In my first week of Kindergarten we created a class Zoo using empty boxes, yarn, and one favorite stuffed animal. We spent 3 days on our zoo. The first day we spent painting our boxes. Some were shoe boxes, some were small cardboard boxes for mailing things. But all needed decorating for our zoo animals. On the second day, our teacher poked holes in the boxes so we could string yarn aross the top like bars to a cage. You would lay your box on it's side and the yarn would look like horizontal bars. I painted my box blue. And I painted a tree inside for my Elephant, Charlie, to enjoy. I had yellow yarn bars. During the first two days I was excited to make Charlie Elephant a home. I knew he would be happy, because I was happy making it. On the third day we were to bring in our stuffed animals and put them in their boxes by slipping them through the yarn bars. I brought Charlie Elephant in, while all my classmates brought their stuffed animals in as well.
I slipped Charlie Elephant inside his box. I hated the idea immediately. The box looked bigger when Charlie wasn't it it! Oh no! Charlie was cramped in there! Charlie looked sad. I was sad. We then were told to stack our boxes on top of each other so the zoo would be tall with all our stuffed animals looking out the same way. I started feeling sad, and claustrophic for Charlie. He WAS on my bed. He had the whole bed to himself! Now he was stacked in a box, cramped and he couldn't even turn his head to see the tree I painted him.
And then things got worse. We were to leave our zoo and stuffed animals like this until the next day! Charlie Elephant would be here all night, alone. I didn't sleep that night. I worried for Charlie Elephant. He would never forgive me for being so mean. I was sure of that.
The next day we had our zoo party, and invited the 1st graders in to see our zoo. Half day Kindergarten seemed like it went on for a week! I JUST wanted to get Charlie Elephant out of that stupid box and back on my bed. When class was over, I was the only student to take my stuffed animal out of the box to go home. I ripped the yarn bars off, I pulled Charlie Elephant to my heart and I threw that box and that yarn in the garbage. I cried walking home with Charlie. I cried and apologized a hundred times. Well maybe 4 times;we lived across the street.
Some behaviorists would call this Anthropomorphic Projection (AP) of emotions. Psychology states we learn our social, ethical and moral standards during the first 5 years of our life. Empathy, fair play, honesty, kindness all are born in those years. Because, we haven't quite learned how or why to lie yet. Very young children utilize dolls, imaginary friends, stuffed animals and their family companion animals in this exercise. We do not use our young friends in these exercises to the extent we use our objects and companions.
So let's look at AP as it was coined in it's real application; Philosophy, Psychology, Sociology and Science as it pertains to observational sciences and their interpretations. (Hang with me here, we'll get to parrots REAL soon!) Nietzche and Lichtenberg wrote about AP in the 1800's as it pertains to humans and their ability to understand, filter and explain the universe and creatures around them. "Humanization of the world" was a phrase used often by Nietzche in his Book; "Nietzsche's Anthropic Circle."
Lichtenberg wrote in "Aphorisms", "It is impossible to see any limit to the distance anthropomorphism can extend...This transference of our feelings is...found everywhere, and in such manifold forms it is not always easy to identfy it."
When someone says they hate the AP of companion parrots, dogs, cats or other companions, they are literally saying they hate the use of humanization of the world. And it would behoove them not to let others know that chocolate cake makes them happy. If a behaviorist tells you AP will cause problems for you and your companion, they are correct if they are referencing controlling, negative reinforcment or forced training techniques for the simple convenience of "keeping" a parrot. They are right because if you get emotional about your emotional companion you are going to have a hard time "controlling" them. Because you are not bringing a superior humanistic assumption to the relationship, but empathy. If you exercise respect and empathy and acknowledge that your companion parrot may not LIKE stepping up a certain way, and modify for their personal preference, then you are certainly practicing AP, or empathetic interpretation of a situation. It means you are more interested in forming an understanding relationship than you are a controlled conditional response.
Anthropomorphic Projection of Emotions is a twisted variance to an age old idea of philosophy and Psychology as it was written long before animals were recognized as intelligent and emotional. Today we recognize the intelligence and rights of companions, chimps, dolphin, whale, parrots, cows, chickens, pigs and on and on as the list grows through science. It is 2015, not the 1800's. We know better, through science and our own hearts. George Devereaux writing in his book; "From Anxiety to Method in the Behavioral Sciences" believes we use emotional projection because man reacts with panic to the unresponsiveness of matter. Basically we project our own emotions onto something or some animal when we can't understand or we can not get them to do what we want or expect. He based this gem on the "wolf children" studied after being found in the wild. Animal Behaviorists run with AP of emotion because it takes alot longer to empathize and emotionally negotiate with a companion parrot. It's easier to hold food back, then it is to apply modification through observation. And if you are the trainer, then how can the trainee be equal? If they ARE equal, then things just became more complicated ethically, emotionally and morally. THAT is why I call Felix and all companion parrots "trainers" and all their humans "trainees" on Felix's Facebook page.
Is AP applicable today? Of course, as it is prescribed inside philosophical and physological sciences. But projecting emotions and emotional hiearchy inside our flock and home companion dynamics isn't a weakness or something to be labeled or ashamed of whatsoever. It is a state of respect, love and empathy that should be celebrated!
I consider our flock my "children" because they are more than parrots. I care for them with the concerns I've applied to my human children, and if I refer to Felix I AM "Felix's Mom". Does this make me bent, or wobbly of mind? NO. It makes it clear to every one the importance of companions in my life. My husband refers to Snickers as his son. I love that he says this so easily, because he feels that deep emotion.
Never question your empathy, emotion and love in your flock. Do not let flippantly bandied labels give you pause in your own lifestyle. Life is short. This planet needs less judgement, less ego, less arrogance and more empathy. Alot more. Forget the labels, let's just talk love, empathy and devotion. And while we are living that with our companions, let's see if we can spread that around to our fellow man.
Oh yes, I project emotions on my husband, our companion parrots, our human children, my friends, my home, my life and my writing. I proudly project emotion. And if I get the chance to eat some seriously awesome chocolate cake; I'm going to love that cake! It will be the most beautiful cake I've ever encountered.
One final question to the whole of AP. Do you know why the Pet Rock made the inventor rich? Anthropomorphic Projection. I really liked my Pet Rock, Herman. Not as much as Mom's chocolate cake though.