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

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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 Madnes 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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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 Madnes 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).

30 review for Animal Madness: How Anxious Dogs, Compulsive Parrots, and Elephants in Recovery Help Us Understand Ourselves

  1. 4 out of 5

    Debbie "DJ"

    Why is it I have no problem reading about human abuse and murder, but can't handle reading about animal mistreatment? The reason this book caught my eye was in the title..."how animals in recovery help us understand ourselves." While this book does deal with animal abuse, it's focus was on treating mental illness in animals, how much they have helped us, and how we are changing the way we view and treat animals. I found it fascinating! The book begins with the author's rescue dog who jumped out o Why is it I have no problem reading about human abuse and murder, but can't handle reading about animal mistreatment? The reason this book caught my eye was in the title..."how animals in recovery help us understand ourselves." While this book does deal with animal abuse, it's focus was on treating mental illness in animals, how much they have helped us, and how we are changing the way we view and treat animals. I found it fascinating! The book begins with the author's rescue dog who jumped out of her 4th story window. Was it intentional suicide? This facilitates the author's endeavor into how similar our own emotional states are to animals. She states in the introduction " 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 the realization more than a century ago. I believe that nonhuman animals can suffer from mental illnesses that are quite similar to our own." While the tales of animal insanity were diverse, and some even historical, what I loved is how animals are beginning to get the attention they deserve. Animals have always been used to test medications that go on to help us. Why is it that we don't see this testing means our emotions are so similar to their's? Would we want to be put in a zoo, ripped from our mothers, forced into hard labor? Might we not have some emotional difficulties ourselves? While we have used them to test for our medications, we are just beginning to return the favor. Yes, Prozac, anti-depressants and others are all being used to help animals now. I loved her comment about dogs on leashes and how degrading a leash is to an animal. They were born to run, smell, and explore. The only time I put my own dog on a leash is when I see another dog behaving erratically because it's owner is dragging it by the leash. When I hear someone tell me "your dog should be on a leash," I just want to say, "you should be on a leash." I've never had to do much training with my dog as I respect her instincts. She even looks both ways before crossing a street, no need to teach her that. This is a beautifully balanced book describing how animals and humans can love one another back to health, while also demonstrating how our earlier lack of understanding led to animal insanity, just as it would for us. It is always about treating one another as we would want to be treated. Loved it!

  2. 5 out of 5

    Suzanne

    Engaging initially because the author had a very bad experience with a pet she acquired, I became more engaged with the topic when it moved into the history of caging animals, resultant abuse, and ensuing crazy behavior. This book helped me move beyond a vague uneasiness I've felt towards circuses, zoos, and using animals for experiments, to really thinking about the in-humaneness of what generally passes for routine treatment of animals throughout not just the "uncivilized" world, but the "civi Engaging initially because the author had a very bad experience with a pet she acquired, I became more engaged with the topic when it moved into the history of caging animals, resultant abuse, and ensuing crazy behavior. This book helped me move beyond a vague uneasiness I've felt towards circuses, zoos, and using animals for experiments, to really thinking about the in-humaneness of what generally passes for routine treatment of animals throughout not just the "uncivilized" world, but the "civilized" world as well. Just this morning I happened upon an article about gray California whales who actually seek out fishermen in a cove in Mexico when they're calving despite despicable whaling practices in this very cove in the past. The article, which I may have passed over in the past, was read with greater awareness after reading Animal Madness. Everything I read or view first hand in the future regarding animal treatment will now be colored by this author's research. I was somewhat awed by how the author managed to travel as far and wide for research as she has. Is she incredibly wealthy? Did she obtain research grants? How could she spend months studying elephants in Thailand and India? There's more to this story, and I hope this author writes more books on this topic and on herself in the future. Her research was well documented by excellent footnotes which took up a good many pages. This book is excellent for anyone dealing with animals on a professional level, but is also very accessible for popular reading collections.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Linda

    Extremely well documented and scientifically grounded but anecdotal and easy to read and understand. If you love animals, you will love and appreciate this book.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Angela Street

    This was a unique book that dealt with how animals and humans are alike in exhibiting common mental illnesses such as depression, suicide, anxiety, post traumatic stress disorder. The author did a great job of researching animals with mental illnesses that show up both in common literature, on children shows and in research practices used to discover physical and mental cures. It was interesting to read about some of the gurus of the psychiatric movement who discovered some of the most widely us This was a unique book that dealt with how animals and humans are alike in exhibiting common mental illnesses such as depression, suicide, anxiety, post traumatic stress disorder. The author did a great job of researching animals with mental illnesses that show up both in common literature, on children shows and in research practices used to discover physical and mental cures. It was interesting to read about some of the gurus of the psychiatric movement who discovered some of the most widely used counseling theories and the research with animals that led up to that. The author also discussed her love for her dog who had significant mental illness. It was shocking to discover how much medication is used to treat so called happy animals deal with being around humans as well as to discover how many potent medications are in our food and water sources left over from the treatment of humans and animals with mental illnesses. Although at times it was hard to read about bad things happening to animals the love the author had for animals was clear throughout the book. I learned a lot and some of my preconceived notions were challenged.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Dan Connors

