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This article has three parts. It deals with somatosensory deprivation as a potential cause of violence. I have scanned and HTMLized much of Dr. Prescott's research (with his permission and consent for free distribution). You can find it online at <http://www.violence.de>. Outside of E2, please refer to that URL, since it includes improved formatting and images.

Part 2 is here. Part 1 is here.

This article does not include further hard links for the reason of source authenticity. Feel free to add relevant soft links.

Abnormally low  levels of  platelet serotonin have  been found in
monkeys reared in isolation and also in institutionalized, highly
aggressive  children. These  findings suggest  that somatosensory
deprivation   during   the  formative   periods  of   development
significantly alters an important  biochemical system in the body
associated with  highly aggressive  behaviors. A number  of other
investigators  have   documented  abnormalities  in  the  adrenal
cortical response system in rodents who were isolation-reared and
who  developed  hyperactive,  hyperreactive, and  hyperaggressive
behavior.  Thus another  important biochemical  system associated
with  aggressiveness  is known  to  be  altered by  somatosensory
deprivation early in life.

It  needs to  be  emphasized here  that I  advocate somatosensory
pleasure stimulation  as a  therapeutic procedure to  correct the
abnormalities  due  to somatosensory  pleasure deprivation.  Such
sensory stimulation  can influence brain functioning  and it does
not appear  necessary, except  in rare  circumstances, that brain
surgery  or electrical  stimulation of  the brain is  required to
alter pathological, violent behaviors. Unfortunately, therapeutic
programs of somatosensory pleasure  have yet to be established to
determine the  effectiveness of this therapy  at the human level.
The success of somatosensory  therapy in isolation reared monkeys
reported  by Harry  F. Harlow  and Stephen  Suomi 8  when other
forms of  therapy have  failed in these  animals, provide further
encouragement and  support for the utilization  of touch and body
movement therapies in the treatment of emotional disorders.

On the contrary, our prisons have been designed to maximize those
conditions that are responsible for the violence and imprisonment
of  the  social  offender. It  is  not  surprising that  physical
violence  in such  prison  environments is  a major  problem. The
acceptance of somatosensory pleasure as a form of somatic therapy
will be difficult for our society to accept, as the opposition to
massage parlors in many communities indicates.

Clearly,  if   we  consider  violent   and  aggressive  behaviors
undesirable  then  we  must  provide  an  enriched  somatosensory
environment so  that the brain can develop  and function in a way
that results in pleasurable  and peaceful behaviors. The solution
to physical violence is  physical pleasure experienced within the
context of meaningful human relationships.

For many  people, a fundamental moral  principle is the rejection
of creeds,  policies, and behaviors that  inflict pain, suffering
and deprivation  upon our fellow humans.  This principle needs to
be  extended: We  should  seek not  just an  absence of  pain and
suffering, but also the enhancement of pleasure, the promotion of
affectionate  human relationships,  and  the enrichment  of human

If we strive to increase the pleasure in our lives this will also
affect  the  ways  we   express  aggression  and  hostility.  The
reciprocal  relationship between  pleasure  and violence  is such
that  one inhibits  the  other; when  physical pleasure  is high,
physical violence is low. When violence is high, pleasure is low.
This  basic  premise of  the  somatosensory pleasure  deprivation
theory provides us with the tools necessary to fashion a world of
peaceful, affectionate, cooperative individuals.

The world,  however, has  limited time to  correct the conditions
that propel us to  violent confrontations. Modern technologies of
warfare  have made  it possible  for an  individual or  nation to
bring total destruction to  large segments of our population. And
the greatest threat comes  from those nations which have the most
depriving  environments for  their  children and  which are  most
repressive of sexual affection and female sexuality. We will have
the most to fear when these nations acquire the weapons of modern
warfare. Tragically, this has already begun.


1.  R. B.  Textor,  A Cross-Cultural  Summary (New  Haven, Conn.:
Human Relations Area Files (HRAF) Press, 1967).

2.  J.  W.  Prescott,  "Early  Somatosensory  Deprivation  as  an
Ontogenetic  Process in  Abnormal  Development of  the Brain  and
Behavior,"  Medical Primatology , edited  by I. E.  Goldsmith and
Moor-Jankowski  (Basel:  Karger,  1971),  357-375; and  Prescott,
"Cross-Cultural  Sludies of  Violence,"  in  Aggressive Behavior:
Current  Progress in  Pre-Clinical  and Clinical  Research, Brain
Information  Report  No.  37  (Los Angeles,  Ca.:  University  of
California, Aug. 1974), pp. 33-35.

3. M. K. Bacon, I. L. Child and H. A. Barry, III, "Cross-Cultural
Study  of Correlates of  Crime,"  Journal of Abnormal  and Social
Psychology ,  66 (1963),  291-300;  and Barry,  Bacon and  Child,
"Definitions,    Ratings,   and    Bibliographic    Sources   for
Child-Training  Practices  of 110  Cultures,"  in  Cross-Cultural
Approaches:  Readings in  Cooperative Research , edited by  C. S.
Ford (New Haven: HRAF Press, 1967).

4. J. T. Westbrook, Ford, and Beach, in A Cross-Cultural Summary,
edited by Textor (New Haven: HRAF Press, 1967).

5. P. E. Slater, "Killing, Torturing or Mutilating the Enemy," in
A Cross-Cultural Summary, edited by Textor.

6. Michael Harner, Jivaro Souls.

7.  Vietnam  Veterans  Against  the  War,  statement  by  Michael
McClusker in  The  Winter Soldier Investigation:  An Inquiry into
American War Crimes (Boston: Beacon Press, 1972).

8.  S. J.  Suomi,  and H.  F. Harlow,  "Social  Rehabilitation of
Isolate-Reared  Monkeys,"  Developmental  Psychology , 6  (1972),

9. F. R. Volkmar and W. T. Greenough, "Rearing Complexity Affects
Branching of Dendrites in the Visual Cortex of the Rat," Science,
176 (June  1972), 1445-1447; and M.  Coleman, "Platelet Serotonin
in  Disturbed Monkeys,"   Clinical Proceedings  of the  Childrens
Hospital, 27 (1971). 187-194.

Text republished  with the kind permission  of James W. Prescott.
Originally  appeared  in  THE  FUTURIST  magazine  (April  1975).
Reproduced  with permission  of the  World  Future Society , 7910
Woodmont  Avenue, Suite  450, Bethesda,  MD 20817  USA. WFS  is a
nonprofit  educational  and  scientific  association with  30,000
members  in  80  countries.  It serves  as  a  neutral forum  and
clearinghouse for information and  ideas about current trends and
possible future developments.

OCR and HTML by Erik Möller. Please tell me about any spelling or
OCR  mistakes you  find.  If you  know of  any  other translation
besides English, German and  French, or if you want to write one,
please contact  me. I am also interested  in more material on the
same subject.

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