Infectious madness : the surprising science of how we "catch" mental illness
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, author 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.--Adapted from book jacket.
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