    Do animals have emotional breakdowns? Do they have the same mental frailties and neuroses as humans? They can't talk to us, but their behavior can tell us plenty about their emotional states as well as our own. This wonderful book covers the history of animal mental illness and how it integrates with human mental health over the last few centuries. Before Charles Darwin came on the scene, we assumed that humans were special, and that our experiences were way above those of the lowly animal king Do animals have emotional breakdowns? Do they have the same mental frailties and neuroses as humans? They can't talk to us, but their behavior can tell us plenty about their emotional states as well as our own. This wonderful book covers the history of animal mental illness and how it integrates with human mental health over the last few centuries. Before Charles Darwin came on the scene, we assumed that humans were special, and that our experiences were way above those of the lowly animal kingdom. Darwin's theory of evolution dashed that special perch, and now scientists realize that animal brains and minds work much the same as human ones, if not quite as powerful and complex. Animals think, dream, feel, and grieve- just as we do, which brings to question a lot of human behaviors from zookeeping to pet ownership to pig farming. The author of Animal Madness, Laurel Braitman was inspired to write this book based on her experiences with Oliver, her Bernese mountain dog that went through bizarre behaviors and mental illnesses that eventually killed him. Oliver suffered from two common afflictions- thunderstorm anxiety and separation anxiety, both in severe forms. One day he just couldn't take it any more and burst out a window in the home, falling four floors to the ground and nearly dying. There's probably no other animal in the world that humans are more attached to than dogs, and Braitman chronicles her attempts to help her dog while interviewing experts on animal behaviors. She provides a fascinating history of our evolution from the 19th century to today in how we treat animals and their emotional problems. For many years, both human and animal neuroses were diagnosed as either hysteria or melancholia, and the only treatment was institutionalization for humans and death for animals. Braitman tells the sad tales of zoo animals from that period who were ripped from their homes and put into lonely and unnatural situations where they became depressed and often died. There's something called capture myopathy that causes intense stress responses in animals after they've been captured. If not handled correctly, the animal can die, even if the captor is trying to help it. Cages and small prison-like environments can bring on severe mental stress that is evident from neurotic and repetitive behaviors. It turns out that one of the worst stressors especially for advanced mammals like apes is being separated from their mothers too soon. Most baby animals rely on their mothers not only for food, but also for affection and guidance on how to exist in the animal world. (The same mental and emotional damage can be observed in human children who are separated from their mothers as babies). Can animals commit suicide? According to this book they can, and it tells detailed stories of animals and animal trainers who have observed it. Sometimes the suicides are passive, where animals just stop eating and caring for themselves, and nature takes its course. And then there's the case of active suicides, of dolphins and whales who intentionally stop breathing and/or beach themselves in bizarre behaviors that we still don't understand. Can animal mental health benefit from human pharmaceuticals? Animals can and do take billions of dollars worth of drugs like Prozac and Xanax, which mostly comes from pets that the owners can't control with regular behavior modifications. Apparently zoos and places like Seaworld rely heavily on antidepressant and anti-anxiety medicines, a fact that they don't like to publicize. Some captive animals, like apes, dolphins, and bears don't do well no matter how big you make their habitats, and to hide neurotic and disturbing behaviors many places have to resort to drugs. (Almost half of all zoos in one study drugged their gorillas according to this book). Drug companies manipulate the guilty consciences of dog and cat owners to sell more medicines, and it's been working. Many pets, especially shelter pets, are mistreated when they're young, and don't take too well to their human's hectic schedules. So pet owners are using drugs more often to address disturbing, neurotic, or aggressive behaviors. There are now beef-flavored treats that contain Prozac. Laurel Braitman is a science writer and not a PETA activist that I can tell. She makes some good points, and the experiences with her own dog obviously had a huge impact on her emotionally. She presents a good case here that animals suffer from emotional damage in many of the same ways that humans do, and we need to be more careful in how we treat them. She presents some helpful suggestions and tips for animal caretakers that need more publicity in the animal care world and beyond. - For dogs, people need to understand dog's needs for attention, exercise, and play before getting one. Drugs are a last option and behavior modifications and training should always be used first for behavior issues. Dogs need walks, toys, and attention from humans or other dogs. Separation anxiety is a real problem for these animals that are so dependent on us, and no dog should be left along for more than eight hours at a time. When people get home, they need to stay off their screens and pay attention to their dogs until the bonds have been satisfied. - As for cats, they require spaces that they can keep to themselves, like a cat tree. But they also need company and interaction with their humans, and cat toys for enrichment. According to the cat behavior office, cats need established routines and stability. Too much change or stress can make them anxious. - Elephants are amazingly intelligent and emotional creatures and depend a lot on their caretakers and other elephants. They especially need their mothers early in life, and won't thrive in captivity unless given companionship, space, and love. Good mothers and rich early childhood experiences are key to a happy adult, and that applies to humans just as much as it does to any other animal. - There are some animals that just shouldn't be held for public viewing in zoos or anywhere else. Animals like bears, dolphins, whales, gorillas, apes, and elephants should be removed from zoos and replaced with animals that do better in captivity and with humans. That would include typical petting zoo animals like goats, possums, horses, donkeys, llamas, and guinea pigs. It's not fair to the animals that can't handle captivity to drug them up and confine them in unnatural settings only to satisfy the public's curiosity. - Sometimes the best therapy for a sick animal is another animal. This book details instances in which senior elephants and apes calm down other disturbed animals and help eliminate their neurotic behaviors through love and guidance. Even animals of different species can help each other. It's apparently a common practice in the racehorse industry for goats to live in the stables with their more stressed horses. The companionship of others made the horses calmer and easier to manage. This is no surprise, but the idea of "friendship therapy" is something that applies to humans as well, and is much more potent than any drug. - Human beings have a long history of cruelty and indifference towards animals, but that is changing. Zoos and theme parks are changing their practices, the Ringling Brothers circus folded completely, and pets and their happiness are more front and center in many families. Our progress in the field of mental health is helping our fellow animals that we share the earth with, but there's still a long way to go, especially when it comes to factory farming. Do animals have a soul? Do they think, feel, and have consciousness and memories? They can't talk, but we can see much through their eyes and their behavior. This book brings up many interesting points regarding animal psychology, points that can help teach humans how to be more happy and humane.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie

