My understanding of some neuro-psychological features of humanity, lead me to believe that mankind is currently deprived of activities like touch, including maternal and non sexual touch, orgasm, trust relationships and general affection. Based on what I know of the mind, and am theorising, I believe that this behaviour would improved mood, peacefulness, sociability, trust between people and general psychological profile.
I have heard academics also suggest that modern aggression, and violence is connected directly to sexual taboo, and a lack of non-sexual touch. Basic sensory deprivation has been shown to increase violence in some.
Here John Prescot argues:
"I believe that the deprivation of body touch, contact, and movement are the basic causes of a number of emotional disturbances which include depressive and autistic behaviors, hyperactivity, sexual aberration, drug abuse, violence, and aggression."
"Human societies differ greatly in their treatment of infants. In some cultures, parents lavish physical affection on infants, while in others the parents physically punish their infants. A study of anthropological data by the author  found that those societies which give their infants the greatest amount of physical affection have less theft and violence among adults, thus supporting the theory that deprivation of bodily pleasure during infancy is significantly linked to a high rate of crime and violence."
Social monogamy appears to be pretty uncommon in modern hunter gatherer societies. Theres some genetic evidence that monogamy started around the same time as agriculture.
Certainly touch taboo, as in non-sexual touch, that we have in modern society, seems extremely unlikely, especially given that most early societies, even post agricultural ones celebrated sex as sacred.
For example, the egyptians used to have public sexual enactments, as part of their religon. This evidence for sacred regard of sex goes pretty far back.
So unlike today, there would have been no cultural impetus not to touch, for fear of it being regarded as sexual, as thus taboo.
If a grok hugged another fellow grok, its doubtful he would have avoided genital to genital contact, for fear of it being considered a come on, like modern huggers do.
Moreover, most probably, if a mother, parent, or elder hugged a child, there would have been no modernised fear of pedophilia, or other social judgements, because of this lack of taboo.
Basically did stone age people touch, have sex more, and were they polygymous?
And what is the neurochemical, psychological, and physiological implications of not living that way?
Does anyone have any interesting studies?
(Or just thoughts on these ideas)
Its somewhat academic, because the society we live in, is the society we live in, but at the same time, its something id like to give some thought. Social dynamics are a reasonably big part of being a human being, and those social dynamics are not guided by how we live now, but how we have evolved.
It's clear to me that touch (sexual and non-sexual) is very very important for emotional well-being. I very much value touch.
When I was a student at Stanford many years ago the Stanford Medical Center had a program where volunteers would come into the hospital to hold premature infants whose parents couldn't be there to hold them or who needed breaks. I've read (don't recall where) that infants who aren't held don't thrive.
On a slightly related note, I volunteer in hospice. In particular, I sit with clients who are actively dying. When it feels right I will hold the client's hand during my vigil shifts. Even in death, I believe that the comforting value of touch is really important.
Take it from someone who's been alone and somewhat socially isolated for far too long:
We cannot deny the importance of human touch. Be it sex, caressing, massaging, hugging, or just hand-holding. Just some expression of, "Hey, I'm here. I'm with you. We're not in this alone."
I don't think people were meant to be islands. I love (and NEED) personal space as much as anyone (don't like crowded buses/trains, etc), but when you go as long as I have without a long, strong, warm, deep, loving HUG, something inside starts to wither.
It's been a long time since my anthropology days, but my impression from reading ethnographies of hunter gatherer societies is that the norm was serial monogamy. Long-term monogamy was rare, as was "cheating."
Serial monogamy was not a problem for the kids involved because they are living all together in a small community, so the kids have access to all the adults, even if their parents are no longer a couple. They also have access to their other relatives, so they have lots of sources of affection, as does everyone.
It seems like a much more humane way to live, especially for the children.
Nobody touches me unless it is sexual and that really bothers me a lot. Since all touch seems to have a goal, I cringe when I am touched. You may have something there.
