Hallelujah! . . (I think. . . . ) BPM IV follows this; it corresponds to the time of emergence from the womb during the birth process and is characterized by feelings of victory, release, exultation, but also sometimes, after that initial relief, of depression — when the struggle does not bring the expected rewards, as when, during modern obstetrical births, the neonate is harshly treated and then taken away from the mother, disallowing the bonding which should occur, naturally, immediately after birth. In my own experience, the exultation and relief of release was replaced suddenly by feelings of being assaulted by the attendants at my birth (which of course they thought of as "attending" to me) as they went about roughly removing mucous from my mouth; prematurely cutting my umbilical cord to leave me struggling for breath; scrubbing, weighing, measuring, and otherwise probing me; and wrapping me like a tamale and taking me away from all I had previously known (i.e., my mother). This felt like ritual abuse to me, and I have often likened it, after the intense period of compression and crushing before birth, to a situation of "going from the frying pan into the fire." No-Exit Despair In Grof’s schema, BPM I is followed by BPM II (i.e., Basic Perinatal Matrix II), which are experiences and feelings related to the time of "no exit" in the womb and claustrophobic-like feelings occurring to nearly all humans in the late stages of pregnancy and especially with the onset of labor, when the cervix is not yet dilated. Since there does not seem to be any "light at the end of the tunnel" — metaphorically speaking — it is characterized by feelings of depression, guilt, despair, and blame, and a characterization of oneself as being in the position of "the victim." It is very much like deMause’s period of collective feelings of entrapment, strangulation, suffocation, and poisonous placenta, which he has found to precede the actual outbreak of war or other violence. Heaven and Hell In summary, we have euphoric, oceanic, blissful feelings, sometimes feelings of being poisoned or being in a toxic or polluted environment; followed by crushing, no-exit, depression, claustrophobia, compression, strangulation, suffocation, and being force-fed by a poisonous placenta; followed by struggle, violence, war scenarios, birth/death fantasies, sexual excess; and finally release, triumph, feeling of renewal or rebirth and a new golden age, but also possibly of being abandoned, tortured, ritually sacrificed, probed medically, and assaulted by sensations. These are some of the elements that characterize the experience of the perinatal unconscious. FOR DREAMING OUT LOUD! In the next chapter we will take a look at how these elements have erupted into our collective dreams in recent history. By this I mean, we will see how our artists and creative people have projected them into the media, movies, and TV -- in which we all participate -- and how our fascination with them, because these artists are reflecting things that exist deep inside of ourselves as well, has caused them to grow, creating the dominant underlying mythos of our time.
Apocalypse? Or New Dawn? We live in unprecedented times, times in which the possibility of ending our species in our lifetime, even eliminating all life on this planet, are very real possibilities. No other time has been like this. And the effect of this possibility of the actual end of days, so to speak, while so horrifying that we are in denial of it and hardly speak it, hangs over us and affects us in ways unique and fantastic. In Chapter Two, I introduce the idea of the Perinatal Unconscious. My answer to how we might best characterize these strangest of days and the current unprecedented global condition is that they are driven by an emerging perinatal unconscious. Why perinatal? First, let us remind ourselves that perinatal means, literally, "surrounding birth." As a one-time college instructor of pre- and perinatal psychology and as an editor of a professional journal concerned with perinatal psychology — as well as a psychohistorian, let me explain what might be considered elements of a perinatal unconscious. The elements I will describe are near universally accepted among perinatal psychologists as unconscious forces, factors, matrices that exist in us all as a result of a human birth that is unique, by comparison to all other species, in its degree of trauma and hence of its impact or imprint on what we might call — dare I say the word — our "human nature." These perinatal elements have come to our understanding through the efforts of both the inner explorations of experiential pioneers into the perinatal -- myself included, as well as the hard empirical work of pre- and perinatal researchers. I might point out that I personally have over thirty-six years of experiential exploration into these perinatal elements. My experiences confirm, in my own mind, their absolute validity, as well as validating for myself the theoretical constructs put forth by others to describe and explain them; along with the theoretical additions I have made to these constructs.