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2:16 pm | 21 October 2003 | more studies on dogs; panic in the streets of bucktown

The thing about the puppies is this. I read a study in some psych journal once detailing the following (and if anyone is familiar with this experiment, please email me so i can look it back up):

Three groups of puppies were put in separate closed rooms--i think there were five puppies per group. Each group was visited daily by a man, the same man, who brought them food. To the first group, the man was unerringly kind--came in, set down the food, and played with the puppies for some length of time, cooing to them, etc. To the second group (ostensibly the "control" group), the man was pretty much carefully neutral. Some days he'd be kinder than others, and sometimes he'd be curt or grumpy, but it was pretty consistent. To the third group, the man was cruel--not abusive, but impatient, abrupt. He spoke in an angry tone, set the food down roughly, and left. Every once in a great while he would be calmer, but mostly he was mean.

After six months, the first group of puppies was self-sufficient. They would greet the man when he came in, but then go back to playing amongst themselves. The second group was warier of the man, but they, too, mostly played with each other.

The third group did not become aggressive. What the third group learned was to follow the man obsessively, slavishly, adoringly; they were all over him at every turn. They had internalized his behaviour and (we hypothesized) had somehow decided his bad moods were their faults and that they should try to change him--try to make him kinder. I think about this study all the time. I can't stop thinking about it.

I had a full-fledged panic attack this morning, my first in eighteen months at least, and I had forgotten how utterly wildly horrifying it is, how straight-up crazy it feels. It's like the split second before throwing up if you've been nauseated for a while--that second where you think oh no wait, this time it's actually it, i'm gonna hurrglhglrp. But it's not nausea, it's fear-of-insanity. And it's not barfing. It's a panic attack. I had one. I literally bit my pillow, then called joelington. I can breathe, now, albeit wheezily. Thank God. clm.


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