Dog being caressed with empathy by his owner.

Anthropomorphic Projection

Anthropomorphic Projection

In my first week of kindergarten, we created a class Zoo using empty boxes, yarn, and one favorite stuffed animal of our own. Teacher poked holes in the boxes so we could string yarn across the top like bars to a cage. 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 slipped Charlie Elephant inside his box. I hated the idea immediately. The box looked bigger when Charlie wasn't it it. Charlie was cramped in there! Charlie looked sad. We then were told to stack our boxes on top of each other's so the zoo would be tall with all our stuffed animals looking out the same way. I felt claustrophobic for Charlie. He lived 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 stuffed animals like this until the next day. Charlie Elephant would be here all night, alone. I didn't sleep that night. He would never forgive me for being so mean. I was sure of that.

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 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.

Nietzsche and Lichtenberg wrote about AP in the 1800's as it pertained to humans and their ability to understand and explain the universe and creatures around them. "Humanization of the world" was a phrase used often by Nietzsche 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 identify it."

When someone says they hate the Anthropomorphic Projection of companion parrots, dogs, cats or other companions, they are literally saying they hate the use of humanization of the world.

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 2022, 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 cannot get them to do what we want or expect. He based this gem on the "wolf children" studied after being found in the wild.

Behaviorists run with and against AP of emotion because it takes a lot 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. 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. 

Projecting emotions and emotional hierarchy 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!

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. 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.

I project emotions on my husband, our companion parrots, our human children, my friends, my home, dogs, guinea pig, lizards, rabbit, ducks and squirrels. All over 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.

Kathy LaFollett is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to

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