Chapter 1: The Killer Motherland

The Origins of War in Child Abuse by Lloyd deMause
Chapter 1
The Killer Motherland
War is the mother of all things.
– Heraclitus

In the course of researching my book The Emotional Life of Nations, I discovered that just before and during wars the nation was regularly depicted as a Dangerous Woman. I collected thousands of magazine covers and political cartoons before wars to see if there were any visual patterns that could predict the moods that led to war, and routinely found images of dangerous, bloodthirsty women. Even the most popular movies before wars featured dangerous women, from The Wizard of Oz with its killing witches before WWII to All About Eve before the Korean War, Cleopatra before Vietnam, Fatal Attraction and Thelma and Louise before the Persian Gulf War and Laura Croft and Kill Bill at the start of the Iraqi War. War itself when personified was always shown as a Killer Woman, tempting young men with her attractiveness. I called the Killer Woman a Marie Antoinette syndrome, after the group-fantasy of the French during the Revolution that she was a “ferocious panther who devoured the French” despite the fact that she was actually a rather sweet person.

When the war starts, the terrors in the media that Dangerous Women are abroad demanding blood are projected into some Enemy who agrees to engage in mutual killing, and oddly enough the Enemy also assumes the Killer Woman imagery, as, for instance, in the Persian Gulf War when Saddam Hussein was depicted as a dangerous pregnant mother with a nuclear bomb in her womb or as the mother of a death-baby.

That wars are seen emotionally as led by dangerous Killer Mothers, with war goddesses from Athena to Freyja and from Brittania to Marianne depicted as devouring, raping and ripping apart her children, is one of my most unexpected findings during the three decades I have studied war psychohistorically. The further back in history one goes, the more wars are openly considered as

Look Magazine
Killer Woman
Fig. 1-1 War is usually depicted as a Killer Woman
Spy Hasta la Vista
Killer Women
Pregnant Sadaam
Sadaam with baby
Fig. 1-2 Images of Killer Women proliferate in the media before wars and then are projected into enemies.
being fought for Killer Goddesses, from Tiamat, Ishtar, Inanna, Isis and Kali to the Aztec mother-goddess Huitzilopochtli, who had “mouths all over her body” that cried out to be fed the blood of her soldiers.1 Before wars, there is a precise moment when the Killer Mother image gets split into the Good Motherland and the Bad Motherland, and the warrior clings to the Good Mother even when she sends him to die and be “buried in her bosom” and kills and rapes Enemy women without guilt. Soldiers often say they are willing to die “peacefully” for a beloved “Motherland…like a baby falling asleep” in Her womb, wrapped in a maternal dress/flag.2 Wars are from their beginning experienced as direct repetitions of the birth struggle, begun when nations are “smothered and unable to draw a breath,” continuing until they can “see the light at the end of the tunnel” and even “aborted” if ended too soon.3 As the German proverb puts it, “Germany is never so happy as when she is pregnant with war.”4 Even the nuclear bomb is seen as part of a rebirth ritual. The Hiroshima bomb, named “Little Boy” and dropped from the belly of a plane named after the pilot’s mother, was announced as successful by General Groves who cabled President Truman: “The baby was born.”5

Wars are thought of as being fought mainly by men against men, but most wars kill more women and children than men—today for every soldier who dies in war, ten civilians die, about half of them children.6 Most war leaders and most soldiers are male and somewhat more women than men oppose going to war.7 Women are far more likely to be the victims of violence than men: in the U.S. in 1980, “one of every two women experiences some form of battering, one of four

Fig. 1-3 The Killer Motherland is split into “the One we die for” and “the One we kill.”
experiences incest, one of four is raped, 97 percent of all male-female violence is against females.”8 If, as feminists of all stripes contend, violence and militarism are simply patriarchy writ large, why are Motherlands the central focus of emotional group-fantasies about war? The answer is clear: all these “Dangerous Women” and Killer Motherland fantasies are mainly those of men. It is mainly men who kill under the delusion that “We have laid ourselves over the body of the motherland in order to revive her”9 or “We are to die so that the motherland may live; for while we live the motherland is dying.”10 It was men on WWI battlefields who called their cannons “Mother” and referred to themselves as children waiting upon and feeding Her.11 It is men who as officers refer
Hitler and Germania
Fig. 1-4 Hitler and Germania

to themselves as the “company mother” or as “the mother hen watching the other guys like they was my children.”12 It is men who join the military to appeal to women as brave heroes who will save them, who respond to recruiting posters saying “Women of Britain Say ‘GO!”, who claim “all women like to hear of men fighting and facing danger”13 and who go to their death in battle with one word, “Mom,” on their lips. Mothers today may not send their sons forth to battle with the adjuration “Come back with your shield or on it” as did Spartan mothers, but in fantasy many soldiers still hear the inner voices of their mothers saying to them: “Grow up and be a MAN”—i.e., kill or be killed.14

Klara Hitler
Fig. 1-5 Medusa. When Hitler saw this painting of Medusa he said, “They are the eyes of my mother!”
Klara Hitler

War leaders know the Killer Motherland group-fantasy that moves men to war, and repeat it endlessly before and during wars. Hitler spoke of German devotion to their Mutterland thousands of times in his speeches, saying “I promise you the sacrifice of 10 million German youth” to Germania. Hitler said he was literally married to Germania: “Marriage is not for me and never will be. My only bride is my Motherland,”15 and this is the reason he did not marry any other woman. (This was an old idea for the military—before modern mass armies, soldiers were usually prohibited from marrying, since they were considered as wed to their Motherlands and units.)16 Goebbels confirmed that “the entire people loves him because it feels safe in his hands like a child in the arms of a mother.”

