Why don’t people have a maternal instinct

The mother feels affection for the child, but in the wild, these feelings are controlled by the so-called maternal instinct. What is it manifested in, and why do people not have it?

Image by Ratna Fitry from Pixabay

Many people believe that it is the maternal instinct that tells the mother how to handle the child, and even forms a sense of the “biological clock”, thanks to which women develop a desire to have children at a certain age. But scientists began to doubt the presence of maternal instincts and focus on the claims that fathers and even foster parents can show more love and affection for children than their real mothers.

Why don’t people have a maternal instinct?

Usually, when we talk about instincts, we mean complex behavior manifested by a living organism, which manifests itself in a certain situation and is based on innate and acquired skills. For example, sea turtles hatch, come out of the sand and instinctively begin to move towards the ocean. They don’t understand why and where they are going. In other words, instincts trigger a certain automatic program in them, which they follow subconsciously.

Instinct is often confused with reflex, which is a simpler and uncontrolled reaction of the body to a certain stimulus. For example, when we look at bright light, the pupil of our eye narrows, and we cannot control this process, no matter how much we would like it.

When we talk about maternal instincts, we most often mean the complex behavior inherent in the mother towards the child, which usually manifests itself in response to the behavior and reactions of the child and is formed from innate and acquired skills. Today, modern science, which allows us to study this issue in more detail, suggests looking at this concept from a different angle or even abandoning it altogether.

In the animal world, female mammals behave in a certain way, communicating with their cubs. But at the same time, not every female animal who has offspring is ready to devote herself to him. Studying the reasons for this, scientists were able to find out that the behavior of a female is determined by the release of the hormone oxytocin, which makes her react to the behavior of her offspring.

As a result, her connection with her children gradually increases and affection appears. It is assumed that if for some reason the oxytocin level is low, attachment will not appear. This explains why, even in nature, mothers may refuse to take care of the cubs they have given birth to.

Previously, it was believed that oxytocin is released only in the mother’s body, mainly during childbirth and breastfeeding. Today, we know that this phenomenon also occurs in fathers and foster parents, and we assume that interaction with a young child is enough to release the hormone. This is how the love of parents is born and begins to manifest itself (including in the animal world). And often it even unites representatives of completely different biological species.

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