    Humans and animals have shared this planet and some animals have even evolved side by side with humans. It should not be surprising that the animals that share our lives like dogs, cats and birds, or the animals that are forced into a more human life like performing, working or zoo animals would develop mental health disorders alongside the humans that they interact with. Through the lens of her troubled dog, Oliver, Laurel Braitman explores the world of animal mental health in everything from m Humans and animals have shared this planet and some animals have even evolved side by side with humans. It should not be surprising that the animals that share our lives like dogs, cats and birds, or the animals that are forced into a more human life like performing, working or zoo animals would develop mental health disorders alongside the humans that they interact with. Through the lens of her troubled dog, Oliver, Laurel Braitman explores the world of animal mental health in everything from mice to dogs and gorillas to elephants in order to show that humans and every other animal are strikingly similar. I have always believed that animals were capable of emotions and when I studied animal behavior in school, I was glad to know that this thought was becoming more widely accepted. It is now not a question of 'if,' but to what degree. Though most of the stories in Animal Madness are anecdotal, there are stories amassed from professionals in the field with a whole life of observational experiences that provide good proof that through psychological meds and behavior therapy, an animal with severe trauma and possible PTSD could recover and lead a healthy life for their species. Some of the stories are absolutely heartbreaking; for example a working elephant who was pregnant and forced to work during her pregnancy and ultimately giving birth while logging. The calf rolled down the hill they were working on and died. When the mother refused to work, she was blinded. Ultimately, however, though the story is grim, the end result shows how we all need the same things: love, understanding of our needs, therapy and medicine. This book was provided for free in return for an honest review.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Kirsti

    An enjoyable book, but it was a bit choppy in places. I couldn't tell half the time whether I was reading opinion or fact. I never got a definitive answer about the madness in animals, and the parting advice on treating animals better to promote better mental and physical health is one I've always believed anyway. I fully agree with the idea that zoos should not be merely a place where humans view animals, but then I've always supported the zoos with viable breeding programs that release back in An enjoyable book, but it was a bit choppy in places. I couldn't tell half the time whether I was reading opinion or fact. I never got a definitive answer about the madness in animals, and the parting advice on treating animals better to promote better mental and physical health is one I've always believed anyway. I fully agree with the idea that zoos should not be merely a place where humans view animals, but then I've always supported the zoos with viable breeding programs that release back into the wild where possible. I enjoyed most of the enclosures at Western Plains Zoo in Dubbo for example, because the enclosures are so big you often don't see the animals! This being said, I enjoyed the experiences of the author. They are obviously well traveled and seem to have dealt with a number of elephants in particular. If you are daunted by the thickness of the book, most of it is the bibliography. I waited a day after finishing to review because I'm at the parents-in-law's house. It was a reasonably speedy read otherwise. Probably around 3.5 stars, but I knocked it up to 4 because of all I learned.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Abby

    At times breathtakingly sad, but more often simply compelling and well researched, this book is an engaging presentation of the animal mind, especially when it goes awry. Braitman skillfully skims the surface of this vast subject area and shares a variety of evidence and stories. Her own backstory of her deeply troubled Bernese mountain dog, Oliver, colors much of her interest in animal madness, and I confess I was drawn to the book because of my own highly anxious dog. But the most heart-rendin At times breathtakingly sad, but more often simply compelling and well researched, this book is an engaging presentation of the animal mind, especially when it goes awry. Braitman skillfully skims the surface of this vast subject area and shares a variety of evidence and stories. Her own backstory of her deeply troubled Bernese mountain dog, Oliver, colors much of her interest in animal madness, and I confess I was drawn to the book because of my own highly anxious dog. But the most heart-rending stories, in particular, are the animals who are trapped in zoos, circuses, or other animal entertainment industries. Their mental suffering is devastating to read about. Down with all zoos. Up with empathy — and much more applied research in this field. Recommended for anyone who lives with or thinks about animals. As Braitman says in her conclusion, there is a great deal that the animal mind can teach us about our own minds. And beyond that, there is an immense call for compassion toward the animals that we have made ourselves responsible for.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Richard Marteeny

