James W. Prescott, Ph.D.
[back] James W. Prescott, Ph.D.
This basic sexual inequality between men and women where women have been considered the "property" of the male has, in fact, been a curse on humanity. It is one of the single most important factors that has contributed to sexual exploitation and violence against women and children. Why is it that sexual exploitation and violence against women and children is highest in those cultures (primitive and modern) that are characterized by punishment of pre-marital and extra-marital relationships? And conversely, why is it that those cultures that permit pre-marital and extra-marital sex are peaceful and non-violent cultures?  THE TRUTH ABOUT SEXUAL MONOGAMY by James W. Prescott, Ph.D.
Societies that provide infants with a great deal of physical affection ('tender loving care') are later characterized by relatively non-violent adults. In 36 of the 49 cultures studied, a high degree of infant affection was associated with a low degree of adult physical violence—and vice versa. When the 13 exceptions were investigated, it was found that the violence of all but one (the Jivaro tribe of South America) could be accounted for the presence or absence of premarital sexual behavior.  BODY PLEASURE AND THE ORIGINS OF VIOLENCE By James W. Prescott
Violence against sexuality and the use of sexuality for violence, particularly against women, has very deep roots in Biblical tradition.  BODY PLEASURE AND THE ORIGINS OF VIOLENCE By James W. Prescott
The origins of the fundamental reciprocal relationship between physical violence and physical pleasure can be traced to philosophical dualism and to the theology of body/soul relationships. In Western philosophical thought man was not a unitary being but was divided into two parts, body and soul. The Greek philosophical conception of the relationship between body and soul was quite different than the Judeo-Christian concept which posited a state of war between the body and soul. Within Judeo-Christian thought the purpose of human life was to save the soul, and the body was seen as an impediment to achieving this objective. Consequently, the body must be punished and deprived. In St. Paul's words: "Put to death the base pursuits of the body—for if you live according to the flesh, you shall die: but if by the spirit you mortify the deeds of the flesh, you shall live" (Romans 8:13). St. Paul clearly advocated somatosensory pleasure deprivation and enhancement of painful somatosensory stimulation as essential prerequisites for saving the soul. "Now concerning the things whereof you wrote to me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman" (1 Corinthians, 7:1).  BODY PLEASURE AND THE ORIGINS OF VIOLENCE By James W. Prescott
It is evident that the Judeo-Christian concept of body pleasure is quite the opposite of that outlined by Aristotle, particularly, the relief of body pain and discomfort through somatosensory pleasure. This denial of somatosensory pleasure in Pauline Christian doctrine has led to alternative forms of 'relief' through such painful stimulations as hair-shirts, self-scourgings, self-mutilations, physical violence against others, and in the non-sensory pleasures of drugs.  BODY PLEASURE AND THE ORIGINS OF VIOLENCE By James W. Prescott
The question arises as to how Christian philosophy and theology, which borrowed heavily from Aristotle, managed to avoid, if not outright reject, Aristotle's teachings regarding the morality of pleasure. The roots to this question can be found throughout the Old Testament, beginning with the account in Genesis of the expulsion of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden. The first consequence of Eve's transgression was that nudity became shameful. This even may well be the beginning of man's hostility toward women and the equating of woman with evil, particularly the evils of the body. This is vividly portrayed in Zechariah (5:5-8) in an angel's description of the flying bushel: "This is a bushel container coming. This is their guilt in all the land." Then a leaden cover was lifted and there was a woman sitting inside the bushel. "This is wickedness, he said, and he thrust her inside the bushel, pushing the leaden cover into the opening." BODY PLEASURE AND THE ORIGINS OF VIOLENCE By James W. Prescott
Violence against sexuality and the use of sexuality for violence,
particularly against women, has very deep roots in Biblical tradition, and is
spelled out very early. The nineteenth chapter of Genesis (19:1-11), the first
book of the Old Testament, holds that the rape of woman is acceptable but the
rape of man is "a wicked thing." This chapter about the destruction of Sodom and
Gomorrah describes Lot's hospitality to two male travelers (actually two angels)
who were housed with him.
