Dominance, Submission, and Love: Sexual Pathologies from the Perspective of Ethology

Eibl-Eibesfeldt, Irenaus
Place PublishedNew York
Extent150 - 175

Chapter 5 of

Jay R. feierman (Ed.): Pedophilia, Biosocial Dimensions; Springer-Verlag, 1990

The References are here: < feiernan_5_refs.pdf >.


[Page 150]
In attempting to understand adult human sexual behavior with children and adolescents, the researcher must realize that although human beings tend to associate sex with love, sex without love or tenderness also exists in humans as part of the archaic vertebmte heritage of the species.

Therefore, an understanding of

  • (a) sex without love, i.e., before love existed, in the human phylogenetic past and
  • (b) the means by which love entered adult-adult sexual relationships during human evolution can shed light on many of the unusual and atypical aspects of sexual behavior that are found in human societies today.

This chapter will take a brief look at some of the developments throughout human phylogenetic history that changed sexual relationships from ones characterized primarily by dominance/submission relations to a sexuality characterized by affiliative relations, bonding, and love.

The suggestions will be made that vestiges of a sexuality based on dominance-and-submission relations without love are still present in some human sexual behaviors and that, if these sexual behaviors are not under the control of love, this dissociation may predispose some individuals to engage in one type of adult human sexual behavior with children and adolescents.

[Page 151]
Another type of adult/child and adult/adolescent sexual behavior is interpreted as being the result of the evolutionary origins of adult/adult romantic or erotic love. Both types of adult human sexual behavior with children and adolescents will be discussed in this chapter.

Throughout the chapter, the terms "affiliation," "bonding," and "love" are used. When two individuals merely come together, their interaction is simply called an "association." There are many types of associations, and many of them are not based on affiliation, bonding, or love.

For example, if animals come together because they are attracted by certain features of the environment, such as a common food supply or a protected sleeping place, the word "aggregation" is used to describe the community.

Aggregations may also be based on mutual social attraction. Such social aggregations occur as anonymous groups in which individuals do not recognize each other, such as schools of fish. They also occur as social groups in which individuals do recognize each other and in which individual social interactions are structured by relationships of dominance and submission. The latter kind of social aggregation is characterized by what might be called "agonal sociality."

Affiliations differ from aggregations in that the former involve nurturant behavior (or, in humans, "friendly" behavior), such as grooming, kissing, or feeding. Affiliations can be anonymous, as occurs in social insects, or individualized, as occurs in birds and mammals, when personal relations are based on individual recognition.

Bonding is the basis and the mechanism of afftliation. Two individuals are said to be bonded if their relationship is a friendship based upon affiliation. The term "bond" denotes a presumed underlying mechanism. In humans, this mechanism works through the emotions, and it may do so in animals, as well, although science can do no more than speculate about this possibility, since it is unknown how or whether animals feel. Recent studies, which are shedding some light on the chemical basis of emotions, eventually may clarify some of the mechanisms behind bonding.

The term "love" implies an association that is of stronger intensity than is the intensity meant by "afftliation." For example, it is usual to have an affiliative relationship with neighbors or co-workers, but most people do not use the term "love" in this context. Love often is divided into types, such as platonic, fraternal, parental, romantic, and erotic. It is beyond the scope of this chapter to address the types of love, although it is most probable that they all have much in common. It is sufficient in this chapter to simply say that love is an intense affiliative relationship based upon an affectual bond between two individuals.

Sex Before Love Existed


[Page 152]
The absence of love or friendly interactions in lower vertebrates can be observed in the marine iguanas on the Galapagos Islands (I. Eibl-Eibesfeldt, personal observation). Hundreds of these large reptiles bask on the rocky coast, lying side by side apparently in gregarious groups

However, to a human observer, something appears to be missing. These animals seem simply incapable of any friendly interactions. Anyone familiar with birds and mammals can observe in representatives of both groups a rich repertory of friendly or nurturant behaviors. Birds groom each other in friendly encounters, such as during courtship. They exchange gifts of nesting material during rituals of greeting and feed each other during courtship.

Marine iguanas, however, do nothing similar. The only social behavior that can be observed consists of threat displays, fights, and submission. Males fight one another during the breeding season in a highly ritualized manner. The interaction starts on a rock, with an introductory display during which a pair of rivals circle each other with a strutting gait, demonstrating their respective profiles to the opponent, nodding their heads, and gaping as if intending to bite.

