The Lady Who Mistook Her Pet For A human.

The classical ‘the man who mistook his wife for a hat” by Dr Oliver Sacks is one book that both haunts me to date and piques my life-long interest in the world of neuroscience. The idea that humans are like puppets whose being, behaviours and actions are mainly orchestrated by strings called neurones is both metaphorical, comical and factual. However, this article is not a parody of the 1985 book by Dr Sacks and lacks evidence implicating specific dysfunction in the visual processing (agnosia) brain areas of his observed patient. This article is of uncanny similarity to a growing observation of humans whose beings, behaviours and actions mistake a pet for human babies or beings.

These observations are rampant, and one could be readily inundated by social media feeds dedicated to these pets, such as having their wardrobes or room with television. Although these are personal choices and should be unperturbed, the recent matching of pets with humans should have only been observed in movies such as John Wicks are now a reality. Nowadays, some dating requirements are hinged on the love of pets, chooses to remain single until s/he finds someone that loves their pet or people willing their inheritance to pets. Given the neurones-behaviour links in humans, visual agnosia may compel such excessive adulation for pets by their human parents.

To delineate this as a potential dysfunction in neurology, pets that provide social, therapeutic, security and safety duties are recognised, cared for and respected as such. While one may assuage the mistake of a pet as a human, to be cultural, a personal experience rebuffs this. A fur mum once expected I vote her black dog as the pet-of-the-week at work because I am black. Retorting to her not to be a racist, I realised in retrospect and considering all her inclinations to highly speak of her pets than family or friends that this was an innocent enquiry from a fur mum. These experiences or behaviour arising from a neurological dysfunction have been documented and will potentially get people to make choices of unbelievable outcomes.

However, there is not enough evidence to support the classification of this dysfunction as a neurological deficit or mental disorder, just like Dr Sacks’ patient who suffered from visual agnosia, making him mistake his wife for a hat. Even if there will be, bestiality has not! Pets have been valuable to our lives since we domesticated them over 5,000years ago. There are laws that uphold and protect these pets and the rights to their owners (not parents’) use. At the risk of not sounding pedantic, I am unperturbed when my hopes of seeing a beautiful baby in a pushed stroller are dashed by the sight of a furry/scaly/skinny baby(ies). Yet, we should value our HUMAN-ity over our PET-ity.



Public Health Commentator

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