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a voice for the voiceless
on 20 February 2010
First, I've read all Temple Grandin's books but don't get both "Animals Make Us Human" and this one as they are identical!
Further, this book is basically a rehash of "Animals in Translation" with some new information but missing the most fascinating last few pages where she offered her theory that it is animals that have humanised us. Both books offer many insights about animals and how they function, simultaneously creating a better awareness of human behaviours. In both books Grandin explains that "All animals and people have the same core emotion systems in the brain" then discusses the core emotions of SEEKING, RAGE, FEAR, PANIC & PLAY in subsequent chapters (other core emotions she mentions, LUST and CARE, are overlooked).
She approaches her subject with a system. "The rule is simple: Don't stimulate RAGE, FEAR, and PANIC if you can help it, and do stimulate SEEKING and also PLAY." She shows how to recognise emotional states in animals and gives advice on avoiding negative reactions. All animals are frightened by new things - and all animals are attracted to new things. It all depends on how it's presented - forcibly or voluntarily.
Grandin is an animal behaviourist known for her humane slaughterhouse designs. All her books, written in a scholarly and folksy way, are thought-provoking and suffused with a profound commitment to treating animals with understanding and respect. She is autistic and it seems an autistic perspective, while limiting in some ways, enables a deeper understanding of animals and in some ways also of ourselves. Although not meant to be, it is an important book on child psychology too.
Grandin uncovers research proving that a number of our assumptions about dogs and cats are wrong. Dogs, for example, descend from wolf families, not packs, and are looking for a parent, not an alpha. Horses' fear and flight responses are the basis of their survival in the wild and training them requires reassurance, not breaking.
Here's the chapter list:
1. What do animals need?
2. A dog's life
7. Chickens and other poultry
10. Afterword: Why do I still work in the industry?
While some animal "experts" appear to disagree violently with her, Grandin's take on animals always sparks reflection. In Grandin's view, if people paid attention to the emotional lives of the creatures that depend on them, all would have a better quality of life. In my view, this includes humans.