The Emotional Life
by Lloyd deMause
Chapter 5--The Psychogenic Theory of History
have rarely been interested in psychology. Using the model of Newtonian physics,
they have usually depicted individuals as opaque billiard balls bouncing off
each other. That individuals might have their own complex internal motivations
for the way they act in society-that they have emotions that affect their social
behavior-has rarely been acknowledged. The most interesting question about any
group, one which we asked even as children-"Why are they doing that?"-is rarely
asked in academia. Durkheim, in fact, founded sociology with studies of suicide
and incest that claimed these very private acts were wholly without individual
psychological causes, claiming that understanding individual motivations is
irrelevant to understanding society.1 By eliminating psychology from
the social sciences, Durkheim laid down the principle followed by most social
theorists today: "The determining cause of a social fact should be sought among
the social facts preceding it and not among the states of individual consciousness."2
THE DENIAL OF PSYCHOLOGY IN THE STUDY OF SOCIETY
Sociologists still echo Durkheim's bias against psychology. Most agree with
the sociologist C. Wright Mills, who advised me when I was his research assistant
at Columbia University, "Study enough psychology to make sure you can answer
the bastards when they attack you." Sociologist Thomas Scheff agrees: "There
is a strong tradition in modern scholarship in the human sciences of ignoring
emotions as causes."3 Political scientists follow the same assumptions:
"Political attitudes are generally assumed to be the result of a rational, reflective
process."4 Most anthropologists concur; as Murdock summed up their
view, "The science of culture is independent of the laws of biology and psychology."5
Those anthropologists, from Roheim, Deveraux and LaBarre to Whiting, Munroe
and Spiro,6 who began studying the effects of childhood on culture
have been grossly ignored by other anthropological theorists. In fact, most
anthropologists today are so opposed to psychological analysis of cultures the
distinguished series The Psychoanalytic Study of Society has recently been terminated
for lack of interest, the number of psychoanalytic anthropologists having dwindled
in recent years. Anthropology, says Clifford Geertz, isn't even a "hard science;"7
it's more like literature it's telling stories. Even those few anthropologists
who belong to the Society for Psychological Anthropology have managed to avoid
emotional life so completely that their journal, Ethos, which does contain psychological
articles, recently had to remind anthropologists that "culture consists of ideas
in people, not meanings in tokens."8
Unfortunately, the anthropologist's central concept that "culture determines
social behavior" is simply a tautology. Since "culture" only means "the total
pattern of human behavior" (Webster), to say "culture is what makes a group
do such and such" is merely stating that a group's behavior causes its behavior.
Even if culture is restricted to "shared beliefs," it is purely tautological
to then speak of "cultural causation," since all this could mean is "a group
of individuals believe something because they all believe it." Culture is explanandum,
not explanans. Ever since Kroeber launched cultural determinism as the central
anthropological theory early in the century,9 tautological explanations
have dominated the social sciences as is apparent in Lowie's claim that culture
is "a thing sui generis, the formula being omnia cultura ex cultura."10
That this tautological circularity has made anthropological evolutionary theory
sterile is slowly becoming evident. In fact, according to Tooby and Cosmides,
the Standard Social Science Model of cultural determinism has recently collapsed.
This model, they say, states that "the cultural and social elements that mold
the individual precede the individual and are external to the individual. The
mind did not create them; they created the mind,"11 a theory that
turns out, they say, to explain nothing:
A large and rapidly growing body of research from a diversity of disciplines
has shown that...the Standard Social Science Model is...impossible...It could
not have evolved; it requires an incoherent developmental biology; it cannot
account for the observed problem-solving abilities of humans or the functional
dimension of human behavior...it has repeatedly been empirically falsified;
and it cannot even explain how humans learn their culture or their language.12
Most historians, too, have assiduously avoided psychology, going along with
Paul Veyne in believing that history "consists in saying what happened," little
more13 or trying to explain history by "impersonal structural forces,"
as though such a passionate human enterprise as history could be "impersonal."
The result is that I have at least a hundred books on war on my shelf, and I
don't recall seeing the word "anger" in any of them. Nor does the word "love"
appear very often in any of the hundreds of books of history, sociology or political
science on my shelves, though most of history has origins in problems of insufficient
human love and all of its derivatives. Most historians are a priori relativists,
avoiding any attempt to see personal meaning in historical events, agreeing
with Hayden White, history's leading theoretician, in claiming "there are no
grounds to be found in the historical record itself for preferring one way of
construing its meaning over another."14 Only the recent disciplines
of political psychology and psychohistory have begun to consider inner meanings
and motivations as the focus of causation in social theory.15
This passionate denial of the influence of individual developmental psychology
on society has been at the center of the social sciences since their beginnings.
The actions of individuals in society have a priori been assumed by social philosophers
from Hobbes to Marx to be determined by pure self-interest, "a war of every
man against every man," based on an assumed selfish nature of humanity.16
The same is true of economics. As one economist puts it, "Economic man must
be both rational and greedy."17 In fact, Hobbesian models have been
accepted by John Locke, Adam Smith, John Stuart Mill, Edmund Burke, Karl Marx
and all their contemporary followers-their theories differ only in the arrangements
of social institutions suggested by the authors to handle this basic rational
Social behavior, using these models, cannot therefore be (a) irrational (because
all men use only reason to achieve their goals), (b) empathic (because empathy
for others would not be totally self-interested), (c) self-destructive (because
no one can rationally ever want to hurt themselves), nor (d) sadistic (because
people don't waste their resources just to harm others). At most, people might
be shortsighted or uninformed in their social behavior, but not unreasonable,
benevolent, suicidal or vicious-i.e., not human.
The exclusion of the most powerful human feelings other than greed from social
and political theory plus the elimination of irrationality and self-destructiveness
from models of society explains why the social sciences have such a dismal record
in providing any historical theories worth studying. As long as "social structure"
and "culture" are deemed to lie outside human psyches, motivations are bound
to be considered secondary, reactive solely to outside conditions rather than
themselves being determinative for social behavior.
Nor have the few attempts by social and political theorists to use psychoanalytic
theory to explain history been very successful. This is true whether the theorists
have been sociologists, like Marcuse or Parsons, or psychoanalysts, like Freud
or Róheim.18 Outside of a handful of psychoanalytic anthropologists,
most rely on the same basic Hobbesian model of society, with selfish individuals
remorselessly fighting each other for utilitarian goals, rather than analyzing
how individuals actually relate in groups in history. The reason for this failure
of social and political theory bears some scrutiny, as it will allow us to move
away from an ahistorical, drive-based psychology to a historical, trauma-based
psychology that can be used in understanding historical change. But first we
will have to know something about the effects of childrearing on adult personality.
THE QUESTION OF THE EFFECTS OF CHILD ABUSE
Ever since Jeffrey Masson wrote his book The Assault on the Truth: Freud's Suppression
of the Seduction Theory,19 there has been a widespread misconception
that Freud backed down from maintaining the reality of childhood sexual abuse.
The truth is exactly the opposite. Freud continued all his life to state that
sexual abuse of children in his society was widespread, insisting in his final
writings that "I cannot admit [that] I exaggerated the frequency [of] seduction,"
that "most analysts will have treated cases in which such [incestuous] events
were real and could be unimpeachably established," that "actual seduction...is
common enough," that "the sexual abuse of children is found with uncanny frequency
among school teachers and child attendants," and that "phantasies of being seduced
are of particular interest, because so often they are not phantasies but real
memories."20 What he actually "backed down" from was his initial
idea that hysteria could be caused by sexual abuse, since, he said, "sexual
assaults on small children happen too often for them to have any aetiological
importance..."21 That is, it was because children were so commonly
sexually abused in his society that Freud thought that seduction could not be
the cause of hysteria. Otherwise, nearly everyone would be a hysteric! The only
opinion he changed as he gained clinical experience, Freud said, was that further
information now became available relating to people who had remained normal,
and this led to the unexpected finding that the sexual history of their childhood
did not necessarily differ in essentials from that of neurotics, and, in particular,
that the part played by seduction was the same in both cases.22
Even though the notion is now widely accepted that Freud "changed his mind"
on the reality of widespread childhood sexual abuse in his society, this is
not so. A few psychoanalysts recently have begun to read what Freud actually
wrote and have discovered that "what Freud rejected was not patients' reports
of incest and seduction but rather his reconstruction of fragments of the patient's
memories that he initially inferred to indicate an earlier seduction...."23
i.e., his guesses about the first three years of life.24 He did not
change his mind and call most seduction memories fantasy; in fact, as one psychoanalyst
concludes, "Neither Freud nor other analysts have apparently ever published
a case in which a patient told of a parental seduction that turned out to be
a verifiable fantasy."25
The truth is that Freud and most everyone else in his society knew very well
what I have since confirmed by my research into the history of child assault:
that the overwhelming majority of all children throughout history were sexually
abused.26 The sexual abuse of children today is still very widespread,
though it is now less than in the past. A century ago, the majority of children
were probably abused. In a paper called "The Universality of Incest," I have
examined current surveys of child sexual abuse around the world-defined as actual
genital contact, usually involving penetration-with figures of about 50 percent
for America, Canada and England and much higher figures for the Near and Far
East.27 The percentages a century ago were likely even higher as
I have documented in "The Evolution of Childhood" and as will be further documented
in this book since most people thought having sex with children was harmless
because "they soon forgot about it." Indeed, Freud said he himself was sexually
seduced as a child by his "teacher in sexual matters," his childhood nursemaid.28
A PREVIEW OF THE RECENT HISTORY OF CHILD ASSAULT
Both men and women have commonly used children sexually throughout history.
Mothers and other caretakers used their children as erotic objects, and were
often instructed by doctors to masturbate their little boys "to make their penises
grow longer."29 The author of the nineteenth century's standard work
on The Sexual Life of Children, Albert Moll, said he observed that nursemaids
and servants often carried out "all sorts of sexual acts" on children "for fun."30
Freud agreed, saying that "nursemaids, governesses and domestic servants [were]
guilty of [grave sexual] abuses,"31 that "seduction is common...initiated...by
someone in charge of the child who wants to soothe it, or send it to sleep or
make it dependent on them" and that "nurses put crying children to sleep by
stroking their genitals."32 Freud was straightforward about how common
the erotic use of children was by parents and others, referring to "the 'affection'
shown by the child's parents and those who look after him, which seldom fails
to betray its erotic nature ('the child is an erotic plaything')..."33
Men throughout history have commonly raped little boys and girls, as far back
as antiquity when pederasty was a regular part of every boy's life and the rape
of little girls was so common that many doctors reported that intact hymens
in girls were considered a rare abnormality.34 By Freud's time, incest
was still so widespread that doctors visiting homes of men who had venereal
diseases often discovered that their children had the same disease on their
anuses, mouths or genitals.35 Doctors concluded that "sexual acts
committed against children are very frequent," particularly by fathers.36
Children including Freud, whose family lived in a one-room apartment37
usually slept in their parents' or nursemaid's bed during childhood, which made
them available for taking a part in the parent's sexual intercourse.38
In working-class families, where seduction was less secretive, the sexual abuse
of girls by their fathers and brothers was so widely acknowledged that they
often joked about their babies being products of incestuous intercourse.39
Most adults believed that until the age of 5 or so little children did not really
remember what was done to them, so they could be sexually molested without consequences.40
Child rape, including incest, was rarely prosecuted, for, as one man said coming
out of a trial during which a man had been let go after raping a little girl,
"What nonsense! Men should not be punished for a thing like that. It doesn't
harm the child."41 Incest even today is usually considered a minor
felony, probation-eligible, similar to adultery; in fact, virtually all child
sexual abuse today goes unpunished, because it is either undiscovered or unprosecuted
or routinely plea-bargained.42 Nor was the massive sexual use of
children in Freud's time so hidden. Just as today there are 100 million child
prostitutes around the world,43 during the nineteenth century they
were even more prevalent, since every city had child prostitutes available in
quantity for any man who had a bit of available change.44
Nor was the beating of children a practice to which most adults in history were
addicted considered traumatic to the child by Freud and his contemporaries.
Severe, routine beating under the guise of discipline has been the lot of most
children in most times throughout history; the further back in history one goes,
the more often adults hit children.45 In Germany, a 1964 survey still
showed 80 percent of parents beat their children with a panoply of instruments
that included whips, canes, bundles of sticks, shovels and cats-o'-nine-tails.46
These beatings began in infancy, continued as the daily reality of children's
lives according to their autobiographies,47 and were a regular practice
in schools.48 Freud nowhere mentioned beating as traumatic to children;
his only paper that mentions beating says it is the child's wish to be beaten
that causes emotional problems.49 Nor does he mention swaddling,
the universal practice common in his time of tying up infants for a year and
longer so they continuously lived in their own urine and feces.50
Likewise missing from his work was such regular practices as the use of enemas
beginning in infancy51 and the terrorizing of children with dummies
to control them,52 plus the continuous abandonment, terrorizing,
betrayal, shaming and other traumatic emotional abuse that have been the common
practices of most parents throughout history.
Unlike contemporary psychoanalysis, Freud did not say that the tying up (swaddling),
beating and sexual molestation that his patients had all been subjected to as
children by their caretakers was traumatic nor that these assaults were the
cause of their neurosis. In fact, he sometimes said seduction was beneficial,
as, for instance, when women seduce little boys, about which he wrote that "One
can regularly observe in the circle of one's acquaintances that...men who have
been seduced by women at an early age escape neurasthenia."53 He
nowhere described the molestation of children as painful or as a betrayal of
trust or as intensely humiliating to the helpless child. He believed seduction
presented problems only in the sense that it sometimes provided "unconsummated"
excitation.54 Sexual seductions, he said, "produced no effect on
the child"55 until a later event awakened the memory of the assault
by "deferred action."56 Even one of his biographers wondered why
after Freud discussed the "precocious experience of sexual relations with actual
excitement of the genitals resulting from sexual abuse [he] with an almost absurd
lack of logic...claimed that the precocious sexual excitement had little or
no effect on the child."57 In fact, Freud concluded that because
"sexual assaults on small children happen too often for them to have any aetiological
importance, [hysteria] could not lie in the nature of the experiences, since
other people remained healthy in spite of being exposed to the same precipitating
causes [rape]."58 Therefore, he said, when he discovered infantile
sexuality, he decided he had "overrated the importance [note: not the incidence]
of seduction"59 and concluded that "the 'traumatic' element in the
sexual experiences of childhood [he means seduction] lost its importance [since]
obviously seduction is not required in order to arouse a child's sexual life."60
DENIAL OF THE EFFECTS OF SEXUAL ABUSE
Freud was very much part of general opinion in considering the seduction of
children as harmless. Freud even sided with perpetrators of seduction. In the
case of Dora, for instance, who was molested at age 14 by a friend of her father's,
Freud said, by a "kiss upon her lips [and] the pressure of his erect member
against her body,"61 Freud agreed with the father, who said she should
not have objected, since the molester was a friend of his. Freud declared the
girl was "hysterical" because she complained about the assault on her: "I should
without question consider a person hysterical in whom an occasion for sexual
excitement elicited feelings that were preponderantly or exclusively unpleasurable..."62
He blamed the children because their sensuousness provoked the sexual assaults
by adults: "The last word on the subject of traumatic etiology [is] that the
sexual constitution which is peculiar to children is precisely calculated to
provoke sexual experiences of a particular kind namely traumas."63
His psychoanalytic colleagues often blamed the victim too. Karl Abraham called
sexual molestation of his patients by adults "desired by the child unconsciously
[because of an] abnormal psycho-sexual constitution,"64 concluding
they had "an abnormal desire for obtaining sexual pleasure, and in consequence
of this undergo sexual traumas."65 Many other psychoanalysts after
Freud continued to label patient reports of childhood sexual abuse "wishes."66
As one recalled, "I was taught in my...early years in psychiatry, as most of
us were, to look very skeptically upon the incestuous sexual material described
by my patients....Any inclination on my part, or that of my colleagues in the
training situation, to look upon these productions of the patient as having
some reality basis was scoffed at and was seen as evidence of our naiveté."67
This has recently begun to change in a few institutes of psychoanalysis in some
Opinion has not really changed so much, unfortunately, in either academia or
psychiatry. While many give lip service to the illegality of sexual abuse of
children, real opinion is quite different, as I have found from having given
many speeches on the history of child abuse to academic and mental health audiences
in the past three decades. Academics who study human sexuality often agree with
Kinsey ("It is difficult to understand why a child, except for its cultural
conditioning, should be disturbed at having its genitalia touched...or disturbed
at even more specific sexual contacts"),68 his co-author Pomeroy
("incest between adults and younger children can...be a satisfying and enriching
experience"),69 sexual historians Edwardes and Masters ("there is
no shame in being a...pederast or a rapist if one is satisfied"),70
social worker LeRoy Schultz "[incest can be] a positive, healthy experience")71
or any of the hundreds of others in anthropology, psychology and history who
preach the pro-pedophile agenda in their fields today.72 Scholarly
academic journals have even published special issues praising pedophilia as
"nurturant" and advocating abolishing all laws against sex with children.73
The record of psychiatry is little better. When I gave an address at the American
Psychiatric Association Convention in Philadelphia on the subject "The History
of Child Assault," I gave extensive evidence showing that the majority of children
today in the countries for which we have statistics were sexually abused. The
audience eventually seemed to admit that what I said could be true. Then they
discussed among themselves the following proposition: "If childhood sexual abuse
has been so widespread for so long, then perhaps we are wrong, and we shouldn't
be creating a conflict in children's minds. Since everyone does it, maybe sex
between children and adults isn't wrong at all." In addition, they asked the
question: "What might gentle incest be like? Might it not be OK?" I was not
surprised when, a few months later, the American Psychiatric Association classified
pedophilia as a disorder only if it bothered the pedophile, professing, according
to one dissident psychiatrist, that "a person is no longer a pedophile simply
because he molests children...He is a pedophile only if he feels bad or anxious
about what he's doing." Otherwise, having sex with children can be healthy.74
What becomes evident is that most people in every society including our own
believe that sex between adults and children is not really traumatic and is
not the cause of emotional problems. Freud was not the only person to completely
deny the traumatic origin of the emotional problems his patients brought to
him-they continue to be denied by most people even today. Because of this denial,
it makes sense that so much clinical research during the past century into the
causes of mental illness has consisted mainly of investigation of repressed
unacceptable wishes rather than of dissociated traumatic memories of real events,
ignoring the crucial fact that no one gets sick because of wishes alone without
the traumas that are linked to them. This concentration on wishes rather than
traumas also explains, I think, why depth psychology has failed to contribute
much to social or political theory. For if the unconscious consists only of
repressed wishes which have their source in drives, psyches and therefore societies
cannot change, since these "drives," coming from virtually unchanged gene pools,
must have stayed the same while our psyches and social patterns change over
time. But if the unconscious is acknowledged to include both wishes and traumatic
memories of abuse and neglect-memories of real events which change as the history
of childhood evolves-we can explain social change for the first time.
Massive denial of the origin of humanity's problems in the traumatic abuse of
children is, then, one and the same as the massive denial of the psychological
origins of social behavior. They are two sides of the same historical coin.
Both are rooted in the fact that our deepest fears are stored in a separate
brain system that remains largely unexplored by science and that is the source
of the restaging of these early traumas in social events. Only when the contents
and psychodynamics of these dissociated traumatic memories are made fully conscious
can we understand the waking nightmare that we call history.
To achieve this understanding, we must draw upon all the resources of neurobiology,
experimental, clinical and evolutionary psychology, psychoanalysis and psychotherapy,
history and the other social sciences in order to provide a fully scientific
theory of society.75 To begin this synthesis, I will first review
recent advances in the understanding of the neurobiology of trauma and its storage
in separate neuronal networks in the brain.
THE NEUROBIOLOGY OF PSYCHOHISTORY
Although history is obviously not reducible to human biology, a psychohistorian
cannot avoid contending with the hard facts of neurobiology, since the mind-and
therefore the brain-is not, as Locke thought, a tabula rasa, but a highly complex,
flawed end result of an extremely imperfect evolutionary process. What is more,
society is the way it is partly because the brain is constructed the way it
is, and this depends on the specific way the brain has evolved.76
Societies are not constructed in the most logical or even most adaptive forms
possible. Given the hominid brain we started with, even the most bizarre forms
of society revealed by the historical record can be understood as the flawed
products of evolving psyches and evolving brains. It is therefore essential
that psychohistory understand the latest concepts in what has been called the
"social neurosciences"77 that are beginning to be able to understand
the effects of early interpersonal experiences between parents and children
on the neurobiological development of the brain.
Since, as the neurobiologist Gerald Edelman has put it, "The likelihood of guessing
how the brain works without looking at its structure seems slim,"78
we will begin with a brief overview of brain structure. The brain is composed
of over 100 billion neurons, with trillions of connections, dendrites, which
are branching extensions from the body of the neuron that pass stimuli received
by axons on to other neurons through synapses, the specialized connections between
neurons. Since this synaptic activity is either excitatory or inhibitory, much
of mental life and therefore also of the social life is either manic or depressive,
and one of the main tasks of leaders, as also of psychiatrists, is to adjust
through social projects the level of excitation of the brain. Memorization is
thought to occur through repeated stimulation of synapses, making them grow
bigger and stronger, as neurotransmitters are released across synaptic gaps.79
Specific memories are stored all over the brain, in a much more fractured way
than a computer stores memory in many files. As with a computer, however, the
crucial task is retrieval of the memory, using neural networks or brain modules
that serve as "indexes" for the fractured memories. As discussed in the previous
chapter, early emotional memories are indexed in a network centering in the
amygdala, while the conscious self system is indexed more in the hippocampus
and orbital prefrontal cortex,80 giving the brain the ability to
retrieve information stored elsewhere and providing a "working memory" system
that receives emotional signals from the amygdala.81 A PET scan of
the brain, for instance, made during "free association" shows increased blood
flow in this orbitofrontal area, thus showing why the psychoanalytic process
can tap into uncensored private thoughts.82
5:1 The human brain
The amygdala is predominantly excitatory, stimulating externally oriented behavior, and the hippocampus is predominantly inhibitory, comparing current information with existing knowledge. In current situations of danger, the amygdalan system is the first to make your muscles tense and heart beat faster, while the hippocampal-prefrontal cortical system will remember whom you were with and what you were doing during the danger, so as to be able to avoid it in the future.83 It is the growth of the hippocampus, prefrontal cortex and related areas that represents the main evolutionary development of self consciousness (beyond simple growth of cortical storage areas), allowing Homo sapiens sapiens to delay responses while comparing them to past experience and self concepts. When one dreams, one's amygdala lights up in the brain scanner like a pinball machine, as powerful early emotional memories are accessed and incorporated by the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex with current daily events into long-term personality modules. The hippocampal-prefrontal cortical and amygdalan memory systems are, in fact, the real "two brains" that dissociate more rational conscious self systems from unconscious emotional memories-not a simple "right-brain," "left-brain" split. The earliest regulation of emotion in a specialized amygdalan-prefrontal-orbital network first occurs during the mother-infant mutual gaze dialogues:
The common involvement [in infants] of orbital, temporal, and amygdala neurons in the processing of sensory (particularly visual) information of emotional significance has suggested that they 'may form part of a specialized neural system for the processing of social stimuli.'..The furthest terminus of this circuit, the orbitofrontal cortex, represents the hierarchical apex of this system. This is functionally expressed in its unique capacity to categorize, abstract, store, and regulate the practicing infant's emotional responses to the face of the attachment figure.84
When emotional memories are traumatic either because the trauma was so early that the hippocampus was not yet functional or because it was so powerful that the hippocampal-prefrontal cortical system couldn't fully register it-they become permanent, dissociated fears of anything that might resemble the traumatic situation. Traumas that are inescapable because of helplessness can actually severely damage the hippocampus, killing neurons. Survivors of severe childhood abuse and veterans with post-traumatic stress syndrome are found to have smaller hippocampal volumes than other patients.85 This damage is caused by the release during traumatization of a cascade of cortisol, adrenaline and other stress hormones that not only damage brain cells and impair memory but also set in motion a long-lasting disregulation of the brain's biochemistry. Animals that are traumatized when they are young grow up to be cowardly bullies, with less vasopressin, which regulates aggression, and serotonin, the calming neurotransmitter, which has been shown to be low in delinquents and in children who have been regularly beaten by their parents.86 Low serotonin is the most important marker for violence in animals and humans, and has been correlated with high rates of homicide, suicide, arson, antisocial disorders, self-mutilation, and other disorders of aggression.87 Early emotional abandonment by the mother or significant family members regularly lowers the serotonin level of children. Harlow's motherless monkeys who became extremely fearful and socially violent as adults like Coleman's eleven-month-old patient whose serotonin level dropped by half following the death of his sister, demonstrate the dramatic effects of trauma on serotonin levels.88 Imbalances in neurotransmitter levels resulting from trauma can last for decades in post-traumatic stress disorders and even in Holocaust survivors.89
Consciousness which Llinás believes90 is a 40-hertz oscillation in the entire brain network that binds together cortical and limbic systems is present during wakefulness and dream (REM) sleep. Dreaming is a sort of "down-time" for current experience, when daily memories are evaluated against early amygdalan emotional memories, processed into long-term memory and stored in the neocortex.91 But traumatic stress seriously interferes with the processing of these memories and their accessibility to consciousness. The fears, anxieties and hypervigilance of traumatic stress sets off a cascade of hormones and neurotransmitters that disrupts hippocampal functioning, leaving memories to be stored as dissociated affective states or body memories that are incapable of being retrieved through normal hippocampal indexing.92 Van der Kolk believes that often these memories are dissociated because they were never really stored in consciousness in the first place.93 Moreover, the "lack of secure attachments may produce the most devastating effects," he says, "because consistent external support appears to be a necessary condition in learning how to regulate internal affective states....Dissociation is a method of coping with inescapable stress [allowing] infants to enter into trance states and to ignore current sensory input..."94 As Eigen puts it in his book, The Psychotic Core, "The aggression perpetrated on the young in the name of upbringing is often tinged with or masks madness. Both parent and child live out this madness in a trancelike state akin to dreaming."95 It is these early trance states that are repeated in the social trances of history.
THE PSYCHODYNAMICS OF RESTAGING
The massive secretion of norepinephrine and dopamine, serotonin and endogenous opioids that follows inescapable trauma is followed by a subsequent depletion of hormones, presumably because utilization exceeds synthesis. Eventually receptors become hypersensitive, leading to excessive responsiveness to even the possibility of trauma in later life.96 It is this massive "false-alarm system" that leads to reenactments and then to restagings of trauma reenactments with new anxiety-reducing elements that is at the heart of social behavior in humans.
Depletion of neurotransmitters after traumatic flooding results in hyperalertness to any situations that seem to indicate they may lead to reexperiencing the trauma. This, of course, is true of all animals, and they later simply avoid the dangers in the future. But humans are unique in possessing a developed hippocampal-prefrontal cortical-centered consciousness whose task it is to inhibit action so as to avoid potentially traumatic situations. When trauma occurs-even very early trauma-humans are unique in believing they are responsible for the trauma. It is astonishing how early and consistently this is seen in clinical practice. Lenore Terr tells of a girl playing with dolls and repeating her sexual molestion by pornographers that happened when she was 15 months old.97 She was dissociated from any conscious memories of the events, but accurately repeated being penetrated by an erect penis the same way she had been in the pornographic films, which had been retrieved by the police. The accuracy of her body memories is amazing enough, but what was most astonishing was what she said as she restaged the raping scene: "Who is this? My doll. She's laying on the bed naked. I cover her up....I'm yelling at the doll. She was bad! I yell at my doll...'You! You bad thing! Get to bed, you!'" She felt guilty about her own rape!
But children usually feel guilty about being traumatized. "I must have been too noisy, because mommy left me" was my sincere belief when my mother left my father. I also believed I deserved my father's strappings because I wasn't obedient enough. This is why children set up a separate, internal self as a "protector" to try to stop themselves from ever being noisy, pushy, sexual, demanding, in fact, to stop them from growing and thus reexperiencing trauma. At first, these internal "protectors" are friendly; sometimes they are represented as imaginary playmates or even as protective alters if the traumas are severe or repetitive.98 Later, particularly when adolescence brings on opportunities for greater exploration and especially dating, these protective selves become persecutory selves that "have had it" with the host self and actually try to harm it. 99 The persecutory self says, "It's not happening to me, it's happening to her, and she deserves it!" Rather than take a chance that the early trauma will once again catch one unaware and helpless, one might restage the trauma upon oneself or others, or both, at least controlling the timing and intensity of the trauma oneself.100
Before adolescence, one will often restage traumas by identifying with the persecutor and triumphing rather than being the helpless one. Thus, the 8-year-old girl who had been hit by a truck when she was 18 months old would repeatedly charge into classmates, knocking them over as she restaged her accident.101 Or a 7-year-old girl whose father strangled her mother would force her friends to play the "mommy game" where they played dead and she picked them up.102 But after adolescence, the restaging more often includes self-persecution, bringing about the dreaded event oneself either through hypervigilant action or actual self-harm-as in the self-cutting or self-injury of those who were physically abused as children, the fights and anti-social activities of delinquents who were neglected as infants or the sexual promiscuity of young girls who had been seduced.
