A Monkey's Mind

by David Dobbs
The Atlantic, December 2009

"Of all the evidence, perhaps the most compelling comes from the work of Stephen Suomi, a rhesus-monkey researcher who heads a sprawling complex of labs and monkey habitats in the Maryland countryside. Very early in his work, Suomi identified two types of monkeys that had trouble managing these relations. Suomi saw that each of these monkey types tended to come from a particular type of mother. Bullies came from harsh, censorious mothers who restrained their children from socializing. Anxious monkeys came from anxious, withdrawn, distracted mothers. The heritages were pretty clear-cut. But how much of these different personality types passed through genes, and how much derived from the manner in which the monkeys were raised?"

Jennie Rothenberg Gritz is a senior editor at The Atlantic, where she edits digital features.

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