Hitler’s conviction that he got his power from his mother was so literal that he kept pictures near his desks of both his actual mother, Klara, and of Medusa, whose gaze turned people into stone. Hitler said of the painting of Medusa, “They are the eyes of my mother!”17 Medusa was so deadly that one look from her could kill you. Hitler endlessly practiced before a mirror so his eyes would be killing “mother-eyes” like those of his own deeply depressed mother. Staring at his Nazi soldiers, Hitler could empower them also to be fused with the powerful Killer Mother, saying, “I want to see again in the eyes of youth the gleam of the beast!”

Even if groups such as terrorists who do not have Motherlands to fuse with and die for, they still do have real mothers who play that role. Islamic terrorists today regularly report their mothers brought them up to be a suicide bomber, a martyr, even picking which son should die and which must remain alive to support her in her old age.18 One mother of a Palestinian suicide bomber who had blown himself to bits told the reporter “with resolutely cheerful countenance,” “I was very happy when I heard. To be a martyr, that’s something. Very few people can do it. I prayed to thank God. I know my son is close to me.”19 Since he had been about to graduate from the university—that is, about to separate from his mother, to be independent, the mother felt she was about to “lose” him and preferred that he be “with” her in memory, and he himself felt “If I blow myself up and become a martyr, I’ll finally be loved by my mother.” They consciously think suicide will finally give them love from Allah, but they unconsciously think it will give them love from Mother.20

All the other Killer Motherland devices mentioned above for warriors are paralleled in terrorists. Explosive devices to kill themselves and innocent civilians are called “Mothers of Satan.” In Gaza, a mother of three Hamas suicide bombers videotaped their paths to suicide, saying she wished she had 100 sons to sacrifice rather than three, and was made famous as “The Mother of Martyrs.”21 Mothers often dress their little children in pretend explosives to encourage their suicide. Terrorists often drag themselves after being shot to their mothers, saying, “O my mother, I have been martyred,” or “You bore me to die.”22 Witnesses report that “When at last her son is martyred, she is said to be overjoyed to hear the news and emits a zaghrada (a high-pitched wailing sound made by women on happy occasions such as the entrance of a bride and groom at their wedding), sometimes even expressing the wish that all her sons will thus be taken.”23

What kind of mothers are these who not only tell their children they should commit suicide for Allah but let them watch daily TV messages in between cartoons that say they should kill themselves and even give them suicide belts to march around to practice their suicides?24 Like mothers everywhere, when they inflict abuse on their children they are simply repeating abuse that was committed on them when they were little girls. That terrorist cultures treat females horribly is well known. When a girl baby is being born, Islamist cultures traditionally dig a hole next to the birthing bed in case it is female and might be infanticided. A large majority of all girls in Islamist cultures are raped, and are even often blamed for their rape, since it is assumed that “those who don’t ask to be raped will never be raped.”25 Most girls have their genitals painfully mutilated around 6 years of age by their mothers, who as they chop off their clitoris and labia joyfully chant: “Today I am the master, for I am a man. Look—I have the knife in my hand…Your clitoris, I will cut it off and throw it away for today I am a man.”26 Genital mutilation is practiced by Islamist families from 40 countries; a recent survey of Egyptian girls and women, for instance, showed 97 percent of uneducated families and 66 percent of educated families still practiced female genital mutilation.27 As girls grow up they are treated as polluted beings, veiled, and routinely beaten by their mothers and husbands.28 It is no wonder that Physicians for Human Rights found that 97 percent of women they surveyed in Islamic areas suffered from severe depression.29 Such life-long painful physical and sexual abuse surely does not help a woman give love to her children; she passes on her beating, burning, cutting, kicking, and stabbing to the next generation.

La Patrie 1
Traitre a la Patrie
Fig. 1-6 The Terror in revolutionary France is a Killer Woman even when called “la Patrie.”

Long before there were Islamic terrorists, of course, there were terrorists fighting for and against early states, and they were also shown killing under the orders of a Killing Woman. Even when the monarch was a male, “monarchy” was usually depicted as “a woman richly clad, seated on a throne, crowned with the sun’s rays and holding a scepter in her hand…leaning on a lion, the symbol of domination.”30 Even when The Terror is called “La Patrie,” the one who kills is always depicted as a Killer Woman (plus of course the word “la patrie” is feminine, since its Indo-European root pa means to feed). Traitors to France were killed by having their heads cut off by a guillotine situated before a Killer Woman statue of Liberty, with patriots declaring, “The guillotine is hungry; it is ages since She had something to eat.” The Revolutionary War was fantasized as being started by a bloodthirsty Marie Antoinette, and soldiers fighting for France (enfants de la patrie) were shown as being led by the war goddess Marianne.

That real French mothers at the time of the Revolution were actually killers is a well-hidden secret of most historians. Maternal infanticide was called “the most common crime in Western Europe from the Middle Ages down to the end of the eighteenth century,”31 and my own extensive research on historical infanticide rates as revealed by boy/girl sex ratios from census and other sources showed about a third more boys than girls were allowed to live, meaning most children growing up watched their mothers strangle and throw into the outhouse at least two of her newborn babies, embedding in their psyches a clear picture of their Killer Mother.32 Since the wealthy killed their children at even higher rates than the poor, the high infanticide rates were not mainly due to poverty, but reflected real attitudes toward children. Newborn were killed because daughters were less preferred, because devils or demons had told them to kill the baby, because the baby was needed as a “foundation sacrifice” and sealed into a new building or bridge to ward off angry spirits, or dozens of other rationalizations. Mothers who allowed their newborn to live usually shipped them off to wet nurses. At the time of the French Revolution and throughout the 19th century, mothers in Paris deported to distant parts of the countryside 90% of their newborn, usually in appalling conditions, and seldom inquired about their survival; they were called “angelmakers” because they so often let the child die. Only about a quarter of the children lived to be returned, strangers to their parents. 33Mothers who refused to nurse their babies did not mince words: “It bores me, and I have better things to do,” “It is too messy,” “I don’t want to ruin my figure,” etc.34 During their time at wet nurse, “the child is left to himself, drowning in his own excrement, bound like a criminal (in tight swaddling bands], devoured by mosquitoes [and lice].”35 Since the children were not returned to their parents for four or five years, and since they were sent to other families as servants at six or seven, few parents actually “raised” their children in history until recently. One can understand Talleyrand’s statement that he “had never slept under the same roof with his father and mother.”3