It is important to keep in mind that it is not "stress" or even "trauma" alone that causes restaging of early events. If the traumas are not dissociated, if they can be remembered by the conscious mind, they are not split off so they need not be repeated. For instance, 732 Jewish children who survived concentration camps after having gone through literal hell for three years, formed a club in England after their rescue. No greater amount of childhood trauma can be imagined that what they went through, yet, as they wrote in their newsletter later, "our greatest achievement and tremendous source of pride is that we can boast of having no delinquents, criminals, revenge-seekers and above all, none of us is consumed with hatred and venom."103 Because Jews didn't blame themselves for their persecution, they could remember and didn't dissociate. So they didn't need to either revictimize themselves nor make others victims.
Revictimization is actually the central cause of anti-social behavior, and addiction to trauma is at its core.104 It is not surprising that prison psychiatrists find violent criminals invariably repeat in their crime the emotional traumas, abuse and humiliation of their childhood,105 or that women who have been sexually abused in childhood are more than twice as likely as others to be raped when they become adults.106 As one prostitute who had been sexually victimized as a child said, "When I do it, I'm in control. I can control them through sex."107 What Freud was puzzled by108 when he coined the term "the repetition compulsion" puzzled because it violated the pleasure principle is actually a self-protective device, protective against being helpless against the overwhelming anxiety of unexpected trauma. Traumas are therefore restaged as a defense, with the persecutory self as the stage director.109
Restaging as a defense against dissociated trauma is the crucial flaw in the evolution of the human mind understandable from the viewpoint of the individual as a way of maintaining sanity, but tragic in its effects upon society, since it means that early traumas will be magnified onto the historical stage into war, domination and self-destructive social behavior. And because we also restage by inflicting our childhood terrors upon our children, generation after generation, our addiction to the slaughterbench of history has been relentless.
FEARS OF INDIVIDUATION AND GROWTH PANIC
The crowning achievement of the human species-our self-consciousness, the awareness of oneself as a private person with a past history and future goals-has taken so long to evolve and has been so uneven that humanity is a species with extremely fragile selves. Chimpanzees barely have enough self-awareness to recognize themselves in a mirror,110 and early humans began to evolve self-consciousness through slowly improving parenting, resulting mainly from the mother's growing empathy toward her child. Eigen observes from the disintegrating selves of psychotics, "The way individuals are ripped apart by psychotic processes brings home the realization that the emergence of a viable sense of self and other must be counted as one of the most creative achievements of humankind"111 an achievement, I will show, it has taken millenia to acomplish. As Modell points out,112 the emergent private self grows as the child explores its environment with the regular help of its caretakers. Therefore, children whose immature parents use them for their own emotional needs, and who reject them when the child's needs do not reflect their own, develop what Winnicott calls a "false self," or even multiple selves, which may conform to society but cannot improve upon it. It is because of this that social evolution depends upon the evolution of the viable self, which in turn is achieved solely through the slow and uneven evolution of childrearing.
Traumas are defined as injuries to the private self, rather than just painful experiences, since non-painful injuries to the self such as parental genital manipulation or being told by a parent that they wished one would die are more traumatic to the self than, say, more painful accidents.113 Without a well-developed, enduring private self, people feel threatened by all progress, all freedom, all new challenges, and then experience annihilation anxiety, fears that the fragile self is disintegrating, since situations that call for self-assertion trigger memories of maternal abandonment. Masterson calls this by the umbrella term "abandonment depression," beneath which, he says, "ride the Six Horsemen of the Psychic Apocalypse: Depression, Panic, Rage, Guilt, Helplessness (hopelessness), and Emptiness (void) [that] wreak havoc across the psychic landscape leaving pain and terror in their wake."114 Whether the early traumas or rejections were because the mothers were openly abandoning, over-controlling and abusive, clinging, or just threatened by the child's emerging individuation, the results are much the same-the child learns to fear parts of his or her potential self that threatens the disapproval or loss of the mother.
As Socarides has observed,115 fears of growth, individuation and self assertion that carry hreatening feelings of disintegration lead to desires to merge with the omnipotent mother literally to crawl back into the womb desires which immediately turn into fears of maternal engulfment, since the merging would involve total loss of the self. When Socarides' patients make moves to individuate-like moving into their own apartment or getting a new job-they have dreams of being swallowed by whirlpools or devoured by monsters. The only salvation from these maternal engulfment wishes/fears is a "flight to external reality from internal reality,"116 a flight in which social institutions play a central role, as we shall shortly discover. Many people who have been in psychotherapy become conscious of this individuation panic and flight to external reality when they begin to grow, break free of old emotional patterns and start to feel their freedom. These fears can be characterized as an all-pervasion growth panic that traumatized individuals (nearly everyone) constantly carry around during their daily lives. Masterson quotes one of his patients:
I was walking down the street and suddenly I was engulfed in a feeling of absolute freedom. I could taste it. I knew I was capable of doing whatever I wanted. When I looked at other people, I really saw them without being concerned about how they were looking at me...I was just being myself and thought that I had uncovered the secret of life: being in touch with your own feelings and expressing them openly with others, not worrying so much about how others felt about you.
Then just as suddenly as it came, it disappeared. I panicked and started thinking about the million things I had to do at the studio, of errands I needed to run after work. I began to feel nauseous and started sweating. I headed for my apartment, running most of the way. When I got in, I felt that I had been pursued. By what? Freedom, I guess.117
It is this manic flight to action a flight that is a defense against growth panic that is the emotional source of much of social behavior. Manic acting-out in social activity is a universal addiction, similar in its effects to the dopamine agonistic effects of cocaine. That's why leaders so often take manic drugs, like John F. Kennedy during the Gulf Crisis (amphetamines) and George Bush during the Gulf War (Halcion). Like drugs, grandiose manic social activities such as war and political domination produce a temporary elation and a dopamine surge, but not the lasting joy of self-discovery and love.
HOW TRAUMATIC IS CHILDHOOD?
The incidence of trauma in childhood, past and present, will be a central focus of the rest of this book. Some idea, however, of the extent of childhood trauma would be useful in this chapter on social and political theory. My overall conclusions have not changed after three decades of additional research from what I wrote in The History of Childhood:
The history of childhood is a nightmare from which we have only recently begun to awaken. The further back in history one goes, the lower the level of child care, and the more likely children are to be killed, abandoned, beaten, terrorized, and sexually abused.118
Childhood is still massively traumatic for the majority of the children in the world. For instance, one of the most often-cited facts of American life is the exposure of children to violence in urban communities-one recent study showed 40 percent of children surveyed reported exposure to a shooting or stabbing in the past year, 36 percent reported being threatened with physical harm in the past year and 74 percent reported feeling unsafe in their communities.119 Various studies of violence in the home reveal that over 90 percent of American parents regularly hit their children, mostly with hair brushes, paddles or belts,120 20 percent of them severely, with heavy instruments that endanger their lives.121 Rates of child thrashing in European countries are rarely much lower than this.122 And despite widespread denial by anthropologists of the high frequency of physical assault on children of other cultures,123 most children elsewhere around the world today are still beaten unmercifully by their caretakers.124 The most evolved country in the world today is Sweden, which passed a law in 1979 against hitting children, so that a new generation of parents now generally refrains from hitting their children.125
Sexual molestation of children is still so widespread that in my world-wide survey of the subject, "The Universality of Incest," I concluded that the sexual abuse of children was likely to have been a universal practice for most people in most places at most times in history, and that children who had not been sexually molested by their caretakers were a recent historical achievement, experienced by only a minority of children in a few places in the world.126 The most careful statistics of childhood seduction in America, using structured interview techniques that were able to acknowledge the resistances of the respondents and defining molestation as actual genital contact, found 38 percent (Russell) or 45 percent (Wyatt) of women and 30 percent of men (Landis) interviewed reported memories of sexual abuse during their childhood.127 Adjusting these figures for such elements as the bias introduced by the population interviewed that eliminates criminals, prostitutes, juveniles in shelters and psychotics-all of whom have much higher molestation rate-plus the large percentage of people who refused to be interviewed and were likely more victimized, I concluded that the true rate of childhood molestation in America is about 60 percent for girls and 45 percent for boys.
A Gallup poll of Canadian childhood molestation reported about the same figures as in America. Though most European studies are decades behind those of the U.S., when a recent BBC "ChildWatch" program asked its female listeners if they could remember sexual molestation, 62 percent recalled actual intercourse. As was mentioned earlier, a recent Institut für Kindheit survey that interviewed Berlin schoolchildren in one neighborhood directly (direct interviews of children for any purpose are extremely rare) found 80 percent said they had been sexually molested.128 Though surveys of childhood abuse are unknown in the rest of the world, my evidence showed even higher rates were likely in the East and Middle East, where boys and girls are masturbated and raped by the men in the family and others as a matter of course, and, as both Indian and Chinese proverbs have it, "For a girl to be a virgin at ten years old, she must have neither brothers nor cousin nor father."129 This molestation by the family is further extended by such sexual assaults as the estimated 100 million child prostitutes worldwide and female genital mutilation, an extremely traumatic parental sexual assault, recently estimated at 74 million women in the circum-Mediterranean area.130
Once these beating and sexual abuse figures are added to fetal traumas (one in three pregnant women in America are hit or kicked by their mates),131 plus all the other abusive and accidental traumas that are commonly experienced by children,132 and then added to all the neglect, rejection, brutal domination and other severe emotional tortures that are so common they aren't even measured, plus the horrible traumatic effects on children of wars, social violence, malnutrition and other common mass traumatic conditions of children in this world, one must conclude that childhood continues to be a nightmare for most children in most areas of the world today.
Indeed, my conclusion from a lifetime of study of the history of childhood is that society is founded upon the abuse of children, and that the further back in history one studies the subject the more likely children are to have been abused and neglected. Just as family therapists today find that child abuse often functions to hold families together as a way of solving their emotional problems, so, too, the routine assault, torture and domination of children has been society's most effective instrument of collective emotional homeostasis. Most historical families once practiced infanticide, incest, beating and mutilation of their children to relieve anxieties. We continue today to arrange the killing, maiming, molestation and starvation of our children through our military, social and economic institutions.
This is why domination and violence in history has such continuity: betrayal and abuse of children has been a consistent human trait since our species began. Each generation begins anew with fresh, eager, trusting faces of babies, ready to love and create a new world. And each generation of parents tortures, abuses, neglects and dominates its children until they become emotionally crippled adults who repeat in nearly exact detail the social violence and domination that existed in previous decades. Should a minority of parents decrease the amount of abuse and neglect of its children a bit and begin to provide somewhat more secure, loving early years that allow a bit more freedom and independence, history soon begins to move in surprising new directions and society changes in innovative ways. History needn't repeat itself; only the traumas demand repetition.133
THE PSYCHOGENIC THEORY OF HISTORY
The psychogenic theory of history is a scientific, empirical, falsifiable theory based upon a model that involves shared restagings of dissociated memories of early traumas, the content of which changes through the evolution of childhood. It is based upon the conclusion of experimental and clinical psychology that psychic content is organized by early emotional relationships, so that psychic structure must be passed from generation to generation through the narrow funnel of childhood. Thus a society's childrearing practices are not just one item in a list of cultural traints but are the very condition for the transmission and development of all cultural elements. Childrearing therefore is crucial because it organizes the emotional structure that determines the transmission of all culture and places definite limits on what can be achieved by society. Specific childhoods sustain specific cultural traits, and once these early experiences no longer occur the trait disappears or is modified. It is the first social theory that posits love as the central mechanism for historical change-not because I happen to value love as an exemplary trait, but because the clinical, experimental and social sciences of the past century have shown that love produces the individuation needed for human innovation-that is, for cultural evolution.
It is also the first theory that recognizes the values of methodological individualism-seeing properties of groups as a result of the actions of its individual members-yet that also recognizes group evolution, integrating the psychology of individuals and societies and recognizing that social behavior also has emotional sources. I call the theory "psychogenic" rather than "economic" or "political" because it views humans more as homo relatens than homo economicus or homo politicus-that is, as searching for relation, for love, more than just for money or power. The theory considers evolving psychoclasses-shared childrearing modes-as more central than economic classes or social classes for understanding history.
This psychogenic theory is contrasted with the sociogenic theory of all other social scientists which sees all individual change as merely a reflection of social change. It instead views adults as having developed new kinds of personalities due to new childrearing modes, and then as projecting onto the historical stage earlier traumas and feelings in such a manner that events appear to be happening to the group rather than being internal, creating shared dreams, group-fantasies, that are so intense and compelling that they take on a life of their own, a life that is imagined as happening in a dissociated sphere called "society"-the group-fantasy sandbox of adults.
5:2 The Psychogenic Theory of History
Consider a typical example of a traumatized child growing up and joining others in fashioning a historical group-fantasy. Timothy McVeigh, one of the Oklahoma City bombers, experienced continuous maternal abandonment as a child, according to neighbors and relatives, as his restless mother, who regularly cheated on her husband, kept leaving the family for weeks at a time.134 Timothy asked friends, "Is it something I did?" when trying to understand why his mother wasn't there. When he was ten, he became interested in guns and became a survivalist, collecting rifles in case Communists took over the country. When he was sixteen and his mother left him for good, he began to refer to her as "a bitch" and as "that no-good whore." Neighbors reported he was often like two people, "angry and screaming one minute, then switching to quite normal" for no apparent reason. In the army, when he failed the Green Beret test-another rejection-he quit in disgust and began hanging out with Right-wing militarists. After going to Waco to watch how the government had abandoned the children during the siege, he went to Oklahoma City to act out a scene in a Rightist novel where a group packed a truck with a homemade bomb and set it off at F.B.I. headquarters. But four months before he acted out this rage against authority (his mother), McVeigh visited the day care center in the building, pretending he had children he wanted to enroll.135 Thus he picked out a site where children who had been left by their mothers would be blown up too, thus punishing abandoned children representatives of himself restaging his own abandonment and the carrying out the punishment he thought he deserved for his rage at his mother.
