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Arch Hellen Med, 35(4), July-August 2018, 439-445


Animal abuse and mental health

D. Doukas,1 M. Vassiliadou,2 D. Tontis,1 A. Douzenis3
1Laboratory of Pathology, Faculty of Veterinary Science, University of Thessaly, Karditsa,
2Faculty of Social Theology, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Athens,
3Second Department of Psychiatry, "Attikon" University General Hospital, School of Medicine, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Athens, Greece

Animal abuse is a serious problem in the interaction between human beings and animals. Animals can easily become victims of human aggression and other abnormal behavior. This is a review of current data on the relationship between animal abuse and human mental health disorders. Introductory definitions of veterinary forensic issues are presented. Animal cruelty (including unlawful killing) is characterized as intentional active abuse, while animal maltreatment due to lack of concern or failure of proper care is characterized as passive abuse or neglect. It is further divided into physical and emotional abuse, depending on whether the physical health or emotional well-being of the animals is affected. Subsequently, the mental health disorders of animal abusers are presented according to the age of offenders, juvenile or adult. Animal abuse by children and adolescents is associated with conduct disorder, addictive disorders and zoophilia. Animal abuse by adults is associated mainly with an antisocial personality disorder, but also with addictive disorders, zoophilia, Munchausen syndrome by proxy, Noah's syndrome and more rarely with other mental health disorders. Animal abuse is linked to various forms of interpersonal violence and criminal behavior, including child abuse, bullying, intimate partner violence, elder abuse and other types of delinquency.

Key words: Abuse, Animals, Cruelty, Mental health, Psychiatric disorders.

© Archives of Hellenic Medicine