Navigate Life 44: Do People Benefit Emotionally from Pets?
Short episode, but a couple of thoughts.
– Several episodes back I talked about this idea of a stigma of mental illness- my throes is that people will always stigmatize illness because we are motivated to not be ill… it’s a survival need. I think we have a stigma of therapy and seeking mental help.
– Came across a podcast interview in a Facebook group (that surprisingly wasn’t for counselors) in which Prince Harry of England talked about his own counseling and why he went.
– Most people don’t know I was born in England. Am a dual citizen.
– Harry talks about realizing that much of the struggles he dealt with in his late 20’s were because he never came to terms with the death of his mother
– In particular, he dealt with heavy amounts of anxiety during royal engagements
– He worked with soldiers suffering from PTSD and has begun a campaign in the UK to encourage people to seek help for mental issues; he is concerned that there is something in the British culture, the “stiff upper lip” that may be holding people back from seeking the help they need
Are Pets Beneficial to People?
– Family dog passed away a few weeks ago.
– Watched how each of my children reacted (oldest cried off an on for a couple of days, my youngest cried then seemed fine 20 minutes later- it was only after she was hurt did she realize that her pet wasn’t going to be there for her- learning the permanency of death)
– I’m not a pet person; love animals but don’t seem to get benefits that others do (provide company from loneliness, reduce blood pressure, we have animal-assisted therapy)- surprised by the fact that even after decades of research, animals may not be as beneficial as we think, here’s why:
1) no control groups in studies- people may have improved with the passage of time
2) looked at short-term outcomes, nothing long-term
3) with animal studies, there is always a human handler- people may be improving because of the human, not the animal
4) no look at the placebo effect- animals help us feel better because we believe that they do
5) animals needs aren’t taken into account- we may feel better with equine therapy, but the horse is still a captor (we don’t know if it’s a willing participant in your therapy)
The evidence for the psychological benefits of animals is surprisingly weak
– Most people don’t know that I was born in England as a dual citizen. Moved to the US when I was three.
– Prince Harry getting counseling 20 years after his mother passed away. Done at the urging of his older brother Prince William
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