamus whip," once enduring 230 blows of his father's cane and another time nearly killed by his father's whipping3 that he was full of rage toward the world. When he grew up, his sexual feelings were so mixed up with his revenge fantasies that he believed his sperm was poisonous and might enter the woman's bloodstream during sexual intercourse and poison her.4

Hitler's rage against "Jewish blood-poisoners" was, therefore, a projection of his own fears that he might become a blood-poisoner. Faced with the temptation of the more permissive sexuality of Vienna, he wanted to have sex with women, but was afraid his sperm would poison their blood. He then projected his own sexual desires into Jews- "The black-haired Jewboy lies in wait for hours, satanic joy in his face, for the unsuspecting girl"5 and ended up accusing Jews of being "world blood-poisoners" who "introduced foreign blood into our people's body."6

As is usually the case with delusional systems, Hitler's projection of his fears of his own poisonous sexuality into Jews and foreigners helped him avoid a psychotic breakdown and allowed him to function during his later life. He admitted this quite specifically in Mein Kampf, saying that when he "recognized the Jew as the cold-hearted, shameless, and calculating director of this revolting traffic in the scum of the big city, a cold shudder ran down my back . . . the scales dropped from my eyes. A long soul struggle had reached its conclusion."7 From that moment on, Hitler became a professional anti-Semite, ordering Nazi doctors to find out how Jewish blood differed from Aryan blood, having his own blood regularly sucked by leeches to try to get rid of its "poison,"8 giving speeches full of metaphors of blood poisoning and of Jews sucking people's blood out and, eventually, ordering the extermination of all "world blood-poisoners" in the worst genocide and the most destructive war ever experienced by mankind.

The success of Hitler's ability to use anti-Semitism to save his sanity was dependent, of course, upon there being millions of followers who shared his fantasies about poisonous enemies infecting the body of Europe. Much of Europe at that time shared Hitler's experience of a severely abusive childhood,9 and many shared his fantasy that the ills of the modern world were caused by the poisonous nature of Jews.10 When he used metaphors of blood in his speeches, saying the world was a constant warfare of one people against another, where "one creature drinks the blood of another," and that Jews were spiders that "sucked the people's blood out," he was cheered on by millions who shared his fantasies.11

In studying the shared fantasies of nations connected with how it feels to be part of a group at a particular historical moment-what I have termed historical group-fantasies12 I have regularly found images of "poison blood" prior to outbreaks of war and violent revolution. In war, the enemy is imagined to be sucking out the blood of the nation; in revolution, the state is the blood-sucker, as in the fantasy before the French Revolution that the state was an "immense and infernal machine which seizes each citizen by the throat and pumps out his blood."13 Images of poison blood are periodic in history. They are usually found in conjunction with images of guilt for recent prosperity and progress that are felt to "pollute the national blood-stream with sinful excess," making men "soft" and "feminine," a frightful condition that can only be cleansed by a blood-shedding purification.14 This fantasy of periodic shedding of poisoned blood through war is based on the same presumed cleansing effects as the bloodletting therapies physicians prescribed through the nineteenth century to cure many diseases, which also were believed to be caused by "gluttony, luxury and lustful excesses."15 As one military leader put it, war "is one of the great agencies by which human progress is effected. [It] purges a nation of its humors...and chastens it, as sickness or adversity...chastens an individual;" it cures it of its "worship of comfort, wealth, and general softness..."16 When John Adams asked Thomas Jefferson "how to from producing effeminacy, intoxication, extravagance, vice and folly?" Jefferson's answer was: "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots."17 As Sherlock Holmes expressed it in a story set in August 1914, rapid material progress had produced a feeling that "God's curse hung heavy over a degenerate world, for there was an awesome hush and a feeling of vague expectancy in the sultry and stagnant air...[but] a cleaner, better, stronger land will lie in the sunshine when the storm has cleared....A bloody purging would be good for the country."18

Wars have often been thought of as purifying the nation's polluted blood by virtue of a sacrificial rite identical to the rites of human sacrifice so common in early historical periods. The blood of those sacrificed is believed to renew the nation. War, said those preparing for the bloody Finnish Civil War, purges guilt-producing material prosperity through the blood of soldiers sacrificed on the battlefield: "The idea of sacrifice permeated the war...Youth...have heard the nation's soul crying for its renewal, their heart's blood [because] nations drink renewal from the blood of the fallen soldiers."19 Usually the blood of the soldiers is thought of as being needed to feed a maternal figure, either mother earth or, like the Aztecs, a bloodthirsty mother-goddess.20 War renewed national strength by feeding blood to the goddess the state was "reborn" by the soldier's blood, and war cleansed the polluted national bloodstream as if there was a "rebirth from the womb of history," a "bloody baptism" that removed all poisonous self-indulgence.21 "A nation hath been born again,/ Regenerate by a second birth!" wrote W. W. Howe after the bloody American Civil War.22 Another American, speaking of World War I, said "It was like the pouring of new blood into old veins."23

The question immediately arises: How do such poisoned blood fears originate? And what is their connection with birth? The answers to these questions will become more convincing only after we have examined a prior question: Why is war so often depicted as a woman?

For the past two decades, I have been collecting historical material from sources such as magazine covers and political cartoons on images of war. One of the most unexpected finding of was that war was so often shown as a dangerous, bloodthirsty woman.24 Despite the fact that women neither play much
part in deciding on wars nor in fighting them, war has so often been depicted as a dangerous woman (Illustration 3:1) that a visitor to our planet might wrongly conclude that women were our most bellicose sex. From Athena to Freyja, from Marianne to Brittannia, terrifying women have been depicted as war goddesses,25 devouring, raping and ripping apart her children. The image has become so familiar we no longer think to question why women are so often shown as presiding over war rather than as its victims, as they are in reality.

Even in antiquity, when the god of war was usually male, his mother was imagined to have hovered above the battlefield, demanding more blood to feed her voracious appetite.26 And athough it was almost always men who fought the battles,27 women in early societies were expected to come along to watch from the sidelines, rather like cheerleaders at a sports match, shrieking their own battle-cries, heckling and insulting those warriors who held back and demanding a plentiful show of blood on the battlefield.28

> The French Revolution fully demonstrates the role of the dangerous woman fantasy in social violence, being preceded by a deluge of pamphlets and newspapers picturing Marie Antoinette-actually a rather sweet-natured young woman-as a sexually voracious, incestuous, lesbian, murderous "bloodsucker of the French."29 The French Revolution, Terror and revolutionary wars were accompanied by increasingly violent Marie Antoinette fantasies, centering on grotesque images of her imagined sexual perversities, while the king was pictured as merely an impotent tool in her hands. Finally, the Tribunal, whipped up by the press, declared her a "ravening beast" and chopped off her head, after she had been accused of being a "tigress thirsty for the blood of the French," a "ferocious panther who devoured the French, the female monster whose pores sweated the purest blood of the sans-culottes," a "vampire who sucks the blood of the French," and a "monster who needed to slake her thirst on the blood of the French."30

I have found that group-fantasies of monstrous bloodthirsty women have preceded every war I have analyzed. Even the most popular movies prior to wars reflect this dangerous woman fantasy. The biggest movie preceding W.W.II was The Wizard of Oz, which is about a wicked witch and how to kill her; the second biggest was Gone With the Wind, featuring a bitchy Scarlet and the third biggest was The Women, which boasted it featured 135 dangerous women. All About Eve before Korea and Cleopatra before Vietnam had similar dangerous women as leads, and the Persian Gulf War was preceded by a whole string of dangerous women movies, from Fatal Attraction to Thelma and Louise,31 including a hit TV series entitled Dangerous Women.

When war breaks out, these terrifying women images disappear from the nation's fantasy life. The dangerous woman image now is projected into the enemy, so that the war is experienced unconsciously as a battle with a mother-figure. For example, when the United States attacked Libya, the New York Post reported the rumor that American intelligence had discovered that Moammar Khadafy was actually a "transvestite dressed in women's clothes and high heels,"32 even touching up a photo to show how he "might look...dressed in drag." Even more often, the enemy is shown as a dangerous mommy, as in the Persian Gulf War when Saddam Hussein was depicted as a dangerous pregnant mother with a nuclear bomb in her womb or as the mother of a death-baby (see Chapter 2)

> Hallucinating dangerous feminine characteristics in one's enemies goes all the way back to antiquity, when the earliest battles were imagined to have been fought against female monsters, often the mother of the hero, whatever her name-Tiamat, Ishtar, Inanna, Isis, or Kali.33 Typical is the Aztec mother-goddess Huitzilopochtli, who had "mouths all over her body" that cried out to be fed the blood of soldiers.34 Early Indo-European warriors had to pass through initiatory rituals in order to attain full status in which they dressed up and attacked a monstrous dummy female poisonous serpent, complete with three heads.35 Although early warriors fought against men, not women, they often anally raped and castrated their enemies, turning them into symbolic women; from ancient Norse to ancient Egyptian societies, heaps of enemy penises on the battlefield are commonly portrayed.36 In addition, according to the world's leading historian of war, "the opportunity to engage in wholesale rape was not just among the rewards of successful war but, from the soldier's point of view, one of the cardinal objectives for which he fought."37 More women have been raped and killed in some wars than enemy soldiers. The hero is therefore simultaneously both a self-killer, punishing projected parts of himself, and a mother-killer, inflicting revenge for early traumas.38

At the same time, by restaging early traumas in wars the magical goal is achieved of merging with the mother in a defensive maneuver to deny her as a dangerous object. Giving one's life for one's Motherland means finally joining with her. The soldier who dies in war, says one patriot, "dies peacefully. He who has a Motherland dies in her, like a baby falling asleep in its warm and soft cradle..."39

Yet even though we understand that both the Motherland and the enemy in wars are ultimately the early mother, the question remains: what could possibly be the infantile origin of fantasies of the enemy as a poisonous blood-sucking monster? Why did Americans before the Revolutionary War feel "poisoned by Mother England" and fight a war rather than pay a minor tax? Why did Hitler fear "blood-sucking Jews and foreigners," and why did Aztec soldiers go to war to feed blood to a monstrous mother-goddess? Closer to today, why did Americans for so long fear their "national life-blood" was being "poisoned" by Communists? Why do so many today feel the government and welfare recipients are "sucking their blood?" Images of blood-sucking, engulfing enemies are ubiquitous throughout history. Surely our blood was never really poisoned or sucked out of us by a maternal monster in our past. Or was it?

