What Makes One Person Crazy and Another Person Normal
I spend a lot of time thinking about crazy people.
I spend a lot of time being crazy people.
Which is my tacky way of saying that questions of mental health and illness fill my thoughts.
For instance, why is it considered crazy to think aliens are controlling your thoughts? But it’s not crazy to think you’re really good at your job. Neither thought is likely true. But one defines someone as mentally ill while the other defines them as mentally healthy.
Is Your Dog Mentally Ill
All these weird musings are fall out from Mel Freer’s post on No Dog About It, Is Your Dog Mentally Ill? It got me thinking how dogs could become mentally ill.
To be healthy, humans need autonomy. They need to feel they have some control over themselves and their environment. Even people with severe biochemical abnormalities are treated with behavioral therapies as well as medication to help them exercise control.
Many dogs have little autonomy.
Breeding dogs in puppy mills probably have the least autonomy of all. And when rescued from their lot, they show signs of mental illness.
So how do you keep your dog mentally healthy? You allow him choices. Give him freedom to make decisions. Make opportunities for problem solving.
Which is the end of my really long set up for a cute hamster video.
Many small pets have little autonomy. If they aren’t given time outside their cages, stimulating things to do, and the ability to solve problems, they’ll probably show signs of stress—fighting with other animals, self-injury, or obsessive behavior.
But this little guy beat the odds. He figured out how to solve a problem. I love it.
Is this hamster happier than your dog? How does your dog exercise autonomy?