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Down the Rabbit Hole
Paul Kiritsis, PsyD candidate, DPhil., MA (Psychology), MA (History)

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Unfinished Soul Business: Exploring Phobias Through Past and Future Life Memories

Paul Kiritsis - Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Future-life Memories as Dwain

 

Many years ago I decided to do something about my irrational fear of insects and spiders. To me, flinching every time a cockroach appeared and going into a spasmodic fit when an ant or any other insect crawled onto my arm or leg was anything but ordinary. It embarrassed me immensely, as did my fear of the sight of blood, of towering heights, and of the sea. My reactions to these things seemed completely bizarre and unsubstantiated; why should I–a five-foot-eight, solidly built, athletic, and powerful young man–feel threatened by other living creatures that could do no more than inflict crawling sensations, slight irritations, or temporary stings?

To help me penetrate through to the origin of this particular phobia, I consulted with a psychotherapist who specialized in the unearthing of past-life memories. After embarking upon a psychotherapeutic prelude that included giving a detailed historiographical review of my life thus far and a detailed synopsis of all past illnesses and symptoms, the therapist got me to splay myself out on a mattress in the clinic and put my into a light hypnotic trance. What came out surprised me:

(Transcript from the recorded tape.)

“They’re the detritus of the earth. They’re vile and disgusting,” I said.

“You mean insects?” she asks.

“Yes the lot of them–worms, beetles and cockroaches, bull ants, moths, cicadas, praying mantises, crickets, spiders, and whatever else there is!”

“Just relax by breathing deeply and repeat the phrase Paul,” she instructs.

“What phrase?”

“They’re the detritus of the earth,” she says.

Breathing heavily I declare, “They’re the detritus of the earth. The scum of the earth. They’re vile and disgusting.”

“Why?” she asks me.

“That’s what I feel them to be.”

‘Where are you?”

“I’m trying not to make any noise in case they hear. We need to be very quiet.”

“Where are you?”

“In the room of a house. I’m wearing this decontamination suit.  It looks like something an astronaut might wear. The silver heap of cotton hugs my torso and terminates in tightly fitted wrist and ankle bands. Black gloves and boots cover my arms and legs. The head gear resembles a helmet and restricts my lateral vision considerably.”

“It sounds as though there’s been an outbreak of something.”  

“There has been.”

“What exactly? Are you in the past or the future? It sounds like a future life.”

“It’s some kind of virus like Ebola. They call it Red Back; its strands look like little insects and they eat you from the inside out. I’m a military officer of the US army; my name is Dwain and I’ve been assigned a post in Los Angeles to exterminate the affected. We’ve been told by General Hawkins not to let victims anywhere near us because the virus is highly contagious. He’s made it clear that anybody exposed to the virus is ‘deader than shit’. We need to keep their decontamination suits on for the whole duration of the mission.”

“You must be in the future.”

“I’m a century into the future. Safety and security seem to be mirages of the past; they’ve dissipated into a black void. The vast majority of the population have been crippled by the debilitating virus. The primary strike occurred two days ago and the CIA figured it was a biochemical weapon most likely engineered by the Al-Qaeda. The immediate reaction of the military was to release two types of soldiers into the districts of Los Angeles and all other major US cities. Soldiers of the ALPHA team have the distinct job of killing the infected and those of the BETA team, which include myself, have been assigned the task of burning their remains to halt contamination as well as looking for civilian survivors, if any.”

“How many in your team Dwain?”

 “I initially had a squad of seven but I’ve lost three men already. We’ve been whittled down to four. The imminent contagion is spreading with rapid stealth faster than our flame throwers can obliterate it. The virus seemed relentless and inexorable.”

“Are you still in the room?”

“Yes. I’m trying to look beneath the bed but it’s difficult because the weight of my tank is crushing me. There’s a woman sprawled on her face down here. Her arms and legs are outstretched. Her short, blonde hair is matted down and her red skin is covered with open sores. She has a small tattoo of a spider on the back of her right shoulder blade. (emotional) She looks like my wife.”

