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6. 9. 2013

Hommage to Harry Harlow

When I first read about Harry Harlow's experiments with rhesus macaques, I was excited. When I saw records of them, I was fascinated. And until recently I didn’t fully realize how this experiment could be mapped to the human world and what is the genius of Harlow’s experiment, which appears at the moment when you begin to see various forms of young macaques behavior in dimensions of human behaviour and society.
The nature and results of the experiments are clear. Monkey has two surrogate wire mothers. One of which has a bottle with food - the nourishing mother. The other has no food, but is covered with materials pleasant to touch - the cloth mother. The monkey eats by the nourishing mother, but safety searches at the cloth mother thus spending most of its time by the cloth mother.
What was long hidden from me and what is not presented as an explicit outcome of Harlow’s experiment, is the divisibility of the mother. It is obvious when you look at the infant monkey which has two artificial mothers side by side and uses each of them for different purpose. But how is such phenomenon manifested in humans?