As I described in my Foundations of Psychohistory,40 when I first began collecting the emotional imagery surrounding the outbreak of war I was puzzled by recurring claims by aggressors that they were forced to go to war against their wishes because "a net had suddenly been thrown over their head" or a "ring of iron was closing about us more tightly every moment" or they had been "seized by the throat and strangled." I piled up hundreds of these images of nations being choked and strangled, "unable to draw a breath," "smothered, walled-in," "unable to relieve the inexorable pressure" of a world "pregnant with events," followed by feelings of being "picked up bodily" in "an inexorable slide" towards war, starting with a "rupture of diplomatic relations" and a "descent into the abyss," being "unable to see the light at the end of the tunnel" as the nation takes its "final plunge over the brink," and even that wars were "aborted" if ended too soon. Given the concreteness of all this birth imagery, I concluded that war was a rebirth fantasy of enormous power shared by nations undergoing deep regression to fetal traumas.

> War has long been described in images of pregnancy: "War develops in the womb of State politics; its principles are hidden there as the particular characteristics of the individual are hidden in the embryo" (Clausewitz); "Germany is never so happy as when she is pregnant with a war" (proverb).41 Wars are felt to be life-and-death struggles for "breathing space" and "living room," Lebensraum, as though nations were reliving the growing lack of space and oxygen common to all fetuses just prior to and during birth (plus, for most infants right up to Hitler's generation, the reliving of the pain of tight swaddling). As Adzema puts it, "feelings of expansion are followed by a fear of entrapment."42 Nations become paranoid prior to wars, and feel they have to resort to violence in order to get out of what appears to be a choking womb and birth canal. Bethmann-Hollweg, for example, told the Reichstag in announcing war in 1914 that Germany was surrounded by enemies, and "he who is menaced as we are and is fighting for his highest possession can only consider how he is to hack his way through."43 As Hitler repeated over and over again, only a violent "rebirth" could "purge the world of the Jewish poison" and avoid it being "asphyxiated and destroyed."44

Now, the notion that war might be a battle against a dangerous mother is difficult enough to believe. That it in addition includes fantasies that you are hacking your way out of the engulfment of your own birth is infinitely harder to accept. But what followed then in my psychohistorical research into imagery prior to wars was a discovery that seemed to be a final step into the unbelievable, revealing a depth of regression prior to wars greater than anything yet contemplated in the psychological literature. Yet it was a discovery that for the first time seemed to explain the true origin of the poison blood imagery.

> What I found was that the cartoons, past and present, of the enemy in war were dominated by an image that was even more widespread than that of the dangerous mommy: it was that of a sea-beast, often with many heads or arms, a
dragon or a hydra or a serpent or an octopus that threatened to poison the lifeblood of the nation. Most early cultures believed in this beast as a dragon that was associated with watery caves or lakes; modern wars show the beast as a blood-sucking, many-headed enemy. This serpentine, poisonous monster I have termed the Poisonous Placenta, since it resembled what the actual placenta must have sometimes felt like to the growing fetus, particularly when the placenta fails in its tasks of cleansing ithe fetal blood of wastes and of replenishing its oxygen supply. When the blood coming to the fetus from the placenta is bright red and full of nutrients and oxygen, the fetus feels it is being fed by a Nurturant Placenta, but when the mother smokes, takes drugs or is hurt or frightened or otherwise stressed, the placenta does not remove the wastes from the fetal blood, which therefore becomes polluted and depleted of oxygen. Under these stressful conditions, the helpless fetus experiences an asphyxiating Poisonous Placenta, the prototype for all later hate relationships, including the murderous mother, the castrating father or the dangerous enemy. It is even likely that the fetus, like Oedipus, feels it is actually battling with the dangerous beast (Sphinx means "strangler" in Greek) in order to restore connections with the Nurturant Placenta. This battle, one that I have termed the fetal drama, is repeated in death-and-rebirth restagings of traumatic battles in all wars and other social violence.

> The cosmic battle with the Poisonous Placenta (the capitals are in honor of it being the prototype for God and Nation), where we repeat the fetal drama of a paradise lost, of being sucked into the whirlpool and crushing pressures of birth, and where we fight the placental dragon, is well depicted in a
comic-book character, Conan the Barbarian, although I could just as easily have used pictures and texts from ancient myths of battles with sea-beasts such as Tiamat, Rahab, Behemoth, Humbaba, Apophis, Hydra, Gorgon or Typhon.45 In this version, a baby is first shown abandoned, beginning his watery birth passage between head-crushing bones, going down the whirlpool of birth after the amniotic waters break, and then being choked by the Poisonous Placenta, a black sea-monster that tries to asphyxiate it. The hero, an imaginary powerful version of the fetus, battles with the Poisonous Placenta and frees the fetus, who reaches the safety of land. The final panel shows that the goal, however, is not birth, the arrival on land, but the reuniting with the placenta. That it is the Nurturant and not the Poisonous Placenta that holds the baby in its embrace is depicted by its being shown as a white sea beast.

> In most cultures, the placenta is considered very much alive after delivery; it is felt to be so dangerous to the community that unless it is buried somewhere deep the whole tribe will fall sick.46 The fantasy of the Poisonous Placenta is even present in most small groups. As one group analyst describes his conclusions from a lifetime of studying unconscious group images:

One of the most active, or rather paralyzing, unconscious group representations is that of Hydra: the group is felt to be a single body with a dozen arms at the ends of which are heads and mouths, each functioning independently of the others...incessantly searching for prey to be squeezed and suffocated, and ready to devour one another if they are not satisfied.47

Obviously, full understanding of the placental source of "poison blood" imagery and of the fetal origins of war and social violence is going to have to wait until we investigate more fully the psychology of dangerous wombs, Poisonous Placentas and asphyxiating births which is to say, until we understand more about both the psychology and neurobiology of fetal life.

After Freud initially proposed that mental life began after birth, he later admitted that he had come to believe he was wrong, saying that "the act of birth is the first experience of anxiety."48 Although most other psychoanalysts believed mental life began only with infancy, there were a number of exceptions, beginning with Otto Rank's The Trauma of Birth in 1923,49 which began the investigation of birth anxiety derivatives in adult life and culture. After Rank, Donald Winnicott wrote in the early 1940s a paper on "Birth Memories, Birth Trauma, and Anxiety,"50 which, however, was little noticed, since, as he said, "It is rare to find doctors who believe that the experience of birth is important to the baby, that it could have any significance in the emotional development of the individual, and that memory traces of the experience could persist and give rise to trouble even in the adult." While still a pediatrician, Winnicott saw that newborn babies varied enormously and that prolonged labor could be traumatic to the fetus, resulting in extreme anxiety-so much so that he thought "some babies are born paranoid, by which I mean in a state of expecting persecution..."51 He was even able to conclude that "at full term, there is already a human being in the womb, one that is capable of having experiences and of accumulating body memories and even of organizing defensive measures to deal with traumata..." He sometimes would allow his child patients to work through birth anxiety directly, having one child sit in his lap and "get inside my coat and turn upside down and slide down to the ground between my legs; this he repeated over and over again....After this experience I was prepared to believe that memory traces of birth can persist."52 He also encouraged some adult patients to relive the breathing changes, constrictions of the body, head pressures, convulsive movements and fears of annihilation experienced during their births, with dramatic therapeutic results.53

After Winnicott, psychotherapists such as Fodor, Mott, Raskovsky, Janov, Grof, Verny, Fedor-Freybergh, Janus and others published extensive work showing how their patients relived birth trauma in therapy and removed major blocks in their emotional lives.54 These traumatic birth feelings of being trapped, of crushing head pressures and cardiac distress, of being sucked into a whirlpool or swallowed by terrifying monsters, of explosive volcanoes and death-rebirth struggles appear regularly in the 60 percent of our dreams that have been found to contain overt pre- and perinatal images,55 although most therapists continue to overlook their connections with actual birth memories.

