The book and movie Animals make us Human by Temple Grandin focus on the way that autistic children could actually benefit by mere interaction with animals. This is because animals exhibit behaviors that are similar to those of human beings, especially those that are driven by instinct. The movie especially focuses on the way this interaction is conducted for the successful cognitive development of an individual. The book points out the specific behaviors exhibited by animals and the way that they are exhibited in response to the environmental factors surrounding the animal. This essay shall focus on dogs, cats and cows, and the importance of humane treatment towards these animals. Grandin plays the intermediary role between humans and animals.
“Animals make us Humans” is a book by Temple Grandin is a creative nonfictional book that focuses on the emotional wellbeing of animals . It is based on thirty years of scientific experience, research and experimentation. This book brings forth thought-provoking scenarios and provides proof through the reference animal studies mentioned. In her book, Temple Grandin expresses her personal experience with autism. She also utilizes her own experience in relation to her career as an animal scientist to clearly bring out the way that animals think, feel and act . Temple Grandin does not only theorize about the ways that human beings can alleviate animal suffering, but also goes further to research and come up with tangible solutions to animal problems . Her unorthodox approach to human research, Temple Grandin remains an enigma in the world of animal rights.
The book places a special focus on the emotional needs that all animals possess. It seeks to explain the reason animals deserve a healthy mental life. Grandin emphasizes on the importance of stimulating the positive feelings of animals such as play and seeking, and eliminating the negative ones such as panic, fear and rage. According to the book, the most appropriate living conditions for any animal are those in which the animal is free to act naturally. However, this is limited in today’s culture whereby the natural behavior of animals is even referred to as bizarre. This literature involves both domestic and wild animals. The most important aspect of this book is the way that the animal behavior and responses mirror human behavior.
The movie portrays Temple Grandin as a woman who has a hard time interpreting people’s behaviors. Starring is Claire Danes, who plays “Grandin.” According to the movie, Claire is not good at the correct interpretation of other people’s behavior. However, she manages to go round her limitations and instead applies her strengths to overcome the situation. Since she was in her youth, Claire (Grandin) had known that she had a strong affinity for animals, especially cattle. Her autism made it more difficult for her to do abstract thinking the way that other human beings do. Along the way, she realizes that the way that her brain functions is very similar to that of animals in terms of reaction to external stimuli. It is from animals that the lead character learns how to interpret human needs.
The movie clearly brings out the hardships that autistic people go through. Grandin realizes that she can do so much good, not only for animals, but for humans too. Claire does an excellent job in portraying Grandin as she is in her way of speech, choice of words and expressions. The movie gives a perfect outlook on autism. It brings out the unwritten rules that decode social relationships. The way that Claire handles animals adds onto the field of animal husbandry that stipulated the right treatment of animals. Her interaction with animals also gives her a better understanding of human behavior by observing the reaction of animals to external factors such as being caged.
Meaning of the Title “Animals make us Humans”
The book “Animals make us Humans” has a carefully chosen title that seeks to explain the author’s view of animals and their welfare, and how our behavior towards them makes autistic people such as herself became human . This is to mean that, through the behavior of animals and their reaction to different treatment, autistic people are able to develop their cognitive skill of abstract thinking. This is because according to her written literature and audio book, animals experience a series of emotions in response to the treatment given to them. This mostly affects domestic animals because they are the ones that live with human beings. Their lives are usually modified to suit the lifestyle of their owner. The book shows that as much as autistic children may not have passed through all the milestones of cognitive development, they can become something. This is to mean that there are other methods that can be used to make them as human as every other child.
Lessons on Humanity based on Grandin’s Approach of studying animals
The literature according to Grandin brings out the unwritten rules of the social relationships of living beings. Grandin presents animal emotions as outlined by Dr. Jaak Panksepp, a neuroscientist. They are presented as follows: Seeking- The basic impulse of animals to investigate, search, and fulfill their curiosity concerning their environment; Panic- Results from loss of social attachment, the same way that humans react; Fear- Results from the detection of threat of their physical, social and emotional survival; Rage- Results from attack, restraint or pain, and it is accompanied by frustration; Care- Maternal care-taking and love; Lust- Sex and sexual desire in animals; Play- Indicates good welfare of the animal.
When brought together, these seven “blue-ribbon” emotions as referred to by Jaak Panksepp, give a clear explanation on why some environments are good for animals and human beings, whereas others are not. It is a good guide to explaining humanity and the different effects of different environments. According to his study, Panksepp indicates that upon the stimulation of these core emotions, specific and predictable reactions occur in all living things, humans and animals. The only difference that Grandin points out in regard to the emotional needs of animals and those of human beings is the ability of human beings to verbalize what they feel .
Human beings are animals. The only difference between human beings and other beasts is their intelligence. However, this does not eliminate their “animal” characteristics, those that are driven by instinct. According to Grrlscientist, Grandin compares specific animal behaviors to human behaviors. For instance, stereotypes are behaviors that animals exhibit when they are miserable. These are such pacing among caged carnivores, chewing among herbivores and others such as self harm. These behaviors are very similar to those exhibited by human beings suffering from anxiety disorders.
Contrary to common belief, cats love company just as much as dogs do. Caging a cat in unpleasant places could result in depression. Dogs, on the other hand, require a friend more than they need an alpha. The explanation behind this behavioral characteristic of dogs is the Fact that they are juvenile wolves. Wolves love being around their parents and siblings . Garner seems most comfortable talking about cows, chicken and pigs. Her affinity for these creatures is obvious because she emphasizes on giving these animals the best life we can while they live and offer them stress free slaughter.
It is hilarious how she states that slaughterhouses should be made of glass. The reason she gives for that is that the animals should not spend their last bit of life in absolute terror. Rather, they should experience comfort up to the last minute. The thought of pigs being affectionate and social is also hard to conceive. She owes the behavior of pigs to the way they are handled and blames their rowdy behavior to caretakers’ promotion of feelings of panic and fear in the pigs.
“Animals make us Humans” is a double faceted story. On one side, it gives factual information about animals and the importance of treating them right. Domestic animals exhibit certain behaviors as a result of human beings’ treatment towards them. Dogs are known to be vulnerable to depression when left alone for long periods of time . The same applies for cats. Cows also experience feelings of fear and building pathetic slaughter houses that are pitch dark is unfair because they end up dying in a state of terror .
On the other hand, it portrays the social interaction between human beings and animals as a manual for human-to-human interactions. This is because just like animals, human beings exhibit behaviors driven by instinct. This is a concept that she dwells on when explaining the importance of this interaction for autistic people, especially children during their cognitive development.
Animals make us Humans: Creating the best life for animals. Dir. Malik Bendjelloul. 2010.
BookBrowse. Animals make us Humans: Book summary reviews. 2014. 16th May 2014
Garner, Dwight. "The Joys and Pains of being an Animal." New York Times (2009).
Grandin, Temple. Animals make us Human: Creating the best life for animals. New York:
Mariner Books; Reprint edition, 2010.
GreenMuze Staff. Animals Make Us Humans Review. 15th April 2009. 16th May 2014
Grrlscientist. animals-make-us-human. 12 June 2009. 16th May 2014
Orson. Uncle Orson Reviews Everything. 11th April 2010. 16th May 2014