“Is she your wife?”

“She looks like my wife but she’s not my wife. My wife’s already dead. She was one of the first to be infected with Red Back and had to be put down. This is someone else.”

“Are you ok?”

“Yeah. (sniffling) I’m fine. I just wish I hadn’t come into this room or taken a look under the bed. Oh shit!”

“What’s happening now Dwain?”

“She’s moving and snarling. She’s coming out from the other end! Oh, God! I’m going to have to do this again and I hate doing it. I have to pull the trigger and kill her.”

“Do what you have to do.”

“Shit her head’s just exploded. It’s not a pretty sight. A thick spray of blood and gobs of brain have smacked the wall with a thud. I think I’m going to be sick. I really need to get out of here and out of this decontamination suit that’s asphyxiating me. The fumes are getting stronger.”

“Get out then.”

 “Jesus there’s carnage everywhere! I can’t bear to look at the corpses; they propel slivers of terror through my veins. Most of them are slumped on the floor, covered in blisters, sores and cuts, and are so badly burnt that the only visible parts are their teeth and eyes. Some of them have missing limbs and holes blown through them, which is the unmistakable work of extermination squad ALPHA. The team ploughed through this area only a few hours ago. Some others are curled in fetal positions, covering their faces as if trying to shield themselves from invisible blows. All of them have swollen lips that are peeled back and frozen in expressions of anguish and surprise.”

“It sounds dreamful Dwain. Repeat the phrase again,” she prompts me.

“They’re the detritus of the earth. They’re vile and disgusting.”

“What’s happening now?”

“Shit, shit, shit.”

“What is it?”

“This guy with a kitchen knife just caught me unawares. I’ve wrestled the knife from him but he’s managed to rip off my decontamination suit and he’s ripping off my fatigue shirt. No! No! No!”

“What’s happening?”

“He’s drooling all over me. Get off me you mother fucker!” (At this point I’m kicking and writhing violently on the mattress.)

“Don’t fight it. Let the experience of the future memory unfold.”

“The man’s grabbed my headpiece and he’s tugging it off. No! Help me someone! He’s straddling me, crawling higher and higher and now his face is level with mine. He’s yanking me by the hair; I’ve got my lips pursing tightly so that his drool doesn’t get into my mouth. Oh… I’ve got him now!  I’m pushing his head downwards and driving a knee up into his chest. He’s yelping and rolled off me, hugging his chest. I’m dashed to my feet now and I’m jerking my handgun out from the pocket of my pants. I shoot him point blank in the head.”

“Are you alright Dwain?”

“(Heaving for breath) Please let me be ok! Please let me be ok!”

“Relax Dwain, you’re hyperventilating. Take it easy.”

“I’m trying not to panic but it’s not working. What if I’ve contracted it?”

“You’re overreacting Dwain.”

“Nobody knows shit about it. Nobody knows how contagious it is. For all I know I could be infected now. I remember the last soldier in my group to go down, Hal Yamasaki. He’d been bitten on the arm; an infected person who’d been hiding in the wardrobe flung himself out and surprised him. Hal rejoined the rest of our force later and explained his wound by claiming he’d been cut by glass. A few hours later, he disappeared into a pharmacy. When my teammate Ina went in after him, she’d found him eating the flesh of a carcass. Ina, wracked by disbelief, stood there watching before incinerating him with her flame thrower.”

”But you weren’t bitten Dwain. If it’s a virus that requires the exchange of blood or other bodily fluids you have nothing to be afraid of. There are no breaks in your skin and you didn’t swallow any of his saliva.” 

“(Tears have formed beneath my eyes) I’m not sure. I’m not really sure of anything anymore.”

“Where are you now?”

“I’ve flung open the door to some bathroom and I’m charging in. I can still feel the man’s saliva trickling down my face. I’m holding my lips together and breathing from my nose. I’ve dropped my flame thrower, my pack and my gun near the sink and I’ve pulled my decontamination suit down to my waist and yanked my shirt off. I’m using the shirt to wipe all the blood and spittle from my face and body.”

