I recently wrote a series of blog posts on ancestral traumas—traumas that occurred thousands of years ago yet remain embedded as genetic memories in our collective unconscious. As we go deep into our healing journey, these age-old traumas surface for resolution.

In the overview of that series, I posited the origin of these traumas:

How far back do they go? As far as I can tell, to the Biblical Fall: the expulsion from the Garden of Eden into the desert. The story in Genesis with the ultimate all-star cast—Adam, Eve, a snake, an apple and an irate god—appears to be a fictionalised version of a core traumatic event affecting humanity whose occurrence is supported by anthropological evidence.

Key traumas

The Fall seems to have inflicted three key psychological traumas:

  1. A fundamental separation from both nature and the mother figure. I link these because they’re macro- and micro-level versions of the same thing. Nature ceased to be a bountiful provider. So did mothers as children were separated at birth to encourage violence, which conferred an evolutionary advantage by improving the odds of survival.
  2. A fundamental sexual trauma stemming from separation from the mother and denial of sexually pleasurable breast-feeding. This led to circumcision of men, and the sexual subjugation and sexual enslavement of women.
  3. The embedding of core victim (women) or victimiser (men) energies in the human psyche, stemming from traumas 1 and 2. This programming, in highly watered-down form, still resides in the collective unconscious.

You can find more on each trauma in the following blogs:

Each of these traumas is repressed within us—yet continues to affect us in many ways. Our separation from nature allows us to abuse nature. Our separation from nurturing leaves many of us feeling isolated and alienated from others, including our own families. Our core sexual wound prevents us from revealing our deepest sexual selves to our partners, for fear of rejection. Our unconscious acceptance of the victimizer/victim dynamic surfaces any time we impose our will on others.

Return of the repressed

Sigmund Freud, the ‘father of psychoanalysis’, saw repression as an unconscious mechanism for warding off socially dangerous impulses. He considered this “the corner-stone on which the whole structure of psychoanalysis rests.” No impulses are more dangerous than sexual ones.

In The Psychopathology of Everyday Life (1901) Freud posited the idea of parapraxes, better known as Freudian slips, which are attempts by repressed impulses to break into conscious awareness. He termed this process the ‘return of the repressed’.

Freudian slips are usually thought of as spoken faux pas. Freud had a much broader view of parapraxes, including not only supposed errors in speech but also of writing, memory, action and chance events. What identified them as parapraxes was “the ability to refer the phenomena to unwelcome, repressed, psychic material, which, though pushed away from consciousness, is nevertheless not robbed of all capacity to express itself.”

Ancestral traumas in porn

When we are strongly drawn to porn, these ancestral traumas are trying to communicate with us from the depths of our unconscious.

Millennia-old traumas about the dangers of sex—physical, moral and spiritual—seep to the brink of our awareness as we stare at 21st century digital images of nudity and sex.

The next time you’re drawn to porn, ask yourself if you’re seeing a reflection of your own ancestral traumas:

  • Do you long for physical touch and nurturing, rather than sex?
  • Are you carrying buried trauma, anger and rage in your genitals?
  • Can you feel the victimizer in you as you gaze at naked women?

Porn is never random. Porn is never accidental. We are drawn to reflections of our deepest selves—and nothing is deeper than these ancestral traumas. Porn provides an opportunity for recognition, acceptance and release.

Image: Jean-Léon Gérôme, Phyrne revealed before the Areopagus (1861)