Finally, they take positions opposite each other, rush at the opponent, and clash head-on with lowered heads. A wrestling tournament ensues, with each attempting to push the other from the rock.

This contest of strength continues until one is pushed off. An alternative conclusion often occurs in such battles, in that one individual behaves as if he "realizes" he has no chance to win. In such a case, he assumes a submissive posture, lying flat on his belly, thus discouraging further attacks. Then, while the rival waits in threatening posture, the loser scuttles away

Such ritual fights may not seem extraordinary to the human observer, but the interesting fact is that males also use the intimidation display - and only this display- for courtship. The male approaches the female in full threat display. If she is ready to copulate, she simply assumes the submissive posture, whereupon he grasps her at the nape of her neck with his jaws, pins her down, mounts, and copulates. If she is not ready, she simply runs as he approaches.

Direct observation of these lizards, and an examination of the literature, show that the social behavior of reptiles, including their sexual behavior, is based upon dominance-and-submission relationships (Greenberg and Maclean, 1978). One can describe their sexual behavior as an agonal, hierarchal sexuality based on male-dominance and female-submission behaviors.


[Page 154]
In most of the fish in which the courtship of individuals occurs, the situation is similar: males display, females submit. In a number of cichlid fish that lack sexual dimorphism, however, both sexes display, and the male can mate only if he succeeds in dominating the female.

In addition to what is learned through behavioral analysis, the motivational analysis of cichlid fish has demonstrated that sexual behavior in the male is inhibited if he is fearful but not if he is aggressive. Conversely, sexual behavior in the female is inhibited if she is aggressive but not if she is fearful

  • (Oehlert, 1958). (Also see Medicus and Hopf, this volume.)

There are some variations in the comtship behavior of cichlids, such as in some mouthbreeding cichlids in which the male lures the female to the spawning site, taking advantage of the female's readiness to respond to eggs by presenting the "egg spot" markings that occur on his anal fin as a luring device. In general, however, interactions that seem to be truly affdiative cannot be observed in fish, and the dominance/submission mechanisms play the decisive part.

Sexual Behavior in the Context of Love in Birds and Mammals: From Parental to Romantic Love

Friendly or nurturant behavior is a relatively late addition to the repertory of vertebrate behavior, and it most likely developed out of parental care provided to infants. With the evolution of parental-care behaviors came the existence of such activities as the feeding, warming, and grooming of young, activities to which the young respond in a positive way by seeking the proximity of the nurturing parent. The young in turn developed signs and signals that trigger caretaking responses.

Once these behaviors between parent and child had evolved, they were used in reinforcing parent/child affiliation and also were extended to other relationships. They were a preadaptation, so to speak, enabling adults to fonn affiliative relationships. Indeed, they are used in this way.

If one observes courtship and greeting rituals in birds and mammals, one soon becomes aware that the patterns by which a friendly afflliation is established, upheld, or sttengthened are basically derived from maternal behaviors and infantile appeals that trigger these patterns

  • (Eibl-Eibesfeldt, 1966, 1970a; Wickler, 1967a).

When European sparrows court, they employ, among other signals, infantile appeals. A courting male may act like a nestling, fluttering his wings and gaping. This behavior attracts the female, who then feeds him. She, in turn, might employ the infantile appeal to trigger his friendly feeding response. Pairs of the African bird Trachyphonus sing together in duets. The males incorporate into their part of the song begging songs of the young. The finches of the genus Lonchura demonstrate beak clattering during cowtship, a motor pattern derived from feeding the young (Wickler and Uhrig, 1969).

[Page 156]
In many birds, as can be seen, broodcare feeding became ritualized into friendly displays, such as cowtship feeding with or without the transfer of food

Similar developments can be observed in mammals.

Chimpanzees greet each other by embrace and by lip-to-lip contact Sometimes food is transferred, which reveals that this behavior pattern had its origin in maternal kissfeeding.

In humans, too, adults kissfeed babies. However, kissfeeding also is an expression of tenderness, and in this function, it is not restricted to the adult/infant relationship. In all of the cultures with which this author is familiar, children are kissed by adults, and adults express affection toward one another in the same way

Kissing occurs among adults in a great variety of societies. In the Kamasutra, the Indian book of love, is found the remark that lovers exchange wine mouth to mouth. A Japanese text from preEuropean times warns lovers not to stick their tongue into the mouth of a woman during orgasm because she might bite (Eibl-Eibesfeldt, 1970a).

