Dear Adam and Linda,
My father was an architect, and he and my mother were living on a houseboat in the Delaware River when I was born in December, 1947. They did not want me crawling on the freezing cold floor, so my father saw the plans for a Skinner Box in an issue of Ladies Home Journal and built it. It had waist-level glass sliding doors, and a sheet that rolled up so I did not have to wear diapers; Skinner’s philosophy was “The baby healthy in body will be healthy in mind.”
Many years later, while in therapy, my analyst suggested that because I could not crawl to my mother when I wanted her, I became a performance artist—someone who makes a commotion to be seen. I think another effect of the Skinner Box was that I gravitated to storefronts as living space. It was soundproof, so I still today find it hard to hear the lyrics on records. I confronted my parents after my Freshman year in college, asking how they could do this to me? And they replied, “It was regarded as the best form of child-rearing.”
B. F. Skinner’s daughter grew up to be an artist; and sued her father for malpractice for experimenting on her as an infant without her permission.
What were your experiences?
All best wishes,
No, I do not think the female or male baby's experience in a Skinner Box would be very different.
No, I would never raise my child in a Skinner Box. All kids want is to be on your body at all times if possible!
WRITTEN INTERVIEW: MARTHA WILSON AND ADAM ZARETSKY , QUESTIONS BY LINDA MARY MONTANO REGARDING THE SKINNER BOX
MARTHA WILSON AND ADAM ZARETSKY, YOU BOTH WERE PLACED IN A SKINNER BOX AS INFANTS. THIS IS A VERY UNUSAL AND RARE SITUATION AND I ASK THESE QUESTIONS TO BETTER UNDERSTAND YOUR EARLY INFLUECES AND THE WAY IT MIGHT HAVE REFLECTED ON YOUR ART AND LIFE. LINDA MARY MONTANO, 2018
QUESSTION: WHAT IS A SKINNER BOX?
Q. WHEN INVENTED?
Q. WHY WAS IT INVENTED?
Q. WHO INVENTED IT AND WHAT WAS THAT PERSON'S HISTORY AND MOTIVATION?
Q. WHY WOULD PARENTS CHOOSE TO PLACE A CHILD IN A SKINNER BOX?
Q. HOW LONG WERE YOU IN THE SKINNER BOX?
Q. WHAT ARE YOUR MEMORIES OF THE SKINNER BOX EXPERIENCE?
Q. WHAT COULD YOU SEE? WHAT COULD YOU HEAR? WHAT COULD YOU CONTACT?
Q. WHAT WERE THE PARAMETERS OF TOUCH BY OTHERS?
Q. HOW HAS THAT EXPERIENCE EFFECTED YOU AS AN ARTIST? DID IT INSPIRE YOU TO MAKE ART?
Q. HOW DID IT INFLUENCE YOUR PERSONAL LIFE? RELATIONSHIPS?
Q. WHAT SPECIAL POSITIVE GIFTS DO YOU THINK THIS EXPERIENCE OF THE SKINNER BOX GAVE YOU?
Q. HOW DID THE SKINNER BOX EXPERIENCE GUIDE YOUR USE OF TEXTURE/MATERIALS IN YOU WORK? HOW DID IT INFLUENCE YOUR WORK WITH OTHERS? COLLABORATIONS?
Q. HOW DO U SEE? FEEL? TOUCH THE WORLD NOW AS A RESULT OF THIS EARLY EXPERIENCE?
Q. WHAT WOULD YOU SAY TO YOUR PARENTS REGARDING THEIR DECISION TO PLACE YOU IN A SKINNER BOX AS AN INFANT?
Q. ARE THERE ANY POSITIVE ASPECTS COMING FROM SUCH A SITUATION? IS THE SKINNER BOX A GOOD THING?
Q. DO YOU EVER HAVE DREAMS ABOUT HAVING BEEN IN THE SKINNER BOX?
Q. DID YOU EVER GO TO A THERAPIST AND WORK ON THIS AS AN ISSUE AND MEMORY? WHAT WAS THE OUTCOME OF THAT RESEARCH?
Q. WHAT IS YOUR CURRENT SPIRITUAL PRACTICE AND HOW IS IT SHAPED BY YOUR TIME IN A SKINNER BOX?
Q. DO YOU OR DID YOU MAKE SKINNER BOX ART?
Q. CAN YOU IMAGINE SHARING THIS INFORMATION WITH OTHERS PUBLICALLY AND HELPING THEM UNDERSTAND THIS HISTORTICAL PHENOMENA?
Q. WHAT QUESTIONS DO YOU WANT TO ADD?
Martha and Adam, I hope this is of value to you and if you wish u/we can share . Only if you wish. I love you both very much, Linda