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Old 01-26-2008, 11:48 PM
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irotas irotas is offline
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Question Question about modern pet culture

I found an interesting passage in the book I'm currently reading ("The Age of Insanity" by John F. Schumaker, 2001) that I thought would be a good discussion topic on this forum:

"Modernity has seen the 'other' become largely hypothetical, a development that has been magnified by the disappearance of local space and the subsequent rise of cyber caring and purely conjectural relationships. Cultural greed has thinned human involvements even more and replaced unification tendencies with an accounting process that assesses the exchange value of relational investment. One of the most interesting social compensation strategies is petism, as increasing numbers of people develop overly close relationships to pets. Petism has been described as a new culture-bound disorder that is becoming increasingly common in modern Western culture. By contrast, it does not exist in traditional non-Western cultures, where social relations and community ties a relatively intact. The interpersonal vacuum that fuels petism has seen a proliferation of pet hotels, pet restaurants, and pet psychologists.

In its new role, the pet can help fill the void left by the disappearance of the confidant in modern life. Pet owners can communicate their thoughts and emotions, and obtain comfort in the knowledge that they have a listening ear. Many moderns cannot access this form of mutual receptivity via human channels. Ultimately, the hypothetical public proves unable to meet people's relatedness needs, thereby increasing the attraction to the nonhuman world. Pets are the great unsung heroes of the modern age, and their psychological value as antidotes to loneliness cannot be overestimated."


I'm curious if people agree with all of this, some of it, or none of it. Why?
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Old 01-27-2008, 12:24 AM
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I think that passage simply sumed up why we all love our pets using a high vocab.

I certainly know when I come home from dealing with customers all day I'm happy as hell to have them around and nothing melts stress then a big kiss or a hello from my little Senegal Parrot.

I think it's a shame however that in a part of the world that is more or less known for creature comforts we continue to lie to ourselfes about what makes us happy.

Just me 0.02
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Old 01-27-2008, 03:58 AM
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ihartgonzo ihartgonzo is offline
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Hmmm.

I am not going to deny that I have very close bonds with my dogs (of course, I wouldn't say overly close)... But I also have plenty of human friends, to confide in. I do not use my dogs to compensate for any lack of human companionship. I love dogs, that's why I have dogs. People have had dogs as their companions for hundreds - THOUSANDS - of years. Sure, a dog's quality of life (or, a pet's in general) has vastly improved in the past century. But so has the average human being's life... not including third-world countries. It only makes sense that our pets tend to live more privileged, frivolous lives; compare YOUR life to the life of a person 100 years ago.

I just... get really annoyed when people try to tell me that I am obsessed with my dogs, and I treat my dogs as if they were children, and they replace human friends, etc, etc. Maybe that is the case with some people. But from what I've seen, there are many, MANY more dogs who live in a backyard and are considered little more than a novelty, than there are dogs who are their owner's only "confidant" and get treated to pet spas & pet restaurants. I hate that the minority of "pampered" dogs get sensationalized - why not sensationalize the millions of dogs who get dumped in shelters each year?
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Old 01-27-2008, 07:39 AM
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Well, the basics are true, but I would hardly call it a "disorder."

People have developed close bonds with animals for centuries if not milennia. It might not have been the norm (I'm not sure it is the norm now) but there were always animal lovers who turned to animals for company and affection.

But I think it is true that as our society grows more fragmented, less trusting, and more stressful, that MORE people turn to animals for comfort. Its pretty much the norm now, in the US, to live away from your family, and even from your hometown. That's if your hometown was a town in the first place, as opposed to a big city, where people often don't even know their neighbors.

Under those circumstances, animals become the loyal, constant, understanding companions that, at least in our imaginations, family and childhood friends would be if we lived in traditional societies. Even if traditional societies were not the height of human kindness and love (and from what I know, they weren't by any stretch) living your whole life around people who you've known your whole life is a pretty good anidote to the sort of isolation that is common these days.

But I don't think its a "disorder" except perhaps when it gets taken to the point where people go off the deep end with anthopomophism . . . even then, its probably more a function of ignorance than a mental disorder . . . in most cases, anyway.
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Old 01-27-2008, 08:03 AM
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I agree with Lilavati's points.

There have ALWAYS been animal lovers......as far back as our documented history can go, and with higher populations there WILL be more animal lovers. Probably for alot of the reasons listed in the article, and for a few that aren't listed as well.

And I would venture to say that the "non western world" love and rely on their pets for the same reasons that we do here in the states........maybe there aren't the trends of "Pet hotels" "Pet Restaurants" and "Pet Psychologists" like there are here........But speaking for myself, I have never used one of the type places either! Have any of you?

I would in NOWAY refer to the majority of animal lovers as having a disorder, of course there are some that do...........such as hoarders and the like. But I would say their 'disorder' would be present if animals to collect were not, they would just find a different area to focus on.
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