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What can we learn from Primates + Melanie Klein + Psychoanalysis

... based on a sequence of emails with Quaker friends working towards a "Position on Peace" ... Not sure if you had time to listen to Jim al Khalili in discussion with Frans de Waal ... very interesting and thought provoking ... Maybe this book may be of interest ? The Bonobo and the Atheist - in Search of Humanism Among the Primates [ Buy on Amazon ] The summary makes some interesting assertions ... "In this engaging book, leading primatologist and thinker Frans de Waal offers an illuminating new perspective on human nature. Bringing together his pioneering research on primate behaviour, the latest findings in evolutionary biology and insights from moral philosophy, de Waal explains that we don't need the spectres of God or the law in order to act morally. Instead, our moral nature stems from our biology - specifically, our primate social emotions, which include empathy, reciprocity and fairness. We can glimpse this in the behaviour of our closest relatives in the animal kingdom: chimpanzees soothe distressed neighbours and bonobos will voluntarily open a door to offer a companion access to their own food. Building on a wealth of evidence, de Waal reveals that morality is not dictated to us by religion or social strictures but is the product of our biological nature."
Sadly Bonobos are an endangered species ... as is discussed in this URL. Is poaching such species a form of warfare ? Does it have any associations with human trafficking and the killing of humans for spare parts for transplant surgery ? The wikipedia entry for Frans_de_Waal contains this interesting quotation from him "Being both more systematically brutal than chimps and more empathic than bonobos, we are by far the most bipolar ape. Our societies are never completely peaceful, never completely competitive, never ruled by sheer selfishness, and never perfectly moral." How does this tie in with Quaker thinking on Peace ?

Just in case you might be interested I've added links to some other books by Frans de Waal. Many of the links are to reviews in the Guardian. As I am referencing these reviews I do, also, ask you to support the Guardian so that it will continue to do the job it does so well. This next book is an attempt to deal with the question "We have long attributed man's violent, aggressive, competitive nature to his animal ancestry. But what if we are just as given to cooperation, empathy, and morality by virtue of our genes?. Our Inner Ape: The Best and Worst of Human Nature [ Buy on Amazon ]. This, fairly recent book should provides an insite into the current state of the development of Frans der Waals thinking. Maybe we humans have been too arrogant in our view of the supremacy of man over all other species. Maybe a little more humility and compassion are called for. Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are? [ Buy on Amazon ]. I also wonder how all of this relates to various Psychoanalytic theories. In a 5 year training course I took for Psychoanalysts run by the CAP (Centre for Analytical Psychotherapy) I was introduced to the life and work of Melanie Klein . Here for the first time I was made aware of the intense and often terrifying feelings and experiences "young children may experience at their mother's breast". In particular two "Kleinian Classics", Envy and Gratitude, and , Love Guilt and Reparation. I found these two slim volumes very difficult to read and to appreciate some of the, then quite controversial, insights that Melanie Klein was coming up with. In connection with Mrs. Klein .. I never did go on to take a "training patient", for complex family reasons. Certainly Melanie Klein was a complex person who had many admirers and follows, and, also, many who were quite antagonistic to her theories. One of her great champions was Hannah Segal and her classic book "Introduction to the Work of Melanie Klein" certainly helped in gaining a better understanding (still far from perfect) of Melanie Klein's work. A book that helped me greatly, and also provided a perspective on Melanie Klein's life was the more biographical account of Melanie Klein: Her World and Her Work by Phyllis Grosskurth. I must say that I found the mention of the fact that she psychoanalysed her teenage son quite disturbing. Sadly, he later committed suicide. Maybe this was why (metaphorically speaking) I was "frog marched" to a performance of Nicholas Wright's play "Mrs. Klein" on the London stage in the late 80's. I found it a moving and troubling play. It certainly failed, if that was indeed the motivation in encouragning me to go and see it, to make me "renounce psychoanalysis and all its ways". Families are so complex, and despite her many flaws Melanie Klein certainly, I feel, was very innovative in some of her approaches to psychotherapy. In fact one of "my psychanalyst heroes" is Donald Winnicot who undertook his psychoanalytic training with Melanie. [More of him in a another Scribend I hope].
Buy on Amazon links :