"Our fantasies about animals are often unjustified ..." The psychologist - about people and animals
Where are the roots of the emotional connection between people and their pets. Why do we consider animals to be family members? And why sometimes dogs are loved more by people, we decided to ask Olga Andreeva, a psychologist and family psychotherapist.
About the connection of people and animals
Humans have never been neutral with animals, indifferent. These are not just neighbors on the planet. First of all, animals gave food, and at the cost of their death. Once they learned to plow the land on them, they receive wool, milk, etc. from them, that is, it has always been a powerful resource for survival. Some animals were more fortunate: they came into the human sight later.
Therefore, initially a person treated animals strictly pragmatically, and only then - emotionally. We can say that this was the next stage in the development of the animal world.
About emotional needs
People love those who satisfy their emotional need. They try not to establish emotional relationships with those whom they eat, they simply represent them as some kind of object. For example, with a cow, which is very important for the economy and gives milk, emotional relationships can be established, but with a piglet that is eaten, it doesn’t.
That is, there are animal objects, and there are animals that satisfy some kind of emotional needs. For example, animals are an ideal toy. Cheburashka is cool, you can hug him, put him to bed next to him, but you won’t enter into communication with him, you won’t play, you won’t take him for a walk. It’s also difficult to brag about cheburashki, but a cat or a dog can be shown at an exhibition. You do not have personal achievements, but a lot of medals that your dog earned. People do not brag about their pedigrees, but the pedigrees of their pets or the value of the puppy. So animals fall into the sphere of prestigious, status consumption.
About kindness and aggression
A person in aggression surpasses most animals. Ethologists have identified a very small number of animals that are more aggressive than humans, especially crocodiles. And so most animals are far from human.
But today we must honestly say that in relation to animals, we do not notice much. When we pick up a homeless kitten on the street, we forget that some animals will be killed just so that this kitten ate. But we try not to think about it.
From experience: I remember I was in Vienna for Christmas, and the animal welfare society at that time staged an action. On the one hand - a wonderful Christmas market, Jingle Bell, everything is festive and fabulous, and all kinds of delicious sausages are sold in these markets. And the animal defenders on the contrary set up a huge screen on which documentary footage from the slaughter went: how the bulls groan when they are killed, their roar of pain and fear ...
Therefore, let us always remember our double standard in relation to animals. And in this context, human kindness to some animals, for example, to kittens, is one side of human nature. The second side is hard use, cruel methods of killing the same whales, killing sharks for the fins ... Do not forget that we have these two sides.
About attachment and co-dependence
Man is an irrational creature, a contradictory one, basically unhealthy and generally imperfect, and only partially cognized by science. Therefore, although we are studying our needs, there are still many inconsistencies.
Naturally, all needs are biologically determined. Take affection, for example. The need for affection is what keeps people together, what ensures survival, encourages to give offspring and then grow it.Otherwise, people would very easily run away, which, in fact, often happens today, when attachment weakens or disappears. Attachment has its own biological meaning.
There are extreme forms of attachment that become unhealthy, and then it is spoken of as dependence and co-dependence. Co-dependence is relationship dependence. When does attachment cease to be healthy? When any rejection or any deprivation (deprivation of something) becomes so painful that they block the opportunity to live. That is, it comes into conflict with a person’s ability to live and be contented with life, deprives of emotional well-being when it is no longer for the good of man, but to the detriment.
Strong emotional dependence is supported by culture: a dependent person is very easy to manage. A co-dependent person is cultivated from early childhood. They say to the children: “What will they think about you?”, And from all sides it sounds: “I cannot live without you.” But this is not true! Of course, I can live without anyone. A normal person can live, but a co-dependent can not.
Naturally, animals are also included in these models of relationships, and there are also a lot of diverse fantasies.
From experience:I had a favorite dog, Ronnie, and he was very suitable for us psychologically: he was smart and playful. It is very important for me that the partner is smart and that it would be fun. If I’m bored with a person, I’m unlikely to be friends with him, much less live next to him, and, accordingly, the animal should be similar. We had an average poodle: wonderful, smart, delicate, so attentive that he understood everything without training, playful, emotionally expressive, so it was very easy with him.
When the husband came home from work, Ronnie joyfully hopped, tried to lick in the face, and the husband said: “Well, if you had met me like that!” To which I replied that he sees only part of this relationship. And it is not known why the dog rejoices more: perhaps not for you as an individual, but for yourself - that his loneliness has ended. To which my husband says that, as always, I ruined everything.
