A Psychological Appreciation About Hunting

The animal rightists have been telling the world for many years that hunting is a cruel, barbaric and archaic practice that should be outlawed by modern civilised society? They claim that ordinary hunters are “sadistic and/or psychopathic”; and that trophy hunters “are mentally ill and derive pleasure from behaviours that hurt other living things – and they are even willing to expend extra effort to make another living being suffer (sic).”

In a recently published article – in the NRA’s America Hunter magazine – Professor James Swan explained that a number of internationally renowned social scientists provided us with an opposing opinion. They state that hunting is “a healthy pastime for mankind”. And they point out that: “Very few of the articles that claim hunters are crazy are written by behavioural scientists who study humans.”

“Most prominent psychologists of the 20th Century,” these professional authors state, “agree that hunting is motivated by a natural instinct, and it is beneficial to mental health.” In his highly acclaimed study of human aggression, ‘The Anatomy of Human Destructiveness’, psychologist Erich Fromm wrote: “In the act of hunting, the hunter returns to (his) natural state, becomes one with the animal (he is hunting), and is freed from the burden of his existential split: to be part of nature – and to transcend (nature) by virtue of his consciousness. In stalking (his quarry), the hunter and the animal become equals,” Fromm states, “even though man eventually shows his superiority by use of his weapons.

Consistent with Fromm, Yale sociologist Dr. Steven Kellert and Amherst College professor, Jan Dizard, found that the reasons why people hunt are: “to experience nature as a participant; to feel an intimate, sensuous connection to ‘place’; to take responsibility for one’s food; and to acknowledge kinship with wildlife.” Psychiatrist Karl Menninger, MD, wrote: “Freud fearlessly explored the unconscious layers of the personality, and disclosed that it is no more abnormal for a human to want to kill (in hunting) than it is for a cat to want to kill a mouse or a fox a rabbit”.

Emory University professors Boyd Eaton, MD., anthropologist Marjorie Shostak and psychiatrist-anthropologist Melvin Konner, MD., conclude that denial of the hunting instinct can lead to psychopathology. They state: “Our hunting instinct has gone awry in ‘civilised’ society, where the thrill of the chase and the kill are no longer part of our experience and there are no clear avenues of expression except, perhaps to our peril, in the streets and subways of today’s urban jungles.”

What are these eminent scientists saying? To me their message is clear: that the violent crimes that humans inflict upon their fellow men in the big inner cities of today’s ever more congested world, are the result of stressed out city people not being able to get ‘release’ from psychological pressures – (social tensions) – by executing their subconscious natural instinct to hunt.

In support of this interpretation, criminologist Chris Eskridge compared hunting license sales with violent crime rates on a county-by-county basis nationwide (right across the United States), and he found that “as hunting license sales go up, so violent crime comes down”.

Ron Thomson

I am NOT a ‘trophy hunter’ - and never have been. I am not involved in the trophy hunting safari business. I am also not a game rancher. But I have ‘administratively controlled’ professional hunters and safari outfitters in my capacity as a government game warden. I am an 80 year old ex-game warden with 60 years of continuous experience in hands-on wildlife management, and national park management, in Africa (1959 to 2019). In breakdown, I have 24 years experience in the management of national parks in Rhodesia/Zimbabwe - and in the management of the wild animal populations that lived inside those national parks; one year as the Chief Nature Conservation of the Ciskei in South Africa; three years as Director of the Bophuthatswana National Parks Board in South Africa; and I worked for three years as a professional hunter in the South African Great Karoo (taking foreign hunters on quests for plains game trophies). I discovered, however, that professional hunting was not my forte. I worked as an investigative wildlife journalist for 30 years in South Africa. I have written fifteen books and hundreds of magazine articles on the subject of wildlife management and big game hunting in Africa. Five of my books are university-level text books on wildlife management. I am a university-trained ecologist; was a member of the Institute of Biology (London) for 20 years; and was a registered chartered biologist for the European Union for 20 years. I have VAST experience in the “management hunting” of elephants, buffaloes, lions, leopards and hippos (as part of my official national park work in the control of problem animals); and I pioneered the capture of black rhino in Zimbabwe’s Zambezi Valley (1964 - 1970). My university thesis was entitled: “The Factors Affecting the Survival and Distribution of Black Rhinos in Rhodesia”. Look at my personal website if you want any further details about my experience: www.ronthomsonshuntingbooks.co.za.

Ron Thomson has 279 posts and counting. See all posts by Ron Thomson

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