What Children and Dogs Can Teach Us (about mental health)
(reposting from 23 March, 2018, before I found Christian)
Christian once gave me a book to read — ‘Dogs Never Lie About Love’ and I recently found it. Every gift he gave (to me and to others) now has significance.
So, what was it in that book which made Chris want me to read it, too? What CAN dogs teach us about love? Here is an extract, written by the author, Jeffrey Masson:
“Dogs, it should be apparent by now, do not require psychoanalysis or any kind of analysis before they can recognise their own feelings; indeed they have the ability, so rare in humans, to be always and continuously feeling their own internal emotions. This is so apparent that it must play no small role in our love for dogs.
At the same time, if a dog grows up in a loving home, it will not experience unhappiness and will not develop into an unhappy animal, one prone to sadness or what we think of as a neurosis. Even if the dog has had its share of misery — and here is the great lesson we can take from dogs — it somehow manages, without the benefit of analysis, to over come the past, to emerge from a time of sorrow with a strange kind of optimism: it wishes to love again. It must love again. We are drawn to this capacity in a dog; it corresponds to something in us which has been lost somewhere in our evolutionary past, and which we long to recover.
Perhaps it harks back to a time when humans were more like dogs, more spontaneous, more capable of expressing joy, able to experience intense emotions and enjoy the world outside our skins more immediately, in the same way as we see our dogs doing.
Children, I believe, retain this dog-like capacity for spontaneous joy until they unlearn it from their elders. This might explain the intense bond that has always existed between children and dogs. Both know something we adults seem to have lost and must now try to recover. Fortunately we have both children and dogs to help us in our quest for happiness.” (pp.184–5)
I had another of my dreams about Christian this morning — to do with how he’s feeling at the moment. I saw him with a constricted throat — he didn’t know what to say to me. I told him he didn’t need to say anything in particular… he shouldn’t have that fear as when the time comes we’ll just talk. Instinct will take over. To heal his throat I showed him a trick I’d learnt to release my voice: trace a ‘figure-of-8’ shape with your finger over the throat area, repeatedly. I’m not sure what it does, but it does release your voice. I also told him to howl. Like a dog/wolf. I’d once had a dream about us meeting in real life and, while hugging each other, all I could do was howl because there were no words good enough to show the joy I was feeling.
I suppose this post is all about reconnecting to being child-like again: dogs and children. Siblings and wolves.