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The Human Animal Bond

The Human Animal Bond – Strong as Ever

Human Animal BondTwenty years ago, the “pet issues” might seem a small matter or outside the scope of professional practice of many mental health professionals. However, more and more households have a dog or cat.

Between 87 and 99% of pet owners define their pets “as a friend or family member.”If your financial commitment to them (general care, medical expenses) are considered as a level of emotional investment, we can see how it has increased in recent years.

What are the reasons for this increased investment and dependence on pets? Some have suggested that due to recent social and demographic changes such as smaller family size, increased longevity and increased incidence of relationship breakdown. Thus, researchers have found that pet ownership has many measurable benefits, including psychological and welfare improvement, reducing feelings of loneliness in people who live alone and can even help in the recovery from illness and / or operations.

In addition, pet ownership has been associated with lower levels of depression in older people without minimal or no social support. The human-animal bond allows a sense of social connection and belonging. Some have suggested that the value of this human-animal bond is based on a perception of emotional support without prejudice or even “love and unconditional acceptance.” Individuals with a personal history of emotional deprivation and abuse in their formative years, or those suffering from trauma or loss in adulthood, may find that pets are the most consistent and reliable beings who can be targeted.

The home pet can also serve as a source of emotional support for those who have limited or no connection to other people (eg, autism). Even for people with a reasonably happy life, connections with pets can promote the welfare and the loss of a pet can lead to significant distress to their owners. Losing your pet, the intensity and duration of grief in some pet owners even exceeds experienced the loss of a human companion pain. Unfortunately, the social mechanisms do not allow always recognize or acknowledge this form of pain, leading to an experience of “disqualification match” which can have negative psychological consequences, especially when the grief is complex and lengthy.

It’s also important to note that Pet owners who lose their pets as a result of euthanasia, accidents, natural causes and unnatural, and abandonment may suffer long-term significant distress.

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