Climate Change and the 4000 BCE Origins of Child Abuse, Sex-Repression, Warfare and Social Violence

saharasiaMatriarchy.info reviews Dr. James DeMeo’s book SAHARASIA: The 4000 BCE Origins of Child Abuse, Sex-Repression, Warfare and Social Violence, In the Deserts of the Old World:

A new geographical study on the ancient historical origins of human violence and warfare, drawing upon global archaeological and anthropological evidence, has just been published presenting substantial proof that our ancient ancestors were non-violent, and far more social and loving than are most humans today – moreover, the study points to a dramatic climate change in the Old World, the drying up of the vast Sahara and Asian Deserts, with attending famine, starvation and forced migrations which pushed the earliest humans into violent social patterns, a trauma from which we have not yet recovered in over 6000 years.

The study and book, titled SAHARASIA: The 4000 BCE Origins of Child Abuse, Sex-Repression, Warfare and Social Violence, In the Deserts of the Old World, by retired professor James DeMeo, Ph.D., is the culmination of years of library and field research on the subject. Professor DeMeo undertook the original research as a 7-year dissertation project at the University of Kansas, which was concluded in 1986. He has since put an additional decade of research into the subject. His study is unusual in that it presents the first world maps of human behavior, as developed from large anthropological, historical and archaeological data bases. DeMeo’s findings were also recently presented at a regional meeting of the AAAS, in Grand Junction, Colorado.

“There is no clear or unambiguous evidence for warfare or social violence anywhere on planet Earth prior to around 4,000 BC and the earliest evidence appears in specific locations, from which it firstly arose, and diffused outward over time to infect nearly every corner of the globe.” says DeMeo, who today directs his own private institute in rural Oregon. “A massive climate change shook the ancient world, when approximately 6000 years ago vast areas of lush grassland and forest in the Old World began to quickly dry out and convert into harsh desert. The vast Sahara Desert, Arabian Desert, and the giant deserts of the Middle East and Central Asia simply did not exist prior to c.4000 BC” DeMeo asserts, pointing to numerous studies in paleoclimatology – the study of ancient climates. “Something happened around 4000 BC which forced the drying-out of this vast desert region, which I call Saharasia, and the drier conditions created social and emotional havoc among developing human agricultural societies in these same regions.”

DeMeo’s maps show spreading centers for the origins of patriarchal authoritarian cultures within this same Saharasian global region – male-dominated, child-abusive, sex-repressive cultures with a great emphasis upon war-making and empire-building. DeMeo points to the work of the controversial natural scientist Wilhelm Reich to explain the patterns.

The Trauma of starvation

“Famine and starvation is a severe trauma from which survivors rarely escape unscathed. A lot of people die, families are split apart, and babies and children are often abandoned, and suffer enormously. Starvation affects surviving children in an emotionally severe manner. They shrink from the exhausting heat and thirst, emotionally withdraw from the painful world, and simultaneously suffer a severe stunting of the entire brain and nervous system due to protein-calorie malnutrition. Even if such starved children later get all the food and water they want, they are deeply scarred in an emotional-neurological manner which forever changes their behavior – specifically, there is an implanted inhibition of any impulse of a pleasure-seeking, outward-reaching nature, and a discomfort with deeper forms of body-pleasure, in both maternal-infant or male-female expressions. Additionally, the child’s view of the mother, who could not protect or feed the child during the famine period, is thereafter colored with suspicion and anger. These attitudes and behaviors are deeply protoplasmic in nature, and are passed on to ensuing generations no matter what the climate, by social institutions which reflect the character structure of the average individual at any given period of time.”

As part of his project, DeMeo undertook a cross-cultural evaluation of Wilhelm Reich’s original ideas on human behavior. “Reich claimed humans became violent from two major causes: firstly from abusive and neglectful treatment of infants and children, and secondly from the repression of adolescent heterosexual feelings.” This latter consideration, DeMeo asserts, has gotten nearly no attention from specialists on child-abuse, given that our society still considers adolescent romance and pre-marital sex to be a bad thing. “Pre-marital, adolescent sexual romance is normal among the most peaceful cultures, but is always repressed in violent warlike cultures. It is an even more precise predictor of social and individual violence than is child-abuse.” Ideas such as these got Reich into hot water in the 1950s, DeMeo says, and his own work has similarly stirred up controversy.

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  • Argosy Jones

    No doubt Dr. DeMeo is engaging in “violence prevention therapy” with one or more adolescents right now. Just doing his best for a better world.

    • Andrew

      Nice ad hominem.

      • Argosy Jones

        Here’s another one. Wilhelm Reich was a swindler; DeMeo is a fraud. If I think their “theories” sound like a thinly veiled justification for sexual abuse of minors, I’ll damn well say so.