Going To War
Fig. 1-7 Going to war means offering up your children’s lives to your Motherland
Mothers agreed during Christian times that their infants were so evil they were “inclined in their hearts to adultery, fornication, impure desires, anger, gluttony, hatred and more,” so this meant they had to be tightly bound in yards of swaddling bands and brutally beaten daily beginning as babies.37 Thus it is not surprising to find illustrations of going to war as a process of offering up your evil children’s lives to the Killer Motherland. When the children were growing up, they were threatened by images and even actual dummies dressed up as Evil Witches who if they were not totally obedient to the mother would tear them to pieces, suck their blood and eat them up.38 These Evil Witches are the earliest forms of the Killer Motherland who demands your blood and your life in war. The use of masked devouring figures to frighten children goes back to antiquity; it was said by Dio Chrysostom that “terrifying images deter children when they want food or play.”39 One nurse reported making up “a huge figure with frightful staring eyes and an enormous mouth, and placed it at the foot of the bed where the little innocent child was fast asleep.” When she returned, “the little girl was sitting up in her bed, staring in an agony of terror at the fearful monster before her…She was stone dead!” That children who have experienced all these kinds of severe early traumas relive them in group-fantasies of wars as adults is hardly surprising.
Going to war
Motherland kills bad children
Fig. 1-8 Going to war means you become a Hero and pick up the sword of your powerful Motherland. In war, the Motherland kills Bad children.
The religious wars of the Middle Ages were fought by warriors who put the Virgin Mary on their shields and prayed to “Mary, Mother of our Saviour, obtain for us, your children, the grace of a happy death so that, in union with you, we may enjoy the bliss of Heaven forever. Amen.”40 Icons of Mary in Byzantium depicted Her as a general who fights the enemy by sending Her trusted warriors into battle and Herself killing them outright.41 All of Europe begged the Pope to allow them to take part in the Crusades because they were promised that if they died in battle they would earn remission of their sins and be fused in unio mystica with Killer Mother Mary or with “Jesus-our-Mother,” a popular medieval fantasy.42 Constantine even made Jesus a soldier who fought for the Roman empire,43 and many Popes thereafter spoke of “soldiers of Christ” or “knights of Christ in His army” who earned salvation by killing infidels for Christ.44 Knights were full-time warriors, killing whoever happened to be nearby in ravaging bands of killers, and the knights in their bloody tournaments were always watched by an audience of adoring females who urge their men to kill for imagined slights to their honor.45 Mothers in particular were expected to urge the knights on to kill.
Armed Knights
Fig. 1-9 Armed Knights in a tournament watched by an audience of females.
These medieval duels often restaged the maternal traumas of childhood. For instance, mothers in medieval times often squeezed the penis of their boys to toilet train them, so knights traditionally considered a squeeze of their noses to indicate a challenge to a duel. The knight’s costume repeated the brilliant colors, feathers and swishing cloth of their mothers, and, as one scholar put it, “For centuries European war was an odd spectacle of men dressed in fancy clothes trying to kill
Armed knight with Lady Venus Helmet
Fig. 1-10 A 13th-century knight wearing a “Lady Venus” helmet.
one another.”46 Some knights actually wore a helmet in tournaments that had his Lady sculptured on them, like the “Lady Venus” helmet of the famous 13th-century knight Ulrich von Liechtenstein portrayed above. The question “Why fight?” which haunts the senseless battles of knights is again answered by “For the Killer Mother,” who in Icelandic sagas and Germanic epics viciously berates the men for not plunging into battles or feuds more quickly and avidly.

Wars in early civilizations are fought on behalf of and against Killer Goddesses, bloodthirsty mothers like Tiamat, Ishtar, Inanna, Isis or Kali. Typical is the Aztec mother-goddess Hiutzilopochtli, who had “mouths all over her body” that cried out to be fed the blood of soldiers.47 Scholars of antiquity conclude: “The oldest deities of warfare and destruction were feminine, not masculine.”48 Jungian analysts called her the Terrible Mother archetype, a Dragon-Mother with “a mouth bristling with teeth…so that it may devour us.”49 Ovid captures the mother of antiquity by picturing Pentheus crying out “Oh Mother, gaze at me! She screamed at him, and shook her flying hair. Then Agave ripped his head from fallen shoulders, raised it up [and] cried, ‘Here is my work, my victory.’”50

