Although common in birth traumatized children, the continuation into adulthood of a fear of the dark and the tranquilizing need for light to sleep, is shown in its extreme manifestation in the case of Cho. In addition, his class assignment writings filled with themes of profound anger and his self videos with attack guns, I think, show obsessions with violence which points that at birth he had come close to death. An analysis of these writings would also be revealing.
The role of the birth trauma as a source of violence and self-destructive tendencies has been confirmed by many clinical studies. . . . (A)ggression directed inward, in particular, suicide, seems to be psychogenetically linked to difficult birth. According to a recent article published in The Lancet, resuscitation at birth is conducive to a higher risk of committing suicide after puberty. The Scandinavian researcher Bertil Jacobsen found a close correlation between the form of self-destructive behavior and the nature of birth. Suicides involving asphyxiation were associated with suffocation at birth; violent suicides, with mechanical birth trauma; and drug addiction leading to suicide, with opiate and/or barbiturate administration during labor. . . . The circumstances of birth thus play an important role in creating a disposition to violence and self-destructive tendencies or to loving behavior and healthy interpersonal relationships [Primal Renaissance, Psychological Roots of Human Violence and Greed, p. 8 - Bertil Jacobson, et. al. (1987) Perinatal origin of adult self-destructive behavior. Acta psychiat. Scand.. 76, 364-371].
From An Interview with John R.
"I think violence was part of me from the day I was born....Failure to me means death. Death is connected with experiences with my family where I was told I must
John: Well, I was really skittish about coming here. I was afraid I was going to be crushed by the therapy. It meant death because I knew I would have to face death in all the feelings. But I did come. (And I had a primal in which all the pain that I had been wrapped in all these years just seemed to be torn away from me, and it was one of the best feelings I've ever had in my life.)
When I came here I was afraid to have a woman therapist because I was absolutely sure that if I got into these feelings that were so frightening to me, that I knew were connected to my birth, and that I knew I would have to get to, that I would in all probability freak out and hurt somebody. I think violence was part of me from the day I was born, but instead of having it taken out of me, that violent part of me was always encouraged - partly by my Dad through athletics and the feeling that a man could and should be violent. And my mother was certainly violent in her way of settling anything.
Once she held my hand on a hot stove. She was in charge of my discipline until I was eight, and disciplined me with a pancake turner. She would hit me with it in a frenzy, the same kind of frenzy that I get into with my children or my wife when I feel that I'm not living up to what I'm supposed to be, and I get frustrated and act out of rage.
Bob: John, you said that you thought that violence has been with you since birth. Could you talk some more about that?
John: Since I came to the Center, I've connected many times with the sudden need for violence that I often feel. It's the need to pound and struggle to be born.
In times past that would explode into behavior. Something would happen, and I would explode into behavior. For example, I once drove my car off a viaduct that wasn't finished. I had failed at a job, my marriage was failing, and I felt frustrated. I didn't love the woman, but the failure stood out - and I couldn't stand to fail.
I'd been drinking for three or four days and suddenly, in a bar, I flipped out. I went home and got a gun. I put this gun in the back of the car and started down the highway. I don't know where I was going or who it was I thought I was going to kill. I came to a place where there was a road under construction and I somehow thought that the heavy equipment were tanks, and I went charging through this heavy equipment, got on an overpass that didn't have the center span completed, and drove off that thing at 60 miles an hour.
Since then, when I'd get that same feeling of having failed or not lived up to my own expectations of myself, I would flip into that same kind of behavior that my mother would exhibit with me, and that I have felt from my birth.
Bob: So there's a connection between failure and violence?
John: Yes. I've been in primals where I've felt how it was to try to fight my way out. It's not a thought, it's a feeling. That's the way you feel when you're fighting for your life, to get out. It's a life and death situation. You're being killed. Your body senses it - your mind doesn't - and your body just goes into a mindless violence that for me was pounding and kicking and beating with my head, and for me ended with my heart stopping, with suffocation and a period of my body's dying.
And events in the present that cause me that same feeling of frustration bring that same feeling up, and until I came here, there were times when I would not be able to do anything but act out that violence. There have been times when I have beaten on myself, when I've felt that I've failed. I actually knocked a lot of bridgework out of my mouth pounding on myself.
When I would quit drinking, or smoking, these periods of violence would emerge with all of the withdrawal. One example: I quit smoking cigarettes when I was 27. A few days later I was backpacking with my wife. I woke up in the middle of the night strangling her. It seems almost ludicrous now to think that I would have done that. There were other times too, when in anger I would just reach out and strangle, and that feeling of needing to strangle comes from having been strangled before I was born.
I understand it now as having been part of my birth and an automatic reflex to what I felt was a life threatening situation, triggered when I was overwhelmed with withdrawal symptoms. From quitting smoking in this particular case. Or in another case, when my Dad had had a stroke and I felt that my marriage was breaking up. By that time I was aware that primals were possible and was trying to do them by myself. But I would still get into the behavior where I would actually, in a fit of insanity, find myself strangling my wife. And she would passively submit to this thinking that I would never really hurt her until the last time when I just really flipped out in this same type of behavior.
Bob: Where are you now with violence?
John: I feel the same feelings in any situation - at my job, or with someone I love trying to solve a problem, or any situation that I feel frustrated in, or where I feel that I'm going to fail.
Failure to me means death. Death is connected with experiences with my family where I was told I must never fail, and then goes back to my birth where I actually did feel that if I failed in being born, I would die. I can make that connection now, and still have to make that connection whenever I'm in a situation where I'm faced with these kinds of feelings.
Bob: Are you still afraid you might hurt somebody?
John: No. I don't have the fear now that I did before I came here. I get angry, but I don't find myself raging out of control like I used to. It was the anger and frustration from my birth, and I would act out of that. There would be a set of circumstances that would seem to be the cause of it, but it was really the birth violence.
I had to do something. I really didn't want to be violent, but it would feel like a life or death situation that required some physical act to resolve it. Feeling what happened at my birth, going back to the true root of the violence, is letting me change my life now. When I look at my life the way it is now compared to the way it was before, I have some things that make my life worthwhile.
The interview was originally published in the Denver Primal Journal.
Barton next excoriates physicians who often have "savior-complexes." Although not intentially keeping babies alive for their own glory, they nonetheless unconsciously act as though they do. "The intention and the compulsion to triumph over death at all costs have origins that they are not in touch with and are well defended against."