        • Andrew

          Seems to me he’s talking about sex between teenagers, but if you want to read ephebophilia into it, I can see how you’d make the connection.

          Considering the maturity of most Americans, contrary to DeMeo, I think the age of consent should probably be raised to 30 or 40.

  • Argosy Jones

    No doubt Dr. DeMeo is engaging in “violence prevention therapy” with one or more adolescents right now. Just doing his best for a better world.

  • Andrew

    Nice ad hominem.

  • Hadrian999

    if you accept this for 100% fact you are left with the question of what do you do about it?
    is there any way to get many diverse cultures to step back from the cult of war and violence,or are we locked into the present state of affairs?

    • E.B. Wolf

      That’s also a pretty big “if.”

  • Hadrian999

    if you accept this for 100% fact you are left with the question of what do you do about it?
    is there any way to get many diverse cultures to step back from the cult of war and violence,or are we locked into the present state of affairs?

  • E.B. Wolf

    That’s also a pretty big “if.”

  • Argosy Jones

    Here’s another one. Wilhelm Reich was a swindler; DeMeo is a fraud. If I think their “theories” sound like a thinly veiled justification for sexual abuse of minors, I’ll damn well say so.

  • Haystack

    This strikes me as politically-motivated revisionism. On the contrary, it seems that our early ancestors were quite a bit more violent and anti-social than we are today. The norm in the animal kingdom, and certainly among our nearest relatives (chimps) is to behave altruistically only toward relatives, and to respond aggressively toward outsiders. For large scale social cohesion to occur, pro-social genetic changes had to be selected for over thousands of years. Before we reached the point where cities were possible, we had to evolve a level of empathy for strangers that was definitely not present in our primate ancestors.

    Hunter gatherers are our closet model for the original behaviorally-modern human population. While they are often perceived as peaceful because they do not engage in large-scale battles, on the contrary, they live in a constant state of low-level warfare characterized by dawn raids and 3-on-1 ambushes. Over time, this adds up to a death rate much higher than modern societies experience from large-scale, but intermittent warfare. Among the Yanomamo, food is sufficient, but tribesmen mount extremely aggressive raids on rival groups to capture their women, whom they gang rape kidnap for wives.

    As tempting as it is to think of the evils of human nature as a recent aberration brought about by some outside influence, the balance of the evidence is that modern humans are probably more empathetic and conciliatory than our ancestors. As dark as the picture looks right now, we have come a long way.

  • Haystack

    This strikes me as politically-motivated revisionism. On the contrary, it seems that our early ancestors were quite a bit more violent and anti-social than we are today. The norm in the animal kingdom, and certainly among our nearest relatives (chimps) is to behave altruistically only toward relatives, and to respond aggressively toward outsiders. For large scale social cohesion to occur, pro-social genetic changes had to be selected for over thousands of years. Before we reached the point where cities were possible, we had to evolve a level of empathy for strangers that was definitely not present in our primate ancestors.

    Hunter gatherers are our closet model for the original behaviorally-modern human population. While they are often perceived as peaceful because they do not engage in large-scale battles, on the contrary, they live in a constant state of low-level warfare characterized by dawn raids and 3-on-1 ambushes. Over time, this adds up to a death rate much higher than modern societies experience from large-scale, but intermittent warfare. Among the Yanomamo, food is sufficient, but tribesmen mount extremely aggressive raids on rival groups to capture their women, whom they gang rape kidnap for wives.

    As tempting as it is to think of the evils of human nature as a recent aberration brought about by some outside influence, the balance of the evidence is that modern humans are probably more empathetic and conciliatory than our ancestors. As dark as the picture looks right now, we have come a long way.

    • Hadrian999

      I think a more logical and plausible explanation of the lack of full scale war earlier in history is that they were not capable, war is not easy, For large scale war you need powerful centralized leadership, taxation, division labor and either a warrior class of some form of professional soldiers. without these only very short small scale campaigns are possible before the army falls apart due to running out of provisions. hunter gatherers and subsistence farmers just aren’t capable, not because they are more moral and kind but because they don’t have the organization.

  • Andrew

    Seems to me he’s talking about sex between teenagers, but if you want to read ephebophilia into it, I can see how you’d make the connection.

    Considering the maturity of most Americans, contrary to DeMeo, I think the age of consent should probably be raised to 30 or 40.

  • Hadrian999

    I think a more logical and plausible explanation of the lack of full scale war earlier in history is that they were not capable, war is not easy, For large scale war you need powerful centralized leadership, taxation, division labor and either a warrior class of some form of professional soldiers. without these only very short small scale campaigns are possible before the army falls apart due to running out of provisions. hunter gatherers and subsistence farmers just aren’t capable, not because they are more moral and kind but because they don’t have the organization.

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