Jung—like most psychoanalysts since Melanie Klein—blames Terrible Mother fears on the child, who must “throw the burden upon her” since everyone knows most mothers are not in fact abusive (a recent poll of British doctors concluded that child abuse in England was less than one percent, while actual statistics for the U.K. and U.S. find over half the children are still being battered and used sexually.51) Childhood in early civilizations was far worse than today. Census figures from antiquity show boy/girl ratios as high as 400/100, meaning most girls and perhaps half of the boys were infanticided (Poseidippos admitted that “even a rich man always exposes a daughter.”52) No early society ever punished infanticide; everyone knew places where exposed children were dumped by their mothers to be eaten by beasts.53 “Killing wet-nurses” were given newborn and expected to do away with them promptly. Children were widely sacrificed in antiquity: decapitated infant sacrifices to the Goddess were found at Jericho, in Carthage, in the stone circles of Britain, in India, in Aztec cities.54 The constant imagery of sacrifices and wars being conducted under the leadership of Killer Goddesses were repetitions of familiar everyday sights to children growing up in early societies, not to mention routine pederasty of young boys, widespread rape of girls, and universal beatings, burnings and mutilations. It is not a coincidence that there were female witches but no sorcerers in Greek folklore, that statues of Fear were always of a Mother, and that in the heart of battle it is a War Goddess, Ishtar, who boasts “I stand in the midst of the battle, I am the heart of the battle, the arm of the warriors.”55 Fused with the powerful Mother Goddess, the

Inanna and Cihuacoatl
Killer Mother war goddess
Fig. 1-11 Inanna and Cihuacoatl, sacrificial Killer Mother war goddesses.
warrior becomes a Hero who saves his own brutal mother from his projected rage against her so she can finally be imagined to love him as her Savior. Greeks in battle emblazoned a terrifying disembodied Medusa head on their shields; Egyptian soldiers marched off to battle holding the actual maternal placenta of the King, which was saved from his birth and put on a standard like a flag. Wars were the personal province of Mother Goddesses, as personal violence was the province of female witches, both representations of the Devouring Mother of infancy who “existed not to be loved but to be placated.”56 These goddesses were termed “mistresses of battle,” and her own soldiers killed in battle were also sacrifices to her bloodthirsty appetite: “She drinks the blood of the victims who were formerly her children.”57 Actual war leaders are usually male, of course (Queen Boadicea, Joan of Arc, Queen Elizabeth and Margaret Thatcher being macho exceptions), but the war leaders worshipped the Killer Mother: “As a goddess of war, Venus appeared in Caesar’s dreams inspiring him to conquer Gaul…on the eve of battle, Caesar offered sacrifices to Mars and to his grandmother….The next morning he led his troops into the fray with shouts of ‘Venus Victrix!’”58
Pharaoh's placenta
Fig. 1-12 The Pharaoh’s is carried to battles.
To understand why it is the mother and not the father who is associated with childhood, one must realize that the caretaker for the earliest years was always feminine: the mother or her replacement. Fathers in Greece, for instance, usually slept with their pederastic victims in a separate house or area from their gynarchic family. Even in early modern times homes had a separate women’s area that held the mother, grandmother, slave nurses, aunts and children; Solon suggested that a man should visit his family “not less than three times a month;” Plutarch wrote: “Genuine love has no connections whatsoever with the women’s quarters.”59 Herodotus bluntly confirms this fact: “a boy is not seen by his father before he is five years old.”60

Mothers and grandmothers are not, of course, inhuman, and if given half a chance can be loving toward their children. Yet, as I summarized my three decades of research on the evolution of childrearing: “The history of childhood is a nightmare from which we have only recently begun to awaken. The further back in history one goes, the lower the level of child care, and the more likely children are to be killed, abandoned, beaten, terrorized, and sexually abused.”61 The simple fact is that girls were brought up with worse childhoods than boys, more likely to be raped and prostituted by their family, more likely to be mutilated, rarely respected or educated or given a chance to develop an individual self. That as mothers they were post-partum depressed, required to plow and sew and work as well as care for children, and were constantly accused of sinfulness just by being female is widely documented. That she took out her pains on the only beings in her charge, her children, is unsurprising. There are good reasons why Medea, Procne and other mothers in Greek mythology killed their own children to spite their husbands for their infidelity. It should tell us something when one reads an historian calmly report: “Of 600 families from the second century B.C., only 1 percent reared two daughters.”62 It is only when one recognizes the mother’s own severe abuse and neglect from birth that one can begin to understand why they routinely killed, abused, tied up and neglected their own children. What is miraculous is that each new generation of mothers has tried to give more love and care to their children than they themselves had, so childrearing has progressively evolved over the centuries—albeit unevenly around the world.


Aztec religious myths portrayed many bloodthirsty War Goddesses who needed to be fed human blood each day for the sun to come up. Central were Earth-Mother goddesses, like Teteoinnan. Each year, a female Aztec victim was killed and her skin was flayed, removed, and donned by the head warrior so he could become the War Goddess and acquire Her dangerous powers. Her mana.63 Warriors went into battle totally fused with their powerful War Goddess, and Aztec leaders made certain there were plenty of wars for them to experience this fusion and satisfy the bloodthirst of the Goddess, even if it meant dividing their own army into two sides and fighting a “Flower War” among themselves to revitalize them as they kill each other in berserk trance states.64 So bloodthirsty were Aztec Goddesses that they had to be daily fed their favorite nectar, human blood, in the form of fresh human hearts, in order to get the sun to come up each morning and in order for the Aztecs to prevent the Goddess from devouring Her children, themselves. So powerful is the trance state and desire to be fused with the War Goddess that warriors are said to “long for death” in order to sacrifice themselves to attempt to renew their disintegrated selves.

