"Animal Madness": A Talk by Laurel Braitman

Date: November 4, 2009, 7–9 pm
Location: Cabinet, 300 Nevins Street, Brooklyn, NY
FREE; no RSVP necessary


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Ever since Charles Darwin observed emotions in his children and dogs in equal measure, evidence has been slowly building in the realms of neurobiology, comparative psychology, the behavioral sciences, animal rights communities, the pharmaceutical industry, and veterinary medicine that humans are simply not exceptional in the ways we experience trauma, sadness, grief, compulsion, obsession, and anxiety. Laurel Braitman, historian and anthropologist of science at MIT, is working to prove that prevailing species divisions are in fact far more subjective than they often seem. The shared experiences of certain mental disorders and emotional states—from the diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder in elephants to trichotillomania (or hair-plucking) in gorillas to separation anxiety in dogs—calls for a new conception of evolutionary relatedness. Braitman will speak about her efforts to understand mental illness in gorillas, dolphins, dogs, cats, parrots, and elephants, and what this means about being human.

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