More on Jealousy and Dogs

Note that whenever body language and various behaviors are discussed in mainstream behaviorism, the mantra is always context, context, context. And yet we can see in human behavior that jealousy is not dependent on context. It can become all consuming that follows one wherever they go and corrupts whatever they do. Furthermore it requires the thought that a rival is better than one’s self at capturing the attentions and affections of one’s Significant Other, and then woe is me when I lose my significant other down the road in the future to said rival. This potential for an emotional disconnect provokes an “epilepsy” of emotional spasms fueled by the thoughts of separation and future loss, one can’t escape these thoughts no matter what context one finds themselves in. The inescapability of jealousy is what makes it unbearable. Whereas when we see dogs supposedly acting jealously we see that they can shift in an instant from context to context and they’re not questioning their connection to their owner as a human would have to do if their Significant Other was the source of such anxiety. What we’re actually seeing in dogs is the primordial underpinning of the mental/cognitive experience in humans that underlies a mental state of jealousy, the loss of connection and the fear of falling, but the dog doesn’t carry it around and it doesn’t metastasize into a full blown state of jealousy. There is a distinction of kind, not by degree.

Published August 12, 2014 by Kevin Behan
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3 responses to “More on Jealousy and Dogs”

  1. Rip says:

    Very well said.

  2. Nell says:

    I’m thinking that jealousy in humans has both an energetic/emotional component – a very uncomfortable feeling – and a thought component.
    There’s that tendency we have to perceive in others those aspects of ourselves we are least proud of…. Projecting our own inner dramas onto the outside world – and maybe our dogs acting out these dramas can signal an opportunity for us to address our own ‘stuff’ instead of simply seeing the dog as faulty/neurotic etc

  3. Kevin Behan says:

    That’s exactly right, we are projection machines and my quest is to show how our very theories of animal behavior, no matter how scientific they might appear on the surface, are projections of human thoughts onto the behavior of animals. This is so reflexive that it appears self-evident to the “Projector” that the animal thinks exactly like humans think. So those who purport to see a human kind of jealousy in animals just can’t see that there is a thought component, they think they’re saying a primordial precursor, but they have automatically attached a human thought to it. I believe the only way to see past this “mirror effect” is to parse apart the distinction between emotion and instinct, and the distinction between feeling and thought.

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