Monday, March 16, 2009

Human-Animal Bonds


Any way you look at it, E O Wilson is one of the greatest thinkers and most creative minds in the world. Besides being a professor at Harvard, having won two Pulitzer Prizes, is considered to be the world most renown authority on Ants, has established the controversial field of sociobiology,is given credit for popularizing the term Epic of Evolution has also coined the two words Consilience and Biophilia to describe a theory of knowledge and the innate tendency that bonds humans to other living things.

A new book by Meg Olmert , in the relatively young field of anthrozoology presents a strong argument about the strength of the attachment between humans and living things especially pets. As it is to be expected, this new book is in essence a total endorsement of the idea of Biophilia as originally explained by Wilson and also as might be expected he has offered his strong endorsement to the book.

Ms. Olmert shows rather convincingly that the strength of this relationship is totally biological. It is explained by the presence of the chemical Oxytocin which has been used to explain the bonding relationship between mothers and their children.

I have no doubt that Oxytocin is powerful and that it plays a major role in explaining our love for pets. But what I find difficult to accept is that Oxytocin is the only explanation for that special relationship between us and animals. If it were so simple then does that mean that Oxytocin injections will stop the mistreatment of animals and that we can all become Vegans?:-)

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

I think that some of the bond is biological... but it is not an instinct. I know lots of kids who are afraid of animals, even tiny dogs. People must be exposed and taught to love animals before these biological chemicals are released.

Dandelion

ghassan karam said...

Dandelion,
Yoiu are right on. This particular study that I am referencing was able to demonstrate that the rate of flow of Oxytocin doubled as humans were playing with their pets.

Anonymous said...

Yes I agree that it can't be as simple as oxytocin alone...maybe because nothing is ever really that cut and dry to someone like me? Anyway.. yes a study showed oxytocin to increase and blood pressure to lower when people pet their dogs, and during a stay in a hospital 2 years ago I remember a man with a cute puppy going around to all the patients as part of some type of 'feel good' program sponsored by the hospital. I was surprised of course to wake with an animal in my hospital room but I thought it made sense to an extent. Still like dandelion said there are some who have anxiety about animals and even more than that there are mothers out there who love their kids to death but not dare allow pets of any kind in the household. Some people aren't even afraid, they just don't care for animals and that is a mental and social issue.

Emily O.

Lisbet said...

Very interesting. I had a love for dogs since i was a baby. I now own a dog of my own and its been 5yrs. I love him to death. I guess the idea that he has no family other than my own gives us that motherly/son/dog bonding which is where Oxytocin takes place. I do agree with Dandelion that people must be xposed to animals in order to feel the bond. i do not deny that Oxytocin plays a role in bonding with one another.

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