TRANS-SPECIES PSYCHOLOGY Trans-species psychology represents a new species-inclusive paradigm of learning and knowledge-making. Its establishment involves a new way of thinking and behaving towards animals, that we are all "kin under skin, fin, feather, and fur." The "trans" in trans-species psychology signifies that there is no scientific basis for maintaining separate fields and models for animal and human psychology. Until recently, animals were thought to lack many attributes, such as emotions, feelings, sophisticated cognitive capacities, culture, the ability to feel pain, and other qualities that presumably defined humans uniquely. This differentiation provided a rationale for objectifying animals, one that has enabled the widespread trauma and crisis now prevalent in animal cultures. Today, however, scientific theory and data are congruent with our sensibilities. Though individual differences may exist, the same psychobiological theories and models that hold for people also hold for other animals.
Most concepts reflected in trans-species psychology are intuitive. Trans-species science therefore provides a collective language that links scientific objectivity with subjective knowledge and experience to create a "science of the heart." In so doing, animal psychology is approached from a supportive, mutualistic perspective, not as an object for human gain.
Trans-species psychology stands apart from most conventional approaches to animal conservation. Similar to psychology in general, trans-species psychology is committed to the health and wellbeing of an individual. An individual’s welfare is not considered secondary, nor is it sacrificed to the objectives of the group such as species or population.
Trans-species psychology includes the study of institutions and cultures that have been agents of animal suffering and seeks to identify behaviour and cultural practices that enhance animal wellbeing and positive relationships. By expanding definitions of health to include the psychological, we bring attention to the striking parallels that exist between humans and animals who have been held captive or have experienced other forms of violence and oppression. In so doing, we embark on the emergence of a trans-species culture and ethic. The Kerulos Center seeks to imbue this perspective and ethic into the theory and practice of conservation. For further reading see Publications.
photo credits "Charlie Russell and fishing bear", courtesy Charlie Russell