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Animals with mental illness?


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#1 BibleBeliever

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Posted 17 January 2007 - 10:39 PM

Are there any instances of animals showing the classic symptons of mental illnesses we often see in people.

I know if you get a lion and put it in a small cage or pen it will become depressed, and similar situations with other animals, but what about normal animal life do we see any forms of madness, depression, paranoia and such like in wildlife or on farms?

I ask this because I want to know if the mental illnesses we are familier with in this day and age are biological or related to our environment. If biological then animals will suffer too.

Out in Kenya a few years ago I found out they claimed they had no issues with mental illness even amongst the poverty, aids sufferers, high infant mortality and near starvation that were aparant out in the country away from large cities.

But it's not a 20th (or 21st) cantury disease as it's well documented through history.

#2 Cedars

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Posted 18 January 2007 - 10:33 AM

Are there any instances of animals showing the classic symptons of mental illnesses we often see in people.

I ask this because I want to know if the mental illnesses we are familier with in this day and age are biological or related to our environment. If biological then animals will suffer too.

Out in Kenya a few years ago I found out they claimed they had no issues with mental illness even amongst the poverty, aids sufferers, high infant mortality and near starvation that were aparant out in the country away from large cities.


It would be hard to compare 'classic symptoms' in animals vs people. The methods used to diagnosis in people being much more complex in part, due to the ability of people to communicate distress/complexity more easily than animals can. We are left with observing behaviors with animals. Personally, I have seen only one case of what I would classify as severe mental illness in a dog we owned and for that situation there was no option other than to put the dog down. If I had to classify the condition, it would be autistic or paranoid schizophrenic.

Now for wild animals the problem being the same as with people who suffer from great mental illnesses (paranoia, autism, schizophrenia). We tend to take enough care of our severly mentally ill to ensure their survival. In the wild, the animals usually wouldnt survive long enough to reproduce so a genetic factor would be marginal in its ablity to pass on the tendency to a degree that such a issue would become a dominate characteristic. But then one can look at the animals that do survive with conditions, if displayed in the human, could be considered a mental illness. The flight/startle reactions of deer to movement (for example) would not serve a human well, but keeps the deer better defended against being attacked.


Canine Autism
"canine autism" - Google Search

A more common disorder, Seperation Anxiety:

Pet Columns: Separation Anxiety: A Destructive Mental Illness

Canine Schizophrenia:

Schizophrenia Can Strike Your Pet

Forum examples of extreme behavior:
Chevy's story

agression.htm

Veterinary Information - Neurologic Diseases and Disorders of Dogs

To compare the instances of human vs animal is harder being as the most common method for resolving dehabilitating mental health issues in domestic animals is to spay/neuter the afflicted animal (thus no potential for genetic transmission) or to destroy the afflicted animal.

As far as the Kenya claim, have you searched for any reliable information to back up this statement as true?

#3 BibleBeliever

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Posted 18 January 2007 - 03:56 PM

Thanks for your answer it was very readable and I learned enough from it to see things in a better perspective, the point about Kenya was only an aside and I wouldn't know where to start in seeking out the truth. I just put it in to show how I tend to belive that mentall illness is often related more to the social climate (or at least our response to it) than to a chemical inballance, though I realise drugs can affect the way a mind works.

I just believe that doctors go for the easy option of perscribing drugs when there are practical ways to deal with some situations. (I'm thinking about my sister here who's dependant on perscribed drugs.)

I wondered about the animals because it may point to our over use of drugs, but your reply has got me off that track.

#4 sigh.ko.blah.grr

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Posted 23 January 2009 - 04:02 PM

Nature vs. Nurture. Meds vs. Processing Modifications. Psychiatry vs. Psychology. Arguments for one or the other since the '50s that I know of.

Millennial era psych school PoV is typically, "Address biogentic predispositions and acute emotional problems with meds. Address social impacts and distorted thinking processes with psychotherapy."

