On paleologic white nationalism

I find it a little pathetic that some regulars are trying to post pro-conspiracy comments in my recent post on John F. Kennedy’s assassination after I said that I’d shun all debate if they had not done their homework. I made an exception with a commenter from Germany because I believe that Germans, who have been thoroughly brainwashed by the Americans after the Second World War, deserve a little more patience. But it is inexcusable that native English-speakers are reluctant to read Vincent Bugliosi’s monumental refutation of every single JFK conspiracy theory in a work that took him twenty years to complete.

I must say something about what I have been repeating over and over again:

High-IQ people don’t believe in conspiracy theories: whether it’s JFK, 9/11, the US Moon landing “hoax” of 1969, Satanic Ritual Abuse or the UFO “landing” in New Mexico in 1947.

Silly white nationalists believe that the London decapitation incident was a Jewish hoax. Some of them not only blame the Jews, instead of the Muslims, for that single incident: they blame the Jews for the Boston bombings too; the killings of Adam Lanza, the Breivik incident at Norway, and some conspiracy theorists have developed crank theories about the 2005 London bombings too.

In Spain these idiots also believe that the Jihad attack of 2004 at Madrid was also staged. Here in Mexico the brown Untermenschen also believe that the assassination of a PRI candidate and a Catholic cardinal were orchestrated political murders. Lone wolf assassins cannot exist in the minds of those who lack an in-built parsimony principle (Occam’s razor or economy principle) in their little skulls.

People under the grip of what in my book I call “paleologic thinking” always elaborate hypothesis that preposterously multiply the entities.

I overstated. Some who score very high on IQ studies are every bit as paranoid as the common Neanderthal we see on the streets. Since in my previous post on JFK I mentioned Magnus Carlsen, who won the crown of chess a couple of days ago, I must add that one of the heroes in my teens, World Chess Champion Bobby Fischer, was as paranoid as the previous American champion, Paul Morphy. The grim fact is that you may have the highest IQ and still be the victim of mental disorders. (For those who read Spanish, take a look at my mini-book En Pos de un Rey Metafórico about the pathetic lives of the chess champions.)

ArietiI have quite a concrete idea of why humans (and white nationalists are human; all-too human) have a propensity to fall into what American psychiatrist Silvano Arieti (pic on the left) used to call paleologic thinking. Unfortunately, this can only be properly explained by reading my book, Hojas Susurrantes, on the archeology of the human psyche (for a sample of a translated chapter click here).

In a single blog entry it is impossible to transmit a complex theory, where, besides Arieti, I use the work of Lloyd deMause, Colin Ross, Alice Miller, Julian Jaynes and the critics of psychiatry. Suffice it to say that I believe that the human psyche can be read like the stratigraphy in archeology, with the most primitive—and maddening—infanticidal forms of childrearing (cf. my Metapedia article on the subject) in the lowest stratum and the comparatively most benign forms of parental-filial relations at the top.

My favorite quotation in Arieti’s monumental Interpretation of Schizophrenia is that a hypothetical visitor from Mars would detect many instances of schizoid strata even among the modern Western man. DeMause would agree and would add that among the most primitive cultures, so immersed in magical thinking, psychological dissociation was much worse. In his famous The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind Jaynes even claimed “Before the second millennium B.C., everyone was schizophrenic,” in the sense that humans were immersed in magical thinking (non-paleologic, Aristotelian forms of logic would come later, with the Greeks).

I don’t expect those who have not read at least the translated chapters of my book to understand what all this has to do with lesser forms of paranoia, like those conspiracy theories I cited in my self-quote above, which includes the white nationalists’ paranoia of blaming 9/11 on everything except the actual Islamist perpetrators. But for those who already have a good grasp of what I say in Hojas Susurrantes, let me remind them these words: “The paleologician confuses the physical world with the psychological one. Instead of finding a physical explanation for an event, he looks for a personal motivation or an intention as the cause of an event.”

Just as the primitive man, in a definitive breakdown of the saner forms of cognition, for the disturbed individual the world turns itself animist; each external event having a profound meaning. There are no coincidences for those who inhabit the world of magical thinking. Both the primitive animist and the modern schizophrenic live in distinct dimensions compared to the rational man. The conceptualization of external happenings as impersonal physical forces requires a much more advanced level of cognition than seeing them as personal agents.

If the Greeks are afflicted by epidemics, it is because Phoebus wants to punish Agamemnon. Paranoiacs and paranoids interpret almost everything as manifesting a psychological intention or meaning. In many cases practically everything that occurs is interpreted as willed by the persecutors of the patient.

Along the lines of the reminiscences of paleologic process of thought of other ages, when everybody was immersed in magical thinking, if something as big as the assassination of JFK or the September 11 attacks ever happened, to the modern paleologician prosaic motivational explanations won’t be enough. He would search for a more transcendental, “meaningful” explanation of the human tragedy, as Phoebus punishing Agamemnon when the Homeric Greeks still had to develop more scientific and causal forms of thinking (replace “Phoebus” for “US government” to see my point).

If Jaynes is right, and I believe he is, it is understandable that the human psyche, especially among the most primitive specimens, will still show reminiscences of paleologic thinking in the modern age. All conspiracy theories are ultimately archetypical regressions, although “schizoid,” not “schizophrenic”—still not of the grotesque, acting-out kind that the psychiatrists encounter in their young patients.

Let’s pick the July 8, 1947 Roswell UFO incident from my above list. The paleologicians ask us to abandon both our in-built Occam’s razor and Aristotelic logic and believe that the incident elicited a massive, governmental cover up for an actual extraterrestrial visitation—a cover up involving several republican and democratic presidencies, from Truman to Obama!

This of course strains our credulity well beyond its breaking point, since it assumes that all those administrations, which had been at loggerheads with each other, suddenly fully agreed on the absolute need to hide from the public “the July 8 Truth.”

Prominent skeptic author Joe Nickell, whom I met in a 1994 conference of skeptics at Seattle, identified the myth-making process of the Truthers, which he called the “Roswellian Syndrome.” With another colleague Nickell used the Roswell event as an example, but pointed out that the same syndrome is readily observable in other conspiracy theories. Nickell and his colleagues identified five distinct stages of development of an urban myth:

Incident: The initial incident and reporting on July 8, 1947.

Debunking: Soon after the initial reports, the mysterious object was identified as a weather balloon, later confirmed to be a balloon array from Project Mogul which had gone missing in flight.

Submergence: The news story ended with the identification of the weather balloon. However, the event lingered on in the “fading and recreative memories of some of those involved.” Rumor and speculation simmered just below the surface in Roswell and became part of the culture at large. In time, UFOlogists arrived, asked leading questions and helped to spin a tale of crashed flying saucers and a government conspiracy to cover-up the true nature of the event.

Mythologizing: After the story submerged, and, over time, reemerged, it developed into an ever-expanding and elaborate myth. The mythologizing process included exaggeration, faulty memory, folklore and deliberate hoaxing. The deliberate hoaxing, usually self-serving for personal gain or promotion—for example, the promotion of the 1950 sci-fi movie The Flying Saucer—, in turn fed the urban folklore (“prolefeed for the proles”).

Reemergence and media bandwagon effect: Publication of books such as The Roswell Incident by Berlitz and Moore in 1980, television shows and other media coverage perpetuated the UFO crash story and cover-up conspiracy beliefs. Conspiracy beliefs typically mirror public sentiments towards the US government (the modern “Phoebus”) and oscillate along with those attitudes.

These stages are repeated almost in identical form in other conspiracy theories that don’t involve UFOs, like the ones referred to above in my self-quote. In my opinion, all of them are the product of a flaw in the human psyche. Big events must have big meaningful causes, not prosaic ones (Ancient Greece epidemics caused by Phoebus; JFK and 9/11 by Phoebus-substitute agents).

Reclaiming_History_Bugliosi_1st-ed-2007_WWNorton

But I don’t like posting this entry. Without an actual knowledge of the original synthesis I do of the published material of the mentioned authors (Arieti et al), the thrust of my argument is lost. I’d prefer that English-speaking visitors forget for the moment my theories and make instead an effort to listen, for the first time in their lives, the prosecutor who blamed Oswald and Oswald alone.

Don’t leave the courtroom without giving a fair hearing to the prosecutor, especially if you already have spent dozens of hours listening to the attorney.

The Yearling, 1

moment of eternity

The Yearling is a 1938 classic authored by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings (1896-1953); the above is an illustration by Newell Convers Wyeth (1882-1945) of a scene in the novel.

Recently I read The Yearling for the very first time in my life—the very same old copy with Wyeth’s moving illustrations that so much inspired me as a young child, though never read it.

Now, decades later, I finally read it and the story was quite a shock. I’ll try to offer my views on it now that, for many years after my childhood, I investigated in-depth the subject of parental-filial relations.

My interpolated comments below, in brown letters:



Penny Baxter lay awake beside the vast sleeping bulk of his wife. He was always wakeful on the full moon. He had often wondered whether, with the light so bright, men were not meant to go into their fields and labor. He would like to slip from his bed and perhaps cut down an oak for wood, or finish the hoeing that Jody had left undone.

“I reckon I’d ought to of crawled him about it,” he thought.

In his day, he would have been thoroughly thrashed for slipping away and idling. His father would have sent him back to the spring, without his supper, to tear out the flutter-mill.

“But that’s it,” he thought. “A boy ain’t a boy too long.”

As he looked back over the years, he himself had had no boyhood. His own father had been a preacher, stern as the Old Testament God. The living had come, however, not from the Word, but from the small farm near Volusia on which he had raised a large family. He had taught them to read and write and to know the Scriptures, but all of them, from the time they could toddle behind him down the corn rows, carrying the sack of seed, had toiled until their small bones ached and their growing fingers cramped.

Although it is apparently nonsense to try to ponder into the soul of a fictional character—precisely what I’ll do—, I believe that Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, hereafter referred to as “Marjorie,” must have observed something like this in real life.

Folk who lived along the deep and placid river St Johns, alive with craft, with dugouts and scows, lumber rafts and freight and passenger vessels, side-wheel steamers that almost filled the stream, in places, from bank to bank, had said that Penny Baxter was either a brave man or a crazy one to leave the common way of life and take his bride into the very heart of the wild Florida scrub, populous with bears and wolves and panthers. It had been understandable for the Forresters to go there, for the growing family of great burly quarrelsome males needed all the room in the county, and freedom from any hindrance. But who would hinder Penny Baxter?

It was not hindrance. But in the towns and villages, in farming sections where neighbors were not too far apart, men’s minds and actions and property overlapped. There were intrusions on the individual spirit. There were friendliness and mutual help in time of trouble, true, but there were bickerings and watchfulness, one man suspicious of another. He had grown from under the sternness of his father into a world less direct, less honest, in its harshness, and therefore more disturbing.

He had perhaps been bruised too often.

As will be seen by the end of the novel, the way he was treated by the preacher will have consequences in the way Penny treated his only son. As to the mother, Marjorie tells us that “The babies were frail, and almost as fast as they came, they sickened and died.”

It is a pity that nobody in the white nationalist scene is familiar with the work of Lloyd deMause, since this pattern of many babies that became “sick and died” is common among mothers that actually are not doing their best for the survival of their offspring. Again, it would be nonsense to psychoanalyze a purely fictional character, but I am pretty sure that Marjorie observed actual happenings in the real world before writing her most famous book.

Marjorie describes the main character, the surviving son, thus:

The mirror showed a small face with high cheek bones. The face was freckled and pale, but healthy, like a fine sand. The hair grieved him on the occasions when he went to church or any doings at Volusia. It was straw-colored and shaggy, and no matter how carefully his father cut it, once a month on the Sunday morning nearest the full moon, it grew in tufts at the back. “Drakes’ tails,” his mother called them. His eyes were wide and blue. When he frowned, in close study over his reader, or watching something curious, they narrowed. It was then that his mother claimed him kin.

It must be noted that Jody’s skinniness (I would call it “leptosomatic physique”) was direct inheritance from his father, since Marjorie writes about the two, “There was room enough for the two thin bony bodies.”

The first adventure in The Yearling was a failed attempt to kill a large bear who had been causing havoc among the family’s farm animals. Three dogs joined the hunting with father and son but one of the dogs fled in panic while the other two charged heroically at the wild beast while Penny tried to fix his broken shotgun.

A whine sounded in the bushes. A small cringing form was following them. It was Perk, the feice. Jody kicked at him in a fury.

As a child I’d never had expected this behavior from the cherubic boy I saw in Wyeth’s illustrations. Penny patiently explained his son that even a coward dog should not be mistreated.

Penny was a good man. Later he and his son Jody visited their rude neighbors, the Forresters, to get a new shotgun. Jody’s only friend in such a remote place was a Forrester kid called Fodder-wing. Handicapped since birth, this kid is presented in the novel as an animal lover. The following is a dialogue between Fodder-wing and Jody:

He said, “Hey.”

Fodder-wing said, “I got a baby ‘coon.”

He had, always, a new pet.

“Le’s go see it.”

Fodder-wing led him back of the cabin to a collection of boxes and cages that sheltered his changing assortment of birds and creatures. The pair of black swamp rabbits was not new.

The timeframe of novel is the aftermath of the American Civil War. The above dialogue caught my attention because it shows the jump of empathy or “psychoclass” (again, a deMause term) from those times and our current times.

A year ago my niece received a wonderful gift: a little rabbit. I observed her pet’s behavior for a while and concluded that it is cruel to put these absolutely cute creatures in cages. They need open spaces and feel real soil beneath their limbs. Presently rabbit lovers know that their pets must be free at least four or five hours a day, preferably in the backyard or home’s garden. Many rabbit owners allow their pets move freely in their flats if they cannot afford gardens. Compared to them, even the most sensitive member of the Forresters belonged to another class, empathetically speaking.

After the scene of Jody and Fodder-wing’s diverse pets outdoors, the next scene occurs indoors, in the Forrester home:

Buck said, “Leave the young un stay, Penny. I got to go to Volusia tomorrow. I’ll ride him by your place.”

“His Ma’ll rare,” Penny said.

“That’s what Ma’s is good for. Eh, Jody?”

“Pa, I’d be mighty proud to stay. I ain’t played none in a long while.”

“Not since day before yestiddy. Well, stay, then, if these folks is shore you’re welcome. Lem, don’t kill the boy if you try out the feice afore Buck gits him home to me.”

They shouted with laughter. Penny shouldered the new gun with his old one and went for his horse.

Even while Penny was, metaphorically speaking, two quantum leaps above the Forresters as to what elemental empathy is concerned, in my opinion he was not empathetic enough.

If I had a beautiful young son like Jody, I would never leave him spending a night among the masculine, Neanderthalesque neighbors even if I had no reason to suspect that any of them had “feelings” for my little angel. (To be continued…)

Published in: on May 15, 2013 at 1:13 pm  Leave a Comment  

Ten books that changed my mind


1. Maxfield Parrish Poster Book

2. The Sickle

3. Laing and Anti-Psychiatry

4. Childhood’s End

5. A Skeptic’s Handbook of Parapsychology

6. The Relentless Question

7. Final Analysis

8. The Gulag Archipelago

9. For Your Own Good

10. The Emotional Life of Nations

Miller and deMause

Or:

The ten books that made an impact in my life
before I became racially conscious

9.- For Your Own Good by Alice Miller
(read in 2002)

10.- The Emotional Life of Nations by Lloyd deMause
(read in 2006)


In my review of books 5 and 6 I said, “That smart people seem to be drawn to sects has nothing to do with intelligence and everything to do with the human mind’s strayed ways of trying to cope with the unprocessed trauma of earlier experiences at home.” In other words, the root cause of my former alienation in cults and paranormal pseudosciences was, of course, the previous abuse I had experienced at home. Below I reproduce an index page of my now defunct antipsiquiatria.org webpage (2003-2010), specifically, a version of what used to be the page of the English section of my website, where I explained why I shifted focus from antipsychiatric subjects—the subject-matter of some of my previous entries—to the authors whom I am most indebted with:


My critique of psychiatry is now relegated to a second plane. The reason for such a drastic change is that in the last few years I have read two authors that have changed my worldview: Lloyd deMause, and Alice Miller who died earlier this year [this was written in 2010]. Though Miller and deMause do not focus on psychiatry, their legacy opened my eyes: it made me see that the child abuses in the psychiatric profession are only the tip of the iceberg of a much wider crime.

Since the times of our simian ancestors infanticide was common, and it continued through the prehistory of Homo sapiens in the ancient world. This can be gathered from the remains of the sacrificed victims. For example, in the city in which I live the ritual murder of children was regularly practiced before the Spanish conquest.

I confess that when I read deMause I was unprepared to face the vast body of historical evidence about infanticide, child mutilation, the tight and tortuous swaddling of babies, the ubiquity of incest and other horrors, many perpetrated through millennia. Once in a while I had to suspend my reading of one of his books to give me a break before the horrific nature of the revelations.

Similarly, the books of Alice Miller made me to delve deeply through the very core of my being: something that detonated an emotional atomic bomb. Miller is right when she states that the suffering of a child victim of extreme parental abuse can surpass the level of pain in a concentration camp for adults [for those who can read Spanish, cf. my chapter on Miller in my Hojas Susurrantes].

Due to what John Bowlby calls attachment, parents are the most notorious soul murderers. For those who have been emotionally crushed and years later have made contact with their inner being, this is obvious. However, it’s not obvious at all for most of mankind. Because of our attachment to the perpetrator, what we are dealing with is the foundational taboo of civilization: what Alice Miller called “the forbidden knowledge.”

For the other eight books see here.

Satanic Ritual Abuse

I don’t get Greg Johnson. Yesterday I tried to post the following comment in the most recent piece published at Counter-Currents (CC). The subject? Jewish ritual murders of cute, gentile kids!

I’ve not read much about blood libel, speciously called here “Jewish ritual murders,” but I was pretty involved in editing Wikipedia’s Satanic Ritual Abuse which I studied thoroughly some years ago: a clear case of moral panic where many innocent American adults were indicted in the 1980s as in the Salem trials.

The “About” page in my blog has me as a researcher and debunker of the famous “wall face,” paranormal appearances in a house in Spain. One thing is clear to me now that I’m starting to see that many white nationalists religiously believe in retarded theories that blame the Jews for everything (e.g., 9/11). Unlike me they have not subscribed the Skeptical Inquirer, attended the conferences of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry (CSI), or read their Prometheus Books that debunk not only paranormal claims but blood libels as well.

And no: the CSI founders—I’ve met Paul Kurtz twice in the conferences and corresponded to Martin Gardner before he died—are not Jews.

Johnson deleted my comment. Why? Is he mad with me for my criticizing those homosexuals that post featured articles at his webzine (see my recent entries here and here)? But in my above comment I was not criticizing these guys. Nor was it another criticism of Johnson’s musical and movie tastes, about which I posted here quite a few entries by the end of the year.

I wrote the above comment because, due to my experience with CSI, on these subjects—claims such as the ritual murder of children and adults—I am far more knowledgeable than the common nationalist. And extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

Just to give you a bit of the flavor of the mendacity of these claims, this is what I wrote in my book Hojas Susurrantes, which precisely deals with child abuse, the subject I’ve researched most in my life:

Satanic Ritual Abuse

The confusion of my feelings about [Lloyd] deMause—lucubration such as [the above] are psychobabble but deMause’s authentic discoveries are the great lighthouse for the humanities—moved me to annotate each cognitive error I encountered in his legacy.

In 1994 deMause devoted more than a whole issue of his journal to one of the scandals originated in his country that destroyed the reputation of many innocent adults: claims of multiple victims, multiple perpetrators during occult rites in daycare centers for children, known as “Satanic Ritual Abuse” or SRA. I was so intrigued by the subject that, when I read deMause’s article “Why Cults Terrorize and Kill Children” I devoted a few months of my life to research the subject by reading, printing and discussing in the internet: material that would fill up the thickest ring-binder that I possess. I also purchased a copy of a book on SRA published by Princeton University. My objective was to ascertain whether the man whom I had been taking as a sort of mentor had gone astray. My suspicions turned to be justified, and even worse: by inviting the foremost believers of SRA to publish in his journal, deMause directly contributed to the creation of an urban myth.

The collective hysteria known as SRA originated with the publication of a 1980 sensationalist book, Michelle Remembers. Michelle claimed that Satan himself appeared to her and wounded her body, but that an archangel healed it. In the mentioned article deMause wrote credulous passages about other fantastic claims by Michelle, and added that the people who ran certain daycare centers in the 1980s put the children in boxes and cages “as symbolic wombs.” DeMause then speculated that “they hang them upside down, the position of fetuses” and that “they drink victim’s blood as fetuses ‘drink’ placental blood,” in addition to force children to “drink urine” and “eat feces as some do during birth.” DeMause also referred to secret tunnels that, he wrote, existed beneath the daycare centers: “They often hold their rituals in actual tunnels.” In fact, those tunnels never existed. In Evil Incarnate: Rumors of Demonic Conspiracy and Ritual Abuse in History, published in 2006, professor David Frankfurter wrote about deMause’s article: “In this way a contemporary writer can assemble a theory of ritual power to explain rituals that have no forensic evidence.”

This is the sort of thing that, in Wikipedia’s talk page about psychohistory, culminates with rants like the one that I rescued before another editor deleted it: “Don’t ever listen to this lunatic!” (deMause). It is true that Colin Ross is another gullible believer of SRA, as seen in a book in whose afterword Elizabeth Loftus disagrees with him. But since the mid-1990s the phenomenon was discredited to such degree that sociologists, criminologists and police officials recognized what it was: a witch-hunt that led to prison and ruined the lives of many adults. The movie Indictment: The McMartin Trial, sponsored by Oliver Stone and based on the most notorious of these hunts, sums up what I mean. Using invasive techniques for adults in the interrogation of little kids, therapists of the McMartin case and other kindergartens obtained confessions full of fantasies: that the children had been abducted and taken through a network of tunnels to a hidden cave under the school; that they flew in the air and saw giraffes, lions and the killing of a rabbit to be returned to their unsuspecting parents in the daycare center. Kyle Zirpolo was one of the McMartin children. A twenty-nine in 2005, several years after the trial, Zirpolo confessed to reporters that as a child he had been pressured to lie:

Anytime I would give them an answer that they didn’t like, they would ask again and encourage me to give them the answer they were looking for. It was really obvious what they wanted… I felt uncomfortable and a little ashamed that I was being dishonest. But at the same time, being the type of person I was, whatever my parents wanted me to do, I would do.

In its heyday in the 1980s and early 90s, and in some ways similar to the Salem witch trials of 1692, SRA allegations reached grotesque levels. Proponents argued that an intergenerational group of families raised and kidnapped babies and children in an international conspiracy that had infiltrated the police and the professions of lawyers and doctors. Conspiracy theorists claimed that the FBI and the CIA were involved to discredit the veracity of the phenomenon. The allegations ranged from brainwashing and necrophilia, kidnapping, sexual abuse and child pornography, to black masses and ritual killings of animals and thousands of people every year. In the McMartin case they talked about children washed away when the perpetrator pulled the toilet chain taking them to hidden rooms where they would be molested; orgies in carwash business, and even flying witches. Needless to say, no forensic evidence was found to support such claims.

After the legal catastrophe that McMartin and several other cases represented, small children have not been questioned with the aggressive techniques that led them to fantasize so wildly. Nowadays there is no witch-hunting going on in the U.S., UK or Australia caused by coercive techniques of fanatics that induce either false memories or outright lies (like Zirpolo’s) to please therapist and parent. However, despite the consensus in 21st century’s sociology and criminology—that SRA was a case of moral panic about which there is no forensic evidence—, deMause did not change his view. The work that describes his thinking more broadly, The Emotional Life of Nations published in 2002 and recently translated into German, contains a brief passage where he still regards SRA as something real.

Is my criticism of homosexuals who, in my humble opinion, ought not be featured at CC enough reason to suppress legit commentariat on unrelated subjects, such as SRA or the so-called “blood libel”?

Suppose that a causal visitor hits CC today and, erroneously, gets the impression that all white nationalists believe in these literally medieval rumors about the Jews. Wouldn’t this automatically disqualify CC to the eyes of our skeptical visitor? Wouldn’t this turn out into a psychological stumbling block for our visitor to become familiar with the more sober, legitimate criticism of the Jews, such as the work of Kevin MacDonald?

With my single comment I tried to balance a bit the gullibility of the editor, author and commenters. No kidding: I was trying to do some good public relations for CC after reading that ill-researched piece.

And this is what I got.

Gitone’s magic

by Cesar Tort

Printer-friendly document: here

7,600 words (a shorter version of this article: here)



Recently I uploaded in this blog a PDF of a 63,000-word text, The Return of Quetzalcoatl, the fourth book of my Hojas Susurrantes. Only by means of introducing this totally unheard of field for understanding human psychology and history, “Psychohistory,” I can properly respond to Greg Johnson’s views on Greco-Roman homosexuality.

As Julian Jaynes saw in The Breakdown of The Bicameral Mind, Homeric Greeks were, psychologically, vastly different from historical Greeks. Semitic cultures were even more different. In the online edition of my Quetzalcoatl I refrained to reproduce this image for the simple reason that it would have meant retroprojection. In the image we see women, presumably the mothers, trying to rescue their children from a propitiatory child sacrifice to Moloch Baal. But in real life the parents themselves handed over their crying children to the assistants of the priest, hence the inflammatory sentence with which I ended my Quetzalcoatl (“In the final book of this work I’ll go back to my autobiography, and we shall see if after such grim findings mankind has the right to exist”).

In Hollywood such sort of retroprojections are ubiquitous in movies about the historical past. For instance, Australia, a pro-aboriginals film set before the Second World War, had an upset Nicole Kidman telling another white person, “No mother would leave her child!” when in real life, as recounted in my Quetzalcoatl, quite a few Australian abbos not only abandoned some of their babies, but killed and ate them (for scholarly references supporting this claim see my PDF).

Westerners, and incredibly, child abuse researchers included, have not awakened to the fact that there have been very dissimilar “psychoclasses” or ways of childrearing in the world; and that this has had enormous implications for the mental health of a people, primitive or modern. For example, in my Quetzalcoatl I said that Rhea hid Zeus and presented a stone wrapped in strips, which Cronus took as a swaddled baby and ate it. Cronus represents the pre-Homeric Greeks, the archaic Hellas. After the breakdown of the bicameral, or schizoid mind, historical Greeks considered barbarous the practice of child sacrifice, symbolized in Zeus’ successful rebellion against his filicidal father. Though they still practiced the exposure of unwanted babies, the historical Greeks at least stopped sacrificing them in horrible ways: a practice that their neighbors continued. Nonetheless, if films on both Homeric and post-Homeric Greeks were historically accurate, the exposure of babies, which was practiced on a gigantic scale even in Roman times, would be visually depicted.

Recently I saw two films that I had not watched for a long time. In the 1959 Hollywood interpretation of Ben-Hur starring Charlton Heston, Tiberius’ Rome and Jerusalem are idealized far beyond what those cities looked like in the times of Jesus. Think of how, to impress the audience with the grandeur of the Roman circus in a Hollywoodesque Palestine, for the chariot race sequence the director made it look as large as Constantinople’s circus! Conversely, in Fellini’s 1969 Satyricon, freely based on Petronius’ classic, the Roman Empire is oneirically caricaturized to the point that the film’s extreme grotesqueries bear no visual relationship whatsoever to the empire of historical time. Both extreme idealization and oneiric caricature constitute artistic ways to understand the soul of Rome. One may think that an Aristotelian golden mean may lie somewhere between Ben-Hur and Fellini-Satyricon, but not even in HBO’s Rome, a purportedly realistic TV series that claimed paying more attention to historical women, dared to show that such women abandoned their babies who died on the hills, roads and the next day were found under the frozen streets: a custom approved even by Plato and Aristotle.

Growing in a “late infanticidal” culture, to use Lloyd deMause’s term, makes members of that psychoclass greatly different compared to our modern western psychoclass. (One could easily imagine what a shock for the modern mind would represent the spectacle of white babies dying on the streets of Vermont, Bonn or Florence with nobody bothering to rescue them.) So different that I believe that the hostile takeover I do of deMause’s Psychohistory to deliver it to the nationalist community will revolutionize the understanding of history once it is properly digested and understood.

In my Quetzalcoatl I quoted psychohistorian Henry Ebel (no ellipsis added between unquoted sentences):

DeMause’s argument had a breathtaking sweep and grandeur such as we associate with the work of Hegel, Darwin and Marx. Moreover, it seemed to be a valid response and interpretation of a series of gruesome facts that had been consistently understated or suppressed by conventional historians. “The Evolution of Childhood” has proved a morsel too large, too complete, too assertive, and in many ways too grim for the historical profession to digest. Since adult styles and roles, including the academic and professional, are mainly denial-systems erected against those early needs and terrors, the academic consideration of deMause’s argument has been, understandably enough, of less than earthshaking intelligence.

Once we integrate Psychohistory to our view of history, it is easy to notice that when Greg Johnson talks of Greco-Roman homosexuality he does it as if it was similar to the mores of today’s world: consenting sex between adults. But if Jaynes and deMause are right, the peoples of the classical world inhabited an altogether distinct psychic universe, especially before Solon. So different that sometimes I even wonder if Francis Parker Yockey has a valid point when he wrote that the Italian Renaissance is sold as a link between two cultures that, according to him, have nothing in common.

A splendid example of such discontinuity is what André Gide called normal pederasty, the ancients’ infatuation for adolescents. Keep in mind that Gide did not condemn such customs. On the contrary, he considered his Corydon, published in 1924 and which received widespread condemnation, his most important work. However, since I can only understand the geist of a culture through the visual arts, before quoting Gide let me convey visually what “homo”-sexuality signified for the classical world through a couple of scenes of the movie Satyricon:

Cinematic experiences aside, what are scholars saying about what I call pseudo-homosexuality: pederasty (which must never be confused with pedophilia)? In the introduction to On Homosexuality: Lysis, Phaedrus, and Symposium, published by Prometheus Books, Eugene O’Connor wrote (again, no ellipsis added):

Benjamin Jowett’s introduction to his translation of Plato’s Symposium expresses prevalent Victorian, Edwardian, and even later attitudes, particularly in England and America, toward Greek homosexuality. Some excerpts from the introduction will illustrate this “clash of cultures.” Since Jowett’s day much has been done to counter and correct this willful distortion of ancient sexuality. We may now consult, for example, the more sober appraisals of K.J. Dover, Greek Homosexuality (1978), and Saara Lilja, Homosexuality in Republican and Augustan Rome (1983) to help us redress the oversights of earlier scholarship.

The composition of [Plato's] Symposium owes much to the Greek tradition of “banquet literature,” often a collection of informal discussions (in prose or verse) on various topics, including the power of love and the delights of young men and boys. Indeed, a whole body of homoerotic literature grew up around the themes of male beauty and how one ought to woo and win a boy.

The customary social pattern was this: a boy in his teens or, at any rate, a younger man (called an eromenos, or “beloved”) was sought out by an older male (called an erastes or “lover”), who might be already married. Women in classical Athens were kept in virtual seclusion from everyone but their immediate families and their domestic activities were relegated to certain “female” parts of the house. As a consequence, boys and young men—partly by virtue of their being seen, whether in the gymnasium, in the streets, or at a sacrifice (as in the Lysis)—became natural love-objects.

Strict rules of conduct bound both parties: adult males could face prosecution for seducing free-born youths, while Athenian boys and young men could be censured for soliciting sexual favors for money. That would make them in effect equal to courtesans, who were hired companions and lacked citizen status.

This erastes-eromenos (lover-beloved) relationship, although it was sexual and in many ways comparable to typical, male-female relations, with the man assuming the dominant role, was meant ideally to be an educative one. The older man instilled in the younger—in essence, “made him pregnant with”—a respect for the requisite masculine virtues of courage and honor.

Socrates in the Phaedrus describes how the soul of the pederast (literally, “a lover of youths”) who is blessed with philosophy will grow wings after a certain cycle of reincarnations. In recent centuries, the word “pederast” has come to be viewed with opprobrium, fit only to describe child molesters. But in ancient Greece the word carried no such negative connotation, and was employed in a very different context.

Surrounded as he often was by the brightest young men of Athens, Socrates jokingly compared himself, in Xenophon’s Symposium, to a pander or procurer. These are witty, humorous characterizations of Socrates to be sure; yet, in the end, Socrates was the best erastes of all; the loving adult male teacher who sought to lead his aristocratic eromenoi (male beloveds) on the road to virtue.

I have read Xenophon’s Symposium and on chapter VIII it does look like Socrates and others had intense crushes with the eromenoi.

In his Corydon Gide shares the Platonic view that what he calls “normal pederasty” (to distinguish it from child molestation) is a propitious state of the mind to shed light on truth and beauty. In the last pages of his slim book Gide concludes: “I believe that such a lover will jealously watch over him, protect him, and himself exalted, purified by this love, will guide him toward those radiant heights which are not reached without love.” In the very final page Gide adds that “From thirteen to twenty-two (to take the age suggested by La Bruyere) is for the Greeks the age of loving friendship, of shared exaltation, of the noblest emulation,” and that only after this age the youth “wants to be a man”: marrying a woman.

But not only I need visuals to properly understand a culture. Narrative is fundamental too as a way to get into the unfathomed deeps of a bygone world. Below, a tale recounted by an old poet, Eumolpus in the first long novel that Western literature knows, Petronius’ Satyricon:

“When I went to Asia,” Eumolpus began, “as a paid officer in the Quaestor’s suite, I lodged with a family at Pergamus. I found my quarters very pleasant, first on account of the convenience and elegance of the apartments, and still more so because of the beauty of my host’s son. I devised the following method to prevent the master of the house entertaining any suspicions of me as a seducer. Whenever the conversation at table turned on the seduction of handsome boys, I showed such extreme indignation and protested with such an air of austerity and offended dignity against the violence done to my ears by filthy talk of the sort, that I came to be regarded, especially by the mother, as one of the greatest of moralists and philosophers. Before long I was allowed to take the lad to the gymnasium; it was I that directed his studies, I that guided his conduct, and guarded against any possible debaucher of his person being admitted to the house.

“It happened on one occasion that we were sleeping in the dining-hall, the school having closed early as it was a holiday, and our amusements having rendered us too lazy to retire to our sleeping-chambers. Somewhere about midnight I noticed that the lad was awake; so whispering soft and low, I murmured a timid prayer in these words, ‘Lady Venus, if I may kiss this boy, so that he know it not, tomorrow I will present him with a pair of doves.’ Hearing the price offered for the gratification, the boy set up a snore. So approaching him, where he lay still making pretense to be asleep, I stole two or three flying kisses. Satisfied with this beginning, I rose betimes next morning, and discharged my vow by bringing the eager lad a choice and costly pair of doves.

“The following night, the same opportunity occurring, I changed my petition, ‘If I may pass a naughty hand over this boy, and he not feel it, I will present him for his complaisance with a brace of the best fighting cocks ever seen.’ At this promise the child came nestling up to me of his own accord and was actually afraid, I think, lest I might drop asleep again. I soon quieted his uneasiness on this point, and amply satisfied my longings, short of the supreme bliss, on every part of his beautiful body. Then when daylight came, I made him happy with the gift I had promised him.

“As soon as the third night left me free to try again, I rose as before, and creeping up to the rascal, who was lying awake expecting me, whispered at his ear, ‘If only, ye Immortal Gods, I may win of this sleeping darling full and happy satisfaction of my love, for such bliss I will tomorrow present the lad with an Asturian of the Macedonian strain [a horse], the best to be had for money, but always on the condition he shall not feel my violence.’ Never did the stripling sleep more sound. So first I handled his plump and snowy bosoms, then kissed him on the mouth, and finally concentrated all my ardors in one supreme delight. Next morning he sat still in his room, expecting my present as usual. Well! you know as well as I do, it is a much easier matter to buy doves and fighting cocks than an Asturian; besides which, I was afraid so valuable a present might rouse suspicion as to the real motives of my liberality. After walking about for an hour or so, I returned to the house, and gave the boy a kiss—and nothing else. He looked about inquiringly, then threw his arms round my neck, and ‘Please, sir!’ he said, ‘where is my Asturian?’

“‘It is hard,’ I replied, ‘to get one fine enough. You will have to wait a few days for me to fulfill my vow.’

“The boy had wits enough to see through my answer, and his resentment was betrayed by the angry look that crossed his face.

“Although by this breach of faith I had closed against myself the door of access so carefully contrived, I returned once more to the attack. For, after allowing a few days to elapse, one night when similar circumstances had created just another opportunity for us as before, I began, the moment I heard the father snoring, to beg and pray the boy to be friends with me again —that is, to let me give him pleasure for pleasure, adding all the arguments my burning concupiscence could suggest. But he was positively angry and refused to say one word beyond, ‘Go to sleep, or I will tell my father.’ But there is never an obstacle so difficult audacity will not vanquish it. He was still repeating, ‘I will wake my father,’ when I slipped into his bed and took my pleasure of him in spite of his half-hearted resistance. However, he found a certain pleasure in my naughty ways, for after a long string of complaints about my having cheated and cajoled him and made him the laughing-stock of his school-fellows, to whom he had boasted of his rich friend, he whispered, ‘Still I won’t be so unkind as you; if you like, do it again.’

“So forgetting all our differences, I was reconciled to the dear lad once more, and after utilizing his kind permission, I slipped off to sleep in his arms. But the stripling was not satisfied with only one repetition, all ripe for love as he was and just at the time of life for passive enjoyment. So he woke me up from my slumbers, and, ‘Anything you’d like, eh?’ said he. Nor was I, so far, indisposed to accept his offer. So working him the best ever I could, to the accompaniment of much panting and perspiration, I gave him what he wanted, and then dropped asleep again, worn out with pleasure. Less than an hour had passed before he started pinching me and asking, ‘Eh! why are we not at work?’ Hereupon, sick to death of being so often disturbed, I flew into a regular rage, and retorted his own words upon him; ‘Go to sleep,’ I cried, ‘or I’ll tell your father!’”

“Enlivened by this discourse,” continues Encolpius, the narrator of Satyricon, “I now began to question my companion…” (for an introduction to this most classic novel, see my recent entry in another of my blogs). However, the erastes-eromenos relationship was not always as hilariously picaresque as Petronius depicts it. In my previous response to Johnson, when I added the image of a terracotta statuette of Zeus carrying off Ganymede, I included no references. Here I’ll add a couple of them. In the academic work that O’Connor mentioned above, Greek Homosexuality, K.J. Dover writes:

Ephoros, writing in the mid-fourth century, gives a remarkable account (F149) of ritualised homosexual rape in Crete. The erastes gave notice of his intention, and the family and friends of the eromenos did not attempt to hide the boy away, for that would have been admission that he was not worthy of the honour offered him by the erastes. If they believed that the erastes was unworthy, they prevented the rape by force; otherwise they put a good-humoured and half-hearted resistance, which ended with the erastes carrying off the eromenos to a hide-out for two months. At the end of that period the two of them returned to the city (the eromenos was known, during the relationship, as parastatheis, ‘posted beside…’ or ‘brought over to the side of…’) and the erastes gave the eromenos expensive presents, including clothing which would thereafter testify to the achievement of the eromenos in being chosen; he was kleinos, ‘celebrated’, thanks to his philetor, ‘lover’. [p. 189]

John Boswell, a homosexual professor at Yale University who died at forty-seven of complications from AIDS, specialized in the relationship between homosexuality and Christianity. Boswell abstains to mention the word “rape” which Dover unabashedly used in his treatise published by Harvard University. But in Same-Sex Unions in Premodern Europe Boswell describes in less academic, and more colorful, language the legal arrangements regarding such abductions:

Apart from the abduction aspect, this practice has all the elements of European marriage tradition: witness, gifts, religious sacrifice, a public banquet, a chalice, a ritual change of clothing for one partner, a change of status for both, even a honeymoon.

The abduction is less remarkable, by the standards of the times, that it seems. The ruler of the gods, Zeus, mandated a permanent relationship with a beautiful Trojan prince, Ganymede, after abducting him and carrying him off to heaven; they were the most famous same-sex couple of the ancient world, familiar to all its educated residents. Zeus even gave Ganymede’s father a gift—the equivalent of a dower or “morning gift”. The inhabitants of Chalcis honored what they believed to be the very spot of Ganymede’s abduction, called Harpagion (“Place of Abduction”). Moreover, as late as Boccaccio (Decameron, Day 5, Tale 1) an abduction marriage that takes place seems to find its most natural home in Crete.

Heterosexual abduction marriage was also extremely common in the ancient world—especially in the neighboring state of Sparta, with which Crete shared its constitution and much of its social organization, where it was the normal mode of heterosexual marriage. It remained frequent well into modern times, and even under Christian influence men who abducted women were often only constrained to marry them, and not punished in any other way. In a society where women were regarded as property and their sexuality their major asset, by the time an abducted woman was returned most of her value was gone, and the more public attention was focused on the matter the less likely it was she would ever find a husband. And in a moral universe where the abduction of Helen (and of the Sabine women) provided the foundation myths of the greatest contemporary political entities, such an act was as likely to seem heroic as disreputable. The Erotic Discourses attributed to Plutarch begin with stories of abduction for love, both heterosexual and homosexual. [pp. 91-93]

This last sentence about the foundation myths of both the ancient Hellas and Rome is absolutely central to understand their moral universe. However, Boswell omits to say that Zeus would be considered a bisexual god with strong heterosexual preferences—Hera and many other consorts—according to current standards, in no way a “gay” god.

Furthermore, unlike the same-sex unions of today, the erastes-eromenos relationship wasn’t meant to be permanent. The continuance of an erotic relationship was disapproved. In dramatic contrast to contemporary “gay marriages,” romantic relationships between adult coevals were disrespected. In fact, the former eromenos might well become an erastes himself with a younger youth when he got older. Boswell, who strove to use classic scholarship to support the so-called “gay marriage” of our times, overstates his case in other passages of Same-Sex Unions in Premodern Europe. What struck me the most of his study was that on page 66 he misled the readers by claiming that the Satyricon protagonists, Encolpius and Gitone, are simply a same-sex couple. I have read a couple of translations of the hilarious Satyricon and it is all too clear that Boswell omitted two fundamental facts: Gitone’s age, an underage teen for today’s standards, and another lover of Gitone, Ascyltus (who also appears in my embedded clip).

Classic pederasty did not resemble at all what currently is called the “gay movement.” The causes of pederasty are to be found not only what O’Connor said above: women being kept in seclusion and men transferring their affections to younger boys. More serious was something that neither O’Connor nor Dover or Boswell dared to say. Infanticidal Greece and Rome produced a surplus of males as a result of the exposure of babies, especially baby girls. As I said in my Quetzalcoatl, it was not until 374 AD that the emperor Valentinian I, a Christian, mandated to rear all children. Again, what “gay” apologists like Boswell fail to understand is that that was a psychoclass distinct from our own, since for modern westerners it is unthinkable to expose baby girls. However, in my own version of Psychohistory, my educated guess is that the Athenians should have treated the children well enough to allow the explosion of arts, philosophies and policies that we have inherited.



Alice Miller’s Breaking Down the Wall of Silence and, more comprehensibly, my own Hojas Susurrantes, introduce a category that potentially could revolutionize our understanding of ourselves. There exist hells at home where, psychically, children suffer far more than the adult experience in concentration camps: experiences far more destructive for the mind and the soul of the abused child than what the common prisoner suffers. However, without assimilating our central message, what I am about to say will neither be appreciated nor understood.

There must be legitimate cases of pederasty: those that help the abused teenager escape the homes of schizophrenogenic parents: something that totally and absolutely escaped deMause’s approach to Psychohistory.

Some clinicians say that abused adolescents often dream a window of escape from their homes. For a long time, but this is the first time that I commit myself to writing it down, I have harbored the idea that, thanks to that window of escape, mental health grew exponentially in Ancient Greece. After all, Greek pederasty was the exact opposite of the Christian incarnation of it as performed in secrecy by the priests and, until recent times, without any warning provided to the unsuspecting kid. Conversely, in the Greek and Latin world the “lovers of youths” were out in the open, in the Palestra, Gymnasium or even in homely tutorship with parents, friends and acquaintances warning the budding boy about the satyrs, or older males of dubious reputation—something that never happened in Christendom.

I have said that without grasping the concept of schizophrenogenic parents the point I am trying to make will be incomprehensible. To complicate things further, in our culture blaming parents for the mental disorders of their children is such a heresy that a whole profession, biological psychiatry, has been created to conceal the work of genuine researchers of mental disorders (see my article “Unfalsifiability in psychiatry and licit drugging of white children”). But apparently it was not such a taboo in Pericles’ Athens. I think of Euripides’ plays Iphigenia and Electra, the former magnificently taken to the silver screen by Greek director Michael Cacoyannis and the latter a play I watched translated in a theatre representation. Succinctly, Agamemnon sacrificed his daughter Iphigenia and his wife Clytemnestra drove another of her daughters, Electra, mad: perfect examples of what in my book I call soul-murderers, parents who schizophrenize or kill their children. If the modern mind could break the taboo that the ancient tragedians started to break before their suicidal Peloponnesian War, under this new perspective of the human mind could we use Gide’s phrase “defense of pederasty” in a sense that Gide never imagined? Analogously, in Sparta, the Lykourgos code forbid sexual relations between erastes and eromenos. Could this be related to the sterility of science and the arts in the virile Sparta compared to its twin sister, Athens? And more importantly, could it be possible that, centuries later, the abolition of the erastes-eromenos institution by Christian emperors resulted in a psychogenic regression at the beginning of the Dark Ages (to understand this question properly one must first grasp the psychohistorical concept of “psychoclass”)?

At present, the trauma model of mental disorders (i.e., no bullshit about blaming the child’s brain for the parents’ deeds as is done in the medical model) is not accepted either by the academia or the general culture. But given the basics of developmental psychology and attachment theory, perhaps only those who followed Gide’s words—“such a lover will jealously watch over him, protect him”—would be able to open a genuine affective window, conferring the victim the ability to escape not only the schizophrenogenic parent but the non-schizogenic, though neurotic and engulfing mother as well and helping him to develop a sound mind.

But could it be possible that in real life sustaining an abused teenager until he reaches maturity could only happen in a world where poetry and sculpture manifested a predilection for adolescent bodies? Gide claims that bucolic poetry started to sound phony when the poet loved the pastor no more. Even Nietzsche, who abhorred Plato, wrote in How To Philosophize With a Hammer that Plato “says with an innocence possible only for a Greek, not a Christian, that there would be no Platonic philosophy at all if there were not such beautiful youths in Athens: it is only their sight that transposes the philosopher’s soul into an erotic trance, leaving it no peace until it lowers the seed of all exalted things into such beautiful soil.”

This said, I hasten to add that it is not possible to turn the clock back to the sexual mores of Greece and Rome. I believe that Yockey was right: cultures, like men, have souls and die. The simply fact is that the infanticidal psychoclass does not exist in the West anymore, and hence there is no actual lack of women for a legitimate transference of Eros towards the creatures that resemble the fair sex the most: the ephebes. In other words, what gay apologists like Boswell try to do, using classical scholarship to support the LGBT movement, is nonsense. It reminds me those silly Mexicans who, after centuries that the sacrificial institution was abolished, try to imitate the Aztec custom by means of using sugar skulls instead of the real decapitated skulls used as trophies in pre-Columbian Mesoamerica, believing that they are “rescuing a tradition.” We should never forget that facts of importance in history occur twice: the first time as tragedy, the second as farce. This may be applied to both the incorrigible indigenistas and the apologists of gay marriage among grown-up coevals in the contemporary world.

