Believing i can talk to animals

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Self-Determined

MyPTSD Pro
Animals protected me from my abuser, in a way. In my extreme broken state I believed I was telepathic. When I finally gained self-awareness I rejected telepathy and animal communication. But talking to animals has returned—I think it’s a coping mechanism? When I feel like I am successfully communicating with my pets or wild animals there is a sense of deep satisfaction. But I tell my kids that it’s just me making up stories, like a form of play—I don’t want them to think that I am magic, that’s dishonest, I’m not trying to prove anything, it’s fun for me. Sometimes I believe it and sometimes I don’t.

It’s very emotionally driven but words are understood. I wonder if any other trauma-survivors, especially pre-verbal trauma, have a verbal relationship with animals? Do you struggle with accepting it? I knew plenty of people who claimed to be animal communicators in my broken state, people who were as unconscious of their wounds as I was, but in my aware state, talking to animals is suspect, rife with projection. Part of me is ashamed to talk to animals.
 

Sweetleaf

MyPTSD Pro
In my extreme broken state I believed I was telepathic.
Yeah, when I was in an extreme broken state, from sleep deprivation torture that was accomplished using uhh... more torture... gosh I sound melodramatic as f*ck... anyway, the sleep deprivation, and horrible things, made my mind break from reality. At one point during that, I thought that I could telepathically communicate with humans. I could hear them talk back to me, too. Of course, it was all 100% hallucination, and oh boy was it f*cked up as hell.

I think it would be healthiest, for your mind, if you dropped any idea that any verbal communication or telepathic communication with animals, is impossible and not real.

On the other hand, I don't think anyone should feel shame for talking to animals. Loads of people do that, even though we know our animals can't understand us.

I mean, talking to them is fine - I talk to my cats all the time - but I know they can't possibly understand me. Sometimes I talk to one of my cats and every time I stop saying stuff he meows, it's super cute. Or I will see him and go "hi kitty!!!" and he will meow at me. Or, I'll point at him, and he'll meow at me. But, he's just being a silly cat, it's not any kind of real communication. He has a brain the size of a walnut. Most animals have pretty tiny brains. They would be incapable of our level of communication and comprehension.

I get that it's emotionally driven - and there's nothing wrong with simply talking to animals - just try not to believe that it's -real- communication, because if that were to become a solid, firmly believed delusion, then it's a slippery slope to madness.

if you dropped any idea that any verbal communication or telepathic communication with animals, is impossible and not real.
Oops, meant to say "if you dropped any idea that any verbal communication or telepathic communication, is possible and real"

So basically I mean: it's best to not believe you can -truly- communicate with animals.
 
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Sideways

Sponsor
it's best to not believe you can -truly- communicate with animals.
I’m not sure I agree with this statement.

If I sat down with my dog and tried to have a conversation with him about the peace treaty on the Korean Peninsula, and believed he was understanding me? That would be delusional. He doesn’t communicate the same way as me, he has a limited vocabulary (but, he does have a vocabulary), and the concept of peace treaties is a human concept. Delusional. But then, also mostly harmless.

But there’s a lot of stuff he does actually understand. And if I start communicating with him in his language - if I get down into a play bow? He absolutely understands that. And when I mumbled to him this morning “Mama’s got a migraine...”, he understood that I was telling him I was unwell. Because he understands my intonation, body language, and a whole heap of curious smells that my body gives off 24/7 which (fortunately) I can’t smell.

There’s some pretty sophisticated examples of people teaching communication to all sorts of animals. Sign language with apes and chimps is probably the one Hollywood loves the most. But actually, all sorts of animals can learn to understand a whole lot of what we tell them with a bit of training. And not necessarily because they have a comprehensive diction - but because they’re using their own method of communication.

Animals can be pretty savvy about communicating with each other. Get woken up by a flock of rowdy crows? They’re telling each other things like where they’ve found good sources of food. Killer whales? Go pretty narly communicating with each other when they hunt in pods. So, it’s actually not much of a stretch to get inter-animal communication going, so long as you have a good understanding of the way that type of animal thinks, what it values, how it communicates, etc. Even goldfish can be taight to respond to hand signals.

So, when you sit down with your cat for a chat, you’re right that probably they aren’t taking a whole lot of content in the way you intend. But they also probably understand a whole lot more than what you’re giving them credit for. They know you, they know how to read your body language (which makes the way humans read body language look rather pathetic!), they know your tone. And key words that come up a lot? Even without teaching them, animals often have a much wider vocab than we realise.

So, not stupid at all. Hearing them talk back in your head? That’s hallucinations. Thinking they have an opinion on the Korean peace treaty? That’s delusion. But believing that you are, in fact, communicating with them in a limited way? Not stupid at all. And frankly, potentially a much more rewarding conversation than you’d have with some of the people I know!!!
 

Sweetleaf

MyPTSD Pro
@Sideways I actually typed up a section talking about dogs and how they can understand us more than a lot of other animals, due to their social tendencies and intelligence. Basically, I made a mini version of your post in my post, then deleted it.

I deleted it because I didn't think it was very relevant - I didn't think anyone would bring it up or care to. I didn't want anyone to read it and go "ugh why are you going off on a tangent" lmao.

Yeah though. There -is- a level of communication. But that level of communication, is not verbal - as in, you cannot say words to an animal and have it understand the human, semantic meaning of those words. Part of my degree is in language, so, I have had to take a lot of linguistics courses. -real- verbal communication, like, human words? That's for humans only. Haha. I used to have a dog. I would talk to him all the time. Dogs are responsive to your tone of voice and body language, they understand that certain words are associated with certain things - but they do not have the semantic understanding, that a human would have for those same exact words.

I can't tell them about the industrial output of the Ottoman Empire during WW1, but I can scold a dog and it totally looks and acts scolded - I can scold a cat and it looks at me like it doesn't give a shit, because it doesn't. Haha. It doesn't understand I am upset at it.

When I said "it's best to not believe you can -truly- communicate with animals." I meant - it is best not to believe you can communicate any further than like, tone of voice, taught-and-reinforced-commands, names, etc. Dogs can learn some words, but, they don't understand those words in exactly the same way we do. They're exhibiting a trained response to stimuli. They totally have very mammal-ish emotions, just like we do. It's easy for us to read their body language, it's easy for us to -try- to use body language to communicate with them. Getting small and extending a finger, for example - "I'm no threat, here, sniff me, check me out, you do the approaching, dawg"
 

littleoc

Sponsor
Hey there :) This is awkward for me to "admit" but I think it could really help. I hope it makes sense to you

I was partially raised by cats. My father kept my two brothers and I caged up and left us with little or no water and a limited supply of food in a food bowl, usually little hard pretzels. I have gotten to a point in my life where I can eat pretzels and enjoy them without problems, so that's nice :)

Cats can get everywhere and while my dad hated human children, he was okay with cats. Actually hoarded them a bit. He was very... odd. They didn't like him much.

But cats can get everywhere so they got to us kids. R, S, and F in particular were very caring cats. R used to lick my face when I cried. We were very close.

And so it makes sense that we communicated, but it was not in English. It wasn't in meows, either.. it was all body language. Very direct messages, and it was not possible to lie. My twin brother (was is autistic) and I had our own language, but the cats taught me how cat-family structure is... it's still important to me. When I view marriage, I have to adjust a bit... but thankfully I am not a feral child, at least, I guess.

I still get cats so well that people have asked me to go with them to bring their own cats to the vet. I know what the cat's saying. I know they don't talk about pain. I know what certain looks mean and what tail movements mean... when I first got a dog (after my dad moved out -- weirdly he hated dogs at the time...) it actually created a lot of confusion in weird ways, though the body language was sometimes similar enough.

Now I just feel like I know a different language when I observe my service dog -- but obviously we're very close. It's not telepathy, but a body language thing.

When I couldn't understand 100% of my bird's calls (though I have realized that she named me, and has a different call for when she is low on food or water or wants to go outside), I immediately googled "bird body language" and studied it like it was a foreign language.


I've been told that part of this is a high level of empathy. But one therapist suggested once that because my dad's body language changed before he got violent, that I might have learned quickly to survive off that kind of interaction...

So, maybe you do sense some level of communication, and then process it in a way that's more comfortable? I say that because you mentioned emotions. A cat won't feel shame or guilt, and a sense of humor is better described as a sense of play (it's not exactly humor...), but a cat will feel intense curiosity and affection. That's something you could perceive easily.

Obviously a cat or dog won't remark on the president or the meaning of life, but you know.

It's also really not unusual for humans to anthropomorphize other animals, or even other organisms like plants. We might perceive an eagle as always being fierce and brave, even if she's not, because of a facial expression we see -- a body-language thing specific to humans that causes a "mistranslation" between humans and eagles.

Same thing with camels. People often describe camels as stuck up, or uncaring, based entirely on their facial structure.

That's probably why I don't talk to my snake much... his body language is all in his actual movement -- there is no subtleness, simply put.

So it's not a bad thing, is what I'm saying. To an extent, everyone does it. We communicate in similar ways with domesticated critters. But yeah, it could be trauma related too, that's making it more. :)

I hope that helps
 

Sweetleaf

MyPTSD Pro
So, when you sit down with your cat for a chat, you’re right that probably they aren’t taking a whole lot of content in the way you intend. But they also probably understand a whole lot more than what you’re giving them credit for. They know you, they know how to read your body language (which makes the way humans read body language look rather pathetic!), they know your tone. And key words that come up a lot? Even without teaching them, animals often have a much wider vocab than we realise.

