Birth Trauma: H.R. Giger’s “Passages” Nightmares

PTSD from birth trauma can last a lifetime, precisely because it is not consciously remembered.   It is a major social force in everything from violence to depression to drug addiction to family breakup, and it remains a non-issue to the vast majority of people.   But who would call attention to it aside from our medical priesthood?   And they are its primary perpetrators.

Giger spoke about the Passages painting series, how the first of his corridor pictures were prompted by a series of dreams. In these dreams he usually found himself in a large white room without doors or windows, he would compare the place to being like a stone grave or a tomb and the only way out
lead to an all powerful evil represented by a dark, iron opening barred by a clamp in the form of iron hoop half way along that was basically a large safety pin. The dreams also reveal the place to be a sort of an oven and he would have his arms drawn up….

Moreover in passing through this opening he regularly got stuck. And to crown everything,  the exit at the end of this long chimney, where he could see only a faint shimmer of light, would be promptly shut by an unseen force. Then he would be stuck in the tube with his arms pressed tightly by his sides unable to move forwards or backwards and feeling that he was running out of air.  He would always think in the dream “Oh my god, why am I here?” The only way out was to wake up….

A long time ago I used to have nightmares, they were, I was stuck in a kind of oven with my hands drawn up and I couldn’t get any air, and that was probably a dream, which , from my mother… mine was a difficult birth, you see, that’s what my mother told me, I didn’t want to come out and of course I couldn’t get any air and that happened again and again, and then from far away, I would see a light and then it would become dark again, couldn’t get any air and so on, and these unpleasant dreams stopped when I began to paint those passages which actually represent that condition. At the time, I didn’t notice that at all, but well it’s turned out to be true because I haven’t had any of those dreams since then….

The strongest thing in my work, I think, is the claustrophobic stuff. I still sometimes have shitty dreams with that in… being inside rooms that are like graves, a stone grave, a tomb. And I always think in the dream, ‘Oh my god, why am I here?’ (He laughs)  Claustrophobic things are terrible. I used to think all that was finished but it’s still here. That’s more important to me than the erotic stuff….

As a boy, I would dream every night that I was in a white room, from which I could only escape from a hole in the ceiling. But even when I managed to reach this hole. I was stuck inside the wall and couldn’t breathe. I freed myself from these obsessions when I began painting my Passages….

The first of corridor pictures were prompted by a series of dreams. In these I usually found myself in a large white room without doors or windows. the only exit a dark, iron opening barred by an iron hoop half way along.  Moreover in passing through this opening I regularly got stuck. And to crown everything,  the exit at the end of this long chimney, where I could see only a faint shimmer of light, would be promptly shut by an unseen force. Now I was stuck in the tube with my arms pressed by my sides unable to move forwards or backwards and feeling that I was running out of air.  The only way out was to wake up. I subsequently painted some of these imaginary passages (I-IX) and since then had been spared this birth trauma. But the passages became for me a symbol of growth and dissolution in ever possible stage of pleasure and pain, and they had remained with me to this day….

The closure of the far end of the passage by an “unseen force” probably happened when his mother was put on a lithotomy table.

The lithotomy position has been widely used by obstetricians as it allows easiest access to the mother. However, this position is not based in evidence. It carries a multitude of adverse effects, including narrowing the pelvic outlet, placing pressure on the tailbone, restricting the mother’s movement, placing undue stress on the perineum thus increasing the risk of tearing, working against gravity, increasing discomfort, lengthening the pushing stage, increasing the risk of a fetal malpresentation, and effectively making the mother push uphill against gravity.

If a mother is placed in this position during her labour, it compresses the main blood vessels including the vena cava, which limits blood flow to the baby and places it at greater risk of incurring fetal distress. Lower rates of blood flow also causes more mothers and babies to die unnecessarily during childbirth.

Roberto Caldeyro-Barcia, past president of the International Federation of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, summarized the lithotomy position quite nicely in his statement, “Except for being hanged by the feet, the supine position is the worst conceivable position for labor and delivery“.

Use of the lithotomy position has declined in all industrialized nations with one exception – the United States. Despite the significant body of evidence that there are no benefits to this position and that it only causes complications, frequently leading to interventions that could otherwise have been avoided, the United States persists in the use of this ineffective position for childbirth….

H.R. Giger’s Birth Trauma Art

Perinatal origin of adult self‐destructive behavior

ABSTRACT: The study was undertaken to test whether obstetric procedures are of importance for eventual adult behavior of the newborn, as ecological data from the United States seem to indicate. Birth record data were gathered for 412 forensic victims comprising suicides, alcoholics and drug addicts born in Stockholm after 1940, and who died there in 1978–1984. The births of the victims were unevenly distributed among six hospitals. Comparison with 2,901 controls, and mutual comparison of categories, showed that suicides involving asphyxiation were closely associated with asphyxia at birth, suicides by violent mechanical means were associated with mechanical birth trauma and drug addiction was associated with opiate and/or barbiturate administration to mothers during labor. Irrespective of the mechanism transferring the birth trauma to adulthood—which might be analogous to imprinting—the results show that obstetric procedures should be carefully evaluated and possibly modified to prevent eventual self‐destructive behavior.

Administration of multiple doses of opiates, barbiturates and nitrous oxide to mothers during delivery were found to increase the occurrence of subsequent opiate (RR 4.7, 95% CI 1.8-12.0, p = 0.002) or amphetamine (RR 5.6, 95% CI 1.6-16.9, p = 0.005) addiction in the offspring as compared to when no drug was given [22, 23].

Medical Research Rediscovers Harm of Immediate Cord Clamping

WTF they’re teaching about birth in medical school

American Birth Trauma Again Emerges as Plausible Explanation for Anomalous Health Statistics e.g.”Hispanic Paradox”

Wholesale Drugging of US Kids Suffering from Obstetrical PTSD

Munchausen Obstetrics:

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