APA 2016 Human-Animal Interaction Symposium: A New Understanding of ‘Man’s Best Friend’

This symposium will explore men’s complex attachment bond with their animal companions will take place at APA this year. The program is based on the newly released book, “Men and Their Dogs: A New Understanding of ‘Man’s Best Friend,” the first to explore the contextual nature of masculinity and human-animal interaction (HAI).  (http://www.springer.com/us/book/9783319300955) The symposium will include presentations from book chapter authors, comments from Division Chairs and time for Q and A.

Presentations will include data driven projects, theoretical models, and applied programs that 600x1200interface masculinity and HAI. The assumption in each case is that man’s best friend adds something unique to the lives of males across the life span from youth, midlife, and the later years. Discussion will include such topics as John Bowlby’s (1969/1982) attachment figures’ characteristics originally devised to describe the caregiver and child relationship (e.g., safe base, safe haven), applied  to the human-animal bond. The limiting effects of constricted forms of traditional male gender roles placing males at risk will also be presented. Males’ that face masculine gender role strain in combination with other contextual issues such as attachment-loss history, economic strife, societal injustice, lack of social support, face a cumulative challenge to mental health and well-being.

This symposium will discuss how HAI can produce a gender-neutral encounter where males may feel, at least temporarily, freedom from traditional constricting male roles. This is accomplished by connecting with animal companions to meet important affiliation needs, especially in times of distress. Through new research we examine this important bond across the cycle of attachment, loss, and continuing bonds. It is argued that the bond can be a safe refuge where many of the stringent rules for being a man are bypassed, allowing for a more unguarded relational experience to occur. The HA bond may be a powerful means for personal and socio-cultural transformation allowing men to rethink dysfunctional ways of being masculine.

 

Lori Kogan, Ph.D.

Licensed Psychologist

Professor, Clinical Sciences Dept.

Colorado State University

Fort Collins, CO 80523

Phone (970) 491-7984

Email: lori.kogan@colostate.edu

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