From "Bad" Ritual to "Good" Ritual: Transmutations of Childbearing Trauma in Holotropic Ritual
Publication Date:December 2007
In this article a tentative and provisional theory is advanced on the treatment of birth-giving trauma. ?Birth-giving-trauma? here refers to women (and men) psychologically, physically or emotionally traumatized during birth-giving. In the first part of this article I outline anthropologist Robbie Davis-Floyd?s argument that Western medicalized birthing can be constructed as a ?modern? rite of passage which can negatively imprint disempowering images into women?s minds, reinforce messages of inferiority, and traumatise the birth-giving mothers. In the second half of the article I will argue that the trauma catalysed by the ?bad? ritual of technocratic birth may need to be therapeutically treated or rather ?ritually combated? with an equally powerful and reparative ?good? ritual. I will explore psychiatrist Stanislav Grof?s and Christina Grof?s holotropic breathwork as a pre-eminent contemporary ritual in which ?good? transpersonal medicine is ritually made.
Achterberg, J. (1992). Ritual: The foundation for transpersonal medicine. Revision, 14(3), 158-166.
American Psychiatric Association (4th ed.) (1994). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders. Washington, DC: Author.
Bache, C. (2000). Dark night early dawn: Steps to a deep ecology of mind. Albany, N.Y.: State University of New York.
Bates, B., & Turner, A. (2003). Imagery and symbolism in the birth practices of traditional cultures. In L. Dundee (Ed.), The manner born: Birth rites in cross-cultural perspective (pp. 87-97). Walnut Creek, CA: Altimira Press.
Beck, C. (2004). Birth trauma: In the eye of the beholder. Nursing Research, 53(1), 28-35.
Biesele, M. (1997). An ideal of unassisted birth: Hunting, healing, and transformation among the Kalahari Ju/Tioansi. In R. Davis-Floyd & C. Sargent (Eds.), Childbirth and authoritative knowledge (pp. 474-492). Berkeley: University of California Press.
Bolen, J.S. (1989). Goddess remembered, [videorecording] The National Film Board of Canada, Direction Donna Read.
Davis-Floyd, R. (1992). Birth as an American rite of passage. Berkeley: California University Press.
Davis-Floyd, R. (1994). Rituals of the American hospital. In D. McCurdy, (Ed.) Conformity and conflict: Readings in cultural anthropology 8th ed (pp. 323-340). Harper/Collins.
Davis-Floyd, R., & Sargent, C. (Eds.) (1997). Childbirth and authoritative knowledge: Cross-cultural perspectives. University of California Press.
Davis-Floyd, R. (2002). Knowing: A story of two births. Unpublished manuscript.
d'Aquili, E. (1985). Human ceremonial ritual and modulation of aggression. Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science, 20(1), 21-30.
d'Aquili, E., Laughlin, C., & McManus, J. (Eds.) (1979). The spectrum of ritual: A biogenetic structural analysis. New York: Columbia University Press.
Elkin, E. (1977). Aboriginal men of high degree. St. Martin's Press: New York.
Ferrer, J. (2002). Revisioning transpersonal theory: A participatory vision of human spirituality. Albany, N.Y: State University of New York.
Grof, S. (1977). The implications of psychedelic research for anthropology: Observations from LSD psychotherapy. In I. M. Lewis (Ed.), Symbols and sentiment: Cross cultural studies in symbolism (pp. 140-174). London: Academic Press.
Grof, S. (1985). Beyond the brain: Birth, death and transcendence in psychotherapy. Albany, N.Y.: State University of New York.
Grof, S. (1988). The adventure of self discovery. Albany, N.Y.: State University of NewYork.
Grof, S. (1998). The cosmic game: Explorations at the frontiers of human consciousness. Albany, N. Y: State University of New York.
Grof, S. & Halifax, J. (1977). The human encounter with death. London: Souvenir Press.
Heron, J. & Lahood, G. (2007). Charismatic inquiry in concert: action research in the realm of the between. Handbook of Action Research second edition, (pp. 439-449) (Eds.) P Reason and H Bradbury, London, Sage Publications).
Hollan, D. (2000). Constructivist models of mind, contemporary psychoanalysis, and the development of culture theory. American Anthropologist, 102(3), 538-550.
Kapferer, B. (1986). Performance and the structuring of meaning and experience. In V. Turner and E. Bruner (Eds.) The anthropology of experience (pp.188-203).Urbana: University of Illinois.