The raging part of Timothy McVeigh, elaborated by militia group-fantasies, often made him seem, said others, like two people. The process was similar to that observed in the creation of alters, or alternate personalities, in people who have Multiple Personality Disorders, a diagnosis recently renamed Dissociated Identity Disorders. Dissociation is defined as "a loss of the usual interrlationships between various groups of mental processes with resultant almost independent function of the one group that has been separated from the rest,"136 and is involved in such pathological syndromes as hypnosis, depersonalization, fugue, sleepwalking, possession and visionary experiences.137 A Dissociated Identity Disorder has three criteria: (a) the personalities seem to be distinct and lasting, (b) the dominant personality at any particular time determines the individual's behavior, and (c) each personality is complex and organized with its own unique behavior patterns.138 There are four possible core dissociative symptoms: amnesia, depersonalization, derealization and identity confusion.139 Severe, repeated child abuse and neglect almost always lie behind the full D.I.D. disorder. Kluft says, "Most multiples, as children, have been physically brutalized, psychologically assaulted, sexually violated, and affectively overwhelmed."140 As Ross puts it, a multiple personality disorder is a little girl imagining that the abuse is happening to someone else. The imaging is so intense and subjectively compelling, and is reinforced so many times by the ongoing trauma, that the created identities seem to take on a life of their own, though they are all parts of one person.141
Alters often have different names, handwriting, voices, vocabularies, expressions, even EEG alpha rhythms, and are often amnesic of each other's activities, although sometimes one alter is co-conscious of the activities of another.142 Sometimes an alter is frozen in time, stuck in the trauma that gave it birth, and child personalities will often expect to be sexually assaulted by the therapist, who is mistaken for the abuser from the past, and cower in the corner, fearing the inevitable rape.143 In addition to the host personality, who is often depressed, masochistic, compulsively good and suffers from time losses, there are alters such as fearful children who recall the traumas, inner persecutors, containers of forbidden impulses, avengers, apologists for the abusers, idealized figures who deny dangers and so on. The formation of such alters is life-saving, allowing the host personality to defend against unbearable trauma and continue living. Their tragedy is that these alters restage their traumas in adult life, in what Kluft calls "revictimization behaviors" or "the sitting duck syndrome," during which they feel they are taking control of the abuse and ending the intolerable agony of waiting for it to happen.144
In many multiples, one alter is found whose task it is to persecute the host personality or others who represent the guilty childhood self. "She should die, she deserves to die. She's a loser..." said one alter to her therapist, referring to her host personality.145 These persecutory alters start out as protective alters, whose task it is to protect the host against re-experiencing early traumas and rejections. But usually some time around puberty, when the host begins to explore the world and have sexual feelings, the alter turns totally against the host and says, "She started becoming interested in boys and dates and all that...I didn't want any part of it...I'd hate her for letting that happen...so I'd cut her."146 From that point on, the alter persecutes the host personality relentlessly. In this sense, persecutory alters continue to protect the host against repetition of trauma by punishing all growth-in themselves and in representatives of themselves.
SOCIAL ALTERS AND THE SOCIAL TRANCE
Although few people are diagnosed with dissociative disorders, most people nevertheless have organized, dissociated persecutory personalities whose function it is to punish themselves or substitutes for themselves as "object lessons"-in order to remind them that growth, pleasure and success are dangerous and might precipitate trauma or rejection. Child psychologists have recently suggested that perhaps "all children have dissociative-like states" and that abuse and neglect leads to the "establishment of centers of experience external to the core self during transient hypnotic-like states" that act as early alters.147 As they grow up, these dissociated parts of their psyche are organized into persecutory social scenarios that are shared with others, which could be thought of as social alters. McVeigh switched into and out of his angry, militarist self, his social alter, each time he reexperienced further evidence for abandonment by mother figures. It is a process we all share to some extent with McVeigh. Rather than living our lives wholly in our private selves, we choose to live partly in our social alters, where ghosts of our past are disguised as social roles in the present. Social alters of individuals collude to produce the social trance and have five characteristics:
(1) they are separate neural networks that are repositories for feelings, images and scenarios connected with traumatic abuse and neglect, including the defensive fantasies that go with them;
(2) they are organized into dynamic structures containing an alternate set of goals, values and defenses from those of the main self, in order to help prevent the traumas from overwhelming one's life and to to defend against the reexperiencing of the humiliations and persecutions of childhood;
(3) they have the central task of organizing and carrying out both the idealizing and the persecutory fantasies in society that are the result of these traumas, the idealizing mainly toward male leaders (father-saviors), and the persecutory mainly toward women (persecuting mothers) and children (guilty self);
(4) they are co-conscious148 of the central personality, yet
(5) they are split off by a seamless wall of denial, depersonalization, discontinuity of affect and disownership of responsibility that is maintained by collusion with others pretending the alters are normal; and
(6) they are shared and restaged in historical group-fantasies that are elaborated into political, religious and social institutions.
Social alters contain memories of severe traumas and rejections and have their own repertoire of defensive behaviors. Experiments have shown that adults who were traumatized as children are more susceptible to hypnosis, to group suggestions, to hysterical religious behavior and to paranormal experiences.149 Dissociative disorders are what Winnicott called "the psychosis hidden behind the neurosis."150 More organized and dissociated than just "false selves,"151 social alters differ from alters of multiple personalities in that they replace the usual denial by amnesia with denial by dissociation of emotional connections, maintained through group collusion. Thus, even though one may be more or less conscious of the activities of one's social alter-knowing that the self that shoots a child who is an "enemy" is the same person that values one's own child-still, the emotional connections between the two selves are missing. Thus people can imagine they go to war or conduct a genocide because of the chance appearance of an enemy, never because of anything emotional happening in their own heads.
It is important to remember that a person's social alter is based upon a fetal matrix and depends upon the early amygdalan memory system, repository for our dissociated traumas. Social alters do not include the areas of the brain necessary for conscious empathy.152 It is this missing capacity for empathy that allows violent acting-out in the social sphere people become so filled with our projections that it becomes impossible for one to "feel their feelings." You can observe this lack of empathy, the fetal matrix and the persecutory agenda by studying for instance the initiation rituals of some cultures, where boys, considered as polluted by female fluids, are sealed inside a ritual house with their bodily wastes, forced to put their heads out a vaginal window to recapitulated birth, and then beaten, smeared with blood taken from their penises and otherwise mutilated and tortured.153 The adults who put the children through the ordeal are completely dissociated from the meaning of the events they enact. They cannot tell why they persecute the boys and cut their penises, and they feel no empathy for those they are torturing, since the boys are so full of the projections of the adults' own traumas.
Experimental evidence with social memories demonstrates that our brains actually store social feelings in separate modules by time period. We have all experienced how hearing, say, a familiar Beatles song can produce a cascade of emotional memories from the Sixties. One experiment showed that people can revisit these time-bound memory modules. A group of men over seventy years old was taken to a country retreat for five days in 1979 and exposed only to 1959 music, magazines, radio programs, clothes and activities. The men soon not only held conversations as though it were 1959, their biological markers-their hand grip, posture, hearing, etc.-actually became younger. They had switched into earlier memory modules and began accessing anew 1959 feelings simply by being immersed in earlier social material.154 Apparently there is enough room in the hundred billion neurons in our brain to record social emotional states by specific periods.
Social alters are like suitcases into which we stuff our most traumatic split-off fears and rages, containing our continuing lives as traumatized children, abuser apologists, inner persecutors, heroic avengers and other consciously intolerable parts of ourselves, all organized into social postures. The social alter is based upon fantasies that are defenses against traumas, not upon present-day reality, even when it participates in present-day political or religious group activities. The defensive fantasies are unreal even when the entire society may agree upon their reality. When a group of men collects human heads, believing that this will increase their genital potency, or a group of women chop off their little girls' clitorises, believing that otherwise they might grow to be a foot long, these beliefs are obviously derived from defensive group-fantasies, not from experience. The same people can have an excellent knowledge of reality in their host personalities, with extensive hunting or agricultural skills based upon the real-life experiences of their group, but in their social alters they are nevertheless convinced of the efficacy of chopping off heads and clitorises.
Except for a few psychopaths and psychotics, most of us keep these suitcases for our social alters in the closet with the door locked, seemingly away from our daily lives-but then we lend the keys to group delegates whom we depend upon to act out their contents for us so we can deny ownership of the actions. Periodically, when the group and its leader are imagined to be collapsing-when our despair becomes too great, our social alters seem too distant so that we feel depleted of vital parts of ourselves, and our hypervigalence is at an unbearable peak-the contents of these suitcases begin to break loose, we enter a panic state, and our early fears and other emotional memories are restaged in wars or other forms of social violence.
All the accomplishments of our conscious personalities-self-awareness, the ablity to imagine the consequences of actions and learning from experience, the capability of feeling empathy for others, the awareness of the passage of time, the ability to construct a realistic future, responsibity for one's actions-are missing in our social alters, and are not part of the group-fantasies we act out in history. Depersonalization is experienced whenever we are in our social alters, and we enter into a trance-like state-what happens in "society" has a feeling of unreality or strangeness of self, a loss of affective response. Even though, as with other dissociative disorders, some reality testing remains intact, an absence of normal feelings and a disconnection from one's usual range of emotions are regularly felt when in one's social alter.
Even the language of group-fantasies is special, since social alters must communicate in elliptical form in order that their unacceptable true contents may remain hidden to our main selves. Therefore, group-fantasies are often conveyed by subliminal embedded messages rather than clear, overt language. We will shortly see how to decode these embedded messages through fantasy analysis. Groups speak this embedded language when they are in a social trance,155 when they re-experience the same trance-like dissociation they felt during early traumas. Leaders of groups must therefore be adept at trance induction techniques in order to accomplish their delegated tasks. In fact, group-fantasies, like politics in general, are conducted in a trance atmosphere whose features are identical to the eight "Cognitive Distortions of Dissociation" that Fine found in her dissociated patients: catastrophizing, over- generalization, selective abstraction, dichotomous thinking, time distortion, misassessing causality, irresponsibility or excessive responsibility and circular thinking.156
The social alter is the inheritor of earlier dissociated persecutory feelings and has as one of its roles the setting up of group punishments that are "object lessons" to us all. McVeigh's staging of the Oklahoma City explosion was carefully arranged to have "abandoned" children like himself punished along with the more conscious aim of punishing bad authorities. The formula for restaging early traumas is: (1) Fuse with your persecutory alter ("Terrifying Mommy"), (2) find a savior alter ("Grandiose Self") whom you follow to (3) kill the victim alter ("Bad Child"). Empathy for victim scapegoats is lost because they are so full of our negative projections and are seen as bad children-growing, striving, wanting too much. The larger the success and new freedoms a society must face-the more its progress overreaches its childrearing evolution-the larger the historical punishment it must stage. When an American Senator, voting for more nuclear weapons, said that even if a nuclear Holocaust was unleashed it wouldn't be too bad because we would "win" it ("If we have to start over with another Adam and Eve, I want them to be Americans"), the weird trance logic can only be understood if nuclear war is seen as an "object lesson," enabling us to "start afresh with a clean slate."
THE SOCIAL ALTER IN SMALL GROUPS
All groups, even small face-to-face groups, organize group-fantasies out of the pooled social alters of its members. Because even in small groups we feel vulnerable to the shame and humiliation that reminds us of our earlier helplessness, we defend ourselves by switching into our social alters and preparing ourselves for expected attacks. Although groups can also be used for utilitarian purposes, they more often form so that people can act out their persecutory social alters. When people construct a group-fantasy, they give up their idiosyncratic defensive fantasies and become entrained in the social trance. Group analysts have found that even small groups collude in delusional notions: that the group is like a disapproving mother, that the group is different from and superior to all other groups, that it has imaginary boundaries that can protect it, that it can provide endless sustenance to its members without their individual efforts, that its leader should be deified and should be in constant control of its members, that scapegoating is useful and sacrifice necessary for cleansing the group's emotions, that it is periodically besieged by monstrous enemies from without and stealthy enemies from within, that no individual is ever responsible for any of the group's actions and so on-all defensive structures organizing and restaging shared traumatic content.157 Recruiters for cults, for instance, make use of the propensity for people to need groups to control them and act out their group-fantasies; in fact, over 20 million Americans belong to cults and cult-like groups that enable them to collude with idealizing and persecutory parts of other people's social alters.158 Small groups, in fact, sometimes resemble religious cults psychodynamically-ritual restagings of early trauma are one of their goals, while utilitarian accomplishments are secondary and difficult to achieve.159
It is not hard to see face-to-face group members become entrained and switch into their social alters, forming group-fantasies. As the group first gathers, people chat, laugh, argue and interact with other individuals from their central conscious selves. At a certain moment, however, "when the time comes for the group to form," individuals switch into their social alters, a social trance forms160 and the group-fantasy takes over. Language and demeanor change, and people feel somehow detached, estranged from their usual range of feelings and deskilled of critical faculties. A leader is imagined to be "in control" even if he isn't actually present, group boundaries are imagined, work is thought able to be accomplished effortlessly, magical thinking spreads, enemies arise, factions form to act out splits, and empathy diminishes, since others are so full of the group's projections.
All this usually takes only a few minutes. It becomes acceptable to exploit and abuse others, as members were themselves once exploited and abused. Scapegoats volunteer for sacrifice, a group bible and group history and group spirit and other delusional group-fantasies form, and group life begins, seemingly a more emotionally vital life than everyday life, despite an omnipresent sleepiness common in groups that is a result of the social trance. When the group "ends," often with a trance-breaking clap of hands termed "applause," people wake up, break the entrainment, switch back to their central personalities and experience a tremendous emotional let-down as vital parts of themselves are lost, disoriented for a moment, and the group begins to mourn its own ending-in the same manner as multiple personalities often feel more connected to their real feelings when they are "in" their alters. Aristotle intuited the emotional importance of the social alter when he said man was a zoon politikon and was incomplete without his "political self," his social alter.
Even when small groups are formed to observe the emotional processes of their members, the group analyst usually misses the meaning of the switching of members into their social alters. Typical is a group analytic workshop held in Tel Aviv during the Gulf War as the group turned to a discussion of Saddam Hussein:
"D," our Arab member, suddenly changed before our eyes. The man, who had until then been distant...began a heated defense of Saddam Hussein: "He is the real Arab hero. He stands alone against the whole world and doesn't surrender. Saddam is fighting and representing Arab pride against the capitalistic interests of the West which are out to steal the Arab oil of Kuwait."
This long speech was so strong that it was immediately sensed as something truly crucial for D...it was as if D were moved by inner forces that strongly fought for expression, almost beyond the possibility of control. After a while he froze and didn't know how to go on. The outrage of other members was immediate. They pointed to the dark side of Saddam: the killer, the sadist, the oppressor of another country, the anti-Israeli aggressor who wants to destroy us physically. Now, D was like someone waking up from hypnosis. Slowly he regained his ability to speak. At first his speech was unclear but after awhile his ability to think and speak coherently returned. He tried to explain, unsuccessfully, why he was defending Saddam. In reality, he maintained, he, too, was afraid of the SCUD missiles; and he hated Saddam with all his heart, perhaps even more than any Jew, and would welcome news announcing his death.161
The group analyst passed off the spectacle of the man clearly switching into and out of a social trance as without meaning for the group.
