FACT: Thirty years before Jane Goodall showed us the humanity of chimps, psychologist Harry Harlow showed us ourselves in the eyes of baby lab monkeys.
At the forefront of attachment theory in the 1950s, Harlow’s research on bonds between mother and infant monkeys helped prove that neither man nor monkey can live without love. But rather than proving that love mattered by nurturing relationships, Harlow did so by severing attachments and raising his lab monkeys in social isolation. Generation after generation of psychologically wounded monkeys provided data for human psychologists re-imagining the mother-child bond. What motivated Harlow? Why did Harlow translate love into loneliness, connection into separation, and mothers into surrogates?
FICTION: In this historically researched and archival-based novel, the fictional Harry Harlow reviews his life as he faces his own death, revisiting the man he had been and the man he became.
Like Ebenezer Scrooge, who with the help of the spirit world comes to see all he has set aside in the pursuit of his aspirations, Harlow is visited by ghosts and spirits who help him reconnect to the violence he rendered in search of his own lost need for connection.
In addition to reading the entirety of Harlow’s published research as well as the archival holdings on Harlow at the University of Wisconsin Primate Center, these are a few of the other resources I drew on for the novel: