This article has three parts. It deals with somatosensory deprivation as a potential cause of violence. I have scanned and HTMLized much of Dr. Prescott's research (with his permission and consent for free distribution). You can find it online at . Outside of E2, please refer to that URL, since it includes improved formatting and images.

The first part is here. The third part is here.

This article does not include further hard links for the reason of source authenticity. Feel free to add relevant soft links.

p. 15, November 1975, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

cilitate  competitive,  aggressive,  and  violent  behaviors  and
opposes  drugs that  counteract such  behaviors. Alcohol  is well
known  to facilitate  the expression  of violent  behaviors, and,
although  addicting  and  very   harmful  to  chronic  users,  is
acceptable to  U.S. society. Marijuana, on  the other hand, is an
active  pleasure-inducing  drug which  enhances  the pleasure  of
touch and  actively inhibits violent-aggressive  behaviors. It is
for these  reasons, I believe that  marijuana is rejected in U.S.
society. For similar reasons heroin is rejected and methadone (an
addicting drug minus the pleasure) is accepted.

The  data from  my questionnaire  support this  view. As  Table 5
shows, very  high correlations  between alcohol use  and parental
punishment  indicate that  people  who received  little affection
from their mothers and had physically punitive fathers are likely
to  become hostile  and aggressive  when they drink.  Such people
find alcohol more satisfying  than sex. There is an even stronger
relationship between parental physical punishment and drug usage.
Respondents  who  were  physically  punished as  children  showed
alcohol-induced hostility and aggression  and were likely to find
alcohol  and drugs  more satisfying  than sex.  The questionnaire
also reveals high correlations between sexual repression and drug
usage. Those  who describe premarital sex  as "not agreeable" are
likely to become aggressive when drinking and to prefer drugs and
alcohol to sexual pleasures.  This is additional evidence for the
hypothesis   that   drug  "pleasures"   are   a  substitute   for
somatosensory pleasures.

                      Violence and Pleasure:
                The Attitudes of College Students

 The reciprocal relationship of violence and pleasure holds true
 in modern industrial nations as well as primitive societies.
 This theory was tested by means of a questionnaire given to 96
 college students (average age: 19). The results showed that
 students who have relatively negative attitudes toward sexual
 pleasure tend to favor harsh punishment for children and to
 believe that violence is necessary to solve problems. The
 students rated a series of statements on a scale of 1 to 6,
 where 1 indicated strong agreement and 6 strong disagreement.
 Through a statistical technique (factor analysis), a personality
 profile of the violent person was developed. Table 5 shows the
 degree of relationship among the various statements which
 reflect social and moral values. The figures at left, known as
 'loadings,' are treated like correlation coefficients. They
 indicate the strength with which each variable contributes to
 the overall personality description of the respondent as defined
 by this specific profile.

                             TABLE 5

              Somatosensory Index of Human Affection
                          Factor 1:66.6%

      Violence Approved

 .85  Hard physical punishment is good for children who disobey
      a lot.

 .81  Physical punishment and pain help build a strong moral
 .80  Abortion should be punished by society.
 .76  Capital punishment should be permitted by society.
 .75  Violence is necessary to really solve our problems.
 .74  Physical punishment should be allowed in the schools.
 .69  I enjoy sadistic pornography.
 .54  I often feel like hitting someone.
 .43  I can tolerate pain very well.

      Physical Pleasure Condemned
 .84  Prostitution should be punished by society.
 .80  Responsible premarital sex is not agreeable to me.

 .78  Nudity within the family has a harmful influence upon
 .73  Sexual pleasures help build a weak moral character.

 .72  Society should interfere with private sexual behavior
      between adults.
 .69  Responsible extramarital sex is not agreeable to me.
 .61  Natural fresh body odors are often offensive.
 .47  I do not enjoy affectional pornography.
 .42  I often get "uptight" about being touched.