Recently, this author noted kissfeeding ceremonies·in the designs of preColumbian Peruvian pottery. Lovers kissfeed each other in the Wiru, Southern Highlands, in New Guinea. In most societies, kissing does not occur in public, because nonindustrialized societies are less exhibitionistic than are the societies of the industrialized world, particularly of the industrialized West. Researchers do not know, therefore, how widespread kissing and kissfeeding are in intimate relations (Eibl-Eibesfeldt, 1986).

The motor pattern in kissing clearly portrays its origin from kissfeeding, with one partner playing the accepting part by opening the mouth in babyish fashion and the other partner performing tongue movements as if to pass food. In humans, of course, feeding occurs in many culturally elaborated and derived forms, such as in the presentation of gifts of food.

In many mammals, infantile appeals are used to diminish a partner's fear and to buffer aggression. When a male hamster follows a female during courtship, he utters the call by which a baby hamster alerts its mother when it is in distress.

A wolf approaches a high-ranking individual of its pack by pushing with its snout agaillst the comers of the mouth of the high-ranking individual. Wolf pups perform this behavior when they beg for food. In submission, a wolf rolls onto its back, offering its belly to the opponent in the way pups do when they offer themselves for cleaning to their mothers. Often, the lower ranking wolf urinates, which releases licking by the dominant one. Thus, a hostile relation can be turned into a friendly

These examples should be sufficient to illustrate the point that these parental behaviors, which evolved independently in birds and mammals, constitute a turning point in the evolution of sociality, because the behaviors introduced signals of
[Page 158]
friendliness into vertebrate behavior.

Furthermore, these behaviors gave origin to the development of afftliative relationships. In many birds and mammals, there are individual affIliative relationships between mother and infant that function in securing the attachment of the two individuals in a long-lasting relationship.

Sometimes, as in sheep, goats, and sea lions, the affiliation takes place in a very short period, immediately after birth, during which mother and newborn are extremely sensitive to each other. Once an affiliation between mother and infant has been established, mothers respond to young that are not their own with rejection.

Since the personal affiliation is in essence what characterizes love, it can be said that with maternal care, love came into the world. With the development of maternal care, a decisive step in the evolution of social behavior was taken. Group life based in part upon friendly relations and love could develop. New social potentialities opened up. Even humankind's nation ethos is a derivation and extension of its family ethos.

With the evolution of parental care and the afftliative mechanisms that developed with it, adult/adult sexual relations had the potential to become affiliative. Therefore, researchers can speak of an affIliative sexuality, i.e., one characterized by friendly behavior and in many cases, though not in all, by love.

In humans, in whom the maturation and socialization period for children is so long, there probably has been strong selection for the strengthening of affiliative sexuality into love. Such an outcome should keep spouses together and thus assure paternal as well as maternal investment.

This dual investment, resulting most likely from the affiliative sexuality and the subsequent capability for love that characterizes humans, is the opposite of the nonnurturing behavior of most reptiles toward their offspring, behavior that is commensurate with the agonal sexuality of the reptiles.

The Reptilian Brain Within US: Sex, Dominance, and Aggression

That the archaic reptilian brain is still within humans was emphasized by MacLean (1970). It is located in the human forebrain as an assemblage of ganglia as large as a fist, which in its internal organization and chemistry corresponds to a certain area of the brain of reptiles. Dopamine, which acts as a neurotransmitter, is concentrated here in reptiles, birds, and mammals.

Superimposed upon this area in mammals is the limbic cortex, which is the old mammalian brain and upon which, in turn, lies the neocortex of the higher mammals. Human aggression is believed to be rooted in the reptilian brain. Valzelli and Morgese (1981) and Bailey (1987) interpret pathological aggression as a regression to the reptilian level associated with cessation of the cortical control. This regression can happen under the influence of alcohol or by active indoctrination. It is postulated that the archaic reptilestratwn plays a significant role in hwnan sexual relations and behavior, as well as in aggression.

[Page 159]
That there exists a linkage between male sexual behavior and aggression has been amply documented (Zillman, 1986). Studies in various mammals demonstrate this linkage on the physiological and behavioral levels.

