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Extended Audio Sample Animal Madness: How Anxious Dogs, Compulsive Parrots, Gorillas on Drugs, and Elephants in Recovery Help Us Understand Ourselves, by Laurel Braitman Click for printable size audiobook cover
0 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 5 0.00 (0 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Laurel Braitman Narrator: Madeleine Maby Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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For the first time, a historian of science draws evidence from across the world to show how humans and other animals are astonishingly similar when it comes to their feelings and the ways in which they lose their minds.

Charles Darwin developed his evolutionary theories by looking at physical differences in Galapagos finches and fancy pigeons. Alfred Russell Wallace investigated a range of creatures in the Malay Archipelago. Laurel Braitman got her lessons closer to home—by watching her dog. Oliver snapped at flies that only he could see, ate Ziploc bags, towels, and cartons of eggs. He suffered debilitating separation anxiety, was prone to aggression, and may even have attempted suicide. Her experience with Oliver forced Laurel to acknowledge a form of continuity between humans and other animals that, first as a biology major and later as a PhD student at MIT, she’d never been taught in school. Nonhuman animals can lose their minds. And when they do, it often looks a lot like human mental illness.

Thankfully, all of us can heal. As Laurel spent three years traveling the world in search of emotionally disturbed animals and the people who care for them, she discovered numerous stories of recovery: parrots that learn how to stop plucking their feathers, dogs that cease licking their tails raw, polar bears that stop swimming in compulsive circles, and great apes that benefit from the help of human psychiatrists. How do these animals recover? The same way we do: with love, with medicine, and above all, with the knowledge that someone understands why we suffer and what can make us feel better.

After all of the digging in the archives of museums and zoos, the years synthesizing scientific literature, and the hours observing dog parks, wildlife encounters, and amusement parks, Laurel found that understanding the emotional distress of animals can help us better understand ourselves.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “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

  • “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…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…[This book’s] continuous dose of hope should prove medicinal for humans and animals alike.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “Humans aren’t the only animals that suffer from emotional thunderstorms, and author Braitman came to the same conclusion that Charles Darwin arrived at: that nonhuman animals can suffer from mental illnesses that mirror those that humans endure…The wonderful thing she discovered is that it is possible for these animals to heal, a message crystallized by her encounters with ‘friendly’ gray whales who sought out human contact, even though they still bore harpoon scars from the whaling days. Acknowledging mental illness in other animals, and helping them recover, obviously can be a comforting experience.”

    Booklist

  • "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

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