In the evening the townsmen of Sodom came to Lot's house and said to him: "Where are the men who came to your house tonight? Bring them out to us that we may have intimacies with them." Lot went out to meet them at the entrance. When he had shut the door behind him, he said, "I beg you, my brothers, not to do this wicked thing. I have two daughters who have never had intercourse with men. Let me bring them out to you, and you may do to them as you please. But don't do anything to these men, for you know they have come under the shelter of my roof." They replied, "Stand back! This fellow," they sneered, "came here as an immigrant, and now he dares to give orders! We'll treat you worse than them!" With that, they pressed hard against Lot, moving in closer to break down the door. But his guests put out their hand, pulled Lot inside with them, and closed the door; at the same time they struck the men at the entrance of the house, one and all, with such blinding light that they were utterly unable to reach the doorway.
As the story continues, the two angels escort Lot and his family to safety and then destroy Sodom and Gomorrah for their great sinfulness. Yet not a word of reproach is given to Lot for his willingness to hand over his two virgin daughters to be gang raped. This same story is repeated in the books of Ezekiel (23:1-49) and Judges (19:22-30).  BODY PLEASURE AND THE ORIGINS OF VIOLENCE By James W. Prescott
Given such a tradition, it is understandable that during the Inquisition only women were charged with having intercourse with the devil and put to death for this crime of pleasure. What man has died at the stake for having slept with Satan? This tradition is maintained in modern cultures where women are punished for prostitution but their male customers are not. The historical and Biblical acceptance of rape down through the ages has brutalized the psyche of males brought up in this tradition.  BODY PLEASURE AND THE ORIGINS OF VIOLENCE By James W. Prescott
Why do men rape women? Researchers report that most rapists
have a family background of paternal punishment and hostility and loss of
maternal affection. I intert rape as man's revenge against woman for the
early loss of physical affection. A man can express his hostility toward his
mother for not giving him enough physical attention by sexually violating
Another explanation may be that the increasing sexual freedom of women is threatening to man's position of power and dominance over women which he often maintains through sexual aggression. Rape destroys sensual pleasure in woman and enhances sadistic pleasure in man. Through rape, man defends himself from the sensual pleasures of women which threaten his position of power and dominance.
It is my belief that rape has its origins in the deprivation of physical affection in parent-child relationships and adult sexual relationships; and in a religious value system that considers pain and body deprivation moral and physical pleasure immoral. Rape maintains man's dominance over woman and supports the perpetuation of patriarchal values in our society.  BODY PLEASURE AND THE ORIGINS OF VIOLENCE By James W. Prescott
If we accept the theory that the lack of sufficient somatosensory pleasure is a principal cause of violence, we can work toward promoting pleasure and encouraging affectionate interpersonal relationships as a means of combating aggression. We should give high priority to body pleasure in the context of meaningful human relationships. Such body pleasure is very different from promiscuity, which reflects a basic inability to experience pleasure. If a sexual relationship is not pleasurable, the individual looks for another partner. A continuing failure to find sexual satisfaction leads to a continuing search for new partners, that is, to promiscuous behavior. Affectionately shared physical pleasure, on the other hand, tends to stabilize a relationship and eliminate the search. However, a variety of sexual experiences seems to be normal in cultures which permit its expression, and this may be important for optimizing pleasure and affection in sexual relationships.  BODY PLEASURE AND THE ORIGINS OF VIOLENCE By James W. Prescott
Available data clearly indicate that the rigid values of monogamy, chastity, and virginity help produce physical violence. The denial of female sexuality must give way to an acceptance and respect for it, and men must share with women the responsibility for giving affection and care to infants and children. As the father assumes a more equal role with the mother in child-rearing and becomes more affectionate toward his children, certain changes must follow in our socioeconomic system. A corporate structure which tends to separate either parent from the family by travel, extended meetings, or overtime work weakens the parent-child relationship and harms family stability. To develop a peaceful society, we must put more emphasis on human relationships.  BODY PLEASURE AND THE ORIGINS OF VIOLENCE By James W. Prescott
Family planning is essential. Children must be properly spaced so that each can receive optimal affection and care. The needs of the infant should be immediately met. Cross-cultural evidence does not support the view that such practices will 'spoil' the infant. Contrary to Dr. Benjamin Spock, it is harmful for a baby to cry itself to sleep. By not answering an infant's needs immediately and consistently we not only teach a child distrust at a very basic emotional level, but also establish patterns of neglect which harm the child's social and emotional health. The discouragement of breast feeding in favor of bottle feeding and the separation of healthy newborns from their mothers in our 'modern' hospitals are other examples of harmful child-rearing practices.  BODY PLEASURE AND THE ORIGINS OF VIOLENCE By James W. Prescott
It is the variable of carrying the infant on the
body of the mother/caretaker in primitive cultures that is so strongly
predictive (80%) of peaceful and non-violent cultures which includes lack of
abuse of infants and children.