Katz, R. (1976). Education for transcendence: !Kia-healing with the Kalahari !Rung. In R.Lee & I. De Vore (Eds.) Kalahari hunters and gatherers (pp. 281-302). Cambridge, Mass; London: Harvard University Press.
Kitzinger, S. (1978). Women as mothers. How they see themselves in different cultures. New York: Random House.
Kitzinger, S. (1982). The social context of birth: Some comparisons between Jamaica and Britain. In C. MacCormack (Ed.) Ethnography of fertility and birth (pp.181- 203). London: Academic Press.
Klassen, P. (2001). Blessed events: religion and the home birth movement in America. Princeton and Oxford: Princeton University Press.
Kremer, J. (1996). The shadow of evolutionary thinking. ReVision: A journal of consciousness and transformation, 19(1), 41-48.
Laderman, C. (1983). Wives and midwives: Childbirth and nutrition in rural Malaysia. Berkeley: California University Press.
Laderman, C, (1987). The ambiguity of symbols in the structure of healing. Social Science and Medicine, 24(4), 293-301.
Lahood, G. (2006a) An anthropological perspective on near-death-like experiences in three men's pregnancy-related spiritual crises. Journal of Near-Death Studies, 24(4), 211-36.
Lahood, G. (2006b) Skulls at the Banquet: Near birth as nearing death. Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, 38(1), 1-24.
Lahood, G. (2006c) Rumour of angels and heavenly midwives: Anthropology of transpersonal events and childbirth, Women and Birth: Journal of the Australian College of Midwives, 20(1), 3-10.
Laughlin, C. (1988). Transpersonal anthropology: Some methodological issues. Western Canadian Anthropology, 5, 29-60.
Laughlin, C. (1994). Psychic energy & transpersonal experience: A biogenetic structural account of the Tibetan Dumo Yoga practice. In D. Young & J. Goulet (Eds.) Being changed by cross-cultural encounters: The anthropology of extraordinary experience (pp. 99-135). Peterborough, Ontario: Broadview Press.
Levi-Strauss, C. (1963). Structural anthropology. New York: Basic Books.
MacCormack, C. (1982). Ethnography of fertility and birth. London, New York: Academic Press.
Maslow, A. (1969). The Farther Reaches of Human Nature. Journal of Transpersonal Psychology. 1(1) 1-9.
McClain, C. (1989). Reinterpreting women in healing roles. In C. McClain (Ed.), Women as healers: Cross-cultural perspectives (pp. 1-20). New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press.
McClenon, J. (2002). Wondrous healing: Shamanism, human evolution, and the origin of religion. Dekalb, Illinois: Northern University Press.
McDermott, R. (1993). Transpersonal worldviews: Historical and philosophical reflections. In R. Walsh & F Vaughn (Eds.), Paths beyond ego: The transpersonal vision (pp.206- 211). Jeremy P. Tarcher/Putnam Books.
Paul, L. Paul, B. (1975). The Maya midwife as ritual specialist: A Guatemalan case. American Ethnologist, 2(4), 707-726.
Peters, L. (1996). The contribution of anthropology to transpersonal psychiatry. In B. Scotton, A. Chinen & J. Battista (Eds.), The textbook of transpersonal psychiatry and psychology (pp. 207-216). New York: Basic Books.
Potter, J. (1974). Cantonese shamanism. In A. Wolf (Ed.), Religion and ritual in Chinese society (pp. 207-231). Stanford: Standford University Press.
Sered, S. (1991). Childbirth as a religious experience?: Voices from an Israeli hospital. Journal for the Feminist Study of Religion, 7(2), 15.
Simkin, P & Klaus, P. (2004). When survivors give birth: Understanding and healing the effects of early sexual abuse on childbearing women. Seattle, Wash: Classic Day Publishing.
Tarnas, R. (1991). The passion of the Western mind: Understanding the ideas that have shaped our worldview. New York: Harmony Books.
Turner, V. (1969). The ritual process. New York: Aldine De Gruyter.
Turner, V. (1979). Process, performance and pilgrimage. New Delhi: Concept Publishing House.
Turner, E. (1992). Experiencing ritual: A new interpretation of African healing. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.
Van Gennep, A. (1960). The rites of passage. London: Routledge & Keagan Paul.
Walden, N. (1993). Contributors of transpersonal perspectives to understanding sexual abuse, Re Vision: Ajournai of consciousness and transformation, 15(4), 169.
White, H. (1980). The value of narrative in the representation of reality. In On narrative, W. J.T. Mitchell (Ed.). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Whitmont, E. (1983). Return of the goddess. London: Routledge & Keagan Paul.