controversies - animals as therapeutic devices

  • Created by: Elyseee
  • Created on: 22-03-21 16:40
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  • animals as therapeutic devices
    • Allen - dogs reduce stress
      • Reported presence of pets reduced blood pressure in children reading aloud, buffered elderly against stressful life events and reduced cardiovascular risk
      • Using animals can be beneficial for reducing the physiological effects of stress. Animals can be an effective therapeutic device for dealing with stress
    • Friedman and Son AAT
      • animals have been used successfully to help individuals to form attachment relationships through AAT.
      • Friedman and Son AAT - in a review of 8 studies found that all studies reported beneficial effects from AAT for conditions including Down syndrome and schizophrenia.
      • Using animals as a form of therapy provides an opportunity to help people with certain conditions learn skills that are transferable to relationships with people, that positively affect their emotional well being.
    • Rats for drug testing
      • antipsychotics have been tested on rats as this has long been a successful model of testing their safety (Geyer et al). Antipsychotics like Clozapine, which have been seen to be 30-50% more effective where conventional antipsychotics are not.
      • Antipsychotic drugs give people with schizophrenia greater independence as they are able to manage their symptoms. We would not be able to prescribe them to humans without animals testing.
      • In this case, use of animals as part of a therapeutic device can be justified as it is effective way of proving that useful drugs are safe to use
    • Singer
      • use of animals in psychological research is acceptable and justifiable if it produces a greater good for a greater number of people. This is a utilitarian view
      • If use of animals in to test effectiveness of drug therapies and use of animals in AAT has been truly effective, then the use of animals has fulfilled a utilitarian need and is therefore justifiable
    • refine and reduce
      • to ensure BPS guidelines are followed, animals suitable for therapy would need to be chosen. For example, dogs may be suitable as they generally enjoy being in human company. These animals would need to be properly looked after outside of the therapeutic setting.
      • Animals also need to have a maximum number of hours that they will be working in a therapeutic setting, and this will need to include breaks so that they are able to behave as normal animals and relieve any stress they may have gained from the therapeutic setting
      • While it may be effective, animals as therapeutic devices can only be ethical if the proper guidelines are followed.
    • methodological issues
      • Anestis et al - reviewed 14 studies of equine therapy, identified number of methodological issues such as small sample sizes, no control groups, no random allocation
      • Benefits may be due to having special attention from therapists rather than animal attention. If we cannot be sure that using animals as a therapeutic device is fully effective, then it may be unethical to use animals as it could be unnecessary.
      • This would go against the guidelines of reducing the amount of animals used in psychology. There is also the issue of causing animals unnecessary stress if the use of animals as therapeutic devices isn’t fully effective
    • BPS guidelines
      • animals shouldn’t be harmed in the process of research. Within drug testing, the doses at which adverse effects occur are also measured, meaning that some harm does occur to the rats. This use of animals as a part of therapeutic devices could be considered unethical as it doesn’t abide by the same guidelines.
      • in vivo testing, could be replaced with in vitro testing, which occurs outside a living organism, and therefore doesn’t cause any living animals harm. If in vitro testing was more widely used for therapeutic devices, rats wouldn’t need to be subject to harmful testing, and it would overcome the ethical issue of rats as a component of testing therapies.
    • Regan
      • believed there are no circumstances in which animals used in psychological research is acceptable.
      • While Singer acknowledged the utilitarian need for animal research, he also believed that it was speciesist.
      • Using non-human animals as therapeutic devices can be seen as speciesist as we are using animals because they are ‘less important than humans’.
      • By this logic, using non-human animals as therapeutic devices is unethical because it would be somewhat discriminative to do so.


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