OBEDIENCE TO AUTHORITY IN A SOCIAL TRANCE
It is only when one realizes that we all carry around with us persecutory social alters that become manifest in groups that such unexplained experiments as those described in Stanley Milgram's classic study Obedience to Authority162 become understandable. In this experiment, people were asked to be "teachers" and, whenever their "learners" made mistakes, to give them massive electric shocks. The "learners," who were only acting the part, were trained to give out pained cries even though the "electric shocks" were non-existent. Of the 40 "teachers," 65 percent delivered the maximum amount of shock even as they watched the "learners" scream out in pain and plead to be released, despite their having been told they didn't have to step up the shock level. The "teachers" often trembled, groaned and were extremely upset at having to inflict the painful shocks, but continued to do so nonetheless. That the "teachers" believed the shocks were real is confirmed by another version of the experiment in which real shocks were inflicted upon a little puppy, who howled in protest; the obedience statistics were similar.163
Social scientists have been puzzled by Milgram's experiments, wondering why people were so easily talked into inflicting pain so gratuitously. The real explanation is that, by joining a group-the "university experiment"-they switched into their social alters and merged with their own sadistic internalized persecutor, which was quite willing to take responsibility for ordering pain inflicted upon others. Their "struggle with themselves" over whether to obey was really a struggle between their social alters and their main selves.
Although many subsequent experiments varied the conditions for obedience,164 what Milgram did not do is try the experiment without the social trance. If he had not framed it as a group experience, if he had simply on his own authority walked up to each individual, alone, and, without alluding to a university or any other group, asked him or her to come to his home and give massive amounts of electric shock to punish someone, he would not have been obeyed, because they would not have switched into their social alters. The crucial element of the experiments was the existence of the group-as-terrifying-parent, the all-powerful university. Not surprisingly, when the experiment was repeated using children-who go into trance and switch into traumatized content more easily than adults-they were even more obedient in inflicting the maximum shock.165 Subjects were even obedient when they themselves were the victims: 54 percent turned a dial upon command to the maximum limit when they had been told it was inflicting damage upon their ears that could lead to their own deafness, and 74 percent ate food they thought could harm them, thus confirming that they were truly in a dissociated state, not just "obeying" authority or trying to hurt others, and that it was actually an alternate self doing the hurting of the main self.166 The only time they refused to obey was when experimenters pretended to act out a group rebellion, since the social trance was broken.167
Milgram could also have tested whether it was simple obedience that was really being tested by asking his subjects to reach into their pockets and pay some money to the learners. They would have refused to do so, because they weren't "obeying" any old command, they were using the experimental situation to hurt scapegoats. It is the social trance itself and not "obedience to authority" that is effective in producing destructive obedience. Milgram's subjects, like all of us who participate in wars and social violence, lost their capacity for empathy with victims only when in a social trance. Those who continue to replicate Milgram's experiments and who are still puzzled as to why "the most banal and superficial of rationales...is enough to produce destructive behavior in human beings"168 simply underestimate the amount of trauma most people have experienced and the effectiveness of the social trance in allowing them to restage these hurts.
At one point Milgram approached the insight that he was dealing with an alternate personality when he discusses what he terms the "agentic state," which is his term for the trance that his subjects were in. "Moved into the agentic state," Milgram wrote, "the person becomes something different from his former self, with new properties not easily traced to his usual personality."169 Unfortunately, neither Milgram nor any of the others who have performed obedience experiments looked into the childhoods of their subjects to see if those who easily obeyed hurtful commands differed from the minority who refused to do so.170
THE GROUP-FANTASIES OF NATIONS
Even though no group is too small to synchronize and act out the group-fantasies of its members, the larger the group the more deeply it can enter into the social trance and the more irrational the group-fantasies it can circulate and act out. The dissociated shame that is operative in small groups is equally there in nations, whether it is Kennedy nearly triggering a nuclear apocalypse in Cuba to revenge "his nose being rubbed in it" or Germany starting World War II to revenge "the shame of Versailles" (die Sham is often used in German for the genital area.)171
That nations have a central persecutory task is a widely-denied truth. That nations are necessary for more rational enterprises than war and brutal domination of others is a wholly unproven assumption. In truth, most members of most nations participate in one way or another in the torture and killing of others and in economic and political domination. We only deny it by colluding in such delusions as that leaders are to blame, that suffering is deserved, that punishment reforms, that killing is moral, that some people are not human, that sacrifice brings renewal and that violence is liberating. Indeed, most of what is in history books is stark, raving mad-the maddest of all being the historian's belief that it is sane.
It is only when we begin to recognize the ubiquity of these delusional historical group-fantasies that our personal responsibility begins to return to us-reading the newspaper, watching the nightly news and much of daily life becomes both more painful and more meaningful as empathy returns to our social lives. For some time now, for instance, I often cry when I watch the evening news, read newspapers or study history books, a reaction I was trained to suppress in every school I attended for 25 years. In fact, it is because we so often switch into our social alters when we try to study history that we cannot understand it-our real emotions are dissociated and therefore unavailable to us.
Nations, the most important group-fantasy constructions of our social alters, act out what seems to be a non-personal history because social events appear to exist in a separate reality and not to be a result of the intentions of individuals. Even when we find a leader to blame events on, we are helpless to explain why anyone followed him, imagining that the leader has the power to "hypnotize" his people. Hitler, for instance, is often assumed to be solely responsible for World War II, just like other wars are blamed upon single individuals-a truly preposterous assumption.
Since the emotional connections between society and self are cut off-nations are often said to behave sui generis-individuals can deny responsibility for what they do and social events can appear to be wholly without motivation. Soldiers who kill in wars are not personally called murderers and politicians who vote to withhold food from children are not personally termed child killers because these actions are imagined to be part of a different reality system, a dream-world that is somehow not really "us." Since people "in their right minds" do not gratuitiously kill others, it is only people "in their wrong minds"-in their other minds, in their social alters-that do.
It is therefore important for me to deny that there is any emotional connection between "Lloyd deMause" and "Corporal deMause with a rifle in Korea," just as there must be no connection made between separate alters of a multiple personality. In both cases there exists a radical splitting of the psyche. As "Lloyd deMause," I love and protect my children and all the children around me. As "Corporal deMause" I was prepared to kill Korean "enemies," even if they were children. As "a good American" today, I vote for my President and pay my taxes that are used to pay American soldiers who enforce an American embargo that murders a million Iraqi children, any more than I noticed America murdered several million Vietnamese children through the poisonous effects of Agent Orange. I do not feel responsible for genocide, even when it is pointed out that my country is killing the children. I have been thoroughly dissociated, switched into my social alter, as you have been, along with hundreds of millions of other "good Americans," just like the "good Germans" who participated in the Holocaust.
The social alter is the carrier of our hidden motivations, but seems to have no motives of its own. In his book In Retrospect: The Tragedy and Lessons of Vietnam, former Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara blames the death of three million innocent Asians on what he terms "the law of unintended consequences;"172 i.e., it was all an inadvertent error, and no American had any motives whatsoever for killing them, certainly not himself, although it was once called "McNamara's war." Hannah Arendt, in her analysis of the trial of Adolf Eichmann, recognized this problem of massive denial when she wrote that the main problem in the Eichmann court was to get people to acknowledge that political actions are personal, that "soldiers" must be "transformed back into perpetrators, that is to say, into human beings." 173
The concept of the social alter explains why guilt does not prevent people from killing others nor leaders from ordering men to their death. Getting soldiers to kill others is not easy; studies have shown that eighty percent of the soldiers in the wars of the twentieth century refused to shoot at the enemy, even when it meant they themselves might have died because of their refusal.174 The task of the military is to condition the process of switching into the soldier's persecutory social alter so that he can be cut off from his normal empathic personality. Only when switched into his persecutory social alter can a soldier kill without overwhelming guilt; rarely will he later then connect enough to this killing to admit, as one veteran did, "It didn't hit me all that much then, but when I think of it now-I slaughtered those people. I murdered them."175 Because soldiers in early wars fought up close so that they could more easily experience personal guilt, rarely more than a few hundred men were usually killed during a battle,176 while modern wars, specializing in distancing, denial and trance induction training,177 have in this century killed over 100 million people.
CHILDREARING AND THE SOCIAL TRANCE
Experimental evidence has shown that there is a direct correlation between traumatic childhood and the ability to go into trance.178 The depersonalization made necessary by childhood trauma as a form of "hypnotic evasion" to avoid the painful impact of early trauma gets called into use as an adult. Thus, it is not surprising to find that a recent survey of political attitudes finds that there is a clear correlation between harsh childrearing and authoritarian political beliefs, the use of military force, belief in the death penalty, etc.179
Those who are able to remain outside the social trance are the rare individuals whose childrearing is less traumatic than that of the rest of their society or whose personal insights, through psychotherapy or other means, are beyond those of their neighbors. For instance, extensive interviews of people who were rescuers of Jews during the Holocaust in comparison to a control group of people who were either persecutors or just stood by and allowed the killing of Jews shows startling differences in childrearing.180 While all other dimensions of the lives of the rescuers were similar to the control group religion, education, even political opinions what distinguished the rescuers from others was their childhood: their parents used reasoning in bringing them up, rather than the customary use by European parents early in the century of beating and kicking children to force obedience. The rescuers' parents were found to have invariably showed an unusual concern for equity, more love and respect for their children, more tolerance for their activities, and less emphasis on obedience, all allowing rescuers to remain in their empathic central personalities and not enter into social alters and dissociate their feelings for Jews as human beings. The rescuers risked their lives to save Jews not because they had some connection with Judaism or were politically radical, but because they remained in their compassionate personal selves rather than switching into the social trance constructed by the rest of their society.
THE DREAM WORLD OF THE SOCIAL TRANCE
Relatively few people are clinically diagnosed as having dissociated personalities.181 Virtually all of those who are have experienced extreme early trauma: 85 percent were sexually abused, 75 percent were severely physically abused, 60 percent had been subject to extreme neglect, 40 percent had witnessed violent death, and a large number of them had been victims of extreme sadism, including torture, childhood prostitution, near-death experiences, being locked in cellars and trunks, and so on.182 Dissociation scores in a randomized sample of the general population have shown that dissociative experiences of various sorts are quite common tens of millions of Americans have experienced dissociation during religious and other rituals and that dissociation is a continuum ranging from minor to major forms.183 Yet most of us only massively dissociate when we are in our social alters, when we participate in the dream world of the group trance.
Social alters have a developmental history for each of us. They begin their independent existence in our earliest hours as protectors, then as persecutors and finally develop into the organized persecutory group-fantasies of adulthood, while retaining elements that betray their early origins. Thus the traumatic material of our earliest years, full of hellish wombs, hurt and abandoned children, terrifying mommies and violent daddies, is organized by fairy tales, movies, TV programs and schools, first into dragons and knights and eventually into Evil Empires and American Presidents fighting Star Wars. However disguised from their infantile origins, these adult political fantasies are organized into persecutory social alters, then made real by shared delusional visions of the world and trillion-dollar weapon systems, our group-fantasies made concrete.
SCAPEGOATS AS POISON CONTAINERS FOR TRAUMAS
That we can switch between our central selves and our social alters so easily without anyone noticing it is a testimony to the dissociated state of the social trance. Multiple personalities, too, existed long before they were clinically recognized-multiples were usually called "possessed" or "crazy"-and no one noticed that they were amnesic to the host personality. People in earlier societies spent much of their time in their social alters-a world of spirits and gods and magic-because they had badly damaged private selves due to their extraordinarily abusive and neglectful upbringing. Modern nations, of course, have their own group-fantasies, the dream world of politics, there being no psychodynamic difference between a tribal chief proclaiming how women's menstrual blood pollutes the tribe and a Nazi proclaiming how Jews pollute the German bloodstream.
It is not difficult to see politicians switch back and forth between their central selves and their social alters, often using the royal "We" when speaking of themselves when in their social alters. For instance, Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich stood on the floor of Congress in 1996 and spoke with passionate intensity about the need for cutting all kinds of government aid for children (cut nutrition assistance for 14 million children, cut Social Security for 750,000 disabled children, cut Medicaid for 4 million children, plus slash aid to 9 million children benefiting from Aid to Families with Dependent Children, Head Start, education grants, child health care, aid to homeless children, etc.)184 Few helpless children in America would avoid the sacrificial ax. Then, in a blink of an eye, Gingrich switched from his persecutory social alter back to his real self and called for tax credits for poor children to buy laptop computers so they could access the Internet!
What had happened was this: Gingrich had been inaugurated as Speaker of the House, becoming world famous and appearing on the covers of the newsweeklies, and had received a book contract for $4.5 million. All this personal success made his hidden self, needy-baby Newt, son of a severely manic-depressive teenage mother and a battering father,185 feel jealous and cry out "ME TOO! I NEED SOME LOVE!" His conscious self was threatened with being overwhelmed with the memories of deprivation, despair and dependency that he had so long repressed. The same process was happening to millions of other newly wealthy Americans who favored cutting welfare and child aid. Rather than Gingrich feeling his neediness, he dumped it into scapegoats, millions of needy American children, letting them feel his despair for him, saying they had to cut off their aid because it was making children "too dependent." What poor children had done wrong was to be dependent and helpless. Gingrich's social alter had the task of protecting him against the repetition of his early traumas by punishing stand-ins for himself for their dependency. He felt that his own helplessness was to blame for his being neglected by his mother; therefore helpless, dependent children, symbols of himself, had to be punished. Children must not be dependent, he declared; their neediness makes them bad. That he particularly singled out stopping aid to children of teenage mothers gave away the inner sources of his crusade, being himself a child of a teenage mother. And while Gingrich's individual traumatic history as a child of a teenage mother wasn't shared by the other Congressmen who voted the cuts in welfare into law nor by the President who signed the legislation, they and those Americans who supported them shared traumas of equal severity to collude in using the children as scapegoats.186
Because so much of America at that time had become so prosperous the highest gross domestic product per person of any nation in history most of the nation colluded in considering Gingrich's delusional actions "social," not "personal." No one asked if his persecution of children of teenage mothers had anything to do with his being a child of an unwed teenage mother; obviously it wasn't a measure designed to reduce teenage pregnancies, the majority of which are the result of seduction or outright rape by men much older than the teenagers.187 In fact, only 8 percent of welfare mothers were unwed teenagers; welfare actually reduces teenage pregnancies.188 And two-thirds of teenage babies were made by fathers who were over 21, essentially raping the teen mother.189 But these facts didn't deter the nation's convictions. No one asked why during a period of unparalleled prosperity the nation's most important agenda suddenly became to pass federal legislation that punished children, including one provision specifically prohibiting states from making any payments for baby diapers.190
Nor was Gingrich alone in this group-fantasy of "bad children." Congressmen began calling children on welfare "bloodsuckers" and "alligators" and "wolves" who were preying on taxpayers. One even waved a sign on the floor of Congress that said, "Don't feed the alligators."191 Presidential candidate Sen. Phil Gramm, introducing provisions into the welfare "reform" bill dubbed the "Home Alone" bill because it forced mothers of little children to go to work even when they had no day care192 declared that if the government paid welfare to unwed mothers the nation would soon be flooded with illegitimate babies, predicting that "soon there will be more illegitimate babies in America than legitimate."193 He seemed quite sincere in his fear of the specter of the U.S. swamped by an explosion of dependent, sinful bastards devouring his wealth, stating "the battle against welfare is a battle for civilization."194
If helpless children of the poor were seen as bad babies and voracious alligators, then obviously they were all scapegoats who were "poison containers" needed by the nation to feel early memories of hunger and despair at being unloved and abused. Without poison containers, we would have to feel these feelings ourselves. Gingrich and Gramm knew that they were acting as delegates for millions of other Americans who, like themselves, had been feeling successful recently (corporate profits had just soared 40 percent, the stock market was up over 50 percent) and who now unconsciously needed poor children to feel their emotions for them. This psychohistorical "war on children" takes place whenever a nation experiences a prolonged period of peace and prosperity and turns from external to internal "enemies," as in the movement to cut benefits for "the undeserving poor" in the peaceful, prosperous periods of the 1840s, the 1890s and the 1920s. Gingrich's attack on needy children was identical, in fact, to what Ronald Reagan did when he became Governor of California. Reagan had received a $2 million gift from his political backers, disguised as a payment for some barren land he owned, and, like Gingrich, was feeling guilty about being rich and famous for the first time in his life.195 To punish his greedy childhood self, Reagan cut out virtually all funds for the Needy Children's School Lunch Program, plus cut meal allowances for retarded children. His goal wasn't saving money; he actually doubled total expenses during his term. But his sacrifice of helpless children was simply a magical guilt-reducing device.
