Wire Mothers and Inanimate Arms: Harry Harlow and the Science of Love

Wire Mothers and Inanimate Arms: Harry Harlow and the Science of Love

by Jim Ottaviani
     
 

  • Psychologists know best, of course, and in the 1950s they warned parents

    about the dangers of too much love. Besides, what was “love” anyway?

    Just a convenient name for children seeking food and adults seeking sex. It took

    an outsider scientist to challenge it. When Harry Harlow began his experiments

    on mother love he was more than just an

…  See more details below

Overview

  • Psychologists know best, of course, and in the 1950s they warned parents

    about the dangers of too much love. Besides, what was “love” anyway?

    Just a convenient name for children seeking food and adults seeking sex. It took

    an outsider scientist to challenge it. When Harry Harlow began his experiments

    on mother love he was more than just an outside the mainstream, though. He was a

    deeply unhappy man who knew in his gut the truth about what love — and its

    absence — meant, and set about to prove it. His experiments and results

    shocked the world, and Wire Mothers & Inanimate Arms will shock you

    as well.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

This nonfiction graphic novel retelling psychologist Harry Harlow's famous experiments is as disturbing as it is excellent. "We'll show you what love looks like-and what it does," says the young researcher, as he turns to TV to make his case after regular scientists reject his experiments. Harlow showed that rhesus monkeys preferred the soft, cloth stuffed-animal mother over wire surrogates, even when nursed by the wire doll. The famous images of the scary "cloth mother" and the even scarier "wire mother" has great cultural weight, but the real drama of the story Ottaviani tells is the contemporary scientists who won't admit the word "love" into their clinical language. Harlow's journey is tinged with subtle class and immigrant issues-the big-jawed, jowly figures, drawn with meaty shadows, express these divisions wonderfully, and help give Harlow emotional weight as he simultaneously finds success and sinks into alcoholism. The repetition of the term "proximity," how scientists explained away love, is chilling, and the largely forgotten Skinner boxes and the theories behind them give the work a sense of deep foreboding as a cautionary tale of how behaviorists once tried to declare affection to be scientifically unsound. (July)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
VOYA - Joe Sutliff Sanders
This publisher continues its history of excellent graphic novels about science with these books. Levitation explores the history of the great stage-magician illusion of the levitating assistant, complete with a hoop passed over the assistant to show that there are no wires. Wire Mothers presents an encounter with the scientist who dared to theorize, explain, and test love despite persistent professional resistance. Although these two graphic novels are about different figures in different eras, the techniques behind both books are the same. Both fruitfully use a character who narrates the history and conflicts of the scientific inquiry that is the subject of the book: In Levitation, it is a stage manager, and in Wire Mothers, it is the scientist himself. Because these narrator-characters are engaging people with investments in the stories being told, the histories recounted become personal and interesting. These characters explain the science at stake to listeners who are non-specialists, enabling Ottaviani to communicate the scientific principles he explores clearly for any audience. The illustrations in both are also well suited to their particular stories: Levitation invokes florid type font and fluid layout (fitting for a story about stage magic), but Wire Mothers uses heavy inking to create a mood that is alternately oppressive and intimate, ideal for a story about the sometimes inhumane experiments that quantified discourse about love. (Harlow conducted experiments on infant monkeys in which surrogate mothers were constructed of chicken wire or cloth-covered wood.) Teens interested in these subjects will read the books repeatedly, andothers will be able to enjoy them simply because they use good characterization and clear plots.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780978803711
Publisher:
G.T. Labs
Publication date:
07/25/2007
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
80
Sales rank:
1,407,862
Product dimensions:
0.30(w) x 8.80(h) x 5.90(d)
Age Range:
14 - 18 Years

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