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Parroting patriots: interspecies trauma and becoming-well-together
  1. Brad Bolman
  1. History of Science, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA
  1. Correspondence to Brad Bolman, History of Science, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA; bolman{at}


At a Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Center in West Los Angeles, traumatised parrots and former soldiers participate in an experimental therapy programme aimed at overcoming the wounds of war and abandonment. Drawing on the work of Giorgio Agamben and Peter Sloterdijk, this article uses the VA parrot therapy programme to develop an interspecies account of trauma in and beyond language that emphasises the dangers of isolation and denaturalisation. Looking after parrots, veterans reacclimate themselves to an alternative mode of existence centred around care for the other. This article reflects on the possibilities for therapeutic encounter-value in processes such as this, where humans and non-humans are ‘becoming-well-together’. At stake in these multispecies encounters is a form of care critical for a world filled with too many traumatised beings.

  • mental health care
  • history
  • philosophy of medicine/health care
  • philosophy of science
  • social science

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  • Contributors BB is the sole contributor.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data availability statement All data relevant to the study are included in the article or uploaded as supplementary information.