Reflection #2 Depressed Dogs, Cats With OCD - What Animal Madness Means for Us Humans by Laurel Braitman
I was very excited to watch this TED Talk because I thought it sounded pretty interesting and it completely blew my mind actually watching the full thing. This TED Talk discusses mental disorders that are found in animals and it is honestly one of the most interesting things that I have ever watched.
So this TED talk starts out with Ms. Braitman discussing her dog named Oliver. She tells that after having this dog for about 6 months, she
"realized that he was a mess". He had horrible separation anxiety, was diagnosed with canine compulsive disorder, and even tried to jump out of her 3 story apartment, which was "just the tip of the iceberg" for this dog. From just listening to the beginning of this TED Talk, I was already completely invested in this topic. As someone who is very interested in human psychology, learning about animal psychology is an extremely interesting thing for me. So then, Braitman goes on to explain that, just like humans, animals can develop mental disorders such as depression, anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorders, and many others. Like humans, animals with OCD can develop compulsions that they have to perform in a ritualistic manner. A few videos were shown of animals behaving in this sort of manner which included multiple different scenarios. One included a dog who was engaging in a compulsive action known as "shadow-chasing" and while it looked like the dog was just playing around, animals with these sorts of compulsions do it for hours on end. Another example was a cat who would sit at a window sill for hours and just paw and paw at the blinds repeatedly.
Another example of the types of mental disorder that can occur in animals is self-destructive behaviors. Some animals will gnaw at things to soothe themselves, not really taking into account how it could harm them. Some animals will also pluck off their feathers, fur, or skin, which can be compared to (and has actually been used to better understand) trichotillomania, or compulsive plucking in humans. The last mental disorder that she discussed was PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) in animals. One example of an animal with PTSD can be affected if they were in battle or they were in traumatizing situations at some point in their lives. One cat was in her home with her owner, an elderly man, and one day while he was vacuuming, he suffered a heart attack and died. When the cat was found along side her owner a week later, they found that the vacuum had been running the entire time. Situations like this can cause a lot of stress on the animal and cause them to become very frightened around things that remind them of that situation.
My thoughts on this TED Talk are that it is absolutely amazing. I think I learned so much more from this TED Talk than I ever thought I would. I had no clue at the beginning of this that animals could be diagnosed with a mental disorder, have a therapist and be put on medication to help them deal with their mental disorders. I think more people who are interested in human psychology should study animal psychology as well. It is honestly one of the most interesting topics I've ever read about and I really hope to learn more about it in the future.
Until next time,