Self Psychology and the Human–Animal Bond: An Overview
The purpose of this chapter is to explore the psychological nature of the human–animal bond, using a theory called self psychology. In self psychology, animals who serve an essential function in maintaining a person’s cohesion and psychological well-being are said to be serving a selfobject function. Companion animals can provide any of the three selfobject functions—mirroring, idealizing, and twinship. This chapter gives examples of these three types of selfobject functions and explores special qualities of animals that may enable them to fulfill these crucial functions for people. The chapter’s selfobject questionnaire is designed to help reveal what type(s) of selfobject relationship(s) each animal provides. The difference between a mature and an archaic selfobject relationship is also explored with the example of the animal hoarder.
KeywordsCompanion Animal Psychology Concept Animal Abuse Pathological Narcissism Selfobject Experience
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