In the tree shrew (Tupaja), for example, blood-testosterone levels are higher in dominant individuals and lower in subdominant and submissive individuals. This principle seems to hold in general in nonhuman primates as well, in which the subdominant individual seems to be psychologically castrated by the presence of the dominant individual. In humans, too, male sexual behavior and dominance appear to be connected.

For example, one can observe a significant increase in the plasma-testosterone level after young males win in a tennis match and a significant decrease after they lose (Mazur and Lamb, 1980). Such changes do not occur only in competitions involving bodily exercise. Medical students show a similar increase in the p1asma-testosterone level if they pass their examination and a decrease if they fail (Mazur and Lamb, 1980).

Furthermore, there are remarkable expressive-behavior patterns in primates that link male sexual behavior to dominance. When groups of cercopithecid monkeys forage, some males sit guard with their backs to the group, displaying their brilliantly colored genitals. They sit, so to speak, as living border posts, threatening members of other groups with mounting in case they should come too close. If a member of another group does come too close, the guards have erections.

Dominance between group members is also expressed by ritualized mounting, and submission, in turn, is expressed by female-type presenting. From these kinds of greeting rituals have evolved behaviors such as those of hamadryas baboons, in which males approaching high-ranking individuals present as if they, the presenters, were females. Their buttocks are hairless and red in mimicry of the female buttocks, thus enhancing the signal value of presenting (Wiclder, 1966, 1967b).

The high-ranking individual may mount or just perform the intention to mount in response to the other's presenting. This use by primates of sexual motor patterns to acknowledge dominance rank order has often been interpreted as being equivalent to human homosexuality. This interpretation is an oversimplification.

These sexual motor patterns are derived from copulatory behaviors but, then, have acquired a new function related to social hierarchies: mounting serves as an indication of dominance, and presenting serves as an indication of submission, an agonistic buffer in a greeting context

  • (see Anderson and Bielert, this volume).

Wiclder (1967b) calls these patterns "socio-sexual signals," but the more exact origin of these signals is dominance sexuality.

Phallic displays are not restricted to nonhuman primates. In fact, such displays are used in a variety of interesting ways in human societies, in which they are less often expressed in overt behavior and more often expressed in artifacts such as sculptures that serve the purpose of warding off spirits or evil.

[Page 160]
Phallic apotropaic figurines are common on old churches in Europe, mainly of the Romanic and Gothic periods. Such figurines also can be found in other societies and in other contexts as well.

For example, Hermes, in the mythology of ancient Greece, served as a guardian marking borders and entrances. Phallic figurines that are found in Africa, the New World, and Indonesia serve similar functions. In modem Japan, phallic amulets are used to provide protection. Many of these various figurines have been interpreted as being fertility demons, but they really function as guardians, which is evident from their threatening expressions .

As is the case concerning sculptures, direct phallic displays by the human male likewise can be identified as being displays of dominance, because of the accompanying threatening expression on the individual's face. Such displays are rarely observed, however, because of conventions of modesty that are present in most human societies.

Among the Eipo in the western part of New Guinea (which belongs to Indonesia), males cover their penises with conspicuous penis gourds, which are used for display in two ways. When a male mocks an enemy, he loosens the cord that holds the gourd against the body. Then, he jumps up and down in place, causing the gourd to swing up and down in a conspicuous way. When startled or surprised, he makes a clicking sound as a sort of warning by flicking his thumbnail against the gourd. At the same time, he utters sacred words, similar to Western Europeans' exclaiming, "Jesus Christ," thus shielding himself by the sacred against a potential danger (Eibl-Eibesfeldt, 1986).

Human males frequently use phallic curses as dominance displays, such as when the Arabs threaten or mock someone with the utterance, "The phallus in your eye." "Fuck you" seems to be the Anglo-Saxon equivalent. Dominance mounting also occurs among humans.

For example, the late French consul assigned to Algiers was ritually raped by insurgents in Algeria during the so-called "Algerian War" of independence from France [1954-1962]. There are other examples of that sort known, such as the orgies of rape performed by winning human military troops, orgies that are a clear manifestation of male-dominance sexuality, lacking the affiliative component.

