A Cause of Antisocial Violence


By Richard Kieninger


The Lemurian Empire prospered for 50,000 years without war, power politics, or economic pressuring of others. To this day there are societies in the world whose people still cannot imagine behaving in a threatening way toward another human being or causing him harm. War and physical violence are obscene perversions which are not acceptable to them as means of dealing with their problems. On the other hand, the increasing incidence of crimes of violence has become a major concern in America, and antisocial aggressiveness and exploitation of others are tacitly regarded as acceptable avenues to achieve success. Fortunately, we know the causes of the violent behavior and covert hostility that are almost universally suffered by the citizens of America. The veneer of civility of even polite, good people is all too fragile. It is not TV and movie violence that is at the root of our sickness—this merely reflects our open acceptance of violence as a basic value of our society.


Sociologists, psychologists, and anthropologists have consolidated their researches to demonstrate that the deprivation of physical pleasure in children and adolescents is a major ingredient in the expression of physical violence that persists through their lifetimes. The unaffectionate manner in which parents rear their children and the social prohibitions against adolescents finding love and physical pleasure among their peers have been shown to be at the seat of violent behavior. Laboratory experiments with animals show that pleasure and violence have a mutually exclusive relationship—the presence of one inhibits the other. Among human beings, a loving, pleasure-oriented personality rarely displays violent or aggressive behaviors, whereas an aggressive personality has little ability to tolerate or enjoy sensuously pleasing activities or to experience love (as differentiated from sexual desire).


The neurological development of a child’s brain is obviously influenced by the kind of body pleasures or pains he experiences from early infancy on, and these will tend to predispose him to a lifetime of either pleasure orientation or violence proneness. A child’s early sensory experiences of frequent cuddling and prompt attendance to his needs produces low anxiety and a pleasure-oriented disposition later in life. Deprivation of cuddling and the administering of physical punishment results in high anxiety with its attendant violence-proneness and neurotic armoring against feelings. Infant monkeys separated from their mothers at birth and raised in single cages in an animal colony room where they could develop social relationships through sight, sound, and smell while deprived of bodily contact developed pathological violence and the same abnormal emotional behaviors seen in human infants reared in the body-sensory isolation of hospital wards and orphanages. Numerous studies of juvenile delinquents and adult criminals have shown a family background of physically abusive parents. The degree of their deprivation of physical affection can be inferred from the history of neglect and abuse. A study of parents who abuse their children were invariably found to have been deprived of physical affection themselves during childhood and that their adult sex life was extremely poor. Almost all the women who abused their children had never experienced orgasm.


We would expect, therefore, that human societies that provide their children with much physical affection would be less physically violent than societies which give little affection to their infants and children. Indeed, a world-wide, cross-cultural study of child-rearing practices directly proved this hypothesis in 73% of the cultures examined. Another 12% of the societies studied gave much affection to their infants, but their vigorous suppression of adolescents’ sexual activities negated the earlier beneficial results; so they produced a violent people. A further 14% of the societies studied were characterized by low physical affection (but not abusiveness) toward their children, but they were permissive of early premarital sex between their adolescents that seemed to compensate for an earlier lack since they were rated as a non-violent people. The end result of the cross-cultural study gave a correlation of 98% to the deprivation-of-affection-to-later-violence relationship. This provides an extraordinary degree of predictive validity to the principle that physically affectionate societies are highly unlikely to be physically violent, and unaffectionate societies are highly likely to be violent and aggressive. The overall data used in this study support the thesis that deprivation of body pleasure at any time of life, but particularly during the formative periods of infancy, childhood, and adolescence, are clearly related to warfare and interpersonal violence. (Statistics are from Body Pleasure and the Origins of Violence by James W. Prescott, neuropsychologist, published in the Futurist, April 1975. Also see A Cross-Cultural Summary by R. B. Textor, HRAF Press, 1967.)


Questionnaires given to college students reflect our acceptance of violence and the child-rearing methods that produce violence. The students who have relatively negative attitudes toward sexual pleasure favored physical punishment and pain to build strong moral character in children, felt that violence is necessary to solve our problems, enjoyed sadistic pornography, found alcohol more satisfying than sex, got hostile when they drank alcohol, and often got “uptight” about being touched.


A society will support behaviors consistent with its values and mores; and since America is competitive, aggressive and violent, it supports the use of alcohol that facilitates the expression of violent behavior, and it rejects marijuana that actively inhibits violent-aggressive behavior. Significantly, people who have loving, well-integrated personalities use neither of the above drugs. Moreover, a person with the ability to love and to feel comfortable with enjoyment of body pleasure is not attracted to pornography, which is closely related to violence.


Kings and priests have benefited over the past several millennia by purposely converting societies to aggressiveness and violence. Even today the Red Chinese have decided to take children out of the home with its “dangers” of affection. Married couples in China are expected to limit their sexual expression to procreation, and the call for everyone’s “heroic” and idealistic abstention from all body pleasures is designed to serve their nation by breeding aggressiveness. Rulers gain power and profit from war and threat of conflict, but a nonviolent populace is hard to make into aggressors who would be eager to kill whomever is designated by the state as enemies. People at peace within themselves do not observe aggressive gods such as the Jews made of Jehovah—a moral punisher, angry, jealous, a god of war, a patriarchal figure who must be appeased to gain favors.


Christ’s doctrine of Love is terribly subversive to all men in power. Rulers argue that persons who are oriented to pleasure and peacefulness are weak, unhardened, and lack eagerness to kill outsiders. But patriotism—love of one’s country—springs from love, and when the necessity to fight an invader arises, loving men do everything necessary to protect their loved ones. Aggressively competitive men tend toward nationalism instead of patriotism. The patriot is for his land and its people, and he can empathize with a foreigner’s love of his own country; whereas the nationalist is against people of other nations and sees them as objects to subdue and use. Men of peace are better to be trusted with the world, for they provide nurturance to the small and helpless, and they support the rights of all men to pursue happiness and the greater good. Love and emotional wholeness is Christ’s way of the future for truly human beings. He is dedicated to establishing a society that will insure natural wholeness in its citizens. Living a harsh, aggressive, alienated life is a painful, unnatural existence that divides us from one another. Mankind must stop perpetuating the causes of antisocial aggressiveness and power seeking, or risk annihilation in this era of atomic weapons.




Affection vs. Violence