In our times the erastes-eromenos institution could only be restored as a substitute of the abusive parent, but not for the healthier families. Psychogenically—this term understood in the sense of the evolution of the psyche and society—, Europe in the eighteenth-century England was more integrated than the Europe where Greek and Latin were the official languages. In the modern West the exposure of babies had been abandoned and Christianity prohibited the most destructive aspects of the Dionysian excesses in the classical world, like those parades with gigantic phalluses where even the virtuous, married women celebrated on the streets.

But let me respond in advance a few issues that the readers of this article may take with my views:

Tough Question #1: If you claim that heterosexuality is healthier than homosexuality and at the same time promote the YouTube clip of this cute adolescent, Gitone, how would you deal with a Gitonesque son of yours?

In the coming ethnostate, citizenship will be gradated. If my “Gitonesque” son had homosexual preferences I would not reprimand him severely in his teens or even early twenties. But by his middle and late twenties the laws of the Republic would gradually make a dent in his mind. By his thirties, he had to be heterosexually married to a woman of breeding age for the couple obtaining an A- or B-class citizenship. Deterrents such as laws that permit no claiming of any inheritance in cases of overt, permanent homosexual behavior, but getting a D-class citizenship instead, would be more than enough. I disagree with Harold Covington’s idea of using psychiatry to repress overt, permanent homosexual behavior in the coming Republic, and my second book of Hojas Susurrantes demonstrates beyond reasonable doubt that psychiatry is a fraudulent profession. (But never mind Uncle Harold. On The Day we will use a public rope for bringing the wildest, rainbow boys to justice!)

And speaking of the coming ethno-state, if the demographic winter caused by a feminism run amok gets really nasty—and I mean finding us in the necessity of raiding the enemy country, Amerikwa, to abduct Sabine women in order to found families—, as a desperate measure we may also will have to resort to the massive cloning of the reluctant nymphs and nymphets. On the other hand, the cloning of the most beautiful ephebos, such as Gitone, at an industrial scale makes me nervous, as I will try to explain in the following paragraphs.

It is true that in Arthur C. Clarke’s first novella, Against the Fall of Night—my favorite among Clarke’s novels—, in seemingly two ageless cities shielded from the worldwide desert, Lys and Diaspar in the year 10 billion AD, the impression the reader gets is that in those isolated oasis only whites existed: beautiful females and androgynous males. Non-whites and almost all of today’s species, plant and animal, had become extinct. Like Diaspar, in Maxfield Parrish’s 1913 murals of The Florentine Fete, The Garden of Opportunity, with handsome youths walking in an Arcadian location for heterosexual courtship, males are depicted almost as feminine as the young women (the apparently inexplicable images for this blog look better in my other blog in English, Fallen Leaves).

I am most curious about what happened to Max Born, the actor who played Gitone in the Fellini film. (I do confess that, when I saw the movie at seventeen, I found his looks rather stunning.) If Born is still with us (he would be sixty years old!) I wouldn’t mind having his genes for ages frozen for the creation of a couple of ephebes in a Diaspar-like Utopia. However, as I see it, it is the distant future what we also see in The Garden of Opportunity: a time when, after a thousand-year imperial Reich, the problem of competition between the ethnic groups had been resolved in favor of the only race that inherited the Earth. Only then could it be permissible, according to my standards, to clone ephebes.

Back to the real world. With millions of non-whites with high IQs, especially hostile Jews, in no way can we afford ultimate dolls like a young Born massively cloned. That would be historically premature. What we need are ruthless soldiers imbued with Roman severitas and, furthermore, as Guillaume Faye has eloquently stated, above all we need hypermorality: the Nietzschean ethics of difficult times.

What motivated me to write this article was not only what Johnson said about homosexuality, but also the (degenerate to my mind) music and movie tastes of the broader nationalist community. My forte is not writing, but a peculiar understanding of visual arts and music. So much so that, as to the seventh art is concerned, I consider myself as talented as Alfonso Cuarón, the director of The Prisoner of Azkaban and Children of Men (Cuarón and I were born about the same time in the same town).

I share some of Johnson’s anti-Christian sentiments, even when he said in one of his Counter-Currents threads that he will never include bullshit about a dead Jew on a stick, which I guess offended a Christian friend who stopped commenting at that site. But Johnson is no “total autobiographer.” In contrast, in Hojas Susurrantes I recount an unimaginable tragedy that befell on my family that cannot be conveyed in few words. Elsewhere I confessed just the tip of the iceberg of that tragedy: that at seventeen I constantly had themes from Mozart’s Requiem stuck in my head in an abusive school. This was an earworm synchronized with the religious metamorphosis that was taking place in my mind, the change from the stage of perceiving God as the loving dad of my St. Francis to the vindictive God of The Day: my abusive, introjected Father. Once my religious agonies were over, I could listen Requiems no more and not even other sacred music. (Only in this sense I can empathize with those who turned over to the dark side of pop, frivolous or hedonistic music.) But now that the fear of eternal damnation as an internal persecutor, or Dementor to use the symbol of the soulless creatures in The Prisoner of Azkaban, is gone, which psychological trick can I use to like sacred music again?

I have discovered a way. However, to convey my most intimate subjectivity I’ll have to indulge a little in a thought experiment.


Let’s imagine for a moment that I was not abused at home and that presently I am a famed film director like Cuarón. Let’s suppose that, being fairly well off, after Jared Taylor’s conferences were sabotaged in the previous two years I would invite him and all conference participants, both speakers and non-speakers, to my large mansion somewhere in the Northwest coast of the United States to celebrate the yearly conference.

When entering the property, way before the conference reserved for the ballroom, I prepared the participants a little surprise. The incomers are now seeing in an outdoor, circular place slightly above the ground meant to accommodate leisure activities, two singers, a male soprano and a male contralto interpreting Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater.

Visualize the background with a string orchestra and imagine that the soprano is… none other than Gitone! Every time that the adolescent soprano reaches the highest notes he lifts his eyes toward the heavens. His song is full of mannerisms typical of those actors in intimate contact with God, but in the middle of a purely pagan environment with the color of his eyes of a more intense blue than the sky-blue above him and the line of the sea behind both singers, in sharp contrast to Gitone’s dark hair and nude feet touching directly the solid flagstone at the middle of the mansion’s garden (listen to my 6-minute selection of Pergolesi’s music here).

That would be Gitone’s magic. He has thus inspired me to revisit sacred music after the soul-murdering tragedy that destroyed my family and that occurred when I had exactly his age.

Forget the academic content of the conferences that are now taking place indoors, in the ballroom. During the 37 minutes that last the twelve sections of the Stabat, still at the mansion’s outdoors even the most conservative attendants, after gluing their gaze onto the soprano for more than half an hour, start harboring truly unchristian, Dionysian thoughts. Eros is the universe’s dialectic force, and the visual experience to the sound of religious music moves them all, even the non-white nationalists present, to rediscover an elemental thumos to fight for a race so pristinely white as the alabastrine skin of the ephebe.

But then, a nationalist liberal could ask me the…

Tough Question #2: Chechar: Aren’t you ashamed that beside this subliminal fantasy of yours in one of your recent threads you homophobically ranted about “genocidal rage” against homos like you?

I am not a homo for the simple reason that I’d find repugnant any contact with a masculine face, and its body. And no: I am not ashamed for what I said in that thread at all.

Precisely because they try to imitate them, queers represent a blasphemous insult to the nymphs and the ephebes: the holy spirit of life according to my philosophy. Faggots are like massive bears with the heart of a butterfly. Comparing Gitone with any of them is like comparing a vulgar, Felliniesque, fat harlot with Botticelli’s Venus at the top of this blog.

I feel the so-called gay movement as if an Australopithecus africanus, after touching the black monolith of 2001: A Space Odyssey, has a glimpse of the mysterium tremendum of the universe. Alas, unlike the film this ape immediately fancies himself as the astronaut Dave Bowman ready for the second leap forward in the path to Overman. Or even worse: he believes that he now wears a white miniskirt like the one that Ascyltus threw over Gitone in the embedded clip, and he further believes that the other apes will now consider this still primitive, apeish missing link as if he was a consecrated soprano of the future worth to listen and contemplate. Nowadays, it does not occur to these Australopithecuses that a huge, four-and-a-half million leap forward is necessary for that specific dream become true, or that presently only the androgynous ephebes, premature embryos of a yet not verified future, have the right of homosexuality.

But perhaps it would be the most conservative nationalist the one who asks me the filthiest question of all…

Tough Question #3: Why are you promoting this sort of homoerotism with that video and photo of a boy, you pervert?

With this sort of question you are projecting onto me your own perversions: what I call the Sin against the Holy Ghost—an unforgivable sin that, a few years ago, moved me to completely severe ties with my former colleagues on child abuse studies. Contrary to your projections, my point of view about “homosexuality,” if it may be called so (I don’t have homo friends but I doubt that they fancy Gitone), is innocuous. It has nothing to do with either a traditionalist condemnation of the behavior and much less with the so-called LGTB movement. I am located light years apart from both.

To find an ephebe is like searching a needle in dozens of haystacks. According to my own definition, an ephebe is a leptosomatic (see Gitone’s chest in the above pic) adolescent of such androgynous beauty as to make him undistinguishable from a nymph: a beauty that evaporates when he reaches manhood (either in Plato or Xenophon I read how a Greek mocked another who was still attached to a lad who already had beards). This esthetic bar is, purposely, unrealistically high. So high actually that Italian filmmakers—androgynous beauty seems to be an alien concept for American directors—have had enormous difficulties in the casting process to find genuine ehpebes.

Luchino Visconti’s search of Tadzio for his Death in Venice was so agonizing that he had to travel out of his native Italy through several countries until he found Bjorn Andersen in Sweden. Similarly, by pure chance an assistant of Fellini discovered Max Born, who eventually played the character of Gitone in the mentioned Satyricon, in London’s Chelsea living as a local hippy. My concept of “ephebe” is such an obvious veiled homage to women that in the 1979 film Ernesto, where a handsome adolescent male is seduced by an androgynous ephebe, the director Salvatore Samperi did not bother to do any agonizing casting outside Italy. He simply chose a girl, Lara Wendel, to play both the roles of the ephebe Ilio and his twin sister Rachele (I was very much surprised to discover this after thirty years of watching the film).

But my hypothetical, nasty interlocutor would interrupt me to rudely ask again: Don’t go off in tangents. Stick to the point: Why are you promoting this homoerotism with images of underagers and your little “Gedankenexperiment”?

Mark my words, punk: Because I want to destroy the self-christened “gay movement” with the same vehemence that I want to destroy the “feminist movement” —and the degenerate music and film industry that has been, spiritually, interwoven in the creation of both.

Have you heard the Hegelian word Aufheben my bigoted friend? The street man moves in comfort category zones such as the hetero thesis and its homo antithesis. I believe that’s naïve. The verb Aufheben translated to English means to sublate: the suppression and assimilation of both, the previous thesis and antithesis. This is the apparently contradictory implication of preserving and changing an ethos just as, by means of aufhebenizing my previous phobia of sacred music when mixing it with the most profane love, I have just created a new, non-Christian entity where sacred music might be, again, fully appreciated albeit in a thoroughly pagan milieu. While Hegel used that verb in his philosophy of history, this is my proposed myth:

Mature, aufhebenized hetero nationalists may try to destroy the homo antithesis not by combating it directly, but by assimilating its luminous side and by turning homosexuality into almost heterosexuality through the contemplation of beauty among those rarest specimens that look like a mixture between humans, and angels. This is exactly what I pretended to do with my Quetzalcoatl, or Prolegomena For a Psychohistory of The Future that will only be fully developed in the ethnostate: destroying Christianity by means of aufhebenizing it, by assimilating its central, unconscious message and transforming it into a secular science.

Psychohistory explains what conventional historians can’t. For example, many years ago my father challenged me with a question: What galvanized the first Christians to the point of choosing martyrdom? The answer is: the overcoming of the infanticidal psychoclass. Christianity’s unconscious message is that when we murder or crucify our innocent child, we murder or crucify God. Alas, presently Christianity, and a traitorous secular Christianity catalyzed by the Jews, have metamorphosed the symbolic empathy toward the crucified Son into a deranged altruism for a New Jesus: the dispossessed races, to the point that whites now face extinction.

Michael O’Meara said that only a myth would galvanize the white race. But I believe he is wrong in believing that Christianity, now a Red Giant star soon to become a white dwarf, will play a role in its creation. In The Philosophy of Beauty Roger Scruton states that beauty can be another name for religion. Only the divine physiognomies that we, the mortals, cannot reach may drag the human soul into the asymptotic axis of the spiritual with actually never reaching the infinite. Ultimate aesthetic catharsis must be sought in the inner assimilation of the distant figure of Beatrice (for me, that is the “ephebe” that stunned me thirty years ago but that, in real life, the actor turned out to be an actress). The same can be said of a consecrated director seeking for Tadzio in several countries in order to capture his beauty for eternity, but not for sleeping with him. That would not only have meant the corruption of the fourteen year-old archangel, but making a fool of oneself like the German professor gazing at Tadzio from afar with black drops of hair-ink mixed with sweat running through a ridiculous made-up face under the sun of a Venetian beach. For unfathomable laws of the universe, unlike Zeus we cannot possess Ganymede and have a happy life after that. Even if we were as young and handsome as Encolpius, Xenophon warns us that such level of passion would drive us totally mad. And let’s not forget the Phaedrus’ comparing the fondness of an erastes for his eromenos to the fondness of wolves for lambs. Moreover, according to my own definition, with only a handful of ephebes in the world, when our object of forbidden love leaves us for the arms of another erastes, even the blond Encolpius ends up contemplating the knife…

I imagine modifying the Northwest Republic tricolor flag by means of placing the colors horizontally and adding the full image of the Garden of Opportunity in its middle. Not because in our search for the inexplicable superiority of the Venusinian we males should try to imitate Gitone or Tadzio, which is impossible. But because only the unreachable archetype of the eternal feminine will lead the white race to the Absolute.

Translation of pages 543-609 of “Hojas susurrantes”

by Cesar Tort

Psychohistory in meta-perspective


For the previous translated chapter see: here. Two of the images for this blog editon of my book, and the sentences between squared brackets do not appear in the printed edition.




Perspective

If by analyzing the core of the inner self Alice Miller shows us the “subatomic psychics,” analogous in a way to the recondite universe discovered by physicists such as Max Planck and Pauli, psychohistory is similar to the “Newtonian psychics”: it shows us the space of the psychic world of large human groups. For example, when westerners travel to underdeveloped countries it is common that they receive a shock before the ideas and customs of other peoples; especially how they treat women, children and the animals. Similarly, those of us who discover psychohistory are shocked by the fact that child abuse had been perpetrated in such inconceivably cruel ways, and for so long.

Lloyd deMause has written that his scholarly life brought him to one conclusion: the history of humankind is founded in the abuse of children. His greater finding is that the central force of change in history is not the economy, but the psychogenic changes that occur due to the parental-filial interactions in successive generations. These changes are the result of the parents’ capabilities, especially the mothers, to experience inwardly previous traumas and sparing the next generation of children. The process ensues in an evolutive mutation of the inner space of human groups. Most forms of violence, from crime to mental disorders, are ultimately the consequence of abuses during childhood. In the article “The evolution of childhood reconsidered” Henry Ebel wrote:

DeMause’s argument had a breathtaking sweep and grandeur such as we associate with the work of Hegel, Darwin and Marx. Moreover, it seemed to be a valid response and interpretation of a series of gruesome facts that had been consistently understated or suppressed by conventional historians. […] “The Evolution of Childhood” has proved a morsel too large, too complete, too assertive, and in many ways too grim for the historical profession to digest. […] Since adult styles and roles, including the academic and professional, are mainly denial-systems erected against those early needs and terrors, the academic consideration of deMause’s argument has been, understandably enough, of less than earthshaking intelligence.

The founder of psychohistory is so sure about his theory that, just as skeptic James Randi has offered a prize to any psychic who could demonstrate any paranormal phenomenon, deMause has offered a monetary prize to the historian who could demonstrate that there was a “good mother” before 1700 AD: a mother that would not be categorized as abusive by current standards. Just as the Randi case, no one has claimed the prize because before the eighteenth century parents behaved with enough ambivalence and intrusion, if not abandoning their children: a behavior that differentiate them from the contemporary psychoclass, the socializing parents of the West [cf. previous chapter].

I will never forget a tale that my grandmother heard about a concentration camp. The scene etched on a woman’s memory that a boy had obtained an apple and very happy ran across his way. An official saw the boy and, full of rage, grabbed him by the feet and shattered the head on a wall. As terrible as the witnessing of such atrocity could have been, it cannot be compared even remotely to seeing one’s own parents, with whom we are infinitely attached, committing the same act with a sibling, as the Canary tribes did before the Spanish conquest. Throughout prehistory and history parents have committed more injurious crimes for the health of the human soul than the crimes committed during the genocides of the 20th century. But the current Zeitgeist only allows us to judge the West. In a TV documentary I watched how a black tribesman grabbed a boy to sacrifice him. The anthropologist that studied the tribe did not intervene. Had this happened in the West, it would have raised indignation. For example, a pervert that was about to rape a little girl before his internet audience was detected through his I.P. and the police rescued the girl. On the other hand, in the case of the tribes the anthropologists never rescue the children during passage rituals such as the The Sambia where New Guinea boys have to fellate the adults.

When we think about the implications of psychohistory we should bear in mind that the cannibalism of the bone and stone ages was much more common than previously thought. Also, from 3000 to 2500 B.C., before the psychogenic mutation that gradually left bicameralism behind, the people of the Mediterranean Basin and of Finland ate the flesh of the deceased. Moreover, the Mesoamerican mythology of the great transgression by some gods to create life without parental consent exemplifies what Ivan Strenski has pointed out in his book Contesting Sacrifice: originally all cultures had at its basis universal guilt, and thus require of purification rituals to repair the broken bond with the divinity.

For identical psychological impairments of the Amerindians, a huge quantity of human sacrifices was perpetrated at the other side of the Atlantic: in China, Chad, Egypt, Tahiti and even in the Greco-Roman world. Diverse societies in India, Indonesia, Melanesia, Filipinas, the Amazons and many others continued with their terrible practices before they were colonized. During the pre-classic times of Mesoamerica the ancient Spartans offered sacrifices to Agrotera. Rome practiced several forms of human sacrifice until they were abolished by senatorial decree. The circus races of the Coliseum represented a less barbarous form of sacrifice since, unlike their neighbors, it was not done with one’s own children. The Romans spearheaded the most advanced psychoclass of their times. When Scipio Africanus took Numantia, the Romans found mothers with half-devoured bodies of their children. Celts and Druids also practiced human sacrifices. The Gauls built hollow figures that, with alive people, were burnt. Gaul was conquered by Caesar. Rome’s victory over the Carthaginians in the Punic Wars was a milestone of a superior psychoclass over the inferior one. The sacrifices to the Phrygian god Attis consisted in chosing a young man who was treated like a king for a year only to be sacrificed. Were it not for the fact that the Mexica sacrifice was so splendorous, I would say that the young man who immolated himself for Tezcatlipoca was a late copy of the Phrygian sacrifice.

In our times, among the forms that arguably could be described as sacrificial we could include rituals such as Cuban santería or Indian tantrism. More shocking is the sacrifice known as sati in the most retrograde areas of India, where the custom dictates that the widow throws herself to the funeral pyre of her deceased husband. At the moment of writing, the last of these cases was reported on October of 2008 in Kasdol in the district of Raipur.

The culture that the Europeans brought included family violence. But unlike them, in the conquered people the anxieties that the children arose, based in turn on the abuses the natives had suffered as children, were enough to kill the source that triggered the anxiety. Children have been the garbage bin where the adults dump the unrecognized parts of their psyches. It is expected that the child-garbagebin absorbs the ill moods of her custodians to prevent that the adult feels overwhelmed by her anxieties. If I kill the soul of my daughter I thus kill the naughty girl that once inhabited me.

It is interesting to note that according to the investigators of the phenomenon it is the mother, with her own hands, the perpetrator of most cases of infanticide: be by strangulation or by physical punishment. In this book I wrote about my female ancestors [I omitted those pages for the internet edition]. For deMause the crucial relationship in psychogenic evolution is the relationship between mother and daughter. If the girls are abused without helping witnesses, they will grow as adults incapable of feeling their pain. Since trauma demands repetition, they will traumatize the next generation, stalling all potential for psychogenic growth. DeMause exemplifies it with the mistreatment of women in Islamic countries and in China. The reader of history could imagine that China could have overtaken Europe before the twentieth-first century. DeMause beleives that history did not take that turn because in the East the mistreatment of women lingered longer.

Since 1974, the year of deMause’s seminal essay, a fair amount of academic material about infanticide has been published. According to Larry Milner, since prehistory thousands of millions of infants have been killed by their parents (the bibliographical references on these incredible claims appear at the bottom of this post). Likewise, Joseph B. Birdsell estimates infanticidal rates between 15-50 percent of the total number of children born since prehistoric times. Laila Williamson’s estimates are lower: 15-20 percent. As we shall see, this kind of statistics appear time and again in the writings of other researchers. Although Milner is not a psychohistorian, he wonders why such data have not received its due place in the departments of history, anthropology and sociology.

This is the question that I will approach in the rest of the book.


Ark

A quick way to show the Aristotelian phase where present-day history, anthropology and sociology are stuck is to quote excerpts from a heated debate about psychohistory. To make the reading easier I will omit the use of ellipsis even between long unquoted paragraphs. The compete debate can be read in the Wikipedia archive of the article “Early infanticidal childrearing.” Since the original text is a raw discussion I slightly corrected the syntax.

The following is a 2002 debate that came about the subsequent year when Wikipedia was launched, the multi-language encyclopedia edited by volunteers. To simplify the discussion I will also change the names and pennames used by various academics that discussed with a psychohistorian who edited Wikipedia under the penname of “Ark.” The fascinating polemic initiated with the subject of the tribes of Papua New Guinea.

Academic 1: Does this “model” [psychohistory] reflect actual facts? Increased mortality after weaning is common in non-Neolithic cultures as well; it’s a consequence of inadequate nutrition, not of parental desire.

Ark: You’re wrong there. “Inadequate nutrition” isn’t some random fact of reality. It’s a consequence of feeding pap to children, and not having the empathy necessary to understand that crying means the baby is hungry. These are both psychological problems of the parents, since feeding pap is a response to the fear of breastfeeding.

Academic 1: So PNG [Papua New Guinea] children were better off in the more “primitive” culture, and exposure to an “advanced” society has increased sexual abuse of children.

Take heed how this is similar to Miguel León Portilla’s unfounded claim: that, by becoming exposed the Mexicas to a more advanced society, they abused their own women [which in my previous chapter reminded me Auster's First Law].

Ark: Yeah right. The myth of the “noble savage” rears its ugly head again. The reproductive rate is proportional to the ignorance and poverty of the population. So the more ignorant and poor the population, the more they will fuck. What’s generally the case is that birthrate is inversely proportional to female education. The PNG have a very high reproductive rate. The PNG have a very high rate of infanticide, child suicide. So now you know why I think that “noble savage” is just complete bullshit.

There are a bunch of known facts which everyone agrees on. Ninety-nine percent of modern people will put a very specific interpretation on those facts. That interpretation is that primitives are pedophilic, incestuous child molesters. This isn’t something which is cooked up by deMause’s model.

Academic 2: I am unimpressed by your hysterical claim that 99% of our society would agree with this. My claim is that people in different cultures describe things differently. The issue for me is, what do Marquesans, or Yolngu, or Gimi, or whomever, think it is? An article that makes claims about a particular society must care what members of that society claim is going on.

Ark: The interpretation of child abuse in the case of infants is acultural. Infants do not have culture so are incapable of “interpreting” anything through a cultural filter. And yet again, you persist in ignoring the child’s point of view, as if the rationalization of the child abuser mattered to them. You’re promoting a very specific POV [point of view], the one of the child molester, and don’t seem to care at all about the POV of the infant. Only anthropologists care about how the members of the primitive culture rationalize their behaviors. Anthropologists are just very bizarre people, and about as relevant to most people’s view of what constitutes child molestation as experts in the paranormal. The relevant experts in the area are developmental psychologists. There is a substantial faction that regards any kind of sexual activity with children to be inherently abusive. They would reject the anthropologists’ claims that cultural attitudes are at all relevant to the matter. They would rather emphasize the universality and uniformity of children’s emotional needs. At the center of this faction are the likes of Alice Miller. There is another faction that traces its lineage all the way to Freud. When possible, it denies that child abuse exists. When it can’t do that it denies that it is traumatic. And when it can’t do that, it denies that it is inherently traumatic.

Academic 3: The purpose of anthropology is to describe culture, not judge it. If an anthropologist judges a culture under study, the ability to describe a culture objectively and explain how it is perceived by its members is lost.

Ark: Anthropologists widely report that primitives do not see their practices as abusive or sexual. I have no hesitation agreeing with that. But then, neither do typical pedophiles see their practices as abusive either. So the basic idea is to completely steal the psychology and childrearing of non-Western cultures (contemporary and historical) away from anthropologists. If that happens, then theories about these phenomena will be held to different standards than theories in anthropology. Anthropologists are trained to ignore that tool.

Academic 3: Ah, so you’re an opponent of cultural relativism. I don’t consider North European values to be “more advanced,” just different. There’s a difference between considering a set of values to be more amenable to one’s conscience and labeling one set of values as “more advanced” than another. That’s like implying that a Papuan is dumber than a European just because his culture doesn’t use electricity. Anthropologists do regularly debate how much they can or should interfere when they disagree strongly with the values of a culture under study. Ethically, all we can do is present viable options and allow individuals to make their own choices and suffer the consequences of those choices.

Ark: But Papuans are dumber than Europeans because they don’t use electricity :) [sic]. You just have to ask “why do we use electricity?” We use it because we have a high population density and a high technological level. Why is that? Because we are culturally evolved. Why is that? Because at some point a couple of millennia ago, our ancestors decided to stop murdering their children and start evolving culturally. Of course, that only proves the Papuans are dumb, not that we’re smart; we’re just the product of a long line of smarter mothers.

Academic 3: What you are proposing is a form of genocide: systematically destroying a culture simply because you consider that culture to be primitive and immoral. If lip piercing, or trauma to the brain leads to successful adult lives, is that not sufficient justification for continuing the practice? You sound to me as if you are a “moral absolutist.” I’d hazard a guess that you believe everyone should live under the same moral code.

Ark: Just because I’m a moral absolutist doesn’t mean I think I have a perfect access to moral truth. It does mean that I have a far, far better understanding of basic moral truths than people who beat or sexually abuse kids. We could emphasize that anthropologists don’t really try to understand their subjects’ psyche. It’s not moral assumptions which differ between societies. It’s the capacity for empathy and rationality.

Academic 3: The anthropologist in me, on the other hand, still bemoans yet another drop added to the overflowing bucket of human cultures is forever lost.

Ark: The primitive cultures are a failure. We should let them die.

Academic 4: Good—as long as we all understand that psychohistory has nothing to do with history and is not even accepted by all schools of psychology. I think that there’s a real problem here in that the entire concept as titled [“Early infanticidal childrearing,” the title of the Wikipedia article] makes no sense. The title implies that these cultures intentionally endanger and kill their children: something that makes no sense for peoples who want to survive and which, if these cultures still exist after thousands of years, is clearly misleading.

Ark: I’ve chosen to take extreme offense at what you’ve said, e.g., “psychohistory has nothing to do with history,” and will treat you like a hostile. I really wish I didn’t have to deal with people who say stupid things. For example, things that amount to “every human being is rational and since it’s not rational to kill children…” This negates the overwhelming evidence that infanticide occurs. Never mind such truly stupid statements like “preliterate hunter-gatherer tribes are those most concerned with basic survival.” Oh really, I guess that explains why they never developed any technology in order to guarantee their survival. (Never mind such annoying facts like beliefs in reincarnation, animism and ancestor-worship.)

Academic 5: Ark, play nice. Julie Hofmann Kemp [Academic 4] is many things, can even be abrasive sometimes, but acting “stupid” (I see you modified the “idiot” statement)? That’s over the top. She is one of the smartest people contributing to Wikipedia. This is an encyclopedia, not a soap box for new ideas. Sorry, but regurgitation of the canon of human knowledge is what we do here.

Academic 6: I disagree, Maveric [Academic 5]. One of the things that makes Wikipedia different from a standard encyclopedia is our ability to reflect new thinking. Now, the whole that deMause put together and Ark is advertising here is striking, but I think that you will find most of the individual points are not nearly as radical or contrary to current understanding as you seem to present. To begin with, there are many people who would reject cultural relativism. The first example that comes to mind are the women’s historians which have become increasingly common, but a proper search shouldn’t have trouble coming up with others. Further, the idea of the noble savage is very controversial, and one should hardly consider it some sort of canon.

With regards to infanticide per se, I personally have very little knowledge about the Paleolithic, but that deliberate murder or abandonment of infants was common among ancient civilizations like Carthage, Greece, and Rome is well-known, and I can remember a mainstream text mentioning Mohammed’s prohibitions against the then-widespread killing of children without any implication that might be controversial. In absence of further data, a backwards trendline would be all it takes to suggest that Paleolithic infanticide was very common indeed. And I can recall articles suggesting that tribal cannibalism, to take the most headline-grabbing example, was far more common than previously thought. In short, I think this position is not nearly outlandish enough to deserve such curt rejection. An informative and lasting page on this would be valuable enough.

Academic 7: Note that the definition of rape and molestation vary among cultures.

Ark: Rape and molestation do vary among cultures. This is bad. Cultural relativism is crap, believed only by idiots, ignoramuses, anthropologists and historians. The Convention on the Rights of the Child explicitly rejects cultural relativism. Cultural relativists are merely denying human rights. (On a moral level, they are still violating human rights.) Anthropology and history have achieved nothing, or close to nothing. The reason anthropology and history are fucked is because they reject psychology and that is the only possible explanation for both culture and history.

For psychological reasons, anthropologists have been butchering psych-heavy data; on the whole, the data is irretrievably corrupt and needs to be junked. Psychohistory is independent of both history and psychology. It is at war with both. As the new kid on the bloc, it’s going to get attacked as “simply not recognized by most historians and psychologists.” But psychohistory actually gets results. There is no rational argument against psychohistory’s methods. Conservatism is not a rational argument. And as noted above, there are plenty of arguments against both history and anthropology (i.e., they deny psychology’s influence even in psychological phenomena). Like cartography or natural history, anthropology and history aren’t sciences per se. Cartography was never anything more than an engineering enterprise (though it did give rise to plate tectonics) and when the time came, natural history gave way to evolutionary biology. Similarly, anthropology and history should give way to psychohistory wherever the latter is interested in taking over.

Academic 2: To those who promote the myth of the brutal savage, I point out that Westerners have often characterized non-Western practices as stupid, unhealthy, or wrong in part out of their own ignorance, and in part to justify colonial oppression.

Ark: The savage savage isn’t a myth. What do I mean by the “savage savage”? I do not mean by it that we aren’t savages. That is a notion you rightly reject because any article attacking modern people as savages will be destroyed. What I do claim is that modern societies are less savage than societies in the past. That’s most certainly not a myth. And to argue otherwise is to promote the noble savage myth. If you have an absolute standard of morality, there is no choice other than the savage savage or the noble savage (as long as you don’t redefine rape and murder as non-violent behaviors, which by now I don’t trust you not to do). Whether deliberately or unwittingly, you have been promoting the noble savage myth. To recap: Primitives, in relation to modern people can be either: 1. equally savage (obviously untrue) 2. differently savage (cultural relativism) 3. less savage (noble savage) 4. more savage (savage savage). So rejecting options #2 and #3 leaves one only with #4. There is no maneuvering room for anyone to weasel around.

Academic 3: And this is where you and I differ. I generally contend that all present-day cultures are essentially “differently savage.”

It is unnecessary to quote Ark’s long response. The academics’ stance has already been refuted in the previous chapters. But I would like to mention a newspaper note about an atrocity in Kismayo, at the south of Somalia.

On October 27 of 2008 Aisha Ibrahim Duhulow, a thirteen-year-old girl that had been raped, was accused of premarital sex by militant Islamists and condemned to die by stoning in the head. (However incredible, there are people who punish the victim of rape, not the rapist: the hypothetical nightmare of my second book turned reality.) Most disturbing in the press release is that dozens of men stoned Aisha in a stadium with a thousand spectators! What better example to clear away any doubts about the relevancy of the concept of a manifestly inferior psychoclass to ours.

Academic 3: Uhm, as I understand it, most casual murders recognize that their actions are considered morally “wrong.” They just don’t care.

Ark: Morality is a psychological phenomenon. It refers to a person’s capacity for empathy. It’s difficult to describe empathy since nobody has a good grip on what it means. But of course, that’s the point: if a person has no morality then they don’t have any of these emotions. Keep in mind that our very ability to accept social and technological progress at the rate we’re going is something which primitives lack. And we’ve yet to annihilate a foreign nation (as the Assyrians did) to pay for that progress. This too is a genuine advance.

Academic 3: Yeah, but India and Pakistan came awfully close last month.

Ark: India and Pakistan have societies that are at least two centuries behind the times in relation to the Northern European countries.

Academic 4: Ark: in the interests of fairness, I went ahead and looked at the deMause article. Basically, it can be digested into one Philip Larkin poem. Big Whoop. Parents fuck up their kids. We know that. There is absolutely nothing there besides that fact that is provable. It is a mass of huge generalizations predicated on two simple ideas: violence begets violence (duh) and everything that happens is down to psychology. Yes, there are references to acts of violence by parents (particularly mothers) against children, but we don’t get to see the breadth of the studies to show what kind of population was used, etc. I stand by my statement that most historians reject psychohistory not because we feel threatened by it, but because most historians believe that human society is complex and filled with individuals who may act in particular ways for any number of reasons. Generally reductionism is not provable—merely a simplistic way for the insecure to find meaning.

Ark: You dismiss the article I cited because it doesn’t provide concrete proof against history’s “no explanations” stance. Well so fucking what? I never claimed it did. I merely claimed it crucified history as a scientific field and historians as scientists by showing that the theories historians entertain are all unbelievably idiotic. If you wanted a detailed theory and the evidence to back it up, you’d have to read half a dozen of deMause’s books on the subject. You haven’t provided a single remotely intelligent argument, satisfying yourself with irrelevancies and vague aspersions (this is what you call “fair”?). If you stand by your statement on that basis, it just proves you’re an idiot. I dismiss you from my consideration.

Anonymous: Will someone please ban ARK? His non-stop slander, personal attacks, and foul language are damaging the Wikipedia community.

Academic 4: I would happily do so, but being a ranting troll who supports crank theories in an anti-social way isn’t enough for a ban. He is correct in his assertion that deMause’s theories deserve their own article—even if he’s amazingly rude in the way he treats others, and his insults towards me.

To that end, Ark, You haven’t convinced anyone that you’re anything but a crank who thinks he’s far more intelligent than he’s demonstrated so far.

Ark: I have a pretty good grasp on what history is and what it is not. As for psychology, you’re wrong about its scientific basis. Overall, it’s a fucked field but it’s one that has always aspired to be scientific.

As for psychohistory, it is not a fucked field. These two facts (history not being science and psychohistory being science) explain why I’m so eager to dismiss history. Why should scientists be subjected to the authority of non-scientists? The same arguments apply to anthropology, and doubly so when the psyches of primitives are concerned. Convincing people was never my goal, I’m too lazy and people are too bigoted for that. As for people thinking I’m a crank, I’m a power unto myself and I haven’t need for their approval nor favour. I’m just not interested in being the whipping boy on this subject. Fuck you all.

With this rant the psychohistorian who signed his posts under the penname of Ark left the discussion page. Perhaps with the exception of Academic 6, his opponents did not want to see that the childrearing modes of our western roots, the Greco-Roman world and the Judeo-Christian tradition, have been less barbarous than those of the rest of the world.

It was not always so. We started like the others. Let us remember the sacrifice of Iphigenia by her father Agamemnon, and a similar sacrifice in the Bible: after victory over the Ammonites, according to the Book of Judges, Jephthah makes a vow to sacrifice whoever came out of the doors of his house to meet him. The one who met him on his return was his only daughter…

Notwithstanding that we initiated like everybody else, the power of the West lies not only in the fact that the white people have comparatively high IQs, but that both Judeo-Christians and Greco-Romans gave up the practice of sacrificing their children. What remained in Europe was a mere metaphor of such sacrifice. Robert Godwin hit the nail when stating that Christianity’s unconscious message is that when we murder our innocent child we murder God. “The crucifixion of Jesus is meant to be the last human sacrifice, with Jesus standing in for our own murdered innocence.”




The Boasian Regression

History can be horrible. But historians
can sometimes be horribler.

—Terry Deary

Human beings tend to idealize their parents and carry the burden of the sins of the world: Passover lambs for the unrecognized ills in the parent. This self-reproach for supposed wrongdoing is due to the perennial problem, still unresolved in our species, of the attachment to the perpetrator. The mantras the cultural relativist uses arguing with the psychohistorian is that it is unfair to judge an ancient culture with contemporary standards, or that in those times not even the sacrifice of infants was considered wicked. As Ark pointed out above, this standpoint rationalizes the perpetrator’s behavior at the expense of the victim. It is a no brainer that it must have been as infernal for a Carthaginian boy in Jesus’ times that his father delivered him to the priests to be incinerated alive, as a parent who burns his child’s face to the point of completely disfiguring him, as we read in the most alarming paper news. In other words, psychohistory is based upon the empathy to the children of all times. The unconscious motivation of many anthropologists, on the other hand, has been to exonerate both the parents of former ages and the non-western cultures of today.

The debate between Ark and the academics could not be understood without taking note of some attitudes in the profession when anthropologists defend the validity of any culture and negate an absolute evaluation unless it is done within the standards of that culture. It was not always so. In the nineteenth century the opposite school dominated British anthropology. Anthropologists argued, in a similar vein to contemporary psychohistorians, that all societies passed through the same evolutionary process, and that non-Europeans were living fossils that could be studied to understand Europe’s past, categorizing the diverse cultures in a progressive set of values from savage, barbarian to civilized. Universal progress was postulated: a sort of unilineal set of values where religion and paleologic thought gave up ground to Aristotelian logic and rational thought, with the subsequent development of social institutions. The difference of this model with psychohistory is that these first anthropologists did not use childrearing as parameter, but technology since the Stone Age to the modern age, passing through the Iron and Bronze Ages.


Franz Boas

The Jewish-German immigrant Franz Boas, the “father” of American anthropology, managed to shift the paradigm. Boasian anthropology considered erroneous the premise that religion had to be defined, historically, more primitive than reason (the opposite to what Arieti says about his schizophrenic patients: that paleologic thought should be considered inferior to the Aristotelian). Boasian relativism resists universal judgments of any kind. All of the work by Boas and his disciples began as a direct opposition to the evolutionary perspective, and with time it became an orthodoxy. Although in the United States there was an attempt to revive the evolutionist ideas in the 1950s and 60s, after Vietnam virtually every anthropologist subscribed to the ideology of cultural relativism: a school that in the academy became, more than an orthodoxy, axiomatic; and its proponents, staunch supporters of non-western cultures. This relativism, with its vehement phobia to “western ethnocentrism” did not only become the most influential anthropology school originated in the United States, but the dogmatic principle of this international discipline. In its most extreme version it even considers legitimate, say, the cutting of the clitoris in Africa or the Indian caste system, since relativists do not believe that the human rights proclaimed in the West can circumscribe the standards of other cultures.

A principle that, for the popular mind, apparently originated as a tolerant attitude is being used to find excuses for intolerance. In fact, since the declarations of the anthropologist Melville Jean Herskovits by the end of the 1940s, his colleagues left the political debates of human rights. Unlike their ultra-liberal colleagues, the anthropologist has great difficulties to fight for the rights of the native Indians or the black women in South Africa before their husbands. The stupendous irony is that the anthropologists sell the idea that they are sympathizers of the Third World peoples, though the undeniable fact is that they rejected the initiative for the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women in the United Nations in 1979. The 1996 team-work Growing Up: A Cross-cultural Encyclopedia, where dozens of anthropologists offered their studies about eighty-seven cultures, is symptomatic. Although they admit that sexual contacts between adults and children is common, including those of the incestuous mothers, they declare that it “would not constitute ‘abuse’ if in that society the behavior was not proscribed.” However, as the academic who sympathized with Ark said, not all anthropologists agree with Boas. Carolyn Fluehr-Lobban confessed that, after twenty-five years of having conducted ethnological research in Sudan, she betrayed her profession by siding those who fight against female genital cutting. She mentioned the case of a Nigerian woman who was granted asylum in the United States since her daughter would have been subjected to involuntary cutting if she returned home. The compulsion to recreate on the next generation the wounds received in infancy is such that in 2010 genital mutilation continues. Despite of their theoretical statements to the public, in practice many ethnologists, anthropologists and indigenistas still cling to the Boasian paradigm.

A single example will illustrate it. In September of 2007 the Museo del Templo Mayor, a subsidiary of the Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia, organized a seminary in Mexico under the name “New Perspectives on Human Sacrifice Among the Mexicas.” Twenty-eight specialists were invited. According to the national press the Mexican archeologist Leonardo López Luján, who would coordinate the proceedings book of the papers, stated that it was advisable to distance ourselves “from the Hispanists who consider bloody and savage” the sacrificial practice. López Luján presented the paper “Huitzilopochtli and the Sacrifice of Children in Tenochtitlan’s Templo Mayor” (that is, in the Great Pyramid of Tenochtitlan). Among the professionals from abroad who participated were institutions such as Cambridge and the French National Center for Scientific Research. The Mexican Juan Alberto Román presented the conference, “The Role of Infants in the Mexica Sacrificial Practices,” and in a pseudo-eugenicist discourse López Luján stated: “Undernourished children [my emphasis] were sacrificed to eliminate the population that was a burden for the society.” (Take heed what Ark responded to the historian about administering pap to the child: a slow form of infanticide that suggest they were not undernourished by casualty.) Marie-Areti Hers, from the National Autonomous University of Mexico—campus that the UNESCO declared a World Heritage Site the very week that the symposium was celebrated—, stated that human sacrifice was everything except “an exotic curiosity of backward peoples.”

I contacted Julieta Riveroll, the reporter who covered the event for Reforma and author of the article “Human Sacrifice Prejudices—Demolished.” I asked her if among the speakers of the conference tables she attended someone condemned the deadly ritual. Emphatically she responded “No,” that they were “objective experts.” I mention the anecdote because that word, “objective” is the most abused word in academic circles, as we already saw in one of the answers of the academics to Ark. Let us imagine that, among some reporters of the Holocaust, to keep objectivity one must refrain from condemning genocide. Obviously, this does not happen: the Nazi regime is broadly condemned. But the double standard of allowing criticism of westerners, but virtually forbidding criticism of non-westerners, is brazen. The month that followed the symposium, in the same Mexico City where the symposium was celebrated the police caught the serial killer José Luis Calva, the “cannibal poet” that horrified the Mexican citizenry. In one of his poems Calva wrote to one of his victims a poem worthy of the ancient Mexicans:

You handed over your parts to me
Your breath, your nails and your longings.
You dressed me of you and I was your bird,
Sing your song that never quiets.

Naturally, unlike the Mexicas who did exactly the same this man was condemned by the elites.

On the other side of the Atlantic the Europeans deform reality too. In 2008 I visited the museum and archaeological park Cueva Pintada in the town Gáldar of Gran Canaria. The screened documental in the museum denoted the purest Manichaeism. Despite recognizing the widespread infanticide of girls among the tribes, the conquerors appear as the bad guys and the inhabitants of the troglodyte settlement as the noble savages victimized by the sixteenth-century Europeans. Similarly, in another museum, El Museo Canario, the following year I looked up through an academic text the subject of infanticide of these pre-Hispanic white people (curiously, they were blonder than the Spanish even though they were barely leaving behind the Neolithic stage). Just as the mentioned María Alba Pastor who saw in the Mexican sacrifices “a reaction to the Conquest,” three Spanish academics postulated that the Canary sacrifice could have been the consequence “of the ongoing military, religious and cultural aggression” inflicted by the conquerors. (*) This interpretation ignores the fact that the practice predated the arrival of the Spaniards, and demonstrates once more the relevancy of analyzing these grotesque cognitive inversions with the tool known as the Corollary to Lawrence Auster’s First Law, albeit extrapolated to an anthropological setting.

Unlike these documentaries that blame westerners for the sins of non-westerners, I shall quote the first letters about the practice of infanticide in the seven Canary Islands. The following description comes from Diego Gómez de Cintra, a Portuguese navigator that wrote what he saw in La Palma:

The father and the mother grab the child and put the head on a rock and take another rock and hit the child on the head shattering the skull, and thus they kill the child, his eyes and brains scattered on the soil, which is a great cruelty of the parents.

Conversely, on page 166 of the mentioned article contemporary academics side the parents by claiming, “The adoption of such an extreme measure is fully justified.” Once the new generations break away from this immoral anthropology, the slaughtering of children will be seen, again, with due compassion as felt by the first chroniclers.

In the case of Mestizo America, and this is important to understand the organizers of the 2007 symposium, the Latin American anthropologists were the first ones to embrace the cause of cultural relativism. In fact, the anthropologists have influenced more the society in “Latin” America than in other societies. This is partly explained by the ethnological tradition since Bernardino de Sahagún and Bartolomé de Las Casas. In the twentieth century the study and the glorification of the Indian cultures, called indigenismo, has been the predominant framework of anthropological studies in Latin America. In the particular case of Mexico, since 1917 the government was the first one to recognize the utility of anthropology. Subsequently working for the government the anthropologists have tried to implement their policies on the Indian population.

The irony of this social movement is that it is impossible to safeguard the rights of the Indians through idealizing their past—and even more impossible by keeping secret their current dark side, which prevents the implementation of policies of demographic reduction so pressing for these peoples. The stance of many anthropologists is similar to an hypothetical psychiatry where the therapists under the slogan of “Let Us Understand, Not Judge,” shared the worldview of their serial-killer patient. Just as the mind of such a killer, a culture is no more than a defense mechanism: a solution to keep in line the anxieties that parents pass on from a generation to another. In the Mesoamerican case, the symbol of the voracious sun [cf. previous chapter] is the demanding parent; and the transference of guilt toward the scapegoats on the sacrificial stone, an hypertrophied superego that displaces its hate to block one’s own emotion toward the abusive authoritative figure.

The bottom line is that psychohistory teaches us that there are cultures better than others; cultures that place less stumbling blocks for the individual to unfold his potential. To say that all cultures are equal is like saying that all families are equally sane, or equally dysfunctional.

—————

* Julio Cuenca Sanabria, Antonio Betancor Rodríguez & Guillermo Rivero López: “La práctica del infanticidio femenino como método de control natal entre los aborígenes canarios: las evidencias arqueológicas en Cendro, Telde, Gran Canaria,” El Museo Canario, LI [Number of the journal #51], 1996, p. 124 (fifty pages later the authors repeat this interpretation). In spite of the fact that the long title takes for granted that the etiology of the practice was “birth control,” the same article publishes sentences of some authors who doubt the validity of that explanation.





