Animal Madness: How Anxious Dogs, Compulsive Parrots, and Elephants in Recovery Help Us Understand Ourselves [NOOK Book]

Overview

** “Science Friday” Summer Reading Pick**
**Discover magazine Top 5 Summer Reads**
**People magazine Best Summer Reads**

“[A] lovely, big-hearted book…brimming with compassion and the tales of the many, many humans who devote their days to making animals well.” —The New York Times

Have you ever wondered if your dog might be a bit ...
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Animal Madness: How Anxious Dogs, Compulsive Parrots, and Elephants in Recovery Help Us Understand Ourselves

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Overview

** “Science Friday” Summer Reading Pick**
**Discover magazine Top 5 Summer Reads**
**People magazine Best Summer Reads**

“[A] lovely, big-hearted book…brimming with compassion and the tales of the many, many humans who devote their days to making animals well.” —The New York Times

Have you ever wondered if your dog might be a bit depressed? How about heartbroken or homesick? Animal Madness takes these questions seriously, exploring the topic of mental health and recovery in the animal kingdom and turning up lessons that Publishers Weekly calls “Illuminating…Braitman’s delightful balance of humor and poignancy brings each case of life….[Animal Madness’s] continuous dose of hope should prove medicinal for humans and animals alike.”

Susan Orlean calls Animal Madness “a marvelous, smart, eloquent book—as much about human emotion as it is about animals and their inner lives.” It is “a gem…that can teach us much about the wildness of our own minds” (Psychology Today).
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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble

As any astute pet owner can tell you, animals have emotions, can suffer great crises, and can form deep attachments; yet over the centuries, anthropocentrism has built strong walls between humans and supposedly alien "beasts." Historian of science Laurel Braitman performs a laudable deed here by knocking down that wall with a compelling mix of personal anecdotes and the observations of researchers, explorers, zoo-keepers and others. Animal Madness doesn't simply present a case for animal emotions; Braitman argues that the contention of the subtitle is true: that these creatures can indeed teach us lessons about ourselves.

