Science evolves to help provide better opportunities, yet in order to make these advancements science sometimes takes it too far. In the 1950’s an experiment was conducted to show the results of child and parent separation. The experiment was known as, “The Wire Mother Experiment.“ In context, the experiment consisted of infant monkeys separated from their mother’s to prove that affection wasn’t a necessity.
There were two ‘mother’s replicas, one made of hard wire that was able to provide food and the other had no food but was soft for comfort. Jack Harlow, the producer of the experiment, wanted to prove the human and animal instinct of feelings regarding the mind and to be, “…able to demonstrate the importance of early attachments, affection, and emotional bonds on the course of healthy development.”(Cherry). Articulating his initial intentions for his experiment.
The reasoning Jack Harlow even thought of testing such a cold theory is because, “Starting in the 1910s and peaking in the 1930s, doctors and psychologists actively advised parents against hugging, kissing, or cuddling children on the assumption such fawning attention would condition children to behave in a manner that was weak, codependent, and unbecoming.”(popsi) indicates that during that time period, society was focused on raising strong, intelligent and independent children and conditioning them to be self thinking, growing individuals in adulthood. Jack Harlow unfortunately begins to witness the sad reality of that theory and the damaging consequences that came with it, “…the baby monkeys became severely disturbed, sometimes to the point of starving themselves to death.”(Ferdowsian).
In addition to the statement made previously, it can further be implied that a loving mother that is doting towards her children is a necessity. These baby monkeys were willing to starve themselves for the sake of comfort instead of only relying on a reliable food source. This new found fact was enough to stop his questionable experimentation on these monkeys and he himself has also called his experiment as “too unethical and inhumane, even for monkeys” (Cummins).
Cherry, Kendra. “How Harry Harlow’s Research on Love Shaped How We Treat Children Today.” Verywell Mind, Verywell Mind, 3 Dec. 2020, https://www.verywellmind.com/harry-harlow-and-the-nature-of-love-2795255.
Cummins, Eleanor. “These 1950s Experiments Showed Us the Trauma of Parent-Child Separation. Now Experts Say They’re Too Unethical to Repeat-Even on Monkeys.” Popular Science, 26 Apr. 2021, https://www.popsci.com/1950s-experiments-attachment-unethical/.
Ferdowsian, Hope. “Interview with Dr. John Gluck, Researcher & Author.” Hope Ferdowsian, MD, MPH – Physician, Author, Advocate, 6 Nov. 2019, https://www.hopeferdowsian.com/learning-see-animals/.