The Second Perinatal Matrix according to Grof

by | Apr 23, 2022 | Article, Holotropic Breathing | 0 comments

According to Grof, the second perinatal Matrix is associated with “cosmic devouring and hopelessness.” In a previous article, I already introduced the birth matrices of Stanislav Grof, and now I would like to show explicitly how the second phase of birth trauma can show itself in a regression. In addition, my series of articles illuminates the entire spectrum around the therapeutic processing of trauma through techniques such as craniosacral therapy and holotropic breathing.

Such techniques can evoke expanded states of consciousness that allow us to act on the unconscious levels of the psyche. In this process, we recognize repressed and hidden traumas that have led to lasting imprints and psychosomatic effects. In holistic or holotropic therapy, these transpersonal dimensions are the playing field of blockages and psychopathological patterns. Therefore, it is practical to know the perinatal matrices in detail to identify and invalidate hidden traumas in therapy.

2nd Birth Matrix | According to Grof

2nd Stage of Birth

The 2nd perinatal Matrix is related to the first clinical stage of birth.

The second basic matrix is the situation in which the birth process begins. Now not only is it uncomfortably tight, and on top of that, now the uterus starts to contract. The blood supply is partially cut off, which possibly creates a suffocation-like feeling in the child.

The cervix—the neck of the uterus is not yet open, and thus a “no exit,” hopeless and claustrophobic situation is created, which has been observed as a source of the so-called “bad trips” in the various regression therapies.

Phenomena of the 2nd Matrix

Possible visions are devouring dangerous spiders, snakes, or octopuses. Being devoured represents the transition from freedom to life-threatening constriction and can be compared quite well with the situation of a fetus being pressed into the mother’s pelvic opening.

A violent physical and psychological suffering begins—the sensation of an unbearable and hopeless situation that supposedly will never end. Various visions of hell set in, characterized by the feeling of being trapped or hopelessly imprisoned in a cage. In addition, there may be feelings of agonizing guilt and inferiority—feelings of futility and the absurdity of human existence.

Physical symptoms

Ominous dark colors and unpleasant physical phenomena such as pressure, palpitations, sensations of heat and cold, sweating, and shortness of breath are perceived. The symbolic counterpart to the fully developed first stage of delivery is the experience of hopelessness or hell.

The person in question feels trapped in a nightmarish world as if in a cage and subjected to incredible psychological and physical torment. The situation usually appears unbearable, without end, and hopeless. These emotions somatize quite individually on the physical level.

Example of 2nd matrix

A case study from practice

This is the case example of client Franziska (name changed), possibly connected with the 2nd perinatal Matrix level of experience. She has an EC (Energetic Cyst) at the thoracic inlet and neck. It seems subjectively very dramatic for her. She can’t get air. She only feels high pressure. A lot of its pressure is in the sternum and further down the body. She wants to be pulled by all extremities by the therapists.

This image might remind an outsider more of torture than treatment.

Franziska doesn’t know what to do and can’t find a way out of this situation. She wants to get out, but how? She keeps asking the same questions and feels as if she is subjected to extremely strong pressure and is in a full-body spasm. She is absolutely identified with this situation, and it is very difficult to steer her toward solving healing resources.

Associations with real life

This woman lives in this same situation in her real life. She is constantly telling people she doesn’t know how to go on. She knows she has to change something, but she doesn’t know how to. She suffers intensely and is under constant internal pressure. She has many different kinds of pains in her body, she is rather depressed and listless, and psychologically, she is negative. She sees no meaning in life at the moment – not even in treatment. Feelings of incredible frustration and hopelessness are present.

The client’s ambivalence

In this case, cooperation is also not possible, the client is ambivalent, and in the therapeutic dialogue, the topic always revolves around the same thing. Firstly, this is a client for whom CranioSacral Therapy may not be the right therapeutic approach. Secondly, the issue is so complex that it requires regular psychotherapeutic support. As a group (multi-handed treatment), we focused only on the purely structural treatment of sphenoid and general stabilization and relaxation measures.

Also, it makes sense to locate a place in the body that feels good to the client—resource work would be one way to stabilize. From a purely external point of view, for us outsiders, little has “moved” in the client, which is also the essence of the 2nd Matrix level. But this is a judgment that can prove to be wrong. Even “not moving” has its place in the 2nd Matrix.


However, when we later discussed this case with our lector, she agreed that craniosacral therapy alone was not appropriate in this case. It would be helpful for the client to start intensive body-oriented psychotherapy to open up new perspectives in her mind that things can be different. More intensive self-awareness therapies, such as Holotropic Breathing, would have possibly achieved a breakthrough. Also, a combination of homeopathic remedies is a viable strategy for people like Franziska stuck in the 2nd perinatal Matrix.

Continuation of the matrices

Summary of the 2nd Matrix according to Grof

If you think that the 2nd perinatal Matrix is an unpleasant encounter, you have not yet learned about the 3rd phase of the birth process. With that, I would like to invite you to the 3rd Matrix. Here it will be about death and rebirth.

Overview of the Matrices

Questions about the topic

Continue to the 3rd Matrix >


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