A critique of Lloyd deMause

I had promised to do the criticism of the weak side of deMause’s theory. Henry Ebel wrote that in psychohistory Lloyd deMause stands out among his epigones as a locomotive singlehandedly tugging those who publish in his journal: all of them moving only thanks to a motor that is not theirs. Ebel had complained about the congresses of psychohistory even before I learnt of their existence. However, no sooner I initiated my study of deMause’s texts I realized that both Ebel and deMause were human. All too human…


A string of nonsensical claims

One of the most cockeyed theories of deMause is that the warfare fantasies of political leaders and the media in times of war reflect childbirth traumas. Even Alice Miller has criticized this specific theory. In the first chapter I had mentioned Glenn Davis as one of the first disciples of deMause: a young man that committed suicide after the rejection he faced in the university, but I omitted a juicy anecdote. When Davis was doing his oral examination for his doctoral thesis, Stanley Renshon, a member of the committee, fired a question at Davis about something he had written following deMause’s theories: “It says in your book, ‘Groups go to war in order to overcome the helplessness and terror of being trapped in a birth canal’.” People laughed all around the table. What I find it fascinating is that, decades after Davis’ suicide, deMause still does not perceive the bad reputation that this sort of theories that he originated cause in his most serious readers.

In the issue of Spring of 2007 the Journal of Psychohistory published “The Conquistador and the Virgin Mary” by Madeleine Gómez. The article is an authentic string of nonsensical claims. According to this psychohistorian, in the Spanish conquest of the empires Mexica and Inca “the birth trauma was reenacted with few variations,” and on the next page she adds that the endeavor to conquer the seas in each exploration voyage are but “attempts to surmount the birth trauma.” After putting Cortés and the rest of the Spaniards as the villains of the story, Madeleine informs us that in the war for Tenochtitlan “the drumbeats in the air” can “easily be associated to the fetal heartbeat.” And writing on the denunciation by Fray Francisco de Aguilar about the Indian sacrifices, she interprets that “it was easier to project upon the other…” That is, if the chronicler is shocked of the sacrifices, that only conceals the projections of his own European wickedness. Summarizing her interpretation of the Conquest, Madeleine writes: “There was arduous time spent in a womb-like mother ship, with subsequent rebirth upon reaching shore.” These analytic interpretations remind me the worst nonsense by Freud recounted in my second book. The psychohistorian concludes that the Spaniards were “abusive, devaluing of women and children” without mentioning in the slightest the sacrifices of children and the cannibalism in Mesoamerica.

Something similar can be said of deMause’s own views about the human placenta, a theory that he calls “The fetal origins of history.” Such importance he gives to this theory that he devoted the cover illustration of his book Foundations of Psychohistory to it. In an e-mail I asked deMause what did he mean with the eight-headed dragon that appears on the cover. DeMause informed me that there were seven heads (the drawing is ambiguous), “a placental beast” that he relates with terrifying unconscious motivations.


Satanic Ritual Abuse

The confusion of my feelings about deMause—lucubration such as those are psychobabble but deMause’s authentic discoveries are the great lighthouse for the humanities—moved me to annotate each cognitive error I encountered in his legacy.

In 1994 deMause devoted more than a whole issue of his journal to one of the scandals originated in his country that destroyed the reputation of many innocent adults: claims of multiple victims, multiple perpetrators during occult rites in daycare centers for children, known as “Satanic Ritual Abuse” or SRA. I was so intrigued by the subject that, when I read deMause’s article “Why Cults Terrorize and Kill Children” I devoted a few months of my life to research the subject by reading, printing and discussing in the internet: material that would fill up the thickest ring-binder that I possess. I also purchased a copy of a book on SRA published by Princeton University. My objective was to ascertain whether the man whom I had been taking as a sort of mentor had gone astray. My suspicions turned to be justified, and even worse: by inviting the foremost believers of SRA to publish in his journal, deMause directly contributed to the creation of an urban myth.

The collective hysteria known as SRA originated with the publication of a 1980 sensationalist book, Michelle Remembers. Michelle claimed that Satan himself appeared to her and wounded her body, but that an archangel healed it. In the mentioned article deMause wrote credulous passages about other fantastic claims by Michelle, and added that the people who ran certain daycare centers in the 1980s put the children in boxes and cages “as symbolic wombs.” DeMause then speculated that “they hang them upside down, the position of fetuses” and that “they drink victim’s blood as fetuses ‘drink’ placental blood,” in addition to force children to “drink urine” and “eat feces as some do during birth.” DeMause also referred to secret tunnels that, he wrote, existed beneath the daycare centers: “They often hold their rituals in actual tunnels.” In fact, those tunnels never existed. In Evil Incarnate: Rumors of Demonic Conspiracy and Ritual Abuse in History, published in 2006, professor David Frankfurter wrote about deMause’s article: “In this way a contemporary writer can assemble a theory of ritual power to explain rituals that have no forensic evidence.”

This is the sort of thing that, in Wikipedia’s talk page about psychohistory, culminates with rants like the one that I rescued before another editor deleted it: “Don’t ever listen to this lunatic!” (deMause). It is true that Colin Ross is another gullible believer of SRA, as seen in a book in whose afterword Elizabeth Loftus disagrees with him. But since the mid-1990s the phenomenon was discredited to such degree that sociologists, criminologists and police officials recognized what it was: a witch-hunt that led to prison and ruined the lives of many adults. The movie Indictment: The McMartin Trial, sponsored by Oliver Stone and based on the most notorious of these hunts, sums up what I mean. Using invasive techniques for adults in the interrogation of little kids, therapists of the McMartin case and other kindergartens obtained confessions full of fantasies: that the children had been abducted and taken through a network of tunnels to a hidden cave under the school; that they flew in the air and saw giraffes, lions and the killing of a rabbit to be returned to their unsuspecting parents in the daycare center. Kyle Zirpolo was one of the McMartin children. A twenty-nine in 2005, several years after the trial, Zirpolo confessed to reporters that as a child he had been pressured to lie:

Anytime I would give them an answer that they didn’t like, they would ask again and encourage me to give them the answer they were looking for. It was really obvious what they wanted… I felt uncomfortable and a little ashamed that I was being dishonest. But at the same time, being the type of person I was, whatever my parents wanted me to do, I would do.

In its heyday in the 1980s and early 90s, and in some ways similar to the Salem witch trials of 1692, SRA allegations reached grotesque levels. Proponents argued that an intergenerational group of families raised and kidnapped babies and children in an international conspiracy that had infiltrated the police and the professions of lawyers and doctors. Conspiracy theorists claimed that the FBI and the CIA were involved to discredit the veracity of the phenomenon. The allegations ranged from brainwashing and necrophilia, kidnapping, sexual abuse and child pornography, to black masses and ritual killings of animals and thousands of people every year. In the McMartin case they talked about children washed away when the perpetrator pulled the toilet chain taking them to hidden rooms where they would be molested; orgies in carwash business, and even flying witches. Needless to say, no forensic evidence was found to support such claims.

After the legal catastrophe that McMartin and several other cases represented, small children have not been questioned with the aggressive techniques that led them to fantasize so wildly. Nowadays there is no witch-hunting going on in the U.S., UK or Australia caused by coercive techniques of fanatics that induce either false memories or outright lies (like Zirpolo’s) to please therapist and parent. However, despite the consensus in 21st century’s sociology and criminology—that SRA was a case of moral panic about which there is no forensic evidence—, deMause did not change his view. The work that describes his thinking more broadly, The Emotional Life of Nations published in 2002 and recently translated into German, contains a brief passage where he still regards SRA as something real.


Revisiting Zweig

I do not regret having compared deMause with Newton [previous chapter]. In the days when deMause disappointed me I watched the film The New World starring Colin Farrell and Christopher Plummer. It bothered me greatly the myth of the noble savage when Farrell’s voice in off says the following about an idyllic village of American Indians:

They are gentle, loving, faithful, lacking in all guile and trickery. The words denoting lying, deceit, greed, envy, slander, and forgiveness have never been heard. They have no jealousy, no sense of possession. Real, what I thought a dream.

At than moment Farrell plays with a few naked, happy Indian children outdoors. Of course, historic reality was not so bucolic. Remember the photo of the little Indian boy swaddled by their parents at the beginning of this book? This was a very common practice among those tribes. I felt Hollywood’s falsifying of reality so insulting that I left the theatre. Psychohistory also made me to get reconciled with Spain after almost a lifetime of hating her because of the conservative culture of the Tort family which had hurt me so much as a boy. I owe much to deMause for having awakened me to the fact that the earlier Amerindian culture was incomparably more brutal, both for children and for adults (women included).

Isaac Newton is the paradigm par excellence of scientific genius. He invented calculus, discovered the law of gravity, enumerated the laws of motion and showed that light is a mixture of colors. His findings not only revolutionized physics but also finally cracked down the pedestal on which Europe had Aristotle. Europe discovered her genius in Newton: a psychoclass comparable to that of the best Greek minds began to evolve in the 17th century.

The self-esteem that the European scientific mind recovered after Newton is difficult to overestimate. But very few know that after his third year of life Isaac’s mother abandoned him to the house of the grandmother: something that borders on what deMause calls the abandoning mode of childrearing. Newton’s biographers know that the child suffered this betrayal greatly. In order to burn his agony, in his early twenties he turned his mind into science. At twenty-six Newton had already discovered all of the mentioned above and even more. However, since at that time there were no survivor forums to vent the anger he felt for his mother and stepfather, Newton suffered a severe depression.

When he recovered he lost his mind: he dedicated the rest of his life to alchemy and fundamentalist theology. His manuscripts on these topics sum millions of words: incomparably more than the Principia Mathematica that Newton had written in his youth. He collected a hundred and fifty books on alchemy and tried to turn metal into gold. Newton always believed in a personal God—nothing like the God of Spinoza—; in the literal narrative of Adam and Eve, the existence of the devil and in hell. From this fundamentalist view Newton estimated the age of the world in some 3,500 years before his age and invested a huge amount of time to interpret the books of Daniel and the Apocalypse of John. He thought he had cracked the cipher of both books just as he had deciphered the laws of planetary motion. “It is sad,” writes Martin Gardner, “to envision the discoveries in mathematics and physics Newton might have made if his great intellect had not been diverted by such bizarre speculations.” When Newton died, it was found in his body large amounts of mercury: a poisoning resulting from his alchemical experiments.

However, the difference between Newton and deMause is considerable. Unlike Newton, deMause blended his brilliant Principia to his lunatic Alchimia under the same covers. DeMause’s major works where he did not collaborate with other authors, Foundations of Psychohistory, The Emotional Life of Nations and The Origins of War in Child Abuse are a mixture of historical science with pseudoscience; unprecedented discoveries about the history of the human soul with grotesque lunacies. Like Newton, deMause was terribly abused as a child. On page 136 of his journal, in the Fall 2007 issue he confesses that when his father beat him with a razor strap, as a way to escape he hallucinated that he floated to the ceiling. And on the first page of Foundations deMause writes: “I, like Hitler, have been a beaten, frightened child and a resentful youth. I recognize him in myself, and with some courage can feel in my own guts the terrors he felt…” The key phrase in this passage is “some courage,” not the full courage that I now discharge around in my books. After that line of Foundations deMause’s soul disappears and his theories à la Newton appear: his brilliant insights eye to eye with his string of nonsensical claims.

From the point of view of the psychogenesis that he himself discovered, deMause’s main error is the error of psychoanalysts. Losing his mind was due to the fact that he failed to delve deeper into the wounds of his inner self. DeMause’s work, inspired by political sociology and analytical treatises, worships the intellect at the expense of autobiographical insight. One objective of this work is to break away from this intellectual limitation and unconfessional, academic literature.

Half a century before the publication of Julian Jaynes’s book, Stefan Zweig wrote in Adepts in Self-Portraiture that when Western literature began with Hesiod and Heraclitus it was still poetry, and of the inevitability of a decline in the mythopoetic talent of Greece when a more Aristotelian thought evolved. As compensation for this loss, says Zweig, modern man obtained with the novel an approach to a science of the mind. But the novel genre does not represent the ultimate degree of self-knowledge:

Autobiography is the hardest of all forms of literary art. Why, then, do new aspirants, generation after generation, try to solve this almost insoluble problem?

[For a] honest autobiography […] he must have a combination of qualities which will hardly be found once in a million instances. To expect perfect sincerity on self-portraiture would be as absurd as to expect absolute justice, freedom, and perfection here on earth. No doubt the pseudo-confession, as Goethe called it, confession under the rose, in the diaphanous veil of novel or poem, is much easier, and is often far more convincing from the artistic point of view, than an account with no assumption of reserve. Autobiography, precisely because it requires, not truth alone, but naked truth, demands from the artist an act of peculiar heroism; for the autobiographer must play the traitor to himself.

Only a ripe artist, one thoroughly acquainted with the workings of the mind, can be successful here. This is why psychological self-portraiture has appeared so late among the arts, belonging exclusively to our own days and those yet to come. Man had to discover continents, to fathom his seas, to learn his language, before he could turn his gaze inward to explore the universe of his soul. Classical antiquity had as yet no inkling of these mysterious paths. Caesar and Plutarch, the ancients who describe themselves, are content to deal with facts, with circumstantial happenings, and never dream of showing more than the surface of their hearts. […]

Many centuries were to pass before Rousseau (that remarkable man who was a pioneer in so many fields) was to draw a self-portrait for its own sake, and was to be amazed and startled at the novelty of his enterprise. Stendhal, Hebbel, Kierkegaard, Tolstoy, Amiel, the intrepid Hans Jaeger, have disclosed unsuspected realms of self-knowledge by self-portraiture. Their successors, provided with more delicate implements of research, will be able to penetrate stratum by stratum, room by room, farther and yet farther into our new universe, into the depths of the human mind.

This quote explains why I decided to devise a hybrid genre between the self-portraiture that betrays the author (as I betrayed myself in La India Chingada) and that penetrates beyond the strata pondered by Romantic autobiographers (like Carta a mamá Medusa and the fifth book of Hojas Susurrantes) while presenting at the same time a unified field for the findings of Alice Miller and Lloyd deMause.


Playing the fool

So far I have focused my criticism on the crank aspects of Lloyd’s legacy. In the remainder of the chapter I shall discuss, in addition to the psychohistorians’ crackpot ideas, their moral faults.

It is not apparent that Lloyd has read Tom Szasz or other very well known critics of Sigmund Freud. This is fundamental for a true psychohistory. As we saw in the discussion of Ark, there are two camps in depth psychology: the deniers of the after-effects of psychological trauma who can be traced back to Freud, and those who recognize the toll led by Alice Miller.

Unlike Ark, deMause never broke completely away from his psychoanalytic roots. The logo of his website has the symbol of a globe on an analyst’s couch, and the written presentation of the International Psychohistorical Association mentions the pioneering work of Freud, Reich and Fromm, informing us that psychohistorians come from many fields, including psychoanalysis and psychiatry. It is true that deMause is anything but an orthodox psychoanalyst, but it is extremely annoying that he mentions Freud while ignoring the amount of criticism that has been written about him. As we have seen [I refer to a section of my second book], Freud took sides with the parents against their children, while deMause presents himself to his readers as a defender of children.

The lack of the most basic knowledge about the critics of Freudism makes deMause write about claims that have been abandoned. For example, Freud’s vision of Leonardo da Vinci has been refuted decades ago. On page 173 of Foundations of Psychohistory deMause candidly mentions the Freudian study of da Vinci as if the ongoing refutations had never been published. It is important to mention that when deMause was going to graduate, in his youthful infatuation with psychoanalysis he wanted to insert Freudian ideas in his doctorate of political science. It is understandable that his tutors at Columbia University prevented it. DeMause never obtained his doctorate. Many years later, in the article “The Universality of Incest” deMause even sided Freud against Alice Miller and the most articulate critic of Freud, Jeffrey Masson. Since after 1897 Freud dismissed his original discovery, that some parents sexually abused their daughters, deMause’s position is contradictory.

DeMause’s moral errors are even more worrying when we see his stance on contemporary child psychiatry. How appropriate to quote the key passages of my correspondence with deMause to prove it. In one of my e-mails of March 2006, I wrote:

In your country psychiatrists hired by the parents are abusing millions of children and teenagers. Even before the advent of drugs in the 20th century psychiatry had routinely tortured children on behalf of their parents. My quest about your back issues [of Journal of Psychohistory] has to do with something that very much puzzles me. Have you or the journal contributors exposed this kind of traumatogenic-mode of childrearing?

DeMause, who over the years has answered almost all of my e-mails, did not answer this one. Three days later I wrote him again:

I don’t want to press you on a point that you seem reluctant to discuss. I just want to thank you for your work, which I believe will prove to be the most significant in the study of history.

Playing the fool, deMause replied:

I just don’t know anything about what psychiatrists do to patients. I’m not a psychiatrist. Sorry.

“Patients” is Newspeak for sane children in conflict with their parents. I gathered from deMause’s response that no article about the crimes committed by psychiatry with children and adolescents had been published in his journal (the sort of crimes reported in my second book).

The funny thing is that we could easily use deMause’s statements against him. In The Emotional Life of Nations deMause wrote that when women, children and minorities gain new freedoms, the old psychoclasses find they can no longer use them as poison containers to dump there their ill moods and emotions. This acute observation explains perfectly the exposé that Peter Breggin does of his profession, that he calls “the war against children”: to medicate sane children in order to control them. DeMause wrote: “Every childrearing practice in traditional societies around the globe betrays a profound lack of empathy toward one’s children,” and a couple of pages later he gives an example: “The use of opium on infants goes back to ancient Egypt, where the Ebers papyrus tells parents: ‘It acts at once!’” But this is precisely what psychotropic drugs like Ritalin do to children not in the distant and exotic Egypt, but in the same city where deMause lives. Most surprising is that deMause lays the blame on America on the basis of bogus faults—conspiracy theories, as we shall see—but at the same time he does not dare to see her real sins.

When I realized that deMause was not going to read the literature on the psychiatric abuse that I recommended in another of my mails, I knew that sooner or later I would have to publish a critique. And by the way: on page 166 of The Emotional Life deMause swallows the pseudoscientific propaganda that depression is due to a lack of serotonin. Similarly, the psychohistorian Robert Godwin wrote in one of his articles that some people need to ingest psychoactive drugs; and Henry Ebel commended Melanie Klein, the notorious analyst who blamed infants for projections from their parents, as Jeffrey Masson and Alice Miller have so cogently argued.


At the left of Chomsky

In Foundations of Psychohistory deMause wrote:

Our conclusion is that Jimmy Carter—for reasons rooted both in his own personality and in the powerful emotional demands of American fantasy—is very likely to lead us into a new war by 1979.

This is a pretty crazy statement. Foundations was published in 1982. Having had the opportunity to mature the lesson given to him by history, deMause did not retract when his prophecy about Carter, who left the White House in 1981 behaving like a dove before the Iranian crisis, was not fulfilled.

What is this: publishing in all seriousness a prophecy refuted by history? It exposes a man completely trapped in his own theory. Also, in The Emotional Life of Nations deMause blinded himself before the threat that Cuba and the Soviet Union represented during the missile crisis. Without taking seriously the threat of nuclear annihilation that these missiles posed to his own country, deMause psychoanalyzed Kennedy’s (timid) political actions as a case that he unraveled: a psychological reductionism as kooky as what his disciple Madeleine wrote about Cortés. DeMause even talks about the U.S. military actions in the Second World War as if they were “group fantasies” resulting from childhood trauma, and in The Emotional Life he accepts the stupid conspiracy theories about the attack on Pearl Harbor.

DeMause went back to his old ways in his latest book, The Origins of War in Child Abuse, first published in his journal, where he also says really terrible things like this: “Iraq was one of the best Middle Eastern nations for child care and education.” In that book deMause blames the United States for having set a trap for Iraq when Hussein invaded Kuwait (“The entire war was a set-up because the U.S. needed a war to feel masculine”), and he says something similar about the 1835-1836 war that his country waged against Mexico to annex the territory of Texas. In The Origins of War deMause interprets with his bizarre theories, once again, the U.S. intervention in the two world wars and continues to speculate on those lines about the wars in Korea and Vietnam.

His followers beat him. The Fall 2007 issue of the Journal of Psychohistory published an article by Robert McFarland in which the author endorses the most lunatic theories that the U.S. government orchestrated the attacks of September 11, and in the Spring 2008 issue Matt Everett uses quite a few pages of the journal to continue to promote the conspiratorial paranoia. This continued in the Journal of Psychohistory of Spring 2009 and in a book-review of the Fall issue of that year.

All this is rather incredible when considering that psychohistory, as deMause had originally conceived it, would have been the ideal platform to understand the most abusive psychoclasses with children, such as that in Muslim countries. Instead, betraying his original vision deMause and his far-left epigoni brandish their pens against the West. His journal is located at the left of a Noam Chomsky, who at least has had enough sanity to dismiss conspiracy theories such as 9/11. In short, deMause reduces all international politics to fantastic speculations. No wonder that after the initial success of the one of his books free of nonsense—The History of Childhood, published in 1974, that sold thousands of copies in several languages—, the wrong turn deMause and his followers took has kept away the vast majority of his readers, so much so that in a 2010 audio interview deMause acknowledges: “I dropped from 6,000 to 800 subscribers of my journal.”


The psychohistorians and hatred of the West

It is striking that, except the articles by deMause himself, many articles in the Journal of Psychohistory have little if anything to do with the original psychohistory. As I said, the original psychohistory tells us that non-Western cultures are more barbarous than ours. Conversely, the Journal of Psychohistory of Winter of 2009 contains an article by Arno Gruen praising the Pawnee Indians without mentioning how they treat children (Gruen even talks of “the white invasion”). The Summer 2009 issue of the journal published a much worse article, “The European-American psychosis” by Frederick Hickling: a diatribe against the West and the white people. From the perspective called transcultural psychiatry, Hickling calls the war of Cortés in Mexico as “delusion of genocidal eradication,” ignoring that extermination was never the intention of the Spanish (proof that pure whites are now a tiny minority in Mexico). By the way, Hickling misspells the name of the conqueror, a very common mistake in people ignorant of the topic, as “Cortez.” But he does quote Bartolomé de Las Casas accepting the blackest interpretation of the Black Legend: that the Spanish murdered millions of Indians on purpose. Hickling thus minimizes the real cause of the diminution of the native population in the 16th century: the epidemics upon which the natives had no antibodies. The Europe of that century was called “the racist European formation,” and using inflammatory rhetoric Hickling writes of “the European ruthless viciousness to indigenous people in the Americas and in Polynesia.” (Near the end of this book we shall see who were the ones really ruthless and sadistic.) To the European wars in the New World in the 17th century Hickling calls “The delusion of White Supremacy.” And he says something similar about the wars of the 18th and 19th centuries, with expressions like “colossal theft of Africa by Europe.” Writing about contemporary Islamic terrorists, Hickling puts quotation marks to the word “terrorists,” and he quotes Marxist revolutionary Frantz Fanon when writing of “freedom fighters.” Hickling, a professor of psychiatry in Jamaica, goes so far as to suggest that it is possible to apply the concept of delusion “to a race or civilization” as a whole, referring to the white race and Western civilization.

Hickling is not alone. The same 2009 issue of Journal of Psychohistory contains the article “Some Thoughts on Psychoclasses and Zeitgeist.” Christian Lackner, one of the two authors of the article, translated into German deMause’s The Emotional Life of Nations. Following the most progressive political trends the article by Lackner and Juha Siltala welcome the European Union; compares unfavorably the United States with the EU, and raises the profile of the new European psychoclass of males as “androgynes” (sic) for whom war is old history. The gem of the article is that it ends by conceding that “the demographic picture” with such androgynous males must result in that “the population of Europe will eventually die out” without having it for something bad, or a demographic suicide against which we must fight.

DeMause and his little journal have reached their nadir with this issue: pure psychosis. These pair of articles are not the only of their kind. The Journal of Psychohistory often hammers on the masculine character (shy in my opinion) of the United States compared with Europe’s Venusian character. The journal always puts Americans as troglodytes compared to Europeans. Needless to say, recent issues of the Journal of Psychohistory idealize the black Obama, and what is worse, the journal does not say a word about the dangers that the growing Islamization of Europe represent for what they themselves, the psychohistorians, call the helping mode of childrearing.

Alarmed, when I lived in Europe I sent deMause an e-mail asking him what did he think of the Islamization of Scandinavia. Once again, he answered playing the imbecile, saying that Nordics “are helping their children.”


The sin against the Holy Ghost

The migration of Muslims to Europe in recent decades illustrates what is an encounter of psychoclasses. Instead of the chosen example—the encounter between Europeans and Amerindians—the ongoing clash of psychoclasses with the millions of Muslim immigrants could have been the paradigm of this book. However, the Islamization of Europe in the 21st century is only the most conspicuous tip of the ills that have befallen on the West.

The current group fantasy in the West is genocidal self-hatred for our ethnic group. Demography is destiny. But the West has lost its appetite for life, as seen in our ever-shrinking birth rates. At this rate there will be no replacement for the white people in the coming generations. Western Europeans in particular do not believe anymore in their ethnicity, in heterosexual marriage or in their civilization as they believed in the golden age of my grandmother. An overreaction against the two great wars appears to have metamorphosed them into pods, as in the movie Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Their most unforgivable sin, and here I would include not only Europeans but Americans too, is their handing over their land to millions of non-Caucasian immigrants.

Massive Third World migration into the United States and Europe, promoted by Western governments, is the highest betrayal to one’s own people ever perpetrated in history. While the scenario might remind us the fall of Rome before the barbarians, it is infinitely worse. Constantine may have surrendered the empire to the bishops, dragging it straight into the Middle Ages, but his purpose was not to destroy his ethnic group. In contrast, in the contemporary West massive amounts of non-Caucasians are imported at the same time with the rapid decline of the native population: an unprecedented social engineering in history.

This topic is the most important issue of all we can imagine: even more important than the child advocacy understood in terms of all races, the theme of this book. If Hyperboreans disappeared, my thirst to fight in the resulting mongrelized culture would totally die out. It would be a Neanderthalesque regression from my most cherished ideals. Think of the most beautiful female specimens of the Aryan race. What liberals are doing to themselves is the real sin against the holy spirit of life: placing the very crown of evolution into the path of extinction.

Just as in the past the infanticidal psychoclass sacrificed their children in times of great prosperity, a phenomenon deMause called “growth panic,” for the same reasons a mad generation (including deMause’s), indoctrinated in anti-white racism sacrifices the future of their children, and their grandchildren, and their great-grandchildren… Large numbers of abortions, and intercourse with condoms and pills among the white people, a parallel phenomenon to the increase of infanticide during the decline of Greece and Rome, can only mean that an ethnic group is committing suicide. With the honorable exception of the genuinely conservative sectors, westerners have decided to erase their history, culture, identity and what is most valuable: their genetic capital.

Such self-destruct ethos reminds me the determined campaign of destruction that, in my family, my mother led when she fell sized with panic before her thriving teenager. Like my parents with me in our beloved home of Palenque [the subject of my other books], reaching the height of its prosperity the West succumbs to unconscious forces turned into a monster which etiology nobody seems to know, not even the readers of Alice Miller, let alone the psychohistorians. Similarly, nobody in the white nationalist movement is aware of the existence of these forces, which I have called elsewhere the Monsters from the Id. The growth of one’s own children, like a tree that longs to reach its plenitude—as discussed in my next book, this gave the title to my Hojas Susurrantes [Whispering Leaves] series—is a threat to immature psychoclasses and must be clear-cut down.


An open letter to Lloyd deMause

You psychohistorians and I were abused when we were much younger. But because you have not written autobiographies conducting to catharsis and deep mourning, as I did, you have not taken the psychogenic leap that Zweig predicted on this literary genre. Without that leap, you are still psychologically dissociated. Extremely dissociated in fact: cóatls without quetzals.

What you and your epigones, Lloyd, ignore is that by not doing an open mourning, as I do with my writing, you are inadvertently using the symbols of your fathers—the West and the powerful whites—as poison containers to discharge your own bile. With such a hatred for the West you have fallen exactly into the trap of that crazed Spanish woman who spent sometime in the madhouse.

Lloyd: you in particular do not you realize the weapon of mass self-destruction that the feminist revolution has represented for our civilization. The very term feminism is misleading Newspeak. Translated into Oldspeak, “feminism” is nothing but the suicidal fashion that the white woman should compete with us and abandon the role that nature has adjudicated her: the perpetuation of our species. In other words, the freedom achieved in the 1950s degenerated, from the 60s to the present, into civilization libertinism. In a truly sane psychohistory such libertinism would be totally unrelated to the authentic “helping mode” of childrearing about which, in online forums, leading psychohistorians psychobabble so much.

Lloyd: After you published your master work, The History of Childhood, you betrayed your own model. It should be clear and transparent that, if there is such thing as parents helping their children, the mission of perpetuating the most psychogenically advanced ethnic group should have absolute priority over any lifestyle that becomes fashionable: whether feminist, homophilic or, a thousand times worse, misegination. The ideology that now appears in your journal is, so to speak, an antediluvian regression from the values of the psychoclass of the 1950s.

It’s time to steal the redeemable part of your edifice in ruins so that, once purged from lunacies and your high treason, we may offer it to the white people.




What is redeemable in psychohistory?

The best introduction to the sane side of deMausean thought available on the internet appears in the third part of the book The Emotional Life of Nations, especially in the final chapters: “The Evolution of Childrearing” and “The Evolution of Psyche and Society.” However, even in these pages of my book where I would like to spare the salvageable part of deMause’s legacy I would like to continue the criticism of his psychohistory.


Only half graph is valid

It does not seem to be wholly true that the primitive had been above our primate cousins when it comes to brutal forms of childrearing, as deMause says. The most terrible form of interactions between parents and children is the ritual sacrifice and cannibalism of one’s own children: a level of sadism that has not been observed in primates other than man. Also, deMause assumes a gradual improvement in child treatment from 460 AD to approximately 1100 AD: an impossibility if we consider that about the 8th century Europe was in its darkest ages. This mistake does not invalidate the salvageable part of deMause’s model: only the dogmatic idea that the treatment of children was always from worst to least bad.

In The History of Childhood deMause writes: “The image of Medea hovers over childhood in antiquity.” But in the post-Homeric Greece it was already unusual to kill grown-up children as Medea did. Although many of those who publish in his journal do not seem to be Christians, including deMause, one of the things that surprise the freethinker who first encounters psychohistory is the Judeo-Christian spirit breathed in his model. The most prominent psychohistorians seem to reject the vision of the Enlightenment: to consider the Middle Ages darker than the most lucid moments of Greece and Rome. In fact, despite their crimes as the exposures, had I devised the graph reproduced in “Periodization of Parental-filial Relations,” I would have shown an orange left wing on it, meaning that childrearing methods in the early Middle Ages abruptly dropped the level it had reached in, say, Pericles’ Athens. I did not alter the graph because it seemed important to present deMausean theory as it is before deconstructing it. However, in contrast to the psychohistorians’ claims, it does not seem likely at all that the Middle Ages was better than classical Greece as childrearing methods are concerned. Or that Christendom was better not only compared to Pericles’ Athens, but also compared to the prior Ionian stage that produced the first scientists in history. Something similar could be said of the Rome of Augustus.

In my own version of psychohistory, the Athenians should have treated the children well enough to allow the explosion of arts, philosophies and policies that we have inherited. However, due to the tenet that “the further back in history one goes, the lower the level of child care,” deMause and his disciples have blinded themselves to see the obvious. True, an archaic ritual performed at Knossos (like those of Mesoamerica) included the cooking and eating of children as part of the fertility celebration. But as Ramon Xirau writes at the beginning of his Introduction to the History of Philosophy, the Greece that we know is great precisely because it gave up such practices: something I’ve always related to the Hebrew story of Abraham, who at the last moment changed his mind as to sacrifice his child. The veracity of Xirau’s opening paragraph can be substantiated in the final chapter of the most erudite contemporary study on the subject, Human Sacrifice in Ancient Greece by Dennis Hughes. To the Greeks of the time of Plato and Theophrastus, says Hughes, human sacrifice was a thing of the past; what was left in their time were isolated cases “and the custom is particularly associated with non-Greeks.” Certainly, once the Knossos type of sacrifice was abandoned, many babies in Greece were left in jars to starve, abandoned in the hills, roads, and found under the frozen streets. This was a custom approved by Plato and Aristotle. In fact, when I reread Will Durant it seemed to me that the ancient Hellas fell for having returned to mass exposure (a phenomenon similar to abortion and the massive contraception self-inflicted currently among whites in the West). But if the psychogenic theory of history is true, the brutal modes of childrearing in the Middle Ages had to be necessarily worse, given that the medieval mind lost again autonomous consciousness for more than a millennium.

The rejection of the central conclusion of the Enlightenment by those who closely follow deMause makes me think that psychohistory must pass through a post-deMausean stage if the discipline is to be taken seriously. The same can be said of deMause’s fondness for straight lines on ever ascending graphs, similar to the one I included in this book, where all childrearing evolves in the direction from major to minor abuse. Not only does the classical world gives the lie to it. Julian Jaynes, author of the book that could be classified as a different kind of psychohistory, said that by killing thousands the Assyrians fell like butchers on helpless villagers. Their laws contrasted sharply with the Code of Hammurabi, written six centuries earlier. However, deMause might not err so conspicuously in his assessment of the West from the 12th century AD onward. One of my most memorable readings, based on the captivating television series by Kenneth Clark, was the second chapter of Civilsation on the “The Great Thaw” of Europe at the beginning of the 12th century, as well as the next chapter on courtly love: the West had invented love.

The thaw was nothing other than the beginning to treat European women better than what non-westerners did in the rest of the world; hence the treatment of these women to their children changed. From the late 13th century begins the historical record of death penalty in cases of voluntary infanticide. In addition to their relatively high IQ, psychogenically speaking the people of Europe would evolve more than the rest of the world. If we imagine the graph halved, surprisingly the deMausean model can be seen from a new point of view compatible with that of the modern man.

The valid part of deMause’s graph
(see the full diagram)

But even this valid part is hopelessly obsolete! When at the end of 2008 I called deMause’s attention on the issue of the self-betrayal that the West inflicts itself with immigration, I realized he knew nothing of what I was talking about. This led me to believe that his tables are wrong. DeMause puts there as inferior the psychoclass that has as its model the “patriotic” man compared to the “activist.” The truth is that the patriots are precisely the ones who defend their nations against the greatest ill of our times: a secular form of Judeo-Christian liberalism (see my blog article “The Red Giant”). Unlike the ivory towers where both deMause and the academics live, it appears that the recent Western crises represent a plummeting drop in psychogenesis.

If we now set aside its blunders, psychohistory is highly explanatory about what has happened to our species. Unfortunately, deMause’s errors do not end with the discussion in previous pages. Since deMause sometimes uses his sources very loosely, there remains the possibility that his psychohistory could consist of assumptions based on little, if any, evidence. I have found that occasionally deMause takes his data out of context, and that some of his pronouncements on subjects I know better contain serious errors (instead of the Mexica patron god, Huitzilopochtli, in his books he writes of him as an “Aztec goddess”). Although such errors do not invalidate his theory, deMause could have used his sources more carefully.

So far the only interesting discussion on psychohistory I have found can be read in several discussion pages of Wikipedia. After Ark insulted the editors of the article mentioned above, he returned for a brief time to edit and discuss in the article Infanticide. In the discussion page Julie Hofmann Kemp, the editor whom Ark had insulted, responded to him in a reasonable manner:

Problems with this. You’re using shoddy scholarship to try to back up an unprovable claim. DeMause provides no analysis or discussion of his sources, merely a catalog of horrific quotes. We cannot tell the context, nor can we take them as representative.

Actually deMause generally analyzes the citations included in his books. What Julie says next is more substantial:

Anybody can go through books and pick out quotes to make an argument. Since de Mause’s work is criminally lax in scholarship, I suggest you try to use better sources. Just re-read “A Modest Proposal,” and could see absolutely nothing that referred to rotting corpses of babies in the streets. The only reference was to children accompanying their mothers begging. This certainly makes me question the veracity of other statements in this article.

Ark angrily replied that she could not accept the reality of infanticide because it was very uncomfortable for her. Julie said:

No, Ark—I am fully aware that we live in a society where people do horrible things to children. I am also aware that this has long been the case. There are plenty of records out there for at least the Victorian area on things like the treatment of children in workhouses, and they clearly indicate widespread abuse of minors and women. I removed what I did [from the Wikipedia article] because I re-read Swift and the deMause article you used as sources. Unfortunately, there seems to have been a lot of stuff quoted out of context. Some of the sources, like Philippe Ariés, I’ve read. If you want things to stay unchallenged, you’ve got to make sure they have recognizable merit. This is why I think we need to look beyond deMause. DeMause is only one of thousands of people writing on child abuse and infanticide. As an historian, I can see great gaping holes in deMause’s use of sources. It doesn’t make him wrong, but it certainly sets off warning bells—if the scholarship doesn’t stand up, then are the conclusions he draws really proven?

After further critical responses from other editors, quite reasonable and civic, Ark quit from editing Wikipedia, and this time definitely, on my birthday of 2002. I agree that the way deMause has used sources lacks academic rigor. However, if as Julie and other academics advised it was possible to support deMause’s model with non-deMausean references, the psychohistorical structure would be hold with a new sort of column.

That is just what I did. In March and April of 2008 I massively edited Infanticide, the same article where years before Julie and Ark had discussed, adding a hundred references that I did not read in deMausean texts, but in the voluminous treatise of Larry S. Milner published in 2000.

The model of the infanticidal psychoclass is a cornerstone on which rests what has remained standing of the psychohistorical building after my destructive criticism. This moved me to republish here much of what I added to that article, which in turn I also added to another wiki, Citizendium. In one of my previous books the criticism of psychiatry contained so unbelievable facts that, unlike the other books, I was forced to include bibliographic notes. For the same reasons I will do the same here. However, unlike the Citizendium article, in the next pages I will add some of my thoughts.*

—————

* Wikipedia has the problem that, although many scholars contribute to edit it, it doesn’t fail to appear the idiot who censors passages beyond his point of view. The only workaround is to enslave oneself as the guardian of a particular article, a colossal energy sink. Of course, I am no slave-guardian of wiki-articles and cannot impede further vandalization of the article I wrote.




The Infanticidal Psychoclass: References

In the United Kingdom, the Infanticide Act defines “infanticide” as a specific crime equivalent to manslaughter that can only be committed by the mother intentionally killing her own baby during the first twelve months of its life outside the womb. The broader notion of infanticide, as described below, is the subject matter of the following pages.

That so many researchers have produced astronomical figures on the extent of infanticide moves me to think that Larry Milner’s initiative to devote ten years of his life researching the topic should be undertaken by others. Only then can we be sure if such large numbers are accurate. Here I cannot substantiate the figures of Milner and others, but shall weight the case under the most diverse of collected sources.

Joseph Birdsell believes in infanticide rates of 15-50% of the total number of births in prehistoric times.[1] Laila Williamson estimated a lower rate ranging from 15-20%.[2] Both believe that high rates of infanticide persisted until the development of agriculture.[3] Some comparative anthropologists have estimated that 50% of female newborn babies were killed by their parents in the Paleolithic.[4] These figures appear over and over in the research of other scholars.


Paleolithic and Neolithic

Decapitated skeletons of hominid children have been found with evidence of cannibalism. Neanderthal man performed ritual sacrifices of children. As shown in the bas-reliefs of a Laussel cave, a menstruating goddess is appeased only by the sacrifice of infants.[5]

Marvin Harris, the creator of the anthropological movement called cultural materialism, estimated that in the Stone Age up to 23-50% of newborns were put to death. However, Harris conceived a rational explanation. In his book Cannibals and Kings: Origins of Cultures, published in 1977, he tells us that the goal was to preserve the population growth to 0.001%. This explanation of more “civilized” cavemen than us has not been taken seriously among other scholars. But the renowned geneticist James Neel is not left behind. Through a retroactive model to study the customs of contemporary Yanomami Indians he estimated that in prehistoric times the infanticidal rate was 15-20%. However, Neel wrote: “I find it increasingly difficult to see in the recent reproductive history of the civilized world a greater respect for the quality of human existence than was manifested by our remote ‘primitive’ ancestors.” Ark would have scoffed at this claim. The fact that Neel published such praise for the infanticidal cavemen in Science, one of the most prestigious scientific journals, shows the levels of antediluvian regression that we suffer in our times.[6]


Ancient World

As we have seen, the sacrifice of children was much more common in the Ancient World than in present times.

Three thousand bones of young children, with evidence of sacrificial rituals, have been found in Sardinia. Infants were offered to the Babylonian goddess Ishtar. Pelasgians offered a sacrifice of every tenth child during difficult times. Syrians sacrificed children to Jupiter and Juno. Many remains of children have been found in Gezer excavations with signs of sacrifice. Child skeletons with the marks of sacrifice have been found also in Egypt dating 950-720 B.C. In Carthage “[child] sacrifice in the ancient world reached its infamous zenith.” [7] Besides the Carthaginians, other Phoenicians, and the Canaanites, Moabites and Sepharvites offered their first-born as a sacrifice to their gods.

Carthage. Charred bones of thousands of infants have been found in Carthaginian archaeological sites in modern times. One such area harbored as many as 20,000 burial urns. It is estimated that child sacrifice was practiced for centuries in the region. Plutarch (ca. 46–120 AD) mentions the practice, as do Tertullian, Orosius, Diodorus Siculus and Philo. The Hebrew Bible also mentions what appears to be child sacrifice practiced at a place called the Tophet (from the Hebrew taph or toph, to burn) by the Canaanites, ancestors of the Carthaginians, and by some Israelites. Writing in the 3rd century B.C., Kleitarchos, one of the historians of Alexander the Great, described that the infants rolled into the flaming pit. Diodorus Siculus wrote that babies were roasted to death inside the burning pit of the god Baal Hamon, a bronze statue.[8]

Greece and Rome. Interestingly, in Persian mythology of Zoroastrianism, at birth some children are devoured by their parents: a fable reminiscent of Cronus. Rhea hid Zeus and presented a stone wrapped in strips, which Cronus took as a swaddled baby and ate it. Cronus represents the archaic Hellas.

The historical Greeks considered barbarous the practice of adult and child sacrifice.[9] It is interesting to note how conquerors like Alexander are diminished under the new psycohistorical perspective. If we give credence to the assertion that Thebes, the largest city in the region of Boeotia, had lower rates of exposure than other Greek cities, its destruction by Alexander was a fatal blow to the advanced psychoclass in Greece. A few centuries later, between 150 and 50 B.C. an Alexandrian Jew wrote Wisdom of Solomon, which contains a diatribe against the Canaanites whom he calls perpetrators of “ruthless murders of their children.” (Take heed how the classics, the 16th century chroniclers, and the 19th century anthropologists wield value judgments, something forbidden in present-day academia.)

In The Histories Polybius was already complaining in the 2nd century B.C. that parents severely inhibited reproduction, and by the 1st century there were several thinkers who spoke out against the exposure of babies. Epictetus wondered “A sheep does not abandon its own offspring, nor a wolf; and yet does a man abandon his?” In the Preface we had seen that in the same century Philo was the first philosopher to speak out against exposure.[10]

“The greatest respect is owed to a child”, wrote Juvenal, born in 55 AD. His contemporary Josephus, a Romanized Jew, also condemned exposure. And in Heroides, an elegiac poem that he wrote before his exile, Ovid asked, “What did the child commit, in so few hours of life?” However, two centuries after Augustus, in times of Constantine Rome struggled with a decreased population due to exposure. The legend of Romulus and Remus is also revealing: two brothers had been exposed to die but a she-wolf saved them. Romulus forced the Romans to bring up all male and the first female, and forbade killing them after certain age. As Rhea saving his son Zeus, this legend portrays the psychogenic landmark of classical culture compared with other cultures of the Ancient World. But even so exposure was practiced. A letter from a Roman citizen to his wife, dating from 1 B.C., demonstrates the casual nature with which infanticide was often viewed:

Know that I am still in Alexandria. [...] I ask and beg you to take good care of our baby son, and as soon as I received payment I shall send it up to you. If you are delivered, if it is a boy, keep it, if a girl, discard it.[11]

In some periods of Roman history it was traditional for a newborn to be brought to the pater familias, the family patriarch, who would then decide whether the child was to be kept and raised, or left to death by exposure. The Twelve Tables of Roman law obliged him to put to death a child that was visibly deformed. Infanticide became a capital offense in Roman law in 374 AD but offenders were rarely if ever prosecuted.[12]

Hebrew people. Although the Bible says many Hebrews sacrificed their children to pagan gods, Judaism prohibits infanticide (I will approach the subject of the recent studies on the Israelites in the Epilogue). Tacitus recorded that the Jews “regard it as a crime to kill any late-born children.” [13] Josephus, whose works give an important insight into first-century Judaism, wrote that God “forbids women to cause abortion of what is begotten, or to destroy it afterward.”[14]

Pagan European tribes. John Boswell believed that in ancient Germanic tribes unwanted children were exposed, usually in the forest. “It was the custom of the [Teutonic] pagans that if they wanted to kill a son or daughter, they would be killed before they had been given any food.”[15] In the most influential archeological book of the 19th century, Pre-historic Times, John Lubbock invented the terms Paleolithic and Neolithic. He described that burnt bones indicated the practice of child sacrifice in pagan Britain.[16]


Christianity

Something completely lost to the modern mind is that, in a world full of sacrifices as the Ancient World, the innocent child has to die, ordered by his father: an all too well known practice. It is impossible to understand the psychoclass that gave rise to Christianity ignoring this reality turned into a powerful symbol. However, my working hypothesis is that the forms of parenting had to suffer, in general terms, a regression during the Middle Ages. As I said, I was tempted to include a graph different from deMause’s: one that showed the great slump since the best times of Ionia, Athens and Rome. I didn’t do it because that would mean starting from a dogmatic position: that Middle Ages childcare was necessarily worse because history waned in the centuries of darkness. As a working hypothesis it is respectable; as an axiom it would be dogmatic. We must always keep in mind that in Scandal in Bohemia Sherlock Holmes said to Watson: “It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data. Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts.” It will thus be the future task of historians to find out if childrearing modes were, in fact, more abusive in the Middle Ages than during the highlights of the Greco-Roman world. In the archived Wikipedia talk page of Psychohistory, Loren Cobb said:

In my view, the psychohistory of Lloyd deMause is indeed a notable approach to history, in the sense in which Wikipedia uses the term “notability.” I am not personally involved in psychohistory—I am a mathematical sociologist—but here are some thoughts for your consideration.

Psychohistory as put forth by deMause and his many followers attempts to explain the pattern of changes in the incidence of child abuse in history. This is a perfectly respectable and non-fringe domain of scientific research. They argue that the incidence was much higher in the past, and that there has been an irregular history of improvement. This is a hypothesis that could just as easily have been framed by an epidemiologist as a psychologist. DeMause proposes a theory that society has gone through a series of stages in its treatment and discipline of children. Again, this is well within the bounds of social science. None of these questions are pseudoscientific. Even the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, a bastion of scientific epidemiology, is interested in these kinds of hypotheses.[17]

I exchanged a few e-mails with Cobb, who like me is very critical of the psychoanalytic tail in deMausean legacy, and his position piqued my interest. So let this prolegomena with academic references continue which, if developed, could become such an epidemiological approach in the future.