Library Journal
04/01/2014
Eschewing statistics and experimental data in favor of her own stories and historical anecdotes, Braitman, a trained historian of science, appeals directly to her readers' emotions with tales of anguished elephants and heartsick gorillas. The writing, informed by the author's academic background, relies heavily on the views of 19th-century naturalists, e.g., Charles Darwin and William Lauder Lindsay, although Braitman does cite such modern ethologists and psychologists as Mark Bekoff and Jaak Panskepp. Braitman highlights the similarities between human and nonhuman emotion but seems focused on proving that nonhuman animals can feel. The author's book is more overtly evangelical than Virginia Morell's Animal Wise: The Thoughts and Emotions of Our Fellow Creatures, but both titles make similar arguments: that the time has come to rethink our ban on anthropomorphism, that beasts can indeed think and experience other senses, and that we ought to do more for (and less to) our furry and feathered cousins. VERDICT This engaging, compassionate read will touch the hearts of animal lovers but is unlikely to convert skeptics. Readers in search of a straightforward review of current animal-cognition literature may be put off by Braitman's inclusion of details from her personal life and should turn to Morell's book, mentioned above, instead.—Kate Horowitz, Washington, DC
Publishers Weekly
03/03/2014
In this illuminating contribution to the burgeoning field of animal studies, senior TED fellow Braitman suggests that the key to understanding mental illness might lie in our pets. Humans, she reveals, are not the only ones who experience emotional turbulence or mental problems that break daily routine. Bears can endure heartbreak, elephants can form intense social attachments, and gorillas can die from homesickness. Few species escape her discussion. Braitman’s delightful balance of humor and poignancy brings each case to life as she draws on her own experience, research, and the theories of Darwin, Descartes, and others. We have always described animal behavior using human terminology, and analyzing these accounts in historical context leads to revelations about the human species and larger issues of language and communication. Yet emotion is in part contingent upon the ability to express it, so the varied capacities for self-awareness and language within the animal world are perhaps the only possible loopholes to Braitman’s logic. But analytical scrutiny would not be the way to approach this book, whose continuous dose of hope should prove medicinal for humans and animals alike. Agent: Barney M. Karpfinger, Karpfinger Agency. (June)
John Marzluff
"Braitman assembles the shattered pieces of others’ minds into a thoroughly considered and surprising realization that many familiar animals possess the same mental demons that haunt us. This insight challenges us to accept that our ancient kinship with other animals is as apparent in our psyche as it is in our physique."
Jon Mooallem
“Loving animals is easy. Thinking clearly about them can be almost impossible. Only a writer as earnestly curious as Laurel Braitman—so irrepressibly game to understand the animal mind—could draw this elegantly on both the findings of academic scientists and the observations of a used elephant salesman in Thailand; on the sorrows of a famous, captive grizzly bear in nineteenth-century San Francisco and the anxieties of her own dog. Animal Madness is a big-hearted and wildly intelligent book. Braitman rigorously demystifies so much about the other animals of our world while simultaneously generating even greater feelings of wonder.”
Marc Bekoff
Animal Madness is a landmark book. Researchers have long ignored animals in need, especially in the wild. However, just as we suffer from a wide variety of psychological disorders so too do other animals. But they make a remarkable recovery when they are cared for, understood, and loved.”
Vicki Constantine Croke
“Humane, insightful, and beautifully written, Animal Madness gives anthropomorphism a good name. Laurel Braitman’s modern and nuanced definition of the word helps animals, helps people, and bolsters the connection between the two. Her thought-provoking book illuminates just how much we share with the creatures around us.”
Susan Orlean
“This is a marvelous, smart, eloquent book—as much about human emotion as it is about animals and their inner lives. Braitman’s research is fascinating, and she writes with the ease and engagement of a natural storyteller.”
Sy Montgomery
"Animal Madness is the sanest book I've read in a long time. Laurel Braitman irrefutably shows that animals think and feel, and experience the same emotions that we do. To deny this is crazy—which is why this fine book should be required reading for anyone who cares about healing the broken inner lives of both people and animals."
Virginia Morell
Animal Madness takes us on a roller-coaster of an emotional journey among emotionally unhappy animals. There are lows and highs here—the fears and worries of disturbed animals, and the joy and hope of humans trying to help them. In this compelling and provocative book, Braitman shows us sides of the animal mind few have imagined, and in doing so, opens our eyes anew.”
B. Natterson-Horowitz
"In the tradition of Marc Bekoff and Virginia Morell, Laurel Braitman deftly and elegantly makes the case that animals have complex emotional lives. This passionate, provocative, and insightful book deeply expands our knowledge and empathy for all species—especially, perhaps, our own."
Discover
“A riveting, thoughtful exploration of the ‘emotional thunderstorms’ and physiological imbalances other species can experience as intensely as humans do….Compelling.”
Amitav Ghosh
"Rare indeed is it to come upon a work of non-fiction as compelling as Laurel Braitman’s. . . . Animal Madness is compulsively readable and thoroughly engaging: [Braitman] has the rare gift of being able to combine ideas, research and personal experience into a compelling narrative."
BrainPickings.org - Maria Popova
"With equal parts rigor and compassion, [Braitman] examines evidence from veterinary science, psychology and pharmacology research, first-hand accounts by neuroscientists, zoologists, animal trainers, and other experts, the work of legendary scientists and philosophers like Charles Darwin and Rene Descartes, and her own experience with dozens of animals spanning a multitude of species and mental health issues. . . . . Her approach isn’t one of self-interest but one of genuine compassion for the inner worlds and anguish of our fellow beings. . . . Animal Madness is a moving, pause-giving, and ultimately optimistic read."
Boston Globe - Kate Tuttle
"Charming as the sketches of individual animals can be, the book is at its best in plumbing the history of how we humans have understood the emotional and mental lives of other animals. From Darwin, who wrote eloquently about his dog’s facial expressions, to mid-20th-century behaviorists who disdained anthropomorphism, scholars have argued about the capacities of animal minds, a process Braitman compares to 'holding up a mirror to the history of human mental illness.' . . . It’s clear that what soothes troubled animals—patience, sympathy, consistency—helps humans, too.”
Seeing the World Through Books - Mary Whipple
"Braitman uses her own experiences at animal sanctuaries, zoos, aquariums, water parks, and animal research centers throughout the world as rich resources in her study of psychologically impaired animals. Her own research, much of which is presented here, is thorough and academically rigorous. . . . Braitman understands and hopes to assuage the emotions of guilt, helplessness, and sadness among pet lovers who have discovered that love is simply not enough in dealing with a disturbed animal."
From the Publisher
**PRI "Science Friday" Summer Reading Pick**
**One of People Magazine's Best Summer Reads**
**Discover Magazine Top 5 Summer Reads**

