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Love at Goon Park: Harry Harlow and the Science of Affection (Science Matters) Paperback – 1 Feb 2004

4.7 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Berkley Publishing Group; Reprint edition (Feb. 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0425194051
  • ISBN-13: 978-0425194058
  • Product Dimensions: 15.9 x 2.3 x 22.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 195,052 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


" Deborah Blum s enormously interesting biography of Harlow as a piece of science history, Love at Goon park is a marvellous read " (New Scientist, 23 November 2002)

" Who should read this book? Anyone working with small children They should do so because it is beautifully and intelligently written " (Nature, 19 December 2002)

" intriguing a testament to Blum s skill that she manages to elicit so much sympathy for a man so difficult to love " (Discover, 22 January 2003)

" Blum, a Pulitzer prize–winning science writer, describes Harlow s discovery she chronicles his struggles to persuade his fellow psychologists to take him seriously " (Economist (UK), 25 January 2003)

" This is an excellent and readable biography of Harry Harlow " (Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, Vol.44, No.6, 2003)

--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From the Inside Flap

Poets and playwrights have always warned that peole can die of love or the lack of it. Yet, in the early part of the twentieth century psychologists sought to deny the role of love in our development and general well–being.

Harry Harlow, a brilliant, complex, alcoholic psychologist became the unlikely champion of love. He proved that the need for affection in children is stronger than the need even for food and that loving relationships are crucial to our development, our health and even our intelligence. Paradoxically, it was only through a series of horrific experiments in which young primates were subjected to negligent and evil surrogate mothers that he was able to prove the value of humanity. Yet it was these darkest of experiments that had the brightest legacy, for it was through these that he initiated a psychological revolution.

In Love at Goon Park Deborah Blum explores not only the life and work of this complex and controversial man, but also the nature of human relationships.

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By Dr. Delvis Memphistopheles TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 21 May 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
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.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is about a scientist who vindicated the common-sense approach that mothers had always taken to babies, by showing that a monkey prefered a soft mother-doll to a mother-doll with milk. And also unexpectedly discovering that monkeys raised that way could not function as normal monkeys. All of this was a corrective to psychologists of the day who preferred to work wiht rats and who thought that new-born babies were better off isolated from their mothers.
There's a fascinating small tale about an early monkey-baby who was given a mother-doll with no face. When later they later tried to give it a face, the baby was horrified. This matches the earlier observations about how British children evacuated from cities to safe homes in the country were mostly miserable despite homes that were loving and in many ways better than they had come from.
It's also explained how rat-mothers and rat-babies bond strongly, but any mother or baby will do, baby rats can be added or removed without disturbing the family structure.
There's lots of other interestng stuff, but read the book and find out for yourself.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A largely non technical read about a fascinating psychologist who did some frankly horrible primate experiments in order to prove his contention that babies need a nurturing and loving adult (preferably the mother) in order to survive and grow into healthy and happy people.
A fascinating read about an important and largely neglected scientist.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0x9b9d1cfc) out of 5 stars 41 reviews
22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9b70f750) out of 5 stars Looking at love 23 Oct. 2002
By Edith L. McLaurin - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
"Love At Goon Park" is a fascinating look at a man and his work. Deborah Blum provides the reader with an extensive and sobering background before exploring Harry Harlow's research. Did you know that as recently as the 1950s, psychologists were trying to convince parents that too much cuddling and "love" were bad for their children? Harlow, with his revolutionary experiments on baby monkeys, was bucking the conventional wisdom of his time. He was trying to say that mother's love mattered, that touch mattered, that affection mattered. His peers didn't want to hear this, but Harlow's research finally forced the profession to listen.
Blum's writing is never dry, never boring. She writes with amazing flair and humanity. You'll feel that you are getting to know this person, Harry Harlow. Even more, you'll feel you are there in the lab with Harlow and his graduate students, waiting to see how the baby monkeys will react to the latest experiment. What will we learn? Will anyone listen? Blum cares, and you'll care too.
You can't help but feel for the monkeys when you read this book. And Blum doesn't gloss over the issue of abuse, especially mental, that was visited on our primate cousins in the name of science. "Goon Park" takes an unflinching look at Harry Harlow, warts and all. I think her treatment of all the issues was fair and balanced.
I highly recommend "Love At Goon Park." It's well-written, interesting and important.
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9b710ea0) out of 5 stars Science of love and the darker love for science 16 Oct. 2002
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Harry Harlow was an "envelope pusher" who,increasingly driven to find answers to the most fundamental questions about why we both need and give love, transformed himself into a strident and self-righteous researcher -- admired and hated by his colleagues. This book tells the story in a gripping manner, really putting the reader "inside the mind-set" of a researcher who, driven by his own sense of being unloved, developed a seeming manaic compulsion to dissect and analyze the nature of love. He did it in a way that both enthralled and infuriated others.