The Teachings of the Apostles or Didache said “You shall not murder a child by abortion nor kill that which is born.” [18] The Epistle of Barnabas stated an identical command.[19] So widely accepted was this teaching in Christendom that apologists Tertullian, Athenagoras, Minucius Felix, Justin Martyr and Lactantius also maintained that exposing a baby to death was a wicked act. In 318 AD Constantine I considered infanticide a crime. The West took its time to consider criminal the late forms of infanticide. The author of the Codex Theodosianus in 322 AD complained:

We have learned that in provinces where there are shortages of food and lack of livelihood parents are selling or pledging their children. Such ignominious act is repugnant to our customs.

Around 340 AD Lactantius argued that strangling infants was sinful. Although infanticide was not officially banned in Roman criminal law until 374 AD when Valentinian I mandated to rear all children (exposing babies, especially girls, was still common), both exposure and child abandonment continued in Europe.

Middle Ages. The practice was so entrenched, as well as the sale of children, that it had been futile to decree the abolition of such customs. Until the year 500 AD it could not be said that a baby’s life was secure. The Council of Constantinople declared that infanticide was homicide, and in 589 AD the Third Council of Toledo took measures against the Spanish custom of killing their own children.[20] Whereas theologians and clerics preached to spare their lives, newborn abandonment continued as registered in both the literature record and in legal documents.[21]

According to William L. Langer, exposure in the Middle Ages “was practiced on gigantic scale with absolute impunity, noticed by writers with most frigid indifference.”[22] At the end of the 12th century, notes Richard Trexler, Roman women threw their newborns into the Tiber River even in daylight.[23] More archaic forms of infanticide, such as sacrifice, were practiced by the Gauls, Celts and the Irish. “They would kill their piteous wretched offspring with much wailing and peril, to pour their blood around Crom Cruaich,” a deity of pre-Christian Ireland.[24] Unlike other European regions, in the Middle Ages the German mother had the right to expose the newborn.[25] In Gotland, Sweden, children were also sacrificed.[26]

In Russia, peasants sacrificed their sons and daughters to the pagan god Perun. Some residents of rural areas got rid of their babies by throwing them to the hogs. In Medieval Russia secular laws did not deal with what, for the church, was a crime.[27] The Svans killed the newborn females by filling their mouths with hot ashes. In Kamchatka, babies were killed and thrown to wild dogs.[28]

The darkness of Europe would begin to fade in the 12th century. As explained above, the “little Renaissance” of that century reminds me the famous series of Kenneth Clark, the first of its kind that showed us the personal view of an intellectual in a television series. Other cultures would be arrested in their ways of treatment of women and children.

China and Japan. The American explorer George Kennan noted that among the Koryaks, a Mongoloid people of north-eastern Siberia, infanticide was still common in the 19th century. One of the twins was always sacrificed.[29] Since the seventeenth century Jesuit missionaries had found thousands of babies, mostly women, abandoned on the streets of China. Marco Polo, the famed explorer, saw newborns exposed in Manzi.[30] China’s society promoted gendercide. Philosopher Han Fei Tzu, a member of the ruling aristocracy of the 3rd century B.C., who developed a school of law, wrote: “As to children, a father and mother when they produce a boy congratulate one another, but when they produce a girl they put it to death.” [31] Among the Hakka people, and in Yunnan, Anhwei, Szechwan, Jiangxi and Fukien a method of killing the baby was to put her into a bucket of cold water, which was called “baby water.” [32]

Even before feudal Japan infanticide was performed. The common slang for infanticide was mabiki which means to pull plants from an overcrowded garden. It has been estimated that 40% of newborn babies were killed in Kyushu.[33] A typical method in Japan was smothering through wet paper on the baby’s mouth and nose.[34] Mabiki persisted in the 19th and early 20th centuries.[35]

India and Pakistan. Female infanticide of newborn girls was systematic in feudatory Rajputs in India. According to Firishta (aprox. 1560-1620), as soon as a female child was born she was hold “in one hand, and a knife in the other, that any person who wanted a wife might take her now, otherwise she was immediately put to death.” [36] The practice of female infanticide was also common among the inhabitants of Kutch, Kehtri, Nagar, Gujarat, Miazed, Kalowries and also among the Sind in Pakistan.[37] It was not uncommon that parents threw a child to the crocodiles in the Ganges River as a sacrificial offering. The British colonists were unable to outlaw the custom until the beginnings of the 19th century.[38]

Arabia and Islam. Female infanticide was common all over Arabia during pre-Islamic Arabia, especially by burying alive the newborn female.[39] Later it would be explicitly prohibited by the Koran: “And do not kill your children for fear of poverty; We give them sustenance and yourselves too; surely to kill them is a great wrong.” [40] (Despite this emergency vis-à-vis the infanticidal neighbors, the childrearing modes and the treatment of women in Islam would stagnate for centuries.)


Tribes

Infanticide in tribal societies was, and in some tribes still is, more frequent than infanticide in both Western and Eastern civilizations.

Africa. In this continent newborns were killed because of fear that they were an evil omen or because they were considered unlucky. Twins were usually put to death in Arebo; as well as by the Nama Hottentots of South West Africa; in the Lake Victoria Nyanza region; by the Tswana in Portuguese East Africa; among the Ilso and Ibo people of Nigeria; and by the !Kung Bushmen of the Kalahari Desert.[41] The Kikuyu, Kenya’s most populous ethnic group, practiced ritual killing of twins.[42] Lucien Lévy-Brühl noted that, as a result of fearing a drought, if a baby was born feet first in British East Africa, she or he was smothered.[43] The Tswana people did the same since they feared the newborn would bring ill fortune to the parents.[44] Similarly, William Sumner noted that the Vadshagga killed children whose upper incisors came first.[45] If a mother died in childbirth among the Ibo people of Nigeria, the newborn was buried alive. It suffered a similar fate if the father died.[46]

In The Child in Primitive Society, Nathan Miller wrote in the 1920s that among the Kuni tribe every mother had killed at least one of her children.[47] Child sacrifice was practiced as late as 1929 in Zimbabwe, where a daughter of the tribal chief used to be sacrificed as a petition of rain.[48]

Oceania and the Pacific Islands. Infanticide among the autochthone people in the Oceania islands is widespread. In some areas of the Fiji islands up to 50% of newborn infants were killed.[49] In the 19th century Ugi, in the Solomon Islands almost 75% of the indigenous children had been brought from adjoining tribes due to the high incidence rate of infanticide, a unique feature of these tribal societies.[50] In another Solomon island, San Cristóbal, the firstborn was considered ahubweu and often buried alive.[51] As a rationale for their behavior, some parents in British New Guinea complained: “Girls [...] don’t become warriors, and they don’t stay to look for us in our old age.”[52]

Australia. According to Bronislaw Malinowski, who wrote a book on indigenous Australians in the early 1960s, “infanticide is practiced among all Australian natives.”[53] The practice has been reported in Tasmania, Western Australia, Central Australia, South Australia, in the Northern Territory, Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria. Anthropologist Géza Róheim wrote:

When the Yumu, Pindupi, Ngali, or Nambutji were hungry, they ate small children with neither ceremonial nor animistic motives. Among the southern tribes, the Matuntara, Mularatara, or Pitjentara, every second child was eaten in the belief that the strength of the first child would be doubled by such a procedure.[54]

Family units usually consisted of three children. Brough Smyth, a 19th century researcher, estimated that in Victoria about 30% of the births resulted in infanticide.[55] Mildred Dickeman concurs that that figure is accurate in other Australia tribes as a result of a surplus of the birthrate.[56] Cannibalism was observed in Victoria at the beginning of the 20th century. The Wotjo tribe, as well as the tribes of the lower Murray River, sometimes killed a newborn to feed an older sibling.[57]

Thomas Robert Malthus wrote that, in the New South Wales region, when the mother died sucking infants were buried alive with her.[58] In the Darling River region, infanticide was practiced “by a blow on the back of the head, by strangling with a rope, or chocking with sand.” [59] In Queensland a tribal woman could have children after the age of thirty. Otherwise babies would be killed.[60] The Australian Aranda tribes in the Northern Territory used the method of choking the newborn with coal, sand or kill her with a stick.[61] According to James George Frazer, in the Beltana tribes in South Australia it was customary to kill the first-born.[62] Twins were always killed by the Arrernte in central Australia.[63] In the Luritcha tribe occasional cannibalism of young children occurred.[64] Aram Yengoyan calculated that, in Western Australia, the Pitjandjara people killed 19% of their newborns.[65] In the 19th century the native Tasmanians were exterminated by the colonists, who regarded them a degenerate race. Richard H. Davies (fl. 1830s – 1887), a brother of Archdeacon Davies, wrote that Tasmanian “females have been known to desert their infants for the sake of suckling the puppies,” which were later used for hunting.[66] Like other tribal Australians, when the mother died the child was buried as well.[67]

Polynesia. In ancient Polynesian societies infanticide was fairly common.[68] Families were supposed to rear no more than two children. Writing about the natives, Raymond Firth noted: “If another child is born, it is buried in the earth and covered with stones.”[69] In Hawaii infanticide was a socially sanctioned practice before the Christian missions.[70] Infanticidal methods included strangling the children or, more frequently, burying them alive.[71] Infanticide was quite intense in Tahiti.[72] Methods included suffocation, neck breaking and strangulation.[73]

Infanticide and child sacrifice was practiced in the New World at times when in Western Europe it had been largely abandoned. There is no agreement about the actual estimates of the frequency of newborn female infanticide in the Eskimo population. Carmel Schrire mentions diverse studies ranging from 15-50% to 80%.[74] Polar Eskimos killed the child by throwing him or her into the sea.[75] There is even a legend in Eskimo folklore, “The Unwanted Child,” where a mother throws her child into the fjord. The Yukon and the Mahlemuit tribes of Alaska exposed the female newborns by first stuffing their mouths with grass before leaving them to die.[76] In Arctic Canada the Eskimos exposed their babies on the ice and left them to die.[77] Female Eskimo infanticide disappeared in the 1930s and 1940s after contact with the Western cultures from the South.[78]

The Handbook of North American Indians reports infanticide and cannibalism among the Dene Indians and those of the Mackenzie Mountains.[79] In the Eastern Shoshone there was a scarcity of Indian women as a result of female infanticide.[80] For the Maidu Native Americans in the United States twins were so dangerous that they not only killed them, but the mother as well.[81] In the region known today as southern Texas, the Mariame Indians practiced infanticide of females on a large scale. Wives had to be obtained from neighboring groups.[82]

South American tribes. Although data of infanticides among the indigenous people in South America is not as abundant as data on North America, the estimates seem to be similar. The Tapirapé indigenous people of Brazil allowed no more than three children per woman, and no more than two had to be of the same sex. If the rule was broken infanticide was practiced.[83] The people in the Bororo tribe killed all the newborns that did not appear healthy enough. Infanticide is also documented in the case of the Korubo people in the Amazon.[84] While Capacocha sacrifice was practiced in the Peruvian large cities, child sacrifice in the pre-Columbian tribes of the region is less documented. However, even today studies on the Aymara Indians reveal high incidences of mortality among the newborn, especially female deaths, suggesting infanticide.[85] Infanticide among the Chaco in Paraguay was estimated as high as 50% of all newborns in that tribe, who were usually buried.[86] The infanticidal custom had such roots among the Ayoreo in Bolivia and Paraguay that it persisted until the late 20th century.[87]

Let us remember, now, the cry of Sahagun. It would had been hard for the humble monk to imagine that not only the ancient Mexicans, but all humanity had been seized by a passion for infanticide. At the beginning of our century, some Amazon tribes continue the practice as horribly as described above.

In some countries of Asia, Africa and Latin America, infant mortality, which according to some historians may be due to parental neglect, reaches 15 to 20%. The practice has become less common in the West but continues in China and India. Both in the past and today female infants are particularly vulnerable to femicide.[88] Although it is illegal in Benin, West Africa, parents secretly continue their infanticidal behavior, [89] as well as in rural areas of India.[90]


Conclusion

As can be gathered from this last excursus, it is perfectly possible to support Psychohistory’s cornerstone, the idea of an infanticidal psychoclass, with sources other than those used by deMause. The main criticism of historian Julie Hofmann Kemp to the deMausean model has, therefore, been solved.




Epilogue: Six Thousand Holocausts

Throughout his treatise on infanticide, Larry Milner mentioned several times that our species could have killed not millions, but billions of children since the emergence of Homo sapiens. At the beginning of his book Milner chose as the epigraph a quotation of Laila Williamson, an anthropologist at the American Museum of Natural History:

Infanticide has been practiced on every continent and by people on every level of cultural complexity, from hunter-gatherers to high civilizations, including our own ancestors. Rather than being an exception, then, it has been the rule.

A common objection to psychohistory is to consider the 20th century as arguably the worst in history because of the genocides of modern societies, and that this invalidates the notion that the West is less barbaric than the rest of the world. That is one of the objections most elegantly refuted by Lawrence Keeley, a professor of archeology at the University of Illinois. Keeley’s argument is devastating in the hands of social scientists that base their studies on quantitative epidemiology.

Proportionately as the number of inhabitants per population, death rate by war has been calculated from 10 to 30 times more in primitive tribes than in the most violent of modern societies. The murder rate in the Hewa tribe, according to Lyle Steadman, is a thousand times greater than the U.S. Bruce Knauft writes in Current Anthropology on other tribes: “There was not a single grown man who had not been involved in a killing in some way or another,” something that could not be said even of Hitler’s Germany or Stalin’s Russia in times of war. And with regard to violence in human history in general, in War Before Civilization: The Myth of the Peaceful Savage, published in 1996, Keeley shows that in our civilization the frequency of murders has been declining in recent millennia: a piece of info that refutes the hypothesis of the noble savage. In his book Keeley amassed a huge amount of historical data to validate this thesis.

Milner cowers in his book to avoid giving the impression that he openly condemns the parents. In fact, in the Journal of Psychohistory of Autumn 2008 I published a critical essay-review of his treatise under the title, “A Schizophrenic Yet Very Useful Monograph on Infanticide.” Despite my criticism, it is worth quoting Milner’s words about the even more serious cowardice among other scholars:

As for the research into general human behavior, infanticide has been almost totally ignored. When acts of child-murder are referenced at all, they generally are passed off as some quirk or defective apparatus of an unusual place or time. Look in the index of almost all major social treatises and you will find only a rare reference to the presence of infanticide. [...] Yet, the importance of understanding the reasons for infanticide is borne out by its mathematical proportions. Since man first appeared on earth about 600,000 years ago, it has been calculated that about 77 billion human babies have been born. If estimates of infanticide of 5-10% are true, then up to seven billion children have been killed by their parents, a figure which should suffice as one of incredible importance.

If Milner is correct, in the future other researchers could publish a treatise entitled Six Thousand Holocausts. Suppose for a moment that throughout human existence, parents have not killed seven but “only” six billion of their children. Taking into account that according to official statistics (doubtful according to some) the Germans killed six million Jews, that figure of the Holocaust perpetrated by parents in human history would give six thousand times the “Holocaust.” And even assuming that this figure is contradicted by future studies, the anthropologist Glenn Hausfater would have agreed with Milner. In an August 1982 article of the New York Times about a conference of several specialists at the University of Cornell on animal and human infanticide, Hausfater said: “Infanticide has not received much study because it’s a repulsive subject. Many people regard it as reprehensible to even think about it…” In that same conference Sarah Blaffer Hrdy, a primatologist at Harvard said that infanticide occurs in all groups of evolved primates.

With the fear shared by both Milner and his colleagues in general, coupled with political correctness in academia, it is common that the few who are not silent on the subject argue that the primary cause is economic. The economic “explanation” does not explain why infanticide occurred equally among both the rich and the poor, or why it had been so frequent and sometimes even more frequent in the most prosperous periods of Rome and Carthage. The same is true of those seeking explanations in the taboos, superstitions and customs of the peoples, or the stigma attached to children born out of wedlock, or the stigma attached to the miscegenation between different social classes. None of these factors explains infanticide for the simple reason that contemporary Western societies have all these features and refrain from practicing it. Marvin Harris’s position is typical. He has calculated that among Paleolithic hunters, up to 23-50% of infants were put to death, and postulated that female infanticide was a form of population control. His colleagues have criticized Harris as a typical proponent of “environmental determinism.” If environmental determinism were true, today there should be more infanticide than ever given the population explosion of recent times.

Despite the enormous flaws of the author, identified in my review, the information gathered under one cover by Milner is so disturbing that I began to think: What is really the human species? I have no choice but to try to ponder the question by analyzing one of the most horrendous forms of infanticide performed throughout the centuries.


The historical Israel

In the past, the shadow of infanticide covered the world, but the Phoenicians and their biblical ancestors, the Canaanites, performed sacrifices that turn pale the Mesoamerican sacrifices of children.

The Tophet, located in the valley of Gehenna, was a place near Jerusalem where it is believed that children were burned alive to the god Moloch Baal. Later it became synonymous with hell, and the generic name “tophet” would be transferred to the sacrificial site of the cemetery at Carthage and other Mediterranean cities like Motya, Tharros and Hadrumetum, where bones have been found of Carthaginian and Phoenician children.

According to a traditional reading of the Bible, stories of sacrifice by the Hebrews were relapses of the chosen people to pagan customs. Recent studies, such as Jon Levenson’s The Death and Resurrection of the Beloved Son: The Transformation of Child Sacrifice in Judaism and Christianity have suggested that the ancient Hebrews did not differ much from the neighboring towns but that they were typical examples of Semitic peoples of Canaan. The cult of Yahweh was only gradually imposed in a group while the cult of Baal was still part of the fabric of the Hebrew-Canaanite culture. Such religion had not been a syncretistic custom that the most purist Hebrews rejected from their “neighbor” Canaanites: it was part of their roots. For Israel Finkelstein, an Israeli archaeologist and academic, the writing of the book of Deuteronomy in the reign of Josiah was a milestone in the development and invention of Judaism. Josiah represents what I call one of the psychogenic mutants who firmly rejected the infanticidal psychoclass of their own people. Never mind that he and his aides had rewritten their nation’s past by idealizing the epic of Israel. More important is that they make Yahweh say—who led the captivity of his people by the Assyrians—that it was a punishment for their idolatry: which includes the burning of children. The book of Josiah’s scribes even promotes to conquer other peoples that, like the Hebrews, carried out such practices. “The nations whom you go in to dispossess,” says the Deuteronomy, “they even burn their sons and their daughters in the fire to their gods.” (12: 29-31). “When you come into the land that the Lord is giving you, you shall not learn to follow the abominable practices of those nations. There shall not be found among you anyone who burns his son or his daughter as an offering.” (18: 9-10).

This emergence, or jump to a higher psychoclass from the infanticidal, is also attested in other books of the Hebrew Bible. “The men from Babylon made Succoth Benoth, the men from Cuthah made Nergal, and the men from Hamath made Ashima; the Avvites made Nibhaz and Tartak, and the Sepharvites burned their children in the fire as sacrifices to Adrammelech and Anammelech, the gods of Sepharvaim” (2 Kings: 17: 30-31). There were kings of Judah who committed these outrages with their children too. In the 8th century B.C. the thriving King Ahaz “even sacrificed his son in the fire, following the detestable ways of the nations the Lord had driven out before the Israelites” (2 Kings 16: 1-3). Manasseh, one of the most successful kings of Judah, “burnt his son in sacrifice” (21:6). The sacrificial site also flourished under Amon, the son of Manasseh. Fortunately it was destroyed during the reign of Josiah. Josiah also destroyed the sacrificial site of the Valley of Ben Hinnom “so no one could use it to sacrifice his son or daughter in the fire to Molech” (23:10). Such destructions are like the destruction of Mesoamerican temples by the Spaniards, and for identical reasons.

Ezekiel, taken into exile to Babylon preached there to his people. He angrily chided them: “And you took your sons and daughters whom you bore to me and sacrificed them as food to the idols. Was your prostitution not enough? You slaughtered my children and made them pass through the fire” (Ezekiel 16: 20-21). The prophet tells us that since his people wandered in the desert they burned their children, adding: “When you offer your gifts—making your sons to pass through the fire—you continue to defile yourselves with all your idols to this day. Am I to let you inquire of me, O house of Israel? As surely as I live, declares the Lord, I will not let you inquire of me” (20:31). Other passages in Ezekiel that complain about his people’s sins appear in 20: 23-26 and 23: 37-39.

A secular, though inspired by Jung, way to see God is to conceive it as how the ego of an individual’s superficial consciousness relates to the core of his own psyche: the Self. In the following diatribe by Ezekiel (16: 35-38) against his people we can hear this inner daimon, the “lord” of the man Ezekiel:

Therefore, you prostitute, hear the word of the Lord! This is what the Lord says: Because you poured out your lust and exposed your nakedness in your promiscuity with your lovers, and because of all your detestable idols, and because you gave them your children’s blood in sacrifice, therefore I am going to gather all your lovers, with whom you found pleasure, those you loved as well as those you hated. I will gather them against you from all around and will strip you in front of them, and they will see all your nakedness. I will sentence you to the punishment of women who commit adultery and who shed blood; I will bring upon you the blood vengeance of my wrath and jealous anger.

When a prophet—that is, an individual who has made a leap to a higher psychoclass—maligned his inferiors, he received insults. Isaiah (57: 4-5) wrote:

Whom are you mocking? At whom do you sneer and stick out your tongue? Are you not a brood of rebels, the offspring of liars? You burn with lust among the oaks and under every spreading tree; you sacrifice your children in the ravines and under the overhanging crags.

Ezekiel wrote in the 6th century B.C.; Isaiah in the 8th B.C. Although Jaynes would say that their visions were bicameral, it has been said that some of those diagnosed with schizophrenia have a much higher moral standard of values than the average individual. The very psalmist complained that people sacrificed their children to idols. But what exactly were these sacrificial rites? Since the 10th century B.C. the spoken tradition of what was to be collected in biblical texts centuries later complained that Solomon “built a high place for Chemosh, the detestable god of Moab, and for Molech, the detestable god of the Ammonites,” and that his wives made offerings to these gods (1 Kings 11: 7-8). And even before, from the third book of the Torah we read the commandment: “Do not give any of your children to be passed through the fire to Molech, for you must not profane the name of your God.” (Leviticus 18:21). A couple of pages later (20: 2-5) it says:

Say to the Israelites: “Any Israelite or any alien living in Israel who sacrifices any of his children to Molech must be put to death. The people of the community are to stone him. I will set my face against that man and I will cut him off from his people; for by giving his children to Molech, he has defiled my sanctuary and profaned my holy name. If the people of the community close their eyes when that man gives one of his children to Molech and they fail to put him to death, I will set my face against that man and his family and will cut off from their people both him and all who follow him in prostituting themselves to Molech.”

Despite these admonitions, the influential anthropologist James Frazer interpreted some biblical passages as indicating that the god of the early Hebrews, unlike the emergent god quoted above, required sacrifices of children. After all, “God” is but the projection of the Jungian Self of a human being at a given point of the human theodicy. Unlike Milner, a Christian frightened by the idea, I do not see it impossible that the ancient Hebrews have emerged from an infanticidal psychoclass to a more emergent one. In “The Dying God,” part three of The Golden Bough, Frazer calls our attention to these verses of Exodus (22: 29-30):

Do not hold back offerings from your granaries or your vats. You must give me the firstborn of your sons. Do the same with your cattle and your sheep. Let them stay with their mothers for seven days, but give them to me on the eighth day.

A similar passage can be read in Numbers (18: 14-15), and this one (3: 11-13) seems revealing:

The Lord also said to Moses, “I have taken the Levites from among the Israelites in place of the first male offspring of every Israelite woman. The Levites are mine, for all the firstborn are mine. When I struck down all the firstborn in Egypt, I set apart for myself every firstborn in Israel, whether man or animal. They are to be mine. I am the Lord.”

The psychohistorian Howard Stein, who has written several scholarly articles on Judaism since the mid-1970s, concludes in an article of 2009 that the gathered information suggests a particular interpretation. According to Stein, the substrate of fear for the slaughter “helps to explain the valency that the High Holiday have for millions of Jews world-wide,” presumably echoes of very ancient happenings.

In contrast to what we were taught in Sunday school as children, Moses did not write the Torah: it was not written before the Persian period. In fact, the most sacred book of the Jews includes four different sources.

Since the 17th century thinkers such as Spinoza and Hobbes had researched the origins of the Pentateuch, and the consensus of contemporary studies is that the final edition is dated by the 5th century B.C. (the biblical Moses, assuming that ever existed, would have lived in the 13th century B.C.). Taking into account the contradictions and inconsistencies in the Bible—for example, Isaiah abhorred animal sacrifice—it should not surprise us that the first chapter of Leviticus consist only of animal sacrifices, which the “Lord” called holocausts to be offered at the entrance of the Tent of Meeting. After killing, skinning and butchering the animal, the priest incinerates everything on the altar “as a burnt offering to the Lord; it is a pleasing aroma, a special gift presented to the Lord.” A phrase that is repeated three times in that first chapter, it also appears in subsequent chapters and reminds me those words by Cortés to Charles V about the Mesoamerican sacrifices (“…they take many girls and boys and even adults, and in the presence of these idols they open their chests while they are still alive and take out their hearts and entrails and burn them before the idols, offering the smoke as the sacrifice”). In the book of Exodus (34:20) even the emerging transition of child sacrifice to lamb sacrifice can be guessed in some passages, what gave rise to the legend of Abraham:

For the first foal of a donkey, they should give a lamb or a goat instead of the ass, but if you do not give, you break the neck of the donkey. You must also give an offering instead of each eldest child. And no one is to appear before me empty-handed.

Compared with other infanticidal peoples the projection of the demanding father had been identical, but the emergency to a less dissociated layer of the human psyche is clearly visible. As noted by Jaynes, the Bible is a treasure to keep track of the greatest psychogenic change in history. The Hebrews sacrificed their children just as other peoples, but eventually they would leave behind the barbaric practice.

After the captivity in the comparatively more civilized Babylon in 586 B.C., the Jews abandoned their practices. In his book King Manasseh and Child Sacrifice: Biblical Distortions of Historical Realities, published in 2004, Francesca Stavrakopoulou argues that child sacrifice was part of the worship of Yahweh, and that the practice was condemned only after the exile. Like their Christian successors, the Jews had sublimated their filicidal desires in the Passover ritual. Each year they celebrate the liberation of their people and remember how Yahweh killed the firstborn Egyptians: legendary resonance of the habit of killing one’s eldest son.

But the biblical Moloch (in Hebrew without vowels, מלך, mlk), represented as a human figure with a bull’s head was not only a Canaanite god. It also was a god of the descendants of the Canaanites, the Phoenicians. The founding myth of Moloch was similar to that of many other religions: sacrifices were compensation for a catastrophe from the beginning of time.

Above I said that Plutarch, Tertullian, Orosius, Philo, Cleitarchus and Diodorus Siculus mentioned the practice of the burning children to Moloch in Carthage, but refrained from wielding the most disturbing details. Diodorus says that every child who was placed in the outstretched hands of Moloch fell through the open mouth of the heated bronze statue, into the fire. When at the beginning of the 3rd century B.C. Agathocles defeated Carthage, desperate and immersed in the most abject magical thinking the Carthaginians began to burn their children in a huge sacrifice as a tactical “defense” before the enemy. The sources mention 300 incinerated children. Had I run a career of film director, I would feel the obligation to visually show to humanity their infamous past by filming the massive red-hot bronze statue while the Greek forces besieged the city, engulfing child after child, who would slide down to the bottom of the flaming chimney. In addition to Carthage, the worship of Moloch, whose ritual was held outdoors, was widespread in other Phoenician cities. He was widely worshiped in the Middle East and in the Punic cultures of the time, including several Semitic peoples and as far as the Etruscans. Various sacrificial tophets have been found in North Africa, Sicily, Sardinia, Malta, outside Tyre and at a temple of Amman.

Terracotta urns containing the cremated remains of children, discovered in 1817, have been photographed numerous times. However, since the late 1980s some Italian teachers began to question the historicity of the accounts of classical writers. Tunisian nationalists took advantage, including the president whose presidential palace near the suburban sea is very close the ruins of the ancient city of Carthage. The Tunisian tourist guides even make foreigners believe the Carthaginians did not perform sacrifices (something similar to what some ignorant Mexican tourist guides do in Chiapas). Traditional historians argue that the fact that the remains are from very young children suggests sacrifice, not cremation by natural death as alleged by the revisionists. The sacrificial interpretation of Carthage is also suggested by the fact that, along with the children, there are charred remains of lambs (remember the biblical quote that an evolved Yahweh implies that the slaughter of sheep was a barter for the firstborn). This suggests that some Carthaginians replaced animals in the sacrificial rite: data inconsistent with the revisionist theory that the tophet was a normal cemetery. To make matters worse, the word mlk (Moloch) appears in many stelae as a dedication to this god. Had there been simple burials it would not make sense to find these stelae dedicated to the god of fire: the graves are not marked with offerings to the gods.

Finally, although the classical writers were bitter enemies of the Carthaginians, historical violence is exercised by rejecting all accounts, since the time of Alexander to the Common Era. The revisionism on Carthage has been a phenomenon that is not part of new archaeological discoveries, or newly discovered ancient texts. The revisionists simply put into question the veracity of the accounts of classical writers, and they try to rationalize the archaeological data by stressing our credulity to the breaking point. Brian Garnand, of the University of Chicago, concluded in his monograph on the Phoenician sacrifice that “the distinguished scholars of the ridimensionamento [revisionism] have not proven their case.” Nonetheless, I must say that the revisionists do not bother me. What I cannot tolerate are those individuals who, while accepting the reality of the Carthaginian sacrifice, idealize it. On September 1, 1987 an article in the New York Times, “Relics of Carthage Show Brutality Amid the Good Life” contains this nefarious phrase: “some scholars assert, the practice of infanticide helped produce Carthage’s great wealth and its flowering of artistic achievement.” The memory of these sacrificed children has not been fully vindicated even by present-day standards.

The Carthaginian tophet is the largest cemetery of humans, of boys and girls in fact, ever discovered. After the Third Punic War Rome forced the Carthaginians to learn Latin, just as the Spanish imposed their language to the conquered Mexicans. Personally, what most worries me is that there is evidence in the tophets of remains of tens of thousands of children killed by fire over many centuries. I cannot shudder more over imagining what would had become of our civilization had the Semitic Hannibal reached Rome.

Lately I have had contact with a child that a couple of days ago has turned six years old; who loves his mother very much, and physically resembles me. I confess that to imagine what must have felt a Carthaginian boy the same age when his beloved dad turned him over the imposing bronze statue… to imagine what must have felt for such an astronomical betrayal when he writhed with infinite pain in the fiery furnace, moved me to write this epilogue. Although I was not physically murdered (only soul-murdered), every time I run into stories of a sacrificed firstborn it is hard to avoid them touching my inner fiber.

In the final book of this work I’ll go back to my autobiography, and we shall see if after such grim findings mankind has the right to exist.

Mexico City, 2007
revised in 2012



Footnotes:

[1] Birdsell, Joseph, B. (1986), “Some predictions for the Pleistocene based on equilibrium systems among recent hunter gatherers”, in Richard Lee and Irven DeVore, Man the Hunter, Aldine Publishing Co., p. 239.

[2] Williamson, Laila (1978), “Infanticide: an anthropological analysis”, in Kohl, Marvin, Infanticide and the Value of Life, New York: Prometheus Books, pp. 61-75.

[3] Milner, Larry S. (2000). Hardness of Heart / Hardness of Life: The Stain of Human Infanticide. Lanham/New York/Oxford: University Press of America, p. 19.

[4] Hoffer, Peter, N.E.H. Hull (1981). Murdering Mothers: Infanticide in England and America, 1558-1803. New York University Press, p. 3.

[5] Simons, E. L. (1989). “Human origins”. Science, 245: p. 1344.

[6] Neel, James. (1970). “Lessons from a ‘primitive’ people”. Science, 1: p. 816.

[7] Milner: Hardness of Heart (op. cit.) p. 324.

[8] Brown, Shelby (1991). Late Carthaginian Child Sacrifice and Sacrificial Monuments in their Mediterranean Context. Sheffield Academic Press, pp. 22s. See also: Stager, Lawrence, Samuel R. Wolff (1984). “Child sacrifice at Carthage —religious rite or population control?” Biblical Archaeology Review 10: pp. 31-51.

[9] Hughes, Dennis D. (1991). Human Sacrifice in Ancient Greece. Routledge, p. 187.

[10] Philo (1950). The Special Laws. Harvard University Press, Tomo VII, pp. 117s, 551, 549.

[11] Naphtali, Lewis, ed. (1985), “Papyrus Oxyrhynchus 744”, Life in Egypt Under Roman Rule, Oxford University Press, p. 54.

[12] Radville, Samuel X. (1974), “A history of child abuse and infanticide”, in Steinmetz, Suzanne K. and Murray A. Strauss, Violence in the Family, New York: Dodd, Mead & Co., pp. 173-179.

[13] Tacitus (1931). The Histories. London: William Heinemann, Vol. II, p. 183.

[14] Josephus (1976). The Works of Flavius Josephus, “Against Apion”. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, II.25, p. 597.

[15] John Boswell (1988). The Kindness of Strangers. New York: Vintage Books, p. 211.

[16] Lubbock, John (1865). Pre-historic Times, as Illustrated by Ancient Remains, and the Manners and Customs of Modern Savages. London: Williams and Norgate, p. 176.

[17] Loren Cobb signs under a penname in Wikipedia. His post appeared in Talk:Psychohistory (03:41, April 3, 2008).

[18] Robinson, J. Armitage (traductor) (1920), “Didache”, Barnabas, Hermar and the Didache, Vol. D.ii.2c, New York: The MacMillan Co., p. 112.

[19] Ibídem, Epistle of Barnabas, xix. 5d.

[20] Radbill, Samuel X. (1974), “A history of child abuse and infanticide”, in Steinmetz, Suzanne K. and Murray A. Straus, Violence in the Family, New York: Dodd, Mead & Co., pp. 173-179.

[21] John Boswell (1984). “Exposition and oblation: the abandonment of children and the ancient and medieval family”. American Historical Review 89: pp. 10-33.

[22] Langer, William L. (1974). “Infanticide: a historical survey”. History of Childhood Quarterly, 1, pp. 353-366.

[23] Trexler, Richard (1973). “Infanticide in Florence: new sources and first results”. History of Childhood Quarterly, 1: p. 99.

[24] Dorson, Richard (1968). Peasant Customs and Savage Myths: Selections from the British Folklorists. University of Chicago Press, p. 351.

[25] Westrup, C.W. (1944). Introduction to Roman Law. Oxford University Press, p. 249.

[26] Turville-Petre, Gabriel (1964). Myth and Religion of the North: The Religion of Ancient Scandinavia. New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston, p. 253.

[27] Ransel, David (1988). Mothers of Misery. Princeton University Press, pp. 10-12.

[28] McLennan: Studies in Ancient History (op. cit.), pp. 105s.

[29] Kennan, George (1986 [originally published in 1871]). Tent Life in Siberia. New York: Gibbs Smith.

[30] Polo, Marco (1965). The Travels. Middlesex: Penguin Books, p. 174.

[31] Yu-Lan, Fung (1952). A History of Chinese Philosophy. Princeton University Press, p. 327.

[32] Yao, Esther S. Lee (1983). Chinese Women: Past and Present. Mesquite: Ide House, p. 75.

[33] Kushe, Helga and Peter Singer (1985). Should the Baby Live? Oxford University Press, p. 106.

[34] Shiono, Hiroshi and Atoyo Maya, Noriko Tabata, Masataka Fujiwara, Jun-ich Azumi and Mashahiko Morita (1986). “Medicolegal aspects of infanticide in Hokkaido District, Japan”. American Journal of Forensic Medicine and Pathology, 7: p. 104.

[35] Vaux, Kenneth (1989). Birth Ethics. New York: Crossroad, p. 12.

[36] Westermarck, Edward (1968). A Short History of Marriage. New York: Humanities Press, Vol. III, p. 162.

[37] Panigrahi, Lalita (1972). British Social Policy and Female Infanticidein India. New Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal, p. 18.

[38] Davies, Nigel (1981). Human Sacrifice. New York: William Morrow & Co, p. 18.

[39] Milner: Hardness of Heart, (op. cit.), p. 59. See also: Smith, William Robertson (1903). Kinship and Marriage in Early Arabia. London: Adam & Charles Block, p. 293.

[40] The Koran, XVII:31. See also LXXXI:8-9, XVI:60-62, XVII:42 and XLII:48.

[41] Milner: Hardness of Heart (op. cit.) pp. 160s.

[42] LeVine, Sarah and Robert LeVine (1981), “Child abuse and neglect in Sub-Saharan Africa”, in Korbin, Jill, Child Abuse and Neglect, Berkeley: University of California Press, p. 39.

[43] Lévy-Brühl, Lucien (1923). Primitive Mentality. London: George Allen & Unwin Ltd., p. 150.

[44] Schapera, I.A. (1955). A Handbook of Tswana Law and Custom. Oxford University Press, p. 261.

[45] Sumner, William (1956 [originally published in 1906]). Folkways: A Study of the Sociological Importance of Usages, Manners, Customs, Mores, and Morals. Oxford University Press, p. 274.

[46] Basden, G.T. (1996). Niger Ibos. New York: Barnes & Noble, pp. 180-184, 262s.

[47] Miller, Nathan (1928). The Child in Primitive Society. New York: Bretano’s, p. 37.

[48] Davies: Human Sacrifice (op. cit.), p. 143.

[49] McLennan, J.F. (1886). Studies in Ancient History, The Second Series. New York: MacMillan & Co., Ltd., pp. 90s.

[50] Guppy, H.B. (1887). The Solomon Islands and Their Natives. London: Swan Sonnenschein, p. 42.

[51] Frazer, J.G. (1935). The Golden Bough. New York: MacMillan Co., pp. 332s.

[52] Langness, L.L. (1984), “Child abuse and cultural values: the case of New Guinea”, in Korbin, Jill, Child Abuse and Neglect: Cross-Cultural Perspectives, Berkeley: University of California Press, p. 15.

[53] Malinowski, Bronislaw (1963). The Family Among the Australian Aborigines. New York: Scocken Books, p. 235.

[54] Róheim, Géza (1962). “The Western tribes of Central Australia: childhood”. The Psychoanalytic Study of Society, 2: p. 200.

[55] Smyth, Brough (1878). The Aborigines of Australia. London: John Ferres, p. 52.

[56] Dickeman, Mildred (1975). “Demographic consequences of infanticide in man”. Annual Review of Ecology and Systematics, 6: p. 121.

[57] Howitt, A.W. (1904). The Native Tribes of South-East Australia. MacMillan & Co., Ltd., pp. 749s.

[58] Malthus, Thomas Robert (1963). On Population. New York: The Modern Library, I.III, p. 170.

[59] Bonney, Frederic (1884). “On some customs of the aborigines of the River Darling”. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland, 13: p. 125.

[60] Cowlishaw, Gillian (1978). “Infanticide in aboriginal Australia”. Oceania, 48: p. 267.

[61] Murdock, G.P. (1971). Our Primitive Contemporaries. New York: Macmillan, p. 34.

[62] Frazer, James George (1963). The Dying God. New York: Macmillan, p. 180.

[63] Murdock: Our Primitive Contemporaries (op. cit.), p. 34.

[64] Spencer, Baldwin, F.J. Gillen (1904). The Northern Tribes of Central Australia. London: MacMillan & Co., p. 475.

[65] Yengoyan, Aram (1972). “Biological and demographic components in aboriginal Australian socio-economic organization”. Oceania, 43: p. 88.

[66] Roth, H. Ling (1899). The Aborigines of Tasmania. Halifax: King & Sons, pp. 162s.

[67] Murdock: Our Primitive Contemporaries (op. cit.), p. 7.

[68] Ritchie, Jane and James Ritchie (1979). Growing Up in Polynesia. Sydney: George Allen & Unwin, p. 39.

[69] Firth, Raymond (1983). Primitive Polynesian Economy. London: Routledge, p. 44.

[70] Dibble, Sheldon (1839). History and General Views of the Sandwich Islands Mission. New York: Taylor & Dodd, p. 123.

[71] Handy, E.S. and Mary Kawena Pukui (1958). The Polynesian Family System in Ka-’U, Hawaii. New Plymouth, New Zealand: Avery Press, p. 327.

[72] Ritchie: Growing Up in Polynesia (op. cit.), p. 189.

[73] Oliver, Douglas (1974). Ancient Tahitan Society. Honolulu: University Press of Hawii, Tomo I, p. 425.

[74] Schrire, Carmel and William Lee Steiger (1974). “A matter of life and death: an investigation into the practice of female infanticide in the Artic”. Man: The Journal of the Royal Anthropological Society, 9: p. 162.

[75] Fridtjof, Nansen (1894). Eskimo Life. London: Longmans, Green & Co., p. 152.

[76] Garber, Clark (1947). “Eskimo Infanticide”. Scientific monthly, 64: p. 98.

[77] Langer: “Infanticide: a historical survey” (op. cit.), p. 354.

[78] Balikci, Asen (1984), “Netslik”, in Damas, David, Handbook of North American Indians (Arctic), Washington DC: Smithsonian Institution, p. 427.

[79] Savishinsky, Joel and Hiroko Sue Hara (1981), “Hare”, in Helm, June, Handbook of North American Indians (Subarctic). Smithsonian Institution, p. 322. See also: Gillespie, Beryl (1981), “Mountain Indians”, in Helm, June, Handbook of North American Indians (Subarctic). Smithsonian Institution, p. 331.

[80] Shimkin, Demitri, B. (1986), “Eastern Shoshone”, in D’Azevedo, Warren L., Handbook of North American Indians (Great Basin). Smithsonian Institution, p. 330.

[81] Riddell, Francis (1978), “Maidu and Konkow”, in Heizer, Robert F., Handbook of North American Indians (California). Smithsonian Institution, p. 381.

[82] Campbell, T.N. (1983), “Coahuitlecans and their neighbors”, in Ortiz, Alonso, Handbook of North American Indians (Southwest). Smithsonian Institution, p. 352.

[83] Johnson, Orna (1981), “The socioeconomic context of child abuse and neglect in native South America”, in Korbin, Jill, Child Abuse and Neglect, Berkeley: University of California Press, p. 63.

[84] Cotlow, Lewis (1971). The Twilight of the Primitive. New York: Macmillan, p. 65.

[85] de Meer, Kees, Roland Bergman and John S. Kushner (1993). “Socio-cultural determinations of child mortality in Southern Peru: including some methodological considerations”. Social Science and Medicine, 36: pp. 323, 328.

[86] Hastings, James (1955). Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics. NY: Scribner’s Sons, Vol. I, p. 6.

[87] Bugos, Paul E. and Lorraine M. McCarthy (1984), “Ayoreo infanticide: a case study”, in Hausfater, Glenn and Sarah Blaffer Hrdy, Infanticide, Comparative and Evolutionary Perspectives, New York: Aldine, p. 510.

[88] Manier, Bénédicte (2007), Cuando las mujeres hayan desaparecido: la eliminación de las niñas en la India y en Asia, Ediciones Cátedra.

[89] Sargent, Carolyn (1988). “Born to die: witchcraft and infanticide in Bariba culture”. Ethnology 27: p. 81.

[90] Murphy, Paul (May 21, 1995), “Killing baby girls routine in India”, San Francisco Examiner: p. C12.


[Index page for this book here]

Translation of pages 483-541 of “Hojas susurrantes”

by Cesar Tort

The Feathered Serpent

For the previous translated chapter see: here. Some translations of 16th century Spanish texts, including Aztec poetry, are mine. Sentences between squared brackets do not appear in the original version of the manuscript.

For my original manuscript in Spanish see: here.




“The world’s most beautiful city”

Bernal Díaz del Castillo would write in his memoirs about what he saw with his brothers in arms in route to Tenochtitlan when he was twenty-two years old:

And since we saw so many inhabited cities and towns on the water, and on solid ground other large towns, and that causeway so straight and leveled that went to Mexico-Tenochtitlan, we were wonder-stricken, and we said to each other that it all seemed like the enchantment tales of the Amadís book, for the great towers and cúes [temples] and edifices, that they have inside the water, and all of them the product of masonry work, and still some of our soldiers said if all of what they saw was dreamlike.

When the gloomy Luther hammered his theses on the Wittenberg’s gates, no man of the white race knew of the existence of another continent and of the most extensive power that Mesoamerica knew of: an empire that touched both oceans, the capital of which was inundated with light. And even in our times the enormous plaza that amazed Bernal Díaz is unknown because his comrades razed it in its entirety. Notwithstanding that after the conquest Rodrigo de Castañeda blamed Hernán Cortés for wanting to preserve the temples and its effigies, Mexico-Tenochtitlan was the object of a systematic vandalism. Not even one edifice remained standing in what today is Mexico City, something that reminds us what the Romans did in the Third Punic War: they did not leave stone upon stone in Carthage, and built a Roman city on its ruins. Not satisfied with that, after the physical devastation by the soldiers, Zumárraga burned the Mexica libraries. As an Aztec poem says:

We are to leave the beautiful songs
We are to leave the beautiful flowers

However, under New Spain’s edifices some unearthed footings have allowed modern architects to reconstruct how the ancient Indian city looked [see the pictorial reconstruction by Marquina below], in addition to the descriptions of the captain of the conquistadors, who informs us that the streets of Tenochtitlan—:

are very wide and straight, some of them, and all of the other are half of earth and the other half of water, through which they go in their canoes, and all the streets, from stretch to stretch, are opened through where water passes from the ones to the others, and in all of these openings, that some of them are very wide, there are bridges of very wide and large beams together and stout and well carved, and they are such that that ten horses, together eye to eye, can pass through many of them.

Cortés himself wrote to Carlos V that it was la más hermosa cosa del mundo (“the world’s most beautiful thing”). Much larger than Seville, the largest Spanish city of those times, three roads converged toward the center of the lacustrine city, uniting the island with the coast. “It is admirable to see how much reason they employ with all things,” wrote Cortés to the king. On the streets of a city that shone like a jewel of stone and water and sky, the dwellers used to go out “for a ride, some through the water on these boats and others on the land, and they go on conversing.”

The sacred enclosed area
according to the reconstruction
by architect Ignacio Marquina

Tenochtitlan was an object of admiration for its thirty palaces of reddish and porous rock, for its houses for upper-class people (according to conqueror Diego de Ordás, superior to those in Spain); its immense set of immaculate white houses and constructions decorated with bas-reliefs and stone sculptures (in contrast to other peoples who made them of clay), some statues even decorated with gold, feathers and animal skins; for its yellow macaw feathers; for its precious stones such as the green of the jade and the red of the garnets; for “its florid hymns in the Spring and the flower of the opened Nahua heart,” and because in that unwonted world, which had never been found a practical use for the wheel, thousands of canoes, the largest capable of transporting up to sixty Indians, converged every day in the lacustrine city.

The central plaza shown in the above image (in which place today there is a Zócalo infested with what in my previous book I called “the marabunta of Neanderthals”) took the form of a rectangle. The monuments were adorned with frescoes, lost forever after the collapse of the walls that sustained them, and besides the aqueduct there were fountains that burst forth form the soil of the central island. The palace of Nezahualcóyotl in Texcoco, a state that belonged to the triple alliance together with Tenochtitlan and Tlacopan, was fenced with more than two thousand sabines. In addition to this palace, Nezahualcóyotl had gardens in other locations “with docks full of roses and flowers, and many fruits and rosebushes of the earth, and a pond of fresh water, and another thing to see: that in the flower and fruit garden the large canoes could enter from the lagoon through an opening they had made, without jumping on the ground, and everything very whitewashed and flashing, of many forms of stones and paintings on them that there was so much to ponder.” As in my childhood imaginings recounted in my previous book [La India Chingada], the labyrinths and the artificial cascades of those gardens provided a fresh and invigorating environment.