      Alcohol and Drugs Rated Higher than Sex
 .70  Alcohol Is more satisfying than sex.
 .65  Drugs are more satisfying than sex.
 .60  I get hostile and aggressive when I drink alcohol.
 .49  I would rather drink alcohol than smoke marijuana.
 .45  I drink alcohol more often than I experience orgasm.

      Political Conservatism
 .82  I tend to be conservative in my political points of view.
 .77  Age (Older).

 .51  I often dream of either floating, flying, falling, or
 .45  My mother is often indifferent toward me.
 .40  I remember when my father physically punished me a lot.

 The collaboration of Douglas Wallace, Human Sexuality Program,
 University of California Medical School, San Francisco, in the
 questionnaire study is gratefully acknowledged.

 This table is a slightly revised version. The original version
 has been preserved.

Religious Roots

The  origins of  the fundamental reciprocal  relationship between
physical  violence  and  physical   pleasure  can  be  traced  to
philosophical   dualism  and   to   the  theology   of  body/soul
relationships.  In Western  philosophical thought  man was  not a
unitary being but was  divided into two parts, body and soul. The
Greek philosophical  conception of the  relationship between body
and  soul was  quite different  than the  Judeo-Christian concept
which posited  a state of  war between the body  and soul. Within
Judeo-Christian thought the purpose of human life was to save the
soul, and  the body was  seen as an impediment  to achieving this
objective. Consequently, the body  must be punished and deprived.
In St. Paul's words:  "Put to death the base pursuits of the body
-- for if you  live according to the flesh, you shall die: but if
by the spirit you mortify the deeds of the flesh, you shall live"
(Romans 8:13). St.  Paul clearly advocated somatosensory pleasure
deprivation and enhancement of painful somatosen-

p. 16, November 1975, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

sory stimulation as essential prerequisites for saving the soul.

"Now concerning  the things whereof you  wrote to me:  It is good
for a man not to touch a woman" (1 Corinthians, 7:1).

Aristotle did not view  a state of war between the body and soul,
but rather  envisioned a complimentary relationship  in which the
state of the soul or mind was dependent on the state of the body.
In fact  he stated  that "the care  of the body  ought to precede
that of the soul." (Politica)

Aristotle  also appreciated  the reciprocal  relationship between
pleasure and  pain, and  recognized that a  compulsive search for
bodily pleasure originates from  a state of bodily discomfort and

     Now, excess is possible in the case of the goods of the
     body,  and it  is the  pursuit of  excess, but  not the
     pursuit of  necessary pleasures, that makes  a man bad.
     For all men get  some kind of enjoyment from good food,
     wine,  and sexual  relations,  but not  everyone enjoys
     these things in the  proper way. The reverse is true of
     pain: a bad person  does not avoid an excess of it, but
     he avoids it altogether.  For the opposite of an excess
     is pain only for the man who pursues the excess. . . .

     Accordingly, we  must now explain why  the pleasures of
     the body appear to be more desirable. The first reason,
     then,  is  that  pleasure  drives out  pain.  When  men
     experience  an excess  of  pain, they  pursue excessive
     pleasure and bodily pleasure  in general, in the belief
     that   it  will   remedy   the  pain.   These  remedial
     (pleasures) become very intense -- and that is the very
     reason   why  they   are   pursued  because   they  are
     experienced   in   contrast   with   their  opposite.
     (Nichomachean Ethics, Book 7)


               It is clear that the world has only
               limited time to change its custom of
               resolving conflicts violently. It is
                uncertain whether we have the time
               to undo the damage done by countless
               previous generations, nor do we know
               how many future generations it will
               take to transform our psychobiology
                  of violence into one of peace.


