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“As a culture we are still caught in the mental/physical divide, prone to thinking of psychiatric illness as either “all in your head” or, conversely, as “chemical imbalances” or “organic brain diseases.” None of these is a helpful or accurate description of any psychiatric condition. We cannot isolate the brain from life experience and the environment. They are inextricably entwined. What happens to us becomes part of us, body and mind.”

Siri Hustvedt

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Published February 19, 2012 by Kevin Behan

10 responses to “Body/Mind”

  1. Alwynne says:

    Hi Kevin:

    I have a question for you, and this seems as good a place as any to put it. Something strange has been happening with Cholula–as she has continued to make clear progress in many many areas–tugging, playing push of war, high energy pushing, getting closer to barking on command, good alert-but-calm sit/stay–her, what I’m going to call inside neuroses have been getting worse. As I’ve mentioned many times, she always has trouble walking through the little hallway that connects dining room to kitchen because there is a door that opens to the basement stairs–but recently not only has she been more confounded by that space–whining and skittering before turning around and backing up past it–but she has also started whining at either the top or bottom of the stairs in fear of going up or down them or sometimes getting stuck in the upstairs hall not wanting to go by the bathroom door. (she always does make it past these spaces eventually, but with a lot of whining, skittering,shuddering, etc.) I had one theory which was that maybe in part because she’s been giving such good energy outside I’ve been giving her too much snuggly attention inside–because she is more snuggly than she used to be–and it’s freaking her out, so I’ve made a conscious effort to ignore her more inside and that seems to be helping a little. But I’m wondering if you have thoughts or advice on this. Thanks!

  2. kbehan says:

    Yes, the charge has a mind of its own and if it can’t come out one way, it looks for another and so I suspect you’re now dealing with the first instances of fear in her life as the organism is reaching deeper into the battery (the emotional record of all experience) to find a predator to justify the release of pent up energy. The attention diet indoors is really important and then you can fast her and get her to push and bark in these specific indoor areas, and then with others opening and shutting doors gently and then provocatively. The bark will be really important to get her to release her fear. Good luck!

  3. Alwynne says:

    Thanks so much, Kevin, I will work on this. Do you think that the progress in her outside activities is related to this regression in her inside fearfulness–that letting energy out much better in the outside world — and sometimes I do see that collapse you described to me before in Vermont in the outside world, where she’ll suddenly going from playing a great energized game of tug with a toy where she’s almost trying to bite me to not being willing to open her mouth to take the toy at all–is somehow reinforcing random (to me) fears inside?

  4. kbehan says:

    Yes, she’s processing fear outdoors, but still experiencing it (hence the ease of a collapse), and so it needs to find an outlet and so her Big Brain concocts a predator from innocuous stuff within a context from her past.

  5. Alwynne says:

    Thanks so much for responding, this makes a lot of sense. And the attention diet indoors really seems to be helping.

  6. […] Kevin Behan on his website and asked him about it. He responded (in short), the entire exchange is here— I suspect you’re now dealing with the first instances of fear in her life as [she looks] to […]

  7. john says:

    Its interesting how you call it an organism in the post above, its also somewhat confusing because the mind/body post tells us we cannot isolate the mind and body from life experiences they become as one, as if fixed or fused

    whereas the organism theory creates an impression of the dog as a vessel and the negative experience as some sort of an alien infesting the animal, which can removed or worked on,
    i must say , i like the organism idea where a dog is an innocent party infested by a negative experience or demon which can be banished through an exorcism of sorts,

  8. kbehan says:

    Well, the dog is a self-contained agency of consciousness in the sense that it is encapsulated by a semi-permeable “membrane” so that what gets into its body/mind versus what is kept out of its body/mind becomes its sense of its self, and that’s what I mean by organism. It’s just that the dog doesn’t entertain itself as a self relative to other selves, as something separate from a larger frame of reference. And also I think you’re right, that dogs become infected with violence or fear and so in that way are unwitting transmitters of such a virus, and then in my view the rite of exorcism would be NDT.

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Books about Natural Dog Training by Kevin Behan

In Your Dog Is Your Mirror, dog trainer Kevin Behan proposes a radical new model for understanding canine behavior: a dog’s behavior and emotion, indeed its very cognition, are driven by our emotion. The dog doesn’t respond to what the owner thinks, says, or does; it responds to what the owner feels. And in this way, dogs can actually put people back in touch with their own emotions. Behan demonstrates that dogs and humans are connected more profoundly than has ever been imagined — by heart — and that this approach to dog cognition can help us understand many of dogs’ most inscrutable behaviors. This groundbreaking, provocative book opens the door to a whole new understanding between species, and perhaps a whole new understanding of ourselves.
  Natural Dog Training is about how dogs see the world and what this means in regards to training. The first part of this book presents a new theory for the social behavior of canines, featuring the drive to hunt, not the pack instincts, as seminal to canine behavior. The second part reinterprets how dogs actually learn. The third section presents exercises and handling techniques to put this theory into practice with a puppy. The final section sets forth a training program with a special emphasis on coming when called.
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