Harry Harlow, American research
psychologist, was responsible for some of the most controversial experiments to
have been performed in animal laboratories.
On his 'Rape Rack', disturbed female monkeys were forced to breed against their
will. In the 'Pit of Despair' baby monkeys were hung upside down in total
darkness for up to two years. And with the 'Iron Maiden', infant primates were
confronted by a placid surrogate mother that began suddenly to tear at their
So what motivated Harry Harlow to conduct such disturbing experiments?
Experiments that made Harlow the 'poster boy' of the animal rights movement in
the United States. Bizarrely, the answer is love. Harry Harlow's work was an
attempt to understand the nature of love, particularly that between mother and
According to Harlow's defenders, it is work we benefit from today. Defenders
maintain that Harlow revolutionised and brought warmth to the way we parent
infants. That he influenced crucial policies which operate in children's homes,
social service agencies and the birthing industry in Britain and throughout the
Can cruelty teach us anything about love?
First aired on More4 in the UK on 4th December 2005.