Women with no maternal instinct

Women with no maternal instinct
Medusa
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Posted Jul 8, 2004 - 12:35 PM:

With so many forms of contraceptive available today, many women are deciding to not have children. I was discussing this with such a woman her apparent lack of maternal instinct and the implications this had as far as biological instincts and survival.

Lower birth rates due to women consciously not reproducing could be simply a mechanism by which the species is practicing population control. I don't have any theories as to how this would be triggered.

But from observation of older women, in real life and through literature, I've come to believe that a lack of maternal instinct in certain women has always existed in the human species and is to some extent genetic (some other mammals have members that seem to exhibit this deficiency also). Without reliable forms of birth control in the past, whether a woman wanted children or not was irrelevant and she likely produced offspring and potentially passed genetic predisposition onto her daughters.

This raises the question of why evolution would allow this. It would seem to be at odds with a biological imperative to reproduce and continue a species, yet the human race shows no signs of having suffered from it.

One explanation could be that it is an aberation that hasn't harmed the species so it has been passed on as a sort of by-product. It's not beneficial so it hasn't been encouraged, but it's not necessarily damaging to survival so it hasn't been bred out of the species.

Recall in my introduction that I stated this was an apparent lack of maternal instinct. This is because I'm not convinced there is no maternal instinct in these cases. I think to some extent there is an instinct present, but that it is relatively weak and thus overridden by the ability to think about this subject objectively and make a conscious decision. I've noticed through talking to other women that the women who are "ChildFree" seem more intellectual and ambitious and they can come up with many reasons to justify their decision. I'm not saying that women who decide to have children don't think about it, but the trend I've noticed is toward women with a strong maternal instinct making decisions based on emotion and the opposite with women with a weaker maternal instinct.

My theory is that the women with a weaker maternal instinct are beneficial to the human race. These women, when they do become mothers, are more likely to have made conscious decisions as to when and how they reproduce. Unblinded by the urge to procreate, they choose suitable mates. They use what contraceptive tools have historically been available to choose auspicious times to give birth rather than at the whim of their bodies. And their stronger intellectual tendencies are passed on to their offspring either through nature or nurture while their objectivity toward their children makes it more likely that they will guide them into productive areas of life.

Women with strong maternal instincts are enslaved to their reproductive urges and often make choices that are at odds with producing offspring that have good chances to survive and benefit the species. I've observed both types of women raise their children and have seen examples of what I describe although I'm sure that exceptions can be found.

Anyway, this is my attempt to incorporate this lack or weakness of maternal instinct into my Darwinian beliefs and explain why it exists. If anyone has any thoughts on this, I'd welcome them.
OptimusDinkus
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#2 - Quote - Permalink
Posted Jul 8, 2004 - 2:30 PM:

Well, this could be, not necessarily is, or else the entire world would experience the same exact phenomenon (I mean china and Japan are close to zero population growth, but the US isn’t for instance). There are many reasons for this; the major one is the complete overwhelming increase in sexual stimulation we have received in the past century freeing humans to be scared of being sexually active creatures (as well as an ass load of food). So, we are breading more than those of the past and actually have, in an underlying sense, a stronger maternal instinct than those of the baby boomer generation who had the strongest intentions of being child bearers. And today we choose more poorly who we wish to bread with in today’s world. On top of that, due to plastic surgery, the line between genetic strength and weakness is blurred and is continually being fuzzy.
Moving Finger
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#3 - Quote - Permalink
Posted Jul 8, 2004 - 3:16 PM:

Medusa wrote:
With so many forms of contraceptive available today, many women are deciding to not have children. ....

....Anyway, this is my attempt to incorporate this lack or weakness of maternal instinct into my Darwinian beliefs and explain why it exists. If anyone has any thoughts on this, I'd welcome them.

And how do the paternal insticts (or lack of) of men fit into this?
ebola
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Posted Jul 8, 2004 - 3:21 PM:

I'm not at all sympathetic to the socio-biological perspective (well, I will make certain concessions to it), but I'll spout my opinion here.

Firstly, I find it a bit odd that no one here is discussing the paternal instinct and its relative lack in our present culture. How does this weigh in in evolutionary terms?

I would argue that human populations do have a tendency to regulate their size. what the mechanism is here, I'm not sure. I do know that even paleolithic peoples used primitive forms of birth control to regulate their own reproduction and populations when they wanted. This general tendency is moderated by economic and cultural factors though. Namely, if it is necessary to send children to work on farms or in factories for wages, we find large families. Hence, the population-explosion in the third-world and stagnation in the first.

And, to clarify, the population in the US would either be stagnating or gowing quite slowly in the absence of immigration (this is not to advocate immigration control though).

ebola
Medusa
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Posted Jul 8, 2004 - 6:06 PM:

I'm not concerned about paternal instinct at this point in forming my theory for a number of reasons.

1. My theory depends on personal observation and that has been primarily women. I'm not comfortable extending my observations to include men.

2. Women are the ones who currently have the control over whether a child is born or not: I don't know of any jurisdiction where women have to get the consent of a father to abort or can be forced to abort by a father. So paternal instinct is irrelevant in this aspect.

3. Statistically, fewer men want to have children than the number of women.

4. Men just seem to be choosier about the women they will decide to have a child with. Women are subject to "baby fever", which I'm suggesting is an extension of the maternal instinct or wanting to "mother" something, and as far as I know men are not. Women seem far more likely to conceive a child without the father's consent and carry it to term. I'm assuming that men wouldn't be likely to do this if they could.

If anyone has opinions on the paternal instinct issue, I'm more than willing to incorporate them into the theory or maybe hear opinions on a separate theory if an argument can be made. I can see how the paternal instinct might play out in the same way, but I guess I don't see it as being as relevant to having children. As far as raising the child, I think that a strong paternal instinct could interfere in the same way a strong maternal instinct seems to.
Socrastein
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#6 - Quote - Permalink
Posted Jul 9, 2004 - 12:21 PM:

I don't really think evolution has much, if anything, to do with this trend. Humans have no need to evolve anymore, we aren't in competition with anything, by any means. Evolution is about competition, nothing evolves in isolation. Not only are we on top of the food chain, we're far above anything and everything else, which is about as close to "isolation" as we can get.
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