Love at Goon Park: Harry Harlow and the Science of Affection

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9780738202785: Love at Goon Park: Harry Harlow and the Science of Affection
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In this meticulously researched and masterfully written book, Pulitzer Prize-winner Deborah Blum examines the history of love through the lens of its strangest unsung hero: a brilliant, fearless, alcoholic psychologist named Harry Frederick Harlow. Pursuing the idea that human affection could be understood, studied, even measured, Harlow (1905-1981) arrived at his conclusions by conducting research-sometimes beautiful, sometimes horrible-on the primates in his University of Wisconsin laboratory. Paradoxically, his darkest experiments may have the brightest legacy, for by studying "neglect" and its life-altering consequences, Harlow confirmed love's central role in shaping not only how we feel but also how we think. His work sparked a psychological revolution. The more children experience affection, he discovered, the more curious they become about the world: Love makes people smarter. The biography of both a man and an idea, The Measure of Love is a powerful and at times disturbing narrative that will forever alter our understanding of human relationships.

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"Incredible as it may seem, half a century ago leading psychologists scoffed at the notion that affection was vital to an infant's flourishing. Deborah Blum brilliantly recalls this chilling era, and the scientist whose controversial experiments reaffirmed love's importance. Love at Goon Park is science history at its best." --John Horgan, author of The End of Science

"Harry Harlow, whose name has become synonymous with cruel monkey experiments, actually helped put an end to cruel child-rearing practices. How these practices could ever have been advocated is only part of the puzzle presented in this lively biography. Blum does not shy away from the ethical questions raised by Harlow's research, yet reminds us that he was a complex man who won his battle with the scientific establishment so resoundingly that the outcome is now taken for granted."--Frans De Waal, author of The Ape and the Sushi Master

"Love at Goon Park is the important story of the human need for love. Deborah Blum tells the engaging tale of Harry Harlow and his groundbreaking research with monkeys that proved our essential drive for social attachment. This book is not just good science writing, it's a great story."--Meredith F. Small, author of Our Babies, Ourselves and Kids

"For generations of psychology students, the image of a baby monkey being comforted by a cloth doll is one of their most indeliable memories of the subject. Yet even most psychologists know little about the brilliant, funny, and infuriating man behind the experiments. Nor do many people know about its context--the fall and the rise of the concept of love in social science. Deborah Blum combines these elements into a gripping biography, written with intelligence, warmth, and panache."--Steven Pinker, author of The Language Instinct, How the Mind Works, and The Blank Slate

About the Author:

Deborah Blum is a professor of journalism at the University of Wisconsin and Vice President of the National Association of Science Writers. She won a Pulitzer Prize in 1992 for her newspaper reporting about primate experiments and ethics, the subject of her acclaimed first book, The Monkey Wars.

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