The primate research lab at the department of psychology of the University of Madison is the setting for this absorbing book. Here, we also learn of academic subterfuge and conspiracy, and the irony of psychologists behaving in a severely dysfunctional manner. The title refers to the address of the lab, which was 600 N. Park, but often looked like "Goon Park" when scrawled by hand on envelopes and memos. This is great science writing that is balanced, insightful, and manages to capture both the beauty and the ugliness of scientific research without taking a pious stance. Quite a neat trick, but Deborah Blum pulls it off and brings this overlooked episode of psychology research into the forefront of our understanding of how science is really practiced. Very readable, with fascinating insights throughout. Even if you're thinking "Harry WHO?" you will, after completing this book, feel that everyone should know about his life and work.
36 of 43 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9b70e15c) out of 5 stars Rewriting History 2 Sept. 2004
By Rick Bogle - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Whether by design or naiveté, Blum's Love at Goon Park tells the story of Harry Harlow in such a way that readers with only a passing familiarity with Harlow will come away from the book with the impression that in spite of the clearly troubling nature of his experimental manipulations of baby monkeys, science and humanity - especially young human children - were well served. And readers will have the impression that such things are not allowed in today's laboratories: we have progressed ethically since the days of Harlow.

Blum accomplishes these goals in various ways. One the one hand she blindly (or carefully) omits some key points about Harlow's earliest work with monkeys. She gets it right when explaining that Harlow was surprised that monkeys are highly intelligent problem solvers who are adept at applying past knowledge to novel situations. Harlow felt and wrote that monkeys and humans have the same sort of minds. Blum does not mention the fact that Harlow, upon leaning of these seemingly profound implications, began damaging monkeys' brains and then testing their previous problem solving abilities. (See for instance, his 1950 publication in Science: "The effect of large cortical lesions on learned behavior in monkeys.") Blum also fails to mention the radiation studies Harlow conducted on monkeys. (See for instance, his 1956 publication in the Journal of Comparative Physiology and Psychology: "The effects of repeated doses of total-body x radiation on motivation and learning in rhesus monkeys.") Thus, readers do not understand Harlow's willingness to hurt animals prior to beginning his studies on attachment.

Blum also makes the historically erroneous claim that prior to Harlow's work on attachment no one was paying attention to the work of psychologists studying the effect of social and environmental deprivation in human children. She pointedly claims that Harlow began his work on "... mother love at a time when British psychiatrist John Bowlby could barely persuade his colleagues to join the words `mother' and `love' together." (p 150)

But Bowlby was commissioned by the World Health Organization to study the effects of institutionalization on orphaned children. He published his landmark work, Maternal Care and Mental Health, in 1951. Harlow published "Love in Infant Monkeys" in Scientific American in 1959. Bowlby was neither a pioneer in these studies of human children nor a lone voice. In this area of psychology, Harlow did nothing for human children; his work did, ironically, add to the wealth of evidence that monkeys and humans are disquietingly similar in ethically important ways.

Blum also reshapes history by casting doubt on the veracity and honor of Harlow's critics. For instance, she claims that "until late in Harry's career, animal activists were remarkably respectful of research priorities." (p. 298) Harlow retired in 1974. Peter Singer's Animal Liberation, cited by nearly all historians as the catalyst for the modern animal rights movement, was first published in 1975.

Love at Goon Park is a stark example of propaganda. Though the reasons for Blum's love of primate vivisectors remain obscure, the love and admiration shine forth. Two comments encapsulate all of Blum's studious disingenuousness: "Bill Mason and Sally Mendoza, at the University of California, have done remarkable work with the South American titi monkey." (p 278) And, quoting Bill Mason: "[Harlow] would write about his experiments as if he did them with glee....It made my flesh creep." (p 297)

Here is an example of Mendoza's "remarkable work" with titi's in her own words: "The propensity to seek contact with individuals with which a strong relationship ... is exemplified in the extreme by the South American titi monkey. These monogamous primates spend up to 90% of their day in physical contact with other members of their family group.... We will selectively lesion, using aspiration techniques, different cortical fields in animals from well-established social groups. We will then monitor changes in social behavior and social motivation associated with the loss of a specific field or body part representation therein." (From one of her current publicly-funded NIH grants, "Somatosensory cortex in affective social relationships.")

And William "Bill" Mason's supposed sensitivities to his teacher's research? This seems a bit misleading. His most recently published paper (2004) is titled: "Behavioral and physiological adaptation to repeated chair restraint in rhesus macaques."

Readers beware: Blum's account of Harlow, in Love at Goon Park, is perfectly aligned with her account of the entire industry, Monkey Wars. She is a staunch supporter of the industry and skillfully leads her readers to conclusions not supported by a fair reading of the facts. She presents a selective history and a carefully tailored recitation of the "facts" that seem calculated to put a positive spin on the most ethically challenging human use of animals.

In spite of this, and in part because of it, I recommend Monkey Wars and Love at Goon Park to readers. These books have much interesting information and give much insight into the willingness of the industry to put up with, to defend, and to encourage, essentially any and all forms of cruelty.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9b710180) out of 5 stars Important lessons that must not be forgotten 18 April 2004
By Peter Marrier - Published on
Format: Hardcover
A very well written book, telling the story of a man, and of the revolution he caused in psychology. There is a lot of irony in this story. If Harry Harlow's experiments strike us as intolerably cruel now, that is due in large part because we know the results of those experiments.
There are important lessons here for present and future parents, researchers, and activists. And even if you don't fall into one of those categories, it's still a fascinating story that is well worth reading.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9b70ff6c) out of 5 stars Must read 20 Dec. 2002
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Extremely well written and interesting book on a subject many might think dry and tedious. The lessons learned about love and affection are eye opening and a must read for ANY and All parents.
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