Real Aztec mothers were unbelievably cruel toward their children. At birth, most were infanticided, killed for the Goddess, or burned in the hearth as baptism, tightly tied up in endless swaddling bands on a board and left most of the day to starve for both food and attention.65 The mothers routinely pierced their children’s stomachs, arms, lips and genitals, pulling knotted cords through their wounds to get more blood to feed the Goddess.66 Aztec females were treated even worse than Islamic females, so they were so needy as mothers that they felt they would die if their children did not devote themselves to their needs—thus forming the childhood basis for all the myths that the sun could not come up in the morning unless She was fed humans. Goddesses were deemed killers because real children not only watched their mothers strangle later-born siblings, they also watched nobles actually eat their children or drown them as sacrificial victims.67 When the boys become adolescents, their mothers force them to become warriors and publicly insult and deride them if they did not kill and be killed in battle. In fact, the sons were sometimes killed by their own parents if they were suspected of being not sufficiently warlike, saying “You have been sent into warfare. War is your desert, your task. You shall give drink, nourishment, food to the Sun.” But most warriors openly desired death, held it to be sweet, thought of dying as becoming fused with their War Goddess and so in battle longed for itzmiquiztli, death by the warknife, a repetition of the traumatic memory of their actual mothers cutting their genitals as little children.68 Aztecs so desperately feared their real Killer Mommies that they early on imprinted Her into their unconscious and then as adults regularly reported experiencing nightmares and night terrors of Our Mother (Tonantzin) crying out to be fed blood.69 That war and other sacrificial rituals act out the killing of the son by the mother is made clear by myths such as how Inanna brought about the death of Tammuz, even when the dying son is made into his mother’s Hero by “reviving” Her (from the real mother’s endless depression.)70 That wars and sacrifices also act out the child’s revenge against the mother can be seen in the details of the sacrifice of women (about a third of all the sacrifices), where female victims first make a prodigious show of their female power, then are laid down on their backs and their breasts cut open and their bodies torn apart.71 The two aspects of the Killer Goddess are demonstrated when the Aztec warrior takes the sword that he had used to behead the Goddess victim and “terrifies and annihilates our enemies with it.”72


Anthropologists often idealize their tribal personalities, claiming they have no war now and that war in Paoleolithic times was unknown. These claims have been thoroughly disproven recently.73 Just because fortifications were not found prior to 7,500 B.C. only proves large-scale defensive wars were not common earlier on. The kind of war that tribal groups engaged in was more like gang warfare, conducted by entranced kinship groups thinking they hear maternal spirits say “kill the sorcerer…The audience becomes caught up in escalating rounds of whooping, hollering, and joking, amid which the medium’s spirits may present plans for the attack…the men go out to stage the ambush….The suspect is shot with arrows or clubbed to death then butchered [and] cooked and eaten.”74

The anthropologists generally conclude when they see these gang killings that homicide has occurred, not wars. Surveys of adult men find about two-thirds of adult men in tribal groups have committed one or more murders for tribal spirits; as one anthropologist put it, “There was not a single grown man who had not been involved in a killing…”75 Multiple burials which are potentially indicative of organized raids are common in the Paleolithic.76 So-called “Peaceful Societies” have enormously high gang-induced “homicide” rates, or they are previously warlike tribes like the !Kung or Mbuti who are now policed by nearby Western military units. Their inability to organize wars against large tribes nearby is due to their unconscious distrust of their own leadership: they are called “unsegmented societies” because they lack a sense of group responsibility, not because they are “egalitarian,” as is often claimed.77 As their childrearing improves, they move more into segmented bands and conduct preplanned raids on other groups, not so much as over resources since most of them admit “there is plenty of food,” but for demonstration of power over “evil” enemies.78 As one tribe put it: “Every stranger was regarded as a ‘bad Indian’ endeavoring to work evil [witchcraft], and as such [was] to be slain from ambush before he could do any harm. When two unacquainted hunters approached, unless they greeted each other from beyond arrow range, they endeavored to kill each other.”79

Tribal groups, like nations, get into their killing moods by fusing with a maternal spirit. Most, like the !Kung bushmen, describe this fusion openly as obtaining Maternal Power: One warrior tells how he got his fighting power, his “hot !num”: “when I was a tiny thing, sucking at my mother’s breasts, I took n/um, I drank n/um…I was about three or four years old. I would cry, and cry, and cry…I was afraid of the n/um. N/um was hot and hurt.”80 The fusion experience is similar to a temporal lobe epileptic seizure, and like these seizures, it provides the person experiencing it with convulsive tremors and feelings of powerful violence: “As the master of n/um continues his energetic dance, the n/um heats up and rises up the spine, to a point approximately at the base of the skull, at which time !kia results…’I pick up n/um, it explodes and throws me up in the air…bursting open, like a ripe pod,’ “ and then they go out to kill anyone they encounter.81 Whether this “surge of power” fusion is with a spirit or witch or ghost, they all betray possession by early maternal beings.82 That the maternal being is a Killer Mother is clear from the violence unleashed: “The Jivaro man… feels a surge of power in his body [and] believes that he is a superhuman. He is seized with an overwhelming desire to kill and joins a killing expedition. When his war party has surrounded a victim’s house, each member of the group ceremonially releases his arutam soul into the forest before proceeding with the killing. If they fail they must immediately find another victim, or they will die. Each time they kill they must capture a new arutam…Arutams give protection from violence, poison, witchcraft, or war, so that a man who has killed repeatedly is considered invulnerable.”83 So entranced are tribal warriors that they often conduct surprise attacks on enemy groups for no particular reason whose purpose it is to annihilate them. Surprise attacks on civilians by tribal warriors often killed 10 or 15 percent of the villagers, leading Keeley to conclude: “the proportion of war casualties in primitive societies almost always exceeds that suffered by even the most bellicose or war-torn modern states.”84

