I have several books that I keep on the top shelf of my bookcase, so I have easy access to my favorites. Included in these are: “Godel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid” by Douglas Hofstadter, “The Seven Mysteries of Life” by Guy Murcie, “The Laws Of Form” by G. Spencer Brown, “The Wisdom Of Insecurity” by Alan Watts, “The Tao of Physics” by Fritjof Capra, and “The Tao of Pooh” by Benjamin Hoff, as well as others. Now, I am going to make room for “Carnivore Minds” by G. A. Bradshaw.
In “Carnivore Minds”, G. A. Bradshaw, the founder of Trans-Species Psychology, takes us on a journey with some of Humankind’s most misunderstood and feared creatures, not as a casual observer, but as an active participant. At the end of this journey, we transform our misunderstandings into clarity, and our fear into affinity.
In an informative and very readable style, G. A. Bradshaw dispels many common cultural myths we have about the nature of carnivores. We discover what the scientific community has discovered: that humans and non-humans share an empathic, emotionally intelligent and self-aware mind. The idea that nature is “red in tooth and claw” is shown to be not only an inaccurate statement, but an ignorant one. Citing numerous scientific data from diverse fields we begin to see clearly how all life has a symmetry, and share a common “humanity”.
Among the chapters, G. A.Bradshaw shows us the diverse personality of sharks, and that they have much more of a thinking and feeling mind behind those, as quoted from the movie Jaws: “…lifeless eyes. Black eyes. Like a doll’s eyes.” (Jaws, 1975). We learn that often feared Grizzly Bears are “…masters in the art of secure attachment parenting…”, Orcas have diverse cultures, not unlike our own, and that a Rattlesnake is “…a psychologically attuned individual who feels and thinks in empathic relationship with his prey.”
The relationship between Gilberto Sheddon and Pocho the Crocodile illustrates the “humanness” of reptiles and their ability to form lasting friendships, how the majestic Puma can suffer, just like us, from PTSD. And, like me, you will be brought to tears from the tragic story of Amber, the Coyote, and know that emotional and psychological trauma knows no specific boundaries.
The importance of this book cannot be understated. In these pages, the ideas, the facts, the science and the stories not only speak to all non-humans, for me it speaks very loudly about our relationship with our Dogs, the carnivore that we share our homes with. I have always known our Dogs are much more than mechanistic creatures that blindly respond to external stimuli, but I found it fascinating that non-mammals such as fish and reptiles share many of the same qualities. The Path of Friendship is about changing the anthropocentric relationships we have with our dogs to a more inclusive, equal and holistic view. After reading Carnivore Minds, I strongly believe that vision must extend beyond the limits of the leash.
G. A. Bradshaw, Ph.D., Ph.D. is the director of the Kerulos Center (www.kerulos.org), author of “Elephants On The Edge: What Animals Teach Us About Humanity”, nominated for the Pulitzer prize (and is also on my top shelf), “Minding The Animal Pysche”, “The Elephant Letters: The Story of Billy and Kani” (great for kids and adults), and numerous articles, research publications, and is regularly featured in diverse media. She is the leading scientist on wildlife psychological trauma, and her discovery of PTSD in Elephants launched the new field of Trans-Species Psychology.
I highly recommend this book, and I’m sure you will find it not only enlightening, but inspiring as well. In full disclosure, I am proud know Dr. Bradshaw personally, and I’m honored to call her my teacher, my mentor, and my friend.