    This book was engaging, at points horrendously sad and yet insightful as to why our pets do what they do. It is amazing what we as the "human animal" do to our animal peers. The author personalizes the book with her own experiences with her dog Oliver. I think if you look close you will see many of your pet's traits in Oliver. At the very least you will never look at animal behavior the same way again. I strongly suggest this book for anyone who has a pet or is thinking about adopting one. This book was engaging, at points horrendously sad and yet insightful as to why our pets do what they do. It is amazing what we as the "human animal" do to our animal peers. The author personalizes the book with her own experiences with her dog Oliver. I think if you look close you will see many of your pet's traits in Oliver. At the very least you will never look at animal behavior the same way again. I strongly suggest this book for anyone who has a pet or is thinking about adopting one.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Perri

    Human mental illness is hard to understand, so when we look to animals who aren't able to verbalize their thoughts and feelings, there's another level of difficulty. Braitman takes us on a journey on how we've historically viewed animals and our relationship to them, and how our understanding has evolved over time. The many different animal species she uses as examples are so interesting, and the insights gained from learning about their lives surely enriches our own. Human mental illness is hard to understand, so when we look to animals who aren't able to verbalize their thoughts and feelings, there's another level of difficulty. Braitman takes us on a journey on how we've historically viewed animals and our relationship to them, and how our understanding has evolved over time. The many different animal species she uses as examples are so interesting, and the insights gained from learning about their lives surely enriches our own.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Zhelana

    This turned out not to be science at all, and rather to be PETA propaganda. I should have suspected when the author started out with a several chapter long description of her own dog having to be put down because he flipped his stomach upside down due to separation anxiety that I wasn't going to be getting science. But then when she started her rant (there is no other word for it) about how awful zoos are, I knew that it was just a propaganda piece, and would not be getting better. This turned out not to be science at all, and rather to be PETA propaganda. I should have suspected when the author started out with a several chapter long description of her own dog having to be put down because he flipped his stomach upside down due to separation anxiety that I wasn't going to be getting science. But then when she started her rant (there is no other word for it) about how awful zoos are, I knew that it was just a propaganda piece, and would not be getting better.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Virginia

    I'm an animal lover, and I liked this book. I liked the discussion about animal heartbreak and separation anxiety. I've seen some of this behavior in my pets. My dog was heartbroken when our other dog died. I'm an animal lover, and I liked this book. I liked the discussion about animal heartbreak and separation anxiety. I've seen some of this behavior in my pets. My dog was heartbroken when our other dog died.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Libby May

    So I'm not gonna do a star rating because I technically didn't read through the whole book. I did like the way each story was related to an illness. I would recommend this for someone maybe studying to be a therapist or something informative like that. I'm marking this as read because I skimmed through most of it and need it to count towards my year goal. XD So I'm not gonna do a star rating because I technically didn't read through the whole book. I did like the way each story was related to an illness. I would recommend this for someone maybe studying to be a therapist or something informative like that. I'm marking this as read because I skimmed through most of it and need it to count towards my year goal. XD

