We share this world with animals.  So we are curious to know how do animals help humans and how animals can participate in our humanization.

We cohabit with certain animals. We adopt and take certain animals as companions. We are, in one way or another, in contact with the animals. But have you ever thought that animals can participate in your humanization? We will try to find out more in this article.

Dogs in retirement homes, horses at the foot of the building, cat bars for stressed urban … Animal mediation is on the rise.

His photo-portrait invaded the Web in a few hours: Diesel, the Malian bitch of the Raid who lost his life in the assault of Saint-Denis on November 18, 2015, became for many a heroine. Of course, when many Internet users have dared to post #Jesuischien, some offended voices have risen: “How to shrink to that point?” “To identify with a dog, what a horror!” But for the most part, the public has endorsed the tribute to Diesel: about it, we spoke “dedication”, “obedience” and “courage”. As Pierre Desproges said: “The more I know men, the more I love my dog.”

This place given to a “simple mammal” does not surprise Boris Albrecht, director of the Adrienne Foundation, and Pierre Sommer. “Since 2003, more than 500 projects in which the animal improves the living conditions of humans have become a reality thanks to our action,” welcomed his director at his time.

So, we are curious to know in what is the animals can participate in our humanization? In what ways do animals help humans?

1 – How Do Animals Help Humans in Facilitating Relationships?How Do Animals Help Humans

Ten years ago, there was hardly any talk of dogs and cats coming into retirement homes; today, it is an established fact for all: tame quadrupeds encourage older residents to get up, walk, be active. But unexpected benefits have also been observed. “It has been discovered, among other things, that dogs also facilitate relationships between caregivers,” explains Boris Albrecht.

Marine Grandgeorge, a doctor in psychology, who conducts research at the laboratory of animal and human ethology in Rennes, confirms and is astonished again: “The animal is really a” third party regulator “, that’s why he is so welcome in mediation. His presence influences the behavior of humans between them. Studies even show that, if it is there, people look at each other, talk to each other more … And the disabled, if they are accompanied by an animal, triple the number of glances at them. “No doubt, the animal, according to the researchers, the role of “social lubricant”, all the more obvious when the links between men are impoverished. Why such success?: “The animal is not judging,” says Marine Grandgeorge. We can go through it to break the barriers. ”

2 – Horses at the Bottom of the Building

Mediation is one of the common ways how do animals help humans. Nowadays, the use of animal mediation is booming in many areas: justice (for life in prison), the world of disability (whether physical or psychomotor problems), palliative care … And this alliance takes renewed forms. In Dole, in the full city, an equestrian center was installed at the bottom of the buildings so that every day the troubled young people come to feed and care for the horses; the inhabitants also get involved, which favors local communication. At the Ferme de Nat, Maine-et-Loire, people with multiple disabilities come to enjoy special moments with donkeys, animals that are now highly sought after for their intelligence (yes!), Their curiosity and their sense of contact. “With the animal, the living and the sensitive are essential in any situation”, summarizes Boris Albrecht.

At the time of the relations via screens interposed, these animals reconnect the humans to an essential on the run. “Like huts in nature or knitting, they remind us how simplicity feeds,” says Marine Grandgeorge. And the researcher cites the “cat bars” filling the lack of tactile contact of urban stress. “We men need to be touched and touched,” she says. One study has shown that when a doctor, at the end of a consultation, touches the arm of his patient, the treatment of the latter is improved … And his health too.

3 – From the Animal-Tool to the Animal-Partner

These animals can also teach us a lot about communication: “The dog and horse, in particular, know how to detect our emotional and hormonal changes by identifying certain clues in our facial expressions,” explains Marine Grandgeorge. Thanks to this talent, they have gone from the animal-tool to the animal-partner. As for the cat, its attentional ability must inspire us. “All these animals teach us that true presence alone establishes a quality relationship.”

Our dear companions thus reveal the social issues that we have not yet solved. “Beware,” warns Boris Albrecht, “the more the cell is coercive, the more you have to think before you integrate an animal because it can crystallize the benefits as well as the flaws of a structure!” And eventually, pay the price in its very being. Hence the new question emerges: “How to preserve the well-being of animals in mediation situations?”

4 – Philippe Hofman’s Point of View: “They Participate in Our Humanization”

Note: This part is the transcript of the interview conducted by LE FIGARO magazine in which psychologist Philippe Hoffman answered the questions.