I'm poly now, and yes, I do consider it a natural state. Some of the other comments suggest that it's somehow hard on the children, but I'd like to point out that not being mono doesn't mean, necessarily, having a sexual free for all, where a ton of babies are produced, no one knows whose they are, and fathers are somehow not allowed to participate in child-raising. I don't know any poly women, personally, who are that dim.
Many cultures have practiced various forms of non-monogamy, and it has it's good points and bad, just like monogamy.
But, to answer your question, I do think they led more sexually free lives, and that most of our sexual reservedness comes from the imposition of religious doctrines, and the subsequent viewing of women and children as property. However, I also think that most people view the more recent past (the last few hundred years) as much more sexually restricted than it was. If there is a common factor that cuts across time and culture, it's that we are gluttons for a variety of appetites. Personally, I don't make any moral assumptions about that, beyond the fact that I think coercion is wrong.
I think the "neurochemical, psychological, and physiological implications" are that we're more clannish and less open than we need to be. Although, things like the "Monkey brain sphere" or Dunbar's number (they're the same thing) may be a cause or effect of that, I don't know.
I put this in another answer, but I feel like it's relevant to the conversation about the importance of non-sexual touch:
I did a huge term-project on the placebo effect, and found that a lot of treatments that shouldn't necessarily have a strong physiological effect would have a really massive one the more the practitioner touched and manipulated the bodies of the patients. I think it is really important, and I know that when my boyfriend goes fishing and we are apart for a long time I start to physically contact friends and family way more- more hugging, more leaning on them, just looking for some contact. I have one really good buddy that was going through a rough time last year during fishing season, and we decided to share a bed (with no sexual connotation, he is homosexual and we weren't looking for that kind of contact) and we both just felt so much better waking up next to each other and being able to hug each other whenever.
Whenever a friend or family member is widowed my mother always brings gift certificates for massage along with a whole bunch of food, because she always says they'll need it when they're ready. I think after working in the hospital for her whole life, she sees how important being able to hold someone's hand or rub someone's back and shoulders is. She used to bring us to the hospital sometimes on her day off and we would give some of the elderly widowed ladies manicures, pedicures, food massages, and hand massages, and it always made them tear up they were so happy. Some of them hadn't been touched, except to be shuttled to different hospital rooms or poked at by doctors, in ages.
I think self massage is really great for staying in contact with yourself, but saving up for some massages (you can go to massage schools for a deal too) would be a great way of getting some human contact.
For more Paleo Diet hacks: The Role and Importance of Touch - PaleoHacks.com http://paleohacks.com/questions/110813/the-role-and-importance-of-touch#ixzz1xdFuVnjm
Read "Sex at Dawn," a fascinating evolutionary history, about why we did not evolve to be monogamous creatures. I'm now reading "Ethical Slut," which is about how to bring polyamory into your life. However, the boyfriend is not as interested in it as me :-(
Interesting comments that really cut to the nature of who we are, how we're meant to act and how we live lives that are inconsistent with our genetic upbring. I'm going to stay off of the monogamy aspect as it is too emotion laden (though the interplay of our genetic upbringing combination with societally imposed norms is fascinating). However, it is very sad the extent to which non-sexual touch has a decreasing role in our lives. It seems like a weird mix of puritan morality in combination with commercially driven hypersexuality that causes there to be no friendly/warm touching. Look at a two year old, prior to being polluted by our crass, commercialized, sexualized culture they grab your hand to pull you around, go for hugs, etc.
Also, thanks for posting the question, I greatly enjoy reading about sociologically oriented paleo topics. By virtue of the introspective nature of the individuals on this site, the responses are really interesting.
I cannot speculate about paleolithic monogamy, many early neotlithic civilizations were not monogamous, perhaps a trait carried over from their past? Anyways, I think the need for two parents is very natural, since the mother and father both fulfilled different roles in a famile. The mother was the caregiver and nurturer, and the father was the hunter and protector. That being said, if you look at some species of dolphins, the females mate regularly with many males out of the family group or pack, this way the males do not know which offspring is theirs, so they protect them all. Not quite an answer, but a thought.
orgasm and cortisol 4 Answers