When the infant physical affectional variable was combined with permitted pre-marital sexuality my prediction of peaceful or violent cultures rose to 100% of the 49 cultures where this information was available. Further, these cultures were matrilineal where 78% of the nine cultures that also had information on extramarital sexuality also permitted extramarital sexuality.
The ultimate human spiritual-sexual state, however, can only be realized when the human female (whose brain is uniquely designed for the spiritual-sexual state) is completely free to express her sexual love according to her own terms which means multiple sexual relationships without fear of male reproach, control or violence. For this to occur the developing brain of the infant/child must be encoded and programmed with pleasure (affectional bonding) for the neural circuits to develop to make possible the spiritual-sexual state later in life. Unfortunately, just the opposite is happening in most human cultures of today where infant/day care centers, e.g., provide little or no affectional bonding with anyone.
If the human male was wise (which he is not) he would realize the significance of affectional bonding throughout life and that he would be an extraordinary beneficiary of this new affectional-sexual-spiritual path.
Although, THE TAO and TANTRIC BUDDHISM represent the most enlightened of the patriarchal cultures, particularly, with respect to human sexuality they are significantly limited because of their subordination of women to men and their conceptual errors concerning the truth of female spiritual-sexual energy. The extraordinary insights of Wilhelm Reich is partially corrective to these errors, e.g. "Sexually awakened women, affirmed and recognized as such, would mean the complete collapse of the authoritarian ideology" (see "The Mass Psychology of Fascism" and "The Function of The Orgasm").
The correct view is that human sexual-spiritual development must follow the path of the feminine and that is why Teilhard de Chardin stated: "Woman is, for man, the symbol and personification of all the fulfillments we look for from the universe... The feminine is the most formidable of the forces of matter." (The Evolution of Chastity.)  THE TRUTH ABOUT SEXUAL MONOGAMY by James W. Prescott, Ph.D.
Unfortunately, the road that gained insight into the developmental mechanisms
that mediate the aggressive, noncompliant and other disordered emotional-social
behaviors.....was blocked and terminated by the NICHD in the late 1970s. The NICHD
unlawfully abandoned its agency responsibility to continue to support research
on the causes and consequences of violence against children and failed to
recommend implementation of national health programs for the prevention of this
violence. These unlawful NICHD/NIH actions has not only set-back scientific
advances in this field for over a quarter of a century but more importantly has
resulted in the epidemics of depression, drug abuse, psychiatric medications and
violence that characterizes this nation today with a substantial loss of child
and youth life due to suicidal and homicidal deaths that are mostly
....The children, youth and families of America are worse off today-- by any health statistic-- than they were in 1970-over thirty years ago. This massive failure of America can be laid at the doorsteps of the Congress and its political parties; The White House; the National Institutes of Health and the Department of Health and Human Services  The Origins of Love & Violence: An Overview by James W. Prescott, Ph.D.