Perhaps one of the most important results of clinical research by therapists sensitive to perinatal trauma-as described particularly in the work of Linda Share56 is how regularly early trauma produces an overwhelming fear of all progress in life. It is as though the fetus concludes, "Going forward in life led to disaster; I must remain 'unborn' all my life to avoid a repetition of this horrible start."

> Fetuses that experience injuries in the womb, premature births, birth complications, and many other medical conditions as newborns regularly live the rest of their lives in fear of all growth and individuation.57 For instance, one baby who was born with a congenital atresia of the esophagus, so that she choked on feedings, was seen to have multiple fears of dying all during a 30-year followup study into her life.58 Another, who often dreamed of lying in a refrigerator, asked his parents about the image, and they told him that as a newborn the window of his room had mistakenly been left open on an extremely cold winter night, and they "had thawed him out of his urine, feces and vomitus."59 Interpretation of this continuing fear led to a turning point in the treatment and in the patient's life. Another baby was born with an intestinal obstruction that prevented digestion, so she vomited up all her milk. Although the condition was repaired at one month, for the rest of her life she was concerned with disaster fantasies every time growth was imminent. As Share described her, "Each new opportunity for advancement stood for a metaphorical 'birth.' To be born in any kind of way meant to have to reexperience the disaster of her infancy: starvation, pain, surgery, and near-death. These, then, were the disasters she fantasized, the panic attacks each time she headed for something new and creative."60 As with all early trauma, any progress threatened repetition of disaster.

> Much has changed in our knowledge of the fetus during the decades since the early pioneering excursions into perinatal psychology. Neurobiologists have made startling advances in the understanding of how the brain develops in the womb, experimental psychologists have discovered a great deal about fetal learning, pediatricians have linked all kinds of later problems to fetal distress, and one psychoanalyst has even begun to compare thousands of hours of ultrasound observations of individual fetuses with their emotional problems during infancy in therapy with her. There are now thousands of books and articles on the subject, as well as two international associations of pre- and perinatal psychology, each with its own journal.61 I will here only be able to summarize some of the main trends of this extensive recent research.

Biologists used to think that because the fetus had incomplete myelination of neurons it couldn't have memories.62 This notion has been disproved, since impulses can be carried quite efficiently in the thinly myelinated nerves of fetuses, only at a somewhat slower velocity, which is offset by the shorter distances traveled.63 Indeed, far from being an unfeeling being, the fetus has been found to be exquisitely sensitive to its surroundings, and our earliest feelings have been found to be coded into our early emotional memory system centering in the amygdala, the central fear system, quite distinct from the declarative memory system centering in the hippocampus, the center of consciousness, that becomes fully functional only in later childhood.64 These early emotional memories are usually unavailable to conscious, declarative memory recall, so early fears and even defenses against them are often only recaptured through body memories and by analyzing the consequences of the traumas.65

The fetal nervous system is so well developed that by the end of the first trimester it responds to the stroking of its palm by a light hair by grasping, of its lips by sucking, and of its eyelids by squinting.66 It will jump if touched by the amniocentesis needle and turn away from the light when a doctor introduces a brightly lit fetoscope.67 By the second trimester, the fetus is not only seeing and hearing, it is actively tasting, feeling, exploring and learning from its environment, now floating peacefully, now kicking vigorously, turning somersaults, urinating, grabbing its umbilicus when frightened, stroking and even licking its placenta, conducting little boxing matches with its companion if it is a twin and responding to being touched or spoken to through the mother's abdomen.68 Each fetus develops its own pattern of activity, so that ultrasound technicians quickly learn to recognize each fetus as a distinct personality.69 Even sensual life begins in the womb; if a boy, the fetus has regular erections of his penis, coinciding with REM sleep phases, and baby girls have been seen masturbating during REM sleep.70

> In addition to what we know about the disastrous effects on the fetus of prenatal exposure to drugs and alcohol,71 we now have considerable evidence on how maternal stress and other emotions are transmitted to the fetus. When a pregnant mother is offered a cigarette after having been deprived of smoking for 24 hours there is a significant acceleration in fetal heartbeat even before the cigarette is lit, and maternal smoking during pregnancy has been found to triple the rate of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorders later in the child.72 The fetus has been found to be sensitive to a wide range of maternal emotions in addition to any drugs or other physical traumas she endures.73 When the mother feels anxiety, her increased heartbeat, frightened speech, and alterations in neurotransmitter levels are instantly communicated to the fetus, and her tachycardia is followed within seconds by the fetus's tachycardia; when she feels fear, within 50 seconds the fetus can be made hypoxic (low oxygen). Pregnant monkeys stressed by simulated threatening attack had such impaired blood circulation to their uteruses that their fetuses were severely asphyxiated.74 Alterations in adrenaline, plasma epinephrine and norepinephrine levels, high levels of hydroxycortico-steriods, hyperventilation and many other products of maternal anxiety are also known to directly affect the human fetus. Numerous other studies document sensory, hormonal and biochemical mechanisms by which the fetus is in communication with the mother's feelings and with the outside world.75 Even baby monkeys have been found to be hyperactive, with higher levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, after birth from a mother who was experimentally stressed during her pregnancy.76

While positive maternal emotions have been experimentally shown to increase later growth, alertness, calmness and intelligence the fetus even benefits from the mother singing to it in the womb and prenatal infant stimulation, particularly being bathed in pleasant music, improves fetal development compared to control groups,77 maternal distress and chemical toxins have been shown to produce low birth weights, increased infant mortality, respiratory infections, asthma and reduced cognitive development.78 Ultrasound studies record fetal distress clearly, as it thrashes about and kicks in pain during hypoxia and other conditions. One mother whose husband had just threatened her verbally with violence came into the doctor's office with the fetus thrashing and kicking so violently as to be painful to her, with an elevated heart rate that continued for hours.79 The same wild thrashing has been seen in fetuses of mothers whose spouses have died suddenly. Maternal fright can actually cause the death of the fetus, and death of the husband and other severe emotional distress within the family during the mother's pregnancy have been associated with fetal damage in large samples in several countries.80 Marital discord between spouses has been correlated "with almost 100 per cent certainty...with child morbidity in the form of ill-health, neurological dysfunction, developmental lags and behavior disturbance."81

Margaret Fries has conducted a 40-year longitudinal study predicting emotional patterns that remain quite constant throughout the lives of those studied, correlating the patterns to the mother's attitude toward the fetus during pregnancy.82 Maternal emotional stress, hostility toward the fetus and fetal distress have also been statistically correlated in various studies with more premature births, lower birth weights, more neonate neurotransmitter imbalances, more clinging infant patterns, more childhood psychopathology, more physical illness, higher rates of schizophrenia, lower IQ in early childhood, greater school failure, higher delinquency and greater propensity as an adult to use drugs, commit violent crimes and commit suicide.83 This increase in social violence due to pre- and perinatal conditions has recently been confirmed by a major Danish study showing that boys of mothers who do not want to have them (25 percent of pregnant mothers admit they do not want their babies)84 and who also experience birth complications are four times more likely when they get to be teenagers to commit violent crimes than control groups.85 American studies also show similar higher violent crime rates correlated with maternal rejection during pregnancy.86

> There are sound neurobiological reasons for this correlation between fetal trauma and social violence. Early brain development is determined both by genes and by cellular selection and self-organizational processes that are crucially dependent upon the uterine environment.87 Since fetal and early infantile traumas and abdonments occur while the brain is still being formed, while cell adhesion molecules are still determining the brain's initial mapping processes and while synaptic connections are still undergoing major developmental changes, memories of early traumas cannot be handled as traumas are later in life and instead are coded in separate neuronal networks that retain their emotional power well into adulthood.88

Fetal abuse can be direct, either from drugs or from the pregnant mother being abused by her mate. According to the Surgeon General, "one in three pregnant women in America is slapped, kicked or punched by their mates."89 In addition, maternal emotional stress produces such biochemical imbalances as an overactivation of the pituitary-adrenal cortical and sympathetic-adrenal medullary systems with consequent increases of adrenocorticotrophic hormone (ACTH), cortisol, pituitary growth hormone and catecholamine levels. Maternal emotional stress has even been correlated with damage to the hippocampus, the center, along with the thalamus, of conscious memory and self feelings.90 Furthermore, the emotions of the mother can be directly transmitted through the neurotransmitters and other hormones in her blood to the fetal blood and then to DNA-binding receptors in the fetal cells that turn genes on and off, thus programming her stress directly into the developing fetal brain.91 This bath of maternal hormonal imbalances can produce severe fetal traumatic emotional dysfunctions.92 Baby rats, for instance, whose mothers had been frightened by loud noises during pregnancy, were found to have copious supplies of stress hormones, plus fewer receptors for benzodiazepines and fewer GABA receptors, both needed for calming action during stress.93 The results of the mother not wanting her baby can prove lethal: one study of eight thousand pregnant women found that unwanted babies were 2.4 times more likely to die in the first month of life.94