In an institutionalized and ritualized form, adult male sexual behavior with adolescent males plays an important role in the initiation of males in some societies in Melanesia (Creed, 1984). Creed considers this behavior as being a mechanism of control that operates in order to perpetuate a system of inequality based on sex and age. It supports the status and position of older adult males over and against females and younger males

  • (see Schiefenhövel, this volume).

In this context, the initiation rites of French youth gangs, which include the leaders' having anal coitus with the aspirants, are noteworthy (Roumajon. 1960).

It can be speculated that, just as male sexual-dominance behavior exists as a part of the archaic vertebrate heritage of humans, so does male sexual-dominance lust exist, with the female counterpart being the lust of submission.
[Page 161]
Such lust still plays a significant role in normal human sexual behavior, but it is supplemented and controlled by the phylogenetically newly acquired affiliative sexuality and love. Without this supplementation, the expression of such hierarchal lust by humans often is considered to be atypical, that is, variant, or deviant, sexual behavior. The deviance may take a variety of forms.

For example, sadism and domination are very likely hypertrophied expressions of male sexual-dominance lust, and its counterpart could well be masochism and bondage, the exaggerated lusts of submission.

Whereas the study of phylogeny suggests that dominance should be associated with maleness and submission with femaleness, there also are submissive males and dominant females. Phylogeny can suggest central tendencies only. The variations of these tendencies are yet to be fully understood

In her investigation of human female sexuality, Kitzinger (1984) describes submissive fantasies of adult females in a sexual context. She interprets these fantasies as being a reflection of social reality, while they also are, at least in part, an expression of an old vertebrate female heritage.

Culture, of course, can encourage or suppress the submissive components of female sexuality as well as the newer, affiliative aspects. A female student once confided to this author that several times she experienced orgasm while writing school examinations under the pressure of time, a task she always dreaded. This response is an example of the cultural encouragement of female sexuality that is founded on submission, because the student was required to take the examinations.

Conversely, a female may pursue sexual arousal by actively seeking fear, in disregard of the influence of culture. For example, in a number of female kleptomaniacs, who steal things they do not need or could actually afford to buy, self-directed sexual motivation is involved. Interviews have revealed that many of these individuals become sexually aroused during stealing (i.e., they are kleptophiles), and some even experience orgasm while running away (Stoller, 1979).

In studying male exhibitionism, Müsch (1976) found that the motivation behind it was less sexuality than the desire to frighten, which reveals that this behavior certainly may be an old phallic-threat behavior gone astray. Meesters (1984) reports that exhibitionists want to demonstrate their superiority by display, which fits the interpretation of Müsch. In addition, some exhibitionists seek to startle or surprise the onlooker, and others seek admiration (J. Money, personal communication).

It also is possible that a certain type of promiscuous and anonymous adult-male/adult-male homosexual behavior may have originated from the archaic vertebrate dominance-and-submission sexuality. This type of adult male homosexual behavior is characterized by frequent changes in sexual partners and, often, by idiosyncratic preferences on the part of the participants for having the role of dominant inserter or submissive recipient.

When children and adolescents are involved in sexual behavior with adults,
role-related (adult) dominance and (child and adolescent) submission are inevitable.

[Page 162]
It must be emphasized, however, that archaic hierarchal sexuality is only one possible root of one type of human homosexual behavior. It does not account for much of male homosexuality, and it accounts for almost none of female homosexuality.

Homosexuality, both male and female, has many different expressions, which suggests that it has many different origins. Some homosexual males have a clear love relationship, and this type of homosexuality may have its origin in the variance among males in the degree to which their brains are masculinized or defeminized by hormones in utero

Also, in some adult male androphilic pedo and ephebophiles who become sexually involved with children and adolescents, this behavior may be based on the eroticization of parental love, as can happen in adult male gynephilic pedo- and ephebophiles. In other cases, fixation on a partner of the same sex may be the result of life experiences in the form of a type of imprinting.

Phylogeny and the Two Types of Adult Human Sexual Behavior with Children and Adolescents

On the basis of the material presented thus far, one can divide adult human sexual behavior with children and adolescents into two types.

  • The first type is associated with the agonal, hierarchal sexuality of dominance and submission and with sexual behavior that is not necessarily characterized by affiliation. This type is paraphilic lust for children or adolescents.
  • The second type is associated with a redirection or a reentrainment (see Money, this volume [*]) of romantic or erotic love onto children and adolescents, who usually evoke parental love from adults. The sexual behavior that can result from pedophilia or ephebophilia is derived from this second type.

