Infectious Madness

Infectious Madness

The Surprising Science of How We "catch" Mental Illness

Book - 2015 | First edition
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What causes mental illness? Traditionally, we've blamed bad parenting, stress, trauma, genetics, and brain-chemistry imbalances. But in recent years, a new theory has quietly achieved critical mass. In her astonishing new book, Harriet Washington reveals that many instances of schizophrenia, obsessive-compulsive disorder, Alzheimer's, Tourette's, bipolar disorder, and anorexia are likely caused by bacteria, parasites, or viruses. That's right--you can "catch" mental illness. Weaving together cutting-edge research and startling case studies, Infectious Madness shows how strep throat can trigger OCD in a formerly healthy teen, how a pregnant woman's contact with cat litter can lead to schizophrenia in her child, and how gut bacteria that leak into the bloodstream may play a role in autism. Thanks in part to the sheer speed of their reproduction, microbes are beating us at a game of evolutionary chess; we must be vigilant if we hope to protect ourselves and our children from mind-altering infections. Washington shares innovative tactics from the front lines of medicine--like worm therapy, phages (viruses that infect bacteria), and the use of one microbe to fight another--and explains the dangers of carelessness, bad environmental policy, and misinformation. Rich in science, tantalizing medical mysteries, and practical advice, Infectious Madness pulls back the curtain on a new paradigm with profound implications for us all.
Publisher: New York : Little, Brown and Company, ©2015
Edition: First edition
ISBN: 9780316277808
Branch Call Number: 616.89 WAS 2015
Characteristics: 292 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm


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Mar 19, 2016

Fascinating read - complex and at times confusing to the layman but it is much more accessible than an academic scientific journal article. We live in an environment of microbes. The author delves into the history of germ theory in modern medicine and more specifically looks at the effects of pathogens and immune responses on mental health. Can we catch schizophrenia, depression, autism, Alzheimers, etc. from bacteria, parasites or viruses?
Well, until 1994 doctors believed that ulcers came from stress. Turns out H.pilori was the culprit.

Mar 03, 2016

This is a heavy book. I was attracted by the title and thought it might be easy reading. Well it was not. It turns out this book was part of the author's Master's thesis. It was, therefore, a scholarly work. I learned a lot from this book and in particular a lot about the mind body connection. Would I recommend this book? If you are fascinated by medicine and treatment methodology this book is for you. Otherwise? Hmm...

Aug 08, 2015

Truly a tour-de-force which further expands on articles which have appeared on evolutionary biology, fully elaborating the parasitic strategies to the max! Certainly broadened my knowledge of the possibilities, and variables extant regarding mental illness and its biological origins! Really, really fascinating. Cat themed wines??? Read this and learn. . . .
[IMHO, the Publishers Weekly critique was a bit too hysterical in tone!]

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