We can imagine the impression that this world—totally apart from the known civilization—caused in the Europeans, who never ceased to be amazed at the richness of the iridescent clothing; the colors and drawings on the women’s attire with their bluish-purple hair dyed so that it shone, and the teeth stained black with cochineal; the clothing of the nobles decorated in polychromatic embroidery with drawings that represented hearts, and the showing off of necklaces of stings of jade, turquoise or enormous objects of diorite; wigs and jaguar skins, bracelets on the arms and ankles, or the simple “crowd of swarthy-skinned people under their white dresses.” The warriors painted their faces with stripes; others with yellow-ocher powder, spreading out the feet with copal ointments and tattooing their hands with schemes. It was a spectacle to see them around the emperor, the cloth banners and the immense adornments of gold and exquisitely cut quetzal feathers forming bouquets of a thousand colors; arts elaborated under a mosaic-like technique in sharp contrast to the blackish clothes of the priests with figures of skulls and human bones. How mistaken is the petrified image of Diego Rivera’s Anahuacalli Museum to convey the universe opened to the free, luminous and multicolor air of the Aztecs. But how accurate are Rivera’s own murals!

The palace of Moctezuma (which occupied the place where later would be constructed what today is the Palacio Nacional) also caused a stupor in the Europeans. Built with porous volcanic stone, it had more than a hundred bathrooms; walls covered with mosaics and roofs of precious woods; zoos and botanic gardens, pools and flower gardens. The wooden cages were in the charge of hundreds of men who attended the birds, wild cats, pumas, jaguars and coyotes; there were large ponds with herons, ducks, swans and an enormous collection of serpents. The zoo even had human freaks such as dwarfs and albinos.

The humble Nahua male who lived far from the Great Teocalli had so little time indoors and plenty of time outdoors, and when looking up from his chinampa he constantly saw “the silhouette of the pyramids and the blinding white of the edifices under the noonday sun.” (At present the footings of the Spanish buildings are full of pre-Hispanic stone and of the fragments of the bas-reliefs and the statues.) It could scarcely be said that there was profane art: practically all art was charged with religious content. Tlatelolco, the twin city of Mexico, had a plaza about the triple size of Salamanca. (From now on I will avoid the word “Aztec” which was not used until the 18th century. Instead I shall use the original term “Mexicas,” without “n,” or alternatively “ancient Mexicans.”) The appearance of the Mexica capital was of a double city. The main commercial neighborhood “sparked with the shouting of the market’s sales people.” In Tlatelolco the great temple of Huitzilopochtli was impressive because there were no other temples around that cast any shadow on it.

Tenochtitlan was an amphibian city in the middle of “waters of flowers, waters of gold, waters of emerald,” a city in such a spaced architecture of the Valley of Mexico that it had as roof the sky, and as foundation the immense greenish-blue Texcoco lake. The quantity of gods of the Mexica pantheon was so large—of the principal deities alone there were about two hundred—that the chroniclers lost count. The terraces of the nobles were crowned with gardens. Moctezuma, who had many children with his wives and concubines, had three thousand servants in his palace. The Great Pyramid or Tenochtitlan or Teocalli, shown in the above illustration, rested upon a space of 100 meters long by 80 meters wide, and it was 60 meters high. The façade began with great serpent heads, and on the platform statues supported the banners that were displayed at the celebrations. The pyramid was completely surrounded by serpent heads, which formed a fortified outer wall of approximately 400 meters long by 300 meters wide, with four doors. The two shrines, inhabited by the Tláloc-Huitzilopochtli duality, were painted: one white and blue on the north side, the other white and red on the south side. The last one was embellished with engraved skulls and battlements with the form of butterflies. To defend the temple of Huitzilopochtli was considered one of the duties of the sovereigns. Sun and rain, Huitzilopochtli and Tláloc, were the legacy of the Tenochcas: nomad warriors and sedentary Mexicas. The shrines that crowned the truncated pyramid were tight but high enclosures, which sheltered a pair of three-meter statues of these gods. The crested roofs imitated the Maya temples, and conveyed the visual effect of higher altitude. (It is remarkable that on the other side of the Atlantic a very similar structure, the Ziggurat, had been common in the Chaldean and Babylonian temples: cultures that Julian Jaynes also called bicameral kingdoms.)

The ancient Mexicans gladly detached from themselves their best art: burying animals, feathers, flowers, insects, treasures, and even human beings as offerings to the deities. The temples themselves were an immense offering loaded inside with the remains of these sacrifices that remained trapped each time that the edifice was reconstructed. The Great Pyramid or Tenochtitlan was reconstructed several times. Just as the Teotihuacan and Maya temples, it possessed several layers, one above the other like Russian nested dolls. When the Spaniards destroyed the temple they found that its entrails hid innumerable jewels of gold, precious stones and bones that had remained enclosed as an offering. Inside this pyramid was also located the military theocratic school for the education of the elite of the Mexica boys. Drawn using a perfect arithmetic that reminds us of Teotihuacan, in front of the Great Pyramid the temple of Quetzalcoatl looked special, the only circular edifice of the great plaza, and on one of the Great Pyramid’s sides, the pyramid of Tezcatlipoca. Around the temples there were annexes for worship such as the tzompantli full of decapitated human heads, many of them decomposed until they turned into skulls, artistically placed in horizontal order. The houses of the Indian chiefs were enormous constructions of wood. The largest rooms were more than thirty meters long and thirty meters wide.

It is curious that my imaginings when taking a bath in my house of San Lorenzo, as recounted in my previous book [I was seven years old], had a counterpart in the reality of the past. It is true that in those imaginings I did not visualize the resonating drums or the reddish homes of the temples, if we consider that in Tenochtitlan mostly percussion instruments were used. But something of these dances and collective intoxication, a catharsis of something recondite in the Nahua soul, reached the mind of the child I was then. (Many have listened to the group of children, myself included, playing the vertical drum called huéhuetl thanks to a commercial recording made when I studied in the musical method of my father: a man passionate for the native folklore.) The great dance celebrated at the bottom level of the pyramids lasted hours under the light of huge braziers deep in the night. Dances started at the hiding of the sun amidst the sound of the flutes (precisely what I imagined hearing when I was a child), the drums of the temples, and the flames of the enormous tripods burning woods. Nothing was more important, writes Jacques Soustelle, than these songs and dances for the ancient Mexicans.

Nothing of my name will some day be?
Nothing of my fame on earth?
At least the flowers, at least the songs!



Sahagún’s exclamation

As an immigrant I have worked in the heart of Houston, in the middle of its skyscrapers. The photographic postcards of downtown I saw in the hotel where I worked were deceptive: they flaunted only the luminous side of the Texan city. They never showed what I saw a few blocks away from my job: ugly streets, dreadful misery and homeless blacks.

Something similar can be said about the illustrations of the previous section. If Tenochtitlan was kept beautiful it was because of the captive people from other towns forced to work. The Anonymous Conqueror tells us that the war prisoners whom the Mexicas would not cannibalize were made slaves. Had one of them written an autobiography, say, like the ones written by those women who escape the countries under Sharia, it would be a literary sensation in our times. And who had worked to build up the great temples and to open the wide avenues? The swarms of workers around the Texcoco lake, forced to work as part of the towns’ tribute to the empire, should not have looked very different from the scenes of Apocalypto before the camera showed us the center of the Maya city.

Eye to eye with its beauty, handicapped people, thieves and prostitutes were also visible in Tenochtitlan; and unlike the nobles, the common people carried only a loincloth and a special cape, not of cotton cloth but derived from the threads of the maguey cactus, and walked barefoot before their superiors. Only those elevated in the social strata were allowed to wear sandals. And just as in contemporary Mexico City, with its old mansions of Las Lomas or the Americanized building district in Santa Fe coexisting with the poorest neighborhoods, unlike the Nezahualcóyotl palaces and the mansions near the Teocalli, the Mexica common home consisted of a single sleeping room.

It is true that flowers and death adorn the lyrics of the Mexicas. But a line of one of their poems—“Let’s hope (prisoners) are dragged here, All the country must be desolated”—unveils the other side of the Nahua soul. In that world flowers rain incessantly beside the macabre, although magnificent, Mexica statuary. Every time I watch the panic stare of the Chac Mool found at the footings of the Great Pyramid of Tenochtitlan I ask myself what could he have been looking at (excavations performed between 1978 and 2000 in the temple recovered more than a hundred skulls, many of them of children). There is much truth, and also much deception, in the illustration of the previous section. For example, blood is not shown on the staircases. In the real Tenochtitlan, not in the idealized postcard, the very steep temple staircases—whose purpose was that the bodies could fall without obstacles—were stained with sacrificial blood (such staircases’ blood is visible in one of Rivera’s murals and in Gibson’s film).

In the pictorial reconstruction based on the plans of the architect Ignacio Marquina, the pathos of the sacrifice that is taking place over the immense stone quauhtemaláctl is also missing, a stone that in the illustration is visible in the plaza of the Great Teocalli. This circular stone was used as theater of a gladiatorial sacrifice where the attackers gradually injured a leg, the head or the abdomen of a man tethered to the stone in a ritual properly called tlahuahuanaliztli, “the laceration.” (This was the human equivalent to a wounded bull in bullfighting, where those colorful sticks with a barbed point are placed on the top of the bull’s shoulder.) At the end of the gladiatorial sacrifice the human heart was extracted. This was such an important spectacle that the king Axayácatl requested the manpower of hundreds of men to drag the monumental stone from the road that united Coyoacán with Tenochtitlan. Needless to say, the comfort that in the illustration the noble who watches the spectacle experiences under the shadow is the inverse of what in real life the lacerated man must have felt in the world’s most beautiful city.

As of this writing, during the previous month the movie Apocalypto was still in the Mexican theaters. Contrary to the prognostication that it would not have a good welcome in Mexico, the film’s revenues displaced other memorable movies. Still, many people became furious claiming that it was unjust to focus on the dark side of the Maya culture instead of its mathematics, astronomy, or disappearance. Guatemala Indian activists asked the public not to go to the theaters and some people even denied the historicity of human sacrifice in pre-Columbian America. One of the craziest Mexicans wrote a month before the premier: “Personally, I’m ashamed of the little Spanish blood I have. I prefer to be a cannibal and demonstrate the splendor of this culture far higher than the Spanish. I crave to die at the obsidian’s edge. Our hearts only want the glorious death.” (Obsidian is brittle; the Mexicas used instead silex knife blades.) As a response to this rending of nationalist garments, in an editorial of the Mexican newspaper Reforma Juan Pardinas wrote: “The bad news is that this historical interpretation bears some resemblances with reality. Mel Gibson’s characters are more similar to the Mayas of the Bonampak murals that the ones that appear in the SEP school textbooks,” the Mexican Secretariat of Public Education, where children learn that the ancient Yucatecans used the zero before the Europeans. This is like saying that the Maya had been a civilization of thinkers and scientists: the Indian Athens of the Americas. But what not even Gibson dared to show us on the silver screen is that not only adults, but also small kids had been victims of Maya sacrifices.

The sacrifice of children in Mesoamerica began many centuries before the nomadic tribes of the north established themselves around the Texcoco Lake. In El Manatí, an Olmec archaeological site in Veracruz associated with a sacrificial ritual, bones have been found of babies; femurs and skulls. After the Olmecs there came the Teotihuacans. In the Pyramid of the Sun, the largest of the Valley of Mexico, Leopoldo Batres discovered at the beginning of the twentieth century several child skeletons: offerings to the god of the water (the Teotihuacans were contemporaries of the Mayas). When I saw a photograph of the skeletons in the Pyramid of the Moon it reminded me the horrific finding of sacrificed and cocooned humans in a high wall of the film Aliens.

Let us skip the history of similar findings throughout the twentieth century and focus on the present century.

On December 2005 Reforma published an article about archeologist Ricardo Armijo Torres’s finding in Comalcalco, a Chontalpa region that some believe was the cradle of the Maya civilization, where the Mayas had perpetrated “a massive sacrifice of children of approximately one or two years old.” Chichén-itzá was named one of the new Seven Wonders of the World in 2007, with both the proud nationals and the foreign fans ignoring the fact that it had been the location of a ritual carnage. The Chac Mool at the top of the temple has a stone vessel used to hold the hearts of sacrificed humans. Thousands of Mayas died in ritual sacrifices in times of great droughts: a pointless holocaust that could not save Chichén-itzá from its fate. In the Maya ball game participants sometimes played with a decapitated head. The local legends recount that maids were thrown over into the cenote. This was confirmed recently by dredging one of them and discovering the skeletons. In addition to the physical evidence there exists pictorial evidence in Maya art about the sacrificed children. On page 25 of the September-October 2003 issue, Arqueología Mexicana published a painted scene from a ceramic of the Late Classic period “that indicates that child sacrifice was performed in well-defined circumstances.” On that very page it also appears a photo of Stelae 11 of Piedras Negras, Guatemala, showing a dead child with an abdominal cavity signaling that his heart was extracted. The sacrifice of small children continued in the Post-classic period. It was also performed in the first years of the Spanish colonization, albeit clandestinely and under the protective shadow of the caves.

The Mayas abandoned their big cities and their enormous crop fields of the Classic period. Without being subjugated they conserved distant relationships with the empire of the Mexicas. Once Maya hieroglyphics were deciphered, the vision of the Maya world changed. How well I remember the moment when I received the first information on this subject when reading a book-review in The New York Times about The Blood of the Kings, published in 1986 when I lived in the States. Although I didn’t keep the review, I remember that I got excited. In those days I wrote to a friend informing her that, far from being “the Greeks of America,” the Mayas performed rituals which objective was to provoke hallucinations in the mutilated people; that they venerated blood as a magical elixir and that every ceremony, whether of birth, marriage or death bore a tribute of human blood. I will quote extensively my letters to this friend in my next book. For now I would only add that I also wrote her about a Bonampak fresco showing a Maya prince “with a wicked face,” his court and the captives lying at his feet with panic-stricken eyes, apparently asking for a pity that they would not receive (a decapitated head can be observed on the floor). The Mayas had them cut their fingertips for the precious liquid to run free. The fresco is so famous that it appeared for some time on the Mexican twenty peso banknotes. A few years later, in the cultural magazine of Octavio Paz, I read the words of a Maya scholar, Michael Coe: “Now it is surprisingly clear that the Mayas of the Classic times, and their Pre-classic ancestors, were governed by an hereditary dynasty of warriors, for whom self-sacrifice and the spilling of blood, and the sacrifice by human beheading were supreme obsessions.”

Going back to the Mexicas, Fray Diego Durán wrote about the ritual sacrifice of children in an important celebration of the Valley of Mexico with the Indian governors present. Several months of the Mexica calendar were devoted to the sacrifice of children at the top of the mounts, just what the distant Incas did. Children were transported in adorned litters along with their executioners chanting and dancing. They were made to cry so that their tears became a good omen for the raining season. The more the child cried, the happier the gods were.

The Mexica name for the first month of the year is Atlcahualo. It spans part of February in its Gregorian counterpart (the months of the Mexica calendar lasted twenty days). Children were sacrificed to the water deity Tláloc, and to Chalchiuhtlicue, “she of the jade skirt” and goddess of thermal waters. In other ceremonies children were drowned. In the third month of the calendar children were, again, sacrificed. The French ethnologist Christian Duverger wrote something that disturbed me. In his book La Fleur Létale (The Lethal Flower) this passage can be read:

The torments. In the context of the violent pre-sacrificial stimulations, I believe it is convenient to give a place to the torture, and precisely because it is only performed by the Aztecs before the human sacrifice. The torture is not necessarily integrated to the sacrificial prelude, but it may occur. The tearing off the nails of the children that had to be sacrificed to the god of the rain is a good example of ritual torture. The nails belonged to Tláloc. Through the sacrifices of the month Atlcahualo the Mexicans paid homage to the tláloques [Tláloc servants] and called for the rain. In order for the ritual to be effective, it was convenient that the children cried profusely in the moment of the sacrifice.

Then a face pack of hot rubber was applied to them and they were thrown over a pit that hardened the rubber and prevented them from breathing.

Tláloc, the rain god, was one of the most honored gods of the Mexicas. Along with the temple of Huitzilopochtli, Tláloc’s sky-blue temple existed in the highest spot of Tenochtitlan. With the skeletons discovered at the end of the twentieth century to the beginnings of the twenty-first century it was determined that dozens of children, most of them six-year-olds, were sacrificed and buried in the northwest corner of the first temple dedicated to Tláloc (keep in mind that the temple consisted of several layers; only the first survived as mere footings to the great Spanish destruction). In June of 2005 the archeologists who worked on the temple ruins announced another discovery in the footings: a sacrifice of a very young boy to Huitzilopochtli, probably during the consecration of the building.

Photo by Héctor Montaño

I confess that over the years I have harbored the morbid fantasy of finding out the aspect of the statue of Huitzilopochtli. I dream with some futuristic “machines to see the past” to know, with a wealth of detail, exactly how terrible the deity was. It is recognized that to know the soul of a culture there is nothing like having its art in front of us. Some of the pages that I like the most of Arthur Clarke’s short sci-fi stories appear in Jupiter five, where some explorers find a statue representing an alien in the art room of an abandoned ship thirty kilometers in diameter. Sometimes the Mexica world seems so distant from my civilization that the comparison does not look excessive to me.

But going back to my fantasy. The pages that I read with most interest of The Truthful History of the Conquest of New Spain were those in which Bernal Díaz described the great statue of Huitzilopochtli he saw at the top of the great pyramid:

And then our Cortés told Montezuma, with Doña Marina, the translator: “Milord, it has been your will, and much more your majesty deserves; we have been idle about seeing your cities; what I ask you as a favor, since we are already here, in your temple, that you show us your gods and teules [demigods].” And Montezuma said he first had to talk to his great papas [high priests]. And when he had talked to them he said that we were to enter a turret [the shrine at the pyramid’s top] and an apartment in the form of a room, where there were two altars, with very rich planking over the roof, and in each altar there were two shapes, giant-like, very tall and stout bodies. The first one, to the right, they said it was Uichilobos [Huitzilopochtli], their god of war. It had a very broad face with deformed, horrifying eyes; and the whole body was covered with precious stones, gold and pearls and seed-pearls stuck on with wheat paste, which they make in that land with some sort of roots, and all of the body was full of it, and circled with some sort of great snakes made of gold and precious stones, and in one hand he held a bow and in the other some arrows. And a small idol standing by him they said was his page, he held a not very long lance and a shield rich of gold and precious stones; and around the neck of Uichilobos were Indian faces and things like the hearts of these Indians, the latter of gold and the former of silver, decorated with many precious blue stones; and there were braziers with incense, copal incense, and in them they were burning the hearts of three Indians they had sacrificed that day, and with the smoke and the copal they had done that sacrifice. Every wall of that shrine was covered with the blackness of the blood scabs, as well as the floor, and it stank so much.

The Indian baptized as Andrés de Tapia claimed that the statue of Huitzilopochtli was made of flour seeds with the blood of the children in a hardened paste; Fray Durán, on the other hand, said it was made of wood. What is certain is that the priests devoted to its cult injured their tongues, arms and thighs with straws tainted with their own blood as an offering. Even the common Mexica injured himself far more than my cousin Sabina used to do. [This is recounted in an unpublished section, “Follow the mothers”] He offered bleedings with maguey thorns by piercing his lips, ears and tongue. Men pierced their penis and the thorns stained with blood were placed in a shrine. The common Mexicas “decorated their doors with bulrushes containing their ears’ blood.” The priests, called papas by Díaz, had their ear lobes totally smashed as a result of these bleedings. In addition to tearing out the heart from the captives in the day 4-Earthquake, the common Mexica made these piercing penitences.

I mention all of this to throw light on the long Colin Ross quotation [cf. previous chapter]. The self-harmer women of Dallas pierced themselves because they believed in their wickedness and they needed an escape valve to discharge some of the pressure from the volcano of rage against their parents they carried inside. At the expense of their mental health and due to the locus of control shift, the evil of their parents had been transfused to their mentality since their childhood, making the perpetrator good and safe to attach to. Let us remember that this shift helps to solve the basic and fundamental dilemma of the human race: the affective attachment to our parents due to our long dependency. Ross does not comment on the ancient Mexicans, but according to Lloyd deMause this sort of self-injuring alleviated the Amerindians from the anxiety of the internalized image of a parent, now sublimated, that would castigate them because of a prosperity perceived as sinful (we shall see where this gets us when analyzing the West of the twenty-first century). In other words, self-harming and harming others are two sides of the same coin. We displace our contained rage on others and on ourselves because of the absolute dissociation of the resulting emotions from the treatment we received in the past. If the pre-Columbian people displaced more than us it was simply due to a more primitive form of childrearing than ours. For Claude-François Baudez of the National Center of Scientific Research in Paris, the Mesoamerican sacrifice of others only replaced self-sacrifice “on the condition that the alter is equivalent to the ego.” Human sacrifice was, ultimately, the sacrifice of the ego “as it is shown in the first place by the primeval myths that precede self-sacrifice.”

Again, this is very important, as we will see when psychoanalyzing the self-harming West.

Baudez illustrates his point with the Mesoamerican custom of eating the enemy or dressing up in his skin: a practice that occupied a place of first order of magnitude among the ancient dwellers of the continent. In spite of the fact that the socializing mode of education in our times is also abusive, the pre-Hispanic modes were infinitely worse. I cannot avoid thinking of the studies by two Mexican anthropologists that show that some sacrificed bodies underwent processes of flaying, removing the flesh from the body, dismembering, decapitation and even the showing off of the corporal parts as decoration, as can be read in the bone register (in our own times, only certain serial killers do this sort of thing). The psyche of the surviving siblings, cousins, relatives, close and not-so-close acquaintances of the sacrificed infants interiorized a greater homicidal impulse than ours: a good example to help us understand the difference among very distant psychoclasses.

Page 34 of the cited issue of Arqueología Mexicana recounts an alarming study. In Xochimilco, at the south of Mexico City, the remains of a three- or four-year-old child were discovered, whose bones presented an orange or translucent yellow coloration, terse or glassy textures, and the compacting of the spongy tissue, besides the shattering of the skull. Since in the mortuary treatment the Mexicas decapitated some bodies and sometimes boiled the heads for later esthetic exposition, the archeologists concluded that the head of the sacrificed boy had been boiled and that the skull was shattered due to the ebullition of the encephalic mass. The photograph of the skull has been published.

Moreover, at the beginning of 2005 a newspaper note was published about a discovery in the north of Mexico City, in Ecatepec: an archaeological site with skeletal remains of eight sacrificed minors. According to the note republished by Discovery Channel: “The sacrifice involved burning or partially burning victims. We found a burial pit with the skeletal remains of four children who were partially burned, and the remains of four other children that were completely carbonized.” However rustic the Spanish soldiers were, when they saw for the first time in their lives this sort of behavior it blew their minds. The first texts about the New World ever published in Europe were the Cartas de Relación by Hernán Cortés. In one of these letters, published in 1523, the conqueror wrote:

They have a most horrid and abominable custom which truly ought to be punished and which until now we have seen in no other places, and this is that, whenever they wish to ask something from the idols, in order that their plea may find more acceptance, they take many girls and boys and even adults, and in the presence of these idols they open their chests while they are still alive and take out their hearts and entrails and burn them before the idols, offering the smoke as the sacrifice. Some of us have seen this, and they say it is the most terrible and frightful thing they have ever witnessed.

In other occasion Cortés recounted that his soldiers had captured an Indian who had been roasting the body a baby to eat it. Fernando de Alva Cortés Ixtlilxochitl, a mestizo who wrote the codex that has his name, writes that one out of five children were sacrificed each year. The figure looks like an exaggeration: it is not known with certainty how many children were sacrificed in Mesoamerica. The most conservative contemporary studies say that in the Mexica world at least dozens of children were sacrificed each year.

One of the sources that the Mexican indigenistas hold in high esteem is the work of Fray Bernardino de Sahagún, who set off to the New World in 1529, only a few years after the fall of Tenochtitlan. Scholars regard him as the first anthropologist. Even a passionate indigenista like Diego Rivera painted Sahagún with a young and clever face. Writing about the holidays of the so-called Aztec Calendar, Sahagún tells us of the rituals of the first month, called Atlcahualo or Quauitleoa by the Mexicas:

In this month they killed many children, sacrificing them in many places at the top of the mounts, taking out their hearts in honor to the gods of the water, so that they gave them water or rains.

What the Mexicas did on the second month of their calendar will be explained in the next section. In the third month, writes Sahagún: “In this holiday they killed many children in the mounts, they offered them in sacrifice to this god.” He also adds a general comment about the first months of the year:

According to the testimony of some [Indians], the children that they killed were collected the first month, buying them from their mothers, and they went on to kill them on all of the following holidays until the rainy season did indeed start; and thus they killed some children in the first month, called Quauitleoa [from February 2 to February 21]; and others in the second month, called Tlacaxipehualiztli [February 22 to March 13]; and others in the third month called Tozoztontli [March 14 to April 2]; and others in the fourth month, called Uey tozoztli [April 3 to April 22], so that until the rainwater season began copiously, in all holidays they crucified [sacrificed] children.

Those of us who live in the region formerly known as Tenochtitlan know that the Spring is dry here, which means that the natives felt an unrestrainable drive to murder the little ones. It is far-fetched that those who had the genius to construct at the center of the plaza a temple to Quetzalcóatl where the sunray of the dawn could be seen between the two shrines of the Great Pyramid, at the same time could not foresee the rainy season that contemporary Mexicans know perfectly. It is elemental that something more than soliciting the rains impregnated the psyche of the descendents of the tenochcas. In the second book of the Florentine Codex Sahagún comments about the first month: “For this holiday they looked for suckling toddlers, buying them from their mothers.” And he adds: “For the killing they carried these children to the high mounts, where they had made an offering vow; from some of them they took their hearts out on those mounts, and from others, in some places on the lake of Mexico.” Both in discussions with me and in a heading of his orchestral homage to Bartolomé de Las Casas, my father has talked much about the “profound race”: the ancient Mexicans. I wonder how “profound” it was that the towns under Mexica rule offered, as a tribute, their little ones to be sacrificed. [This sarcasm against my father’s nationalism is understandable in the context of my previous book in Hojas Susurrantes.] About Pantitlán, Sahagún writes:

They killed a great quantity of children each year in these places and after they were dead they cooked them and ate them.

When I read that sentence I could not help but think about Mexico City’s subway station called Pantitlán. I ignored the fact that it was at the bottom of the lake. (In the times of the lacustrine city, the neighborhood where I write this book was also under the water.) In the same second tome of his encyclopedic twelve-book work about the traditions and customs of the ancient Mexicans, Sahagún recounts the details:

The places where they killed children are the following: the first one was called Quauhtépetl, it is a mountain range near Tlatelolco. The second mount where they killed children they called Ioaltécatl. The third mount on which they killed children they called Tepetzinco, it is that little mount that is inside the bordering lake of Tlatelolco, they killed a girl there. The fourth mount on which they killed children they called Poyauhtla. The fifth mount where they killed children was an eddy or basin of the lake of Mexico, that they called Pantitlán. The sixth place or mount on which they killed children they called Cócotl. The seventh place where they killed children was a mount that they called Yiauhqueme.

These poor children, before they were carried to the killing, were decorated with precious stones, with rich feathers and carried with blankets taking them on a litter, and they listened the playing of flutes and trumpets that they used. They had them all the night holding a wake and chanting to them songs of the idol’s priests, so that they did not sleep. And when they took the children to the places where they would be killed, if they were crying with very abundant tears, those who watched them crying were glad because they said it was a signal that rain was very imminent.

The most valuable phrase of the Sahagún opus is his exclamation that, in the most popular Mexican edition—the one by the Porrúa publishing house (2007 paperback edition)—appears on page 97:

I do not believe that there is a heart so hard that when listening to such an inhuman cruelty, and more than bestial and devilish such as the one described above, does not get touched and moved by the tears and horror and is appalled; and certainly it is lamentable and horrible to see that our human nature has come to such baseness and opprobrium that parents kill and eat their children, without thinking they were doing anything wrong.

Mel Gibson errs by quoting historian Will Durant at the beginning of his film. Human sacrifice in Mesoamerica was not a political aberration as presented in the film: it was a widespread social phenomenon. Gibson falsified history by putting as pacific a community of hunting tribesmen in contrast to the decadent city. The reality seems to be that the Amerindians who populated the small towns, and especially the naked natives that were exterminated in the Caribbean islands, were even more psychologically dissociated that the inhabitants of the refined double-city of Tenochtitlan-Tlatelolco. The variety of Indians who did not live in the big cities varied from the Caribbean cannibal to the Otomi people of the caves; from the fierce Guarani to the cannibalesque Chiriguano. In contrast to the villager of Apocalypto, the Tarahumara, the fearful Chichimeca, the Xixime and the Guarijio practiced the “dance of the head.” A virgin was shut away. A decapitated head was taken for her to “speak” to it, something that the woman had to do with fluctuating feelings of love and hate. Contrary to Gibson’s bucolic village in the middle of the Maya forest, this is what the tribesmen actually did in real history.

That the sacrifice was a popular and social phenomenon rather than a political one is shown in the fact that, after the elimination of the indigenous governments and the introduction of Christianity in colonial times, the natives adopted the cross as the form of child sacrifice. For a psychoclass that I labeled infanticidal in the previous chapter, the Spanish assimilation had incredible moments. The Indians went as far as nailing children by the hands and feet to a cross with their feet tied up before taking their hearts out. Still crucified sometimes they even threw them over a cenote, as can be read on page 81 of the second volume of the Archivo General de las Indias complied by France Scholes and Eleanor Adams in 1938. The Indian priest used to say: “Let these boys die on the cross like Jesucristo died, whom they say was our lord, but we do not know if he was.”


The Bernaldine pages

La Santa Furia by César Tort Sr., my father, is an oratory in honor to Bartolomé de las Casas for soprano, three tenors, baritone, mixed chorus and orchestra, which at the moment of my writing still has to be premiered. Las Casas, whom my father greatly admires, wrote:

Into these meek sheep herd [the Amerindians], and of the aforesaid qualities by their Maker and Creator thus endoweth, there came the Spaniards who soon after behaved like cruel wolves, tigers and lions that had been starved for many days.

Las Casas is considered the champion of the indigenous cause before the Spanish crown. Those who condemn the Conquest take note of the investigation conducted against Antonio de Mendoza, the first viceroy of New Spain, accused of having lined up several Indians during the Mixtón War and smashing them with cannon fire. As a child, an illustration piqued my interest in a Mexican comic, about some Indians attacked by the fearful dogs that the Spaniards had brought (there were no large dogs in pre-Columbian America). Motolinía reported that innumerable Indians entered healthy to the mines only to come out as wrecked bodies. The slave work in the mines, the Franciscan tells us in Historia de los Indios de Nueva España, killed so many that the birds that fed from the human carrion “darkened the skies,” and let us not talk about the slavery in the Caribbean islands with which, originally, Las Casas had so intimate contact. In La Española (Santo Domingo), Cuba and other islands the native population was virtually exterminated, especially due to the epidemics the conquerors had brought. These and many other facts appalled Las Casas, and in his vast literary corpus the tireless friar always tried to expose the excesses of the Spanish and Portuguese conquests.

English- and Spanish-speaking liberals are fond of quoting Las Casas. But was he right? In contrast to another friar, Diego de Landa, Las Casas always omitted talking about the cruelties that the Indians committed against themselves. In fact, Las Casas is often accused for having originated the Black Legend. For example, his quotation cited above is a lie: the Mesoamericans were everything except “meek sheep.” While the conquest was a calamity for many Indians, it benefited many others. Only thanks to it the children would not receive anymore the schizogenic shock of learning that their folk had sacrificed, and sometimes eaten in a glamorous party, one of their little siblings. Las Casas biased his polemical sermon A Brief Account of the Destruction of the Indies, as well as his more scholarly texts, to force Carlos V [Charles V] in his role of spiritual adviser to take the necessary measures in favor of the natives. His goal was to protect them before the trendy scholastic doctrine that they were born slaves.

In the 1930s and ’40s Harvard historian Lewis Hanke found as fascinating the figure of Las Casas as my father would do in more recent times. After reading a magnificent book by Hanke, that my father himself lent me from his library, I could not avoid comparing Las Casas to the anthropologists who have kept secret the cruelty of the aboriginals in their eagerness to protect them. A single example will illustrate it. Las Casas went so far as defending the indigenous cannibalism with the pretext that it was a religious custom, which Las Casas compared to the Christian communion. It seems strange to tell it, but the first seeds of cultural relativism, an ideology that would cover the West since the last decades of the twentieth century, had been sown in the sixteenth century.

The Mexicas had only been the last Mesoamericans providers of an immense teoatl: a divine sea, an ocean of poured-out blood for the gods. Just as the pre-Hispanic aboriginals of the Canary Islands, the Olmecs made sacrifices with a fatal whack on the head. Of the Mayas, so idealized when I was a boy, it is known much more. They were the ones who initiated the practice of caging the condemned before sacrificing them and, after the killing, throwing the bodies down from the pyramids. In 1696, with the eighteenth century coming up, the Mayas sacrificed some unwary missionaries who dared to incursion into a still unconquered region. When I visited the ruins of Palenque I went up its pyramid and down through the internal steps surrounded by a warm and humid weather, to the tomb of the famous sarcophagus of stone. I felt such place gloomy and inconceivable. I now remember an archaeologist in television talking about a drawing in a Maya enclosure: a hanged prisoner maintained alive in state of torment. The Mayas treated more sadistically the prisoners than the Mexicas. Diego de Landa recounts that they went as far as torturing the captive kings by gouging their eyes out, chopping off their ears and noses and eating up their fingers. They maintained the poor captive alive for years before killing him, and the classic The Blood of the Kings tells us that the Mayas tore the jaw out from some prisoners still alive. Once more, not even Mel Gibson dared to film these atrocities, although he mentioned them during an interview when defending his film before the criticism of politically-correct reporters and academics. Unlike them, I agree with Gibson that the disappearance of such culture should not sadden us but rather revalue the Christian culture. And I would add that, when I see in a well-known television program a native English speaker rationalizing the Maya sacrifices, it is clear to me that political correctness in our times exemplifies what in psychology is known as “identification with the perpetrator.”

Both the Teotihuacans and the Tolteca-Chichimecas were bloodthirsty. The Tenochcas, who greatly admired them, killed and flayed a princess in the year 1300: an outrage that the indigenistas sweep under the rug since this and similar murders are related to the stories of the foundation of Mexico-Tenochtitlan. Like their ancestors, the Mexicas established wars which only purpose was to facilitate captives for the killing.

Let us tell the truth guilelessly: Mesoamerica was the place of a culture of serial killers. In the raids launched into foreign territory, like the one seen in Apocalypto, the principal activity was oriented toward the sacrifice. In fact, it was impossible to obtain political power in that society without passing first through the business of the sacrifice. To prevent adolescents from cutting their nape hair-lock unless they captured a victim for sacrifice conveyed a message: If you don’t collaborate with the serial killing you won’t climb up the social hierarchy.

An explosive catharsis and real furor was freed in the outbreak of war inasmuch the Amerindians sheltered something recondite that had to be discharged at all costs. In 1585 Diego Muñoz Camargo wrote in History of Tlaxcala that, accompanied by the immense shouting when rushing into combat, the warriors played “drums and caracoles [percussion sticks] and trumpets that made a strange noise and roar, and more than a little dreadfulness in fragile hearts.” The Anonymous Conqueror adds that during the fighting they vociferated the eeriest shrieks and whistling, and that after winning the war only the young women were spared. To contribute with live bodies for the thirsty gods, not the killing in situ, was the objective. Behind there came the specialized warriors who tied up the captives and transferred them to the stone altars.

With a stabbing which purpose was not to kill the victim, the sacrificer, usually the high priest of one of the innumerable temples, opened the victim’s abdomen: a dull blow at the diaphragm level. The sacrificer then stuck the hand into the viscera poking until finding the heart. Grabbed and still beating, he tore it out with a strong pull. This eventration and ablation of the heart is the form in which the sacrifice was practiced, in identical mode, thousands upon thousands of times in Mesoamerica. The last thing that the victim saw in the instant before losing consciousness were his executioners. By tearing out the heart in such a way the body poured out virtually all of its blood, from five to six liters: the strongest hemorrhage of all conceivable forms.

Fresco by José Clemente Orozco
(1933)

Diego Durán was startled that, according to his estimates, in the pre-Hispanic world more people died in the sacrifices than from natural death. In contrast to how the Second World War is taught to us, academics are reluctant to point out that the sacrificial institution in Mesoamerica was a true Holocaust. The year 1487 signaled the climax of the sacrificial thirst. In four consecutive days the ancient Mexicans indulged themselves in an orgy of blood. The warriors had taken men from entire tribes to be sacrificed during the festivities of the re-consecration of the last layer of the Great Pyramid of Tenochtitlan. Through four days the priests, their assistants and the common citizens uninterruptedly tore out hearts on fourteen pyramids. The poured-out blood stained of red the plaza and the stone ramps that were constructed to throw the bodies down. The exact figure is unknown but the Codex Telleriano-Remensis tells that the old people spoke of 4000 sacrificed humans. It is probable that the propaganda of Mexica terror inflated the official figure to 84,400 sacrificed victims to frighten their rivals.

The 1487 re-consecration aside, we should not forget the perpetuity of the sacrificial Mexican holyday, except the feared five days at the end of the year. The blood of the victims was spilled like holy water (something of this can be seen beside Gibson’s vertical tzompantli). The reverberation of such a butchery reached the unconscious of the youth I was centuries after it. I will never forget a dream I had many years ago in which I saw myself transported to the gloomiest moment of a night in the center of the old Tenochtitlan. I remember the atmosphere of the dream: something told me, in that dense night, that there was an odor and a deposit of bodies that made my flesh creep for the inconceivable amount of human remains: a very close place where my soul wandered around. The horror of the culture was captured in the oneiric taste that is impossible to describe in words. The filthy stench of the place was something I knew existed, though I do not remember having smelled anything during the dream.

The second month of the Mexica calendar was called Tlacaxipehualiztli, literally “the flaying of the men,” during which only in Tenochtitlan at least seventy people were killed. Sometimes the condemned to be sacrificed were led naked covered with white chalk. The victims of Xippe Tótec, an imported god from the Yopi region of Guerrero-Oaxaca, had been presented to the public the previous month of the sacrifice. In Mesoamerican statuary Our Lord the Flayed One is always represented covered with the skin of a sacrificed victim, whose features can be guessed on Xippe’s skin. In that holiday, writes Duverger, the beggars were allowed to dress with the skins “still greasy with the victim’s blood” and they begged at the homes of Tenochtitlan “with that terrifying tunic.” According to the Florentine Codex, those who had captured the victims also wore the skins. After several days of using them “the stench was so terrible that everybody turned their heads; it was repulsive: people that encountered them covered their noses, and the skins already dry became crumbly.”

These offering acts were the opposite to the Hollywood images of a secret cult that, clandestinely, sacrifices a young woman. Mesoamerica was the theatre of the most public of the cruelties. In contrast to the Christian cathedrals which spirituality lies in a sensation of privacy and inwardness, the Mesoamerican temple showed off the sacrifice at the universal sight of the sun, and the average people participated in a communal event. In the holiday called Panquetzaliztli the dancers “ran at the top of their speed, jumped and shook until left breathless and the old people of the neighborhoods played music and sang for them.” The exhausting marathon was a hallucinating spectacle and the ritual murders marked the height of the Mexican party. In another of their celebrations, Xócotl huetzi, the celebration of the fire god, the victims were thrown over an immense brazier while the crowd contemplated speechless. Sahagún informs us that the Mexicans took them out of the brazier with their fleshes burnt and swollen, and that after their hearts were torn out “the people dispersed and everybody went to their homes to celebrate, since it was a day of great rejoicing.”

All sacrifice was surrounded by popular parties. Personally, what shocks me the most is the second month of the Mexica calendar, the month that I most relate to my dream, because in real life those who would be killed and skinned fainted, and in this panic-stricken state they were dragged by the hair to the sacrificial stone.

A warrior and his captive,
grabbed by the hair and crying
(note the tears on the face).



The priests also dressed themselves with the yellow-painted skins of the victims; the skin’s exterior turned inwards like a sock. Our Lord the Flayed One was invoked with these words: “Oh my god, why do you play too hard to get it? Put your golden vestments on, put them on!” The body of the flayed victim was cooked and shared out for its consumption. The Florentine Codex has illustrations of these forms of sacrifice, including an illustration of five Indians skinning a dead body. The xixipeme were the men who dressed themselves with the skin of the victims personifying the deity.

The evidence in both the codexes and on the mural paintings, steles, graffiti and pots are witness of the gamut of the human sacrifices. Even zealous indigenistas like Eduardo Matos Moctezuma and Leonardo López Luján have stated publicly that there is iconographic evidence of the sacrifices in Teotihuacan, Bonampak, Tikal, Piedras Negras and on the codexes Borgia, Selden and Magliabechiano, as well as irrefutable physical evidence in the form of blood particles extracted from the sacrificial daggers. In addition to the extraction of the heart, in the last incarnation of this culture of serial killers the victims were locked up in a cave where they would die of thirst and starvation; or were decapitated, drowned, riddled with arrows, thrown from the precipices, beaten to death, hanged, stoned or burned alive. In the ritual called mitote, the still alive victims were bled while a group of dancers bit their bodies. The mitote culminated with the cooking and communal consumption of the victims in a stew similar to the pozole. In the sacrifice performed by the Matlazinca the victim was seized in a net and the bones slowly crushed by means of twisting the net. The ballgame, performed from the gulf’s coast and that aroused enormous passions among the spectators, culminated in the dragging of the decapitated body so that its blood stained the sand with a frieze of skulls “watching” the sport. There is no point in making a scholarly, Sahagunesque encyclopedia list, about the names of the gods or the months of the calendar that corresponded to each kind of these sacrifices. Suffice it to say that at the top of the pyramids the idols were of the size of a man and even larger, composed by a paste of floured seeds mixed with the blood of the sacrifices. The figures were sitting on chairs with a sword on one hand and a shield on the other. What I said of the great Huichilobos above I could tell once more: how I would like to contemplate the figures of the so-called Aztec Pantheon. Sacrifices were performed to gods whose names are familiar for us who attended the Mexican schools: from the agrarian, war, water and vegetation deities to the gods of the death, fire and lust. Most of the time the sacrifices were performed on the temples, but they could be done in the imperial palace too. We already saw that children were sacrificed on mounts and in the lake. Now I must say something about the sacrifices of women. According to the Florentine Codex, during the rituals of the months Huey tecuíhuitl (from June 22 to July 11) and Ochpaniztli (from August 21 to September 9) women were deceived with these words:

Be merry my daughter, very soon you will share the bed of emperor Motecuhzoma. He will sleep with you, oh blessed one!

The Indian girl voluntarily walked up the temple’s steps but when she arrived she was decapitated by surprise. In similar sacrifices at the arranged time and date according to the calendar’s holiday, women were decapitated, flayed and their skins used like a trophy. Besides men, women, children and occasionally old people, the Mexicas sacrificed dogs, coyotes, deer, eagles and jaguars. The Florentine codex informs us that sometimes they went up the pyramid with the human victim tied up by the four extremities, “meaning they were like the deer.”

The writer who best transports us into this unheard-of world and who most reaches my dream of “machines to see the past” is Bernal Díaz del Castillo and his The Truthful History of the Conquest of New Spain. The spontaneous testimony of the infantry soldier differs from the dry reports by Cortés. It also differs, as a memorialist work, from the treatise that Hugh Thomas wrote half a millennium later, considered a standard reference about the conquest. It tells a lot about our primitive era to focus on the literary form of the Quixote, which is fiction, instead of the real facts that Bernal recounts: extraordinary experiences where he often was very close of losing his life. (The attitude of the people of letters reminds me precisely a passage of Cervantes’ novel: the hidalgo only lost his nerve when he run into the only real adventure he encountered, in contrast to his windmills.) The discovery of the Bernal chronicle impressed me considerably. His work was an eye-opener about the charlatanry in the Mexican schools with all of its silences, blindness and taboos about cannibalism and the cruelty and magnitude of the pre-Columbian sacrificial institution. It seemed inconceivable that I had to wait so long to discover an author that speaks like no other about the distant past of Mexico, someone whose writing I should have met in my adolescence. I am increasingly convinced that the true university are the books; and the voice of one’s own conscience, more than the voice of the academics, the lighthouse that guides us in the seas of the world.

Humboldt said that the joy experienced by the adventurer facing the newly discovered world was better transmitted by the chronicler than by the poets. In 1545 Bernal moved to the Old Guatemala, where he lived the rest of his life, although he would not write down his memories until he was close seventy. The Guatemalan poet Luis Cardoza y Aragón said that Bernal’s chronicle is the most important work about the conquest. He considers it superior to the chronicles of the military campaigns in Peru or the campaigns against Turkey, Flanders or Italy. Those who in more recent times have read Bernal in translations tell similar things. In an internet book-review it can be read: “In every page of this book lies the plots and the characters for [every] single Spielberg movie. But no movie, no adventure, no science fiction, and no Goth novel can even come close to Bernal Diaz’s first-hand account of the initial defeat [of the Spaniards] and final conquest of New Spain.” And Christopher Bonn Jonnes, author of Wake up Dead, wrote: “This story might have been rejected as too far-fetched if it were offered as fiction, but it is history.”

Unlike the soporific scholarly treatises, in the Bernaldine pages one really feels how pre-Hispanic Mexico was. The narrative about the shock that the Europeans felt when running for the very first time in history with the sacrificial institution is very illustrative. It happened in an island near Veracruz. Due to the novelty that the ritual represented for Bernal and his comrades they baptized it Island of the Sacrifice.

And we found a worship house with a large and very ugly idol, called Tezcatepuca [Tezcatlipoca], with four Indians with very large dark cassocks as its companions, with capes like the ones of the Dominicans or the cannons. And they were the priests of that idol, commonly called in New Spain [the Aztec empire] papas, as I have already mentioned. And that day they had sacrificed two boys with their opened chest, and their hearts and blood offered to that cursed idol. And we did not consent they gave us that odorous [offering] smoke; instead we felt great pity to see those two boys dead, and such a gigantic cruelty. And the general asked the Indian Francisco, already mentioned by me, whom we brought to the Banderas River and who seemed to know something, why they did it, and only by means of gestures, since by then we didn’t have any translator, as again I have said.

Those were the times before the Cortés expedition. In the Grijalva expedition, Bernal and his comrades had been the first Europeans to notice that beyond Cuba and La Española there were no more islands but immense lands. In the expedition after Gijalva’s, now way inland into the continent in what today is the state of Veracruz, Bernal tells us:

Pedro de Alvarado said they had found every dead body without arms and legs, and other Indians said that [the arms and legs] had been taken as food, about which our soldiers were amazed at such great cruelties. And let us stop talking of so many sacrifices, since from that town on we did not find anything else.

Let us also take a leap forward on the Bernaldine route to Tenochtitlan where they did not find anything else, Tlaxcala included. When they reached Cholula, a religious city of pilgrimage with a hundred of temples and the highest pyramid of the empire, dedicated to Quetzalcóatl, the Cholulans told Cortés:

“Look, Malinche [Marina’s master], this city is in bad mood. We know that this night they have sacrificed to their idol, which is the war idol, seven people and five of them were children, so that they give victory against you.”