So people project on animals what they need. They need someone to love them, rejoice at their arrival, but in fact, children's love for their parents is akin to this animal love, it is also very biological. The child expresses joy because he is addicted, he needs you to come and take care of him: feed him, don’t throw, etc. Therefore, if someone has a child to be loved by someone, this is from the same opera. Of course, there can be a normal, healthy love for parents, but for this it is necessary that the child grows up and becomes a person - then, perhaps, the parents will be valuable to him on their own, and not as a source of his emotional and physical well-being.
Projection is one of the main defense mechanisms of the psyche; people project a lot, including on each other. For example, we are anxious about another person, we do not know how he relates to us, but we would like to like him or we are dependent on him for work, i.e. these relationships are significant. We don’t really understand what is really inside him, but there is our anxiety, and to justify it, we begin to think: perhaps he is unfriendly, thinks badly of me, prepares something unpleasant. That is, we “put” this person in the head, ascribe to him what is not there. This is the projection. And then we build an attitude towards this person based on what we attributed to him.
Animals are the ideal screen for projection. We can attribute to them both love and love of freedom (although this is a purely human category). But animals have no philosophy, they live, obeying some instincts and clear programs.
In general, whatever human need you take, most of them animals satisfy, they are built into human culture, everyday life in the most direct way.
All living things are manipulated: both humans and animals.But people want to think better about their pets, and they idealize them and maybe don’t even “read” them, where the animal will catch any weakness of the owner. The cat and dog knows at what angle you need to look at the owner in order to break his heart, they can make a person limp. Therefore, if you like to go on occasion and be the object of manipulation of your cat - no question. But, generally speaking, if you do not idealize the animals, do not ascribe to them any angelic qualities - this will increase the level of your interaction.
First of all, animal freedom is a human projection, our fantasy about animals.
There are simply animals that are better tamed and worse tamed. Those. cats are difficult to train, right? Is it possible to say that they are freedom-loving? No. They simply do not respond well to training. No need to fantasize.
Or is a dolphin freedom-loving? Probably yes: he jumps so beautifully over the wave. But did people learn to use dolphins too? They use them in circus shows, keep them in very poor conditions, and even taught them how to carry bombs on enemy ships. There are still military bases where dolphins are kept. Therefore, everything about freedom is very relative.
About choosing a pet and emotional maturity
It is important to ask yourself the question: what emotional needs do I want to satisfy by having this pet? Will this breed meet these needs? Because if I want to watch TV all night, I don’t need a dog with whom I need to run several kilometers every day. And the cat you can’t squeeze is no longer a cat for me, because I don’t need a cat that sleeps on the windowsill, but I can’t stroke it. This is the first.
Second: when we get animals, we show our emotional maturity or immaturity. A key aspect of human maturity is the ability to take responsibility. Therefore, animals for small children are not a toy, and you need to learn how to protect the animal from children if the child is too small to understand that the animal is uncomfortable. It is necessary to bear responsibility for the health of the animal, its needs (based on the breed): if the dog needs to run a lot, give a report whether you will run as much as he needs or to satisfy some other of his needs.
Again, the degree of maturity of a society is determined by its attitude towards domestic animals: in a society where a person is of little value, an animal also has little value, it is simply an object of use.
From experience: For example, in the same Germany you will not see a cat on the streets. I traveled all over Germany and saw only one cat - when he moved from one section of a private house to another, and then returned to his site. But he did not run along the street, along the roadway. And here I drive every day by car to the country and from the country, and every day I see dead cats on the road. I just try not to look that way. Where did this cat get to the track if there is no village nearby? What is this cat? And in the UK or Germany, you can go to court if you improperly keep your pet, but there, too, the person feels protected, so all this is in one bottle.
In general, whatever human need you take, most of them animals satisfy, they are built into human culture, everyday life in the most direct way. A careless, cruel attitude towards animals is about us, about people and about our society, about the degree of its humanity and about the value of man in the world.
There is a science that I really like - it is ethology, the science of animal behavior and psychology, but it also studies man and compares it. And we have a lot of biological programs that make us similar to animals. We sometimes overestimate our social aspects.
For example, take hierarchy.Human society is hierarchical, and so are any flock or herd animals. Those who are interested in such issues can read the books of Konrad Lorenz or, if we take Russian authors, the book by Victor Dolnik “The Naughty Child of the Biosphere”. These are wonderful books, they will show our proximity to animals and allow us to fantasize less unreasonably.