  14. 5 out of 5

    Clark Hays

    Psychoanimalist: A Journey of Understanding Humans are lucky animals. We aren’t particularly strong, fast, or resilient, we can’t peck through solid pine, generate perfectly symmetrical calcium shells, fly, change the color of our skin to match the background nor any of the other amazing things animals can do. But we have a special skill that has guaranteed our survival: we can complain. More specifically, we can vocalize our thoughts. And because we talk, we can complain about the things that both Psychoanimalist: A Journey of Understanding Humans are lucky animals. We aren’t particularly strong, fast, or resilient, we can’t peck through solid pine, generate perfectly symmetrical calcium shells, fly, change the color of our skin to match the background nor any of the other amazing things animals can do. But we have a special skill that has guaranteed our survival: we can complain. More specifically, we can vocalize our thoughts. And because we talk, we can complain about the things that bother us, like mental health issues, and seek remedy. Non-speaking animals, lacking this one slender skill, seem to suffer from many of the same mental health problems as humans — PTSD, abandonment issues, sexual dysfunction, suicidal thoughts — but since they can’t complain, they wind up stuck in cages and zoos and pens and farms and logging camps (elephants) and eventually, for some, on dinner plates — while suffering from extreme mental health issues. It shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise that animals rely on the same (if, perhaps, less sophisticated) mental heuristics and evolutionarily adaptive cognitive strategies as humans. Sure, they may be expressed differently — some primates rely on grooming to strengthen social networks, for example, while humans rely on small talk and gossip — but the goals, broadly speaking, are the same: eat, reproduce and ensure the survival of the species. If we think about human mental misbehaviors as a misfiring or misappropriation of these cognitive systems, it’s natural — expected, really — that animals, whose brains are made of the same stuff as ours and who seek similar goals, would have similar issues. Factor in the abysmal way they are treated — from circuses to street performers, from zoos to laboratories, from aquariums to (in some cases) family pets — and uncharacteristic neurotic behavior seems like the ONLY sane response. This book is a tour of mental health issues in the animal world through (a short span of) history and across species as the author investigates how we think about animals and madness, which, of course, is more of a reflection about how we think of ourselves. Much of it is fascinating and depressing, with clinical observations from behavioralists, psychiatrists and psychologists — practicing on both humans and nonhumans — with lots of observational anecdotes of animals behaving strangely and tragically. The book blends hard and theoretical science with the personal, and I found it a bit too personal at times. She uses her experience with her doomed dog Oliver as the narrative thread to hold it all together, which worked very well, but I found myself a bit bored by the often too-long descriptions of elephant and their mahouts in Thailand, or making eye contact with baby whales, etc. I wanted more and harder science; a tall order given that the main subjects can’t speak. Descriptions of how doctors once thought humans could die of heartbreak or homesickness seguing into societal norms on slavery and the growing understanding of PTSD, projected onto murder charges against elephants, was the stand out section for me. She’s a strong writer with a lyrical (at times, too lyrical) style that invites readers to share her journey to understanding. Her strong views on animal rights — notably, that zoos shouldn’t exist — will likely offend some, but I wanted her to go farther and tackle the moral ambivalence of dietary choices. In light of the clearly sophisticated cognitive landscapes of animals, so eerily similar to humans, it would seem her discomfort with imprisoning animals for our viewing pleasure should be matched, or even eclipsed, by discomfort consuming them. But that topic was only mentioned in passing a few times, and often in regard to intolerable conditions in factory farms; perhaps that’s another book in the works? All in all, a worthy, depressing read.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Christine Fay

    Not only was the book well-written and personal, it was also informative and scientific at the same time. That's a difficult balancing act to achieve in a work of non-fiction. I learned even more about my dog than I thought was possible by reading this book. Reading this book also made me desperately want to become friends with an elephant. I would like to quote extensively from the ending of the book because I think the author's message is extremely important, and also because my BFF Ellen DeGe Not only was the book well-written and personal, it was also informative and scientific at the same time. That's a difficult balancing act to achieve in a work of non-fiction. I learned even more about my dog than I thought was possible by reading this book. Reading this book also made me desperately want to become friends with an elephant. I would like to quote extensively from the ending of the book because I think the author's message is extremely important, and also because my BFF Ellen DeGeneres would agree: "We could stop convincing ourselves that keeping animals in cages or tanks is the best way to educate and inform one another about them, especially since it often costs the animals their sanity. We could instead turn these zoos and other facilities into places where people might engage with animals, domestic and wild, who often thrive in our presence, creatures like horses, donkeys, llamas, cows, pigs, goats, rabbits, and even raccoons, rats, squirrels, pigeons, and possums. We could exchange the polar bear pools for petting zoos and build teaching farms, urban dairies, and wildlife rehabilitation centers where city-dwelling children and adults could volunteer or take classes on cheese making, beekeeping, gardening, veterinary science, wildlife ecology, and animal husbandry. . . . We could spend more time walking and playing with our pets and less time on our phones, checking email and watching television. . . . We could stop eating mentally ill pigs, chickens, and cows, and do away with corporate farming practices so cruel they're often institutionalized torture" (282-283). Animals differ from humans only be degree. I can tell when my dog, Teddy, is sad, or anxious, or depressed. I can tell when he brings me a toy that he's in the mood to play. I can tell that when he shakes with excitement he is relieved that I have come home from a long day of teaching. I can tell when he looks mournfully at the closed door that he needs to go outside to relieve himself. And on the flip side, Teddy knows without doubt when I am in need of an extra snuggle, or a high five (yes, he gives high fives). He is my best friend and confidant (okay the neighbors may think I'm a little nutso when they hear me talking to him as I walk him -- but I'm okay with that) and I'm so grateful to have his unconditional love in my life. He truly is the BEST DOG IN THE WORLD!!!

