Dr Temple Grandin has a legendary ability to read the animal mind and understand animal behaviour when no one else can. But this is no feat of telepathy; her explanation is simple. She's convinced she experiences the world much as an animal does and that it's all down to her autistic brain.
Temple believes she experiences life like a prey animal in the wild. Her emotions are much simpler than most people's and she feels constantly anxious – always alert and looking for danger. It's this struggle with overwhelming anxiety that led her to discover just how much she has in common with animals and, in particular, cows.
During a summer spent on her aunt's ranch, when she was 16, she began to notice that nervous cattle seemed to calm down when they entered a piece of equipment called a squeeze chute.
Designed to hold the cattle still, whilst they received veterinary treatment, the wooden contraption clamped the cows along either side of the body. As the sides squeezed their flanks, Temple noticed several of the cows become visibly relaxed and calm.
Eager to find a way to conquer her own anxiety she asked her aunt to operate the chute on her. The result was a revelation. Temple felt much calmer and the effect lasted for several hours afterwards.
Inspired by her experiences on the ranch, she built her own human squeeze machine at home. She still has one installed in her bedroom.
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