Harry Harlow—the mother-child relationship at the dawn of life

“Harry Harlow’s experiments at the University of Wisconsin had extremely powerful implications for any and all separations of mothers and infants, childrearing and adoption. Harlow’s data confirmed the well known psychoanalytic emphasis on the mother-child relationship at the dawn of life.” —Judith Land

Harry Harlow | Adoption Detective | Judith Land

Harlow received numerous awards and honors for his cutting edge research, including the National Medal of Science, the Gold Medal from the American Psychological Foundation, and served as president of the American Psychological Association. Forty of his students earned Ph.D.’s.

Harry Frederick Harlow (October 31, 1905–December 6, 1981), an American psychologist best known for his maternal separation and social isolation experiments on rhesus monkeys, demonstrated the importance of caregiving and companionship in social and cognitive development. The first love of the human infant is for his mother. The tender intimacy of this attachment is such that it is sometimes regarded as a sacred or mystical force, an instinct incapable of analysis. Harlow’s experiments offered irrefutable proof that love is vital for normal childhood development and revealed the long-term devastation caused by deprivation, leading to profound psychological and emotional distress.

Harlow’s work helped influence key changes in how orphanages, adoption agencies, social services groups, and child care providers approached the care of children. Along with child analysts and researchers, including Anna Freud and René Spitz, Harlow’s experiments added scientific legitimacy to two powerful arguments: against institutional child care and in favor of psychological parenthood. The permanence associated with adoption was far superior to other arrangements when it came to safeguarding the future mental and emotional well being of children in need of parents.

Judith Land

Adoption Detective

Reference: Adoption Detective: Memoir of an Adopted Child, ISBN-10: 1604945702 and ISBN-13: 978-1604945706, p. 273-274



About Judith Land

Judith Land lives in Colorado and Arizona with husband and coauthor Martin Land. Judith is a former nurse, retail shop owner, college instructor and avid outdoor person. Her book "Adoption Detective: Memoir of an Adopted Child" is a true story detailing the journey of Judith Romano, foster child and adoptee, as she discovers fragments of her background, and then sets out to solve the mystery as an adult. She has reached readers in 192 countries. "Mothers and fathers everywhere in the world need to understand that children are forever and always." --Judith Land
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3 Responses to Harry Harlow—the mother-child relationship at the dawn of life

  1. Pingback: Adoption—what’s in it for the social worker? | Adoption Detective | A Novel By Judith Land

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  3. Pingback: “What makes the book Adoption Detective unique?” | Adoption Detective | A True Story by Judith Land

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