  16. 4 out of 5

    Katherine

    To begin with the positive, I did take away some important ideas from Animal Madness. I appreciated the author’s suggestion that if zoos serve enough value to exist in spite of the emotional damage they cause captive animals (very often secretly requiring veterinary psychotropic drugs to prevent resulting physical injuries to the animals and further deterioration of their quality of life), then at least we should move away from the idea that zoos with exotic animals should exist in every communi To begin with the positive, I did take away some important ideas from Animal Madness. I appreciated the author’s suggestion that if zoos serve enough value to exist in spite of the emotional damage they cause captive animals (very often secretly requiring veterinary psychotropic drugs to prevent resulting physical injuries to the animals and further deterioration of their quality of life), then at least we should move away from the idea that zoos with exotic animals should exist in every community. I liked her suggestion that shuttered zoos should be repurposed into facilities for people to responsibly interact with and learn about animals—petting zoos, teaching farms, urban dairies, wild life rehab centers with volunteer opportunities, and facilities to learn cheese making, bee keeping, gardening, veterinary science, wildlife ecology, and animal husbandry centers. Interacting with animals (the ones that are best suited to live among people) and learning some skills at the same time—win/win. Having said that... I loved the concept of this book but did not enjoy the reading. Initially I felt like the problem was in how it was organized, and that might be it, but a better organization doesn’t come to mind immediately, so I don’t know if it could have been improved. As an FYI, there is A LOT of discussion of animal abuse, neglect and trauma, and those parts are heartbreaking, especially, I think, if you listen to the audiobook. And the audiobook is a whole other problem. This reader was terrible. Awful. It’s possible that the production made it worse, but the reader did not seem to get any of the jokes the author made in the writing and it felt like she was way more interested in her annunciation than in ensuring the sentences she was reading made any sense. There were weird long pauses in between words that kept you guessing whether the sentence had ended, and once it resumed you’d forgotten where it started. Despite my criticisms of the book, this would be an eye opening read for many zoo enthusiasts and for animal lovers who may not have considered how their personal choices as consumers impact the quality of life of animals here and in other parts of the world. P.S. Miguel, there are some disappointing facts about the Toledo Zoo in here. Employees were interviewed.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Daniel

    While I am quite a bit more informed as to the madness of animals, I don't feel that this book really delivers on the promise of the title. That is to say, I don't think the author did a great job of relating the stories to understanding the human condition. One sentence summary: Animals can be crazy just as well as humans. Still, it was interesting enough. And despite my complaints, I was still more interested in listening to anecdotes of sexually deviant animals than my co-workers. Edit: Forgot While I am quite a bit more informed as to the madness of animals, I don't feel that this book really delivers on the promise of the title. That is to say, I don't think the author did a great job of relating the stories to understanding the human condition. One sentence summary: Animals can be crazy just as well as humans. Still, it was interesting enough. And despite my complaints, I was still more interested in listening to anecdotes of sexually deviant animals than my co-workers. Edit: Forgot to mention that I picked this up because Ira Flatow interviewed the author on Science Friday.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Debra

    This was a difficult read.... there has been so much mistreatment of animals it is heartbreaking.... no wonder they have developed behaviours and illness being taken from their parents and abused so often. I don't know that I learned that much but did find the history very sad to read about. I am not surprised that pharmaceuticals are being touted as the way to manage animals in captivity but I think that drugs should be a last resort and that diet and exercise and attention is a better avenue t This was a difficult read.... there has been so much mistreatment of animals it is heartbreaking.... no wonder they have developed behaviours and illness being taken from their parents and abused so often. I don't know that I learned that much but did find the history very sad to read about. I am not surprised that pharmaceuticals are being touted as the way to manage animals in captivity but I think that drugs should be a last resort and that diet and exercise and attention is a better avenue to pursue.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Linda Halverson

    I listened to this while on a road trip returning home. It was the perfect listen for an animal lover and sucker for rescuing animals. Laurel weaves the story of her anxious and adopted Bernese mountain dog, Oliver, as a thread that connects story after story about abused and now angry elephants, isolated bonobos, and owners of anxious dogs ... And draws clear parallels between human and animal mental anguish. I loved this listen.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Heidi

    I didn't read this book cover-to-cover. I only gleaned enough to satisfy my curiosity. However, I am heartened to see that the author has written about a topic which doesn't seem to get much attention. Maybe putting the book out in the general public will garner more interest and support and provide a voice for our animal friends who need our help and compassion to solve the suffering and anguish which also extends to their world. I didn't read this book cover-to-cover. I only gleaned enough to satisfy my curiosity. However, I am heartened to see that the author has written about a topic which doesn't seem to get much attention. Maybe putting the book out in the general public will garner more interest and support and provide a voice for our animal friends who need our help and compassion to solve the suffering and anguish which also extends to their world.

  21. 5 out of 5

    jill

    What an intelligent, interesting first book from this young accomplished woman. I highly recommend this read to anyone who has a love and fascination of both animal and human behavior. How often our egos keep us separate from the universe...although it may be discomforting to accept, Dr. Braitman scratches back the wallpaper to find what lives inside animals with psychological disabilities, most often, caused by human interaction and intervention.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Tamsen

    1.5 stars. Here's the moment I realized I have been working in higher education far, far too long: I read Braitman's author bio and thought, huh, a PhD from MIT... then paused at: PhD in the "history of science." My nose literally turned up itself and snubbed the whole bio. Don't blame me, blame the PhDs I work with. 1.5 stars. Here's the moment I realized I have been working in higher education far, far too long: I read Braitman's author bio and thought, huh, a PhD from MIT... then paused at: PhD in the "history of science." My nose literally turned up itself and snubbed the whole bio. Don't blame me, blame the PhDs I work with.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Iris

    good collection of endearing crazy-animal stories, tho how it relates to us was dealt as an afterthought. speaking of madness, at some halfway point in the bk, i got mad at the author. MIT PHD! has the power to give a specialized perspective! instead, gave us a bk of collected research, dumbing down of readers.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Rayna

