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Just finished reading:
Love at Goon Park: Harry Harlow and the Science of Affection
by Deborah Blum
Perseus Publishing, 2002
ISBN 0-7382-0278-9

I borrowed it from NCCAC, card number BF109.H37 B58 2002

It was a interesting / worthwhile read for me. From a "pure scientific" point of view, the book points out the importance of mother love and socialization in the development of humans and other primates. (There are more details, probably some that are worthy of mention here.)

The other thing the book does is chronicle (?) the scientific research that occurred (primarily) at the University of Wisconsin to determine this, against a backdrop (?) of:

  • the change in test subject from rats to monkeys
  • the cruel results of some of those experiments
  • the backlash against Harry Harlow (as the (a?) prime instigator of the change from rats to monkeys and the recognition of the importance of (mother) love / socialization because of the cruelty (not quite the word I really want to use, the experiments were necessary (because, before they were done, the psychological community did not believe that socialization had any effect on development), and most of them were not conceived to be cruel — even (IIRC) one of the cruelest (I forget what it was called, and Harry had one name and his researchers another) in which a monkey was placed in a (IIUC) funnel like chamber which he could not climb out of because of the slope of the walls) was more psychological cruelty rather than real physical cruelty — and the results were cruel, monkeys that (in my words) retreated into themselves and gave up on life. (A result that occurred in other experiments, monkeys that died of starvation because they were deprived of love, not food.) (rewrite the previous)

Also, it should be noted that:

  1. some of the extreme backlash against Harry was because of his somewhat abrasive personality
  2. but, some, or a large amount of his "mojo" that allowed him to conceive and stay the course to study monkeys instead of rats and to challenge the existing community with his results was either also a result of his personality or some of the things that shaped his personality (the heckling he endured in his first lectures as a new professor).

Not the kind of book I (used to) typically read, but, like I said, interesting / worthwhile for me.




  • () RandyKramer - 10 Nov 2003
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Topic revision: r1 - 2003-11-10 - RandyKramer
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