Post-millennial thinking (see the "Compact Clinicals" series of brief books on empirically verified combo strategies for what to do for this or that diagnosis) is pretty much,

1) Stabilize with meds to the point the pt. can function well enough to participate in psychotherapy,
2) earn the pt's trust and develop a therapeutic partnership,
3) determine (or at least hypothesize) the reasons why the pt. thinks as he does,
4) get the pt. on board with those reasons,
5) address those reasons with an appropriate combination of emotion-management and cognitive restructuring therapies,
6) teach the pt. enough to manage on his own.

In order (though the discrete phases overlap and recycle): Denial > Contemplation > Identification (a.k.a.: Acceptance) > Committment (where the actual therapy takes place) > Relapse Prevention (more or less Prochaska and DiClemente's model).

With respect to non-verbal mammals, one has to use non-verbal behavior modification (see Skinner and Bandura, as well as The Dog Whisperer on TV). Because they are far more affected by nature than nurture, animal motivations are vastly less complex than human motivations and can be very quickly analyzed and addressed. Food, stimulus-seeking, dominance vs. submission, stimulus pairings.

Psychologists thot this stuff would work well with humans in the '50 and '60s, and "behaviorism" dominated in the psych schools of that era. Cognitive-behavioral strategies expanded the useful aspects of behavior mod in the '70s and '80s (see Beck, Bandura, Ellis, Seligman, Wessler, Young, et al) into the more complex reasoning abilities of the human brain.

Since the very late '80s, the predominant direction is "neuropsychology" wherein mapping of brain functions and understanding of neurochemistry guides the specific uses of cognitive-behavioral techniques (see Garrett, Kaszniak, Panksepp, Perry, Pinker, Van der Kolk, Watt, et al).

#5 Dutchdivco

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Posted 23 January 2009 - 05:09 PM

If you haven't, watch the movie, "The Gods must be Crazy!".I believe your answer lies there. Jim

#6 CraigD

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Posted 24 January 2009 - 06:58 PM

If you haven't, watch the movie, "The Gods must be Crazy!".I believe your answer lies there. Jim

I don’t remember much about insane animals in TGMBC (a great movie, IMHO :eek_big:) – something involving a rhinoceros stamping out campfires, not really a crazy behavior, more reminiscent of a less anthropomorphic Smokey the bear. Maybe you’re thinking of “The Dogs Must Be Crazy:evil:

Seriously, now…

Are there any instances of animals showing the classic symptons of mental illnesses we often see in people.

In my childhood, I was acquainted with a horse that was, in everybody’s opinion, terribly and incurably deranged. He was an expensive horse, sired by a 5-gaited champion, and a substantial investment for the experienced breeder and horseman who bought him. I’ve forgotten the horse’s registered name, because he was universally know by the simple, descriptive nickname “Satan”.

Satan was untamable. Despite hundreds of dangerous hours of training, he could never be ridden, dashing his owner’s hoped of increasing his breeding value by winning horseshows. He was, as far as I know, in a state of murderous rage, or perhaps murderous terror whenever awake in the presence of any animal as large as a mouse. He killed mice. He killed a cat. He tried, with all his strength and cunning, to kill humans. He could not be allowed in a stall of field with other horses, as he would attempt to kill them.

Despairing of ever riding him, his owner hoped to recoup some of his financial loss, perhaps even profit, by breeding him. However, this proved impossible, as tests a non-valuable estrus mare revealed that Satan would attack, rather than attempt to breed with, her.

Were it not for the high price paid for him and the hope of making money breeding him, Satan would have been euthanized.

Having been only a couple of years around his stable, I don’t know if a satisfying explanation of his bizarre was ever made, or if it persisted his entire life. I can’t think of any other description of his condition other than “insanity”.

#7 Dutchdivco

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Posted 26 January 2009 - 09:56 AM

Certainly Satan is 1 example of insane behavior in animals.Rabies would be another, and 1 that could occur in wild as well as domestic animals.Wonder what Satan would have been like 'in the wild?'Other than something like rabies, i think we can observe a lot of 'neurotic' behavior in dogs, for instance, which are probably a direct rsult of their close association with humans.
Regarding TGMBC, My point was that thruout history mankind lives in 2 different lifestyles; small groupings, families or tribes. And, BIG cities.And, thruout history, insanity seems more prevalent in the BIG city lifestyle. I think that was my point.Jim