Infants traumatized in utero and during birth are those Winnicott referred to as "born paranoid," and can remain hypersensitive to stress, over-fearful, withdrawn and angry all of their lives. Fetal traumas and abandonments result in overstimulation of neurotransmitters, producing hypersensitivity and other imbalances in such important neurotransmitters as the catecholamines. The most important of these imbalances is low serotonin levels, which have been demonstrated to lead to persistent hyperarousal and compulsive reenactment in violent social behavior, including both homicide and suicide.95 Because of this, reenactment in later life can be an even more potent source of violent behavior in the case of fetal trauma than it has been found to be in the case of childhood or war trauma.96

The same neurobiological factors have been found to be responsible for the increase in violence against self. Suicide patterns are so strongly linked to birth that epidemiologists have found higher suicide rates in areas of the country that a few decades earlier had had higher birth injuries.97 What probably happens is that birth traumas reset life-long serotonin and noradrenaline levels to lower levels, since there is a strong statistical link between low serotonin and noradrenaline and violent suicides.98 Other studies have shown that even the types of suicides were correlated with the kinds of perinatal traumas, asphyxia during birth leading to more suicides through strangulation, hanging and drowning, mechanical trauma during birth correlated with mechanical suicide elements, drugs given during birth being correlated to suicide by drugs, and so on. The rise in adolescent drug addiction and suicide recently, mainly connected with drug use, is believed to be at least partially due to the more frequent use of drugs prescribed by obstetricians during birth in recent decades.99 The same principle may hold for the rise of violent crimes during the 1970s and 80s, which has been connected with the rise of the extremely painful rite of circumcision in newborn boys during the 1950s and 60s;100 it could equally have contributed to the rise of teenage suicides, since perinatal trauma can also be turned against the self. Violence done to babies always returns on the social level.

> Far from being the safe, cozy haven to which we all supposedly want to return, the womb is in fact often a dangerous and often painful abode,101 where "more lives are lost during the nine gestational months than in the ensuing 50 years of postnatal life."102 Few fetuses, for instance, escape experiencing painful drops in oxygen levels when the mother is emotionally upset, smokes, drinks alcohol or takes other drugs. As the placenta stops growing during the final months of pregnancy, it regresses in efficiency, becoming tough and fibrous, as its cells and blood vessels degenerate and it becomes full of blood clots and calcifications, making the fetus even more susceptible to hypoxia as it grows larger and making the late-term fetus "extremely hypoxic by adult standards."103 Furthermore, the weight of the fetus pressing down into the pelvis can compress blood vessels supplying the placenta, producing additional placental failure.104 Practice contractions near birth give the fetus periodic "squeezes," decreasing oxygen level even further,105 while birth itself is so hypoxic that "hypoxia of a certain degree and duration is a normal phenomenon in every delivery," not just in more severe cases.106 The effects on the fetus of this extreme hypoxia are dramatic: normal fetal breathing stops, fetal heart rate accelerates, then decelerates, and the fetus thrashes about frantically in a life-and-death struggle to liberate itself from its terrifying asphyxiation.107 In addition, fetal abuse is often the result of the pregnant mother's wish to hurt or punish her unborn child. One study showed 8 percent of 112 pregnant American women openly acknowledged this wish, often hitting their abdomen or otherwise purposely abusing their fetus.108 The real figure is likely to be higher than this, particularly in the past.

That the fetal memory system is sufficiently mature not only to learn in the womb but also to remember prenatal and birth experiences is confirmed by a growing body of experimental, observational and clinical data. Neonates can remember lullabies learned prenatally109 and can pick out at birth their mothers' voices from among other female voices and respond differently (by the increased ratre of sucking on a pacifier) to familiar melodies they had heard in utero.110 Sallenbach played simple melodies to the fetus in utero, based on four notes, and found that the fetus was able not only to move to the beat but continued to mark the beat when the notes were discontinued.111 As evidence of even more complex memories, DeCasper had 16 pregnant women read either The Cat in the Hat or a second poem with a different meter to their fetuses twice a day for the last six weeks of their pregnancy.112 When the babies were born, he hooked up their pacifiers to a mechanism that allowed them to chose one of two tape recordings by sucking slowly or quickly, choosing either the tape in which their mothers read the familiar poem or the tape where she read the unfamiliar poem. The babies soon were listening to the tape of the familiar poem, indicating their mastery of the task of remembering complex speech patterns learned in utero. Chamberlain sums up his extensive work on birth memories, which he found very reliable when comparing them with both the memories of the mother and hospital records, "They demonstrate the same clear awareness of violence, danger, and breech of trust which any of us adults might show in a similar situation...Even three-year-olds sometimes have explicit and accurate birth recall."113 Distress during birth is particularly able to be later remembered during dreams, when dissociated early neural emotional memory systems are more easily accessed. For instance, one child who had been a "blue baby" and near death while tangled in his umbilicus during birth and had had a forceps delivery had the following revealing nightmare during most of his childhood:

I would be kneeling down, all bent over. I am frantically trying to untie knots in some kind of rope. I am just starting to get free of the rope when I get punched in the face.114

With the number of recent experiments demonstrating fetal competence, classical conditioning and more advanced learning ability,115 it is not surprising that some parents have recently begun to make the fetus a "member of the family," playing with them, massaging them and calming them down when they thought they had communicated distress by excessive movement and kicking, and trading light pokes in return for fetal kicks, in what they call "The Kicking Game."116 One father taught his baby to kick in a circle; a mother played a nightly game where she tapped her abdomen three times and the fetus bumped back three times.117 Another father who called out "Hoo hoo!" next to his pregnant wife's belly nightly found his child pushing with a foot into his cheek on whichever side he called; father and baby played this game for 15 weeks; he found his next baby was able to learn the same game.118 These parents tried to avoid maternal stress, loud arguments and loud noises especially rock music because they became aware it produced fetal distress.

> Recent insights into fetal learning have led to some impressive research on fetal enrichment that demonstrates that prenatal stimulation produces advances in motoric abilities and intelligence that last for years. Experimental groups of pregnant women and their fetuses who participated in prenatal stimulation enrichment were investigated in parallel with carefully selected control groups not involved in any prenatal program. The postnatal evaluation of both groups on standard developmental tests shows highly significant enhancement from fetal sensory stimulation in motoric performance, visual skills, emotional expression and early speech.119 Even more impressive, when these prenatally-induced enrichment effects are consolidated by immediate post-natal enrichment experiences, they produce improvements over the control group in Stanford Binet IQ tests at age three ranging from 38 percent for language and 47 percent for memory to 51 percent for social intelligence and 82 percent for reasoning, a fetal Head Start program of astonishing efficiency.

Perhaps the most impressive observational work on the personality of the fetus is being done by the Italian psychoanalyst Alessandra Piontelli, by combining thousands of hours of ultrasound observations with clinical psychoanalytic work with young children. Her research into pre- and perinatal memories began after she encountered an eighteen-month-old child who was reported by sensitive parents as being incessantly restless and unable to sleep:

I noted that he seemed to move about restlessly almost as if obsessed by a search for something in every possible corner of the limited space of my consulting room, looking for something which he never seemed able to find. His parents commented on this, saying that he acted like that all the time, day and night. Occasionally Jacob also tried to shake several of the objects inside my room, as if trying to bring them back to life. His parents then told me that any milestone in his development (such as sitting up, crawling, walking, or uttering his first words) all seemed to be accompanied by intense anxiety and pain as if he were afraid, as they put it, 'to leave something behind him.' When I said very simply to him that he seemed to be looking for something that he had lost and could not find anywhere, Jacob stopped and looked at me very intently. I then commented on his trying to shake all the objects to life as if he were afraid that their stillness meant death. His parents almost burst into tears and told me that Jacob was, in fact, a twin, but that his co-twin, Tino, as they had already decided to call him, had died two weeks before birth. Jacob, therefore, had spent almost two weeks in utero with his dead and consequently unresponsive co-twin.120

Verbalization of his fears that each step forward in his development might be accompanied by the death of a loved one for whom he felt himself to be responsible "brought about an incredible change in his behavior," says Piontelli. Similarly, Leah La Goy, an American psychotherapist, has documented seventeen children who were her patients who had lost a twin in utero and who "consistently create enactments of fearing for their own life [which] can and often does weaken the parent-child bonding process" because they believe their mother might try to get rid of them too.121

Piontelli, like many other child therapists, began to be struck by the frequency and concreteness of children's "fantasies" about their life before birth. Unlike most therapists, who, however, ignore their accurate observations because their training taught them the mind only begins after birth, she carefully recorded them and tried to confirm their reality, first by consultation with the family and eventually by her own extensive ultrasound observations of fetal life. The correlations and continuities between fetal experiences and childhood personality "were often so dramatic," she says, "that I was amazed that I had not been more aware of them at the time."122 One set of twins often stroked each others' heads in the womb through the dividing membrane; at the age of one, they could often be seen playing their favorite game of using a curtain as a kind of membrane through which they stroked each other's heads.123 Another set of twins whose mother considered abortion because of her fear they might be jealous of each other-punched each other all the time in the womb and continued to do so after birth.