The infanticidal childrearing of tribal societies is generally downplayed by anthropologists, who have idealized tribal mothering as badly as historians have idealized mothers before the 20th century.85 Most academics by now are familiar with how Margaret Mead left out how Samoan girls were routinely raped—which she represented as being “sexually free.”86 But until my Journal of Psychoanalytic Anthropology began to be published and until my book The Emotional Life of Nations came out, few realized how much anthropologists distorted mothering in their tribes. Infanticide was so widespread that few children grew up without seeing several of their siblings killed by their mother at birth. Mead kept infanticide out of her published reports, but wrote in her letters home “we’ve had one corpse float by, a newborn infant; they are always throwing away infants here.”87 What is more, in many tribes the mothers ate every other newborn out of “baby hunger,” and forced their other children to eat parts of their siblings too. When I wondered how the anthropologist, Roheim, could report this and still insist on calling them good mothers, he insisted that they were really “good mothers [who] eat their own children.”88 Mothers say they kill their newborn because “children are too much trouble,” because they are “demon children,” because they were “angry at their husbands,” or “because the baby might turn out to be a sorcerer.”89 Sometimes the mothers even implicate older children in their infanticide, as in one !Kung woman’s memory of her mother telling her when she was four that she had to help bury her newborn brother so she can continue to nurse.90 Although nursing for four or five years is routine for tribal mothers, and this is usually put forth by anthropologists as evidence of affection, in fact endless nursing and sleeping naked against the child are, like overt maternal incest, only evidence of how the mothers need to cling to and sensuously use their children for the mother’s needs. The Editor of my Journal of Psychoanalytic Anthropology, Arthur Hippler, points out the idealization of the Alaskan Eskimos he worked with as pure “ethnographic bias. Infanticide was till recently routine, as was giving away children, killing them, neglecting their physical needs and refusing substantial emotional interaction. All this is done so smilingly and with such denial of reality that apparently only the most psychiatrically sophisticated observers noted it. Instead of the smiling, friendly, non-aggressive mask presented, Eskimo life in reality is a seething cauldron of angers and violences, emotional abandonments and impulsive acting out” within their families.91 Tribal mothers routinely kill, abandon, starve, batter, kick, burn, frighten with ghosts, use sexually and give away their children to strangers and anthropologists like Mead and Shostak still call them “devoted mothers.”92

One can clearly see an example of the bias anthropologists evidence against admitting maternal child abuse in the authoritative Growing Up: A Cross-Cultural Encyclopedia, which after dozens of anthropologists say they found “many examples of normative adult/child sexual contact” in each tribe including mothers masturbating children, but “This would not constitute ‘abuse’ if in that society the behavior was not proscribed” so they report “no sexual abuse” in the 87 cultures they examined where mothers stroke, masturbate and suck their child’s genitals because “This would not constitute ‘abuse’ if in that society the behavior was not proscribed.”93

When they become adults, they have of course internalized their infanticidal, abandoning, brutal mothers as flesh-devouring female witches or shamans, who direct their homicides and war raids to protect themselves from the spirits.94 The tribal leader is of course usually a male, since females are so little trusted, but his role is clear in the saying about a physically powerful leader: “When the chief’s breasts are full of milk, it is his people who drink.”95 They usually are a variety of schizoid personalities,96 moving easily back and forth from affection to attack, saying to their child, “Do you love your new baby brother? Why don’t you kill him?”97 As adults, they can be overly hospitable to you at one moment and then try to kill you the next with little cause, since to them you have suddenly turned into a witch. They are constantly in fear of fusing with their mothers’ menstruating vagina—which as children they were made part of during naked sleeping in the menstrual hut—so during tribal raids “warriors become the symbolic equivalent of menstruating women [since] both bloody warriors and menstruating women were charged with powerful destructive energy. Warriors’ bodies and weapons were decorated with designs marked in red hematite [and] they expropriated the destructive power of menstruating women [by] ritual nosebleeding or subincision [of their penises.]”98

Tribal myths often openly make the link between Killer Mothers and tribal wars. The Sambia say, “Numboolyu’s wife, Chenchi, killed her first male child….Because she killed the first male child, we now fight—war.”99 But even in tribes, it is mainly males who fight the wars and mainly males who lead their attacks. Why is this so across all cultures and across all of history? Are males really born more violent, as many claim? Or are males treated worse as they grow up, leading to more violent defenses later on? In the next chapter, we will examine the evidence for differential inheritance and differential early treatment of boys and girls, and then go on in further chapters to describe how common these early terrors of abuse and abandonment are, how they become imprinted into the emotional parts of the brain and under what conditions they emerge in adulthood to cause the fusion with the violence of the Killer Mother to be acted out in wars and terrorism.


1 John Bierhorst, Ed., The Hungry Woman: Myths and Legends of the Aztecs. New York: William Morrow, 1984, p. 10.

2 Daniel Rancour-Laferriere, The Slave Soul of Russia: Moral Masochism and the Cult of Suffering. New York: New York University Press, 1995, p. 226.

3 For war as a fetal drama, see Lloyd deMause, The Emotional Life of Nations. New York: Karnac, 2002, pp. 49-85.

4 Nancy Huston, “The Matrix of War: Mothers and Heroes.” In Susan Rubin Suleiman, The Female Body in Western Culture: Contemporary Perspectives. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1986, p. 133.

5 Thomas Merton, Original Child Bomb. New York: New Directions, 1962.

6 Mary-Wynne Ashford and Guy Dauncey, Enough Blood Shed: 101 Solutions to Violence, Terror and War. Gabriola Island, Canada: New Society Publishers, 2006, p. 3.

7 Pamela Johnston Conover, “Gender, Feminist Consciousness, and War.” American Journal of Political Science 37(1993): 1079; Mary E. Bendyna et al, “Gender Differences in Public Attitudes toward the Gulf War.” The Social Science Journals 33(1996): 1.

8 V. Spike Peterson, “Security and Sovereign States.” In V. Spike Peterson, Ed. Gendered States: Feminist (Re)Visions of International Relations Theory. Boulder: Lynne Rienner Publishers, 1992, p. 46.