Question 1: – Usually, veterinarians or ethologists study the links between humans and animals. Why is the psychologist that you are interested in so much on this subject?

Answer 1: – As a child and adolescent specialist, but also a gerontologist, I have observed the evolution of the family, especially its extension. With the multiplication of blended families, the vision that I could have widened, and little by little, domestic animals appeared to me as full members of these families: they encourage children to get up and walk, become the confidants of teens, are the subject of conflicts at the time of separation … I also found that in the case of closed families, a little folded on themselves, they were sometimes a solution to establish contact more quickly.

Question 2: – You say that the dog, especially, promotes life in society. How? ‘Or’ What?

Answer 2: Having a dog promotes social contact. It’s even better than children: walk with a pet on a leash, and you will naturally exchange a few words with some passers-by or the other owners you come across. Sometimes even meetings generate true confidence. The pretext of the dog leads to self-talk without complexity, without taboo, like our dog who comes into direct contact, sometimes trivial, with his fellow. In this social sharing, dogs teach us otherness, the link with the unknown, and in this sense, they participate in our humanization. In an egocentric and sanitized world, they send us back to sharing, contact, and animality.

Question 3: From an affective point of view, you affirm that they are unequaled partners …

Answer 3: Yes, because with them, our communication is straightforward and authentic. There is no need to cheat! With humans, the links are always a little complex, full of unconscious issues we must “tame” … The dog, in particular, more constant than the cat, invites us to an immediate relationship without ambiguity. In his eyes, he seems to absorb all our moral pain and sends us back to a benevolent dimension. I think that with our pet, dog, or cat, we can find the emotions of primary exchanges. In this sense, for all those who are in deep distress and mentally deficient to the point of being in the street, for example, a gentle natural regression is done thanks to the animal that accompanies them.

Question 4: Can this specific link also help in the event of an event?

Answer 4: Undeniably. We know that in case of mourning, the presence and the maintenance of the link with the pet is essential: it encourages you to live, to continue despite the absence of those you have lost. In case of serious illness, it is just as powerful: our cat or our dog have such vitality that, weakened, we can entrust our pain or our deep anxiety, while with our loved ones, it is more delicate. I believe that in palliative care services, in particular, animals could be used to exorcise and alleviate the anguish of the death of patients, but also of their loved ones.

5 – Zootherapy or Pet Therapy: Beyond Animal Mediation

Can animals help heal? Zootherapy tries to give us ample information.

Pet therapy is based on the idea that the presence of an animal is a calming element in the life of a patient with a disability or a serious medical condition.

Florence Nightingale, an instigator of many modern daycare techniques, kept a turtle in her service during the Crimean War because she had observed that the presence of an animal reduced the anxiety of wounded soldiers. More recently, an American psychotherapist observed, in the 1950s, the reassuring influence of his dog on one of his autistic patients and initiated the psychotherapy facilitated by the animal.

The Anglo-Saxon countries use many of these approaches, despite the absence of large cohort studies necessary for objective validation. Pet therapy, which includes all types of animal therapy, remains controversial, even in the countries where it is used. Its worst critics accuse it of posing a health risk to patients and endangering animals for an effect that robots might be sufficient to obtain, and other, more moderate specialists recognize an effect solely related to a placebo effect or to increased socialization by the simple event of the presentation to an animal. Without objective scientific data, the use of these methods remains a question of conviction and personal experience of the therapist, who plays a determining role anyway.

*** A “Mediator”

The most common use of animals in medical practice is around the elderly. Many associations bring dogs or even cats to retirement homes or palliative care services with the sole purpose of encouraging elderly people to leave their room and their silence. Patients fondle animals, question their way of life, and discuss these visits long after they leave. The animals thus act on the morale of the patients but also on their health by forcing them to move more.

Many GPs also recommend that their retired patients adopt a dog to encourage them to maintain regular physical activity. For those who are isolated, the animal gives a reason to get up, to think of the need to feed, and go out to be in contact with other dog walkers.

In France, specialists speak more readily of animal mediation, recognizing the role of the animal rather as an intermediary of care or a factor of improvement of the quality of life. Thus, guide dogs can not cure blindness, but they can facilitate many daily tasks, thus reducing the weight of the handicap.

Other types of dogs can assist patients with motor disabilities by turning on the light, opening the fridge, or finding the remote that fell under the sofa! Finally, the use of horses to mobilize children usually immobilized in a wheelchair can bring a smile to their faces but also to those who accompany them and who often feel helpless to help them.

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