One fetus, who often buried his face in the placenta as if it were a pillow, as a child insisted that his mother get him a pencil case shaped like a pillow that he used similarly. Still other children played out various obstetrical distress problems in later life in dramatic detail, such as one child who had nearly died because her umbilical cord had been tightly knotted around her neck and who spent most of her early childhood wrapping ropes, strings and curtain cords around her head and neck, playing with them and licking them in a frenzy.124 The enormous importance of being able to use fetal insights such as these in the therapy of both children and adults for profound relief and personality change has been carefully documented by Piontelli and other therapists.125

Piontelli's pioneering use of ultrasound to observe actual fetal behavior has, in fact, for the first time confirmed my own conclusions made from historical material about the relationship between the fetus and its placenta. Even birth therapists have objected to my theory that "the fetus begins its mental life in active relationship with its own placenta." Thomas Verny, author of the pioneering book The Secret Life of the Unborn Child, said that although he agreed that "mental life begins in the womb with a fetal drama," he disagreed that the placenta has any role in this drama, saying, "Personally, in fifteen years of doing intensive, regressive type of psychotherapy I have never yet heard one of my patients refer in any way at all to his or her placenta."126 David Chamberlain, author of Babies Remember Birth, agrees, saying, "I have heard complaints about all these things in hypnosis but never against a 'poisonous placenta.' The reaction is always against the mother herself."127

Until birth is complete, the fetus, of course, has never met a "mother," only a womb and a placenta and an umbilicus. Piontelli's ultrasound observations reveal the complex relationship between the fetus and its placental/umbilical "first object." Fetuses stroke and explore the placenta all the time, and grab the umbilicus for comfort when distressed. Their behavior toward the placenta and umbilicus correlates with later behavior patterns in their infancy, so that, for instance, when Piontelli watches one fetus use the placenta as a pillow in the womb, observing it "sucking the cord [and] resting on the placenta as if it were a big pillow...burying himself in the if it were a pillow," she then notices it has difficulty sucking the mother's breast after birth, preferring to use it as a pillow instead: "He is not sucking...he is leaning against's not a pillow you know!"128

Another fetus Piontelli watched in utero by ultrasound constantly licked her placenta and umbilicus while holding her hands between her legs on her vagina. The mother, who was both very overweight and whose "rather vamp-looking, low-necked, black velvety dress, together with her smeared and bright make-up, made her look quite 'whorish,' though in an outdated and clumsy way, like a character out of a Fellini film,"129 kept saying her baby girl would turn out to be "whorish" and had many conflicts about having her. The fetus responded to the maternal rejection by licking her placenta and masturbating:

She is licking the placenta now...look at what she is doing with her other is still there right in between her legs...licking the placenta God...she is really wild this just goes on and on...Look how she licks it!...we can almost hear the noise...look...she is pulling it down towards her God!...her tongue is really strong...look she is doing it again...and again...and again.130

That this "seducing" of the placenta by this fetus plus her auto-eroticism might have been defensive maneuvers designed to ward off fear is indicated by her later actions in therapy with Piontelli as a child. In therapy, said Piontelli, she seemed to have only two modes of being: (1) fear of everything as being persecutory and poisoning, so that she spent her early therapy sessions terrified and screaming, and (2) in "orgies," like a "whore," eating and licking everything and masturbating.131 Apparently her mother's rejecting attitude and poor uterine conditions had affected the fetal amygdalan early emotional memory system. In monkeys, destroying their amygdalae causes them to mouth everything they come into contact with and try to have sex with everything they meet, exactly the same mouthing and masturbating orgies this child engaged in both as a fetus and infant. So intent on licking and seducing everything was this baby that she couldn't even suck her mother's breast:

The breast...seems to be a despicable object...she absolutely refuses milk...Her mother says, "What are you doing? are not sucking it, you are playing...she is not sucking it...she is licking it!"...she starts licking her mother's chest vigorously with the same wild motions I had previously noticed when she licked the placenta...She licked any surface or fabric which came into contact with her face. I saw her licking her mother's chest, her shoulders, her chin, her arms and the clothes covering them.132

As an alternative to her screaming and paranoid fear, the baby had developed a pattern of seducing both placental objects and herself, filling her abyss of anxiety with wild, orgiastic licking and masturbating:

She sits on the table with her legs wide open looking rather obscene. She inserts a finger inside her cup and licks it. Then she puts her hands between her legs while moving her tongue over her lips. She looks very excited and her face is all red now. I say that she's filling herself with prohibited excitement now. She puts her finger in her mouth and then almost inside her vagina, saying, "This or this, they are both nice..."

Piontelli's little children with fetal problems did not, of course, say their persecutors were "Poisonous Placentas," any more than did the adult patients of Verny or Chamberlain. Yet there is little question that it was the placenta that they felt had persecuted them while in the womb and that they still felt persecuted by after birth; in both cases their defensive oral and genital "orgies" were the same.

Psychotherapists regularly encounter placental images in their practice, yet, because they cannot conceive of fetal mental life in the womb, they ascribe these images to other sources. The most famous placental images are known to psychoanalysts as "the Isakower phenomenon," which often occurs when falling asleep. It consists of a sense that one is floating, with a "shadowy and undifferentiated, usually round [object] which gets nearer and larger."133 The floating and the round object are not, as therapists have assumed, memories of the mother's breasts; breasts come in twos and are rarely found floating. Isakower himself described the image accurately as a "disc," lying on top of him, an object another person said was shaped like a "balloon:" Other patients described it as follows:

I'm as small as a point-as if something heavy and large was lying on top of me-it doesn't crush me...I can draw in the lump as if it was dough-then I feel as if the whole thing was in my's like a's not unpleasant...134

a small cloud...became larger and larger. It enveloped everything...Somebody said it was poisonous...135

A large, black plastic container, which resembled a garbage bag...136

Besides the regression involved in falling asleep or hallucinations on the analytic couch, overt placental images are also found by clinicians in deeply regressed patients, who often hallucinate blood-sucking monsters persecuting them. Most of these monster-phobias are extremely frightening, the patients fearing blood-sucking spiders or vampires or octopuses or Medusas or sphinxes.137 It simply makes no sense to call these blood-sucking beasts and spiders "phallic mothers," as Freud and Abraham did,138 particularly when they are accompanied by umbilical droplines.139 The vampire as a blood-drinking woman is another widespread fantasy; even when the vampire is Dracula, he is feminized by wearing a black satin cloak.140 Only the memory of the Nurturant Placenta can fully explain why we drink Christ's blood, and only the memory of a Poisonous Placenta can explain why the Erinys suck blood and why devils are blood-red. Often both images are present at the same time in psychotics, as in the following description by Wilhelm Reich of his schizophrenic patient's hallucination of drinking from a bloody, round table:

They were drinking gallons of blood in front of me. The devil is red because of that and he gets redder and redder and then the blood goes to the sun and makes it on fire. Jesus was dripping blood on the cross by drops and this was being swallowed then he was seated on the side of the devil and drinking too-the table was round oblong of flowing thick blood (no feet on it). Mother Mary was at the corner watching. She was white as a sheet-All her blood had been drained off and consumed. She saw her son drinking that and suffered.141

Rosenfeld finds that images of being drained of blood are frequent in regressed patients, involving concrete "primitive psychotic body images" based on the notion that "the body contains nothing but liquids or blood and is enveloped by one or more arterial or venous walls...the experience of draining of blood and being emptied corresponds to the breakdown of this psychological image of a wall or membrane containing liquid or blood."142 A better image of the placenta cannot be imagined, though Rosenfeld didn't notice its uterine source. These patients often imagine that the analyst or others are literally sucking blood out of them. Mahler described a typical young patient of hers:

He was preoccupied with the fear of losing body substance, of being drained by his father and grandfather, with whom his body, he believed, formed a kind of communicating system of tubes. At night the father-grandfather part of the system drained him of the 'body juices of youth.' Survival depended on who was most successful in draining more life fluid from the others...He invented an elaborate heart machine which he could switch on and connect with his body's circulatory system so that he would never die.143

However disguised, the Poisonous Placenta and the Suffering Fetus are the most important images of the fetal drama, and the restaging of their violent encounter is a central religious and political task of society. I suggest that this battle with the persecuting placental beast constitutes the earliest source of war and social violence, traumas that must be restaged periodically because of the neurobiological imperatives of early brain development. The center of society is wherever the fetal drama is restaged-as at Delphi, it is often called the "navel of the world," and is associated with placental World Tree worship.144 The evolution of society occurs as this fetal drama moves from the tribe to the kingdom to the nation and is enacted with larger and larger numbers of people emotionally entrained by its sacrificial rituals.

Group-fantasies of poisonous blood become most widespread during periods of progress and prosperity. They are particularly ubiquitous during apocalyptic millenarian periods. Traditional historians have blamed these apocalyptic fantasies, such as the periodic "Great Awakenings" in America145 or the millenarian movements in England,146 upon "collective stress."147 The problem is that these movements always occur during periods of progress, peace and prosperity, so these authors have had difficulty in locating the source of the social stress. When British millenarianists became entranced to a 64-year-old woman who said she was about to give birth to a second Christ,148 or when Americans expected the end of the world in a final combat with the Great Beast of the Apocalypse and destroyed their goods in expectation of their coming rebirth149 they did so during periods of prosperity, not social stress. What is feared and what leads to the deepest regression is growth and new challenges, a growth that threatens a repetition of early traumas.