“[A] lovely, big-hearted book. . . . Dr. Braitman makes a compelling case that nonhuman creatures can also be afflicted with mental illness and that their suffering is not so different from our own. . . . Animal Madness is also brimming with compassion and the tales of the many, many humans who devote their days to making animals well.”
—Emily Anthes, The New York Times

“This is a marvelous, smart, eloquent book—as much about human emotion as it is about animals and their inner lives. Braitman’s research is fascinating, and she writes with the ease and engagement of a natural storyteller.”
—Susan Orlean, bestselling author of Rin Tin Tin, Saturday Night, and The Orchid Thief

"Animal Madness is the sanest book I've read in a long time. Laurel Braitman irrefutably shows that animals think and feel, and experience the same emotions that we do. To deny this is crazy—which is why this fine book should be required reading for anyone who cares about healing the broken inner lives of both people and animals."
—Sy Montgomery, author of The Good Good Pig

Animal Madness is a landmark book. Researchers have long ignored animals in need, especially in the wild. However, just as we suffer from a wide variety of psychological disorders so too do other animals. But they make a remarkable recovery when they are cared for, understood, and loved.”
—Marc Bekoff, author of Why Dogs Hump and Bees Get Depressed and editor of Ignoring Nature No More

Animal Madness takes us on a roller-coaster of an emotional journey among emotionally unhappy animals. There are lows and highs here—the fears and worries of disturbed animals, and the joy and hope of humans trying to help them. In this compelling and provocative book, Braitman shows us sides of the animal mind few have imagined, and in doing so, opens our eyes anew.”
—Virginia Morell, author of Animal Wise

“Loving animals is easy. Thinking clearly about them can be almost impossible. Only a writer as earnestly curious as Laurel Braitman—so irrepressibly game to understand the animal mind—could draw this elegantly on both the findings of academic scientists and the observations of a used elephant salesman in Thailand; on the sorrows of a famous, captive grizzly bear in nineteenth-century San Francisco and the anxieties of her own dog. Animal Madness is a big-hearted and wildly intelligent book. Braitman rigorously demystifies so much about the other animals of our world while simultaneously generating even greater feelings of wonder.”
—Jon Mooallem, author of Wild Ones

"In the tradition of Marc Bekoff and Virginia Morell, Laurel Braitman deftly and elegantly makes the case that animals have complex emotional lives. This passionate, provocative, and insightful book deeply expands our knowledge and empathy for all species—especially, perhaps, our own."
—B. Natterson-Horowitz, M.D. and K. Bowers, coauthors of Zoobiquity: Astonishing Connections Between Human and Animal Health

“Humane, insightful, and beautifully written, Animal Madness gives anthropomorphism a good name. Laurel Braitman’s modern and nuanced definition of the word helps animals, helps people, and bolsters the connection between the two. Her thought-provoking book illuminates just how much we share with the creatures around us.”
—Vicki Constantine Croke, author of The Lady and the Panda and Elephant Company

“A riveting, thoughtful exploration of the ‘emotional thunderstorms’ and physiological imbalances other species can experience as intensely as humans do….Compelling.”
Discover

"Braitman assembles the shattered pieces of others’ minds into a thoroughly considered and surprising realization that many familiar animals possess the same mental demons that haunt us. This insight challenges us to accept that our ancient kinship with other animals is as apparent in our psyche as it is in our physique."
—John Marzluff, Author of Gifts of the Crow