    The combination of personal accounts and presenting events from the past made made for a mix that kept the material interesting. There are both brief and extensive examples used, which made for an engaging structure in each section. Some of the intensive examples were a bit long-winded and I was left feeling bored a few times. But aside from those few times of inattention, I was thoroughly captivated and I loved learning about the mental health of animals and how we could apply this knowledge to The combination of personal accounts and presenting events from the past made made for a mix that kept the material interesting. There are both brief and extensive examples used, which made for an engaging structure in each section. Some of the intensive examples were a bit long-winded and I was left feeling bored a few times. But aside from those few times of inattention, I was thoroughly captivated and I loved learning about the mental health of animals and how we could apply this knowledge to people. I told people about this book while I was reading it, which rarely happens - I usually only talk about books once I finish them and can be certain that they're good enough to recommend. I could tell this one was good from early on though - I am in a veterinary medicine program and a lot of the behavioural topics brought up in Animal Madness have been taught in my classes, which really emphasized how much research and work Braitman put into writing this book. Her scientific writing is excellent and she explains things in a way that anyone could understand and appreciate. I really enjoyed her mix of personal feelings with factual information. It made for a book I could empathize with while also forming my owning emotions about the many heartbreaking cases presented throughout the book. There is a fair amount of humor and lightheartedness added in among the sad stories, and some of the humor is at her own expense. Before she had bought her first dog, she describes herself as feeling like a pervert at the dog park because she would lure dogs over with treats to pet them. I relate to this intensely - I am a sadly dogless vet student... I also laughed really hard when I read it and had to reread it a few times! And of course I greatly appreciated all the stories and examples that wrapped up with happy endings, because all animals deserve to be happy. :)

  25. 4 out of 5

    Corvus

    DNF. This was my first attempt at an audiobook, but I don't think that affected my distaste much aside from the narrator's choices of tone and inflection while describing electrocuting animals and such. I knew there would be some captive animal research in this book. But I'm not going to sit through a book that is literally centered around animals' emotions and ability to suffer that is too afraid to speak out strongly against animal suffering. This is entertainingly written and anecdotal eviden DNF. This was my first attempt at an audiobook, but I don't think that affected my distaste much aside from the narrator's choices of tone and inflection while describing electrocuting animals and such. I knew there would be some captive animal research in this book. But I'm not going to sit through a book that is literally centered around animals' emotions and ability to suffer that is too afraid to speak out strongly against animal suffering. This is entertainingly written and anecdotal evidence about her dog woven throughout was a nice touch. I liked her take on anthropomorphism and liked that she said "nonhuman animals." But, admitting Harlow was a "dark lord of monkey torture" then fawning over him and basically crediting a broad range of human research to his torture lab alone right after contradicts (what I thought was) one of the aims of the book. She has some underhanded shots at Joseph Ledoux's animal abuse that I thought might evolve into better critique but didn't. Basically, in trying to be impartial or objective about topics like this, many writers just come off as biased against animals and towards those who harm them for interest, career, entertainment, money, etc. If they're like us enough to extrapolate data from their suffering, they're like us enough that their suffering matters and inflicting it upon them is objectionable. I'm not sitting through a bunch of vivisection snuff unless someone isn't afraid to say that. Basically gave 3 stars to be fair since I didn't make it through the whole thing. Perhaps this would be good for someone who is barely sold on the worth of animals, who knows nothing of their cognition, and holds archaic cartesian views that they are mindless automatons. It's not great for folks who already believe in animal emotions and worth who want to learn more about human and nonhuman animal psychology.

  26. 4 out of 5

    MaryL

    The author wrote this book, I believe, as her way of atoning for the guilt she felt over her disturbed Bernese Mountain Dog had to be euthanized. She tells how Oliver, her adopted dog, was anxious and suffered from separation anxiety and thunderstorm phobia. She and her husband who both worked full time jobs did their best to help Oliver with behavior modification training, but admits that the training is tedious and time consuming. They medicated Oliver and that helped take the edge off. The au The author wrote this book, I believe, as her way of atoning for the guilt she felt over her disturbed Bernese Mountain Dog had to be euthanized. She tells how Oliver, her adopted dog, was anxious and suffered from separation anxiety and thunderstorm phobia. She and her husband who both worked full time jobs did their best to help Oliver with behavior modification training, but admits that the training is tedious and time consuming. They medicated Oliver and that helped take the edge off. The author investigates other animals' disordered and disturbed behavior from self-harm to anxieties and phobias. She introduces the reader to elephants, primates, parrots, and even whales and dolphins who are maladjusted - usually because of being kept in captivity and being abused. Parts of this book were hard for me to read because the stories were so sad. I so much appreciated her honesty in talking about her dog Oliver. I adopted a border collie three years ago who has a range of anxieties and fears. My dog's main issue is that he doesn't want to be handled or groomed. I have gotten him over some of his other issues: dog reactivity, bike chasing, fear of some noises. But the grooming issue is one that I have given up on. I hung on the author's every word when she told about her feeling of failing Oliver because I feel the same way about my dog. It was refreshing to read a book that I could relate to that way.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Marisa