For the ancient Mesoamericans everything was resolved through the killing of children and adults. Once the Spaniards reached the great capital of the empire, and after Moctezuma and his retinue conducted them in grand tour through the beautiful Tenochtitlan and having seen the impressive Huichilobos at the pyramid’s top, Bernal tells us:

A little way apart from the great Cue [pyramid] there was another small tower which was also an idol house or a true hell, for it had at the opening of one gate a most terrible mouth such as they depict, saying that such there are in hell. The mouth was open with great fangs to devour souls, and here too were some shapes of devils and bodies of serpents close to the door, and a little way off was a place of sacrifice all blood-stained and black with smoke, and encrusted with blood, and there were many great ollas and pitchers and large earthenware jars of water, for it was here that they cooked the flesh of the unfortunate Indians who were sacrificed, which was eaten by the papas. There were also near the place of sacrifice many large knives and chopping blocks, such as those on which they cut up meat in the slaughterhouses. […] I always called that place the house of hell.

Sahagún and Durán corroborate Bernal’s testimony about cannibalism. As we already saw, not even Bartolomé de Las Casas denied it. In History of Tlaxcala Diego Muñoz wrote:

Thus there were public butcher’s shops of human flesh, as if it were of cow or sheep like the ones we have today.

And in the chapter XXIV authored by the Anonymous Conqueror it can be read that throughout Mesoamerica the natives ate human flesh that, the chronicler adds, they liked more than any other food. It is noteworthy that in this occasion the Mexicans did not use chili peppers, only salt: which according to the scholars suggest that they had it as precious delicatessen. Human flesh, which tasted like pig, was not roasted but served as pozole. In Tenochtitlan the bodies were taken to the neighborhoods for consumption. (Likewise, there were human flesh remnants in the markets of Batak in Sumatra before the Dutch conquest.) The one who made the capture during the war was the owner of the body when it reached the bottom steps of the pyramid. The priest’s assistants gave the owner a pumpkin full of warm blood of the victim. With the blood the owner made offerings to the diverse statues. The house of the capturer was the eating-place, but according to the etiquette he could not join the banquet.

A scene of communal cannibalism
(Codex Magliabechiano)

The American practices of sacrifice and cannibalism had initiated in 5000 B.C., with the first Asian settlers in the continent that wrought the practice since the transit through the Bering Strait. I have mentioned the festivities of the month Panquetzaliztli but did not said that, according to Sahagún, in that festivity the Mexicas bought slaves, “washed them up and gave them as gifts to be fed upon, so that their flesh was tasty when they were killed and eaten.” Even the contemporary writers who admire the Mexica world agree with Sahagún. For Duverger, cannibalism should not be disguised as a symbolic part of an ancient ritual: “No! Cannibalism forms part of the Aztec reality and its practice was much more widespread and was considerably more natural than what it is sometimes presented.” He adds: “Let us open the codexes: arms and legs emerge from a pitcher placed on fire with curled up Indians who devour, by hand, the arms and legs of a sacrificed victim.” When the Tlaxcallans took the dead Tepeacas to the Tlaxcala butcher’s shops after the flight from Tenochtitlan, it is clear that the objective was not ritual cannibalism but the most pragmatic antropophagy (this shows that Las Casas’s claim mentioned above that antropophagy was a religious custom is simply untrue). Miguel Botella from the University of Granada explains that Mesoamerican cannibalism had been “like today’s bull fighting, where everything follows a ritual, but once the animal dies it is meat.” Botella points out that the chroniclers’ descriptions have been corroborated by examining more than twenty thousand bone-remains throughout the continent, some of them with unequivocal signs of culinary manipulation. Among the very diverse recipes of the ancient Mexicans, the one that I found most disgusting to imagine was an immense tamale they did with a dead Indian by grinding the remains… after a year of his death and burial!

After the massacre of Cholula the Spaniards liberated the captives from the wooden, cage-like jails that included children fed for consumption. Not even Hugh Thomas denies this. But the politically correct establishment always depicts the massacre of Cholula as one of the meanest acts by the Spaniards. They never mention the cages though, or how the captives were liberated thanks to the conquerors, instead of being eaten by the Cholulans.

However hard the nationalist Mexicans may try to palm this matter off from the school textbooks, and however hard it may seem to imagine it for those of us who were educated to idealize that culture, the ineludible fact is that only thirteen or fourteen generations ago the Mexicans consumed human flesh as part of their food chain.


“The Best Education of the World”

In each Maya city there were two wells: one for drinking water and the other as an oracle to throw the girls almost twenty meters below. When brought out at noon, if they had not died in the cold water they were asked: “What did the gods say to you?” The Maya girls got back at their babies by tying their feet and hands up. And they did something else. Artificial cranial deformation had been practiced since prehistory, with Greek physicians mentioning the practice in some towns. The Mayas placed boards at the sides of the newborn’s cranium to mold it, when it is still plastic, to form the egg-shaped heads that the archeologists have found. Furthermore, the parents also placed objects between their baby’s eyes to make them cross-eyed. Just as the elongated heads, this was a sign of beauty. (When Hernández de Córdova ventured in the Yucatán coast in 1517 he took with himself two cross-eyed Indians he thought could be useful as interpreters.) Once grown, the children had to sacrifice their own blood: the boys had to bleed their penes and the girls their tongues. Some Mayas even sacrificed their children by delivering them alive to the jaguars.

Without specifically referring to Mesoamerican childrearing, deMause has talked about what he calls “projective care”. During the fearful nemotemi, the five nefarious days for the Mexicans, parents did not allow their children sleep “so that they would not turn into rats.” Let us remember the psychodrama of the self-harmer girl in Ross’ paradigm and take one step forward. Let us imagine that, once married, she projected on her own child the self-hatred. Such “care” of not letting the children to sleep was, actually, a case of dissociation with the adult projecting onto the child the part of her self that she was taught to self-hate. Another example: In the world of the Mexica the first uttered words addressing the newborn told him that he was a captive. Just like the shrieks that made the chroniclers shudder, the midwife shouted since it was believed that childbirth was a combat and, by being born, the child a seized warrior. The newborn was swaddled and kindly told: “My son, so loved, you shall know and comprehend that your home is not here. Your office is to give the sun to drink the blood of the enemies.” The creature has barely come to the world and it already has enemies. The newborn is not born with rights but with duties: he is not told that he will be cared for, but that he is destined to feed the great heavenly body. (DeMause has written about this inversion of the parental-filial roles in his studies about western babies in more recent centuries.) In the Mexica admonition the shadow of infanticide by negligence is also cast. “We do not know if you will live much,” the newborn was told in another exhortation.

Tlazolteotl, goddess of infancy,
grabbing a child by the hair

In the above illustration it can be noted the similarity of Tlazolteotl with the image of the warrior and his captive. Just like that image, the goddess grabs the hair as a symbol of dominion. One of the few true things that Elsié Méndez told me, a woman so much criticized in my previous book, were certain words she pronounced that I remember verbatim: “La mamá lo pepena” [“The mom grabs him”] referring to those mothers of our times that choose one of their children to control him to the point of psychic strangulation.

In May of 1998 I listened in television to Miguel León Portilla, the best-known indigenista scholar in México, saying that the Mexica education was “the best education of the world.” Almost a decade later I purchased a copy of the Huehuetlatolli that León-Portilla commented, which includes one page in Nahuatl. The Huehuetlatolli were the moralizing homilies in the first years of the children. These advices were ubiquitous in Nahua pedagogy. They were not taught in the temples but from the parents to their children, even among the most humble workers, within the privacy of the home. In the words of León-Portilla: “Fathers and mothers, male teachers and female teachers, to educate their children and pupils they transmitted these messages of wisdom.” The exordiums were done in an elegant and educated language, the model of expression that would be used at school. A passage from the Huehuetlatolli of a father to his son that Fray Andrés de Olmos transcribed to Spanish says:

We are still here—we, your parents—who have put you here to suffer, because with this the world is preserved.

This absolute gem depicts in two lines the Mexica education. Paying no attention to these kind of words, on the next page León-Portilla comments: “Words speak now very high of its [the Mexica’s] moral and intellectual level.” Later, in the splendid edition of the Huehuetlatolli that I possess, commented by the indigenista, the sermon says: “Do not make of your heart your father, your mother.”

This advice is the perfect antithesis to Pindar’s “Become what you are!” which summarizes the infinitely more advanced Greek culture of two thousand years before. While León-Portilla describes the Nahua exordiums as highly wise and moral, they actually represent a typical case of poisonous pedagogy. If there is something clear after reading the Huehuetlatolli is that that education produced no individuals whatsoever: other people lived the lives of the children, adolescents and youths who are exhorted interminably. What is worse: while León-Portilla praised the education of the ancient Mexicans on national television, at the same time the program displayed images of codex drawings with pubescent children tied up on their wrists and ankles, with thorns sank into their bodies and tears on their faces. The indigenista had omitted to say that “the punishments rain over the child,” as Jacques Soustelle wrote in Daily Life of the Aztecs. The Mexica parents scratched their children with maguey thorns. They also burn red chili peppers and placed their child over the acrid smoke.

Codex Mendoza, folio 60:
Punishes to children ages 11 to 14.
Note the tears of the child and the sign
of admonition near the father’s mouth.

Another punishment mentioned in the codex was the beating of the child with sticks. Motolinía, Fray Juan de Torquemada, Durán and Sahagún corroborated that the education was fairly severe. It is important to remember that the mode of childrearing that deMause calls intrusion, the striking with objects, is considered more prejudicial for the self-image of the child than the spanking of the psychoclass denominated as socializing. It is also important to note that the parents were the ones who physically abused the children. It is true that the language of the Huehuetlatolli is very sweet: “Oh my little daughter of mine, little dove! These words I have spoken so that you may make efforts to…” But in Carta a mamá Medusa I demonstrated the short circuit that produces in a boy’s mentality this sort of “Jekyll-Hyde” alternation in the parental dynamics with their child.

The Mexicas copied from the Mayas the custom of selling their children. The sold out children had to work hard or they would be punished. A poor family could sell their child as a slave to get out from a financial problem. This still happened in the times when the Spaniards arrived. The noble that stole his father could be punished with death, and it is worth saying that the great draughts of 1450-1454 were dealt with the massive sacrifice of children to the water deities.

Which was the attitude that the child had to had toward such parents? In Nahuatl the suffix -tzin was aggregated to the persons that would be honored. Totatzin is our respected father. In previous pages I noted that the frenetic dances discharged the affects contained in the Mexica psyche. Taking into account that before such education the child was not allowed to live his or her feelings, as it is clearly inferred from the texts cited by León-Portilla not only from the Huehuetlatolli but from education in general, the silhouette of what had to be discharged starts to be outlined.

In Izcalli, the last month of the Mexica calendar, the children were punctured on the ears and the blood was thrown to the fire. As I said, at ten the boy’s hair was cut leaving a lock that would not be cut until, already grown, he would take a prisoner. In one way or the other every Mexica male had to participate in the seizure of victims for the serial killing. Those who could not make prisoners had to renounce the military theocracy and resign themselves with being macehuallis, or workers: plebeians attached to their fields who, under the penalty of death, were forbidden to usurp the honorific symbols of feathers, boarded dresses and jewels. The macehuallis formed the bulk of the society. On the other hand, he who captured four prisoners arrived with a single jump at the upper layer of society. To excel in the seizure of men for the serial killing was so relevant that “he who was born noble could die slave.”

Both on national television and in his writings, León-Portilla is filled with pride that the ancient Mexicans were the only peoples in the world that counted with obligatory schooling in the 16th century. The indigenista belongs to the generation of my father, when children’s rights were unheard as a subject, let alone parental abuse. The form in which the Nahuas treated their children, that presently would be considered abusive, was continued at school. The school education to harden the soul of the elite, the Calmécac (“house of tears”), consisted of penances and self-harming with maguey thorns. Another case of the father’s projective care was the advice to his son about the ultra-Spartan education he would be exposed in the boarding school:

Look, son: you have to be humble and looked down on and downhearted […], you shall take out blood from your body with the maguey thorn, and take night baths even though it is too cold […]. Don’t take it as a burden, grin and bear it the fasting and the penance.

“Don’t take it as a burden” means do not feel your feelings. According to Motolinía, this most beloved practice of homiletic admonitions was even longer for the girls. In the boarding school the boy had to abandon the bed to take a bath in the cold water of the lake or a fountain. As young as seven-year-olds were encouraged to break from the affective attachment at home: “And don’t think, son, inside of you ‘my mother and my father live’. Don’t remember any of these things.”

Because the child was consecrated for war since birth, the education at schools was basically military. The strictly hierarchical system promised the striving young to escalate to the level of tequiuaque and even higher if possible. If the boy of upper classes did not want to become a warrior he had another option: priesthood. About his twentieth year he had to make an election: a military life or a celibate and austere life, starting with playing the drum or helping the priest with the sacrifices. Severity was extreme: one of Netzahualcoyotl’s laws punished by death the drunk or lusty priest. No society, not even the Islamic, has been so severe with adultery and alcoholism: crimes where the capital punishment was applied both for the male and the female. The macehuallis who got drunk were killed in front of the adolescents. (The equivalent today would be that American schoolchildren were required to witness the executions of the pot addicts in the electric chair, as a warning.) The Calmécac were both schools and monasteries ruled by priests in black clothes. In the Florentine Codex an image can be seen of adolescents wearing dresses made of fresh human skins. We can imagine the emotional after-effects that such practice, fostered by the adult world, caused in the boys.

In the Nahua world it was frowned upon that the youth expressed his grudges and it was considered acceptable that he restrained and controlled himself. No insolent individual, Soustelle tells us, “no one who talked what came to his mouth was placed in the real throne,” and the elite were the first ones to submit to the phlegmatic code. And it was not a matter of concealing the grudges when, say, a boy or a girl learnt that their own parents had offered a little sister as sacrificial payment. The parents advised them in the ubiquitous sermons: “Look that your humility not be feigned, because then it will be told of you titoloxochton, which means hypocrite.” In the Nahua world the child was manipulated through the combination of sweet and kind expressions with the most heinous adultism. The parents continued to sermon all of them, even “the experienced, the fully grown youth.”


An unquenchable sun

Tell me how are your gods and I will tell you who you are. The myth of the earth-goddess Tlaltecuhtli, who cried because she wanted to eat human hearts, cannot be more symbolic. Just as the father-sun would not move without sacrifices, the mother-earth would not give fruits if she was not irrigated with blood. Coatlicue was also the goddess of the great destruction that devours everything living.

Sacrifices were performed in front of her; vicious rumors circulated around about “juicy babies” for the insatiable devourer. In the houses the common people always had an altar with the figurines of a deity, generally the Coatlicue. (In our western mind one would expect to find the male god of the ancient Mexicans, Huitzilopochtli.) The terrible goddess demanded:

And the payment of your chests and your hearts would be that you will be conquering, you will be attacking and devastating all macehuallis, the villagers that are over there, in all places through which you pass. And to your war prisoners, which you will make captives, you will open their chest on a sacrificial stone, with the flint of an obsidian knife. And you will do offerings of their hearts and will eat their flesh without salt; only very little of it in the pot where the corn is cooked.

Of the Mexica I only have a few culinary roots, such as eating tortillas. Culturally speaking, the educated middle and high classes in Latin America are basically European, of the type of Spain or Portugal. If we compare the above passage with our authentic roots, say, the exordiums of Numbers or Leviticus against cannibalism and other practices, the difference cannot be greater. Likewise, the Mexica mythology cannot contrast more with the superior psychoclass of Greece: where Zeus opens the belly of his father, Cronus, who had swallowed his siblings establishing thus a new order in the cosmos.

The papas punctured their limbs as an act of penance for the gods. These gods were a split-off, dissociated or internalized images of the parents. Even the emperor frequently abandoned the bed at midnight to offer his blood and praying. The Anonymous Conqueror was amazed by the fact that, among all of the Earth’s creatures, the Americans were the most devoted to their religion; so much so that the common Indian offered himself or herself by taking out blood from his body to offer it to the statues. The 16th century chronicler tells us that on the roads there were many shrines where the travelers poured their blood. If we remember the scene of the Mexican film El Apando, based on the homonym book by José Revueltas where a convicted offender in the Lecumberri penitentiary bled himself while the other prisoners told him that he was crazy, we can imagine the leap in psychogenesis. What was considered normal in the highest and most refined strata of the Mesoamerican world is abnormal even in the snake pits of modern Mexico. The most terrible form of Mexica self-harming that I have seen in the codexes appears on page 10 of the Codex Borgia: a youth pulling out his eye as symbol of penitence. This was like taking the disturbing Colin Ross paradigm to its ultimate expression.

At the bottom of the Mesoamerican worldview it always appears the notion that the creature owes his life, and everything that exists, to his creators: paradigm of the blackest of pedagogies that we can imagine [Schwarze Pädagogik is a term popularized by Alice Miller]. The Mesoamerican mythology speaks of the transgression of some gods to create life without their parents’ permission, thus making themselves equals with them. In the Maya texts it is said that these children “made themselves haughty” and that what they did was “against the will of the father and the mother.” The transgressors were expelled from heaven and to come back they had to sacrifice themselves. Two of them threw themselves alive into the bonfire and were welcomed by their pleased parents. The resonances of this myth appear in the practice of throwing the captives to the bonfire; and we should not let it out from our sight what Baudez said that the Mesoamerican sacrifice replaces self-sacrifice. It is merely a substitute sacrifice “as it is shown in the first place by the primeval myths that precede self-sacrifice.” This original sin condemned human beings to the sacrificial institution since “they could not recognize their creators.” (When I reached this passage in Arqueología Mexicana I could not but remember my father’s phrase that injured me so badly, as recounted in my previous book, when he referred to the damned “because they didn’t recognize their Creator.”) The sacrificial institution thus understood was a score settling, a vendetta. Moreover, in some versions of the Mesoamerican cosmogony the sun gives weapons to the siblings faithful to their parents to kill the 400 unfaithful children. The faithful execute the bidding and thus feed their demanding parents: once more, the cultural antithesis of the successful rebellion by Zeus, who had rescued their siblings from the tyrannical parent.

The connection of childrearing with the sacrificial institution is so obvious that when the warrior made a captive he had it as his son—which explains why he could not participate in the post-sacrificial feast—and the captive had him as his lord father. Some historians even talk about dialogues. When making a prisoner, the capturer said: “Behold my beloved son,” and the prisoner responded: “Behold my honored father.” In one of the water holydays of the Tota forest, which means “Our Father,” a girl was taken beside the highest tree to be sacrificed. Each time that the priest lifted a heart toward the sky as a sun offering the catastrophe that threatens the universe was, once more, postponed because “without the red and warm elixir of the sacrificed victims the universe was doomed to freeze.” As modern schizophrenics reason, the universe of the common Mesoamerican, just as the bicameral minds of other cultures, was constantly threatened and exposed to a catastrophe. The primordial function of the human race was to feed their parents, intonan intota Tlaltecuhtli Tonatiuh, “to our mother and our father, the earth and the sun.” The elegance of these four Nahua words evokes the compact Latin.

In the Mexica world destiny was pre-determined by the tonalpohualli, “the count of the days” of the calendar where an individual’s birth by astrological sign was his fate. If León-Portilla had in mind the pre-Columbian cultures, he erred in his article “Identidad y crisis” published in July of 2008 in Reforma, by concluding that in antiquity the sun was seen as the “provider of life.” Duverger makes the keen observation that the solar deity, which appears at the center of the calendar, was so distant that it was not even worshipped directly. Instead of providing life the insatiable deity demanded more and more energy, under the penalty of freezing the world (“We are still here—we, your parents—who have put you here to suffer, because with this the world is preserved”). The noonday heavenly body is not a provider of energy: it demands it. The thirsty tongue that appears at the Stone of the Sun looks like a dagger: it represents the knife used during the sacrifices. The solar calendar with Tonatiuh at the center of the cosmos was an absolute destiny: he could not even be implored. It is important to mention the psychohistorical studies about the diverse deities of the most archaic form of infanticidal cultures: they were all too remote to be approached according to deMause.

When I think of the musician that sacrificed himself voluntarily to Tezcatlipoca in the holyday of the month Tóxcatl, which according to Sahagún was a holiday as sacred to the Mexicas as Easter to Christians, I see the culture of the ancient Mexicans under all of its sun. (Pedro de Alvarado would perpetrate the massacre in the main temple when he feared he would be sacrificed after that holiday.) Baudez’s self-sacrificial observation is worth remembering again. Like the martyr of Golgotha who had to drink from the calyx that deep down he wanted to take away from himself, only if the young Indian submitted voluntarily to the horrifying death he earned the inscrutable love of the father. This is identical to the most dissociated families in the Islamist world, as can be gathered from deMause’s article “If I blow myself up and become a martyr, I’ll finally be loved.” But unlike Alvarado and the conquerors’ metaphorical Easter (and even contemporary Islamists), the Mexicas literally killed their beloved one before decapitating him and showing off his head in the tzompantli.

Just as the mentality of the Ancient World’s most primitive cultures, in the Mesoamerican world, where the solar cycle reigned since the Mayas and perhaps before, “the sacrifice was performed to feed the parent with food (hearts) and drinking (blood).” I had said that the priest’s helpers gave the captive’s “father” a pumpkin full of warm blood of his “son.” With this blood he dampened the lips of the statues, the introjected and demanding “shadows” of their own parents, to feed them. The priests smeared their idols with fresh blood and, as Bernal Díaz told us, the principal shrines were soaked with stench scabs, including the pinnacle of the Great Teocalli.

In our times, the ones who belong to this psychoclass are those who show off their acts by smearing the walls with their victims’ blood: people who have suffered a much more regressive mode of childrearing than the average westerner. Richard Rhodes explains in Why they Kill that Lonnie Athens, the Darwin of postmodern criminology, discovered that those who commit violent crimes were horribly subjected to violence as children. One hundred percent of the criminals that Athens interviewed in the Iowa and California prisons had been brutalized in their tender years.* An extreme case at the other side of the Atlantic was that of a serial killer of children, Jürgen Bartsch, analyzed by Alice Miller in For Your Own Good. Bartsch had been martyred at home in a far more horrific way than I was. Miller believes that Bartsch gloated over by seeing the panic-stricken looks in the children’s eyes; the children that he mutilated in order to see the martyred boy that inhabited in Bartsch himself.

—————
* Abby Stein has confirmed these findings recently (Journal of Psychohistory, 36, 4, 320-27). It is worth saying that, due to the foundational taboo of the human mind, when in January of 2008 I edited the Wikipedia article Criminology it surprised me to find, in the section where I added mention to Athens, only the biological theories about the etiology of the criminal mind.




An Encounter of Psychoclasses

Julian Jaynes wrote:

I have endeavored in these two chapters to examine the record of a huge time span to reveal the plausibility that man and his early civilizations had a profoundly different mentality from our own, that in fact men an women were not conscious as we are, were not responsible for their actions, and therefore cannot be given credit or blame for anything that was done over these vast millennia of time.

In his book Jaynes complains that the translators of the texts of the Ancient World color their translations with abstract words absolutely incompressible for the bicameral mentality of other times. Personally, once I realized that psychoclasses exist, the Hollywood movies that retroproject our modern psyche onto epic adventures of the historical past look rather silly, as if man had always been the same.

The indigenistas talk wonders of the Mexica herbalist medicine in spite of the fact that it was impregnated with paleologic thinking. Most of the cures were oriented to expel the evil spirits. If the ailment was “the cold disease,” offerings were performed on the particular mount that aroused special devotion. The diagnosis did not rely on empirical observation, but on divination; and if a god had sent the disease offerings to that deity had to be performed. As Silvano Arieti wrote, his schizophrenic patients interpreted everything that occurred as wished by external agents. Far more disturbing was the propensity of Mesoamericans to perform trepanations to let the evil spirits go. The record of this practice on trepanated skulls is an Indian skull with five large holes.

Most interesting is the first act coming from a frightened Moctezuma before the expedition members: he dispatched a delegation offering fresh human flesh to them. When the Spaniards still were in the Veracruz shore, Moctezuma’s representatives visited Cortés; killed the captives they had brought with them, and began to prepare their bodies for a cannibal feast. The Spanish did not believe what they had before their eyes. “When they saw it, it made them feel sick, they spit out, they rubbed their eyes,” wrote Bernal Díaz. It is true that in a disobedient plot Cortés ordered to cut the feet’s fingers of the pilot Gonzalo de Umbría. The Spanish captain was capable of attacking a village of unarmed Tlaxcallans and committing a massacre, as well as amputating the right hands of the Indian spies. He ordered the killing of defenseless men, women and children during the siege of Tenochtitlan, “one of the most shameful scenes that the life of that man registers,” wrote his biographer Salvador de Madariaga. It is also true that he ordered that Qualpopoca and his sons be burned alive for having killed a rearguard of Spaniards. He even ordered the hanging of two of his own, and in another plot where he feared for his life he hanged Cuauhtémoc himself. But Cortés did not indulge himself in self-harming practices. Nor did he sacrifice children. Compared to the Amerindians, the rustic soldiers belonged to a completely new dimension in the evolution of the human psyche, as distinct from the infanticidal psychoclass as a butterfly from the former worm.

Those who, through history and prehistory, have belonged to the infanticidal psychoclass invariably get schizophrenized: be Indians, Caucasians, Africans or Orientals. A noise coming from Nature or an animal that passes on the way are interpreted as omens. For these people there is no individuation, free will in the broadest sense and much less cognition or Aristotelian thought process. In the case of the Mexicas, destiny was determined by the birth date and escaped the will of the individual. The psychic climate was charged of pessimism and threatened with annihilation. The Amerindians protected themselves by making offerings to their demonic gods. When Mesoamericans felt threatened by something they punctually offered blood and hearts as an attempt to placate what, in fact, were their inner demons. In Cempoala, writes Bernal Díaz, frightened by the bearded teules (a corrupted word from teteuh, gods) that came from the East, “each day they sacrificed in front of us three or four or five Indians.” When Cortés begins his resolute advance to the great Mexican capital Moctezuma fell seized with panic. “And they sacrificed each day two boys so that [the gods] answered what to do with us.” When they arrived to Cholula “we knew that [Moctezuma] was shut away with his devotions and sacrifices for two days, together with ten principal papas [high priests].” A little after that page there appears something unbelievable in Bernal’s story. The response of the high priests was that the emperor should “let us in.”

Take note that, analogously to the magic thinking of pre-Hispanic medicine, the emperor or Huey Tlatoani did not think in Aristotelian logic. It is true that, just as Ahuítzotl, before becoming monarch Moctezuma had been high priest. But he also had been a successful general. Despite of it, in the crucial year of his reign he did not ask advice from his military chiefs but from his priests, and what is worse: he let the Spanish enter knowing that they had just perpetrated the massacre of Cholula; the city being plundered by the Spanish allies, the Tlaxcallans, and the temple of Huitzilopochtli burnt for two days, in addition that Cortés ordered the destruction of all effigies of worship. Tenochtitlan was not Cholula. Located as the only lacustrine city of the continent, it was well protected. The Mexicas could easily have lifted the bridges that led to the empire’s capital. Instead, they let enter not a mere Cortés embassy, but the captain along with all of his army (including the horses, never seen before)!

If this is not suicidal magical thinking coming from bicameral minds, what is it? The Conquest of America is the chapter of history that catches the attention as no other conquest of the history of mankind. Although Carthage suffered a similar fate of Tenochtitlan, the Romans had to fight through three very costly Punic wars throughout 120 years before razing the city. It took Cortés a tiny fraction of that time to do it: he initiated his campaign in 1519 and by 1521 he had taken the double city of Tlatelolco-Tenochtitlan. Jaynes’ observation quoted above about Pizarro, “How could an empire whose armies had triumphed over the civilizations of half a continent be captured by a small band of 150 Spaniards in the early evening of November 16, 1532?” may be said about Cortés too.

“Never did a captain with such a small army perform such a feat, nor achieved so many victories or hold a grip of such a great empire,” commented the chronicler Francisco López de Gómara. If there is something apparent in Bernal’s story is that the captain wanted to bring to an end the practice of sacrifice in each town he passed through en route to Tenochtitlan. A semi-Indian friend of mine who has read the chroniclers commented that the historicity of their stories is way above the excuse that, mantra-like, we have heard a thousand times from other Mexicans: “Winners write history.” What actually happened is that the Tlaxcallans hated the Mexicas, who through a century had been raiding them to obtain captives for the sacrifice. Had the inhabitants of Tenochtitlan been popular in the so-called Aztec Empire the Spanish would have been repelled in Mexico. A pitiful sensation produces in the reader an illustration of the book by Diego Durán with humble Indians carrying, on their bended backs, the backpacks of the newcomers in their advance to Tenochtitlan while a Spaniard appears comfortably on his horse. The same can be said of another illustration of Indians building brigantines that would be decisively used in the battle of the Lake Texcoco. Obviously, the conquest of Mexico was also a civil war.

As implied above, my father feels an excessive admiration for the Indian world. On several occasions he has argued that the fact that the poetry of Nezahualcóyotl, the most typical and refined representative of the Nahua culture, is so humane refutes the vision of the culture of the ancient Mexicans as barbaric.

But poetry is no reliable standard. The basic, fundamental principle in psychohistory has childrearing as the relevant factor, and from this point of view even the refined monarch of Texcoco was a barbarian. In a courtier intrigue Nezahualcóyotl consented using garrote to execute his favorite son, the prince Tetzauhpilzintli. The Nahua characters were seized with fratricide fits. Moctezuma I (not the one who received Cortés) ordered the killing of his brother and something similar did Nezahualcóyotl’s heir, Nezahualpilli: who also used capital punishment with his first born son and heir. Soustelle says that this family tragedy was one of the causes of the fall of the Mexican empire since the blood brothers that rose to the throne flipped to the Spanish side. But Soustelle’s blindness about what he has in front of his nose is amazing. Like León Portilla, for Soustelle “there is no doubt that the Mexicans loved their children very much.”

But that is not love. Nezahualcóyotl’s mourning after letting his son be killed reminds me the “Pietà” of my first book, my mother, who suffered for seeing me in wretched conditions when she did nothing but escalate her abusive behavior against me. More disturbing is that some upper-class Mexicas delivered their little children to the Tláloc priests to be sacrificed (as we already saw, less wealthy people also sold their children to the sacrificers): a piece of data that demonstrates that motivation was more than economic.

From a considerable distance the Spanish soldiers saw how their companions were sacrificed at the top of the pyramid of Tenochtitlan, whose heads would later be found impaled in a tzompantli together with the decapitated heads of the captured horses. When I mentioned for the first time the tzompantlis I omitted to say that they were structures on parallel crossbeams. Through holes on the temples, the stakes supported the enormous files of decapitated human heads, one after another.

Aztec tzompantli sculpted out of stone
in imitation of the real tzompantlis

Only in Tenochtitlan there were seven tzompantlis; the Spaniards had seen a tzompantli in Cempoala, not very far from the Veracruz shore, and some time after in their journey another one in Zautla, which also contained femurs and other parts of human bodies. Bernal Díaz writes: “In that state of affairs, very frightened and wounded, we did not know about Cortés or Sandoval, nor of their armies, if they had been killed and broken down [chopped into pieces], as the Mexicans told us when they threw into our camp the five heads they grasped by the hair and beards.” The demoralized soldiers wanted to flee to Cuba after the battle of La Noche Triste, when most of the Spaniards died: a great defeat for the Spanish arms on Mexican soil.

I the middle of a skirmish the Indians captured Cortés himself, but they did not kill him. When taking him over to be sacrificed their men rescued him. From the military viewpoint, this magical thinking of not killing the fallen captain but attempting to take him to the pyramid was a gross blunder: Cortés would be the man who harangued the Spanish not to flee to Cuba after the catastrophic Noche Triste. Thereafter, with the Tlaxcallan support, the war turned over and that Mexica capital was lost. Cuauhtémoc, the last Huey Tlatoani rejected the peace proposals that, day after day, Cortés offered the Mexicas. (Cuauhtémoc had been the same noble who led the signal to stone Moctezuma after the massacre ordered by Pedro de Alvarado, inspired by the massacre of Cholula ordered by Cortés.)

It is not my intention to vituperate contemporary Mexicans. As I revealed in my previous book [La India Chingada], the memories of Mexico City’s beautiful neighborhoods where I lived in the 1960s, before the city disintegrated, still feed my deepest nostalgias. Nor is it my intention to vituperate the ancient Mexicans. As I have also said, the psychoclass of the Mexicas was far more evolved than the Chichimeca: the Nomads from the north who still ate raw meat because they could not use fire; could not build houses, and lived in the caves. The Amerindian hunter-gatherers were in a more dissociated state of mind than the inhabitants of the big cities, like the refined Nahuas. And taking into account the inconceivable sadism of the Mayas with the prisoners, undistinguishable from that of the cruelest serial killers of today I have not the slightest doubt that, even though the pictographic form of Mexica writing before the syllabic Mayan represents a technical regression, the psychoclass of the ancient Mexicans marks a psychogenic advance compared to their southern neighbors.

Gotten to this point I must confess that it is painful to read almost anything related to Moctezuma. And it is painful in spite of the fact that Bernal Díaz says that the Huey Tlatoani himself shared the cannibalism of his age. “I heard them say that they used to cook for him the flesh of small boys,” and on the same page it can be read that “our captain reprimanded him the sacrifice and the eating of human flesh, and Moctezuma ordered that that delicatessen be not cooked for him anymore.” Despite of his culinary habits, the reading of the Bernaldine pages is painful because we can see a very human Moctezuma. Both Bernal Díaz and Cortés were fond of Moctezuma; and his candid, fearful and superstitious personality moves the reader to sympathize with him too. It is very difficult not to feel a particular affection for Moctezuma. It is true that before Cortés and the Spanish the Huey Tlatoani behaved like a güey (a Mexicanism that when I was a boy meant stupid). Today’s Mexicans are not as güeyes as the Mexicas. But even after almost five hundred years it is a disturbing experience to discover how the historical Moctezuma behaved.

Before the Spanish expedition reached Tenochtitlan, the most powerful man of the empire had clung to his papas of long, tangled and gluey hair with blood scabs. We can imagine the mental state of those who, time after time, stuck their hand in living bodies digging through the vital organ. They had ash-colored faces because they too had to bleed themselves once a day. When Moctezuma fell seized with panic when the alien expedition was en route to the empire’s capital, besides the priests he also consulted fortune-tellers and sorcerers. Once the Spaniards arrived, it is disturbing to learn how these men, who represented a more integrated psychoclass, took over the empire from Moctezuma: like an adult snatching the ice-cream from a little boy, who had been a magnificent host for Cortés and his enormous military escort.

The common people were as psychologically dissociated as their governor. During the long period of time that goes from the Moctezuma kidnapping by Cortés to the massacre perpetrated by Alvarado, with the exception of Cacama and a few nobles the Mexicans did not rebel against the invasion. They did not even react when Cortés ordered that Qualpopoca, his sons and fifteen chiefs were burned alive at the stake, humiliating the emperor who, with chains, had to witness the execution in the plaza of the Great Pyramid. Moctezuma was even taught to learn, in Latin, prayers like Our Father and the Hail Mary.

Cortés left temporarily Tenochtitlan to stop Pánfilo Narváez in Cempoala. Narváez arrived from Cuba with a great army; he wanted to place Cortés under arrest and liberate Moctezuma. Only the massacre of México where the blond Alvarado (nicknamed Totaniuh, the sun) slaughtered the flower of the Mexican aristocracy during the “Aztec Easter” made the Mexicas wake up. Their long lethargy reminds me an eighteenth-century observation by a Jesuit that Amerindians were grownup children, “bambini with beards.”

Unlike the Peruvians, who constantly clean the great statue of Pizarro—who behaved worse with Atahualpa than Cortés with Moctezuma—, in almost half a century of living in the Mexican capital I have not seen a single statue of Cortés, his Indian wife, or Moctezuma. So deep did the trauma of the conquest impregnate the Mexicans’ psyche that its tail can be felt half a millennium later. It is true that, after the Alvarado massacre, what had been a sort of picaresque conquering story turned into an apparent infamy, although Salvador de Madariaga qualifies the Nahua vision of the conquest by pointing out that Alvarado “was right in thinking that there existed a conspiracy” from the Mexica to attack the Spaniards after the holyday. On the other hand, through a sense of black humor even some Indian Mexicans have dared to see the cruelties committed by their own folk. In An Autobiography, the Mexican muralist José Clemente Orozco wrote:

According to them [the indigenistas] the Conquest ought not to have taken place as it did. Instead of sending cruel and ambitious captains, Spain should have sent a great delegation of ethnologists, anthropologists, archeologists, civil engineers […]. Very tactfully it might have been suggested to great Moctezuma that he should establish democracy for the lower orders, while preserving the privileges of aristocracy, thus pleasing everyone. In this way the three abhorrent centuries of Colonial Period could have been side-stepped, and the Great Teocalli would still be standing, though thoroughly disinfected to keep the blood of sacrifices from going bad, and to enable us to turn it into blood pudding—in a factory standing where, for want of it, the National Pawnshop inadequately serves.

History did not occur that way. The soldiers razed Tenochtitlan and a clergy coming out directly from the Counter-Reformation and the Reconquista took care of the statues and the codexes. A melancholic Mexica poem says: “Our lifestyle, our city, is lost and dead.” The infamous pyramid that enclosed the remains of the boy whose photo I included way above was blown up with 500 barrels of powder.

Conversely, in the sarcastic scenario by Orozco, in the world’s most beautiful city the tourists would utter wonders when escalating the Teocalli to see the great Huichilobos without any knowledge of the sacrificed child and his remains, still enclosed under the rock, dozens of meters below their feet.

After the fall of Tenochtitlan Bernal Díaz tells us that “land, lagoon and bargekennings were full of dead bodies, and it stank so much that there was no man who could endure it.” In contrast to the Manichaeism of the Mexicans, whether hispanophiles or indigenistas, Martin Brown drew some irreverent cartoons published in Terry Deary’s pamphlet The Angry Aztecs. One of them illustrates the stone blocks of the recently destroyed city: colored stones of the temples that would be used for the construction of the Christian buildings. In Brown’s cartoon there is a dialogue between two pubescent Nahuas, a boy and a girl sitting on the great city on ruins:

Boy: The Aztecs killed my mum.
Girl: The Spanish killed mine.
Boy: I wonder who is deader?

But Brown omitted the crux: Moctezuma and his folk ate the kids of that age, something that the Spaniards never did.

What destroys the mind to the point of making an entire continent inhabited by easy-to-conquer güeyes is to carry the burden, in the innermost corner of the soul, that our beloved totatzin sacrificed one of our siblings; or that this happened in the families of friends and acquaintances and that nobody condemned it. Using the language of my previous book, since the sacrifices were part of the social tissue nobody counted with an enlightened witness; let alone a helping witness when the poisonous pedagogy was being inculcated. Let us remember the ethnologic study of the twentieth century about the New Guinea tribes. The children avoided their parents when they ate one of their little siblings. The rates of child suicide among such peoples, a more disturbed society than the Mexica, were very high.

The Spanish destruction may be compared in some way to the destruction by king Josiah in 641 B.C. according to II Chronicles 34: 3-7, about which Jaynes comments that had it not occurred more archaeological evidence of the ancient Hebrews’ speaking idols could have been found. Though objectionable for the standards of our time, such measures of cultural extermination were necessary during the attempts of the superior psychoclass to eliminate the sacrifices: be them sacrifices of children to Baal or children to Tláloc.

And presently we have arrived to the section that gave the title to this book [the fourth book within Hojas Susurrantes is named The Return of Quetzalcoatl].


Quetzalcoatl’s Return

If westerners of late 19th and early 20th centuries represent the zenith of civilization in the world, New Guineans and the headhunters of Munduruku in Brazil represent the nadir. The psychoclass of the poorest strata of present-day Latin America lies at the middle of both extremes.

In contrast to most nations, Mexico City gave her name to the modern country. It was founded by the Tenochcas when a voice ordered them to establish themselves on the lake that they had arrived, “as the unembodied bicameral voices led Moses zigzagging across the Sinai desert.” It cannot be more symbolic the fact that the Coat of Arms of Mexico, which they so much shoved under my nose at school, is an eagle perched upon a prickly pear cactus devouring a snake in one of the lake islets that the ancient Tenochcas recognized. It was an odd place to found a city, but the punishing voices had to be obeyed. We can deduce from The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind that the buildings erected at the center of a community, such as the temple of Huitzilopochtli on the Texcoco Lake, were located where the guides listened the damned voices. If we now relate not only Jaynes to Arieti but also a passage of my Carta about a patient diagnosed with schizophrenia, the puzzle starts to take shape. I have in mind the woman mentioned in my Carta[Maya Abbott] that, because her parents always tried to think for her, suffered from auditory hallucinations and confessed to Laing: “I don’t think, the voices think.”

Unlike this sort of psychological analyzing—God forbid—, some historians try to make amends for the pre-Columbian Indians. More disturbing is to see a friend taking offence about our compassion. The psychoanalyst Jenny Pavisic once addressed me severely: “And who are you to condemn the sacrifices?” referring to child sacrifices in Mesoamerica.

The Tlatelolcan ceremonial showground and its surrounding neighborhoods have been excavated for archeological purposes. I have seen photographs of bone fragments of 41 sacrificed victims in the excavation of the terraces of the Ehecatl-Quetzalcoatl temple, of which 30 were little children. Just as Pavisic, many people are capable of condemning the 1968 massacre of students in Tlatelolco, but never the child sacrifices perpetrated exactly on the same place. In April of 2007 bones were found of twenty-four sacrificed children to Tláloc in Tula, the capital of the Toltec civilization, dated 950-1150 AD according to a newspaper report that circulated the world. The children had been decapitated. If we remember that the intention was to avert an environmental crisis in that way, it should not surprise us that Mesoamerican civilizations disappeared even before the conquest. The sacrifices represented the distaff that moved the fabric of that culture, and a society as psychologically dissociated that had sacrifices on its basis was condemned to random disappearance. It is as if a civilization was composed of the self-harming women in Ross’ clinic and of male serial killers [cf. previous chapter].

The iconic example of civilization disappearance is the abandonment by the Mesoamericans of their great cities, as is the case of the Mayas of the ninth century AD. From the climatic register, ice analysis in Greenland and mud of the subsoil of a lagoon in Maya areas it can be deduced that they suffered a serious draught. To deal with the draughts, just as their Mexica successors sacrificed the flower of their youth in face of external crises, from the bone register of about thirty sacrificed men, women and children it is deduced that the Mayas tried to appease the gods that had betrayed them. Had they arrived to the level of Aristotelian thought they would not have attempted to solve the problem by killing even more of their folk, and hardly would the draughts had been so apocalyptic for their civilization. Let us not forget that sudden desertion of the cities also occurred in Teohtiuacan and in Tula. Julian Jaynes comments:

I also think that the curious unhospitable sites on which Maya cities were often built and their sudden appearance and disappearance [my emphasis] can best be explained on the basis that such sites and movements were commanded by hallucinations which in certain periods could be not only irrational but downright punishing.

The why of the periodic collapse of the Mesoamerican civilizations starts to be discerned if we consider that the demographic load of a prosperous Indian city sooner or later enters a critical phase that confronts the bicameral Diktat of the dominant theocracy. It is illustrative that when Egypt suffered a draught around 2100 B.C. absolutely all authority collapsed: the Egyptian people fled the towns and the literary sources of the time remind me the apocalyptic passages of a synoptic gospel. While Egyptologists struggle to explain the “why,” Jaynes compares it with the Maya catastrophe. The Mayas suffered a massive civilizatory regression by going back to the jungle. He also compares it with the collapse of Assyria in 1700 B.C. that lasted two hundred years and that no historian quite understands. Jaynes also argues that the mystery is dissipated if we see it as a psychogenic leap. The bicameral societies are more susceptible of collapsing once the gods refuse to talk; this is to say, once man overcomes his schizophrenic stage, so overwhelmed with auditory hallucinations. The collapse of the bicameral society is but the resulting chaos of the transit to consciousness. In Egypt, Assyria and other cultures of the Ancient World the birth of a schizoid psychoclass out of a schizophrenic one (Laing magnificently describes the difference between schizoid and schizophrenic in The Divided Self) represented a formidable threat for the status quo. “Disorders and social chaos had of course happened before,” writes Jaynes, “but such a premeditated mutiny and parricide of a king is impossible to imagine in the god-obedient hierarchies of the bicameral age.” Similarly, the birth of the “helping mode” man out of the socialized man brings with it such weapons of mass self-destruction for our civilization (I have in mind feminism) that it could be said that today the white people are an endangered species.


Political correctness

The rupture of the bicameral age resulted in the greatest collision of consciousness that a society could endure. But unlike the people in the Old World, those in the New World were incapable of carrying out such intrapsychic metamorphosis. The reading of Jaynes’ book seems to suggest that the Mesoamerican world of the sixteenth-century still was bicameralized in such a way that had already been overcome at the other side of the ocean. In other words, the Mesoamericans suffered from the stagnation that in psychohistory is called psychogenic arrest.

The Amerindians got what they deserved. But presently, who condemns the ancient dwellers of the Americas? In a politically correct world it cannot be said that the infanticidal pre-Hispanics were psychologically dissociated; that the military theocracy was composed of serial killers, or that they were morally inferior to us. But the moralists were not always muzzled. In the colorful Spanish of his time, Bernal wrote a chapter, “How the Indians of all New Spain had many Sacrifices and Clumsiness that We Took Them Away and Imposed on Them the Saintly Things of Good Doctrine.” Bernal’s cheekiness does not cease to fascinate me: and it is pathetic that, half a millennium later, compared to those soldiers the historians, ethnologists and anthropologists of today have psychogenically regressed. I will illustrate it through the other pre-Hispanic empire.

Communication between Mesoamericans and the Andean people was sporadic. Just as the Mayas, the Incas deformed the craniums of the babies; some scholars believe to demarcate different ethnic groups of the Inca empire. The torments on childhood started since the first day. The newborn was washed with cold water, covered and placed in a hole made in the ground that would be used as a simple playpen. At five the child was nationalized by a theocratic state that, like the Mexica, was governed by strict hierarchies. And just as in Mesoamerica, the ritual murder of children was carried out in several Andean societies.

In November of 1999 National Geographic published an article with several photographs of mummies perfectly preserved at 6,700 meters above the sea level: the highest archaeological site of the world. Those were children that had been voluntarily given by their parents to be killed: an eight-year-old boy and two girls. “The Inca,” says the article, “obtained children from throughout the empire [for sacrifice] and rewarded their families with positions or goods.” In some cases the parents themselves accompanied the child in her journey to immolation. In conjunction with other barbaric forms of childrearing, the practice formed the bicameral minds that would be an all-too-easy prey for Pizarro (who in Spain had been a swineherd). The chroniclers wrote about those sacrifices. Nevertheless, with the perennial excuse that “Winners write history” in some Latin American circles the myth was created that the chroniclers’ stories were mythical. The discovery of the mummies at the end of the century confirmed the authenticity of the Spanish chroniclers’ stories that the children were buried alive, or killed by a blow to the head, which is how according to the autopsy they killed one of the girls.