Children and adolescents are younger and smaller than adults, so that any adult who interacts with children and adolescents in any manner is automatically in a position of dominance to them. It would appear that, for some adult males who are aroused by the lust of submission in a sexual partner, children and adolescents will invariably have at least some of the necessary characteristics.

Because the roles (dominant and submissive) are more important than the individuals who fill the roles, the dominance/submission-related sexual behavior with children and adolescents, i.e., paraphilic lust for children and adolescents, is impersonal [*] and therefore is likely to be engaged in with numerous partners, who may be adults or children and adolescents.

  • [*] Italics from Ipce - and: ?????

In contrast, adult human sexual behavior with children and adolescents can also grow out of a love relationship. If adult/adult romantic love has its phylogenetic origins in parent/offspring love, it is quite easy to understand how children and adolescents can evoke feelings of love in adults, even when it is a socially unacceptable kind of love.

[Page 163]
The characteristics of a child release strong affective responses of caretaking, and in this context, it is noteworthy that heterosexual males are attracted by adult females who combine the sexual signals of the mature female with infantile facial characteristics, such as a small mouth and delicate features, i.e., the "Babydoll" appearance (see also Eibl-Eibesfeldt, 1986).

Indeed, it seems as if, in some societies, females were selected for pedomorphic traits. In Southeast Asia in particular, females bear pedomorphic features. Childlike behaviors too are culturally emphasized, such as in Japan, where women walk in a short-stepped gait that is enforced by a dress that does not allow them to take long strides.

Children and adolescents are protected, to some degree, from feelings of romantic or erotic love towards individuals with whom they associated in early childhood. Parents also seem to be protected from feeling the unacceptable type of love towards their offspring. There are at least two mechanisms involved. One mechanism protects the children. and the other mechanism protects the parents.

The Westermarck effect, which de-eroticizes individuals known to a child when the child grows up to be an adolescent and adult, protects children from eventually falling in love with their own siblings and parents. The Westermarck effect has been studied in humans in the Chinese childbride marriages [*]as well as in the Israeli kibbutzim [**]

  • [*] (Wolf and Huang, 1980)
    [**] (Shepher, 1971).

It is possible that the Westermarck effect also has some de-eroticizing effect indirectly on parents, since if children and adolescents are not sexually attracted to their parents, they probably would not direct proceptive (flirting) behaviors towards their parents. Since proceptive behaviors initiate courtship, parents may not feel sexually inclined when they interact with a child or an adolescent who is not sending them proceptive signals.

However, there is another mechanism that protects parents from having erotic feelings towards their own offspring. This mechanism is called the Coolidge effect (Symons, 1979, pp. 208-213).

Essentially, the effect is that familiarity produces sexual boredom. In humans, for example, a parent who raises a child from infancy to adolescence is so familiar with the child by the time the child is an adolescent that sexual attraction does not occur.

It often is not possible to separate the Westermarck effect from the Coolidge effect in a particular individual. However, research into the subject on a population of individuals can separate the two effects, in that

  • the Westermarck effect depends on a somewhat critical period of time, whereas
  • the Coolidge effect depends more on total time. (See Parker and Parker, 1986.)

The lack of both the Westermarck effect and the Coolidge effect probably explains why adult males who are in the role of surrogate father with children and adolescents are so vulnerable to sexual interactions with their young charges.

Rapid Evolution and the Vulnerability of Humans to Behavioral Disorders

Humans, in general, seem particularly prone to behavioral disorders. This state probably exists because human social behavior is safeguarded to a lesser degree by phylogenetic adaptations than is the social behavior of other species.

There is an exception in some higher primates that seem similarly vulnerable to behavioral disorders, however. Chimpanzees exemplify this kind of exception. For the past several years, this author has made regular visits to the chimpanzee reserve in the Gombe National Park in Tanzania, Africa, to document chimpanzee behavior on film. It is remarkable how easily and quickly chimps escalate their aggressive behavior. Two males who are friends may start some friendly wrestling and then suddenly one apparently becomes angry or aggressive. A short clash follows, ending with the flight of one. A couple of minutes later, both may approach carefully with friendly utterances and resume playwrestling-and again an escalation of apparent anger or aggression may be observed.

