Animals Suffer from Mental Illness Too: Introduction to the Puzzling Phenomenon of Animal Madness
Animal Madness is a great book for anybody who wants to get a completely new take on animals.
This book challenges the idea that mental illness is something exclusively experienced by humans, and instead suggests that animals can suffer from many of the same issues we do.
Through the course of the book, you’ll gain insights into how animals feel emotionally, and even some animal behavior which may seem strange at first glance can now be understood in light of mental health.
You’ll explore cases such as a mortally homesick gorilla, a confused mother kangaroo lashing out at her own babies, and even elephants that would become so enraged they were executed for their violent behavior.
Is It True That Animals Don’t Feel The Way Humans Do? Examining The Debate Between Anthropomorphism and Anthropocentrism
Despite the views of those who think otherwise, it is clear that animals do have minds and feelings.
As Charles Darwin pointed out over a century ago, humans are just another animal species and are therefore closely related to animals.
The brain structures of animals, particularly other mammals, are remarkably similar to those of humans, meaning our brains produce comparable experiences and abilities as well.
Furthermore, multiple experiments have shown that some animal species even use tools in certain circumstances, proving their inherent intelligence.
MRI studies have also showcased evidence of emotional responses in animals such as joy when reuniting with their human guardians.
Anthropocentrism – the view that humans are the only beings with a mind – may be an outdated way of thinking; the belief that animals are solely driven by instinct should not be taken at face value either.
It is perfectly acceptable to attribute feeling and experience in much the same way we would for any human being when examining animal behaviour and cognitive processes; After all, it is likely that they possess similar faculties within them as we do.
From Aggressive Elephants to Homesick Gorillas: Examining Mysterious Animal Mental Health Issues
It’s a fact that animals have been described as mad, homesick and even suicidal.
One example is the Overtoun Bridge in Scotland.
People tell stories of dogs throwing themselves off this bridge, impressing us with the savage nature of some wild creatures.
The term ‘madness’ was commonly used to describe behavioral problems in animals – particularly elephants – but we now know that in many cases their aggression is caused by mistreatment or musth (the period of surging male hormones).
In the past, aggressive elephants were actually held accountable for their violent acts and punished accordingly, being electrocuted or even hanged!
Homesickness can also be problem for captive animals, as was seen with John Daniel, a gorilla brought up as part of a loving human family who was tragically sold to a circus resulting in his untimely death from ‘homesickness’.
Other heartbreaking cases include instances of self-harming behavior and even suicide.
Dogs refusing to eat, scorpions stinging themselves with their poisonous tails and whales beaching themselves are just a few examples; while another extreme case involved a circus lion Rex being found choked to death by his neck chain.
We may never truly understand how these animals feel – but it’s clear they experience strong emotions like any other creature.
Diagnosing Mental Illness in Animals Requires Close Observation and Consideration of Breed, Environment, and Past Traumas
When diagnosing a mental illness in animals, it is important to look beyond the surface and get to the root of the problem.
This requires careful observation and close examination of the animal’s habits and life history.
It can be hard to tell if an animal’s behavior is actually pathological or has other causes.
For example, when Sunita, a highly strung tiger in an animal sanctuary in California was seen twitching her muzzle when stressed out, it was easily diagnosed as tic disorder.
However with some animals, such as tree kangaroos reacting badly when humans approach them, you need to look closer to tell if the behavior is related to their environment.
In this case, due to being raised in trees they weren’t accustomed to picking up their young off the ground.
It’s also important to consider genetics and breed when attempting diagnoses as some breeds are predisposed towards certain issues;German Shepherds snaps at non-existent flies while Bull Terriers frequently chase their tails.
And lastly looking into their past can help understand any existing behavioral issues that may have been caused by previous mistreatment or prolonged stress resulting in damaged brains and ongoing anxiety disorders.
Therefore, it is crucial that all possible angles are considered before reaching a diagnosis.
The Benefits of Combining Drugs with Behavior Modification Training for Animals
When it comes to treating animal mental health problems, many vets turn to medications as the default option.
However, these drugs are far from a one-stop-shop solution.
While they may be effective for dissipating symptoms in the short term, when administered alone without any accompanying behavior modification techniques or activities, their effects leave as soon as administration of the medication ends.
Behavior-modification techniques such as exposure therapy can be extremely helpful for teaching animals to unlearn problem behaviors or learn desired behaviors.
For example, if your dog barks incessantly when it hears a cell phone ringtone, you might expose it repetitively to this noise – beginning with a faint sound and gradually increasing its volume – until it’s taught that the sound is no longer threatening or dangerous.
It’s also important to remember that certain pet behaviours which may appear problematic aren’t actually signs of disorder.
If your dog always wants your attention and gets into mischief in your absence, it doesn’t necessarily have an underlying psychological issue; this could simply be a sign of your pup behaving like a normal dog!
In such cases, medicating them won’t solve the problem – instead try dedicating more time to playing with and training them.
Animal Rights Must Be Considered When Talking About Human Rights
It’s essential that animals have companionship and meaningful activity in order to remain healthy.
Research shows that the majority of animals find the companionship they need by living with other members of their species.
However, interspecies pairings can work just as effectively, and some animal owners have noticed great improvement in their animals’ behavior when introducing another species into the family dynamic.
For example, a racehorse who is prone to anxiety might be given a goat as a companion, and both animals usually form a deep bond which makes being apart from one another hard for both of them.
Humans are also great companions for animals.
When cared for properly by our own species, an animal can feel secure and even loyal towards its human companion – sometimes too loyal!
There have been known cases where an elephant would become jealous and aggressive if its owner brought along his girlfriend on a visit.
This goes to show how important it is to establish trust between your animal companion and yourself; failure to do so might lead to possessive behavior on their part.
Meanwhile, occupying an animal’s mind is also important for them to stay healthy.
To feel mentally fulfilled, animals need activities that challenge their energy, intelligence and creativity – such as playing with toys or other physical distractions like swings or mirrors – just like we do!
Even The US federal law – the Animal Welfare Act- acknowledges this basic need for environment enrichment for test animals used in laboratories by requiring them to be provided some sort of diversion within their cages or enclosures.
The main takeaway from Animal Madness, is that animals have emotions just like us humans, and that we have to provide them with the same care and attention that we would ourselves.
We should avoid medicating animals unnecessarily, as there are often natural ways to help comfort them if they are afraid or anxious.
Ultimately, this book emphasizes the importance of understanding the mental needs of our pets, so they can show us plenty of love in return!