"Rare indeed is it to come upon a work of non-fiction as compelling as Laurel Braitman’s. . . . Animal Madness is compulsively readable and thoroughly engaging: [Braitman] has the rare gift of being able to combine ideas, research and personal experience into a compelling narrative."
—Amitav Ghosh, author of Sea of Poppies

"Charming as the sketches of individual animals can be, the book is at its best in plumbing the history of how we humans have understood the emotional and mental lives of other animals. From Darwin, who wrote eloquently about his dog’s facial expressions, to mid-20th-century behaviorists who disdained anthropomorphism, scholars have argued about the capacities of animal minds, a process Braitman compares to 'holding up a mirror to the history of human mental illness.' . . . It’s clear that what soothes troubled animals—patience, sympathy, consistency—helps humans, too.”
—Kate Tuttle, Boston Globe

“This book should be required reading for veterinary and animal science students and for all who have any professional dealings with animals, wild and domesticated.”
—Dr. Michael Fox, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

“Illuminating. . . . Braitman’s delightful balance of humor and poignancy brings each case to life. . . . [Animal Madness’s] continuous dose of hope should prove medicinal for humans and animals alike.”
Publishers Weekly

"There is much here that will remind readers of Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson—a gift for storytelling, strong observational talents, an easy familiarity with the background material and a warm level of empathy...Engaging...Sparks curiosity."
Kirkus

"With equal parts rigor and compassion, [Braitman] examines evidence from veterinary science, psychology and pharmacology research, first-hand accounts by neuroscientists, zoologists, animal trainers, and other experts, the work of legendary scientists and philosophers like Charles Darwin and Rene Descartes, and her own experience with dozens of animals spanning a multitude of species and mental health issues. . . . . Her approach isn’t one of self-interest but one of genuine compassion for the inner worlds and anguish of our fellow beings. . . . Animal Madness is a moving, pause-giving, and ultimately optimistic read."
—Maria Popova, BrainPickings.org

"Braitman uses her own experiences at animal sanctuaries, zoos, aquariums, water parks, and animal research centers throughout the world as rich resources in her study of psychologically impaired animals. Her own research, much of which is presented here, is thorough and academically rigorous. . . . Braitman understands and hopes to assuage the emotions of guilt, helplessness, and sadness among pet lovers who have discovered that love is simply not enough in dealing with a disturbed animal."
—Mary Whipple, Seeing the World Through Books

“The book has lived up to my high expectations and is one of those rarities - a scientifically rigorous read that manages to glow with genuine compassion, has a generous hint of humour throughout and encourages a re-read as soon as the last word is reached.”
—Saving Suzie-Belle The Foodie Schauzer (blog)

"Fascinating."
New York Post

Animal Madness serves up an edgy blend of tension and passion that deftly balances frustration and fascination of a wide array of subjects from the jungle to the living room. While taking the reader on an emotional bumpy ride, it educates and entertains around every sharp corner.”
—Ranny Greene, Seattle Kennel Club

"In the hands of an observant and engaging writer like Braitman, this story is an outstanding example of a rigorous investigation presented in a most accessible way. Readers will also be rewarded by the deep compassion and gratitude she shows for all her subjects, both the animals and the humans who care for them."
The Bark

Kirkus Reviews
2014-04-20
Through experiential and anecdotal evidence, science historian and senior TED fellow Braitman takes measure of the emotional thunderstorms that cramp or even curtail the normal lives of animals."Every animal with a mind has the capacity to lose hold of it from time to time," writes the author in this investigation into the literature of abnormal animal behavior, both the scientific and the observational. There is much here that will remind readers of Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson—a gift for storytelling, strong observational talents, an easy familiarity with the background material and a warm level of empathy—and Braitman emphasizes that it doesn't require an enormous leap of faith to feel our kinship with these beasts, particularly the suffering ones. Her recital of the historical tales of animal mental disorders is engaging, and into it she threads the experiments of cognitive ethologists, neurologists and behavioral biologists, as well as the troubling story of Oliver, her Bernese mountain dog who exhibited considerable signs of madness. What was at play in her dog's behavior—a constricted gene pool, the neurological misfirings of breeding? Braitman infuses her narrative with humorous ruminations—"we felt like perverts at the dog park—dogless people who came to look at dogs, luring other people's pets over to be petted with clandestine pockets of treats"—and she takes anthropomorphism just so far while casting a wary eye on "Pet Pharm" and the long, ignoble past of doping our pets. The author may gesture toward what "animals might tell us about ourselves," but she is thankfully willing to allow them their mystery, "that other animals have many special abilities that we don't have and this may extend to emotional states."Braitman's gradual accretion of reasons to believe in animal emotional states that we can relate to, including the loopy ones, gives pause and sparks curiosity.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781451627022
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster
  • Publication date: 6/10/2014
  • Sold by: SIMON & SCHUSTER
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 384
  • Sales rank: 67,383
  • File size: 3 MB