No Circumcision of newborn. The traumatic pain of newborn circumcision adversely affects normal brain development, impairs affectional bonding with mother and has long lasting effects upon how pain and pleasure are experienced in life that shapes the development of Human Trust. TEN PRINCIPLES OF MOTHER-INFANT BONDING by James W. Prescott, Ph.D.
Breastfeeding On Demand by newborn/infant/child and for “two years or beyond”, as recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF. Failure to breastfeed results in positive harm to normal brain development and to the Immunological health of the newborn, infant and child. Encoding the developing brain with the smell of mother’s body through breastfeeding is essential for the later development of intimate sexuality.TEN PRINCIPLES OF MOTHER-INFANT BONDING by James W. Prescott, Ph.D.
No mammal on this planet, except the human mammal, separates the newborn from its mother at birth and during the crucial and formative postnatal period of brain-behavioral development. No mammal on this planet, except the human mammal, refuses to breastfeed its newborn and during the crucial and formative periods of breastfeeding for brain-behavioral development that varies with mammalian species. The violation of these two mammalian universals by the human primate-homo sapiens-has brought devastating consequences upon itself in terms of damaged biological and emotional-social health that threatens the very existence of the species.  The Origins of Love & Violence: An Overview by James W. Prescott, Ph.D.
It is worth noting that the bonobo chimpanzee, which is the most peaceful primate on the planet, breastfeed their young to about four years of age; the mother carries her offspring on her body through early adolescence (particularly male offspring); and where multiple male/female sexual relationships are commonplace which are characterized by the lack of aggression or violence (Diamond, 1992; De Waal and Lanting, 1997, Prescott, 2001).  The Origins of Love & Violence: An Overview by James W. Prescott, Ph.D.
Newman (1995) has summarized the essential role of breastfeeding for healthy human development where WHO/UNICEF (1990) have recommended breastfeeding for "two years of age or beyond" that, inexplicably, is not supported by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP, 1997). Laudenslager, et al. (1982) have documented impaired immune system development from mother-infant separations (includes lack of breastfeeding). We shall see that breastfeeding of the human primate for 2.5 years or greater is essential to optimize the health benefits (biological and psychosocial) of breastfeeding for child and mother.  The Origins of Love & Violence: An Overview by James W. Prescott, Ph.D.
Watson (1928) in his book Psychological Care of Infant and Child stated: "…a
sensible way of treating children…Never hug and kiss them, never let them sit on
your lap. If you must, kiss them once on the forehead when they say good night."
Luther Emmett Holt (1894), the leading pediatric authority of his day, stated in his textbook: "To induce sleep, rocking and all other habits of this sort are useless and may be harmful"; and later in 1916 advised that the crib should not rock in order that "the unnecessary and vicious practice may not be carried on". Holt could not have been in greater error, as we now know that gentle rocking (movement) of the infant/child is essential for normal brain-behavioral development and bonding. See http://www.violence.de/tv/rockabye.html, which was premiered at the 1970 White House Conference on Children. The Origins of Love & Violence: An Overview by James W. Prescott, Ph.D.
Liedloff (1975) has documented the importance of baby carrying and affectional bonding between mother and infant/child in her single culture study. Joseph Chilton Pearce reinforced the significance of bonding in Magical Child (1977): "Bonding is the issue, regardless of age. Bonding is a psychological-biological state, a vital physical link that coordinates and unifies the entire biological system. Bonding seals a primary knowing that is the basis for rational thought."  The Origins of Love & Violence: An Overview by James W. Prescott, Ph.D.
