Monday, October 8, 2012

Dissociation and Animal Attachment

It is a fairly common finding that people dissociative traits or conditions are more attached to pets.  Dissociation is a continuum associated with feeling detached from reality or even your own identity.  In milder forms it is a personality type and in more severe cases it can cause disruption and distress.  But why would being detached from reality make you more attached to pets?

One suggestion is that dissociation tends to develop when growing up around unreliable adults who are not safe attachment figures.  The animals act as some kind of substitute and so friendships with animals will tend to remain important throughout life.

Another is that dissociative personality tend to me more prone to fantasy or vivid imaginations which create a more elaborate connection to animals or even objects (like stuffed toys) than might otherwise exist.

See:
  • Barlow MR, Cromer LD, Cron HP, Freyd JJ. Comparison of normative and diagnosed dissociation on attachment to companion animal and stuffed animals. Psychological Trauma Theory Practice and Policy 2012, 4, 501-506.

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