Ancient societies used to believe that because of growing pollution the universe periodically threatened to dissolve in primordial waters, and unless a war was fought between a hero-an avenging fetus-and an asphyxiating sea-monster, the world would disappear.150 The purpose of war and all other sacrificial blood-letting, says Frazer, was "to reinforce by a river of human blood the tide of life which might grow stagnant and stale in the veins of the dieties."151 We believe the same right up into modern times; most nations have repeated the cleansing war ritual four times a century for as far back as historical records have survived.152

The neurobiological effects of trauma and neglect both prenatal and during childhood and the compulsion to restage early traumatic violence and inflict it upon others and upon one's self are becoming fairly well understood through recent advances in neuroscience. Inescapable dangers and intolerable stresses subject the brain to massive secretions and subsequent depletions of a variety of neurotransmitters, including norephinephrine, dopamine and serotonin, which lead to hypervigilance, explosive anger and excessive sensitivity to similar events in the future, which are experienced as though they were as dangerous as the earlier incident.153 In addition, the hormones that flood the brain to mobilize it in the face of threats, especially cortisol, have been found to be toxic to cells in the hippocampus, the part of the brain that, along with the thalamus, is the center of the neural system for consciousness, actually killing neurons and reducing the size of the hippocampus, making retrieval and therefore modification of early traumas nearly impossible.154 It is this process that constitutes "repression," which is really dissociation, an inability to retrieve memories rather than a forgetting. Thus, without the ability to remember and modify early traumas through new experiences, the brain continues to interpret ordinary stressors as recurrences of traumatic events long after the original trauma has ceased.

Paranoid results are particularly true of the earliest traumas of fetal and infantile life. This is so because the hippocampus is quite immature until the third or fourth year of life, and therefore the early trauma is encoded in the emotional memory system centering in the amygdala and extending particularly to the prefrontal cortex, the center of emotions155 memories which have been described as being nearly "impervious to extinction."156 Early traumas, coded in this thalamo-amygdalan-cortical memory system, record fearful memories that remain powerful for life, long after the cognitive memories of the traumatic event itself are forgotten.157 Infants, for instance, who experience premature births or eating disorders at birth often fear all new arousals, as though they represented the same threat to life as birth once did.158 This is why Piontelli's fetus, who licked her placenta and masturbated in utero, continued compulsively to lick her mother's breast and masturbate after birth, warding off her earliest uterine dangers. It is also relevant to our hypothesis that early emotional traumas are intimately linked with social behavior to note that the amygdala-where these early trauma are recorded-is recognized as playing a central role in the social behavior of animals. For instance, removal of the amygdalae produces social isolates in most nonhuman primates, while having devastating consequences on their ability to mother, often resulting in death for their infants.159

In addition, the continuing low serotonin levels and high noradrenaline levels produced by trauma decrease normal aggressive inhibitions (serotonin being the main soothing neurotransmitter and noradrenaline being the main stress hormone) to such an extent that low serotonin and high noradrenaline have been reliably shown to be central to social violence of both humans and other primates.160 Monkeys who have early traumas have low serotonin and high noradrenaline levels, and are "nasty, hostile, crazy," often killing their peers for no reason,161 while traumatized children with low serotonin have more disruptive behavior162 and compulsively restage their traumas in their play with peers, both in order to maintain some control over its timing anything to avoid re-experiencing their helplessness and also because they can thereby identify with the aggressor.163 Others repeat their original traumas by self-injury, as did the patient who tried to commit suicide by putting his head beneath his car and causing it to crush his skull, saying God had told him "to kill myself to be reborn," thus concretely restaging his earlier experience of having his head stuck in the birth passage.164

The amount of maternal stress necessary for traumatizing the fetus and child is astonishingly little:

Monkeys born to mothers who listened to ten minutes of random noise each day during mid-and late pregnancy had higher noradrenaline livels than normal mokeys. The hyped-up monkeys were impulsive, overresponsive, and had fewer social skills as infants. When the prenatally stressed monkeys got to be the equivalent of preteens, their noradrenaline was till high and their behavior still abnormally hostile and aggressive...165

Later traumas, abandonments and betrayals of childhood are then recorded in the same amygdalan early emotional memory system laid down by fetal traumas. Evidence for this fetal matrix for later trauma is everywhere to be found, only we have so far been unaware of its meaning and overlooked it. For instance, when a gunman came into Cleveland Elementary School in 1989 and fired wave after wave of bullets at children in the playground, killing many of them, the trauma was "seared into the children's memory...Whenever we hear an ambulance on its way to the rest home down the street, everything halts...The kids all listen to see if it will stop here or go on," said one teacher.166 But the childhood trauma also stirred up the fetal level of fear, that of the Poisonous Placenta: "For several weeks many children were terrified of the mirrors in the restrooms; a rumor swept the school that 'Bloody Virgin Mary,' some kind of fantasized monster, lurked there."167 All danger appears to tap into our earliest fetal fears, even though most of our developmental history stems from events of childhood proper.

Childhood itself, of course, particularly its earliest years, provides most of the content for the restagings in history. There is evidence that good childrearing can reverse the long-term effects of fetal stress. In a study of 698 infants born in Hawaii in 1955 with pre- or perinatal complications, it was found that those who experienced both fetal trauma and childhood rejection were twice as likely to have received some form of mental health help before age ten due to learning or behavioral problems, including repeated delinquencies, while those who had a close bond with at least one caretaker responded by showing a decrease in the effects of the early trauma.168 So even though fetal trauma has long-lasting effects, and even though few historical events are without traces of fetal imagery, the main source of historical change is still the evolution of childhood.

The social restaging of early trauma and neglect, predicated upon damaged neuronal and hormonal systems, is thus a homeostatic mechanism of the brain, achieved by nations through wars, economic domination and social violence. Each of us constructs a separate neural system for these early traumas and their defenses-a dissociated, organized personality system that stores, defends against and elaborates these early fetal, infantile and childhood traumas as we grow up. Once this basic concept is realized, all the rationalizations of history become transparent; for instance, when Germans say they must start WWII to get "revenge for the Day of Shame," one can ignore the ostensible reference (The Treaty of Versailles) and recognize instead the real source of "German shame"-the routine humiliations, beatings, sexual abuse and betrayals of German children by their caretakers.

The initial fetal matrix of the organization of these traumas is obvious. Children's playgrounds are full of fetal objects, from swings that repeat amniotic rocking to birth tunnels and slides-all enjoyed by children who must remember their fetal life, since they generally have not as yet been told about where babies grow. Infants cling to pillows and Teddy Bears and watch television programs like "The Care Bears," which features baby bears with rainbow umbilicuses coming out of their tummies and has an evil "Dr. Coldheart" who tries to push black, poisonous wastes into their umbilicuses. Growing children organize fetal games, hitting, kicking and throwing around placental membranes (one, the football, even egg-shaped, that we rebirth through our legs) and reenacting birth when passing them through upright legs or vaginal hoops. We likewise relive our birth when we celebrate Christmas as a rebirth ritual, complete with a placental tree and a Santa Claus-a chubby blood-red fetus going down his birth chimney attached to his placental bag-not to mention such thrills as bungee-jumping our rebirth at the end of a long umbilicus or throwing ourselves into mosh pits to be reborn at rock concerts.169 Similarly, all religions contain at their center the Suffering Fetus and its Poisonous Placenta, whether it is the dismembered, suffering Osiris or the bleeding Christ on his placental cross or the dead Elvis, at whose grave a mass veneration takes place beneath a giant placental heart and a soundtrack of him singing the song "Hurt."170 The central religious aim of reuniting with the placenta can even be seen in the origin of the word religion "re-ligare," that is, "to unite again."

History as a homeostatic mechanism which is needed to regulate the emotional disfunctions of the brain is a central concept of my psychogenic theory. I consider it impossible to understand historical events without an understanding of modern neurobiology. For instance, the fact that damaged amygdala function is found in paranoid schizophrenics171 leads one to question if the paranoid mood of nations before and during wars may be related to real, measurable diminished amygdalan functioning which, combined with reduced serotonin levels and other neurotransmitter imbalances, appear to cause our periodic searches for enemies. The leader's function is, in this view, similar to that of a psychiatrist administering prescriptions for wars and depressions as psychological "uppers" and "downers," designed to restore homeostatic equilibrium in the brains of a nation ravaged by surging neurotransmitters and other hormones.