    While the topic was fascinating and there was lots of information, it often felt crammed as though she had so much to say but wanted to keep the book under 300 pages. The best example of this is some of the chapter subtitles - "Mortal Homesickness in Gorillas, Geisha Girls, and Everyone Else" - and she'll cover all three in the next three paragraphs. The anecdotes about animals in captivity, including her own dog who whose separation anxiety was so severe he jumped out of a window, were heartbre While the topic was fascinating and there was lots of information, it often felt crammed as though she had so much to say but wanted to keep the book under 300 pages. The best example of this is some of the chapter subtitles - "Mortal Homesickness in Gorillas, Geisha Girls, and Everyone Else" - and she'll cover all three in the next three paragraphs. The anecdotes about animals in captivity, including her own dog who whose separation anxiety was so severe he jumped out of a window, were heartbreaking, inspiring, funny, and everything in between. One thing that stands out in what I learned was that you aren't supposed to push beached marine life back into the water. However, it wasn't really clear what you ARE supposed to do if you come across beached marine life. The insight she gives into the minds of animals is extensive and yet she recognizes her own limitations on truly knowing what goes on in an animal's mind. Memorable quotes: p. 153 "Empathy knows no country, no species, is universal and has always been available" p. 167-8 Tip (an elephant executed for his perceived danger to NYC in the 1890s) was a victim of the human tendency to punish what we misunderstand or fear. p. 222 - something the Germans refer to as Funktionslust, taking pleasure in what one does best p. 288 I want to be the person my dog thinks I am

  28. 5 out of 5

    Aravind

    Animals have mental problems and we treat them with same medicines as the ones used by humans. Many many animals in captivity and in human midst suffer from mental issues. Many are treated badly. It is important to give animals company. It's important to make sure to not leave them alone for long. It is important to spend time with them and make them feel loved and special. Instead of zoos where there is a need to have well behaved animals and animals are so disconnected from their natural environm Animals have mental problems and we treat them with same medicines as the ones used by humans. Many many animals in captivity and in human midst suffer from mental issues. Many are treated badly. It is important to give animals company. It's important to make sure to not leave them alone for long. It is important to spend time with them and make them feel loved and special. Instead of zoos where there is a need to have well behaved animals and animals are so disconnected from their natural environments, we should have petting zoos where the animals are in their natural habitats and we just come in contact with them briefly, to feed and pet them. Animals feel as deeply as we do - we should not ignore their feelings. Perhaps it is even more important to empathise with animals as they can't express their feelings. For fun, don't take animals away from their parents. Just because little puppies are cute, doesn't mean you should take them away from their parents and bring them home as pets. Never separate the young from their parents as they learn best about how to be like a dog only from their parents and siblings. Animals grown in captivity should not be released into the wild as they have no idea how to hunt, how to be safe and how to live.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Alexandra

    I oscillated between being really engaged when she told her own stories and just meh when she transcribed other stories or talked about prescriptions for chapters on end - though I do appreciate the hypocrisy of saying animals shouldn't take human drugs when they were the research subjects who tested drug effects for human consumption. Also the omnivore's version of loving animals is so tired. SO tired. "Every animal with a mind has the capacity to lose hold of it from time to time." "Ideas of the I oscillated between being really engaged when she told her own stories and just meh when she transcribed other stories or talked about prescriptions for chapters on end - though I do appreciate the hypocrisy of saying animals shouldn't take human drugs when they were the research subjects who tested drug effects for human consumption. Also the omnivore's version of loving animals is so tired. SO tired. "Every animal with a mind has the capacity to lose hold of it from time to time." "Ideas of the american mid-west became increasingly idyllic. In order for this to happen however it's history was sanitized. Places like Yosemite and Yellowstone could now be seen as antidotes to increasingly unhealthy and dirty cities, only because the wilderness was no longer a place of war or suffused with animal predators. Wild lands could now be a place of renewal, at least for people of means. Efforts to protect and celebrate these places were an attempt, in some sense, to protect the origin myth of the united states and the individualist frontiersmen who brought it into being."

  30. 4 out of 5

    Darci

    Being an animal lover, I was instantly intrigued by what this book had to offer and I was not disappointed. Well researched and well written, I found this book an easy yet fascinating tale of literal madness. Early in my degree, we were assigned the task of forming an essay on the Animal/Human Relationship. At that point my mind went straight to zoos and cruelty for entertainment. I found little - given my poorer skills in research - to support or acknowledge the statement I felt my essay should Being an animal lover, I was instantly intrigued by what this book had to offer and I was not disappointed. Well researched and well written, I found this book an easy yet fascinating tale of literal madness. Early in my degree, we were assigned the task of forming an essay on the Animal/Human Relationship. At that point my mind went straight to zoos and cruelty for entertainment. I found little - given my poorer skills in research - to support or acknowledge the statement I felt my essay should say. I SO wish I had this book. Not only did it open my eyes to multiple takes on the Animal/Human relationship but showed that a little curiosity takes you a long way. I have actually read this book twice within a few months because of the stories that I enjoyed and needed to re-live. I know for sure, that I will be picking it up again in the future.

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