Laurel Braitman on Animals and Mental Illness

August 4, 2014

Host: Lindsay Beyerstein

This week, Point of Inquiry welcomes Laurel Braitman, a TED fellow with a PhD in History and Anthropology of Science from MIT, and the author of Animal Madness: How Anxious Dogs, Compulsive Parrots, and Elephants in Recovery Help Us Understand Ourselves.

It might sound strange to say that animals suffer from mental illness, but the brain systems that regulate anxiety, attachment, and arousal are evolutionarily ancient. If faulty neurochemistry compounded by stress can lead to mental illness in humans, why not in other animals? 

Today we look into the minds of our fellow animals. What do their minds and mental illnesses teach us about sanity, insanity and the concept of consciousness?