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

3.78  ·  Rating Details ·  790 Ratings  ·  135 Reviews
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 ...more
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published June 10th 2014 by Simon & Schuster (first published June 5th 2014)
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Ravi Warrier There are all kinds of animals mentioned in the book as Lynda mentioned, however, the important thing to remember that most animals share very similar…moreThere are all kinds of animals mentioned in the book as Lynda mentioned, however, the important thing to remember that most animals share very similar symptoms with very similar reasons. So, if the example mentions a tiger, it might very well apply to a cat.(less)

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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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
May 11, 2014 Suzanne rated it really liked it
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 ...more
May 20, 2014 Linda rated it it was amazing
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.
Angela Street
Apr 01, 2014 Angela Street rated it really liked it
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 ...more
Apr 11, 2014 Stephanie rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads, dogs, science
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 ...more
Jun 16, 2014 Abby rated it really liked it
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 ...more
Richard Marteeny
Jun 21, 2014 Richard Marteeny rated it it was amazing
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.
Mar 22, 2014 Virginia rated it really liked it
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.
Sep 29, 2014 Kirsti rated it really liked it
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 ...more
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
Jun 22, 2014 Debra rated it liked it
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 ...more
Linda Halverson
Jun 01, 2014 Linda Halverson rated it it was amazing
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.
Jun 17, 2014 Heidi rated it liked it
Shelves: animal, non-fiction
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.
Jun 22, 2014 Jaw rated it it was amazing
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.
Jul 29, 2014 Perri rated it really liked it
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.
Aug 08, 2014 Iris rated it really liked it
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.
Jun 22, 2014 Tamsen rated it it was ok
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.
Adictos Libros
Aug 17, 2015 Adictos Libros rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
De esos libros a los que no les tienes mucha fe y te terminan agradando y más que es algo totalmente diferente a lo que leo
Jun 02, 2014 Allayna rated it it was amazing
Shelves: allayna
I loved it.
Mar 20, 2017 Aravind rated it it was ok
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
Jan 22, 2017 Darci rated it it was amazing
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
Anna Cook
Jun 13, 2017 Anna Cook rated it it was ok
Couldn't quite get engaged. Tried reading in, then listening to it on tape. Interesting topic, but felt like the same point kept being made using different animals as examples. Maybe it's just me and my preference for fiction/plot/storyline that made it hard for me to get through.
Clark Hays
Jun 28, 2015 Clark Hays rated it really liked it
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
Jan 28, 2015 Helen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Helen by: Vanessa Tobin
Shelves: animals
As a passionate animal lover, I found this book particularly heartbreaking and harrowing to read.

It has taken animal psychologists and scientists decades of animal abuse (in the name of research) to prove that animals suffer mental torment and suffering when kept in isolation, taken away from their mothers, are kept chained up, beaten, treated cruelly, intensively farmed, kept in captivity and overworked. Anyone with an ounce of sensitivity and compassion, as well as common sense, would already
Mar 18, 2014 Skye rated it it was amazing
Shelves: dog
Animal Madness: How Anxious Dogs, Compulsive Parrots, and Elephants in Recovery Help Us Understand Ourselves, by Laurel Braitman* (Simon & Schuster, 2014, 373 pages, $28)

“. . . losing our minds. And finding them again. . . . “

Recent months have provided a plethora of incredible dog books: Chaser, Decoding Your Dog, Citizen Canine, Travels with Casey, (the latter two on DogEvals) and now, Animal Madness*, which may be the best (but it’s a close call)!

History - Not Always Dry

The title does not
Yelania Nightwalker

Este libro no me atrapó por su bonita portada, aunque sí me gusta. No me atrapó por su título intrigante, aunque sí fue lo que llamó mi atención al inicio. Lo que realmente me atrapó de este libro, lo que me animó a leerlo y a quedarme enganchada en sus páginas fue la historia de Oliver, ese perro incomprendido, esa mascota a la que tanto amaba Laurel Braitman y a la que no sabía cómo ayudar. 

Es la primera vez que leo un libro donde se hable de la conducta animal con un sólido fundamente cien

Feb 22, 2017 Bonnie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As an animal lover, activist & student human emotions & behavior, Braitman's book presented a very intriguing premise and I was curious to see if she could meet the challenge of supporting her assertion. Her academic credentials shine through, as the book is thoroughly researched and the parallels with human emotions/behaviors often on point. Many of the tales of animal misfortunes are heartbreaking and rang similar to human symptoms. Unfortunately, some of this rings false when the auth ...more
Jul 14, 2014 Sherry rated it liked it
Animal Madness is an exploration of the mental abnormalities of the animals around us and how they resemble and are treated like human mental illnesses. I thought the book was interesting, particularly the discussion of nineteenth and early twentieth century accounts of the mental problems of animals and how they mirrored the understanding of human mental health at that time. Some of the description of the more extreme cases of mental illness in animals and how they were treated were also intrig ...more
Lis Carey
Braitman and her husband Jude adopted a four-year-old Bernese Mountain Dog named Oliver, who was being rehomed through his breeder for reasons that they didn't ask enough questions about. Oliver proved to be a sweet, loving, friendly, devoted dog who suffered from serious insecurity and separation anxiety.

The next few years grew increasingly difficult, as they struggled to help Oliver be more secure, and Braitman became interested not just in her own dog's problems, but the larger question of me
Dec 05, 2015 Clarry rated it did not like it
Couldn't finish this book when it became PETA propaganda.

She started off strong, thorough research that she obviously put a lot of time in, lots of case studies from"back in the day" which were interesting and sad in equal measure. I'm a veterinarian and I found myself immediately questioning her science and medicine. And I realize I don't know the full story of her dog throwing itself out the window of a multiple story apartment and the situation leading up to it, but I would have recommended
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Laurel Braitman is the author of Animal Madness: How Anxious Dogs, Compulsive Parrots and Elephants in Recovery Help Us Understand Ourselves. She has written and performed live for Pop Up Magazine, The New Inquiry and Orion, among other publications. She lives on a houseboat in Sausalito, California.

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“The problem was that this sort of training took weeks, if not months—and we still had to go through the door in the meantime. We tried to do the exercises. We gave it our best shot. Or to be honest, we gave it our best shot for a while. But it was exhausting, for us and for Oliver. He was so finely attuned to the various stages Jude and I had for getting ready to leave that as soon as we tried to decouple one cue from his “they are leaving me” anxiety, picking up our keys, for example, Oliver would figure out another, such as making our lunches or putting on our work clothes. He may have been dysfunctional and disturbed, but he wasn’t stupid. Sometimes I stored my computer bag in our building’s shared hallway because even the sight of it would make Oliver start vigilantly watching for our departure, panting heavily and pacing. He also reacted to the sight of suitcases. And the putting on of shoes. And the opening of the coat closet. Possibly, if Jude and I had left for work naked, through a window, with no lunches, no keys, no bags, no shoes, and at odd hours, we could have avoided triggering Oliver’s anxiety.” 1 likes
“animal suicide accounts gave scientists, natural historians, and the general public a means of reflecting on the concept of human self-destruction as well as ideas about humanity’s relationship to nature without always having to talk about people. Writing and thinking about animal suicides, just as we saw with the cases of animal heartbreak and homesickness, gave people a way to ponder their own afflictions, even if they were doing it unconciously.” 1 likes
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