Harry Israel changed his name to Harry Harlow and then transformed himself. In the USA a great deal of prejudice still bubbled and frothed towards the Jews, right up to the present. Harlow took on Watson, the main who gave us scientific sterile unemotional mothering as an ideal. Watson and Skinner, two of the founding fathers of CBT wanted to show us that love was irrelevant and that technique was all, creating the basis for the mass enactment of social autism as a norm. Harlow wanted to demonstrate the opposite that love created health, and set about to measure its affects by an absence.
Harry set out to torture Rhesus monkeys at the University of Wisconsin to highlight the power of maternal love and so changed psychology, sociology, social work, psychotherapy and all the other social care and health sciences irrevocably by proving something very, very basic. Children need to be mothered, even a surrogate will do, but if she is not there, the psychological impact of not being mothered leads to an early demise, a soul withering.
In the 19th Century, as Deborah Blum investigates, the numbers of children dying within foundling/orphanages/children's homes ranged from 99.99% to 100%, as infections raged through the wards killing the infants en masse.No matter which country they were based all the children were effectively killed. As the sterile conditions of science were enacted a quarter of all children died within the 1900's in the USA. Meanwhile familial bereavement was rife, leading to all types of emotional entanglements within families as disease took away children from mothers and mothers died in childbirth. Families, by modern standards, were riven with trauma, unreflected- taken as a social norm- thereby creating hardened adults.
Emotional bereavement, yet to be conceptualised was therefore an everyday phenomena, taken for granted as people were forced into the insanitary streets of major cities. To be turfed out of a rural idyll was near enough a death sentence for many people as cholera, typhoid, pneumonia, measles, scarlet fever and a host of diseases wiped away whole urban populations.
Familial love was as rare as gold dust, because most people were locked into survival. The rise of science provided a new sanitary clean world where the emotions could be placed to one side as inoculation, new drugs, street lights, sanitation, discovery of diseases in microscopes all banished disease from its hierarchy of power. As science marched onward the emotions were drowned in the bath tub, as parents were stopped from seeing their children lest they pass on microbes that killed them. Meanwhile children still died en masse despite being sanitised.
Enter Harry Harlow, building on Spitz, Bowlby and the findings arising from war, especially the impact of the mass evacuation of children and its psychological effect. Neurotic symptoms abounded as children became separated from their carers. Harry built on these findings, when they had been shunned and laughed at, familial love provided happy and physically robust children, an emotional inoculation produced a physical and psychological one.
It was through torturing monkeys to a catatonic state, Harry Harlow proved beyond all doubt that madness is a state of mind. The rest of the world have taken snippets of what he discovered on board as a captain would stare at King Kong . We all can cuddle children without turning them into effeminate poets,shhhhhhh....it actually makes them stronger not weaker as previously viewed by Watson. That was the power of Harry, he made a greater breakthrough than Semmelweiss who discovered handwashing along Copernicus and Galileo.
A stunning book about a tortured genius.