Feral Children & Harlow's Monkeys Essay

1000 words - 4 pages

In the middle of the twentieth century, Harry and Margaret Harlow began to study the effects of body contact in terms of developmental attachment. Their breakthrough experiments involved infant monkeys separated from their mother near birth and raised in cages with two surrogate mothers: one a wire cylinder and the other wrapped in terry cloth. After varying such details as location of the feeding bottle, rocking, and warmth, the Harlows were startled to find that the monkeys bonded much more closely to the cloth mother, regardless of whether or not "she" provided the food. (Myers, 2011, pp. 149-151). In parallel to Harlow's monkeys was Victor, found in the forests of France in 1800, when ...view middle of the document...

The neurons of the left hemisphere had gone unused for too long without stimulation, and the brain eventually shut off that hemisphere. Children who were discovered earlier on had still suffered brain damage, though not to the fullest extent. They were fortunately able to learn some language, but with great pains and hard work on their therapists' parts. ("Wild Child The Story Of Feral Children HD") Harlow's monkeys must have undergone similar mental retardation. Separated from their mothers and all primate interaction at birth (Myers, 2011, pp. 149-151), the infant monkeys had no knowledge of grunts or similar sounds characteristic of monkeys. Should their brains be similarly structured and function as ours, they would have reached an insurmountable barrier disabling verbal communication by the time they were adolescents. One difference between the two might be that scientists and therapists, through trial and error, could actually work with the feral children, hopefully increasing their chance at a normal life in human society ("Wild Child The Story Of Feral Children HD"). Monkeys would probably not care or go through such pains to help fellow primates. Thus both feral children and Harlow's monkeys suffered physical mental damage from isolation, though not to quite the same extent and results.
The emotional scarring brought on by isolation from fellow creatures can not be underestimated. Both the feral children and Harlow's monkeys suffered drastic personality alterations that kept them from interacting normally once brought into a regular situation. The monkeys were in states of pure agony whenever separated from their cloth mothers or placed in contact with fellow monkeys (Myers, 2011, pp. 149-151). Similarly, feral children were emotionally distant, could not empathize, and were out of place among the humans they had not interacted with ("Wild Child The Story Of Feral Children HD"). Once again though, feral children trump horrors where monkeys cannot whenever society welcomes them back into a trying but sometimes rewarding therapeutic process. Many feral children were able to...

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