The scapegoating of children to silence the hurt child inside oneself is extremely effective in reducing intrapsychic anxiety. Even chimpanzees scapegoat infants when tense, seizing them from their mothers and flailing them against the ground, often killing them in "aggression-displays."196 In 1996, America too was displaying aggression toward children, internal scapegoats in order to make us feel better. Millions of Americans watched Newt Gingrich on TV or readed about his speeches the next day in the paper had to deny that two very different Gingriches had spoken as he cut out welfare for children and in the next moment proposed giving them laptop computers. Some columnists acknowledged that providing laptop computers for ghetto kids while cutting off their food money was a "crazy" idea. One, whose column was headed "Newt to Poor: Let Them Eat Laptops,"197 pointed out that ghetto children don't have much use for tax credits since they usually don't pay taxes, but even he wasn't curious about how Gingrich could simultaneously champion both starvation and free computers for poor children. Like early observers of multiple personalities, he merely labeled the idea as "crazy," but never asked how and why and when Gingrich moved in and out of his "crazy" alternate personality.
RESTAGING EARLY TRAUMAS IN THE SOCIAL TRANCE
The childhood sources for Gingrich's political program are so overt they should be obvious to all, yet because we are in a social trance when we hear him we collude to deny them. The media widely reported, for instance, that Gingrich was a child of a teenage mother, but carefully didn't connect it with his speeches on how teenage mothers should be punished for having children. The traumatic events of his infancy had to be restaged and millions of children made to feel his despair because in his social alter the child feels responsible for his or her own abuse and neglect, and so a scapegoat for the child self must be punished. As always in politics, the social alter's primary identification is with the abuser.
That cutting out welfare for children was a reaction to prosperity, not really a way to save money, was admitted by many politicians. Senator Pat Moynihan pointed out even President Clinton bore responsibility for the success of Gingrich's campaign to "dump the children on the streets, "198 since Clinton promised to "end welfare as we know it." "It is almost 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."199 But the seeming contradiction is in fact the point: it is because the 90s were roaring we had to punish children, scapegoats for the "bad, needy" child alter in our heads. The Congressman who told the media, "It's time to tighten the belt on the bloated stomach of the Federal government"200 himself had a very large stomach, but no one mentioned this as he voted to cut the lunch money for skinny little kids.
When the 61-year-old federal welfare program, the Aid to Families With Dependent Children program, the benefits for disabled children and the food stamps guarantees were finally repealed with the backing of both parties and of the President, the sacrifice of America's children was complete. Many commentators and politicians said this would "prevent children from being dependent." It was useless to point out to people who are dissociated and in a social trance that children or other poison containers were helpless human beings who were the victims of their actions. Nor could one have made any impression pointing out that appearing to save a few billion dollars by depriving today's children would cost hundreds of billions in tomorrow's crimes. The children were full of our projections; they weren't real to us.
Examples of mass dissociation of perpetrators are legion. Lifton documents how Nazi doctors "double" themselves and create an "Auschwitz self" to divest themselves of responsibility toward those they experimented on.201 The Nazi commandant of Auschwitz, Rudolf Höss, when asked if the Jews he killed had deserved their fate, replied that "there was something unrealistic about such a question, because [we] had been living in an entirely different world," that is, the world of social alters. Jews weren't particularly personally hated. Their blood just had to flow in order to purify the blood of Germany. And America, in the 1990s, had to conduct a genocide of over a million Iraqi children through our embargo in a trance-in fact, no one noticed we were killing them! They weren't human because they weren't real. We were just punishing evil Iraqis. The Nazis used to say they were just cleansing Europe of Jewish pollution. How could one ask if Jewish children deserved to be killed? "It never even occurred to us," Höss said.202 We were just "good Germans" and "good Americans" when we killed millions of children. The most important psychodynamic of history is people's ability to switch deep into their social alter, identify with the perpetrator and periodically persecute helpless people who represent ones' own childhood self. It is the social alter's duty to remove bad, sinful children. As one German policeman ended his description of his execution of Jewish children:
...while leaving the execution site, the other comrades laughed at me, because pieces of the child's brains had spattered onto my sidearm and had stuck there. I first asked, why are you laughing, whereupon Koch, pointing to the brains on my sidearm, said: That's from mine, he has stopped twitching. He said this in an obviously boastful tone...203
The psychohistorian asks: "Did he wonder incredulously what could possibly justify his blowing a vulnerable little girl's brains out? Do Americans wonder why they must gratuitously kill a million innocent, helpless Iraqi children?" The answer is that it is precisely because children are innocent and helpless that they must be obliterated, to punish them for our own imagined sinfulness.
MERGING WITH THE PERPETRATOR
Ultimately our social alters merge with the perpetrator of early traumas. In wars, we initially hallucinate that children are being hurt (in the Gulf War, we imagine them hurt by Saddam Hussein, claiming he killed babies in incubators), but of course the result of the war and the embargo was for Americans to kill millions of children. In group-fantasy, we merge with the aggressor in order to avoid feeling helpless and then inflict damage upon child-scapegoats under the guise of "saving children."
We see this merging with the perpetrator in every scapegoating group-fantasy. When anti-Semites persecute Jews, they are merged with the abusing parent and punishing the abused child. Jews must be persecuted, says St. John Chrysostom, for their "lewd grossness and extremes of gluttony"-betraying the sexual seduction and constant hunger experienced by children of his time; Jews are "murderers of the Lord"-and must be punished for the murderous rage children felt toward their abusers, their Lords, their caretakers.204 Adult events, political and economic history, usually provide only proximate causes of scapegoating group-fantasies; their ultimate cause lies in earlier traumatic events.
FUNCTIONS OF SOCIAL ALTERS
Social alters are a product of the evolution of the human brain. The evidence we will shortly examine suggests our species began with little more private selves than chimpanzees, controlled mainly by our unconscious thalamo-amygdalan memory systems and living with little self-consciousness or empathy. Humans only began being able to form more fully conscious selves as the acquisition of language and the evolution of childrearing produced a major epigenetic (additional to genetic) evolution of our psyche. By splitting off and then sharing the feelings in our social alters, we have become able to remain "sane" some of the time and get about the daily business of living our lives, while walling off in a separate part of our psyches our most painful traumas and deepest feelings.
Our social alters contain early levels of our unbearable hurts ("Why didn't mommy want me?" "Why did daddy hit me?"), restaged as fairy tales ("Are there witches?" "Will the monster kill me?") and then as social questions ("Shall we take children away from teenage mothers?" "Is Saddam Hussein a new Hitler who will blow up the world?"). The adaptive function of social alters is that they allow people to go about their daily business without being overwhelmed by traumatic memories and resulting despair-as "crazy" people are overwhelmed. By dissociating early persecutors into our social alters and then identifying with these persecutors in our social lives, human beings manage to live more sane daily lives, while warding off unseen but felt dangers by "feeding" victims of society to terrifying religious, political and economic divinities. So important to our sanity is the social alter that when a poison container for a group-fantasy is removed, tremendous anxiety is aroused that has to be defended against by creating a replacement. For instance, the disappearance of the Evil Soviet Empire in 1989 unexpectedly led to an outbreak of enormous shared anxieties by Russians, other Europeans and Americans alike, anxieties that were then defended against by constructing new internal enemies like immigrants, minorities, welfare mothers and children to replace the missing external enemy.205
INDUCING THE SOCIAL TRANCE
Earlier societies were so deep into the social trance that although they often had excellent intellectual knowledge about the world, based upon experience, they nevertheless shared the most bizarre magical beliefs imaginable while in their social alters. Adaptationist evolutionary theories flounder on the ubiquity of these bizarre and patently nonadaptive cultural traits. There is nothing adaptive in maintaining a belief that if you put a stick into a cowrie shell and it falls to the side, someone will soon die,206 or the belief that wars restore the potency of men and societies. Most of culture consists of behaviors like these, which become explainable by developmental psychology, not by theories of adaptation to environments. Because early societies had so little development of private self in childhood, they lived most of their lives in their social alters in a "Dreamtime" world of malevolent witches, ghosts and other persecutory spirits. Both devouring witches and the helpful animal familiars of shamans, for instance, have been shown to be actual alters which are first constructed in childhood as imaginary companions207 i.e., they are first protective alters created by the child to help handle trauma and only in adulthood do they become persecutory social alters. Whether you are a New Guinea cannibal, an ancient Greek mother, a Balinese trancer or a Nazi antisemite, you first form an alter in your head of a devouring, bloodthirsty demon, using traumatic memories going all the way back to the poisonous placenta, and then you collude with others to project this image onto that of a horrible witch, a devouring Striga, a bloodthirsty leyak spirit or a poisonous Jew in order to relieve your intrapsychic stress.
Our political beliefs today are often no less magical than the religious beliefs of earlier times. The belief that killing and burning Jews can cleanse German blood is based on the same kind of trance logic as earlier beliefs that killing and burning children in sacrifices to gods will assure better crops. Both depend upon social alters to keep their real selves sane. Only after switching into their social alters can normally peaceful people become persecutors, don frightful masks or swastika uniforms and chop enemy's heads off or gas Jews. Then, their traumas restaged, they can go home, remove their masks and alters and have dinner with their families.
Every known society has trance rituals designed to help switch members into their social alters, entrain their group-fantasies and prepare them for social action designed to relieve emotional distress. Bourguignon counts 437 societies out of 488 studied that have formal trance rituals,208 but she uses
5:3 A man in his social alter
a very narrow definition of what constitutes a trance. In fact, no society lacks its trance rituals. Apparently being dissociated from your social alter for any length of time leaves you feeling that you have lost an important part of your self your hurt self. As the !Kung bushman said when asked why he had to join a trance dance ritual every week, "I can really become myself again."209 Many cultures even have a special word for the depression one feels when a social event ends,210 the "social hangover" that feels, they say, as if someone has died the loss of their social alter, a vital part of themselves.
Anthropologists often watch their subjects enter into their social alters, but are trained to apply the dogma of cultural relativism to what they are seeing in order to deprive it of meaning. They regularly encounter local populations who are usually friendly to them and others, but who periodically go off into violent frenzies and chop off men's heads or girl's genitals. Rather than posing a question as to why their subjects seem to have two distinctly different personalities, they instead say that the violent personality was merely "learned cultural behavior"-i.e., that it had no meaning or motivation. Historians do the same with their subjects' behaviors during wars and genocides.
The anthropology and neurobiology of ritual trances has been extensively studied.211 The time-honored techniques of formal trance induction are well known: fasting, rapid breathing, inhalation of smoke and ingestion of drugs, infliction of pain, and the use of drumming, pulsing music and dancing all "driving behaviors" designed to reproduce the pain, hypoxia and shock of early trauma and entrain the biological rhythms of the group. Neurobiologically, the amygdaloid-hippocampal balance plays a pivotal role in trance states, with an increase in theta-wave rhythm in the hippocampus, indicating increased attentional activity to early amygdalan-centered memories, allowing access to dissociated traumatic experience.212 The motivations for going into the group trance, however, have remain unstudied.
The leader of any group is a delegate for the group's trance induction needs. Freud, following LeBon, noticed the resemblance of group fascination to a hypnotic trance. Hitler confirmed his insight:
I have been reproached for making the masses fanatic...But what you tell the people in the mass, in a receptive state of fanatic devotion, will remain like words received under an hypnotic influence, ineradicable, and impervious to every reasonable explanation.213
That recapturing and then restaging early trauma are the goals of the social trances is suggested by the discovery by Hilgard of the correlation between the severity of childhood punishment and ability to go into a hypnotic trance.214 Although many small groups admit that the goal of their trance rituals is an attempt to heal trauma, we tend to deny this today. Yet when the rationalizations of our trance rituals are stripped away and their hidden rhythms and embedded messages are revealed to analysis, their traumatic bases are made convincingly evident.
I have developed and tested over the past two decades a technique I call fantasy analysis of revealing the hidden messages embedded within seemingly bland and boring speeches and press conferences of leaders as well as other verbal and non-verbal political material.215 The purpose of fantasy analysis is to capture how it feels to be part of a nation's shared emotional life. Other psychohistorians have confirmed that doing a fantasy analysis of political material can be a Rosetta Stone that can uncover new dimensions to our group-fantasies and can even be used to try to forecast future political behavior.216 Just as experimental psychologists have shown that visual stimuli subliminally presented tachistoscopically for a hundredth of a second register in the unconscious and in dreams while bypassing consciousness,217 so too subliminal messages are embedded in speeches and in the media by their choice of certain metaphors, similes and emotional images rather than others. A fantasy analysis of a speech or other historical document will remove the defensive posturing and locate the emotionally powerful fantasy words that contain the embedded real message, decoding the hidden content through the relationships of the imagery. The rules for fantasy analysis are simple:
1. Record all strong feeling words, even when they occur in innocuous contexts, such as "kill the bill in Congress or "cut the budget." Be abstemious; recording mild anxiety words simply clutters the analysis, although it rarely changes the emotional content of the hidden message.
