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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

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3.8 of 5 stars 3.80  ·  rating details  ·  415 ratings  ·  73 reviews
** “Science Friday” Summer Reading Pick**
**Discover magazine Top 5 Summer Reads**
**People magazine Best Summer Reads**

“[A] lovely, big-hearted book…brimming with compassion and the tales of the many, many humans who devote their days to making animals well.” —The New York Times

Have you ever wondered if your dog
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Hardcover, 384 pages
Published June 10th 2014 by Simon & Schuster (first published June 5th 2014)
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Debbie "DJ" Wilson
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
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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 ...more
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.
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 ...more
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 ...more
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 ...more
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.
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 ...more
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.
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 ...more
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
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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.
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.
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.
Jasmine
I was given a copy of this book to read and instantly found the concept of animals experiencing mental health issues fascinating. As someone who has shared a home with a rather erratic dog and several nervous cats I was interested in finding out more. I've half jokingly wondered if I had somehow passed on my own excitable and nervous nature to my animals. After reading this book I might consider the suggestion more seriously.

For some the idea of animals experiencing suicidal tendencies and other
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Jaw
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.
Ang
Every single book I read about animal behavior/minds includes a description of the study that dude did with baby monkeys, where he tortured them by removing them from their mothers and using torture instruments to feed them OR let them hug a soft stuffed monkey. They starved for affection, essentially.

I only note this to say that this book didn't include that much new for me. I've read all about the bad things we do to cetaceans. I've read enough about dogs to include things about compulsive be
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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
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Nan
Braitman's quest began with an anxious Bernese named Oliver. Like many of us, she stumbled into this pet adoption with both eyes closed. She would only learn of Oliver's madness and its causes through the painful years she, her ex-husband, and the dog lived together.

While exploring Oliver's neurosis in retrospect, Braitman uncovers a rich history of our lives with animals. She begins with Darwin who uncovered humans as nothing more than another animal.

Her approach is balanced and thoughtful. S
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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
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Laura Cushing
Very informative but SO sad. Poor suicidal dolphins and OCD dogs. I picked up this book hoping to get some insight into my cat's anxiety- she's de-furring her belly. I found some great information on this and other animal conditions, as well as the author's personal experiences with her dog who had terrible separation anxiety to the point he jumped out a window.

I did find it difficult to make it through the book, though through no fault of the writing- it was just so sad. All the animals in capt
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Sherry
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
Julie - Book Hooked Blog
Writing
Very well done. I really enjoy listening to non-fiction on audio for some reason. It's just what I tend to gravitate towards. The writing in this one was done well - not too much scientific terminology, but enough to let me know the writer knows what she's writing about. And plenty of great anecdotes from her travels, from history, and from current events. The only real problem with non-fiction on audio is that you don't get a good idea about the use of references. No endnotes or citation
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Bobby
In the early going I found this a difficult book to slog through and I can't say why. A few dozen pages in, though, it picked up for me and was an insightful read. Like a few other books I've read, Animal Madness makes it clear that we are not so far removed from many - or most - of the creatures we nominally "share" the planet with, from the other primates to our pets to elephants to dolphins and whales. In the end, the conclusion you would expect from the subtitle becomes glaringly obvious. Br ...more
Allayna
I loved it.
Helen
Mar 11, 2015 Helen rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  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
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Alicia
In the interest of full disclosure, I only read 1/3 of this book; however, I don't think the author clearly delivered the message she intended to. I had a hard time following the overall point she was trying to make aside from the fact that non-human animals can experience mental health disturbances like humans do (although, admittedly, since I didn't read the whole book I just may not have gotten far enough in). If you have any background in mental health, the cited research is probably going t ...more
Felix
Laurel Braitman perfectly communicates her passion on the subject of animal psychology with this book. Both the content and the presentation are great.

Even though the subjects can be somewhat complex, by using clear examples Braitman is able to explain the problems with ease. There must have went years of research into this book and with great results, around the world the author has spoken with experts, caretakers, zoo workers and pet owners to find the weirdest, saddest and most incredible ca
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Leslie
Through extensive research on various species throughout the world, the author reveals hows animals, like humans, can suffer from mental illness and can possibly be helped through treatment. Her interest in the subject began with her own dog, a rescue, who exhibited severe emotional issues and fear of abandonment. He was aggressive, compulsive, and one time jumped out of a 4th story window.

This was a difficult and at times disturbing book for me to read. As a wildlife volunteer I observe animals
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Skye
Feb 15, 2015 Skye rated it 5 of 5 stars
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
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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.” 0 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.” 0 likes
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