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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

3.82  ·  Rating details ·  1,035 ratings  ·  164 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 ...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)

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Start your review of Animal Madness: How Anxious Dogs, Compulsive Parrots, and Elephants in Recovery Help Us Understand Ourselves
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
May 11, 2014 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 ...more
May 20, 2014 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 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 ...more
Apr 11, 2014 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 ...more
Sep 29, 2014 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 ...more
Jun 16, 2014 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 ...more
Richard Marteeny
Jun 21, 2014 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.
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.
Jul 29, 2014 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.
Mar 22, 2014 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.
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
Clark Hays
Jun 28, 2015 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
Feb 02, 2018 rated it did not like it
Shelves: nonfiction
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 ...more
Christine Fay
Sep 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
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 ...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 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 ...more
Linda Halverson
Jun 01, 2014 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 22, 2014 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.
Jun 17, 2014 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.
Aug 08, 2014 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 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.
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
Sep 24, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Sep 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
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 ...more
Jan 25, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
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
Mar 20, 2017 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
Jan 22, 2017 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
Feb 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018
More or less a survey of various animal species and the psychological maladies they've been diagnosed with.

In the end, Braitman implies that animals are driven mad by us - they wouldn't have mental problems if they were wild. Whether or not one agrees with that conclusion (certainly, captivity and non-natural environments aren't going to help an animal's mental stability, and it seems reasonable lots of mental problems are caused by humans. On the other hand, if you only look at domesticated
I liked this book, but I went in thinking it would be more cute and less tragic. It's a good popular science book on animal behavior, the way we define mental illness and the use of medications to treat behavioral issues. Unfortunately, the reasons animals get psychiatric care is usually a sad one. The tales of various animals first made me want to go to a zoo, then never go to a zoo again, and now maybe I'll volunteer at some kind of animal rescue or just walk my dog more. The book reminded me ...more
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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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“Dogs have a way of gluing people together, even ones who are already coming unglued.” 2 likes
“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
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