Cook (1996) has provided a review of how infants and nations are placed at risk with early child institutional care that ensures lack of bonding. For over a century we have been given wrongful and disastrous advice by "authorities" in pediatrics and psychology that continues to this day. Ferber (1985), a pediatrician, states: "If your child is like this, you may be comforted to know that headbanging, body rocking, and head rolling are very common in early childhood and, at least at this age, are usually normal. If your child exhibits any of these behaviors there is little need for concern about emotional difficulties or neurological illness" p.193; and "In the infant and young toddler, rhythmic patterns are of little significance and you will not need to intervene" (p.197).  The Origins of Love & Violence: An Overview by James W. Prescott, Ph.D.
Spock (1972), and Ferber (1985) have
advocated letting the infant/child engage in pathological chronic crying, e.g.,
crying itself to sleep, that has pathological consequences of extreme adreno-cortical
stress reactions that adversely affect brain-behavioral development (Selye,
1956; Prescott, 2001). Another commentary by Dr. Ferber is so egregious that it
also deserves reporting: "A normal child will not
injure himself seriously while headbanging, although he occasionally may bruise
his forehead and, very rarely, there may be a small amount of bleeding.
Concussions, fractured skull, or brain injuries just do not occur. The main
damage is to furniture and walls" (p.198).
It is beyond comprehension to understand how forces so great that damages furniture and walls do not damage the immature developing brain. Microlesions of the brain that cannot be detected today can have long term developmental brain consequences years later, as the studies of Faro and Windle (1969) have demonstrated on the effects of birth asphyxia upon the developing brain.  The Origins of Love & Violence: An Overview by James W. Prescott, Ph.D.
In a series of NICHD supported cross-cultural studies, Dr. Prescott found that he could predict with 80% accuracy the peaceful or homicidal violent nature of 49 tribal cultures from a single measure of bonding in the mother-infant relationship, namely, carrying of the infant throughout the day on the body of mother/allomother through the first year of life. The peaceful or violent nature of the remaining ten cultures could be accurately predicted from whether the culture permitted or punished youth sexual affectional relationships. In brief, these two variables of physical affectional bonding could predict with 100% accuracy the peaceful or violent nature of these 49 tribal cultures distributed throughout the world  The Origins of Love & Violence: An Overview by James W. Prescott, Ph.D.
In a series of subsequent cross-cultural tribal studies, Dr. Prescott found that 77% of 26 tribal cultures whose weaning age was 2.5 years or longer were rated low or absent in suicidal violence. Further, he found significant differences in suicidal behaviors between cultures with weaning age of 2.0 years or less v 2.5 years or greater. This finding suggests that a critical period of brain development exists at this age to mediate this effect. These and other data suggest that breastfeeding for 2.5 years or longer is required to optimize the health benefits of breastfeeding for child and mother (Zheng, 2000). These breastfeeding effects are undoubtedly mediated, in large part, by the rich presence of the amino acid tryptophan in breastmilk that is deficient in infant formula milk and which is necessary for normal brain serotonin development  The Origins of Love & Violence: An Overview by James W. Prescott, Ph.D.
This issue of duration of breastfeeding for optimal biological and mental-social health is particularly urgent when it is recognized that only 6.8% of American mothers are breastfeeding at 12 months; 2.7% are breastfeeding at 24months; and only 1% at 30 months or more (Hediger, 2001; Prescott, 2001). These statistics on breastfeeding become even more alarming in the light of child and youth suicidal deaths which have doubled in the 5-14 year age group over this past generation and has been the third leading cause of death in the 15-24 year age group over this past generation. Further, for the 5-14 year age group the ratio of suicide rates to homicide rates have consistently increased over this past generation, as follows: 1979--36 %; 1994--60%; 1998--73%. It is also a sobering statistic to note that more children and youth (5-24 year age group) have died from suicidal death in the past ten years (est 55,000) than combat lives lost during the ten year Vietnam War (47, 355). Yet, no memorial has been established for these children of suicidal death.  The Origins of Love & Violence: An Overview by James W. Prescott, Ph.D.