In  his  discussion  of the  highest  good,  Aristotle was  quite

"Therefore, the  highest good  is some sort  of pleasure, despite
the fact  that most pleasures are  bad, and, if you  like, bad in
the unqualified sense of the word." (Nichomachean Ethics, Book 7)

It is  evident that the Judeo-Christian  concept of body pleasure
is   quite  the   opposite   of  that   outlined  by   Aristotle,
particularly,  the relief  of  body pain  and discomfort  through
somatosensory pleasure. This  denial of somatosensory pleasure in
Pauline  Christian  doctrine  has  led to  alternative  forms  of
'relief'  through   such  painful  stimulations  as  hair-shirts,
self-scourgings,  self-mutilations,   physical  violence  against
others, and in the non-sensory pleasures of drugs.

Experimental animal studies have documented counterparts to these
phenomena.  For   example,  animals   deprived  of  somatosensory
stimulation  will  engage in  mutilations  of  their own  bodies.
Animals deprived of touching  early in life develop impaired pain
perception and  an aversion to being  touched by others. They are
thus  blocked from  experiencing  the body-pleasure  therapy that
they need  for rehabilitation.  In this condition,  they have few
alternatives but  physical violence, where pain-oriented touching
and  body contact  is  facilitated by  their impaired  ability to
experience pain. Thus, physical violence and physical pain become
therapies of choice for those deprived of physical pleasure.

The question arises as  to how Christian philosophy and theology,
which borrowed  heavily from Aristotle, managed  to avoid, if not
outright reject, Aristotle's  teachings regarding the morality of
pleasure. The roots to  this question can be found throughout the
Old  Testament,  beginning with  the  account in  Genesis of  the
expulsion  of Adam  and Eve  from the  Garden of Eden.  The first
consequence  of  Eve's   transgression  was  that  nudity  became
shameful. This even may  well be the beginning of man's hostility
toward women  and the  equating of woman  with evil, particularly
the  evils of the  body. This  is vividly portrayed  in Zechariah
(5:5-8) in an angel's description of the flying bushel:

     "This is a bushel container coming. This is their guilt
     in all  the land."  Then a leaden cover  was lifted and
     there was  a woman sitting inside  the bushel. "This is
     wickedness,  he  said, and  he  thrust  her inside  the
     bushel,  pushing   the  leaden  cover   into  the  opening."

Violence against sexuality and the use of sexuality for violence,
particularly  against  women, has  very  deep  roots in  Biblical
tradition, and is spelled  out very early. The nineteenth chapter
of Genesis (19:1-11), the  first book of the Old Testament, holds
that the  rape of woman is  acceptable but the rape  of man is "a
wicked thing."  This chapter  about the destruction  of Sodom and
Gomorrah  describes  Lot's  hospitality  to  two  male  travelers
(actually two angels) who were housed with him.

In the evening the townsmen of Sodom came to Lot's house and said
to him: "Where are  the men who came to your house tonight? Bring
them out  to us that we may have  intimacies with them." Lot went
out  to meet  them at  the entrance.  When he  had shut  the door
behind  him, he  said, "I beg  you, my  brothers, not to  do this
wicked thing. I have two daughters who have never had intercourse
with men. Let me bring them out to you, and you may do to them as
you please. But don't do anything to these men, for you know they
have  come under the  shelter of  my roof." They  replied, "Stand
back! This fellow," they sneered, "came here as an immigrant, and
now he  dares to give  orders! We'll treat you  worse than them!"
With  that, they pressed  hard against  Lot, moving in  closer to
break down  the door. But  his guests put out  their hand, pulled
Lot inside with them, and closed the

p. 17, November 1975, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

door; at the same time they struck the men at the entrance of the
house,  one and  all,  with such  blinding light  that  they were
utterly unable to reach the doorway.

As the story continues,  the two angels escort Lot and his family
to  safety and then  destroy Sodom  and Gomorrah for  their great
sinfulness. Yet  not a word of  reproach is given to  Lot for his
willingness  to hand  over his  two virgin  daughters to  be gang
raped.  This  same story  is  repeated  in the  books of  Ezekiel
(23:1-49) and Judges (19:22-30).

Given  such a  tradition,  it is  understandable that  during the
Inquisition only women were  charged with having intercourse with
the devil  and put to death for this  crime of pleasure. What man
has died at the stake for having slept with Satan? This tradition
is  maintained in  modern cultures  where women are  punished for
prostitution but their male customers are not.