However, just as Bolivian nationalists such as Pavisic angrily ask “And who are you to condemn the sacrifices?,” the National Geographic article is a disgrace. The author, Johan Reinhard, is afraid to judge the parents and the society that produced them. He idealizes them in the most servile way, thus betraying the memory of the children. Reinhard wrote overt falsehoods about the Amerindians, for example, “the Inca were not the brutal conquerors the Spaniards were.” He writes that on the same page in which he asserted that the Inca rewarded the parents who offered their children for sacrifice. Reinhard also wrote, euphemistically, “right after she died” referring to one of the sacrificed girls instead of the natural “right after they killed her.” And when he mentions that the chroniclers reported that others were buried alive, he hastened to add: “The Llullaillaco children, however, have benign expressions” [see a video, here, showing one of these “benign expressions”].

More offensive are the photograph headings at the beginning and at the end of the article: “Go Gently” referring to the pubescent girl that was found in fetal position buried in a hole, and “Eternity Bound” referring to the sacrifice of the three children in general. And the fact that the sacrificial site was found at the top of the mountain makes Reinhard exclaim: “The conditions only increased my respect for what the Inca had accomplished.”

In the next chapter I will approach the subject of the intellectual aberration known as cultural relativism, of which Reinhard and many other academics are distinguished exponents. Suffice it to say that the ethnologists and anthropologists are a lost cause. Our only hope lies in that another generation replaces those who presently occupy academic chairs. How I wish that the younger minds learned something about psychohistory, for example, that they became interested in the greatest adventure of the world by reading the Bernal Díaz story up to the arrival of the Spaniards to Tenochtitlan.

And I must tell how in this town of Tlaxcala we found wooden houses furnished with gratins, full of Indian men and women imprisoned in them, being fed up until they were fat enough to be sacrificed and eaten. The prisons we broke open and destroyed and set free the prisoners who were in them, and these poor Indians did not dare to go to any direction, only to stay there with us and thus escape with their lives. From now on, in all the towns that we entered, the first thing our Captain ordered us was to break open these prisons and set free the prisoners.

These prisons are common throughout the land and when Cortés and all of us saw such great cruelty, he showed that he was very angry with the Caciques of Tlaxcala, and they promised that from that time forth they would not eat and kill any more Indians in that way. I said of what benefit were all those promises, for as soon as we turned our heads they would commit the same cruelties. And let us leave it like that and tell how we were ordered to go to Mexico.

Not condemning the sacrifices of the past, unlike the first white men who step ashore on the continent did, impedes us to see the sacrifices of the present. In my previous book I had written that nationally and internationally my cousin Gerardo Tort won awards for a film about homeless Mexican kids. If we analyze this affaire closely we will see both Tort’s and the society’s lies better than in any other place. What the people of the Third World need are the most incisive campaigns of birth control and a drastic demographic reduction in the poorest countries. As I recount in La India Chingada, just as many middle-class Mexicans Gerardo responded to my comment about these prolific breeders criticizing me without proposing an alternative scenario of social engineering. The point I am trying to make is very simple. The fact that practically nobody condemns the infanticidal psychoclass in the pre-Hispanic world, and the poverty-stricken mestizo-Americans that presently breed like rabbits thus condemning countless children to poverty, are two faces of the same coin. If the abuses of the past are unseen and uncondemned, it will be very difficult to see and condemn the abuses of the present. As Orwell put it: he who controls the past controls the future.

The indigenistas who control the past are dishonest people. In the book Toltecayotl Miguel León Portilla accepts that their families usually abuse contemporary Indian women. But in that book León Portilla blames, incredibly, the Conquest for the current abuses by the male Indian to the female Indian. [This is analogous to Auster’s First Law.] He then writes that “the situation of the pre-Hispanic Nahua woman highly differed from his condition today,” and to support his claim a few pages later he quotes a passage from those Nahua homiletics that León Portilla is so fond: “The little girl: little creature, little lovebird, oh so little, so tender, so well fed…” But in the same Toltecayotl chapter León Portilla also published an illustration of the Codex Telleriano-Remensis of a Mexica housewife that looks anything but happy. In absolute contrast to León Portilla, the Anonymous Conqueror wrote that there were no people in the world who had women in less esteem than the Mesoamericans. And in his most recent book, The Origins of War in Child Abuse, deMause wrote: “Aztec females were treated even worse than Islamic females.” It is indeed preposterous that the Spanish soldiers of the sixteenth century manifested better empathy for the victims of that culture than the scholars of today. But to understand León Portilla it is pertinent to note that in Apologética Historia, written at the middle of the sixteenth century, Las Casas praised the Indian reprimands of parents to their children by calling them “sane, prudent and rational.” Las Casas even located such poisonous pedagogy above the teachings of Plato, Socrates, Pythagoras and even Aristotle.

The most recent treatise about the encounter between the Spanish and Mexican empires is Conquest: Montezuma, Cortés and the Fall of Old Mexico by Hugh Thomas. It catches the attention that, as a typical bienpensant, in the preface’s first paragraph Thomas candidly talks about the members of the two cultures without realizing that they belong to very distinct psychoclasses. On the next page Thomas writes about “compassion” as one of the virtues of the Mexica in spite of the fact that on the next line he sates that even the babies in arms were made to cry with brutality before sacrificing them! [it is a pity that I only have the Spanish translation of Thomas’ treatise and that therefore can’t quote him verbatim for this blog]. As to the treatment of women Thomas writes, dishonestly, that their position was at lest as comparable to the female Europeans of that age, although we perfectly know that European women were not deceived to be sacrificed, decapitated and skinned punctually according to rituals of the Gregorian calendar. And the women who would not be sacrificed were not allowed to wear sandals, unlike their husbands. In the codexes the Indian females appear generally on their knees while the males are on sitting facilities (This reminds me that when visiting Chiapas in his youth, it shocked my father that Indian women wore obscure clothing: their humblest figures could not contrast more with the very colorful garments of the male Indians.) And we must remember the Indian costume of selling, and even giving as presents, their daughters. The same Malinali, later called equivocally Marina or “La Malinche,” Cortés’ right hand, had been sold by her mother to some traders from Xicallanco, who in turn had sold her to some Mayas who sold her to some Chontales, who gave her as a present to Cortés. Thomas even takes as historical the words of the chronicler in regard to Xicoténcatl II’s embassy when, after Xicoténcatl’s people suffered crushing defeats, he went into the Spanish camp with words that portray the treatment of the Indian woman by their own: “And if you want sacrifices, take these four women that you may sacrifice, and you can eat their flesh and their hearts. Since we don’t know how you do it we have not sacrificed them before you.” The study of Salvador de Madariaga about the conquest, published under the title Hernán Cortés [Macmillan, NY, 1941], precedes half a century Thomas’ study. Without the ominous clouds of cultural relativism that cover the skies of our times, in Madariaga’s study it is valid to advance value judgments.

Fortunately, not all of our contemporaries live under a clouded sky. In 2003 El País Semanal published a translation of an article by Matthias Schulz that described as “demonic” and “brutal” the Mesoamerican practice of human sacrifice. Schulz also called the Mexicas “bloodthirsty.”

The politically correct Mexican indigenistas rendered their garments. In July of that year the farthest leftist of the Mexican newspapers, La Jornada, jointly published a response. Eduardo Matos-Moctezuma blurted out that “mentalities such as Schulz’s are the ones who lend themselves, because of their closed mind, to slaughtering.” But Matos-Moctezuma did not deny the historicity of the slaughtering by the Indians of their own folk. Prof. María Alba Pastor, also quoted in La Jornada, offered an absolutely psychotic and dishonest explanation for the sacrifices: “Perhaps they were a reaction to the Conquest.” For Ripley [again, this is Auster’s First Law in a historical setting]. Talking about cannibalism, Yólotl González, author of a book on Mesoamerican sacrifices, was not left behind: “Thus they gave a practical use to the dead bodies.” Take note that González does not deny the historicity of cannibalism. Her nonsense consists in her interpretation. The historian Guillermo Tovar manifested that Schulz’s text was “a Taliban Occidentalism, deprecating and oblivious of other traditions.” Mónica Villar, the director of Arqueología Mexicana, criticized what she called “disinformation” referring to Schulz’s statement that “no peoples had practiced human sacrifices in such dimensions.” Nevertheless, when the next issue of Arqueología Mexicana came out, the journal’s scholars did not refute Schulz. León Portilla responded with his favorite argument: that the Christianity that the Spaniards brought also had as its basis the sacrifice of a son, Jesus Christ. The veteran indigenista ignored the fact that precisely such theology represented a deflection from the filicide drive to a symbolic sublimation of it; and that the Roman Christian emperors and the Church’s fathers fought to banish the late forms of infanticide in the Early Middle Ages with the same zeal that conservatives fight abortion today. DeMause has profusely written on this transition and it is unnecessary to elaborate his ideas here. This is something so obvious that, in contrast to the sophisticated indigenistas, any child could understand: in Christendom parents did not sacrifice and cannibalized their children, and León Portilla’s argument is gross sophistry.

While Jacques Soustelle’s panegyric of the ancient Mexicans is stunning from the lyrical viewpoint, a closer reading of Daily Life of the Aztecs reveals its trappings. Soustelle wants us to believe that the lowest social strata of the Mexica civilization was represented by the slave, who according to him was highly more privileged than the European slave. The fallacy of his presentation consists in the fact that the Mexica slave could be sold and sacrificed. In the Tlatelolco market, the largest market of the Americas, slaves were sold tied by the neck to big sticks (as in the film Apocalypto). Moreover: the slave was not actually at the bottom of the social strata. Down there were the captives who, whether fatten for consumption or not, awaited their turn on the sacrificial stone. But moralists like Schulz are not alone. In his post-scriptum to The Labyrinth of Solitude, Octavio Paz, the finest thinker that has produced Mexico, wrote these words about the pre-Columbian world:

Like those torture wheels that appear in Sade’s novels, the Aztec year was a circle of eighteenth months soaked wet with blood; eighteenth ways to die by being killed by arrows or by immersion in water or by cutting the throat or by flaying […]. On which religious and social aberration could a city of the beauty of Mexico-Tenochtitlan be the theater of water, stone and sky for a hallucinating funeral ballet? And for which obfuscation of the spirit nobody among us—I don’t have in mind the outworn nationalists but the scholars, the historians, the artists and the poets—want to see and accept that the Aztec World is one of the aberrations in history? [my translation]

Bernal talks even more directly than Paz, more rosy-cheeked I would dare to say. The sacrifices he simply labels as “wicked things,” “great cruelties,” and the self-harming, “clumsiness.” The original Spanish prose is delicious when Bernal writes, for example, that Mesoamericans “had the habit of sacrificing their foreheads and the ears, tongues and lips, breasts and arms and their fleshy parts, and the legs and even their natural parts,” the genitals. Conversely, when Hugh Thomas mentions the cannibalism he does it cautiously, as if he does not want to cause any offence. On the other hand, the erudite and refined Sahagún, considered by León Portilla the first ethnologist of history, concurs with the soldier, as we saw with his exclamation (there are other exclamations of this sort in his encyclopedic work). Of course, if the pre-Hispanic world was an aberration, as Paz says, that does not demerit their findings in mathematics and astronomy. However, even though the best physics of the 1930s was German, our world does not argue that we should avoid condemning the Holocaust because of the great scientific findings in Germany. If we are to avoid the double standard, we cannot obfuscate our understanding of the Mesoamerican cultures on the basis of their astronomic knowledge.


The feathered serpent

While Quetzalcoatl self-harmed his leg and sprinkled blood out of his penis, he was the most humanitarian of the gods in the pre-Columbian pantheon. He never offered human blood to the gods. According to the legend, Tezcatlipoca counteracted Quetzalcoatl’s influence and regained social control by means of the dark side of the force, thus reestablishing the sacrifices in the great Toltec city. Quetzalcoatl fled away from their folk toward the East, from which the ulterior legend emerged that he would return from the Orient.

Orozco. The Return of Quetzalcoatl
Fresco painted between 1932-1934

In 1978 I went once more to live some months to the house of my grandmother [this is related to my first book]: a very numinous and even happy stage that I would like to recount in another place. I became wrapped in Jung’s Man and his Symbols and some nights I walked to the park called Parque Hundido, which contains exact replicas of pre-Hispanic statuary.

One night, alone and immersed in my thoughts as always during my adolescence, the pair of enormous replicas of feathered serpents at the park’s entrance caught my attention. It stroke me as an extraordinary intuition or divination from the collective unconscious, the fact that long before paleontology pre-Hispanics could have bequeathed us the perfect symbol of the missing link between the reptile and the bird. The two great feathered serpents of stone that I contemplated that fresh night in the park, way taller than me, were the same symbol of the caduceus: two serpents that long for their wings. Quetzal is feather in Nahua, and cóatl serpent, feathered serpent: symbol par excellence of transcendence. However hard I struggled those days to transcend myself it was impossible to arrive to my present psychogenic state, even though the unconscious drive was formidable. That night I did not understand how come the symbol of quetzal-cóatl could be so clairvoyant, so accurate to describe human emergency in such an oneiric and perceptive way. Now, exactly thirty years later, I ask myself: Hadn’t the Europeans existed how long would have taken these people to give up their practices and pass on to a later form of infanticide (say, the exposure in Rome)? Most intriguing is how long would they have taken, on their own, to reach the levels that psychohistorians call socialization.

The legend of Quetzalcoatl, that in its latest incarnation appears as a god of white skin, makes me think that the very first feathers for a psychogenic leap were already present in the New World before the arrival of the white man.

[Index page for this book here]

Christmas Eve

I have a lot to say about Christianity. Believe me. Decades of my life were destroyed as a result of a focalized abuse perpetrated by my father—a fanatic Catholic—when I was a minor. His verbal abuse and slapping on my face, together with his eschatological doctrine of eternal damnation, broke my adolescent heart. Since as a young person nobody helped me, I was completely unable to process the trauma.

At seventeen I constantly had themes from Mozart’s Requiem stuck in my head in the Catholic school Zumárraga, an ear worm synchronized with the religious metamorphosis that was taking place in my mind: the change from the stage of perceiving God as the loving father of my St. Francis to the terrible God of the Requiem—my introjected Father.

Confutatis maledictis
Flammis acribus addictis
Sed tu bonus fac benigne
Ne perenni cremer igne.

My fear of eternal damnation, what Alice Miller calls “the fighting with the parental introjects,” i.e., the fighting against our inner daddy, reached truly paranoid, medieval levels of obsessive fear, as I recount in my book Hojas Susurrantes (Whispering Leaves). It’s a miracle that, unlike millions of adolescents who have been abused in this infernal way at home, I didn’t lose my mind…

Nevertheless, since the Jews have been targeting Christmas, I won’t criticize my parents’ religion in Christmas Eve. I better copy and paste part of a non-autobiographical chapter of Whispering Leaves that I used to source a couple of online encyclopedias. Pay special attention to the paragraph that starts with the words: “Something completely lost to the modern mind is that…” which, in a nutshell, summarizes my views on why Christianity conquered the souls of the ancient Romans.

The following excerpts relate to the positive side of the religion of my family: how the Church vehemently combated abortion and infanticide among the white people. Let’s remember that infanticidal practices run amok in the Classical World accelerated the fall of the Roman Empire, just as today’s millions of abortions represent a pivotal role in the demographic winter for the white people and the consequent demise of Western civilization.

Relying heavily on Larry S. Milner’s treatise on infanticide, in 2008 I wrote:




That so many researchers have produced astronomical figures on the extent of infanticide moves me to think that Larry Milner’s initiative to devote ten years of his life researching the topic should be undertaken by others. Only then can we be sure if such large numbers are accurate. Here I cannot substantiate the figures of Milner and others, but shall weight the case under the most diverse of collected sources.

Joseph Birdsell believes in infanticide rates of 15-50% of the total number of births in prehistoric times.[1] Laila Williamson estimated a lower rate ranging from 15-20%.[2] Both believe that high rates of infanticide persisted until the development of agriculture.[3] Some comparative anthropologists have estimated that 50% of female newborn babies were killed by their parents in the Paleolithic.[4] These figures appear over and over in the research of other scholars.


Paleolithic and Neolithic

Decapitated skeletons of hominid children have been found with evidence of cannibalism. Neanderthal man performed ritual sacrifices of children. As shown in the bas-reliefs of a Laussel cave, a menstruating goddess is appeased only by the sacrifice of infants.[5]

Marvin Harris, the creator of the anthropological movement called cultural materialism, estimated that in the Stone Age up to 23-50% of newborns were put to death. However, Harris drew up a rational explanation. In his book Cannibals and Kings: Origins of Cultures, published in 1977, he tells us that the goal was to preserve the population growth to 0.001%. This explanation of more “civilized” cavemen than us has not been taken seriously among other scholars. But the renowned geneticist James Neel is not left behind. Through a retroactive model to study the customs of contemporary Yanomami Indians he estimated that in prehistoric times the infanticidal rate was 15-20%. However, Neel wrote: “I find it increasingly difficult to see in the recent reproductive history of the civilized world a greater respect for the quality of human existence than was manifested by our remote ‘primitive’ ancestors.” Ark would have scoffed at this claim. The fact that Neel published such praise for the infanticidal cavemen in Science, one of the most prestigious scientific journals, shows the levels of antediluvian regression that we suffer in our times.[6]


Ancient World

As we have seen, the sacrifice of children was much more common in the Ancient World than in present times.

Three thousand bones of young children, with evidence of sacrificial rituals, have been found in Sardinia. Infants were offered to the Babylonian goddess Ishtar. Pelasgians offered a sacrifice of every tenth child during difficult times. Syrians sacrificed children to Jupiter and Juno. Many remains of children have been found in Gezer excavations with signs of sacrifice. Child skeletons with the marks of sacrifice have been found also in Egypt dating 950-720 B.C. In Carthage “[child] sacrifice in the ancient world reached its infamous zenith.” [7] Besides the Carthaginians, other Phoenicians, and the Canaanites, Moabites and Sepharvites offered their first-born as a sacrifice to their gods.

Carthage. Charred bones of thousands of infants have been found in Carthaginian archaeological sites in modern times. One such area harbored as many as 20,000 burial urns. It is estimated that child sacrifice was practiced for centuries in the region. Plutarch (ca. 46–120 AD) mentions the practice, as do Tertullian, Orosius, Diodorus Siculus and Philo. The Hebrew Bible also mentions what appears to be child sacrifice practiced at a place called the Tophet (from the Hebrew taph or toph, to burn) by the Canaanites, ancestors of the Carthaginians, and by some Israelites. Writing in the 3rd century B.C., Kleitarchos, one of the historians of Alexander the Great, described that the infants rolled into the flaming pit. Diodorus Siculus wrote that babies were roasted to death inside the burning pit of the god Baal Hamon, a bronze statue.[8] (I will approach the subject of the recent studies on the Israelites and child sacrifice in the Epilogue.)

Greece and Rome. Interestingly, in Persian mythology of Zoroastrianism, at birth some children are devoured by their parents: a fable reminiscent of Cronus. Rhea hid Zeus and presented a stone wrapped in strips, which Cronus took as a swaddled baby and ate it. Cronus represents the archaic Hellas.

The historical Greeks considered barbarous the practice of adult and child sacrifice.[9] It is interesting to note how conquerors like Alexander are diminished under the new psycohistorical perspective. If we give credence to the assertion that Thebes, the largest city in the region of Boeotia, had lower rates of exposure than other Greek cities, its destruction by Alexander was a fatal blow to the advanced psychoclass in Greece. A few centuries later, between 150 and 50 B.C. an Alexandrian Jew wrote Wisdom of Solomon, which contains a diatribe against the Canaanites whom he calls perpetrators of “ruthless murders of their children.” (Take note how the classics, the 16th century chroniclers, and the 19th century anthropologists wield value judgments, something forbidden in present-day academia.) In The Histories Polybius was already complaining in the 2nd century B.C. that parents severely inhibited reproduction, and by the 1st century there were several thinkers who spoke out against the exposure of babies. Epictetus wondered “A sheep does not abandon its own offspring, nor a wolf; and yet does a man abandon his?” In the Preface we had seen that in the same century Philo was the first philosopher to speak out against exposure.[10]

“The greatest respect is owed to a child”, wrote Juvenal, born in 55 AD. His contemporary Josephus, a Romanized Jew, also condemned exposure. And in Heroides, an elegiac poem that he wrote before his exile, Ovid asked, “What did the child commit, in so few hours of life?” However, two centuries after Augustus, in times of Constantine Rome struggled with a decreased population due to exposure. The legend of Romulus and Remus is also revealing: two brothers had been exposed to die but a she-wolf saved them. Romulus forced the Romans to bring up all male and the first female, and forbade killing them after certain age. As Rhea saving his son Zeus, this legend portrays the psychogenic landmark of classical culture compared with other cultures of the Ancient World. But even so exposure was practiced. A letter from a Roman citizen to his wife, dating from 1 B.C., demonstrates the casual nature with which infanticide was often viewed:

Know that I am still in Alexandria. [...] I ask and beg you to take good care of our baby son, and as soon as I received payment I shall send it up to you. If you are delivered, if it is a boy, keep it, if a girl, discard it. [11]

In some periods of Roman history it was traditional for a newborn to be brought to the pater familias, the family patriarch, who would then decide whether the child was to be kept and raised, or left to death by exposure. The Twelve Tables of Roman law obliged him to put to death a child that was visibly deformed. Infanticide became a capital offense in Roman law in 374 AD but offenders were rarely if ever prosecuted.[12]


Christianity

Something completely lost to the modern mind is that, in a world full of sacrifices as the Ancient World, the innocent child has to die, ordered by his father: an all too well known practice. It is impossible to understand the psychoclass that gave rise to Christianity ignoring this reality turned into a powerful symbol.

However, my working hypothesis is that the forms of parenting had to suffer, in general terms, a regression during the Middle Ages. As I said before, I was tempted to include a graph different from Lloyd deMause’s: one that showed the great slump since the best times of Ionia, Athens and Rome. I didn’t do it because that would mean starting from a dogmatic position: that Middle Ages childrearing was necessarily worse because history waned in the centuries of darkness. As a working hypothesis it is respectable; as an axiom it would be dogmatic. We must always keep in mind that in Scandal in Bohemia, Sherlock Holmes said to Watson: “It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data. Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts.”

It will thus be the future task of historians to find out if childrearing modes were, in fact, more abusive in the Middle Ages than during the highlights of the Greco-Roman world. In the archived Wikipedia talk page of Psychohistory, Loren Cobb said:

In my view, the psychohistory of Lloyd deMause is indeed a notable approach to history, in the sense in which Wikipedia uses the term “notability.” I am not personally involved in psychohistory—I am a mathematical sociologist—but here are some thoughts for your consideration.

Psychohistory as put forth by deMause and his many followers attempts to explain the pattern of changes in the incidence of child abuse in history. This is a perfectly respectable and non-fringe domain of scientific research. They argue that the incidence was much higher in the past, and that there has been an irregular history of improvement. This is a hypothesis that could just as easily have been framed by an epidemiologist as a psychologist. DeMause proposes a theory that society has gone through a series of stages in its treatment and discipline of children. Again, this is well within the bounds of social science. None of these questions are pseudoscientific. Even the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, a bastion of scientific epidemiology, is interested in these kinds of hypotheses.[13]

I exchanged a few e-mails with Cobb, who like me is very critical of the psychoanalytic tail in deMausean legacy, and his position piqued my interest. So let this prolegomena with academic references continue which, if developed, could become such an epidemiological approach in the future.

The Teachings of the Apostles or Didache said “You shall not murder a child by abortion nor kill that which is born.”[14] The Epistle of Barnabas stated an identical command.[15] So widely accepted was this teaching in Christendom that apologists Tertullian, Athenagoras, Minucius Felix, Justin Martyr and Lactantius also maintained that exposing a baby to death was a wicked act. In 318 AD Constantine I considered infanticide a crime. The West took its time to consider criminal the late forms of infanticide. The author of the Codex Theodosianus in 322 AD complained:

We have learned that in provinces where there are shortages of food and lack of livelihood parents are selling or pledging their children. Such ignominious act is repugnant to our customs.

Around 340 AD Lactantius argued that strangling infants was sinful. Although infanticide was not officially banned in Roman criminal law until 374 AD when Valentinian I mandated to rear all children (exposing babies, especially girls, was still common), both exposure and child abandonment continued in Europe.

Middle Ages. The practice was so entrenched, as well as the sale of children, that it had been futile to decree the abolition of such customs. Until the year 500 AD it could not be said that a baby’s life was secure. The Council of Constantinople declared that infanticide was homicide, and in 589 AD the Third Council of Toledo took measures against the Spanish custom of killing their own children.[16] Whereas theologians and clerics preached to spare their lives, newborn abandonment continued as registered in both the literature record and in legal documents.[17]


Christmas postscript

While the wicked are confounded,
doomed to flames of woe unbounded
yet, good Lord, in grace complying,
rescue me from fires undying!





The above is the English translation of the Latin lines.

However disgusting I find to quote a kike, I believe that psychologist Robert Godwin hit a nail. The unconscious message of Christianity is that, when through sacrificial offerings we murder or even torture our innocent son—as was done throughout the Ancient World—, we murder God; and that the crucifixion of Jesus was meant to be the last human sacrifice, with Jesus acting on behalf of our own murdered innocence.

This is the key to understand why a Judaic-inspired cult conquered the Roman Empire. Therefore, and even when I consider myself a spiritual martyr of such religion, I cannot share the views of those nationalists who repudiate every single legacy of such faith. However abominable the doctrine of hell is, what I said above is crucial for a radical—denoting or relating to the roots—understanding of the origins of the religion of our parents.

P.S. of 15 April 2012

See references & comments below.

Translation of pages 419-482 of “Hojas susurrantes”

by Cesar Tort

Psychohistory

The three previous books of Hojas Susurrantes, and the fifth one, won’t be translated for this blog. Several of the images for this blog editon of my book, and the sentences between squared brackets do not appear in the printed edition.




Preface to the 4th book

Throughout history and prehistory children’s lives have been a nightmare about which our species is barely starting to become conscious. “Parents are the child’s most lethal enemy,” wrote the founder of modern psychohistory. While paleoanthropologists have found evidence of decapitated infants since the time of our pre-human ancestors, and while it was known that infanticide continued into the Paleolithic and the Neolithic periods, the emotional after-effects on the surviving siblings was only first appreciated by Lloyd deMause with the publishing of History of childhood in 1974. As we will see in the third section of this book, substantiated by a hundred references, infanticdal parents were the rule, not the exception. Even in the so-called great civilizations the sacrifice of children was common. In Carthage urns have been found containing thousands of burned remains of children sacrificed by parents asking favors from the gods. It is believed that infants were burned alive.

Although in a far less sadistic way than in Carthage and other ancient states, and this explains the genius of the classic world, Greeks and Romans practiced infanticide in the form of exposure of newborns, especially girls. Euripides’ Ion describes the exposed infant as: “prey for birds, food for wild beasts to rend.” Philo was the first philosopher who made a clear statement against infanticide:

Some of them do the deed with their own hands; with monstrous cruelty and barbarity they stifle and throttle the first breath which the infants draw or throw them into a river or into the depths of the sea, after attaching some heavy substance to make them sink more quickly under its weight.

In some of his satires Juvenal openly criticized abortion, child abandonment, and the killing of adoptive children and stepchildren.

My first reaction in the face of such revelations was, naturally, a healthy skepticism. This moved me to purchase books about infanticide and histories of childhood not written by “psychohistorians”, but by common historians; and I started to pay special attention to certain kinds of news in the papers of which previously I scarcely gave any importance. One day in 2006 a notice caught my eye, stating that there are 32 million fewer women than men in India, and that the imbalance was caused by feticide. I recalled a photograph I had seen in the June 2003 National Geographic, showing a Bihar midwife in the rural North of India, rescuing a female baby abandoned under a bridge. Infanticide and selective abortion, particularly of girls, continue as I write this line. According to a Reproductive Rights conference in October 2007 in Hyderabad, India, statistics show that 163 million women are missing in Asia, compared to the proportion of the male population. They are the result of the exposure of babies, and especially of selective abortion facilitated by access to techniques such as prenatal testing and ultrasound imagery. These snippets of information gathered from newspapers, coupled with the scholarly treatises which I was reading, eradicated my original skepticism about the reality of infanticide.

But let’s return to psychohistory as developed by deMause. There are cultures far more barbarous than contemporary India as regards childrearing. In the recent past of the tribes of New Guinea and Australia, little brothers and sisters witnessed how parents killed one of their siblings and made the rest of the family share the cannibal feast. “They eat the head first”, wrote Géza Róheim in Psychoanalysis and anthropology published in 1950. Gillian Gillison observed in Between culture and fantasy: a New Guinea highlands mythology, published in 1993, that the mother eats the son’s penis. And Fritz Poole wrote:

Having witnessed their parents’ mortuary anthropophagy, many of these children suddenly avoided their parents, shrieked in their presence, or expressed unusual fear of them. After such experiences, several children recounted dreams or constructed fantasies about animal-man beings with the faces or other features of particular parents who were smeared with blood and organs.

These passages are quoted in Lloyd deMause’s book The Emotional Life of Nations. Reading further in this work, one can also learn, as Wolfgang Lederer wrote when observing the tribes, that other primitives threw their newborns to the swine, who devoured them swiftly. Lederer also recounts that he saw one of these mothers burying her child alive:

The baby’s movements may be seen in the hole as it is suffocating and panting for breath; schoolchildren saw the movements of such a dying baby and wanted to take it out to save it. However, the mother stamped it deep in the ground and kept her foot on it…

Australian aboriginals killed approximately 30% of their infants, as reported by Gillian Cowlishaw in Oceania; and the first missionaries to Polynesia estimated that up to two-thirds of Polynesian children were killed by their parents. In a 2008 article I learned that infanticide continues in the islands even as of the time of reporting. Tribal women allege they have to kill their babies for fear they might become dreadful warriors as adults.

Another type of information that shocked me in deMause’s books was the frequency throughout history of the mutilation of children. Once more, my first reaction was a healthy skepticism. But I had no choice but to accept the fact that even today there are millions of girls whose genitals have been cut. The Emotional Life of Nations publishes a photograph of a panicked Cairo pubescent girl being held down by adults at the moment when her family has her mutilated. Every time I see that photo I have to turn away my head (the girl looks directly into the camera and her pain reaches me deeply). According to the French National Institute for Demographic Studies (INED), in 2007 there were between 100 and 140 million women who had had their genitals removed. The practice ranges from the partial cutting of the clitoris to the suturation of the vaginal orifice, the latter especially in Sub-Saharan Africa, some regions of the Middle East, and Southeast Asia. The INED study points out that in Ethiopia three-quarters of women have been genitally mutilated, and in Mali up to 90 percent. The practice is also carried out in Yemen, Indonesia and Malaysia. In historic times there were a large number of eunuchs in Byzantium, and in the West mutilation was a common practice for boys. Verdun was notorious for the quantity of castrations performed, and in Naples signs hung above stores saying, “boys castrated here.” Castration was common as well in other cultures. DeMause observes that the testicles of boys between three and seven years were crushed or cut off. In China both the penis and the scrotum were cut, and in the Middle East the practice continued until recent times.

DeMause’s books are eye-openers also about another practice that no school text of traditional anthropology had taught me: the tight swaddling of babies. It is worth noting that historians, anthropologists, and ethnologists have been the target of fierce criticism by some psychohistorians for their failure to see the psychological after-effects brought about by such practices. Through the centuries, babies were swaddled by their mothers with swaddling clothes wrapped around their bodies, several times and tightly fastened while they screamed in their vain attempts at liberation. Before reading deMause the only thing I knew of such practice was when I as a boy saw a cartoon of a couple of Red Indians who had their baby swaddled, of which only a little head was visible crying big time, while the Indians walked on casually. Despite its being a comic strip, I remember it made a mark in my young memory because of the pity I felt for the baby boy and how I noted the parents’ indifference. This happened decades before I read Foundations of Psychohistory, wherein it is described that this practice was universal and that it goes back to our tribal ancestors.


Swaddled boy
of the Indian tribe
Nez Perce (1911)



In Germany and in some Austrian families swaddling continued into the twentieth century. We can imagine the baby Hitler as he was swaddled by his mother, Clara Hitler, and left choking with sobs with his excrement enclosed in his swaddling bands. Even Alice Miller herself, the heroine of my third book, was swaddled as a child. In Europe swaddling is still practiced in some rural parts of Greece. The sad spectacle of the swaddled newborns in Yugoslavia and Russia draws the visiting foreigners’ attention. Even in the city in which I was born a few friends have told me that some relatives swaddled their babies.

Those who have read my previous book would not be surprised that the man in the street has barely thought about the ravages that these practices — swaddling, mutilation, growing up knowing that mom and dad had abandoned or sacrificed a little sister — caused in the surviving siblings who witnessed it. What we have before us is the most potent taboo of the species: a lack of elemental consciousness of what parents do to their children. As we will see at the end of this book, some historians of infanticide who do not belong to the deMausean school, such as Joseph Birdsell, Laila Williamson, and Larry Milner, estimate in astronomical figures the infanticide rate since the Paleolithic. If their estimates are accurate, quantitatively speaking the so-called “Holocaust” was insignificant compared to the children murdered by their parents.

But before elaborating further on this nearly unbelievable information, I must write down a few words about my forefathers.

[Those “few words,” actually pages 425-451, will be omitted in this online edition.]





A class with Colin Ross

What in the human mind makes us pick on innocents? The best text I have read on this subject appears in the book The Trauma Model by Colin Ross, whom I introduced already in my second book when talking about the unfortunate life of David Helfgott [interpolated note for this online edition: see e.g., the Academy Award-winning film Shine].


The problem of attachment to the perpetrator

Attachment theory, originally developed by John Bowlby, is one of the most fruitful platforms with which to explain human psychological development. Evolution always chooses its available mechanisms for its use, and since every living creature has the imperative to survive, hominids developed an unconscious structure to maintain the illusion of parental love even when there really is none. Perhaps the most popularly accessible way in which we can imagine presenting what attachment is, is through a modern fairy tale: Steven Spielberg’s film Artificial Intelligence. I’m referring to the scenes in which the father, Henry, warns the mother, Monica, not to imprint their adoptive son David with the program of affective attachment, if she is not completely sure that she will want to reciprocate the love that David would profess, since the program is irreversible (“The robot child’s love would be sealed — in a sense hardwired — and we’d be part of him forever”). After some time Monica reads to David the seven magic words that imprint him (“What were those words for, Mommy?”).


Psychiatrist Colin Ross

The platform which Ross is standing on in order to understand mental disorders is what he calls “the problem of attachment to the perpetrator.” We can visualize the enormous emotional attachment the human child feels toward the parent by remembering the veneration that, despite her conduct, Leonor and Josefina always professed to their mother, María [my grandmother, my godmother and my grand-grandmother respectively: the subject of the unpublished chapters]. Such attachment is the problem. In his book, Colin Ross wrote:

I defined the problem, in the mid-1990s, in the context of the false memory war.

In order to defend myself against the attacks by hostile colleagues, I sought solid ground on which to build fortifications. It seemed like the theory of evolution offered a good starting point. What is the basic goal of all organisms according to the theory of evolution? To survive and reproduce. This is true from amoeba on up to mammals. Who will dispute that all organisms want to survive and replicate? This seemed like safe ground.

Dragonflies, grasshoppers, salamanders and alligators do not have families. They do not send cards on Mother’s Day. Things are different if you are a bird or mammal. Birds and mammals are absolutely dependent on adult caretakers for their survival for a period after birth, which ranges from weeks to decades depending on the species. For human parents, it seems like the period of dependency lasts over thirty years. In some species, if the nursing mother dies, the child dies. But in others, including elephants, if the nursing mother dies, a female relative takes over the care of the young one, and the child survives. In elephants there is a built-in Child Protective Services, and there is a sociology of attachment.

Attachment is like the migration of birds. It is built in, deep in our brain stems and DNA. The infant bird or mammal does not engage in a cognitive, analytical process to assess the cost-benefit of attachment. It just happens. It’s biology. The fundamental developmental task of the human infant is attachment. You will and you must attach. This is true at all levels of the organism. You must attach in order to survive biologically, but also in order to thrive and grow at emotional, intellectual, interpersonal and at all possible levels.

We know the consequences of failure to attach from several sources. The first is the third world orphanage. Orphan babies may have an adequate intake of protein, carbohydrate and fat, and may have their diapers changed regularly, but if they are starved for love, stimulation, attention, and affection, they are damaged developmentally. Their growth is stunted at all levels, including basic pediatric developmental norms.

In the text quoted above, I have eliminated all the ellipses, as I have done with the other quotations below. Ross goes on to explain the body of scientific evidence on the effects of abuse in the offspring of primates: “The Harlow monkey experiments, for instance, are systematic studies of abuse and neglect. Little monkeys cling desperately to their unresponsive wire-and-cloth mothers because they are trying to solve the problem of attachment to the perpetrator, in this case the perpetrator of neglect.” He also mentions experimental evidence that profound neglect and sensory isolation during early infancy physically damage the brain in a measurable way: “The mammal raised in such an environment has fewer dendritic connections between the nerve cells in its brain than the mammal which grew up in a ‘culturally rich’ environment.” It is in this context that Ross states that it is developmental suicide to fail to attach, and “at all costs and under the highest imperative, the young mammal must attach.” He then writes:

In a sense, we all have the problem of attachment to the perpetrator. None of us have absolutely secure attachment. We all hate our parents for some reason, but love them at the same time. This is the normal human condition. But there is a large group of children who have the problem of attachment to the perpetrator to a huge degree. They have it to such a large degree, it is really a qualitatively different problem, I think. These are the children in chronic trauma families. The trauma is a variable mix of emotional, verbal, physical and sexual abuse.



The locus of control shift

For psychiatrists Theodore Lidz, Silvano Arieti and, in a less systematic way, Loren Mosher [cited extensively in my previous books], in schizophrenogenic families not only one but both parents failed terribly. If the problem of attachment to the perpetrator is a cornerstone in understanding the trauma model of mental disorders, there is yet another one. Though the number one imperative for birds (and in previous times, the dinosaurs) and mammals is to attach, in abusive families the child makes use of another built-in reflex: to recoil from pain. Ross explains what he calls “The locus of control shift” (in psychology, “locus of control” is known jargon).

The scientific foundation of the locus of control shift is Piaget and developmental psychology. We know several things about the cognition of children age two to seven. I summarize this as “kids think like kids.” Young children are self-centered. They are at the center of the world, and everything revolves around them. They cause everything in the world [“locus shift”] and they do so through magical causality. They do not use rational, analytical, adult cognitive strategies and vocabulary.

Imagine a relatively normal family with a four year-old daughter. One day, the parents decide to split up and dad moves out. What is true for this little girl? She is sad. Using normal childhood cognition, the little girl constructs a theory to explain her field observation: “Daddy doesn’t live here anymore because I didn’t keep my bedroom tidy”.

This is really a dumb theory. It is wrong, incorrect, inaccurate, mistaken and preposterous. This is how normal kids think. But there is more to it than that. The little girl thinks to herself, “I’m OK. I’m not powerless. I’m in charge. I’m in control. And I have hope for the future. Why? Because I have a plan. All I have to do is to tidy up my bedroom and daddy will move back in. I feel OK now”.

The little girl has shifted the locus of control from inside her parents, where it really is, to inside herself. She has thereby created an illusion of power, control and mastery which is developmentally protective [of the attachment].

Ross explains that this is normal and happens in many non-abusive, though dysfunctional, families. He then explains what happens in extremely abusive families:

Now consider another four year-old girl living in a major trauma family. She has the problem of attachment to the perpetrator big time. What is true of this little girl?

This other girl is powerless, helpless, trapped, and overwhelmed. She can’t stop the abuse, she can’t escape it, and she can’t predict it. She is trapped in her family societal denial, her age, threats, physical violence, family rules and double binds. How does the little girl cope? She shifts the locus of control.

The child says to herself, “I’m not powerless, helpless and overwhelmed. I’m in charge here. I’m making the abuse happen. The reason I’m abused is because I’m bad. How do I know this is true? Because only a bad little girl would be abused by her parents.”

A delicious exemplification of the locus of control shift in the film A.I. is the dialogue that David has with his Teddy bear. After Monica has abandoned him in the forest David tells his little friend that the situation is under his control. He only has to find the blue fairy so that she may turn him into a real boy and his mom will love him again…

In contrast to fairy tales, in the real world instances of the locus of control shift are sordid. In incest victims, the ideation that everything is the fault of the girl herself is all too frequent. I cannot forget the account of a woman who told her therapist that, when she was a girl, she took baths immediately after her father used her sexually. The girl felt that since she, not her father was the dirty one and that her body was the dirty factor that aroused the father’s appetite, she had to “fix” her little body.

But there are graver cases, even, than sexual abuse. According to Ross, in near-psychotic families:

The locus of control shift is like an evil transfusion. All the evil inside the perpetrator has been transfused into the self, making the perpetrator good and safe to attach to. The locus of control shift helps to solve the problem of attachment to the perpetrator. The two are intertwined with each other.

Although Silvano Arieti made similar pronouncements half a century before, these two principles as elaborated by Ross are the true cornerstones to understand the edifice of this work. As I mentioned in my second book, when I visited the clinic of Ross in Dallas as an observer, I had the opportunity to observe the therapies undergone by some adult women. I remember a lady in particular who said that if her husband hit her it may be because she, not her husband, behaved naughtily. In his book Ross mentions cases of already grown daughters, now patients of his psychiatric clinic, who harm themselves. These self-harmers in real life exemplify the paradigm of the girl mentioned by Ross: evil has been transfused to the mind of the victim, who hurts herself because she believes she is wicked. In my previous book I said that in the film The Piano Teacher a mother totally absorbs the life of her daughter, who in turn redirects the hate she feels toward her mother by cutting herself in the genital area until bleeding profusely: a practice that, as we will see in the next section, is identical to the pre-Hispanic sacrificial practice of spilling the blood of one’s own genitals.

In his brief class Ross showed us why, however abusive our parents, a Stockholm syndrome elevated to the nth degree makes us see our parents as good attachment objects. The little child is like a plant that cannot but unfold towards the sun to survive. Since even after marriage and independence the adult child very rarely reverts in her psyche the locus of control shift to the original source, she remains psychically disturbed. For Lloyd deMause, this kind of super-Stockholm syndrome from parents to children and from children to grandchildren is the major flaw of the human mind, the curse of Homo sapiens that results in an alter ego in which all of the malignancy of the perpetrator has been transfused to the ego of the victim. In a divided self this entity strives for either (1) substituting, through the locus of control shift, the unconscious anger felt towards the parents on herself with self-harming, addictions, anorexia or other sorts of self-destructive behavior, and/or (2) harming their partner or the next generation of children. In any case the cause of this process is the total incapability of judging and processing inside ourselves the behavior of the parent: the problem of attachment to the perpetrator.


The History of Childhood and Its Newton

John Bowlby advanced the fundamentals for understanding attachment; Colin Ross did the same for mental disorders in human beings, and I will keep his class in mind to explain psychohistory. But Ross is a physician, not an historian. In the following pages I will show the deeper reasons why parents have abused their children since time immemorial. The perspective to our past will open up in the widest possible way: a framework of thousands if not hundreds of thousands of years of what has occurred in my family and in all other families of the human and pre-human species. In both this and the following pages my biography will disappear and it will only reappear in my next book, not without having shown first the psychogenic theory of history.

Lloyd deMause (pronounced de-Moss), born in 1931, studied political sciences in the University of Columbia. After his university studies he borrowed money to establish a publishing house that consumed ten years of his life before again taking up his research work. While Freud, Reich, Fromm and others had written some speculative essays on history on the basis of psychoanalysis, such essays may be considered the Aristotelian phase of which today is understood as psychohistory. In 1958, the year in which I was born, Erik Erikson published a book about the young Luther in which he mentioned the surging of a new research field that he called “psycho-history” (not be confused with the science-fiction novels of Isaac Asimov). After a decade, in 1968, deMause presented a sketch of his theory to an analytical association where, unlike Freud and his epigones, he focused psychohistory into the diverse forms of childrearing. After the West abandoned colonialism and endured for its behavior a handover to other nations and ethnic groups, it became a taboo to focus in the dark side of non-Western cultures. By choosing a frowned-upon research area in academia deMause had to make an intellectual career independently. The drive of his research was always what the children must have felt in the most diverse cultures of the world. As we saw, the mammal, and even more the primate, are so at the mercy of their parents that the specific forms of childrearing cannot be dodged if we are to understand mental disorders. But it is precisely this subject matter, the forms of childrearing and infantile abuse, what conventional historians ignore.

In his essay “The independence of psychohistory” deMause tells us that history qua history describes what has happened, not why, and he adds that history and psychohistory are distinct fields of investigation.

Whole great chunks of written history are of little value to the psychohistorian, while other vast areas which have been much neglected by historians suddenly expand from the periphery to the center of the psychohistorian’s conceptual world.

DeMause does not care that he has been accused of ignoring the economy, the sociology and the use of statistics. “The usual accusation that psychohistory ‘reduces everything to psychology’ is philosophically meaningless — of course psychohistory is reductionist in this sense, since all it studies is historical motivations.” The statements by deMause that I like the most are those in which he says something I had been maintaining for many years before reading them, when I told myself in soliloquies that, if we have to be objective to understand exact sciences like physics, only by introducing subjectivity we could understand the humanities:

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. For some time now, 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. Those who are able to remain outside the social trance are the individuals whose personal insights are beyond those of their neighbors.

Psychohistory is a science in which the researcher’s feelings are as much or even more a part of his research equipment than his eyes or his hands. Weighing of complex motives can only be accomplished by identification with human actors. The usual suppression of all feeling preached and followed by most “science” simply cripples a psychohistorian as badly as it would cripple a biologist to be forbidden the use of a microscope. The emotional development of a psychohistorian is therefore as much a topic for discussion as his or her intellectual development.

I no longer believe that most traditional historians are emotionally equipped.

DeMause adds that, when he talks with a typical scholar who only uses his intellect, he runs into a stare of total incomprehension. “My listener usually is in another world of discourse”.

The publication of The History of Childhood in 1974 marks the turning point in the field that deMause created. Putting aside the idealizations of previous historians, the book examines for the first time the history of Western childhood. In the new deMausean paradigm the force of the change is neither technology nor the economy, but the interactions between parents and children. For example, the majority of social and political thinkers set off from the premise that wars and other human catastrophes have a rational explanation, say, economics. Alice Miller and some psychohistorians maintain that at least some wars are irrational actions, and that they result from an unconscious drive: to get even with unprocessed vexations from childhood. However, the daring exposé of an entire rosary of brutalities on childhood, like the ones mentioned in the preface of this book, moved Basic Books to break the contract it held with deMause to publish The History of Childhood. The process by which from here on contemporary psychohistory was born is fascinating. In this section I will recycle and comment on some passages of one of the articles by deMause, “On writing childhood history,” published in 1988, a recapitulation of fifteen years of work in the history of childhood.

DeMause had taken courses at a psychoanalytic institute and put to the test the Freudian idea that civilization, so loaded with morals, was onerous for modern children; and that in ancient times they had lived in an Eden without the ogre of the superego. The evidence showed him exactly the opposite, and he disclosed his discrepancies by criticizing the anthropologist Géza Róheim:

I discovered I simply could make no sense at all of what Róheim and others were saying. This was particularly true about childhood. Róheim wrote, for instance, that the Australian aborigines he observed were excellent parents, even though they ate every other child, out of what they called “baby hunger” [the mothers also said that their children were “demons”], and forced their other children to eat parts of their siblings. This “doesn’t seem to have affected the personality development” of the surviving children, Róheim said, and in fact, he concluded, these were really “good mothers [who] eat their own children.”