Meet the Author

MIT PhD in the history of science, Laurel Braitman has written for Pop Up Magazine, The New Inquiry, Orion, and a variety of other publications. She is a TED Fellow and an affiliate artist at the Headlands Center for the Arts. Laurel lives on a houseboat in Sausalito, California, and can be reached at AnimalMadness.com. 
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Read an Excerpt

Animal Madness


  • Mac, the miniature donkey, can be kind of a jerk. He bats his eyelashes, angles his long furred ears toward you, flatteringly, like TV antennas, and pushes his belly up against your thighs. Then, just as you’ve grown comfortable with his small, stocky presence, his burro smell of sagebrush and sweet alfalfa, something dark and confusing stirs within him. He stiffens, whips his head back, and bites down hard on the bony part of your shin and doesn’t let go. Or he rears to stamp his hooves on your toes, or he kicks his back legs like sharp springs in the direction of your kneecaps or into your actual kneecaps. If this wasn’t painful, it would be funny. Mac is, after all, the size of a goat. But because you can’t predict when it will happen, he is also a little scary. Mac shifts so suddenly from being affectionate and needy to violent and aggressive, transformations that don’t seem to be triggered by anything in particular, that some people have taken to calling him “schizo donkey.”

I am not one of these people. But I believe that he’s disturbed. This, however, is not Mac’s fault. Not entirely anyway. His mother, a stoic Sardinian miniature donkey, lived on the ranch where I grew up. She died within days of giving birth to Mac, and he was given to me to raise. I was twelve years old and saw this tiny donkey as a living stuffed toy. I spent hours bottle-feeding him and playing with him, until I got distracted by Anne of Green Gables books and my seventh-grade crush, a tan boy who skateboarded behind the local McDonald’s. Mac was weaned too quickly, exiled to a corral without a donkey mother to show him the ropes—a small, unself-confident creature among indifferent adults. Another donkey may have been fine, but Mac wasn’t another donkey. Eventually he began to turn his attacks on himself, biting his own fur off in chunks when he became frustrated or erupting in violent outbursts against people and other animals, outbursts that kept him from receiving the affection he also seemed to crave. Now, more than twenty years later, I know that Mac’s experience and the disturbing behavior that resulted from it, is far from unique.

Humans aren’t the only animals to suffer from emotional thunderstorms that make our lives more difficult, and sometimes impossible. Like Charles Darwin, who came to this realization more than a century ago, I believe that nonhuman animals can suffer from mental illnesses that are quite similar to human disorders. I was convinced by the experiences of many creatures I came to know, from Mac to a series of Asian elephants, but none more persuasively than a Bernese Mountain Dog named Oliver that my husband and I adopted. Oliver’s extreme fear, anxiety, and compulsions cracked open my world and prompted me to investigate whether other animals could be mentally ill. This book is the tale of what I found: the story of my own struggle to help Oliver and the journey it inspired, a search to understand what identifying insanity in other animals might tell us about ourselves.

