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What we learnt from his article about the relationship between trauma rehabilitation in animals and rehabilitation in humans:
While he says that his “Zoology lecturers told us not to anthropomorphise — that is, not to project human qualities, intentions and emotions onto the animals we studied.” He originally made the connection between human and animal trauma on a visit to Possumwood Wildlife. When joeys were first brought into their care they were inconsolable and “dying in [carers] arms” even while physically unharmed, with food and shelter available to them.
This response made sense once they recognised the joey’s symptoms as reminiscent of post-traumatic stress disorder in humans.
David says, “To rehabilitate [animals] from trauma, humans and animals need to feel safe and away from cues that trigger the individual’s threat response, deactivating the sympathetic nervous system (the fight-flight response). They also need a means of self-soothing, or to gain soothing from another, activating the parasympathetic nervous system (the rest, digest and calm response).
“In mammals, including us, this activates our affiliative system: our strong desire for close interpersonal relationships for safety, soothing and stability. We enter a calmer, receptive state of being so that the reattachment process can begin.”
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