Upcoming research ideas

I was able to spend some time back in February, an entire day to be exact, with Kevin and my two dogs at his farm in Vermont. We spent the first hour or so talking theory and such. One thing I mentioned to him, given my academic background in psychology and counseling, was the concept derived from Franz Anton Mesmer, called magnétisme animal, or animal magnetism. In graduate school I took a  class on clinical hypnosis and we studied Mesmer’s concept. I hope to find some parallels between Kevin’s theory, specifically polarity in animal beings (including humans), and this concept of animal magnetism.

Along those lines, I practice the Japanese martial of Aikido: “the Way of unifying (with) life energy or as “the Way of harmonious spirit” (wikipedia). “Ai” essentially correlates with being in harmony, and “ki” referring to the universal energy/spirit or life force we possess. If you dive into the art and even into Zen meditation, you understand the term “hara,” which refers to the center of one’s being, or at the very least the area where ki is harnessed, which is located just below the navel or loin area. As it pertains to NDT, we suppose that the dog has two brains: the one in its head connected to the spinal cord and the brain in its loins which connects through the esophagus. Might there be something here? A direct relationship between ki and prey-drive? Hara and “gut-brain”? I could be totally off on this but I’m looking into it…

I’m interested in some philosophy (no thanks to all those classes from college). In particular, I wonder about the parallels between NDT with its insight into human-canine relationships and Descartes’ human epistemology and ways of knowing.

Also, I adhere to psychodynamic theory, specifically that of Alfred Adler. One of his primary concepts,”Gemeinschaftsgefuhl” or social interest, refers to the innate human capacity to experience a communal FEELING within social living. Its that existential sense of “being-in-the-world.” I’m seeing some connection with what NDT might offer in terms of social/animal consciousness and how everything, including humans, are “simply” an extension of everything else.

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2 thoughts on “Upcoming research ideas

  1. I’m also an existentialist (it’s all about the “Leap of Faith,” baby!), and was just thinking about how this point of view helps me to understand Behan’s writings… he wrote on his site about how the wolf influences the prey by confusing its sense of “self” …

    I totally get what’s being said. But when I tried explaining to a friend the impact of bumping a “self” off-kilter — how damaging that can be to a being — I just got a glazed look.

    But it makes sense to an existentialist, no? Also, you’re right on to connect epistemology to NDT. The only way we’re ever able to understand how the Other knows the world is if we can slough off our own notions of how-one-knows something. I believe there’s so much resistance to NDT because it asks us to discard the idea of dogs as intellectual, logical creatures. And that’s a hard thing to do.

  2. I agree with you here. Existentialism is a concept that can only be conceived by a human, yet many people project these ideas of “sense-of-beingness” or “reflection” onto dogs. Moreover, I suppose if Decartes read Behan, he might say of dogs, “I feel, therefore I am.” Then again, that would suggest a dog could “think.” 😉 More later…

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