It should be noted that the American Academy of Pediatrics in its 1997 revision of its breastfeeding recommendations did not acknowledge the research studies that confirmed tryptophan deficits in infant formula milk which compromises normal brain development and places infants/children at high risk for the development of depression, impulse dyscontrol, drug abuse and suicidal/ homicidal violence. Further and inexplicably, the AAP did not affirm the recommendations of WHO and UNICEF that breastfeeding should be for "two years of age or beyond" (AAP, 1997; WHO/UNICEF, 1990). What does WHO and UNICEF know that the AAP does not know?  The Origins of Love & Violence: An Overview by James W. Prescott, Ph.D.
These data demand studies to evaluate the harmful effects of infant formula milk upon brain development and behavior compared to breastfeeding for "two years of age or beyond" and to evaluate the history of duration of breastfeeding in child and youth suicides and those with a history of depression and psychiatric medication. The NIH, inexplicably, refuses to conduct these studies.  The Origins of Love & Violence: An Overview by James W. Prescott, Ph.D.
The report of the NICHD (National Institute of Child Health and Human
Development) Study of Early Child Care (SECC) found that infants and very young
children who spend more than 30 hours a week in child care "are far more
demanding, more noncompliant, and they are more aggressive" and "They scored
higher on things like gets in lots of fights, cruelty, bullying, meanness as
well as talking too much, demands must be met immediately", according to
Dr.Belsky, one of the principle investigators" (Stolberg, New York Times, April
19, 2001) (emphasis mine)
Dr. Sarah Friedman, NICHD Scientific Project Officer was reported as saying ""We cannot and should not hide the findings but I don't want to create a mass hysteria when I don't know what explains these results" (Stolberg, 2001). Unfortunately, no measures of biological stress disorders were incorporated into this study nor was there any awareness of the early NICHD studies in the 1960s and 1970s, which documented these behaviors in the maternally deprived young.  The Origins of Love & Violence: An Overview by James W. Prescott, Ph.D.
It has yet to be recognized that cruelty, bullying and meanness that terrorizes so many of our children and youth in our elementary schools and high schools have their roots in the emotional trauma of mother-infant/child separations associated with institutionalized day care and from other separations These collective emotional-social traumas are sufficiently great to establish an unstable brain that combined with other stress experiences compels many students to despair and the violent acts of homicide and suicide. It is estimated that some 20% of our nation's students have contemplated suicide at one time or another (Moran, 2000; Silverman, et al 200l; Prescott, 2001). What is wrong with America and American families that drive so many of our youth to depression, despair and suicide?  The Origins of Love & Violence: An Overview by James W. Prescott, Ph.D.
Unfortunately, the road that gained insight into the developmental mechanisms that mediate the aggressive, noncompliant and other disordered emotional-social behaviors, e.g. depression and suicide consequent to mother-infant/child separations-- which was illuminated by the Time Life documentary "Rock a Bye Baby"-- was blocked and terminated by the NICHD in the late 1970s. The NICHD unlawfully abandoned its agency responsibility to continue to support research on the causes and consequences of violence against children and failed to recommend implementation of national health programs for the prevention of this violence. These unlawful NICHD/NIH actions has not only set-back scientific advances in this field for over a quarter of a century but more importantly has resulted in the epidemics of depression, drug abuse, psychiatric medications and violence that characterizes this nation today with a substantial loss of child and youth life due to suicidal and homicidal deaths that are mostly preventable.  The Origins of Love & Violence: An Overview by James W. Prescott, Ph.D.
It is transparent that the 1970 White House Conference on Children was a failure, as the prescient words of Professor Urie Bronfenbrenner attest. The children, youth and families of America are worse off today-- by any health statistic-- than they were in 1970-over thirty years ago. This massive failure of America can be laid at the doorsteps of the Congress and its political parties; The White House; the National Institutes of Health and the Department of Health and Human Services, which over this past generation have failed to support mothers being nurturing mothers and which continues to this day. America has truly lost it's dream of "…Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness". The disintegration of America from within is well on its way.  The Origins of Love & Violence: An Overview by James W. Prescott, Ph.D.