“Remember it’s all just the experience of a memory, a future memory.”

“I’ve picked up my handgun and set it on the sink for accessibility in the event that an unwanted visitor should pay me a visit. Nobody knows shit about it. For all I know, I could be infected now (shuddering). I step into the bathtub and turn the faucets on. A cool jet of water blasts from the spout.”

“Sounds like it a good idea; I bet it feels good too.”

“It does. I’m adjusting the flow so that it’s just right. The cold water, icy against my warm skin, is sluicing over my head and body (sighing). I pluck up the soap from the tray and lather myself. You know, I won’t let myself get to that stage.”

“What stage?”

“Cannibalism. I’ll blow my brains out before it gets to that.”

“You’ll be fine Dwain.”

“Maybe I should end it all now. I don’t really see much of a point in going on anyway. The whole country is in chaos. Things will never be the same again. There’s nothing but a salad of victims and soldiers and the soldiers are way outnumbered. My wife Helen and my parents are dead. Even if I end up traversing the dark tunnel of this nightmare unscathed there is nothing worthwhile waiting for me at the other end. There’s only misery and pain waiting at the other end (sniffling).”

“Just let nature take its course Dwain.”

“(After a brief pause) No, I can’t do it. The troops need me. I’ll tell them what happened. If I start acting funny, they can gun me down. Besides, I can’t leave Ina to fend for herself.”

“Who is Ina?”

“The only female in the team; a damn fine looking one too! (Smiling)”

Are you feeling better now?”

“I’m not in the bathroom anymore. I’m outside the house with Ina. They’ve taken off without us.”

“Who are they?”

“Mark and Julian. They’ve left us here. They promised they would wait. They have to wait. Fucking bastards!”

“Maybe they took off in an emergency.”

“I don’t think so. I think they got ambushed at the police station. That’s funny (Laughing).”

“How is it funny Dwain?”

“I don’t know. It just is. We’re in a bottle shop now. The refrigeration unit along the back of the shop doesn’t hold bottled drinks. Instead, three people are mashed against it on the other side, their skin pressed tightly against the glass. Their noses and lips looked flattened against the window as they slaver against it. Their breathing fogs up the window. They must have slid in through the glass door on the side. Ha ha! (Laughing)”

“Something’s changed Dwain. You’re not yourself anymore.”

“I can see I’m giving Ina the shits. She’s firing at the afflicted. Glass shatters everywhere as the bullets hit their target. You go girl! This is beginning to be a lot of fun. Killing people isn’t so bad after all.”

“This is a bit out of character for you, isn’t it?”

“It’s not out of character at all! (I’ve started drooling onto the pillow and spattering.) An old hag has just ambushed Ina. She’s come rushing at her from an aisle. She’s dropped onto her, knocking her breath out. The wench is laughing hysterically as she pulls Ina’s hair, yanking her backwards. Her flame thrower has crashed onto the floor beside me.”

“Aren’t you going to help her Dwain?”

“I love watching women wrestle. It’s such a turn on. Get her Ina! Kick her teeth in! The old woman’s hair is draped over Ina’s face and strings of saliva are pouring onto her face. Yeah!”

“What’s gotten into you Dwain?”

“Don’t stop on my account girls! Oh no…”

“What is it?”

“Ina’s just pulled a handgun from her pants; she’s shoved its muzzle into the woman’s chest. Oh no, I can’t look!” (I twist my neck and shake my head violently from side to side.)

“Why aren’t you helping her?”

“I don’t know what’s wrong with me. Her words sound slurred and barely audible. My vision is blurring. I’m excited and dizzy; it’s a feeling quite unlike anything I’ve ever experienced before in my life. It’s pulsing through my veins like an express train. Oh dear…”

“What’s going on now?”

“I’m sweating like a pig. I feel so hot. I don’t feel well at all. (I begin scratching my torso) It’s like there’s insects crawling all over me. Please get them off!”

