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Keywords:

  • infant abuse;
  • kidnapping;
  • Macaca nemestrina;
  • psychosocial stress

Abstract

This study reports a case of infant abuse by a pigtail macaque mother living in a captive social group. Patterns of abusive behavior appeared three weeks after the birth of the infant and were in strict temporal as sociation with the repeated kidnapping and severe harassment of the infant by the alpha-female in the group. Before and after the period of social stress, the mother exhibited proper caregiving behavior towards her infant. The analysis of the abusive mother's style of interaction with her infant relative to three control mothers indicated that she was an extremely permissive mother. It is argued that the mother's failure to adapt her mothering style to better protect her infant during the period of repeated kidnappings and the resulting lack of control over the situation may be the mechanism by which stress precipitated infant abuse. © 1994 Wiley-Liss, Inc.