An open-access piece now in press at the Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences will interest AHP readers: “Harry Harlow’s pit of despair: Depression in monkeys and men,” Lenny van Rosmalen, Maartje P. C. M. Luijk, Frank C. P. van der Horst. Abstract:
Major depressive disorder is the most common mood disorder in the United States today and the need for adequate treatment has been universally desired for over a century. Harry Harlow, famous for his research with rhesus monkeys, was heavily criticized when he undertook his controversial experiments trying to find a solution for depression in the 1960s–1970s. His research, however, did not just evolve gradually from his earlier research into learning and into love. Recently disclosed hand-written notes show, for the first time, the severity of Harlow’s depressions as he wrote in detail about his feelings and thoughts during his stay in a mental hospital in 1968. In these notes, Harlow repeatedly vowed to put every effort into finding a cure for depression. This may, for a large part, explain why he did not stop his rigorous animal experiments where critics argue he should have, and he eventually managed to book positive results.