There isn’t a branch of veterinary science, psychology, ethology (the science of animal behavior), neuroscience, or wildlife ecology dedicated to investigating whether animals can be mentally ill. What I have done in this book is draw together evidence from the veterinary sciences and pharmaceutical and psychological studies; first-person accounts of zookeepers, animal trainers, psychiatrists, neuroscientists, and pet owners; observations made by nineteenth-century naturalists and contemporary biologists and wildlife scientists; and many ordinary people who simply had something to say about animals doing odd things around them. All of these threads, when pulled together, suggest that humans and other animals are more similar than many of us might think when it comes to mental states and behaviors gone awry—experiencing churning fear, for example, in situations that don’t call for it, feeling unable to shake a paralyzing sadness, or being haunted by a ceaseless compulsion to wash our hands or paws. Abnormal behaviors like these tip into the territory of mental illness when they keep creatures—human or not—from engaging in what is normal for them. This is true for a dog single-mindedly focused on licking his tail until it’s bare and oozy, a sea lion fixated on swimming in endless circles, a gorilla too sad and withdrawn to play with her troop members, or a human so petrified of escalators he avoids department stores.I

Every animal with a mind has the capacity to lose hold of it from time to time. Sometimes the trigger is abuse or mistreatment, but not always. I’ve come across depressed and anxious gorillas, compulsive horses, rats, donkeys, and seals, obsessive parrots, self-harming dolphins, and dogs with dementia, many of whom share their exhibits, homes, or habitats with other creatures who don’t suffer from the same problems. I’ve also gotten to know curious whales, confident bonobos, thrilled elephants, contented tigers, and grateful orangutans. There is plenty of abnormal behavior in the animal world, captive, domestic, and wild, and plenty of evidence of recovery; you simply need to know where and how to find it. Oliver was my guide, even if he was too busy compulsively licking his paws to notice.

Acknowledging parallels between human and other animal mental health is a bit like recognizing capacities for language, tool use, and culture in other creatures. That is, it’s a blow to the idea that humans are the only animals to feel or express emotion in complex and surprising ways. It is also anthropomorphic, the projection of human emotions, characteristics, and desires onto nonhuman beings or things. We can choose, though, to anthropomorphize well and, by doing so, make more accurate interpretations of animals’ behavior and emotional lives. Instead of self-centered projection, anthropomorphism can be a recognition of bits and pieces of our human selves in other animals and vice versa.

Identifying mental illness in other creatures and helping them recover also sheds light on our humanity. Our relationships with suffering animals often make us better versions of ourselves, helping us empathize with our dogs, cats, and guinea pigs, turning us into bonobo or gorilla psychiatrists, or inspiring the most dedicated among us to found cat shelters or elephant sanctuaries.

For me, the realization that mental illness and the capacity to recover from it is something we share with many other animals is comforting news. When, as humans, we feel our most anxious, compulsive, scared, depressed, or enraged, we’re also revealing ourselves to be surprisingly like the other creatures with whom we share the planet. As Darwin’s father told him, “There is a perfect gradation between sound people and insane. . . . Everybody is insane at some time.” As with people, so with everyone else too.

I. In this book I refer to abnormal behavior as the people who spend time with these animals do: as madness, mental illness, evidence of mental disorders, insanity, and more. These are generic words unfurled like leaky umbrellas over a whole host of behaviors considered abnormal. They’re obviously unable to describe the ever-shifting patterns of the animal mind, not to mention the social expectations of what is normal in humans and other animals. Madness is a mirror that needs normalcy to exist. This distinction can be a murky one.

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 12, 2014

    I am so excited to read this book and will review once I finish,

    I am so excited to read this book and will review once I finish, but Anonymous, what is your problem?!? It sheds light on very real problems and you found them "Depressing & disturbing'? its not about you! ITs about spreading awareness to help animals that are suffering in all ways. This book ismuch needed am I'm sure much less of anything compared to PETA campaigns , for example. Wake up & stop posting crappy reviews that are off point. 

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 14, 2014

    Depressing and disturbing

    I bought this book because it was mentioned on the national news. This book was very disturbing. It talks of many different animals who were depressed because of abuse. Well, duh! I am ashamed of my fellow humans' treatment to all of the animals in this book and the ones that we don't know about. If you have a problem with your dog, watch Dog Whisperer. If you have a problem with another animal, use common sense and compassion, not abuse, torture or mind-altering drugs!

    0 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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