Male chimpanzees, in fits of rage, have wounded and even seriously mauled not only group members of their own sex but also females and their young, who probably are the males' own offspring or close blood relatives.

Females turn to cannibalism on infants and on members of their own group

  • (Goodall, 1977, 1986).

In male baboons of this area, the escalation of fits of anger having fatal consequences to young and females also was observed.

Such dyscontrol seems to indicate that the critical points in the regulation of social behavior are less secured by phylogenetic adaptations in these primates than in other mammals. One might speculate that the rapid evolution of these groups, evolution that affected the growth of the brain in particular, did not allow for all the fine tuning needed for such behavior-influencing safeguards. This lack of instinctual fixation allows for an increased role for learning and permits the development of culture in humans, but it also involves risks in the fonn of behavioral disorders.

[Page 166]
Behavioral disorders, sexual and nonsexual, can have many different origins, including phylogenetic origins (Feiennan, 1987).

Dienske et al. (1987) suggest that some psychiatric disorders may be the result of too much or too little of some behavioral traits that in moderation are adaptive. Such behavioral traits would lie in the tails of frequency-distribution curves. Hypertrophies or atrophies of a variety of basic biological drives, including the sex drive, could bring about disordered behavior.

Dienske et al. (1987) describe compulsive responsibility as being one form of psychiatric disorder in which the patient feels obligated by too much responsibility, while Harpending and Sobus (1987) describe individuals with antisocial personality disorder as exhibiting too little responsibility.

  • In some individuals, too much or too little aggressive motivation
    • (Dienske, 1987)
  • or in other individuals, the lack of control of aggression may underlie behavioral disorders.
    • (McGuire and Troisi, 1987)

Healthy human beings have a strong urge to maintain friendly bonds with others, but a certain ambivalence is always present because humans also fear their fellow humans. If for some reason this intraspecies fear of other humans, i.e., of conspecifics, or members of the same species, predominates, the individual may be handicapped in establishing friendly relations. Some forms of autism may be worsened by such fear.

Although the initial cause seems to be internal, intuitively friendly initiatives and responses from caretakers may result in a vicious cycle that often makes things worse

  • (Tinbergen, 1974; see also Dienske et al., 1987).

An exaggerated interspecies fear of predators, too, may lead to behavioral disorders, as has been suggested for catatonia, a fonn of tonic immobility that sometimes is seen in persons with schizophrenia (Feiennan, 1982).

In other types of behavioral disturbances, in which behavioral responses are not triggered by innate releasing mechanisms but, rather, by acquired ones, fixation to the wrong object may occur; such flucations may prove to be quite resistant to therapy. Some sexual distuIbances, such as the paraphilias, seem to fit this pattern

Other behavioral disturbances stem from the fact that the environment in which humans exist changes, and has changed, rapidly. Dispositions, such as aggressivity, that once were adaptive have become maladaptive in the brief course of human history (Eibl-Eibesfeldt, 1972).

All in all, humans are certainly a high-risk species for behavioral disturbances, but this flexibility of behavior, which puts humans at risk, also allows for new and better adaptations, and it is these latter adaptations for which humans should strive.

[Page 167 = Figure 5.8]
[Page 168: ]


One aspect of adult human sexual behavior with children and adolescents that has not been addressed in this chapter is the predominance of these behaviors in adult human males compared to adult human females. Although the subject is quite speculative, this discrepancy can be considered within the context of the material that has been developed herein.

Based upon both the lust of submission and the phylogenetic origins of romantic love, the size discrepancy between an adult human male and a child or an adolescent can facilitate feelings in the adult male of both sexuality and romantic love. In an adult human female, in contrast, the size discrepancy between her and a child or an adolescent can facilitate feelings of romantic love but not of sexuality.

One might speculate that this male/female difference in vulnerability to the eroticizing of their respective relationships with children and adolescents lies in the difference in size between an adult male and a child or an adolescent compared with the difference in size between an adult female and a child or an adolescent.

[Page 169]
This comparative difference is negligible, however, when measured against the difference in size between an adult of either sex and a child or an adolescent. Therefore, the male/female difference in vulnerability seems not to be the result of the comparative difference in size.

Diminutive size in a partner facilitates feelings of dominance over that partner by an adult of either sex, but dominance is a part of the phylogeny of male sexual behavior, whereas submission is a part of the phylogeny of female sexual behavior.

