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”.

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