The historical  and Biblical acceptance of  rape down through the
ages  has  brutalized the  psyche  of  males brought  up in  this
tradition.  This is  well illustrated  in the account  of Michael
McCusker, a Marine sergeant who witnessed a gang rape in Vietnam.
McCusker  7 tells  of a rifle  squad of nine men  who entered a
small village.

     They were supposed to  go after what they called a Viet
     Cong whore.  They went into her  village and instead of
     capturing her,  they raped her --  every man raped her.
     As a  matter of fact, one man said  to me later that it
     was the  first time  he had ever  made love to  a woman
     with his boots on.  The man who led the platoon, or the
     squad, was  actually a private. The  squad leader was a
     sergeant  but he was  a useless  person and he  let the
     private take  over his squad. Later  he said he took no
     part in the raid. It was against his morals. So instead
     of  telling  his  squad  not  to do  it,  because  they
     wouldn't listen  to him anyway, the  sergeant went into
     another  side of  the village  and just sat  and stared
     bleakly at  the ground, feeling sorry  for himself. But
     at any  rate, they  raped the girl, and  then, the last
     man   to  make  love   to  her,   shot  her  in   the  head.

What is  it in  the American psyche  that permits the  use of the
word  'love' to  describe  rape? And  where  the act  of love  is
completed with a bullet in the head!
A happy mother caressing her child
The first months. Breast-feeding and caressing will help this
infant to grow into a non-violent adult. Denial of such body
contact in infancy can have the opposite effect.

Why do men rape  women? Researchers report that most rapists have
a family background of paternal punishment and hostility and loss
of maternal affection. I  interpret rape as man's revenge against
woman for the early loss of physical affection. A man can express
his  hostility  toward  his  mother  for not  giving  him  enough
physical attention by sexually violating another woman.

Another explanation may be  that the increasing sexual freedom of
women  is threatening  to man's  position of power  and dominance
over women  which he  often maintains through  sexual aggression.
Rape  destroys sensual  pleasure in  woman and  enhances sadistic
pleasure  in  man. Through  rape,  man defends  himself from  the
sensual pleasures  of women which threaten  his position of power
and dominance.

It is my belief that rape has its
Swedish paper doll that does not hide or idealize female sexuality
Realistic dolls. Swedish paper doll exemplifies the frankness about
the human body that is needed to inculcate wholesome attitudes
toward sex and violence. In this paper doll, no attempt is made to
idealize or de-sexualize the human body; the body is simply accepted
as it is.

p. 18, November 1975, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

origins in the deprivation  of physical affection in parent-child
relationships and adult sexual  relationships; and in a religious
value system  that considers pain and  body deprivation moral and
physical  pleasure immoral.  Rape maintains man's  dominance over
woman and supports the  perpetuation of patriarchal values in our

              Rearing Environment and Brain Cells

This figure shows the effects of the rearing environment upon a
type of nerve cell (called a stellate) which is found in the
fourth layer of a rat's visual cortex. The number of branches of
the dendrites is much greater in animals reared in groups in a
toy-filled environment (called enriched environmental condition,
EC) than the number which occurs when two rats are reared
together in an ordinary cage (called social condition, SC) or
when rats are reared alone in ordinary cages (called isolate
condition, IC).

These data show that extreme conditions of sensory/social
deprivation are not necessary to alter brain structure, and that
an enriched sensory/social environment can increase the
complexity of brain cells. Dendrites, which are usually branched
like a tree, are the part of the nerve cell (neuron) which
carries the nerve impulse to the cell body; and they are the
means by which brain cells communicate with one another. Brain
cells with many dendrites can influence and regulate the activity
of other brain cells more effectively than brain cells with fewer
or abnormal dendrites. It is believed that the complexity of
brain cells is related to the ability to solve complex problems
both of an intellectual and social nature, and that abnormal
dendritic structures underlie abnormal electrical 'spike'
discharges in the brain.

