Causes of Violence (selected excerpts from...)

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BODY PLEASURE AND THE ORIGINS OF VIOLENCE By James W. Prescott

"James W. Prescott, a neuropsychologist, is a health scientist administrator at the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development in Bethesda, Maryland. He is a member of the Board of Directors of the American Humanist Association."

"Human violence is fast becoming a global epidemic. All over the world, police face angry mobs, terrorists disrupt the Olympics, hijackers seize airplanes, and bombs wreck buildings. During the past year, wars raged in the Middle East, Cyprus, and Southeast Asia, and guerrilla fighting continued to escalate in Ireland. Meanwhile, crime in the United States grew even faster than inflation. Figures from the Federal Bureau of Investigation show that serious crimes rose 16 percent in the first six months of 1974קone of the largest crime increases since FBI record-keeping began."

"Violence against sexuality and the use of sexuality for violence, particularly against women, has very deep roots in Biblical tradition."

"The hypothesis that deprivation of physical pleasure results in physical violence requires a formal systematic evaluation. We can test this hypothesis by examining cross-cultural studies of child-rearing practices, sexual behaviors, and physical violence. We would expect to find that human societies which provide their infants and children with a great deal of physical affection (touching, holding, carrying) would be less physically violent than human societies which give very little physical affection to their infants and children. Similarly, human societies which tolerate and accept premarital and extramarital sex would be less physically violent than societies which prohibit and punish premarital and extramarital sex."

"Societies ranking high or low on the Infant Physical Affection Scale were examined for degree of violence. The results (Table 1) clearly indicated that those societies which give their infants the greatest amount of physical affection were characterized by low theft, low infant physical pain, low religious activity, and negligible or absent killing, mutilating, or torturing of the enemy. These data directly confirm that the deprivation of body pleasure during infancy is significantly linked to a high rate of crime and violence.

Some societies physically punish their infants as a matter of discipline, while others do not. We can determine whether this punishment reflects a general concern for the infant's welfare by matching it against child nurturant care. The results (Table 2) indicate that societies which inflict pain and discomfort upon their infants tend to neglect them as well. These data provide no support for the prescription from Proverbs (23: 13-14): "Withhold not chastisement from a boy; if you beat him with the rod, he will not die. Beat him with the rod, and you will save him from the nether world."

Adult physical violence was accurately predicted in 36 of 49 cultures (73 percent) from the infant physical affection variable. The probability that a 73 percent rate of accuracy could occur by chance is only four times out of a thousand."

"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."

There's so much at the link I can't possibly paste everything important here.
 
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"I also examined the influence of extramarital sex taboos upon crime and violence. The data clearly indicates that punitive-repressive attitudes toward extramarital sex are also linked with physical violence, personal crime, and the practice of slavery. Societies which value monogamy emphasize military glory and worship aggressive gods. "

Sound like anyone we know?

"These figures again raise the question of the special relationship between sexuality and violence. In addition to our rape statistics, there is other evidence that points to preference for sexual violence over sexual pleasure in the United States. This is reflected in our acceptance of sexually explicit films that involve violence and rape, and our rejection of sexually explicit films for pleasure only (pornography). Neighborhood movie theaters show such sexually violent films as Straw Dogs, Clockwork Orange, and The Klansman, while banning films which portray sexual pleasure (Deep Throat, The Devil in Miss Jones). Attempts to close down massage parlors are another example of our anti-pleasure attitudes. Apparently, sex with pleasure is immoral and unacceptable, but sex with violence and pain is moral and acceptable."

"A questionnaire I developed to explore this question was administered to 96 college students whose average age was 19 years. The results of the questionnaire support the connection between rejection of physical pleasure (and particularly of premarital and extramarital sex) with expression of physical violence. Respondents who reject abortion, responsible premarital sex, and nudity within the family were likely to approve of harsh physical punishment for children and to believe that pain helps build strong moral character. These respondents were likely to find alcohol and drugs more satisfying than sex. The data obtained from the questionnaire provide strong statistical support for the basic inverse relationship between physical violence and physical pleasure. If violence is high, pleasure is low, and conversely, if pleasure is high, violence is low. The questionnaire bears out the theory that the pleasure-violence relationship found in primitive cultures also holds true for a modern industrial nation."
 

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