Because the fetus's umbilicus is like a pulsing fifth limb and because the placenta is the fetus's first love object, I believe we so deeply experience the loss of our umbilicus/placenta that we walk around feeling we have still a "phantom placenta"-the same phenomenon as the "phantom limb" experienced by amputees172 and are constantly looking for a leader or a flag or a god to serve as its substitute. Just as gods are imagined as beings "from whom all blessings flow," leaders are seen as beings "from whom all power flows." In ancient Egypt, people saved the actual placenta of the Pharaoh and put it on a pole which they carried into battle; it was the first flag in history.173 In America, we still ritually worship our placental flag with its red arteries and blue veins at the end of a umbilical flagpole-in public gatherings. In Baganda, they put the king's placenta on a throne, pray to it and receive messages from it through their priests.174 We do the same when we look to the sky for UFOs high-tech placental disks that we hope might have messages for us.175 Lawson has even experimentally correlated UFO abduction scenarios with the actual birth experiences of the abducted, those who had normal vaginal births imagining tunnel experiences during abduction while those who had caesarean births experienced being yanked up by the UFO without the tunnel images.176

The yearning for a phantom placenta a "poison container" for our dangerous emotions to be our leader, and the search for a Poisonous Placenta to be our enemy with whom we can fight, are the central tasks of all social organizations, prior to any utility they may have. Leaders are not mothers or fathers, and they are not always idealized. They are poison containers for our feelings. Poison containers are objects into which we can dump our disowned feelings, just as we once pumped our polluted blood into the placenta, hoping for it to be cleansed. We ascribe to poison containers all kinds of magical placental significances, including the power to cleanse our emotions, which are felt to be like polluted blood in accordance with their fetal origin. When the leader appears unable to handle these emotions, when he appears to be weakening and abandoning us, when our progress in life seems to involve too much independence and we re-experience our early abandonment by our placenta and our parents, we begin to look for enemies to inflict our traumas upon.177

War, then, is a sacrificial ritual designed to defend against fears of individuation and maternal engulfment by restaging our early traumas upon scapegoats. This theory is the exact opposite of the "social stress" theories of all other social scientists, since it is usually successes freedom and new challenges that are experienced as triggers for wars, not economic distress or political stresses. The war ritual is the final chapter of the reshearsing of early traumas that we all experience as we grow up, from the 18,000 murders the average child sees on TV to the bullying of scapegoats children practice on school playgrounds and the sports we play in which we rehearse the mental mechanisms necessary to dominate other groups and turn them into "enemies" (the truth reflected in the saying that "British wars are won on the Rugby fields").

That war is sacrifical, not utilitarian, and aims at reducing progress and prosperity is shown by the finding that major wars almost always occur after a sustained economic upswing. Not only are there many more wars after periods of prosperity, but they are much longer and bigger, "six to twenty times bigger as indicated by battle fatalities."178 Wars sacrifice youth symbols of our potency and hopefulness because it is our striving, youthful, independent selves that we blame for getting us into trouble in the first place. Wars are always preemptive attacks on enemies we create-enemies we must find "out there" to relieve the paranoia of having enemies "inside our heads" who resent our good fortunes. Most wars start "for the sake of peace" because we really believe we can have inner peace if we stop our progress and individuation, if we sacrifice our striving self. Only if we can stop growing can we protect ourselves from our most horrible fear-the repetition of our earliest tragedies.
War, then, is a cleansing ritual sacrifice that is staged as a four-act drama:

1. We begin to reexperience our early traumas when we fee too much freedom, prosperity and individuation-wars are usually fought after a period of peace, prosperity and social progress produced by a minority who have had better childrearing, producing challenges that are experienced as threatening by the majority whose childrearing is so traumatic that too much growth and independence produces an abandonment panic, fears of a persecutory mother-figure, a defensive merging with the engulfing mother and then fears by men of having been turned into women.179

2. We deify a leader who is a poison container into whom we can pump our frightening feelings, our "bad blood" you can see this blood-transfer concretely when Nazis put up their arms like an umbilicus and throw their bad feelings their "bad blood" into Hitler for cleansing, while he catches their feelings with an open palm, standing under a swastika (the ancient symbol of the placenta) imprinted upon a blood-red flag, the hypermasculine leader becoming society's protector by finding an enemy to persecute rather than individuals reliving their early tragedies alone and helpless.

3. We restage our early helplessness, humiliation and revenge-terror fantasies with another nation who needs to act out their violence-minor insults are experienced as so humiliating that even a holocaust can be worth their revenge-as President Kennedy said as he considered whether to risk an apocalyptic nuclear war in the Cuban Missile Crisis, "If Krushchev wants to rub my nose in the dirt, it's all over."180 When progress and new challenges evoke paranoid fears of jealous enemies and wishes/fears of engulfing mommies, nations collude in a trance-like state to fight to defend against their delusional loss of potency.

4. We go to war by restaging our terrors in the social sphere, inflicting our traumas upon our most vital selves, our youth wars are not, as often said, "outlets for human aggression" in fact, nations usually feel a new strength as they go to war, just as wife-beating husbands become calm and self-righteous as they beat up their spouses;181 so, too, nations experience a manic strength as they fight to destroy the poisonous enemy, revenge their traumas, regain their lost virility and be reborn into a New World Order. These stages on the road to war can be monitored through a fantasy analysis of a nation's emotional life. Whether they can also be confirmed by changes in neurobiological markers for instance, whether nations prior to wars experience measureable surges in adrenaline and noradrenaline stress hormones and a manic surge in dopamine levels-is yet to be investigated.

The imagery of war as a restaging of birth is ubiquitous. Consider just the birth imagery surrounding the nuclear bomb. When Ernest Lawrence telegramed to his fellow physicists that the bomb was ready to test, his cable read, "Congratulations to the new parents. Can hardly wait to see the new arrival."182 When the bomb was exploded at Los Alamos, a journalist wrote, "One felt as though he had been privileged to witness the Birth of the World...the first cry of the newborn world."183 When President Truman met with world leaders at Postdam just before dropping the bomb on Japan, General Grove cabled him reporting that its second test was successful: "Doctor has just returned most enthusiastic and confident that The Little Boy is as husky as his big brother...I could have heard his screams from here..."184 When the Hiroshima bomb, named "Little Boy," was dropped from the belly of a plane named after the pilot's mother, General Groves cabled Truman, "The baby was born." Even the survivors of the Hiroshima explosion usually referred to the bomb as "the original child."185 Similarly, when the first hydrogen bomb, termed "Teller's baby," was exploded, Edward Teller's telegram read, "It's a boy."186 Obviously nukes are felt to be powerful babies perfect avenging fetuses. With them, our revenge for our early traumas can now be infinite: war finally can destroy every "dangerous mother" on earth. One can see why Truman, hearing that the world's first nuclear bomb had just been dropped, exclaimed, "This is the greatest thing in history!"187

Wars are sacrificial defenses that have proven to be effective in reducing fears of ego disintegration due to prosperity panic. But even more effective than sacrificing mothers and children in external wars is the internal, institutionalized wars against mothers and children that nations conduct periodically as social policy. Structural violence (excess deaths because of poverty alone) amount to 15 million persons a year world wide, compared to an average 100,000 deaths per year from wars.188 Economic recessions hurt and kill more mothers and children as sacrificial victims than most wars.189 As in foreign wars (external sacrifices), political and economic wars against mothers and children (internal sacrifices) are regularly conducted during periods of peace and prosperity. These internal wars parallel the regressive images we have been discussing; for instance, as William Joseph found in studying the 1929 and 1987 stock market crashes, images of dangerous women proliferated in the media, indicating that the time for internal sacrifice was near.190

In America, in the mid-90s, after a period of peace and prosperity and particularly after the demise of The Evil Empire that can be blamed for the nation's emotional disorders dangerous women images multiplied in the media, and enemies were felt to be inside rather than abroad. Reductions in food, welfare, education and health care for women and children became the national goal. After being obsessed with watching for an entire year the trial of someone accused of being a mother-murderer, O. J. Simpson, it is no coincidence that Americans were then united in wanting to cut welfare for mothers and their children, acting out their own mother-murder scenario. Europe, too, began feeling that the Welfare State-imagined as a dangerous, engulfing Medusa-was an enemy that had to be destroyed.191 That women and children were the real enemies of the "G.O.P. Revolution" was not denied. As Newt Gingrich put it, "The Welfare State has created the moral decay of the world. We have barbarity after barbarity...brutality after brutality. And we shake our heads and say, 'Well, what's going wrong?' What's going wrong is a welfare system which subsidized people for doing nothing...And then we end up with the final culmination of a drug-addicted underclass with no sense of humanity..."192 Simpson and Gingrich, both our delegates were somehow uncanny, but nontheless caried out the nation's unconscious sacrificial group-fantasies all the same.

That a prosperous America has arranged to have so many people needing welfare is a clue to why nations need poor people to punish for their prosperity. Since it is prosperity and the fear of intolerable growth that triggers the restaging of trauma, it makes psychohistorical sense that America today-the most prosperous and freest nation of any in history-has more women and children living in poverty than any other industrialized nation. American child poverty rates are four times those of most European nations, and are getting worse recently.193 It is national policy: "children do not catch poverty but are made poor by state neglect."194 While France manages to afford excellent child care centers for preschoolers, child care in America is a disaster, with only 15 percent of the centers of "high quality," while the bottom 15 percent are in "childcare centers of such poor quality that their health or development is threatened."195 Nor is it coincidental that the world's wealthiest country has the highest child homicide rate196 and outside of Israel the most newborn boys circumcised,197 both indices of society's hostility towards children.