Source: Volkmar and Greenough 9.

It is  clear that the world  has only limited time  to change its
custom of resolving conflicts  violently. It is uncertain whether
we have  the time to  undo the damage done  by countless previous
generations, nor  do we know how  many future generations it will
take  to  transform our  psychobiology  of violence  into one  of

If we accept the theory that the lack of sufficient somatosensory
pleasure  is a principal  cause of  violence, we can  work toward
promoting  pleasure  and  encouraging affectionate  interpersonal
relationships as a means of combatting aggression. We should give
high priority to body pleasure in the context of meaningful human
relationships.  Such   body  pleasure  is   very  different  from
promiscuity,  which  reflects  a  basic inability  to  experience
pleasure.  If  a  sexual  relationship is  not  pleasurable,  the
individual  looks for  another partner.  A continuing  failure to
find  sexual satisfaction  leads to  a continuing search  for new
partners, that is, to promiscuous behavior. Affectionately shared
physical  pleasure,  on  the other  hand,  tends  to stabilize  a
relationship  and eliminate  the  search. However,  a variety  of
sexual experiences  seems to  be normal in  cultures which permit
its expression, and this may be important for optimizing pleasure
and affection in sexual relationships.

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

Family planning is essential. Children must be properly spaced so
that each  can receive  optimal affection and care.  The needs of
the  infant should  be  immediately met.  Cross-cultural evidence
does not  support the  view that such practices  will 'spoil' the
infant. Contrary to Dr.  Benjamin Spock, it is harmful for a baby
to  cry  itself to  sleep.  By  not answering  an infant's  needs
immediately and  consistently we not only  teach a child distrust
at a  very basic emotional level,  but also establish patterns of
neglect which harm the

p. 19, November 1975, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

child's social and emotional health. The discouragement of breast
feeding in favor of  bottle feeding and the separation of healthy
newborns from  their mothers in our  'modern' hospitals are other
examples of harmful child-rearing practices.

About 25  percent of  marriages in the  United States now  end in
divorce,  and   an  even   higher  percentage  of   couples  have
experienced extramarital affairs. This suggests that something is
basically  wrong  with   the  traditional  concept  of  universal
monogamy.  When  viewed  in  connection with  the  cross-cultural
evidence  of  the physical  deprivations,  violence, and  warfare
associated with  monogamy, the need to  create a more pluralistic
system of  marriage becomes clear.  Contemporary experiments with
communal living  and group marriage are  attempting to meet basic
needs  that  remain unfulfilled  in  the isolation  of a  nuclear
marriage.  We  must  seriously  consider  new  options,  such  as
extended  families comprised  of two  or three couples  who share
values   and   lifestyles.    By   sharing   the   benefits   and
responsibilities of child rearing, such families could provide an
affectionate  and  varied environment  for  children  as well  as
adults,  and  thereby reduce  the  incidence of  child abuse  and

The  communal family  -- like  the extended  family group  -- can
provide a  more stimulating  and supportive environment  for both
children and adults than can the average nuclear family. Communal
living should not, of course, be equated with group sex, which is
not  a  sharing,  but  more often  an  escape  from intimacy  and
emotional vulnerability.

Openness About the Body

No matter  what type  of family structure  is chosen, it  will be
important to encourage openness about the body and its functions.
From this standpoint, we could benefit from redesigning our homes
along the Japanese format, separating the toilet from the bathing
facilities. The family bath  should be used for socialization and
relaxation, and  should provide a natural  situation for children
to learn about male-female  differences. Nudity, like sex, can be
misused  and  abused,  and  this  fear  often  prevents  us  from
accepting the honesty of our own bodies.

