Restoring Our Daemons
(G.A. Bradshaw, Elizabeth Oriel, The Kerulos Center)
Agency, the ability to exercise free will and autonomy, is something that western humans perhaps value above all else for themselves. The focus on individual freedom and opportunity has created an alienated, fragmented self concerned only its own growth. Ironically, consonant with new theories of consciousness, human and other animal agencies turn out to be linked, cause cannot escape effect. Violent oppression meted outside to other species from captivity to consumption mirrors the internal corrosion of human psyche. Images of drowning polar bears, the fading roar of a dying lion, and the scent of acrid blood from an elephant slain speak of our species’ spiral into psychological and spiritual collapse. The Haida describe an alternative paradigm, one of reciprocity and acknowledged connection. It revives the vibrant beauty and richness of living where self and other co-inhabit. Animals embody this vital understanding of indivisible consciousness. We are called to relinquish “civilization”, to embrace a trans-species vision where we learn to live like animals again and restore our daemons.
Gay Arndt Bradshaw * Ph.D., Ph.D. is Executive Director of The Kerulos Center. She holds doctorate degrees in ecology and psychology, and has published, taught, and lectured widely in these fields both in the U.S. and internationally. She is the author of Elephants on the Edge: What Animals Teach Us about Humanity, published by Yale University Press, an in-depth psychological portrait of elephants in captivity and in the wild.
Dr. Bradshaw’s work focuses on trans-species psychology, the theory and methods for the study and care of animal psychological wellbeing and multi-species cultures. Her research expertise includes the effects of violence on and trauma recovery elephants, grizzly bears, chimpanzees, and parrots, and other species in captivity. She established the new field of trans-species psychology upon which the work and principles of The Kerulos Center are based.
From 1992-2002, Dr. Bradshaw was a research mathematician with the USDA Forest Service, holding faculty positions at Oregon State University (Departments of Computer and Electrical Engineering; Environmental Sciences Graduate Program) and at Pacifica Graduate Institute. In 2000, she was a Fellow at the National Science Foundation National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS), Santa Barbara, California, USA. Her research has been featured in diverse media including the New York Times, Time Magazine, National Geographic, Smithsonian, The London Times, ABC’s 20/20, and several documentary films.
* Unfortunately Gay Bradshaw is unable to attend
Elizabeth Oriel specializes in research into marine mammal well-being. A graduate of Wesleyan University, she received a master’s degree in conservation biology from Antioch University New England. Her master’s thesis investigated and clarified certain harbor seal characteristics that relate to well-being and that are disputed within the scientific literature, thus setting parameters for care practices in rehabilitation, in long-term captivity, and for management decisions that impact wild harbor seal populations. Working for The Kerulos Center provides an opportunity to continue exploring the themes of animal welfare, human/animal bonds, and scientific research that values observer subjectivity and relational models. Kerulos offers an organizational and conceptual framework for this work, bridging disciplinary divides, to learn about animals from the lens of psychology, cognition and brain sciences, philosophy (in concepts of mind, consciousness, and subject/object differentiation in research), anthropology (animal cultures), and conservation biology.
Elizabeth continues to study marine mammals, though now asking what pinnipeds in particular can teach humans about the nature of mammalian minds and consciousness, through studying their processes of social learning and strong emotional bonds. She consults on marine mammal well-being for organizations that monitor animal welfare and plans to extend this to assessments of wild populations. Few in the field of conservation biology directly address the emotional and mental needs of animals in the wild. Elizabeth’s goals involve raising awareness of animal culture and psychology so that management and stewardship practices include these important aspects of preserving and supporting wild populations.