Economic success gives people increased opportunities for individuation; national prosperity and peace are therefore dangerous ("If I grow and enjoy myself, something terrrible will happen"). Periods of extended prosperity without excternal "enemies" therefore produce prosperity panics that require sacrificial victims, whether in Hebrew or Aztec ritual sacrifice yesterday or in today's economic cycles. In good economic times, such as in 1996, legislators in America, with the support of the majority of citizens, vigorously cut all kinds of aid to children. In New York City, 39 percent of the children are on welfare; in Chicago, 46 percent, in Detroit, 67 percent, and anti-welfare legislation was everywhere put into effect.198 With the largest Gross Domestic Product of any nation at any time in history, America has 75 percent of the world's child deaths by homicide, suicide and firearms, overwhelmingly leading the way for violence-related deaths of children.199 In 1996, at the peak of our current prosperity, Americans of both parties, with the approval of the President, cut nutrition assistance for 14 million children and Social Security for 750,000 disabled children, along with cuts in school lunches, Head Start, child protection, education, child health care and aid to homeless children-what the president of the Children's Defense Fund described as "an unbelievable budget massacre of the weakest."200

The media noticed the posperity panic, but are puzzled as to its cause, after four prosperous years. The magazine cover that showed a depressed Uncle Sam with the headline "If the Economy Is Up, Why Is America Down?" could more accurately have been worded, "Because the Economy Is Up, America Is Feeling Down."201 Cutting funds for Head Start was in fact necessary to punish the striving child in ourselves. Sen. Patrick Moynihan, calling the legislation "an obscene act of social regression that visits upon children the wrath of an electorate," predicted the cuts in Aid to Families with Dependent Children alone will put millions of children on the street.202 "It is beyond imagining that we will do this," Moynihan said. "In the middle of the Great Depression, we provided a Federal guarantee of some provision for children, dependent children. In the middle of the roaring 90's, we're taking it away."203 We were so bent on punishing children for our own prosperity that we cut even funds for school lunches, despite there being 12 million American children today who are so malnourished that it has damaged their brains.204 But scapegoating children in prosperous times isn't paradoxical; it's a psychohistorical regularity.

That the group-fantasies behind cutting benefits for women and children are similar to the blood-sucking fantasies discussed above could be seen in any of the flood of vampire movies that appeared at the same time, often featuring bloodthirsty mother figures, or in the fantasies of those in Congress and the

media who claimed that welfare recipients were "bleeding us dry" and "sucking the blood out of the citizenry [like] a giant leech"-punishment for which was for the government to "suck the blood" out of welfare recipients (Illustration 3:6).205 As Presidential candidate Sen. Phil Gramm said, "If we continue to pay mothers who have illegitimate children, the country will soon have more illegitimate than legitimate children," all feeding off of him, a scenario that is his projection of the needy "baby Phil" demanding "MORE!" who was threatening to "eat up American resources." Bad, sinful babies were seen as deserving to be punished as scapegoats for the country's guilty prosperity. Historically, during every period of prosperity and peace in American history (such as in the 1850s and the 1890s), there has been legislation by the newly wealthy to stop welfare for what they called "the undeserving poor." Anti-welfare legislation, now as then, had nothing to do with saving money; in fact, the cuts would cost a hundred times more than their savings through increases in drug addiction, theft and murder. Each time legislators condemn "moral decay" and "a breakdown in family values"-code words for fear of freedom-they only mean that in fantasy social collapse can be avoided by "ending dependency"-code words for punishing poor children, symbols of their own dependency needs.

That punishing children, not saving money, is the aim of the legislation becomes clear when the effects of each cutback is actually costed out. For instance, the cuts in the Federal Supplemental Security Income program not only reduce allowances for poor crippled children by 25 percent, they also throw hundreds of thousands of disabled children off the program. This means, as one commentator put it, that

their families are so marginal economically that the additional cost of caring for a child with spina bifida or profound mental retardation is literally unbearable. So the kids will get dumped into state homes, thus costing the taxpayers significantly more than the allowances that enable their families to care for them. Not only cruel, but dumb as well.206

But legislators are not dumb at all, only cruel, purposely cruel, for the sake of all of us. Which is why we elect them to "balance the budget," that is, to conduct a restaging of all the early cruelties done to us, a warding off of the punishment we expect for our prosperity, inflicting our early terrors upon society's scapegoats: helpless, vulnerable children. Like war, the sacrifice of women and children is promised to result in a magical "rebirth of national vitality" that is well worth the difficult "labor pains" of passing the new welfare legislation.207

Although these conclusions about the relative permanence of early trauma and its inevitable restaging in war, social violence and economic injustice admittedly appear to be discouraging, an awareness of the source of human violence can actually be enormously hopeful. For if early traumas rather than "aggressive human nature" are the cause of our violence, then efforts to radically reduce these traumas can be reasonably expected to reduce war and social domination. If, rather than continuing the millennia-old historical cycle of traumatized adults inflicting their inner terrors upon their children, we try kindness instead, effectively helping mothers and children as a society rather than burdening, abandoning or punishing them, we will soon be able to end our need to reenact our traumatic memories on the social stage. Let me describe why I believe this radical reduction of violence is possible in our society today.

The studies that I cited earlier on maternal rejection included solid statistical evidence showing that when babies are unwanted by their mothers and have birth complications they will, when they become teenagers, commit four times the number of violent crimes as those who are wanted. If this four-to-one ratio holds for most restagings of early trauma, then reducing this trauma to just a small fraction of what it is today can be expected to save almost 75 percent of the cost of social violence. I estimate the yearly cost of American social violence, external and internal sacrifices combined, to be over $1 trillion per annum, adding up the cost of most of the military, the interest on the debt, which is all for recent wars, most of the criminal justice system, the loss of life and property in crime, and so on. The savings, then, would be 75 percent of $1 trillion, or $750 billion per annum. The only question is: How is it possible to eliminate most early trauma and child abuse, and what would it cost to do this?

The answer to this question is no longer merely theoretical. A decade ago, a psychohistorian, Robert McFarland, M.D., reasoned that if my psychogenic theory of history is right, he should be able to improve both the health and the wealth of his community in Boulder, Colorado, by reaching out to every new mother before her baby was born and help her to welcome and then parent her child, a task society usually believes does not require help from the community. Two issues of our Journal of Psychohistory, entitled "Ending Child Abuse," and "Changing Childhood,"208 were devoted to showing how effective parent outreach centers can be centers which have been replicated in several other states describing such activities as facilities to new mothers, prenatal services, parenting discussion groups, baby massage courses, single mother help, fathering courses, puppet shows, lectures on how to discipline children without hitting, psychotherapy referrals and home visiting during early years. All these are provided on a shoestring budget, mainly with volunteer and paraprofessional help, using local community resources. By providing this prenatal and early childhood help, fetal and child abuse-as measured by physical and sexual abuse reports, hospital records of injuries, and followup studies-have been drastically reduced. No new mother or father wants to reject or abuse their baby, the formula for baby battering being, "I had my baby to give me the love I never got; but instead she cried and sounded like my mother yelling at me, so I hit her." What McFarland and others found was that providing new parents with help and hope allowed their underlying affection to replace the abuse that comes from fear, abandonment and despair.

The cost? Since McFarland stresses local community resources and volunteer labor, very little. Even when he has expanded his parenting centers to include day care facilities, he expects a local sales tax of one-tenth of one percent to be sufficient to run the entire enterprise, a very small "children's tax" that would represent the community's commitment to invest in their children's future. A similar sales tax in every community in the nation would produce .1 percent times $5 trillion in yearly retail sales in America or $5 billion a year in tax revenues, about the cost of two of the B2 bombers the military is building that they admit are not needed. The savings, then, 15 to 20 years from now, if we should decide to save our children from early traumas, would be $750 billion per year saved, less $5 billion invested annually, or $745 billion per year net savings, far more than enough to end poverty forever in America. This does not even begin to consider the additional trillions we currently spend on drugs, gambling and other addictions that handle the pain of early traumas, activities which are likely to wither away without their traumatic underpinnings.

We regularly decide to invest hundreds of billions of dollars in technology hoping for future benefits, under the notion that material investments invariably produce prosperity. But Adam Smith was not radical enough when he said the wealth of nations lay in its investment in technology. The real wealth of nations is its children, since every scientific and technological revolution has been preceded by a childrearing revolution. Investing in the mental and physical health of children by preventing damage to their brains from early traumatic experiences must accompany investments in material technologies, or else any resulting prosperity will continue to be destroyed in wars and social violence. Few people realize that the cost of eliminating poverty entirely for all children in America is only $39 billion, one-half of one percent of our gross domestic product, or about the same amount as we waste financing the CIA.209 A healthful, loving childhood without trauma isn't expensive; in fact it saves trillions of dollars. And it's the most important goal of mankind.

In the past two prosperous decades, we have purposely brought about through our social policies an increase in the percentage of children living in spirit-crushing poverty in America by over one-third, from 15 percent to 22 percent, which will soon make life in America more violent than it had been when we were much less prosperous. "We are underinvested in our childre," says Frederick Goodwin. "We spend seven times more per capita on the elderly than we do on children....we are wasting a tremendous resource."210 The connections between early traumas and neglect are everywhere, yet we continue to insist on policies that are guaranteed to increase social violence and to undo the progress and prosperity we work so hard to achieve.

It may seem simplistic to conclude that most of human destructiveness is the restaging of early traumas and that what we must do if we wish to put an end to war and social violence is teach adults how to stop abusing and neglecting and begin respecting and enjoying their children, but I believe this is precisely what our best scientific evidence shows.

Our task, then, is clear and our resources sufficient to make the world safe for the first time in our long, violent history. All it takes now is the will to begin.


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