Being Well Together: Human-Animal Collaboration, Companionship and the Promotion of Health and Wellbeing

by Robert Kirk, Neil Pemberton and Tom Quick

This research forum is titled Being Well Together: human-animal collaboration, companionship and the promotion of health and wellbeing, It grew out a meeting at the University of Manchester in September 2018, supported by the UK’s Wellcome Trust.

We invited academics working in disciplines across the humanities and social sciences to explore how humans have formed partnerships with other species to improve health and enhance wellbeing.

Clinical examples include the use of maggots to treat chronic wounds and the post-surgical use of leeches to aid healing. In wider society we might consider service animals, such as guide dogs, diabetes alert dogs, and emotional support animals. In the home pets contribute to emotional wellbeing, with companion animals particularly important to those who are otherwise at risk of social isolation.

Recent scientific developments, such as the growing interest in the microbiome, have begun to rethink what the human is. Rather than a single isolated individual, the human body is instead imagined as a multitude.

From this perspective, human health and wellbeing depends in part on the cultivation of relationships with other species.

By bringing the medical humanities into dialogue with animals studies, an academic field which investigates human-animal relations, our aim was to develop new perspectives on medicine, health and the changing relations of human and animal life in society.

The papers which follow each explore distinctive examples where health is not so much seen as a property embodied in an individual, but rather an outcome of relating with other forms of life.

Together, this collection explores the proposal that being well is a process of being well together.

Listen to the soundbite about the article here:

Read the full article on the Medical Humanities Journal website.

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