9 Adam Zamoyski, Holy Madness: Romantics, Patriots and Revolutionaries 1770-1871. New York: Viking, 2000, p. 23.

10 Ibid., p. 25.

11 Michael C. C. Adams, The Great Adventure: Male Desire and the Coming of World War I. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1990, p. 33.

12 Henry Dicks, Licensed Mass Murder. New York: Basic Books, 1973, p. 220; Joanna Bourke, An Intimate History of Killing: Face-to-Face Killing in Twentieth-Century Warfare. New York: Basic Books, 1999, p. 133.

13 Daniel Pick, War Machine: The Rationalisation of Slaughter in the Modern Age. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1993, p. 70.

14 Linda Rennie Forcey, Mothers of Sons: Toward an Understanding of Responsibility. New York: Praeger, 1987, pp. 119-123.

15 Jerrold M. Post, “Leader Personality Assessments in Support of Government Policy.” In Jerrold M. Post, Ed., The Psychological Assessment of Political Leaders. Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press, 2003, p. 43.

16 Leo Braudy, From Chivalry to Terrorism: War and the Changing Nature of Masculinity. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2003, p. 298.

17 George Victor, Hitler: The Pathology of Evil. New York: Potomac Books, 1999, p. 131.

18 Nicholas D. Kristof, “Kids With Bombs,” The New York Times Magazine, October 28, 2001, p. 50.

19 Joseph Lellyveld, “All Suicide Bombers Are Not Alike.” The New York Times Magazine, October 28, 2001, p. 50.

20 Lloyd deMause, “‘If I Blow Myself Up and Become a Martyr, I’ll Finally Be Loved.’” The Journal of Psychohistory 33(2006): 300-310.

21 The New York Times, February 2, 2005, p. A1.

22 Anne Marie Oliver and Paul F. Steinberg, The Road to Martyrs’ Square: A Journey Into the World of the Suicide Bomber.. New York: Oxford University Press, 2005, p. 100.

23 Ibid.

24 Ann Marie Oliver, The Road to Martyrs’ Square, p. xxiii.

25 S. Tamish, Misconceptions About Sexuality and Sexual Behavior in Palestinian Society. Ramallah: The Tamer Institute for Community Education, 1996.

26 Mona Al Munajjed, Women in Saudi Arabia Today. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1997, p. 14.

27 Fran P. Hosken, The Hosken Report: Genital and Sexual Mutilation of Females. Lexington: Women’s International network News, 1993, pp. 27, 279-286; Nawal El Saadawi, The Hidden Face of Eve: Women in the Arab World. Boston: Beacon Press, 1980, p. 34.

28 For more complete Islamist child abuse evidence, see Lloyd deMause, “The Childhood Origins of Terrorism.” The Journal of Psychohistory 29(2002): 340-348.

29 MSNBC, October 4, 2001.

30 Maurice Agulhon, Marianne Into Battle: Republican Imagery and Symbolism in France, 1789-1880. London: Cambridge University Press, 1981, p. 12.

31 Oscar H., Werner, The Unmarried Mother in German Literature. New York: Columbia University Press, 1917, p. 21.

32 Lloyd deMause, The Emotional Life of Nations, pp. 301-307.

33 Elizabeth Badinter, Mother Love: Myth and Reality. New York: Macmillan Publishing Co., 1981, p. 193.

34 Lloyd deMause, The Emotional Life of Nations, p. 189; Elizabeth Badinter, Mother Love, p. 67.

35 Elizabeth Badinter, Mother Love, p. 95.

36 Hippolyte Taine, The Ancient Regime. New York: Peter Smith, 1931, p. 136.

37 Hugh Cunningham, Children and Childhood in Western Society Since 1500. London: Longman, 1995, p. 49.

38 Lloyd deMause, Foundations of Psychohistory. New York: Creative Roots, 1982, p. 11.
39 Ibid., p. 13.

40 <>

41 Bissera V. Pentcheva, Icons and Power: The Mother of God in Byzantium. University Park: The Pennsylvania State University Press, 2006, p. 64.

42 Norman Cohn, The Pursuit of the Millennium. New York: Harper & Row, 1961, p. 41; Andrew Sprung, “The Inverted Metaphor: Earthly Mothering as Figura of Divine Love in Julian of Norwich’s Book of Showings.” In John Carmi Parsons and Bonnie Wheeler, Eds., Medieval Mothering. New York: Garland Publishing, 1996, p. 185.

43 Charles Freeman, The Closing of the Western Mind: The Rise of Faith and the Fall of Reason. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2003, p. 177.

44 John R. E. Bliese, “The Motives of the First Crusaders: A Social Psychological Analysis.” The Journal of Psychohistory 17(1990): 401.

45 Leo Braudy, From Chivalry to Terrorism. War and the Changing Nature of Masculinity. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2003, p. 103.

46 Ibid., p. 122.

47 Lloyd deMause, The Emotional Life of Nations, p. 56.

48 Edward C. Whitmont, Return of the Goddess. New York: Crossroad, 1982, p. viii.

49 Jane Caputi, Goddesses and Monsters: Women, Myth, Power, and Popular Culture. Madison: The Universit of Wisconsin Press, pp. 27, 28.

50 Ovid, Metamorphoses, III, 725.

51 Lloyd deMause, “What the British Can Do To End Child Abuse.” The Journal of Psychohistory 34(2006): 5.

52 Lloyd deMause, “The History of Child Assault.” The Journal of Psychohistory 18(1990): 2; Lloyd deMause, The Emotional Life of Nations. pp. 301-305. Lloyd deMause, Foundations of Psychohistory, pp. 119.

53 Ibid., p. 306,

54 Ibid., p. 299.

55 Norman Cohn, Cosmos, Chaos, and the World to Come. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1993, p. 41.

56 Robert S. McCully, “Dualities Associated with the Ruling of the Ancient World.” The Journal of Psychohistory 9(1986): 11.

