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This book will touch you deeply and leave you believing there is hope in the world. Laurel Braitman begins with the story of her own adopted dog Oliver, who was clearly emotionally disturbed (at some point diagnosed with separation anxiety, phobia of thunderstorms and a form of animal OCD). Her interest in the plight of Oliver eventually led her to start combing the records for stories of other animals who had strange behaviors, not always understood by their owners, to see if there were indications that other animals have emotional illnesses, much as humans do.
The stories she tells, of dogs, cats, elephants, gorillas, etc...who exhibited unusual, sometimes frightening behaviors, have often resulted in tragic outcomes. But she is able to trace many of the conditions described to similar backgrounds for the animals--such as too early separation from a mother, abusive care from humans, being uprooted from familiar surroundings. She talks with animal behavior specialists and human psychiatrists about treatment for such animals.
There is extrapolation from the suffering of animals to the suffering of humans--in both cases leading to mental illnesses (and in more recent times the knowledge and ability to treat them). But she is very careful not to anthropomorphize (project our human beliefs and conditions onto the other animals). This book is fascinating to listen to. If you love animals it should be a "must read" (listen) on your list. It reminded me, in some ways, of the very moving book by Virginia Morell, "Animal Wise," in which she shows repeatedly how our fellow animals have a wisdom in life that we often miss.
The narration is very good, but in books of this sort, I often find myself wondering why they are not read by the author. Nevertheless, this book is wonderful. I stayed up late into the night listening to it. Highly recommend!
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What made the experience of listening to Animal Madness the most enjoyable?
Probably the author's innate curiosity and desire to know what made her dog act as he did. It was very relatable.
What did you like best about this story?
Hmmmm... Probably the stories about primates and a close second about the elephants. There are so many people in rural parts of this world who sacrifice so much just so, for example, an elephant doesn't have to cry himself to sleep.
What about Madeleine Maby’s performance did you like?
She disappeared into the story. She didn't get theatrical and let the stories stand on their own merit.
Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?
I hate crying while listening because I don't want to look like a nut, but the parts about the abuse of circus, and other, elephants hurt me to my core. That, and the testing animals had to go through so we could learn fundamental truths in psychology.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful