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.
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.
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.
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.
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.” 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.
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. Laila Williamson estimated a lower rate ranging from 15-20%. Both believe that high rates of infanticide persisted until the development of agriculture. Some comparative anthropologists have estimated that 50% of female newborn babies were killed by their parents in the Paleolithic. 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.
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.
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.”  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.
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. 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.
“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.
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.
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.”  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.”
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.” 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.
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.
I exchanged a few e-mails with Cobb, who like me is very critical of the psychoanalytic tail in deMausean legacy, and his position picked 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.”  The Epistle of Barnabas stated an identical command. 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. Whereas theologians and clerics preached to spare their lives, newborn abandonment continued as registered in both the literature record and in legal documents.
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.” At the end of the 12th century, notes Richard Trexler, Roman women threw their newborns into the Tiber River even in daylight. 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. Unlike other European regions, in the Middle Ages the German mother had the right to expose the newborn. In Gotland, Sweden, children were also sacrificed.
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. The Svans killed the newborn females by filling their mouths with hot ashes. In Kamchatka, babies were killed and thrown to wild dogs.
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. 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. 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.”  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.” 
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. A typical method in Japan was smothering through wet paper on the baby’s mouth and nose. Mabiki persisted in the 19th and early 20th centuries.
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.”  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. 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.
Arabia and Islam. Female infanticide was common all over Arabia during pre-Islamic Arabia, especially by burying alive the newborn female. 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.”  (Despite this emergency vis-à-vis the infanticidal neighbors, the childrearing modes and the treatment of women in Islam would stagnate for centuries.)
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. The Kikuyu, Kenya’s most populous ethnic group, practiced ritual killing of twins. 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. The Tswana people did the same since they feared the newborn would bring ill fortune to the parents. Similarly, William Sumner noted that the Vadshagga killed children whose upper incisors came first. 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.
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. 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.
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. 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. In another Solomon island, San Cristóbal, the firstborn was considered ahubweu and often buried alive. 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.”
Australia. According to Bronislaw Malinowski, who wrote a book on indigenous Australians in the early 1960s, “infanticide is practiced among all Australian natives.” 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.
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. Mildred Dickeman concurs that that figure is accurate in other Australia tribes as a result of a surplus of the birthrate. 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.
Thomas Robert Malthus wrote that, in the New South Wales region, when the mother died sucking infants were buried alive with her. 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.”  In Queensland a tribal woman could have children after the age of thirty. Otherwise babies would be killed. The Australian Aranda tribes in the Northern Territory used the method of choking the newborn with coal, sand or kill her with a stick. According to James George Frazer, in the Beltana tribes in South Australia it was customary to kill the first-born. Twins were always killed by the Arrernte in central Australia. In the Luritcha tribe occasional cannibalism of young children occurred. Aram Yengoyan calculated that, in Western Australia, the Pitjandjara people killed 19% of their newborns. 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. Like other tribal Australians, when the mother died the child was buried as well.
Polynesia. In ancient Polynesian societies infanticide was fairly common. 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.” In Hawaii infanticide was a socially sanctioned practice before the Christian missions. Infanticidal methods included strangling the children or, more frequently, burying them alive. Infanticide was quite intense in Tahiti. Methods included suffocation, neck breaking and strangulation.
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%. Polar Eskimos killed the child by throwing him or her into the sea. 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. In Arctic Canada the Eskimos exposed their babies on the ice and left them to die. Female Eskimo infanticide disappeared in the 1930s and 1940s after contact with the Western cultures from the South.
The Handbook of North American Indians reports infanticide and cannibalism among the Dene Indians and those of the Mackenzie Mountains. In the Eastern Shoshone there was a scarcity of Indian women as a result of female infanticide. For the Maidu Native Americans in the United States twins were so dangerous that they not only killed them, but the mother as well. 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.
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. 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. 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. Infanticide among the Chaco in Paraguay was estimated as high as 50% of all newborns in that tribe, who were usually buried. The infanticidal custom had such roots among the Ayoreo in Bolivia and Paraguay that it persisted until the late 20th century.
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. Although it is illegal in Benin, West Africa, parents secretly continue their infanticidal behavior,  as well as in rural areas of India.
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
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[Index page for this book here]