Therefore, the male/female difference in vulnerability may lie in the differing respective sexual responses to diminutive partners on the part of adult males and adult females. Assuming, then, that both adult males and adult females are capable of forming loving, nonerotic bonds with children, it would be predicted that the bond becomes eroticized and overtly sexual in (some) males only. Indeed, behavior that confirms this prediction is what is found in that males more than females are involved sexually with children and adolescents, by a ratio of approximately 10: 1. The identification of the factors that make certain males vulnerable to this misplaced eroticization is one of the challenges facing behavioral scientists in the future.

There are many other, equally plausible evolution-based explanations for the greater prevalence of all types of atypical sexual behaviors among human males compared to human females. For example. there is a difference between the sexes in the cost of reproduction as measured by the respective expenditure of energy. Females. who expend more energy than do males in activities related to reproduction are more cautious and goal directed in their sexual behavior than are males

  • (Symons. 1979; Daly and Wilson. 1983).

On the basis of the expenditure of energy. males can afford to engage in nonprocreative sexual behavior more than females can. At this early stage in the scientifIc study of adult human sexual behavior with children and adolescents, data that would enable researchers to reject incorrect explanations or to show, for example, that several mechanisms are operative simultaneously and perhaps even additively simply are not available.

There are, of course, exceptions to all generalization, including to many of the generalizations that have formed much of the material in this chapter. Two obvious examples would be

[Page 170 gives fig 5.11 and:]
(a) sexual behavior between an adult human female and a child or an adolescent and (b) a masochistic human male who seeks out adult human females to dominate and hurt him for his sexual gratification.

However, behavior can be understood only if the modal tendency is examined ftrst, even if "modal tendency" refers to a species-atypical behavior, as it does in adult human sexual behavior with children and adolescents.

[Page 171 gives fig 5.12 and:]
The exceptions represent variations on variations, and they, too, can be studied. For example, based upon what has been discussed so far, it could be predicted that adult females who become sexually involved with male children and adolescents would be motivated more by love than by lust. The important point is that both modal deviant tendency and variations of modal deviant tendency can be studied empirically by means of testable hypotheses and can be understood.


[Page 172]
Phylogenetic adaptations determine behavior in a predictable manner, and sexual behavior is not an exception to this rule. Therefore, to understand human sexual behavior, one must conceptualize it within the context of phylogeny as well as of ontogeny. The study of the phylogeny of human sexual behavior reveals two major themes -

  • the agonal, hierarchal origins from reptilian sexual behavior and
  • the independent evolution of sexual behavior in the context of affiliative relationships in birds and mammals.

In addition, the rapid evolution that occurred within the primate order may have freed primates from the constraints of instinctual fixations, thereby allowing for an increased role for individual learning and for the development of culture. Such flexibility has not been without a price, however, as evidenced by the vulnerability of primates in general and humans in particular to behavioral extremes and dysregulation that may underlie various behavioral disorders including sexual disorders.


In human sexual behavior, strata of different phylogenetic origins can be distinguished. Sexuality based upon the mechanisms of male dominance and female submission, which characterizes the reptiles, also constitutes the basic layer of human sexuality. This reptilian heritage is superimposed, however, by a more recently acquired sexuality characterized by affiliation and love. The new potentiality to act in a friendly manner evolved with the development of parental care independently in birds and in mammals.

In normal human sexual behavior, the archaic agonal sexuality is controlled by affiliative sexuality and, therefore, is characterized by love. Agonal sexuality is still with us, however, as indicated, among other features, by the phallic male-dominance displays, by a male hormonal response linked to dominance achievement, and by the sexual fantasies of submission that are experienced by females. Agonal sexuality normally is under the control of affiliative sexuality, and therefore, humans correctly associate sex with love. Certain forms of sexuality, such as sadomasochism and a particular form of male homosexuality, are explained as being a regression to the archaic agonal sexuality.

Pedophilia and pedosexual behavior are explained within the regression context, too. Children have characteristics, such as small size, that facilitate adult males' feeling dominant to them, as occurs in pedosexual behavior.

Since human adult/adult romantic love is derived by phylogeny from parental caregiving behavior, it is easily seen how, in some adult humans, the feeling of love toward children has been retained and eroticized, which is the true meaning of the term "pedophilia."