2. Record all metaphors, similes and gratuitously repeated words.
3. Record all family terms, such as mother, father, children.
4. Eliminate negatives, since "we don't want war" still is about war and could have been phrased "we want peace."
5. Rewrite the fantasy words in sentences to reveal the hidden messages.
My books and articles over the past two decades have contained extensive fantasy analyses of Presidential speeches and press conferences, and can be consulted as examples of how the process reveals the group-fantasies of the nation at specific historical moments.218 The following analysis of President Ronald Reagan's Acceptance Speech for re-election will give an example the fantasy analysis technique, plus it will illustrate the process of trance induction, the search for traumatic content and the leader's unconscious pact with the nation on what should be done.
5:4 Ronald Reagan shown as trance inducer
Most political meetings are usually held not to make decisions but to deepen the social trance, to switch into social alters and to entrain the group's unconscious emotional strategies for handling the inner emotional problems of its "hidden world." The following speech was given by Ronald Reagan at the 1984 Republican Convention. Political conventions are similar to the "carnival gatherings" of chimpanzees, where they "dash about in excited, nonaggressive display, which acts to relieve tensions"219 or the "trance dances" of !Kung bushmen, which accomplish ritual cleansing of depression. Even before political speeches begin, important trance induction conditions are established. The audience is usually immobilized in crowded seats, recapturing the helplessness of infancy. In the 1984 Republican Convention, a special film was shown to the delegates on a huge television screen above the podium before Reagan began speaking. It was so boring-mainly his giant face, as though he were a huge mother and the delegates were infants-that the audience already began to dissociate. As hypnotherapist Milton Erickson writes, being very boring is one of the most powerful trance induction techniques, since the conscious mind soon loses reality anchors.220 The only persons the audience could focus upon were cadres of young Republicans pumping their arms in the air and shouting rhythmically, "U.S.A.! U.S.A.!" as though they were !Kung trance drummers.221
Reagan began the trance induction part of his speech at heartbeat speed that is, with accents at about 70 beats per minute, although normal speaking rates are usually above 120 beats per minute. Almost all politicians speak at this abnormally slow rate of 70 beats per minute, even when microphones make their words clear to a large audience. This is the rate of the mother's heart beat one first heard in the womb. Other trance inducers-priests and hypnotists-also instinctively slow down to 70 beats per minute, entraining their audiences to a mother's heartbeat. To emphasize this regression to the warmth of the womb, Reagan's first fantasy words (put in bold type) to his audience and to the nation watching on TV are (read this to yourself very slowly to feel its dissociative effect):
Thank you very much. Mr. Chairman, Mr. Vice President, delegates to this convention, and fellow citizens. In 75 days, I hope we enjoy a victory that is the size of the heart of Texas.
Nancy and I extend our deep thanks to the Lone Star State and the "Big D," the city of Dallas, for all their warmth and hospitality.
After these womb-like words, Reagan begins to speak baby language, as though he were talking to an audience of three-year-olds-a technique also used by the hypnotherapist Milton Erickson to induce trances through age regression and mind-splitting boring content. Erickson usually tells parables, in baby language, often about animals; Reagan does the same (again, read very slowly and watch your eyelids begin to feel heavy):
Four years ago I didn't know precisely every duty of this office, and not too long ago, I learned about some new ones from the first graders of Corpus Christi School in Chambersburg, Pa. Little Leah Kline was asked by her teacher to describe my duties. She said: "The President goes to meetings. He helps the animals. The President gets frustrated. He talks to other Presidents."
What is most astonishing isn't just that the leader of the most powerful nation on earth-faced with soaring deficits because of his huge military buildup and threatening a war with a neighboring state-should begin his explanation of his plans for the nation for the next four years with baby talk. What is surprising is that no one noticed anything strange! The speech seemed "normal politics," Reagan was called a "master speaker." We are all quite used to leaders speaking boring baby language to us at an exaggeratedly slow pace. We periodically ask our leaders to put us into a trance so we can switch into our social alters and coordinate our fantasies. Reality is quite beside the point.
Reagan repeats more "heart" words (which I will skip to save space) and then begins to further dissociate the conscious mind from the unconscious with repeated splitting words, in much the same way that a hypnotist splits your attention by telling you to watch one of your arms rise while the other one falls:
The choices this year are not just between two different personalities or between two different visions of the future, two fundamentally different ways of governing-their government of pessimism, fear and limits, or ours of hope, confidence, and growth. Their government-their government sees people only as members of groups. Ours serves all the people of America as individuals. Theirs lives in the past, seeking to apply the old and failed policies to an era that has passed them by. Ours learns from the past and strives to change by boldly charting a new course for the future. Theirs lives by promises, the bigger, the better. We offer proven, workable answers.
The final induction technique is age regression:
Our opponents began this campaign hoping that America has a poor memory. Well, let's take them on a little stroll down memory lane...
The social trance is now becoming effective, and the group has switched into their social alters. The audience has become biologically entrained with the speaker and with each other; they are moving subtly together, though no one has thought it important to measure this in political meetings other than such obvious entrainments as synchronized flag movements or mass Nazi salutes. This entrainment itself evokes early memories, since it recalls how babies entrain to the voices of the adults around them within minutes of birth (and possibly even in utero,)222 swaying and moving their head, arms, body and fingers to the sounds of adults.
After the trance induction, Reagan then begins what Erickson terms the unconscious search, attempting to locate what feelings are bothering the audience and nation at this particular historical moment. (I will from here on only reproduce sentences with fantasy words to save space.) Here is what Reagan says is bothering the nation at the end of 1984:
Inflation was not some plague borne on the wind...they were devastated by a wrong-headed grain embargo...Farmers have to fight insects, weather, and the marketplace-they shouldn't have to fight their own Government...Under their policies tax rates have gone up three times as much for families with children as they have for everyone else...Some who spoke so loudly in San Francisco of fairness were among those who brought about the biggest single individual tax increase in our history...Well, they received some relief in 1983 when our across-the-board tax cut was fully in place...Would that really hurt the rich?...
That the first fantasy word of the unconscious search for shared feelings should be plague warns us of serious emotional disturbance, since this has been the code-word for paranoid fantasies of group pollution from the delusional apocalyptic plagues of antiquity to "the Jewish plague" of modern antisemitism. What could be the source of the feelings of a plague and of a devastated society? Perhaps something to do with fight and children who are loudly cut and hurt? Maybe hurt children are too loud? The search continues (I now only record the fantasy words to save space):
pushed...creep...out of control...control...control....
Feelings of strangling, being pushed and general misery seem to be the problem. All this misery is blamed on out of control, immoral children. As usual, we blame our own "out of control" growing childhood selves for our troubles. (The immorality of children is confirmed later in the convention by the Christian Right attack on teenage sex.)
What can be done to stop these immoral children? In the main section of his speech, Reagan now tells what should be done, thus giving a posthypnotic command to the nation and concluding a "trance pact" between the leader and his people:
crushing...genocide...young men lost their lives...sacrifice
...murderous...students...war...cut...cut...violence...burial...children...buried...drunken...war...war...children...ridding the earth...threat...
Rewriting these fantasy words in complete sentences, we find that the audience, the nation and Reagan have made the following trance pact:
We will sell out and betray to fear in wars strong warlike students. In a crushing genocide young men will have lost their lives in a sacrifice that will be murderous. Students in the war will be cut, cut with such violence we will have a burial of children. They will be buried in a drunken war. The war on children will accomplish ridding the earth of the threat in our heads.
The central project of Reagan's second term of office-going to war against Nicaragua-is now a posthypnotic command, a pact with that part of the nation which has become entranced with him (entered the social trance). Only those Americans who were not in the social trance-more recent psychoclasses whose childhoods were better than the majority-ended up opposing Reagan's push in the next three years toward a Central American war, which was then only narrowly avoided.
The speech ends with the audience switching out of their social alters back to their main personalities, accomplished by images of peace, warmth and, again, "heart":
The people in the audience then hit their hands together in order to awaken themselves from the deep social trance-for ten full minutes. The nation, watching, now knows what they should be trying to do for the next four years: sacrificing young men to end the plague of out-of-control, immoral children. Reagan went on to be re-elected by an overwhelming majority of the nation, who agreed it would satisfy their persecutory social alters if they could sell out immoral children who could be buried in a drunken war.
Confirmation of the group-fantasy in the leader's message can be obtained by watching the political cartoons appearing at the same time showing the nation's hidden feelings in visual, pre-verbal form. At the end of 1984, for the first time in Reagan's presidency, cartoons appeared of children being sacrificed, supposedly to "Deficits" or "Abortions" or "Anti-Abortion Terrorism" or "Mother Russia," but really to our needs for child sacrifice.
5:5 Fantasies of child sacrifice in Reagan's America
Other psychohistorians and students using the fantasy analysis technique have often begun with the feeling that the choice of fantasy words and the meaning ascribed to them in my books and articles seem arbitrary. But though when they tried to analyze historical material in this manner themselves, they usually found that their choices and interpretations came very close to mine. Many of these fantasy analyses have been published in The Journal of Psychohistory over the past three decades.223
GROWTH PANIC AND MATERNAL ENGULFMENT
One of the most thoroughly documented results of the past three decades of study of group-fantasies is that they are inexorably tied into the person of the leader. Since political feelings are so much a defense against growth panic and resulting fears of abandonment by early love-objects, groups organize and entrain their fantasies about how it feels to be part of the group at any particular historical time more around feelings about the leader than any actual historical events.
The central fantasy function of the leader of any group, small or large, is to defend against repetitions of early trauma and abandonment, along with handling wishes for merging with the terrifying mother. Leaders are usually imagined as male protectors against maternal engulfment fears. Group analyst Didier Anzieu describes the small groups he studies as follows:
The group is a mouth...essentially female and maternal....One of the most active, or rather paralyzing, unconscious group representations is that of a Hydra: the group is felt to be a single body with a dozen arms at the ends of which are heads and mouths...ready to devour one another if they are not satisfied.224
When the leader is imagined to be strong, he can successfully defend against the group's engulfment fears; when the leader appears to weaken, all growth is dangerous, and desires for merging and fears of maternal engulfment increase, so the leader must somehow act to defend against the growth panic. Extensive studies by Gibbard and Hartman of fantasies of small groups have found that
groups center on the largely unconscious fantasy that the group-as-a-whole is a maternal entity, or some facet of a maternal entity....The fantasy offers some assurance that the more frightening, enveloping or destructive aspects of the group-as-mother will be held in check...a major function of the group leader is to ward off envelopment by the group-as-mother...the group leader is imagined to have mastered the group-as-mother and thus to have gained some of her mana for himself. This makes him a threat as well as a protector...225
The reason small groups and nations are unconsciously experienced as destructive mothers is that group development requires an increase in independence and individuation, as members grow, respond to new challenges and try to change their patterns of behavior. This independence revives earlier feelings of maternal abandonment, when the mother-herself having experienced a traumatic childhood-was threatened by the child's independence, as seen in this case related by Masterson:
She seemed to be overwhelmingly threatened by her child's emerging individuality, which sounded as a warning that he [her child] was destined to leave her...she was unable to support the child's efforts to separate from her and express his own self through play and exploration of the world...Consequently, she was unable to respond to the child's unfolding individuality...the child became afraid of being taken over or engulfed [and] feared abandonment, giving up further individuation.226
Thus all groups from bands to nations experience growth, progress and social development with fears of maternal engulfment and abandonment. The worse the childrearing, the more growth panic is triggered by individuation and self assertion. The course of cultural evolution is determined by the reduction of this growth panic through the evolution of more supportive childrearing. Since this childhood evolution is very uneven, more advanced psychoclasses cause "too much" social progress for the majority of society. Old defenses become unavailable and people cannot dominate various scapegoats-wives, slaves, servants, minorities- in quite the same way as before. These less advanced psychoclasses-the majority of society-begin to experience tremendous growth panic, and new ways to handle their anxiety must be invented. For them, change is everywhere; things seem to be "getting out of control." This is why growth and self assertion, whatever it is called-hubris, chutzpah, original sin, human desire itself-are proscribed by the religious and political systems of most societies. Societies whose institutions progress beyond their average childrearing mode become the most fearful and most violent, since their growth panic depends upon both the amount of early trauma and the amount of social progress. Thus unaccustomed Weimar freedoms lead directly to Auschwitz in a Germany formed by brutal childrearing.
The violence resulting from the fear of maternal engulfment has, in fact, been empirically found to be related to the mother's actual engulfing behavior. For instance, Ember and Ebmer227 found in their cross-cultural studies that where the mother sleeps closer to the baby than to the father, and therefore tends to use the baby as a substitute spouse, there is more homicide and assault, and there is also a higher frequency of war, both correlations as predicted by the psychogenic theory.
Because growth revives the fears of the earliest pre-verbal period of life, the growing growth panic of groups and nations is also often felt as loss of body parts or as loss of blood. Masterson says, "Many patients describe this in graphic physical terms, such as losing an arm or leg, being deprived of oxygen, or being drained of blood."228 The fears reach all the way back into the womb, when growth could produce deprivation of oxygen and insufficient blood from the placenta. This is why periods of peace, prosperity and social progress in nations with poor childrearing often lead to growing paranoia about enemies who are about to invade, tear one's nation apart, deny one's Lebensraum and drain off the national life-blood. Behind all these paranoid fears is a growth panic and resulting fear of engulfment, a panic and a fear that originated first in relation to the earliest caretaker, the mother.229
Maternal engulfment fears can also be handled by merging with the engulfing mother in fantasy and then sacrificing oneself or a substitute for oneself to the engulfing mother. Many early religions feature a female beast that is worshipped and to whom human sacrifices are made. The Mayans, for instance, sacrificed human hearts torn out of a living victim's chest to jaguar gods and even handed over their children to living jaguars to be eaten, while in one section of India sharks were until recently worshipped and "both men and women went into a state of ecstasy and offered themselves to the sharks [by entering] the sea up to their breasts and are very soon seized and devoured [by the sharks.]"230 Maternal engulfment fantasies are very often acted out in concrete form in social rituals whether religious or military. Initiation ceremonies usually feature men in animal masks who "devour" initiates, and battlefields are often pictured as "devouring mouths" engulfing soldiers "sent into their maw" to sacrifice themselves "for their motherland."
