Can animals love their kids in much the same way as humans?
Unbelievable as it sounds, Masson just might have you convinced
with his impressive array of fatherhood stories. Whether you agree
with him or not this is an original and informative read for anyone
with a professional or personal interest in fatherhood. The
writer's admiration for heroic dads like the Emperor penguin who
broods a single egg through the freezing Arctic winter without
food, or the South American tree frog, nurturing young from egg to
froglet within his vocal sac, underpins the biological
descriptions. Myriad styles of fatherhood throughout the animal
kingdom from absentee elephants to the total commitment of most
birds are brought together for the first time for a general
audience. Surprising entries perhaps in the premier league of
superdads are monogamous wolves, mouthbrooding fish and the
marmoset who can act as midwife at difficult births. Masson's own
intense experience of parenting clearly informs the core question
in the book: are good animal fathers driven solely by instinct or
by some form of emotional attachment to their young? Never afraid
to be controversial, the psychoanalyst carries his argument even to
the male seahorse who gestates young in a pouch releasing hundreds
of sea foals in a spectacular 'birth'. Evidence from bad dads like
lions, bears and langur monkeys is reviewed posing challenging
theories for infanticide, suggesting it may even be a side effect
of being observed by outsiders. Individual variation in paternal
investment within the same species (as seen among humans) is the
key argument for an element of choice in behaviour arising from the
existence of a bond between father and offspring; a bond Masson is
not ashamed to call love. (Kirkus UK)
With fascinating insight, impeccable research, and captivating writing , controversial psychoanalyst Jeffrey Masson, a new father himself, sh owcases the extraordinary behaviour of outstanding fathers in the anim al kingdom. From the emperor penguin, who incubates the eggs of his yo ung by carrying them around on his feet for two months, to the sea-hor se, the only male animal that gives birth to its young. Mason also exa mines nature's worst fathers; lions, bears, and humans. A book that wi ll forever change our perceptions of parenthood and love.
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