57 Anne Baring and Jules Cashford, The Myth of the Goddess: Evolution of An Image. London: Penguin Books, 1991, p. 169.

58 Elisabeth Benard and Beverly Moon, Eds. Goddesses Who Rule. London: Oxford University Press, 2000, “Aphrodite, Ancestor of Kings.” p. 21.

59 Lloyd deMause, The Emotional Life of Nations. p. 290.

60 Herodotus, The Persian Wars. Books I-II. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1926, p. 177.

61 Lloyd deMause, Foundations of Psychohistory. New York: Creative Roots, 1982.

62 Marcia Guttentag and Paul F. Secord, Too Many Women? The Sex Ratio Question. Beverly Hills: Sage Publications, 1983, p. 39.

63 Burr Cartwright Brundage, The Fifth Sun: Aztec Gods, Aztec World. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1979, p. 166.

64 James A. Aho, Religious Mythology and the Art of War: Comparative Religious Symbolisms of Military Violence. Westport: Greenwood Press, 1981, pp. 28, 42; Ptolemy Tompkins, This Tree Grows Out of Hell: Mesoamerica and he Search for the Magical Body. San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1990, p. 21.

65 Inga Clendinen, Aztecs: A Interpretation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991.

66 Bruce Puleo, “Fear of Maternal Engulfment in Christianity and Other Religions.” The Journal of Psychohistory 22(1995): 454.

67 Burr Cartwright Brundage, The Fifth Sun, p. 213.

68 Ibid., pp. 201-202.

69 John Bierhorst, The Hungry Woman, p. 10.

70 Joseph L. Henderson and Maud Oakes. The Wisdom of the Serpent: The Myths of Death, Rebirth, and Resurrection. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1990, p. 19.

71 David Carrasco, City of Sacrifice: The Aztec Empire and the Role of Violence in Civilization. Boston: Beacon Press, 1999, p. 202.

72 Ibid., p. 213.

73 Robert B. Edgerton, Sick Societies: Challenging he Myth of Primitive Harmony. New York: The Free Press, 1992; Lawrence H. Keeley, War Before Civilization. New York: Oxford University Press, 1996; Steven A. LeBlanc, Constant Battles: The Myth of the Peaceful, Noble Savage; plus see the overwhelming evidence in the decade of publication of my scholarly journal, The Journal of Psychoanalytic Anthropology.

74 Rymond C. Kelly, Warless Societies and the Origin of War. Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press, 2000, p. 8.

75 Ibid., p. 21.

76 Raymond C. Kelly, Warless Societies and the Origin of War, p. 156.

77 Ibid., p. 54.

78 Ibid., p. 136-137.

79 Ibid., p. 141.

80 Richard Katz, “Education for Transcendence.” In Richard B. Lee and Irven DeVore, Kalahari Hunter-Gatherers: Studies of the !Kung San and Their Neighbors. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1976, p. 295.

81 Ibid., pp. 286, 288.

82 Roger N. Walsh, The Spirit of Shamanism. Los Angeles: J. P. Tarcher, 1990.

83 Michael J. Harner, The Way of the Shaman: A guide to Power and Healing. San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1980, p. 49.

84 Lawrence H. Keeley, War Before Civilization. p. 88.

85 Lloyd deMause, Ed., The History of Childhood. New York: Psychohistory Press, 1974; Lloyd deMause, “On Writing Childhood History.” The Journal of Psychohistory 16(1988): 135-170; Lloyd deMause, The Emotional Life of Nations. pp. 229-380.

86 Derek Freeman, The Fateful Hoaxing of Margaret Mead: A Historical Analysis of Her Samoan Research. Jackson, Tenn.: Westview Press, 1999.

87 Margaret Mead, Letters From the Field, 1925-1975. New York: Harper and Row, p. 132.

88 Geza Roheim, Psychoanalysis and Anthropology: Culture, Personality and the Unconscious. New York: International Universities Press, 1950, p. 62.

89 Lloyd deMause, The Emotional Life of Nations, p. 259.

90 Marjorie Shostak, Nisa: The Life and Words of a !Kung Woman. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1981,

91 Arthur Hippler, Journal of Psychoanalytic Anthropology, 1(1978): 137.

92 Robert B. Edgerton, Sick Societies; L. Bryce Boyer, “On Man’s Need to Have Enemies: A Psychoanalytic Perspective.” The Journal of Psychoanalytic Anthropology 9(1986); L. Bryce Boyer, et al, “The ‘Burnt Child Reaction’ Among the Yukon Eskimos.” Journal of Psychoanalytic Anthropology 1(1978):9-15; Paul Parin, et al, Fear Thy Neighbor as Thyself: Psychoanalysis and Society among the Anyi of West Africa. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1980.

93 Lloyd deMause, The Emotional Life of Nations, p. 263.

94 Paul Parin, et al, Fear Thy Neighbor as Thyself, p. 220.

95 Ibid., p. 29.

96 Lloyd deMause, The Emotional Life of Nations, p. 394.

97 Jean L. Briggs, “‘Why Don’t You Kill Your Baby Brother?’ The Dynamics of Peace in Canadian Inuit Camps.” In Leslie E. Sponsel, Ed., The Anthropology of Peace and Nonviolence. Boulder: L. Rienner, 1994, p. 172.

98 Raymond D. Fogelson, “On the ‘Petticoat Government’ of the Eighteenth-Century Cherokee.” In David K. Jordan, Ed., Personality and the Cultural Construction of Society. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 1990, p. 175.

99 Gilbert H. Herdt, Guardians of the Flutes: Idioms of Masculinity. New ork: McGraw-Hill Book Co., 1981, p. 351.