The  beneficial  stimulation of  whirlpool  baths  should not  be
limited to  hospitals or  health club spas, but  brought into the
home.  The  family bath  should  be large  enough to  accommodate
parents  and  children,  and  be  equipped with  a  whirlpool  to
maximize relaxation and pleasure. Nudity, openness, and affection
within the family can  teach children and adults that the body is
not shameful  and inferior, but rather is  a source of beauty and
sensuality through  which we  emotionally relate to  one another.
Physical  affection  involving touching,  holding, and  caressing
should not be equated with sexual stimulation, which is a special
type of physical affection.

               The competitive ethic, which teaches
                children that they must advance at
                 the expense of others, should be
                replaced by values of cooperation.


To Love, not Compete

The  competitive ethic,  which  teaches children  that they  must
advance at the expense of others, should be replaced by values of
cooperation and a pursuit of excellence for its own sake. We must
raise  children  to be  emotionally  capable of  giving love  and
affection,  rather than  to exploit  others. We  should recognize
that sexuality  in teenagers is not  only natural, but desirable,
and accept premarital sexuality as a positive moral good. Parents
should  help  teenagers  realize  their own  sexual  selfhood  by
allowing them to use the family home for sexual fulfillment. Such
honesty  would encourage  a  more mature  attitude toward  sexual
relationships and  provide a private  supportive environment that
is far  better for their development than the  back seat of a car
or  other undesirable  locations outside  the home.  Early sexual
experiences are too often an attempt to prove one's adulthood and
maleness or femaleness rather  than a joyful sharing of affection
and pleasure.

Above all,  male sexuality must recognize  the equality of female
sexuality.  The  traditional  right  of men  to  multiple  sexual
relationships  must  be  extended  to women.  The  great  barrier
between man and woman is man's fear of the depth and intensity of
female sensuality.  Because power and  aggression are neutralized
through sensual pleasure, man's primary defense against a loss of
dominance has  been the historic denial,  repression, and control
of the sensual pleasure  of women. The use of sex to provide mere
release from physiological tension (apparent pleasure) should not
be  confused   with  a   state  of  sensual   pleasure  which  is
incompatible  with  dominance, power,  aggression, violence,  and
pain. It  is through the mutual  sharing of sensual pleasure that
sexual equality between women and men will be realized.

The  sensory environment in  which an  individual grows up  has a
major influence upon  the development and functional organization
of the  brain. Sensory  stimulation is a nutrient  that the brain
must  have  to  develop  and  function normally.  How  the  brain
functions determines how a person behaves. At birth a human brain
is extremely  immature and new brain cells  develop up to the age
of two years. The  complexity of brain cell development continues
up  to  about  16  years  of  age.  Herman  Epstein  of  Brandeis
University  has evidence  that growth  spurts in the  human brain
occur at approximately 3, 7, 11, and 15 years of age. How

p. 20, November 1975, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

early  deprivations  affect these  growth  spurts has  yet to  be
determined;  however, some  data  suggest that  the final  growth
spurt may be abolished by early deprivation.

W. T.  Greenough, a  psychologist at the  University of Illinois,
has demonstrated that an  enriched sensory environment produces a
more complex brain cell  in rats than an ordinary or impoverished
sensory environment  (see figure). His studies  show that extreme
sensory deprivation is not necessary to induce structural changes
in the developing brain. Many other investigators have shown that
rearing  rats   in  isolation  after  they   are  weaned  induces
significant  changes  in the  biochemistry  of  their brain  cell
functioning. Other  investigators have  shown abnormal electrical
activity  of   brain  cell  functioning  in   monkeys  reared  in
isolation.  I  have  suggested   that  the  cerebellum,  a  brain
structure involved in the  regulation of many brain processes, is
rendered dysfunctional when an  animal is reared in isolation and
is   implicated    in   violent-aggressive   behaviors   due   to
somatosensory  deprivation.  It has  been  shown that  cerebellar
neurosurgery   can    change   the    aggressive   behaviors   of
isolation-reared monkeys  to peaceful behavior. Predatory killing
behavior in  ordinary house  cats can be  provoked by stimulating
the cerebellar fastigial nucleus, one of the deep brain nuclei of
the cerebellum.