Monday, September 28, 2015
MICROBES CAUSING MENTAL ILLNESS?
In her new book, acclaimed science writer Harriet A. Washington gathers research that suggests in 10 to 15% of mental disorders a virus or bacteria may have been the culprit or a co-conspirator. This would mean that genetics, stress and other psychological and social factors are not the only causes of mental illness. According to Washington, this will have a destigmatizing effect. Attributing microbes in part to these disorders will help in the stereotyping and prejudices about those who are mentally ill. The author is hoping this will inspire healthy debate and bold new strategies for prevention and treatment. In the medical community, there is a difference of opinion about whether microbes are implicated. Except for rabies, most of these infections take decades to develop. When it takes that long, it is hard to make the connection. We lacked the tools. Smaller amounts of infectious material and antibodies can be found now because of more sensitive screening. The government needs to fund more for not only research, but for public health awareness. Rare infections and tropical diseases, many of which cause mental illness, are not confined to the developing countries anymore. Our government needs to start recognizing this. HARRIET WASHINGTON INFECTIOUS MADNESS: THE SURPRISING SCIENCE OF HOW WE "CATCH" MENTAL ILLNESS