If there ever were a society where parents really helped their children to individuate, it would be a society without growth panics, without engulfment fears and without delusional enemies. The enemy is a poison container for groups failing to grapple with the problems of an emerging self. The enemy therefore inherits the imagery of their growth panic, so the enemy is usually described in terms of our childhood desires for growth. "They" (for instance, Jews) are imagined to be guilty of the pejorative form of every one of our desires: "greed" (all our wants); "lust" (our sexual desire); "pushiness" (our striving) and so on. It isn't even necessary that the enemy really exist. Simple societies imagine that witches, ancestors and spirits are relentlessly persecuting enemies, and some nations-including Japan today-can even imagine Jews as bloodsucking national enemies when there are virtually no Jews in their country.231
LEADERSHIP AND DEFENSES AGAINST GROWTH PANIC
Political leaders are intuitively aware that their main function is to provide grandiose manic antidotes to growth panic. Every society acknowledges somehow its function as a defense against maternal engulfment. Most Melanesian societies openly admit that the main function of their rituals is to counter the disastrous effects of polluted menstrual blood.232 Ancient Egyptian and Mesopotamian societies were constructed around rituals that countered their panic about succumbing to chaos, constantly fearing female "chaos-monsters [who] drank people's blood and devoured their flesh."233 Many Western political theorists, such as Machiavelli, have also seen political authority as necessary to combat "feminine chaos." My psychogenic theory only differs in ascribing this fear of maternal abandonment to fantasy, not reality to childhood family life, not adult social life.
The more primitive the dominant childrearing mode of a society, the more growth panic must be defended against. New Guinea fathers are often so certain their boys are going to be engulfed by poisonous menstrual blood and eaten up by witches that they cut themselves to get their own "strong" male blood and feed it to the boys to strengthen them.234 Most sacrificial rites are performed to ward off dangerous "blood pollution."235 Political leaders regularly go to war over fears of the enemy's polluting dangers, such as Hitler's fears of "foreign blood introduced into our people's body."236 Wars are said to be particularly useful in "scrubbing clean national arteries clogged with wealth and ease."237 Indeed, poison-cleansing is a central purpose of all social rituals, whether the cleansing is accomplished by wars, religious sacrifices or depressions, all of which have been said to cleanse the body politic of sinful pleasures and freedoms.238 Those leaders who, like Franklin Roosevelt, can reign during both a war and a depression are, of course, the greatest leaders of all.
The fears of abandonment that are triggered by social progress are felt by nations to be dramatized in their relationship with their leader, who is felt to be growing more and more distant and less and less able to provide grandiose manic projects to defend against their growing growth panic. The increasing impotence and weakness of the leader can be seen in the much-watched "ratings" he gets in his public opinion polls, which, after starting at a peak, usually decline during his term, unless revived by some particularly effective defensive manic action that the leader engages in.239 This is just the opposite of what one would rationally expect, which is that as a nation gets more and more evidence of what the leader can accomplish, should become more confident in his capacities. But leaders instead usually are imagined to weaken in office, because growing growth panic makes them seem more distant, less potent.
Ancient societies knew this feeling of weakening of leadership very well, and regularly set up some of their most important rituals to revitalize the powers of their kings. The earliest of these rituals were held annually, climaxing in rituals of purgation, whereby the community rids itself of pollution; rituals of mortification and sacrifice, whereby fasts and other punishments were undergone to purge people of their dreaded desires; and rituals of combat, whereby battles were fought with projected forces of evil.240 Later, divine kings provided defenses against maternal pollution, and were held to be intimately connected with the health of the crops, animals and people. Early Greek kings reigned for eight years, and were thought to have weakened so badly during this time that they either were killed themselves, found a substitute (sometimes the eldest son) or had to go through regeneration rituals. To be regenerated, the king would go first through a humiliation ritual-be slapped on the face to repeat the people's childhood humiliations-and might even go through the ritual process of dying and being born again.241 Thus the phrase: "The King is dead; long live the King!" Or, as Robespierre declared in 1792, "Louis must die because the patrie must live."242
In modern democratic nations, we usually don't actually kill our leaders; we periodically throw them out of office and replace them with revitalized substitutes. But the decline in potency of the leader his inexorable abandonment of us as we grow still is felt today. This is because the leader is less a figure of authority than he is a delegate, someone who tells us to do what we tell him we want done, someone who "takes the blame" for us. As poison container for our dissociated social alter, the leader is expected to absorb our violent feelings without collapsing. Many societies actually designate "filth men" to help the leader with this task, relatives who exchange blood with him so they can "intercept" the poisonous feelings of the people directed at him. In modern nations, cabinet members are our "filth men," and are regularly sacrificed when the leader is under attack.
This leadership task of being the delegate of irrational desires of the people makes leaders experts in masochism, rather than sadistim, as traditional power theory requires. This explains why Janus found in his study of Washington D.C. prostitutes that powerful politicians got their sexual thrills by playing masochistic, not sadistic, sexual roles, finding that "By far the most common service politicians demand from call girls is to be beaten," hiring women to pretend to inflict upon them "torture and mortification of the flesh...and mutilation of their genitals."243
Only by being our delegates by carefully following our unconscious commands-are leaders followed. We might follow them into war and lay down our lives to combat an enemy they alone designated, but the moment they try to ignore the group-fantasy and avoid our hidden commands, pelople simply do not hear them. For instance, Kaiser Wilhelm II, when caught up by the Germans' need for an enemy in order to justify the paranoia that accompanied their growing prosperity, sent excessive demands to Serbia, hoping they would be rejected. When Serbia agreed to virtually everything he wanted, he announced that "every reason for war drops away," and gave orders to stop military movements. His subordinates simply acted as though they had not heard what he said, and the war began without him.244 As soon as he didn't carry out the emotional needs of the nation, which required war to offset progress, he was ignored.
The notion that leaders really lead, not follow, is as much a group-fantasy as the leader's charismatic power to command the sun's rise and fall.245 A leader is a single individual sitting at a desk in one corner of one city. The power we conditionally delegate to him resides in the group-fantasy, since the leader's function is to act as a poison container for our group-fantasies. If he should unexpectedly die, the container disappears and our fears return to us in a rush. Even if he has been a totally incompetent leader, we panic. Small-scale societies often erupt into a fury of witch fears following the death of a leader;246 early societies often accompanied the death of the king with the slaughter of hundreds of victims;247 Yugoslavia embarked on a paroxysm of rape and killing following Tito's death. The leader is seen as omnipotent only because he must appear strong enough to contain our projections. But this strength is purely magical and has nothing to do with real accomplishments. The Maoris often renew their vigor by crawling through their leader's legs and touching his powerful penis, and rich Americans have paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to touch the President in the White House.248 But the charisma of leaders is purely a defensive grandiosity of our own, compensating for our feelings of childhood helplessness. Thus a leader's strength seems inevitably to decay.
THE FOUR PHASES OF LEADERSHIP
Fantasy analyses I have done of magazine covers and cartoons over the past two decades249 reveal that there are four phases of group-fantasies about leaders, as they become less and less able to provide grandiose manic solutions to the nation's growing growth panic. Since group anxieties are embedded in a fetal matrix, these four phases of group-fantasy parallel the four phases of birth.250 The four leadership phases are: (1) strong, (2) cracking, (3) collapse and (4) upheaval.
5:6 Strong Phase
In the first year or so of his term of office, the leader is portrayed as grandiose, phallic and invincible, able to hold all forces of evil at bay and able to contain the unconscious anxieties of the nation. Photos of the leader appearing on magazine covers and in newspapers are mainly taken from the level of a small child, making him seem like a strong parent. International political crises occurring in this strong phase are rarely seen as dangerous or as requiring an active response; wars are rarely started in the first year of leadership.251 The strong phase is actually as unrealistic as later phases, since people imagine that their private emotional lives will be magically much better simply because yet another savior sits in an office somewhere, not because they plan to devote themselves to real change.
5:7 Cracking Phase
In the next year or more, the leader's deification begins to fail, and he is shown as weakening, often appearing in cartoons with actual cracks in him as he is seen as increasingly impotent and unable to handle the emotional burdens of the nation. The media spend an inordinate amount of time analyzing whether this or that minor event might make the leader weaker. While the nation responds to solid economic growth through more and more manic overinvestment and overproduction, fears of growth are increasingly expressed, as "things seem to be about to get out of control"-i.e., the nation's real progress begins to stir up abandonment fears. The nation engages in an increasing number of economic and political manic projects to ward off their abandonment depression. Evil monsters are depicted in cartoons as starting to pursue the leader, and the group's boundaries are felt to be cracking, with images of leaking water and crumbling walls predominating, as though the nation's womb-surround is cracking. Complaints of being crowded, hungry and breathless begin, enemies start to proliferate and become more threatening.
5:8 Collapse Phase
The leader and various delegate-groups are expected to voice and take some grandiose manic action to relieve those feelings, restaging the imagined threat rather than remaining hypervigalent and paranoid forever. Nations react to foreign policy crises more belligerantly in their collapse phases than in their strong phases.252 Even before an "enemy" is chosen, the government often takes some economic measures to "stop things from getting out of control," making more and more "mistakes" in economic policy that are unconsciously designed to slow progress, such as deflationary monetary policies. The nation also conducts "purity crusades" to put an end to the sexual and other liberties supposedly responsible for the nation's moral collapse.253 Troops are often scurried around the world to meet minor emergencies or to prepare for action. Free-floating paranoid fantasies multiply of poisonous enemies, who are often pictured as envious of the nation's progress and about to strike, so that "preemptive action" against them seems necessary.
The collapse phase ends with a hypervigilant paranoid "search for a humiliating other"-an enemy who, in a moment of group-psychotic insight, can be identified as the concrete source of the nation's distress
5:9 Upheaval Phase
The leader begins the upheaval phase pictured as a wimp, overwhelmed by poisonous
forces, impotent to ward off disaster, which is often depicted as a dangerous
water-beast (poisonous placenta) along with images of floods, whirlpools and
devouring mouths-media magery similar to medieval depictions of Hell as a Devouring
Demon.254 Anti-children crusades multiply, attacking people's projected
inner child for being spoiled, sinful, greedy and out of control. When the growth
panic is at a peak, "poison alerts" are declared and fears of maternal abandonment
and wishes for maternal engulfment and rebirth proliferate. Political cartoons
and popular movies contain more and more apocalyptic upheaval birth fantasies,
full of vaginal tunnels and exploding pressures. Rational national progress
seems to be unimportant, group-delusions and group-trance projects are at a
peak, and action becomes rresistible as the nation searches for some magical
restoration of potency.255 This restoration, rebirth or revitalization
wish turns into a group ritual that at times can take one or more of three forms:
(1) Regicidal Solution If the leader fails to find an appropriate enemy, he
himself can be designated as the enemy of the nation, and a ritual slaying is
enacted, either by actual regicide or by throwing him out of office. Should
he be reelected at the end of his first term, a symbolic death and rebirth ritual
is enacted, and the leader has more time to find a solution to the growth panic.
(2) Martial Solution-If an external enemy can be found who will co-operate by
humiliating the nation as they felt humiliated by their parents during childhood,
this enemy can now be seen as the source of all their fears, and military action
can be taken by the now-heroic leader in order to clear out the pollution and
produce a rebirth of national strength and purpose. Wars are often preceded
by apocalyptic growth panic movements, "Great Awakenings" and other end-of-the-world
group-fantasies.256 The leader is split into two parts, and the "poison"
part is projected into the "enemy" leader, who agrees to engage in a mutual
humiliation ritual and then fight the cosmic battle between good and evil and
"flush out" the nation's fears.
The nation feels often enormous relief by the designation of the enemy, rather
than being fearful of war's destructiveness. The finding of an external enemy
as a poison container produces a burst of dopamine-filled euphoria. As Churchill
wrote his wife in 1914, as England prepared for war, "Everything tends toward
catastrophe and collapse. I am interested, geared up and happy." Similarly,
on the day President Truman decided to send U.S. troops to Korea one American
wrote from Washington, D.C. that "Never before...have I felt such a sense of
relief and unity pass through this city...When the President's statement was
read in the House, the entire chamber rose to cheer."257 The sending
off of the nation's youth to be killed in wars becomes a scapegoating of one's
own vital self, the blood shed is felt to be a purging of the polluted blood
infecting the nation's arteries and the identification with the nation's grandiose
military leaders is felt to be a magical restoration of potency. Genocidal wars
are the most extreme example of cleansing group-fantasies. They are most often
engaged in by nations with especially poor childrearing compared to their neighbors,
at times when they are attempting to make a leap into modernity, so that the
unaccustomed freedom creates an intense growth panic which can only be cleansed
by a sacrifice of millions of helpless scapegoats, representatives of the nation's
"polluted" aggressive and sexual wishes.
(3) Internal Sacrifice Solution-If the leader cannot find an external enemy
with whom to engage in a sacrificial war, he often turns to an internal sacrifice,
either a violent revolution or an economic downturn. At the end of the 1920s,
for instance, as economic and social progress seemed to have gotten "out of
control," world bankers-chief sacrificial priests of modern nations-pursued
deflationary economic policies, trade barriers were erected and many other "mistakes"
were made that were motivated to produce the Great Depression that sacrificed
so much of the wealth of the world. As Treasury Secretary Andrew Mellon said
in 1929 as the Federal Reserve pushed the world into the Great Depression, "It
will purge the rottenness out of the system."258 Business cycles,
as William K. Joseph has shown, are driven by the manic and depressive cycles
of group-fantasy,259 as manic defenses against growth panic are followed
by depressive collapses into emotional despair and inaction. Indeed, most death
rates car crashes, homicides, cancer, pneumonia, heart and liver diseases rise
during prosperous, manic times and are lower during depressions and recessions.260
Only suicide internal sacrifice rises during economic declines, reacting to
the prevailing group-fantasy need for internal sacrifice.
Depressions and recessions are thus not due to "the Invisible Hand" of economics
but are motivated sacrifices that often kill more people than wars do, halting
dangerous prosperity and social progress that seem to be getting "out of control."
That growing wealth often produces anxieties rather than happiness can be shown
empirically. From 1957 to 1995, Americans doubled their income in real dollars,
but the proportion of those telling pollsters that they are "very happy" declined
from 35 to 29 percent.261 Periodic economic downturns are the antidotes
administered by sacrificial priests for the disease of "greed." Cartoons prior
to economic downturns often portray greedy people being sacrificed on altars
or children being pushed off cliffs,262 scapegoats for "greedy" childhood
selves felt to be responsible for the trauma once experienced. Like Aztec human
sacrifices,263 recessions and depressions are accompanied by national
sermons, "cautionary tales," about how sacrifices are necessary to purge the
world of human sinfulness.
The choice between these different solutions to growth panic follows cyclical
patterns, wars and depressions alternating in group-fantasy cycles of varying
lengths. The empirical historical investigation of these "long cycles" of group-fantasy
will be examined in detail in the next chapter, "War and Cycles of Violence."