“Relax Dwain.”

“They’re all over me. Oh God please! Help me!” (I thrash about.)

“Dwain please try to relax. You’re reliving a memory. Calm down right this instant.”

“These things are crawling all over my body and my face. Please get them off me! (I scratch my face.)

“Dwain listen to me. It’s just a memory. Calm down now.”

“I want to rip my skin off. I’m so itchy and tingly. Oh Jesus!”

“What is it?”

“My skin is all red and it’s breaking out in lesions. There are invisible insects eating me! (I’m crying now.) Why is my skin like this? ”

“Dwain relax.”

“Ina’s pointing the gun at me. She’s telling me to stay back. What’s going on?”

“You’re probably infected Dwain.”

“I can’t believe this is happening. Oh sweet Jesus why me? (convulsing) I don’t have Red Back I’m clean! Oh come to papa Ina, come to papa! She’s pointing the gun at me. What the fuck does she think she’s doing? She’s going to shoot me. Help! No! He… ”

“What happened?”

“She shot me. There was no pain. The bullet got me right in the forehead. I’m not inside my body anymore. I’m hovering directly over it, looking at it with pity. My body is merely a shadow of its former self. What a ghastly illness; I really can’t bear to look at myself. There’s blood pouring out of every crevice and orifice. Inky blotches run from my head down to my legs. My skin is bruised and somewhat disfigured. The reddened, crumpled folds are covered in blisters that ooze a milky puss. Yuck! What a wretched life that was. I feel like the whole thing was an extended and exaggerated crucifixion for somebody’s perverse pleasure. I didn’t get to enjoy anything. I’m glad that it’s over.”

“It seems as though it was quite a wretched, distressing, and fearful existence. But you needn’t dwell on it any longer. You’ve now been liberated through death. Death has brought you peace. Let go of that incarnation now. Let it go. Can you let go of Dwain?”     

“Yes.”

“Good. You’ve re-membered the future. Now that you’ve left that shell behind can you see the connection with what’s happening to you in your present incarnation as Paul?”

“Yes I can. It’s beginning to make sense. The fear of insects and spiders is an unconscious fear of becoming diseased and infected with some unknown organism; of losing my health, my proprioception, and my kinesthetic awareness.”

“Let’s not make overarching conclusions about the origin of the complex within your psyche at this point in time but this past-life, or future-life memory I should say, has definitely been a great pointer in showing us what there is growing.” 

  

In hindsight the wounds from this future-life memory, if we can call it that, helped put my phobia of crawling insects and spiders into a wider and much more comprehensive context. After listening to the tape, I instinctively recognized that I’d somehow forged an unconscious connection between these small invertebrate animals called arthropods and pathogens. The reason behind the connection couldn’t be more than obvious; insects and spiders often dwell in the same uncouth, dark, subterranean and moist environments conducive to the spawning and proliferation of disease. In fact, there’s a whole agglomeration of diseases spread by insects. Mosquitoes spread dengue fever, Pogosta disease, West Nile disease, and malaria; ticks transmit encephalitis and Lyme disease; and sand-flies spread Leishmaniasis.

As expounded by the future-life memory, a crucial and hitherto indeterminate aspect of the underlying trauma had been the enigmatic interrelationship between disease pathogens, physical symptoms, tingly and odd little sensations produced by crawling insects on the skin, and the terror of being devoured from the inside-out. The sight of insects and spiders and more so the feel of them squirming against parts of my body spontaneously activated suppressed past and in this particular case future levels of the core complex. Somewhere along the line one or several of my incarnations had been inflicted an etheric wound at the hands of terminal illnesses or conditions spread by invertebrate vectors. Thus my compulsion to freak out at the sight of them wasn’t as unreasonable or outrageous as I initially thought; it was simply an unconscious reaction wrought by the accumulation of those harrowing experiences. It appears that the contemporary phobia served as a generalized hunch, an early warning if you like, that little critters have posed major health issues for me in the past and have been my eternal nemesis. 

   

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