Braitman’s dog Oliver was the poster child for separation anxiety: He snapped at flies that only he could see, and ate Ziploc bags, towels, and cartons of eggs. One afternoon when left alone, Oliver was spotted leaping out of a window. He fell 50 feet to the sidewalk below and was badly injured. No doubt Oliver’s mental anguish drove him punch through the screen and jump, but Braitman believes this may have even been a suicide attempt. 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 looks a lot like human mental illness. Laurel spent three years traveling the world in search of emotionally disturbed animals and the people who care for them, and she discovered numerous stories of recovery.
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. With the ground-breaking authority and compassion of a Temple Grandin or Jane Goodall, Laurel Braitman takes us to a new frontier in thinking about animal psychology. Animal madness encourages us to understand and embrace the emotional life we share with animals – both in madness and in healing.
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