Re: PSYCH: Studies on birth methods

Hara Ra (
Sat, 17 Aug 1996 11:59:18 -0700

Max More:
>Does anyone know of any studies (preferably with good methodology) analyzing
>possible psychological differences between persons born the traditional way
>vs. those born by Caesarian section?
Welcome to the field of perinatal psychology. I believe there is an association
concerned with this topic; I recall a conference announcement many years
ago. There
is a book (Which I have not read), titled "Through a Different Doorway" (or
which is about the differences with Cesarian births.

I have discussed this topic with Stanislav Grof. His informal impressions
are that
C section people are closer to what is called Transpersonal experiences, and
well grounded. Not exactly study material here, but an impression of being less
"in the world" and more impractical.

>Some psychoanalysts make claims about the traumatic effects of birth. I'd
>like to see some evidence.

"LSD Psychotherapy" by Stanislav Grof is the primary work in this field.
It is now available in paperback, and I highly recommend it.
>I'm also curious as to whether, if there is anything in the claims that such
>early experiences affect adult psychology, the birth experience could
>explain the frequent reports of a tunnel in near death experiences.

All of this stuff is tied together. Birth and Death are closely connected;
Grof maintains that the birth process involves a close encounter with death.

>The NDE
>experience of travelling down a tunnel into the light suggests the
>possibility of a replaying of the birth experience. One way to investigate
>this would be to see if all people having such an NDE were born the typical
>way. If so, we'd have a nice explanation of the basic near death experience.

I doubt this one. I once saw a note in Science News (3-6 years ago) reporting
a study concerning medical life threatening emergencies and NDEs. There were
four combinations:

Real Emergency, Patient aware of it = NDE
Real Emergency, Patient unaware = no NDE
Not Emergency, Patient thinks real = NDE
Not Emergency, Patient thinks not real = no NDE

I read in two different sources that Penfield in his brain stimulation
discovered in the Sylvan Fissure a location which induced NDEs.

>I suspect that the actual explanation is more likely to be in terms of
>traumatic chemical events in the brain inducing experiences common to all
>cultures due to shared brain features. There are certain common patterns
>experienced by everyone on psychedelics regardless of their cultural
>background. One of these is a tunnel-like effect. This might be the same
>effect generated in NDE's.

Ronald Siegel has a book on psychedelic patterens, including tunnel visions.

I have a paper (under a pile somewhere) which discusses white light experiences
as related to anoxia in the brain via the Circle of Willits. Anoxia also causes
tunnel vision. Some Yogic breathing exercises induce anoxia.

Ketamine at 1.5 mg/kg (about 2x the usual psychedelic dose, about 15% of the
surgical dose) induces experiences very similiar to NDEs. Unfortunately there
is a lot of ammnesia in these expereinces (unless done at the peak of LSD). My
expereinces reminded me a lot of the bardo states described in the Tibetan Book
of the Dead.
>Anyone know of any studies in the area? The NDE is a common argument for the
>possibility of life after death. I'm interested in strengthening arguments
>against the NDE claim for believing in an afterlife.

My standard argument is that if there is a brain structure which promotes NDEs,
this is evolutionarily plausible as NDEs will serve to knit tribal social
together which is a strong survival plus. The NDE itself is just another meme,
burdened with the overwhelming experince of its being the ultimate reality. Sort
of like the volume set at 200% of like Totally Real. Those without experience
of rational thinking will tend to accept this without quesion, and once this
is imprinted, little can be done about it.

| Hara Ra <> |
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