Most anthropologists did not object to Róheim’s extraordinary conclusions. In his article deMause called our attention to a very distinct reading by Arthur Hippler on Australian aboriginals. DeMause had already consolidated his publishing house, and in the Journal of Psychological Anthropology he published an article in which Hippler, who had also directly observed the aboriginals, wrote:

The care of children under 6 months of age can be described as hostile, aggressive and careless; it is often routinely brutal. Infanticide was often practiced. The baby is offered the breast often when he does not wish it and is nearly choked with milk. The mother is often substantially verbally abusive to the child as he gets older, using epithets such as “you shit,” “vagina to you.” Care is expressed through shouts, or not at all, when it is not accompanied by slaps and threats. I never observed a single adult Yolngu caretaker of any age or sex walking a toddler around, showing him the world, explaining things to him and empathizing with his needs. The world is described to the child as dangerous and hostile, full of demons, though in reality the real dangers are from his caretakers. The mother sexually stimulates the child at this age. Penis and vagina are caressed to pacify the child, and clearly the action arouses the mother.

Keeping in mind what Ross said in the case of the second girl, we can imagine the transfusion of evil that these infants, children of filicidal cannibals, would have internalized; and how could this have affected their mental health. I believe it is appropriate to continue quoting excerpts from the deMause article: it is very instructive to understand psychohistory and how it contrasts with the postulates of anthropologists and ethnologists. Once the observations by Hippler were published, an enraged defender of Róheim responded:

I am indeed much more sympathetic to Róheim’s accounts, precisely because he does not rush to the conclusion that deMause does. Australian Aboriginal culture survived very well, thank you, very much for tens of thousands of years before it was devastated by Western interference. If that isn’t adaptive, what is?

The description that Hippler and Róheim give of this aboriginal culture seems the worst of all possible nightmares for children. But for Western anthropologists to avow condemnatory value judgments is the ultimate taboo. Some of them even accept the Freudian theory that the historical past was less repressive for childhood, and that Western civilization was a corrupter of the noble savage. But they avoid the fact that Hippler and Róheim themselves observed barbarities towards the children that would be unthinkable in the civilized world, like eating them. (Other sources that confirm the veracity of claims of filicidal cannibalism appear almost at the end of this book.) However incredible it may seem, anthropologists and ethnologists do not condemn these cannibal mothers. Under the first commandment of the discipline, Thou Shalt Not Judge, the emotional after-effects of childrearing are ignored, such as the clearly dissociated personalities that I myself saw in the Ross clinic, and even worse kinds of dissociation.

In the academic world Róheim was not as well known as Philippe Ariès, an historian who collaborated with Foucault and an author of a classic book on the history of childhood, L’enfant et la Vie Familiale sous l’Ancien Régime. Ariès started from the Freudian premise of the benignancy of the milieu towards children in past times. Just as with Róheim, Ariès didn’t deny the beatings, the incest and the other vexations against children described in his book. What he denied was that such treatment caused disturbances. “In other words,” deMause writes mockingly, “since everyone whipped and molested children, whipping and molesting had no effects on any child.” Ariès has been taken as an authority in the history of childhood studies. DeMause not only rejected his assumption that there were no psychological after-effects; he inverted Freud’s axiom. DeMause’s working hypotheses are simple: (1) within the West the forms of childrearing were more barbarous in the past, and (2) compared to the Western world, other cultures treat their children worse. These hypotheses, which broke the table laws of the anthropologists, would give birth to the new discipline of psychohistory. For the academic Zeitgeist the mere talk of childhood abuse, let alone of soul murder, was against the grain of all schools of thought in history, anthropology and ethnology, which take for granted that there have been no substantial changes in parental-filial relations.

The academics could not deny the facts that fascinated deMause. As we saw above, Róheim did not deny them; in fact, he himself published them. Ariès also did not deny them. The tactic that deMause found among his colleagues was the argumentum ex silentio: without historical trace of any kind, it was taken for granted that children were treated in a way similar that in the West today. The following is a splendid paradigm of this argument. In 1963, ten years before deMause started publishing, Alan Valentine in his book Fathers and Sons, published by the University of Oklahoma, examined letters from parents to their children in past centuries. He did not find a single letter that transmitted kindness to the addressee. However, in order not to contradict the common sense that in the past the treatment a man gave his sons was not different, Valentine concluded:

Doubtless an infinite number of fathers have written letters to their sons that would warm and lift our hearts, if we only could find them. The happiest fathers leave no history, and it is the men who are not at their best with their children who are likely to write the heart-rending letters that survive.

DeMause found the fallacy of the argumentum ex silentio everywhere, even among the same colleagues who contributed articles to his seminal book, The History of Childhood. For example, when deMause made a remark to Elizabeth Wirth Marwick about these kind of letters, and also about the diaries that parents wrote, Marwick responded that only the bad left a trace in history. Most historians agreed with her. DeMause had started to study the primary sources of these materials. Marwick was only one among two hundred historians that deMause had written to for his book project, of which he worked with fifty. He claims that in all of them the argumentum ex silentio appeared at the time of reaching the conclusions to which the evidence pointed out to.

The reasons were, naturally, psychological. An Italian historian delivered to deMause the draft of a chapter that began by saying that he would not consider the subjects of infanticide and pederasty in ancient Rome. DeMause had to reject it. Other would-be contributors went further. At the beginning of this book I spoke of the torment that swaddling with tight clothes has represented for babies. John Demos, author of a book about the family in American colonists, denied that the European practice had been imported into American soil despite the evidence that deMause had collected and published (in a television history program even I saw a drawing of an Anglo-Saxon swaddled baby). As regards other kinds of abuse in American childhood, Demos used the argument that bibliographical evidence in letters, diaries, autobiographies and medical reports was irrelevant; that what mattered were the court documents.

The problem with this argument is that in colonial times there were no organizations for the protection of childhood, which originated in nineteenth century England and which have become much more visible since the 1980s. Demos did not only argue from the basis of lack of court documents against the thesis that parents abused their children more in colonial times. He also argued that “had individual children suffered severe abuse at the hands of their parents in early New England, other adults would have been disposed to respond.” Demos’ conclusions were acclaimed in his time. But just as in his argument about court documents, this last conjecture suffers from the same idealization about the past of his nation. If other adults were unwilling to respond it was simply due to the fact that in those times the social movement of infant protection had not yet arisen.

Once deMause discarded all those who argued on the basis of the argumentum ex silentio, nine historians remained. Even while the contributors were delivering their articles, some of them showed reticence about publishing all the evidence they had found. Before publication the nine contributors — ten with deMause — circulated their articles among themselves. Most of them were shocked by the first chapter written by deMause, whose initial paragraphs became famous in the history of psychohistory:

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. It is our task here to see how much of this childhood history can be recaptured from the evidence that remains to us.

That this pattern has not previously been noticed by historians is because serious history has long been considered a record of public not private events. Historians have concentrated so much on the noisy sand-box of history, with its fantastic castles and magnificent battles, that they have generally ignored what is going on in the homes around the playground. And where historians usually look to the sandbox battles of yesterday for the causes of those of today, we instead ask how each generation of parents and children creates those issues which are later acted out in the arena of public life.

Once the initial impression was past, some of the contributors were reluctant that their articles should appear beside the initial chapter by deMause, and, as I previously mentioned, Basic Books broke its contract. However, since deMause was already the owner of a publishing house he decided to publish it himself.

Although the contributors finally accepted that their articles would appear under a single cover, the history journal reviews were very hostile. Even a magazine like New Statesman derided deMause: “His real message is something more akin to religion than to history, and as such unassailable by unbelievers. On the other hand, his fellow-contributors to The History of Childhood have much useful historical information to offer.” Some reviewers were impressed by the body of evidence on child abuse in past centuries, but they supposed that future investigations would place such evidence on a much more benign context. “Ariès for one,” wrote deMause, “remained convinced that childhood yesterday was children’s paradise.”

The initial chapter of the book edited by deMause was titled “The evolution of childhood”. DeMause claims that of the published reviews on this chapter, translated into German, French, Italian, Spanish and Japanese, no reviewer challenged the evidence as such; only his conclusions. “Yet not a single reviewer in any of the six languages in which the book was published wrote about any errors in my evidence, and none presented any evidence from primary sources which contradicted any of my conclusions.” As we will see in “A Critique of Lloyd deMause” his theories are not exempt from error. Far from it! There are errors: lots of them. But these critics who rushed to judge him falsely did not see the real faults of his model. With regard to the published reviews, deMause wrote:

Since it was unlikely that I could describe the childhood of everyone who ever lived in the West for a period of over two millennia without making errors, it was extremely disappointing to me that the emotional reactions of reviewers had completely overwhelmed their critical capacities. No reviewer appeared to be interested in discussing evidence at all.

There were nonetheless magnanimous reviewers like Lawrence Stone, who in November of 1974 wrote in New York Review of Books about “the problem of how to regard so bold, so challenging, so dogmatic, so enthusiastic, so perverse, and yet so heavily documented a model.” But the majority adhered to the conventional wisdom, as did E.P. Hennock in a specialized magazine:

That men in other ages might behave quite differently from us yet be no less rational and sane, has been a basic concept amongst historians for a long time now. It does not belong to deMause’s mental universe. The normal practices of past societies are constantly explained in terms of psychoses.

Once more, the evidence as such is put aside to proclaim the conventional wisdom, which is taken for granted. In a review published in History of Education Quarterly, Daniel Calhoun wrote that deMause’s approach resembled a regression to 19th century concepts, an antiquated evolutionistic morality for Calhoun.

Despite the rejection from academia, in the next years his colleagues who contributed to articles to the Institute of Psychohistory undertook the task of analyzing deMausean theories. More than twenty scholars familiar with the subject made a constructive criticism of his work. The first academic who exhaustively evaluated it was Glenn Davis in his book Childhood and History in America. Davis concluded: “I believe the psychogenic theory of history has by now passed a crucial initial test and has moved to a new stage of development.” The academic establishment thought the opposite. The American Historical Review called Davis “a convert” and The Journal of American History published: “If deMause seems to be the Pangloss of the history of childhood, Davis, with this book, lays claim to be its Candide.” Davis felt deeply hurt. He abandoned psychohistory to continue his doctoral studies, but soon after he committed suicide by jumping from the George Washington Bridge. In the following years of the publication of his book, deMause’s journal, Journal of Psychohistory, was quoted and attacked by New York Review of Books, Harpers, Commentary, Psychology Today, Human Behavior and the London Times Literary Supplement.

Thus constructive criticism reduced itself to the same journal published by deMause. Because of the discretion of the contributors, this entailed a situation in which the most weak, and even fantastic aspects, of deMausean theory were not criticized (as I said, in the third section of this book I myself do the criticism). However, scholarly evaluations of the evidence of the treatment of children in the past presented by deMause were published.

William Langer, Richard Trextler, Barbara Kellum and R.H. Helmholz backed up the evidence about infanticide. One of the most interesting aspects of such segregation between orthodox academics and those who moved inside deMause’s circle is that today’s encyclopedias, such as the Britannica of 2007, continue to claim that infanticide was done out of poverty. Langer and other authors had demonstrated that rich people committed infanticide in a greater scale than the poor. This is one of the problems that show up when the academia decides to ignore a field of study.

Among the psychohistorians, in Germany Friedhelm Nyssen wrote Die Geschichte der Kindheit bei L. DeMause, in which he examined the bibliographical references he could track in the works by deMause. Another German, Aurel Ende, focused on verifying the historical sources of the battering of German children by their parents. Raffael Scheck examined more that seventy autobiographies of Germans born between 1740 and 1820 and confirmed Ende’s findings. Keeping in mind the class with Colin Ross on the attachment to the perpetrator, it is interesting that Scheck wrote: “In most autobiographies can be felt how much children loved their parents even when they were cold, beating and abusive.” Attachment to the parental figure so much permeates the human mind that the ubiquity of the social identification with the perpetrator should not seem odd for us. For instance, in a couple of articles of deMause’s journal, Karen Taylor documented in great detail how the conservative sectors opposed the movement against violence on children in the nineteenth century.

Elizabeth Pleck studied more than a hundred autobiographies, diaries and letters by Americans written between 1650 and 1900 in Domestic Tyranny: The Making of American Social Policy Against Family Violence from Colonial Times to the Present, and she quantified her findings. It is interesting to note that, according to Pleck, in the first half of the nineteenth century parents started to shift from beating their children with objects to spanking. The American Joseph Illick, who had contributed to one of the chapters of The History of Childhood, wrote in 1985: “DeMause created an interest in the history of childhood which did not exist before, and he has been the original source of inspiration for most of the scholarship on childhood in this country over the past decade.” Peter Petschauer, a German psychohistorian, expanded in great detail on how swaddling was practiced along with other barbarities in Prussian education. Other European researchers of childhood also commented on the work by deMause: Katharina Rutschky, Alice Miller and Linda Pollock. Miller accepted both deMause’s material and his conclusions. Rutschky only accepted the evidence but rejected the conclusions. Pollock rejected both.

Although Rutschky is the author of books on history of pedagogy, and coined the term “poisonous pedagogy” that Miller popularized and that was so useful in my previous book, I will only briefly comment on the other author, Linda Pollock. Her book Forgotten Children: Parent-Child Relations from 1500 to 1900 is most often cited to deny the deMausean thesis that the treatment of children was different in the past. According to Pollock: “With few exceptions, children seemed to be quite attached to their parents as infants and continued to have deep affection for them.” Pollock does not seem to have any knowledge that, as is the case of other mammals, our biology predetermines us to attach to our parents independently of their behavior. The most pertinent criticism by deMause on Pollock is his pointing out that her study was based on diaries of the parents themselves. “A similar methodology,” writes deMause, “would construct a statistical history of crime by ignoring all police reports and relying solely on the diaries of criminals to establish crime rate statistics.” Despite such elemental reality, many reviewers considered Pollock’s book as definitive in the field vis-à-vis the deMausean model.

At present studies of the history of childhood continue to emerge from psychohistorians and other academic historians alike; for example, the study by Colin Heywood. But it is precisely books like Heywood’s, which accept the historical evidence of abuses of childhood but differ from deMause’s conclusions, that have convinced me that deMause has found a gold vein that still has substance for much exploitation. DeMause ends his retrospective article of 1988 by pointing out that, despite the rejection by the academy, The History of Childhood, the books of Alice Miller and other popular authors who advocate the cause of the child are widely read by an important niche of society.

The central thesis in psychohistory is that the dynamics of social emergency is psychogenic: it has its roots in the treatment of children, not in economics. DeMause has no illusions. Like Thomas Kuhn, he knows perfectly well that paradigm revolutions are achieved gradually while the defenders of the old paradigm die and are replaced by new individuals. “If childhood history and psychohistory mean anything,”, writes deMause, “they mean reversing most of the causal arrows used by historians to date.” In other words, the way of seeing the world in the humanities and in social sciences is upside down, and psychohistory places our feet back on the ground. The relations between parents and children have determined the social, political and economic aspects in all civilizations of the world. In contrast to the findings of Darwin about the organism and its environment, in Homo sapiens the external world does not mold future developments so definitively as the intergenerational emergency of empathy does, as we will see. In a nutshell, the main finding of psychohistory is that academic history fails to recognize the profound role that the love of the parents for their children plays in the future developments of mankind.

Psychohistory continues to be, at the beginning of the twenty-first century, a controversial field of study. However, at the moment of writing, psychohistory courses are given in Boston University and in other universities in New York, and The Journal of Psychohistory has been published for more than thirty years.



Periodization of Parental-filial Relations

In recent decades several historians without any link to the deMausean school have written about thirty books on histories of childhood. I will mention only a couple of those published in 2005: When Children Became People by Odd Magne Bakke and Growing Up: The History of Childhood in a Global Context by Peter Stearns. DeMause has iteratively complained that books of this sort are presented to history students as if childrearing in the past had been as benign as Western childrearing in our times. Stearns for example is author and editor of more than forty books, but he does not cite a single of the fifty or so psychohistorians. I have encountered this attitude only in some scholarly books by parapsychologists who ignore, en bloc, the texts of skeptical criticism of the paranormal hypothesis. In his book Stearns attempts to absolve the parents by claiming that, as some encyclopedias do, infanticide has had an economic motivation; when it is well documented that in some periods infanticide was more common in well-off families. In a similar vein, at the end of his book Stearns claims that modern childhood is more prone to mental disorders than in traditional cultures: the diametrically opposed to what the facts tell us, as we will see.

The evolution of childrearing

Psychogenesis is the process of the evolution of empathy, and, therefore, of childrearing forms in an innovative group of human beings. In a particular individual it is an evolution of the architecture of his or her mentality, including the cognition of how the world is perceived. Psychogenesis depends on the parents’ breaking away from the abusive memes in which they were educated: a phenomenon that deMause has occasionally observed in the historical migrations of people that left behind some of their childrearing methods. Referring to biological evolution, Julian Huxley said that evolution has been “an enormous number of blind alleys, with a very occasional path of progress”. With the exception of the most advanced culture, something similar can be said of the cultures of the world (cf., for example, how Islam has stayed for centuries in a psychogenic blind alley in its treatment of women and, consequently, of children).

The above graph does not represent biological evolution from worm to man, but psychogenic evolution: specifically, the seven psychoclasses identified in psychohistory. Although only six modes appear in the graph, deMause divides the mode depicted as a horizontal bar in two periods, as shown below. Had the first period of the infanticidal stage appeared in the graph, it would have been an extremely long prolongation of the bar into the left because, in addition to Antiquity, it would have comprised the Neolithic and even the Paleolithic. For practical purposes, the graph starts approximately from the year 200 A.D. and, although it illustrates psychogenic modes in the West, it does not show Greece at its peak. For deMause, the farther it is rummaged into the past, the more abusive the parental-filial relations. Henceforth the graph is always ascendant (precisely his mistake, as we will see in the third section). With the exception of the helping mode of childrearing that barely started in some Western families of the twentieth century, the rest of the stages have been, from greater to lesser degree, abusive. In the next paragraphs I will rephrase diverse deMausean texts of how the seven psychoclasses evolved, and at the same time will include some ideas of my own.

Early infanticidal childrearing. Infanticidal, incestuous and abusive behavior has been observed among primates. For psychohistory there exists apparently only a slight evolutionary leap forward of childrearing from our primate forefathers to the family forms in the most primitive nomadic tribes. DeMause calls it early infanticidal childrearing. Most of this stage covers the period in which paleontologists and archeologists have found vestiges of ritual killings of very young humans and pre-humans: from the Paleolithic to the dawning of the Neolithic. In savage tribes this form has persisted till our times, like the headhunters of Mundurukú in Brazil or the aboriginals of some Oceania islands.

In Western societies of the twenty-first century a type of family persists that, it could be said, roughly equals this psychoclass: the families that schizophrenicize their children, or turn them into serial killers or violent criminals.

Late infanticidal childrearing. When the treatment of children became less brutal in a group of innovative parents, confidence among adult individuals grew to the degree that social links, solid enough to allow the creation of the first villages and city-states, could be established: a milestone in the ascent of man. But infanticide continued. All societies of the Ancient World invented sacrifices in which infants were killed in honor to the deities. However, after the Babylonian captivity some Hebrews abandoned the sacrificial practice. Other peoples, including the Greeks, abandoned the ritual sacrifice of children and introduced a less savage form of getting rid of them: unsheltered exposure. Since the psychological after-effects of a surviving sibling who grows up knowing that his parents ritually sacrificed a little sister is different from the abandonment of the newborn he never met — in addition to comparatively better child care in the Greek and Roman world — this evolutionary leap explains the explosion of arts and sciences in the classical world.

As can be appreciated in the graph, psychoclasses live together in our times. In the graph the most common forms of childrearing stand out, occupying most of the graph space. This is why the horizontal red bar of infanticide appears since the first centuries of our era and continues through the Middle Ages up to our age. Abundant testimonies exist of infanticide in the Middle Ages, and complaints were even heard from the sixteenth to the eighteenth centuries. The form of late infanticide by exposure continued in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries in underdeveloped countries. Compared to the West, in the Third World many parents are stagnated in more archaic forms of childrearing. As already noted, paper notes are common about mothers who kill their newborns in India. More advanced psychogenic sectors within that nation and in other backward countries have started to emerge to abolish the custom.

Abandoning. Church authorities initiated a persistent struggle against infanticide (a struggle that continues in present times in the form of opposition to abortion: a subject that psychohistorians ignore). According to deMause’s analytic interpretation, Christians saw in their children their seriously injured inner self, and consequently the child still was the object of great fear. Instead of liberating the fear by exposing their babies, deMause’s theory goes, in the early Middle Ages some families started to practice oblation: abandoning their children to the monasteries. It was a less brutal form to elude the dangers of their projections. In the West children were not only abandoned in the monasteries; sending them to wet nurses or delivering them to adoptive parents or to other homes for years was a generalized practice in Europe’s middle and upper social classes.

Ambivalent. The beginnings of the twelfth century mark the end of child abandonment in monasteries. Nevertheless, the baby continues to be a creature full of adult projections and had to be castigated. The child is swaddled with long-spun bands until he or she looks like a log, completely immobilized and deprived from the use of its limbs: a torment if we think of the liberties that, with recent technology, can be observed on the free movements that unborn babies enjoy in the womb. Swaddling the infant was a common practice in former psychoclasses, who swaddled their offspring for periods of several months to one year. For deMause this practice was universal and it goes back to the second millennium B.C.

However, by reducing even more infanticide and child abandonment, the members of the new and more advanced psychoclass, less dissociated than the medieval man, eventually produced the Reformation and the Renaissance.

Intrusive. At the beginning of the sixteenth century the level of psychic integration of a small group of innovative parents accomplished one more step forward in the unfolding of empathy, and the child appeared less dangerous. As the parental projections were further reduced, mothers started to un-swaddle the infant. In the intrusive mode, however, the frequency of the beatings continued. DeMause writes: “Of the seventy children prior to the eighteenth century whose lives I have found, all were beaten except one: Montaigne’s daughter.” Since human tendency is to attach to the perpetrator and to recreate in the next generation the educational memes, beaten children beat their offspring, as had been done in the ambivalent mode, too.

Nevertheless, since the intrusive mode was even more empathic and less abusive than the previous mode, the new psychoclass was responsible for the scientific and technological advances of the seventeenth century that eventually led to the Industrial Revolution.

Socializing. This is the psychoclass that less explanation requires: it is the form of childrearing in which most Westerners have been raised.

By the nineteenth century some parents did not believe it necessary to terrorize or batter their children. Instead, they resorted to psychological forms of manipulation. Socialized children were granted far more respect and liberty than any other child of the previous childrearing stages. Although the socialized child rarely calls into question the status quo, the socialized generation, and here we might also include some families of the most Westernized Eastern and Latin American nations, is emotionally more robust than our coetaneous from other psychoclasses.

Helping. DeMause is a radical liberal who believes that all wars are the work of dissociated minds. His psycho-reductionist vision of the world is a reaction as to how he was abused as a child (occasionally, in his diverse writings deMause confesses the abuses he suffered as a boy). In the above paragraph on late infanticide I took the liberty of talking of Greece and Rome in more luminous terms than the rather sinister vision in deMausean texts, which means that as early as this chapter I have started a slight revision of psychohistory. However, given the fact that what deMause understands for “helping mode” differs enormously of what I understand by it, and not only in the evaluation of war, in this paragraph I will abstain from summarizing deMause’s posture on the apex of psychogenic development, barely visible in the graph.

Even though deMause rejects homosexuality, he seems to support the feminist revolution in sexual matters. Conversely, I believe this entails the catastrophic demographic crisis for that psychoclass, as we will see in the third section, where I disclose my views of what the helping mode of childrearing ought to be. Suffice it to say that the old platitude, “No hay que confundir la libertad con el libertinaje” (“Liberty should not be confused with licentiousness”), that I heard so many times as a teen and that by then I felt it antiquated, has surprisingly come to life again in the face of today’s demographic and migratory crisis in the West (once more, subjects for the third section).

It is important to reiterate that all of these family forms of childrearing coexist in the twenty-first century, and that the most primitive psychoclasses have coexisted with the most advanced ones. Apparently incomprehensible conduct, like the immolation of Islamic terrorists or the caste system in India, ultimately has its roots in differences in childrearing. Even in the most advanced countries there are families that belong to the most primitive psychoclass: which explains the existence from psychoses to serial killing. And in these advanced societies barbaric actions, analogous to trepanations in the Ancient World, are still perpetrated. We should never forget what I wrote in the second book about lobotomist Walter Freeman, who, traveling from state to state, performed thousands of leucotomies on children upon their parents’ request. (If I would be given a choice of either being sacrificed in the Tezcoco lake in Aztec times or being leucotomized in twentieth-century America, I would chose that fate of the ancient Nahua child.) Conversely, in backward countries there may exist some far less abusive families than the most regressive Western families. The notion of psychoclass, therefore, has to be understood in percentages: in the majorities of a given population, and proportions.

Nonetheless, there is by and large an obvious superiority in the West. It is the most advanced sector psychogenically. The table shown here depicts how a particular kind of childrearing is related to a specific mental disorder: the bones of deMause’s model onto which I will be adding the flesh in the following pages. A more detailed exposition of the diverse childrearing modes appears in the articles of History of Childhood. It is worth a reminder that the point of view of these more conventional historians is not always in agreement with the radical model of deMause.


Julian Jaynes and the bicameral mind

Many have asked why, if the encephalic mass of primitive man had already reached its present size almost half a million years ago, the technology did not go beyond the rudimentary hand axe. Why through hundreds of thousands of years couldn’t men innovate? It was not until the Mesolithic, between 10,000 and 8,000 B.C. when the first signs of structural edifications such as graveyards appear. The archaeologist Ian Hodder believes that the Neolithic revolution of agriculture was the result of a dramatic change in human psychology, but he has no idea why it occurred. As explained in the previous pages, for psychohistory such revolution in psychology was the result of the transit from the “early” to the “late” infanticidal modes of childrearing. However, it is a fascinating essay by Julian Jaynes that throws the most light on how, by the end of the second millennium before our era, another huge alteration occurred in human mentality.

In 1976 Jaynes published The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind. Jaynes calls “breakdown” the transit of bicameral mind — two chambers or brain hemispheres — to modern consciousness. The transit is relatively recent, and it represents a healing process from a divided self into a more unified or integrated one. Jaynes describes how society developed from a psychological structure based upon obedience to the god’s voices, to the subjective consciousness of present-day man. Like deMause’s psychohistory, Jaynes’ model caused many of his readers to see mankind from a new perspective. He elaborated a metanarrative purporting to connect the loose pieces of previously unconnected fields — history, anthropology, ancient texts, psychiatry, language, poetry, neurology, religion, Hebrew and Greek studies, the art of ancestral societies, archaeological temples and cuneiform writing — to construct an enormous jigsaw puzzle.

Jaynes asked the bold question of whether the voices that people of the Ancient World heard could have been real, a common phenomenon in the hallucinated voices of present-day schizophrenics. He postulated that, in a specific lapse of history a metamorphosis of consciousness occurred from one level to another; that our present state of consciousness emerged a hundred or two hundred generations ago, and that previously human behavior derived from hearing voices in a world plagued with shamanism, magical thinking, animism and schizoidism.

In the Ancient World man had a bipartite personality: his mind was broken, bicameralized, schizophrenized. “Before the second millennium B.C., everyone was schizophrenic,” Jaynes claims about those who heard voices of advice or guides attributed to dead chiefs, parents or known personages. “Often it is in times of stress when a parent’s comforting voice may be heard.” It seems that this psychic structure of a divided or bicameral self went back to cavemen. Later in the first cities, the period that deMauseans would call late infanticidal childrearing (Jaynes never mentions deMause or psychohistory), the voices were attributed to deities. “The preposterous hypothesis we have come to is that at one time human nature was split in two, an executive part called god, and a follower part called man. Neither was conscious. This is almost incomprehensible to us.” Preconscious humans did not have an ego like ours; rational thought would spring up in a late stage of history, especially in Greece. However, orthodox Hellenists usually do not ask themselves why, for a millennium, many Greeks relied on instructions coming from a group of auditory hallucinating women in Delphi. To explain similar cultural phenomena, Jaynes lays emphasis upon the role that voices played in the identities, costumes and group interactions; and concludes that the high civilizations of Egypt, the Middle East, Homeric Greece and Mesoamerica were developed by a primitive unconscious.

The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind describes the theodicy in which, three thousand years ago, subjectivity and the ego flourished. For the common man consciousness is the state of awareness of the mind; say, the conscious state at walking. Jaynes uses the term in a more restricted way: consciousness as the subjective universe, the self-analyzing or self-conscious mind; the “I,” the will and morality of an individual, as well as the development of the linear concept of time (which used to be cyclic to the archaic mind, perhaps due to the observation of the stations of the year). The man who left behind his bicameral thinking developed a more robust sense of self, and Jaynes finds narrative evidence of this acting self in the literary record. He examines Amos, the voice of the oldest Old Testament text and compares it with the Ecclesiastes, the most recent one. Likewise, Jaynes scrutinizes the Iliad looking for tracks of a subjective self, and finds nothing. The Homeric heroes did what Athena or Apollo told them; they literally heard their gods’ voices as the prophets listened to Yahweh’s. Their psyches did not display brightness of their own yet. (If we remember the metaphor of my first book, the mentality of ancient man was similar to what astronomers call a “maroon dwarf”: a failed star like Jupiter, not a sun with enough mass to cause nuclear fusion so that it could shine on its own.) Matters change with the texts of Odysseus’ adventures, and even more with the philosophers of the Ionian islands and of Athens. At last the individual had accumulated enough egocentric mass to explode and to shine by itself. Jaynes believes that it was not until the Greek civilization that the cataclysm that represented the psychogenic fusion consolidated itself.

By Solon’s times it may be said that the modern self, as we understand it, had finally exploded. The loquacious gods, including the Hebraic Yahweh, became silent never to speak again but through the bicameral prophets. After the breakdown of divine authority, with the gods virtually silenced in the times of the Deuteronomy, the Judean priests and governors embarked upon a frenetic project to register the legends and stories of the voices that, in times of yore, had guided them. It was no longer necessary to hallucinate sayings that the god had spoken: man himself was the standard upon which considerations, decisions, and behaviors on the world rested. In the dawning of history man had subserviently obeyed his gods, but when the voice of consciousness appears, rebelliousness, dissidence, and even heresy are possible.

Through his book, which may be called a treatise of psycho-archeology, Jaynes follows the track of how subjective consciousness emerged. His ambitious goal is to explain the birth of consciousness, and hence the origin of our civilization. Once the former “maroon dwarfs” achieve luminescence in a group of individuals’ selves, not only religious dissent comes about, but regicide, the pursuit of personal richness and, finally, individual autonomy. This evolution continues its course even today. Paradoxically, when in the West it reaches the stage that deMause calls “helping mode” it entails ill-fated consequences such as Caucasian demographic dilution and the subsequent Islamization (as we shall see).

Although Jaynes speculates that the breakdown of the bicameral mind could have been caused by crises in the environment, by ignoring deMause he does not present the specific mechanism that gave rise to the transition. Due to the foundational taboo of human species, explained by Alice Miller in my previous book and by Colin Ross in this one, Jaynes did not explore the decisive role played by the modes of childrearing. This blindness permeates The Origin of Consciousness to the point of giving credibility to the claims of biological psychiatry; for example, Jaynes believes in the genetic basis of schizophrenia, a pseudoscientific hypothesis, as shown in my second book. However, his thesis on bicameralism caused his 1976 essay to be repeatedly reprinted, including the 1993 Penguin Books edition and another edition with a 1990 afterword that is still in print.

In the bicameral kingdoms the hallucinated voices of ancient men were culturally accepted as part of the social fabric. But a psychogenic leap forward gives as much power to the new psychoclass as the Australopithecus character of 2001: A Space Odyssey grabbing a bone. “How could an empire whose armies had triumphed over the civilizations of half a continent be captured by a small band of 150 Spaniards in the early evening of November 16, 1532?” The conquest of the Inca Empire was one of a handful of military confrontations between the two states of consciousness. A deMausean interpretation would lead us to think that it was a clash between the infanticidal psychoclass and an intermediate state of ambivalent and intrusive modes of childrearing. If we take into consideration the graph published above the Spaniards were up the scale at least three, if not four, psychogenic leaps.

This reading of history is diametrically opposed to Bartolomé de Las Casas, who in his Apologética Historia claimed that in some moral aspects the Amerindians were superior to the Spanish and even to Greeks and Romans. Today’s Western self-hatred had its precursor in Las Casas, who flourished in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. In identical fashion, in the twenty-first century it is irritating to see in educational TV programs an American in Peru saying that the Incas of the times of the Conquest “were much smarter than the Spanish.” The truth is that the Incas did not even know how to use the wheel and lacked written language. They literally heard their statues speak to them and their bicameral mind handicapped them before the more robust psyche of the Europeans: something like an Australopithecus clan clashing with another without bones in their hands. The Spaniards were, certainly, very religious; but not to the point of using magical thinking in their warfare stratagems. According to a sixteenth-century Spaniard, “the unhappy dupes believed the idols spoke to them and so sacrificed to it birds, dogs, their own blood and even men” (this quotation refers to Mesoamericans, the subject-matter of the next section). The Peruvian Mario Vargas Llosa believes that his ancestors were defeated due to a pragmatic and basically modern European mentality in contrast to the magical thinking of the natives; and the Mexican Carlos Fuentes wrote that the conquest of the American continent was a great triumph of the scientific hypothesis over the indigenous physical perception.

Jaynes overemphasizes that the prophets of the Old Testament literally heard Yahweh’s voice. Because the minds in the Ancient World, like present-day schizoid personalities, were swarmed with sources of hallucination, humans still lacked an inner space for retrospection and introspection. Bible scholars have debated at length about what could have caused the loss of prophecy gifts in the Hebrew people after the Babylonian exile. I would say that the elimination of the sacrificial practice of infants meant a leap toward a superior psychoclass, with the consequent overcoming of the schizoid or bicameral personality.

But going back to Jaynes: Formerly terrestrial and loquacious, the later mute gods were translated to a heaven, making room for human divination: the consultation of human beings that (for having been raised by more regressive parents I may infer) still heard the fateful voices. Even though the divine voices made themselves unnecessary for the new kind of human, praying continued to a god who was incapable, centuries ago, of communicating through divine voices.

The entire succession of [Old Testament] works becomes majestically and wonderfully the birth pangs of our subjective consciousness. No other literature has recorded this absolutely important event at such length or with such fullness. Chinese literature jumps into subjectivity in the teaching of Confucius with little before it. Indian hurtles from the bicameral Veda into the ultra subjective Upanishads. Greek literature, like a series of steppingstones from The Iliad to the Odyssey and across the broken fragments of Sappho and Solon toward Plato, is the next best record, but still too incomplete. And Egypt is relatively silent.

Jaynes’ book is dense, closely argued, and despite its beautiful prose often boring. But the chapter on the Hebrew people titled “The Moral Consciousness of the Khabiru” is must reading. If he is right, it was not until the fifth century before the common era when the bicameral mind began to be seen as the incapacitating disorder that is presently labeled as psychosis. In contrast to the mystic psychohistorian Robert Godwin, I am closer to Jaynes in that one of the most persistent residues of bicameralism is our religious heritage.

Jaynes, who died in 1997, may be the proverbial author of a single book. But many people continue to read The Origin of Consciousness. Tor Norretranders, a popular author on scientific subjects, expanded the bicameral hypothesis in a book published a year after Jaynes died, The User Illusion, and he cites more recent investigations than those collected by Jaynes.


Popperian falsifiability

Despite the book’s popularity and the fact that Jaynes taught in Princeton University and did archaeological work, his colleagues did not pay him much attention. Many academics reject theories that have been presented through literary books. It is understandable that a book with such lyric passages has been ignored by the dry science taught in the psychology departments; by neurobiologists, and by evolutionary theorists. Jaynes, basically a humanist, had not presented his theory in a scientific or falsifiable format.

I have explained falsifiability elsewhere. Even I have been asked by an editor to present the trauma model of mental disorders in “falsifiable” form, the Karl Popper term. Adepts of social sciences grant such authority to the hard sciences that, when they run across a text that emphasizes the humanities, they want to see everything translated to the language of science. They do this in spite of the fact that, in the reign of subjectivity, hard sciences are incapable of producing something truly significant. Notwithstanding this scientific demand, I concede that if we humanists make claims that could be interpreted as scientific hypotheses, it doesn’t hurt to present them in such a way that they may be refuted, if per chance they are wrong. Consequently, I must make it very clear that the trauma model, that I introduced in my previous books, is falsifiable.

For instance, it occurs to me that, if the model is correct, in the Israeli kibbutz children cannot be easily schizophrenized. The cause of this would be, naturally, that in the kibbutz they are put farther away from potentially schizophrenogenic parents than the children in nuclear families (let alone the Palestinian families that openly promote terrorist self-immolation among their offspring, assisted by their national television). Something similar could be said about Jaynes’ ideas. His hypothesis can be presented in falsifiable form always provided that the presentation is done through a deMausean interpretation of it, as we shall see almost by the end of this book.

Once it is conceded that even humanists who venture into foreign lands can present their theories in falsifiable form, I must point out that very few academics, including psychologists, are willing to delve into the darkest chambers of the human psyche. To them it is disturbing that prehistoric man, and a good deal of the historic man including their ancestors, had behaved as marionettes of hallucinated voices or nonexistent gods. Jaynes’ ideas represent a serious challenge to history as it is officially understood and even more to religion, anthropology, and psychiatry. He seems to postulate that a scant connectivity of the two brain hemispheres produced voices, and that the changes in consciousness caused the brain to become more interconnected through the corpus callosum. In case I have interpreted him correctly, I am afraid it is not possible to run tomographs on those who died millennia ago to compare, say, the brain of the bicameral pythoness against the brain of the intellectual Solon. Let’s ignore this non-falsifiable aspect and focus on hypotheses that may be advanced by epidemiologists in the field of social sciences. Studying the changes of incidence patterns of child mistreatment through history or contemporary cultures is a perfectly falsifiable scientific approach.

In the book reviews of The Origin of Consciousness available on the internet it can be gathered that the experience of many readers was as electrifying as a midnight ray that allowed them to see, albeit for a split second, the human reality. If the ultimate test for any theory is to explain the most data in the simplest way, we should not ignore the psycho-histories of Jaynes and deMause. If they are right, the explanatory power of an unified model would help us understand part of the human mystery, especially religion and psychosis.

Silvano Arieti and schizophrenia

Paradoxically, if something had been impeding the collective form of suicidal psychosis that the West self-inflicts today, the massive migration of inferior psychoclasses, it was Christianity. But Christianity is in crisis and Westerners lack a new myth that bestows on them a self-image for social cohesion. Jaynes wrote:

In the second millennium B.C., we stopped hearing the voices of the gods. In the first millennium B.C., those of us who still heard voices, our oracles and prophets, they too died away. In the first millennium A.D., it is their sayings and hearings preserved in sacred texts through which we obeyed our lost divinities. And in the second millennium A.D., these writings lose their authority… And here at the end of the second millennium and about enter the third, we are surrounded with this problem.

Hearing voices is the archetypal symptom of what today is named schizophrenia. But the distinctive traits between ancient schizoids and modern Western man is not absolute. In his magnum opus, Interpretation of Schizophrenia, Silvano Arieti wrote a sentence imagining a space visitor, more integrated psychologically than the Earth dwellers, who would find many instances of “paleologic thinking” (bicameral thought) in the moral, social and religious costumes of Western man.



Psychiatrist Silvano Arieti

Those who give credibility to everything that, under the banner of science, the status quo sells us, will consider it foolish that I take seriously an author who published a work about paleologic thinking and schizophrenia in 1955, the edition translated to Spanish. The reason that moved me to do it is simple. As I have said, decades before Colin Ross published The Trauma Model and Schizophrenia, Arieti had already written, with different words, some phrases about the locus of control shift (explained way above). In 2007 I felt confident to ask Ross if he knew that Arieti had said something very similar to his model half a century before. Ross replied that he barely had read Arieti. His ignorance surprised me but I understood him: the good doctor is more a busy clinician than an armchair theorist. Anyone can acquire through the internet the 2004 book that Ross wrote about schizophrenia. On the other hand, the 1965 Spanish translation of Arieti’s treatise is not even available in the catalogue of out-of-print books. In 1975 a second, revised edition of Interpretation of schizophrenia won in the United States the National Book Award in scientific subjects. In this chapter I will use both editions: the 1955 edition, and the 1975 edition republished in 1994 (in the second edition the book was thoroughly rewritten and fattened with medical testing on schizophrenia).

Virtually forgotten, Arieti’s treatise is an authentic mine of theoretical and clinical information to understand psychosis. Most striking about the massive body of literature from Arieti’s colleagues that pointed at the family as responsible for the schizophrenias in their patients is that the theory was never refuted. It was conveniently forgotten, swept under the rug of political correctness in the mental health professions. It is very common to read in the textbooks of contemporary psychiatry and psychology that the theory of the schizophrenogenic parents was discarded because it was erroneous with the most absolute absence of bibliographic references to support such claim. I cannot forget an article written in the present century in which an investigator complains that, despite an extensive search, he did not find any coherent and clear explanation of why the schizophrenogenic theory has been abandoned. As always, everything has to do with the fact that to question the parental deities is terrifying for most people, especially for those who are forbidden from using their own emotions: academics, including the mental health professionals. As deMause said way above: “The usual suppression of all feeling” in childrearing studies “simply cripples a psychohistorian as badly as it would cripple a biologist to be forbidden the use of a microscope.”

Arieti distinguishes between a “paleologic” form of thinking, and the thinking that comes from “Aristotelian logic” that rules Western man. Since the first edition of his book Arieti points out that the paleologic thinking, which modern man only experiences in dreams, was omnipresent in prehistoric cultures. In order to avoid a runaway anxiety that drives the victim into panic, the patient diagnosed as schizophrenic abandons the Aristotelian norms of intuitive logic and lapses into the sort of thinking of our most primitive ancestors. Like John Modrow, Arieti acknowledges the value of the work of Harry Sullivan about the panic the child experiences as a result of an all-out emotional assault from both parents. The paleologic regression can be adapted years after the abuse occurred, even when the child has become economically independent [interpolated note: a chapter on Modrow appears in my second book]. The withdrawal from reality, or psychotic breakdown, is the last and most desperate attempt of the unconscious to maintain the ego in a state of internal cohesion. A dramatic regressive metamorphosis arises when, one after another, the defenses that the victim had been using do not work anymore. To a greater or lesser degree all human beings function with a dose of neurosis, but in the psychotic outbreak, when neurotic defenses collapse, the subject falls into even more archaic forms of defense: mechanisms which had been overcome millennia ago, a regression to the bicameral mind.

Arieti’s book contains chapters about his clinical experiences with patients. In the case of two brothers, Arieti describes how one of them suffered a pre-psychotic panic as a result of the abuse at home and observes that, once in a florid state of psychosis, “The paleologician confuses the physical world with the psychological one. Instead of finding a physical explanation for an event, he looks for a personal motivation or an intention as the cause of an event.” Just as the primitive man, in a definitive breakdown of the Aristotelian superstructure, for the disturbed individual the world turns itself animist; each external event having a profound meaning. There are no coincidences for those who inhabit the world of magical thinking. Both the primitive animist and the modern schizophrenic live in distinct dimensions compared to the rational man. The conceptualization of external happenings as impersonal physical forces requires a much more advanced level of cognition than seeing them as personal agents. Arieti wrote:

If the Greeks are afflicted by epidemics, it is because Phoebus wants to punish Agamemnon. Paranoiacs and paranoids interpret almost everything as manifesting a psychological intention or meaning. In many cases practically everything that occurs is interpreted as willed by the persecutors of the patient.

Arieti also writes about the time before the Homo sapiens acquired the faculty to choose an action through what we call today free will, and he adds:

Philogenetically, anticipation of the distant future appeared when early man no longer limited his activity to cannibalism and hunting, which were related to immediate present necessities, but became interested in hoarding and, later, in agriculture in order to provide for future needs.

The reference to cannibalism makes me think that, though unlike Jaynes Arieti maintained that schizophrenia is due to the parents’ behavior, unlike deMause Arieti did not conceive that such cannibal practices, like the ones described in the Preface, could have injured the inner self of the surviving children in prehistoric times. Nevertheless, Arieti disagrees with the theoretical psychiatrists who see no similarities between schizophrenic and non-schizophrenic. He believes that such points of view “are fundamentally wrong”, and, speaking of non-Western cultures and even of the times of Cro-Magnon man, he writes:

Often the culture itself imposes paleologic conceptions and habits on the individual, even though the individual is capable of high forms of thinking. The more abundant is the paleologic thinking in a culture, the more difficult it is for the culture to get rid of it.

This last phrase reminds me how presently Western culture imposes relativist conceptions on the individual, even though the typical Westerner is potentially capable of discriminating among inferior cultures: a higher form of thinking. Arieti also rises the question of why civilization originated only ten thousand years ago. Like Jaynes, he believes that the incredibly long gestation of civilization had to do with the persistence of paleologic thought, and he adds that presently the paleologic defense mechanisms underlie the human psyche and can return in extreme conditions.

Arieti elaborated his theory twenty years before Jaynes or deMause started to write their books, and he was within an inch of discovering what deMause would discover: precisely that schizophrenogenic forms of childrearing through the Bone Age and the Stone Age had impeded the psychic integration of our ancestors. Getting ahead in time to Ross, Arieti wrote: “A characteristic unique in the human race — prolonged childhood with consequent extended dependency on adults — is the basis of the psychodynamics of schizophrenia.”

Arieti defines schizophrenia as an extremely regressive reaction before an equally extreme state of anxiety, a dynamic that originates in infancy and that accelerates in adolescence, or later, due to abuses at home (think of the case of the second girl in the Ross section). “In every case of schizophrenia studies serious family disturbances were found” (emphasis by Arieti). He adds that to produce schizophrenia a drama is needed which is sufficiently injuring to the inner self; a drama that, if we ignore it, we become deaf “to a profound message that the patient may try to convey”. And writing about one of his patients, and getting again ahead in time to Ross, he tells us that this patient “protected the images of his parents but at the expense of having an unbearable self-image”.

Interpretation of Schizophrenia contains the keys to understanding issues that at first sight seem incomprehensible, and even bizarre, for those of us who live in the world of Aristotelian logic: the probable meaning of the symbols of the oneiric world in which the psychotic individual lives; his apparently incoherent salad of words, the linguistic whys of his inner logic and the many regressive stages of the disorder. In Arieti’s treatise there is an enormous richness of ideas and theoretical schemas that I cannot summarize here, as well as clinical analyses of his patients, to understand the gradations of madness. Even though, as I said, in the middle 1970s his book won the National Book Award, in a more valiant world his work would have been influential. But society freaked out before the findings of Arieti and his colleagues because, to understand psychoses, it would have been necessary to point the index finger at the parents. As a Ross reader would say, the problem of the attachment to the perpetrator, the basic and fundamental axiom of the human psyche, could not allow this (Arieti himself dedicated his magnum opus to his parents).

Let us see where the ideas expressed in this chapter drive us when pondering the violent past of ancient Mexico, and how the psychogenic arrest of that culture may serve us to understand the dilemmas that the West faces today.

[Index page for this book here]

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