Oooohhhh I wish I waited longer before making my post - because I just thought of this one event:

Once, I was like, on the f*cking floor crying my eyes out, and my cat like, came from the other room not long after I started, walked right up to my face, started meowing at me, sniffed me, then started purring a bunch, rubbing up against me, just being really nice to me, and I just cried and pet him for a while. This was a couple years ago I think. It was like he knew I was sad and was trying to make me feel better. Intellectually, I think he heard my crying, checked it out out of curiosity, and initiated his usual "GIMME ATTENTION!!!" routine.

When I do yoga, they'll come up to me and sniff me and stuff while I am holding poses, because they notice that what I'm doing is -totally- not how I behave the majority of the time. They also realized by now, that I don't react or move when they do shit to me when I hold a pose. Hahahaha. So they bug me and try to get a reaction. Hahaha.
 

littleoc

Sponsor
When I do yoga, they'll come up to me and sniff me and stuff while I am holding poses, because they notice that what I'm doing is -totally- not how I behave the majority of the time. They also realized by now, that I don't react or move when they do shit to me when I hold a pose. Hahahaha. So they bug me and try to get a reaction. Hahaha.
Hahahaha, cats are great
 

Sideways

Sponsor
@Sweetleaf - I get what you’re saying. My dog is never going to understand if I sit there giving him a history lesson. He’s not going to come away and have all this knowledge about history.

But I’m increasingly convinced that the communication between humans and animals is something that we underestimate. A lot. Like your example with your cat - your cat understood some pretty complex concepts in that situation. Concepts that, on se level, are relevant to cats as well as humans.

And the communication can be quite sophisticated both ways. My mum has a 1 year old puppy. Toilet trained, but prefers not to go potty alone if she doesn’t have to. So, if she needs to go potty, she’ll come and put her paws on your leg and stretch, then stand there and make eye contact till you carry her outside to the grass to do her business.

In that interaction, she is (1) getting my attention; (2) telling me she’s gotta go potty; and (3) asking me to go with her. A one year old child isn’t anywhere near that level of communication. And it isn’t as simple as a behaviour she’s exhibiting when she needs to go potty, because if she doesn’t know you’re there? She just takes herself ot to the grass. She’s actually saying the equivalent of “Hey you, gotta pee, please come with”. And when you consider the millions of hearing impaired people who rely solely on sign language to communicate, the ‘differences’ between animals and humans start to become a lot smaller.

Certainly I’m in favour of you communicating with your cats. Don’t rely on them to answer the phone for you perhaps, but absolutely don’t balk at communicating with them.
 

Sweetleaf

MyPTSD Pro
I was partially raised by cats. My father kept my two brothers and I caged up and left us with little or no water and a limited supply of food in a food bowl, usually little hard pretzels.
Hmm. Guess now I know how people feel when I tell them some abuse that happened to me, and they say it makes their blood boil and they got really angry.

I SOOOOO relate to having food that's related to abuse, though.
Rice. I can't touch rice. Rice was all I ate. For months.
Tortellini, ravioli - I may never be able to eat them again, as they were my abuser's #1 favorite food. If I wanted to up my chances of appeasing him? I would buy that shit.

I used to like it actually. Its not like it's objectively bad in any way, taste wise. It's nice, good food. Italian food is just good, IMO. But, I am like, shaking even typing this now. I associate this shit with him too much. I purposefully avoid the places in stores that have the refridgerated (not frozen) ravioli. Uuuuuuugh. Can't go near that shit.

There's -much- more than that btw. That's the tip of the iceberg.

@Sideways :
I actually have a lot of problems with body language, right now - not logical problems. Trauma reaction problems. During my psychosis, I didn't -actually- think that I had psychic powers... I thought that I was -reading body language- so well that I could read peoples minds... yeah isn't that f*cked up and TOTALLY INSANE?!?

Eventually it became, I could hear their voice telling me shit in my head. Hallucinations... ugh. The audio hallucinations for me, during psychosis, especially acute psychosis, were VERY VERY VERY f*cked up.

I audio-hallucinated someone yelling my abusers name, as if they were like "oh shit it's [name]!!!" and it took my panic squared, and made it panic to the power of 10000. To me, he was there. I couldn't see him, I was in restraints and looking at the ceiling... but he was there. Just hallucination. Pure insanity.

But yeah. The body language shit, came along with the deepening of my insanity. I think the insanity deepening would have happened no matter what bullshit went through my head, but - I associate that whole body language thing with the psychosis, so, I kinda like to distance myself from viewing body language as that much of an important thing. I like to view it as extremely fallible - it makes me feel safer to view it that way.
 
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