Monkey see, monkey do... how similar are we to bonobos?
On July 28, 2021, one year ago to the day, I did a video titled “An Epilogue on Bonobos.” So this is actually an epilogue of the epilogue, or the 3rd one within a year and a half on bonobos. Why might that uniquely be? I mean, psychiatry has had a little interest in bonobos and its unique society, but it has not been a major focus of discussion and interest. Maybe it should be.
I think I keep covering bonobos because they have relevance for our human society and the role of women. As I I have been focusing on leaders, it seems clear that the common leadership of men has had its significant limitations, calling for more trials of major leadership from women, and at least men who have—and recognize and use—a feminine side to their nature. The bonobos are led by women, who use their sexuality to resolve conflicts. As far as is known, they’ve never killed one of their own. Yet, here we are, with daily and increasing mass killings, virtually all by men. We ought to be able to learn something from one of our much more peaceful relatives, the bonobos. Will we?
In addition, as one study of a matriarchal tribe in China indicated, some emerging research suggests that women have better health when they hold more power.1 Maybe that is generalizable.
Dr Moffic is an award-winning psychiatrist who has specialized in the cultural and ethical aspects of psychiatry. A prolific writer and speaker, he received the one-time designation of Hero of Public Psychiatry from the Assembly of the American Psychiatric Association in 2002. He is an advocate for mental health issues related to climate instability, burnout, Islamophobia, and anti-Semitism for a better world. He serves on the Editorial Board of Psychiatric Times™.
1. Reynolds AZ, Wander K, Sum C-Y, et al. Matriliny reverses gender disparities in inflammation and hypertension among the Mosuo of China. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2020;117(48):30324-30327.