29 October 2014
Animal Madness: How anxious dogs, compulsive parrots, and elephants in recovery help us to understand ourselves
Author's Talk: Laurel Braitman
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.
‘A gem ... that can teach us much about the wildness of our own minds’ — Psychology Today
‘A lovely, big-hearted book’ — The New York Times
LAUREL BRAITMAN has written about science, animals and other topics for Cabinet, Orion, The New Inquiry and other publications. She received her PhD in history and anthropology of science from MIT and is an affiliate artist at the Headlands Center for the Arts, and a TED fellow. She lives on a houseboat in Sausalito, California.