Tics are often more severe during periods of excitement or anxiety. As many as one in every Americans now show mild symptoms. There are no blood, imaging, or lab tests for Tourette's; instead, diagnosis requires the presence of both motor and vocal tics for at least one year. Tourette's is chronic in 10 to 15 percent of affected people, but most children who are diagnosed weather the worst symptoms throughout their early teens; the tics gradually subside as they enter adulthood.
This timing suggested a connection to PANDAS in Swedo's eyes, but more studies were necessary to prove the causal connection and to characterize the mechanism by which GAS causes mental disease. Swedo sought to discover whether giving treatment that fights GAS infections, such as filtering antibodies from the children's blood, would reliably alleviate the Tourette's symptoms. As she recruited more children with GAS-related experiences, the word spread through pediatricians' offices, support groups, and mommy blogs, resonating with many parents who felt that an insidious infection, not genetics or family tension, was behind their children's OCD, anorexia, or Tourette's.
Lisa reverted to bed-wetting and baby talk and seemed tortured by a compulsion to repeatedly touch surfaces and door handles, crying, "Mommy, Mommy, help me. I can't stop doing this! Lisa's overnight descent into illness seemed unnatural, and her mother was convinced that something physiological was afoot. While Lisa took medication and saw a behavioral therapist, her mother read about Swedo's studies.
They drove to Maryland, where Lisa joined a study of 27 children with obsessive-compulsive disorder. The treatment involved filtering the offending antibodies from the children's blood. Swedo also used steroids, intravenous immunoglobulins, and plasma exchange to treat the underlying infections in carefully controlled clinical trials.
As with most of the study's subjects, Lisa's symptoms abated. She was able to resist the compulsions almost immediately; and as her antibody levels fell, her verbal expression and handwriting returned to an age-appropriate level. Within a month, her speech returned to normal and her bubbly demeanor resurfaced.
This improvement is important because it helps bridge the gap between correlation and causation. The high antibodies to the infection are not merely associated with the mental-illness symptoms; as the antibodies are removed, the symptoms abate, which suggests a causal relationship between the madness and the antibodies, and therefore the infection. OCD and anorexia are related not only by their compulsive symptoms, but also by the fact that neurotransmitters malfunction in both. Some experts have expressed skepticism and questioned whether the connection is really causal, noting that the frequent sore throats characteristic of PANDAS cases are too common to constitute a distinguishing feature, especially because strep throat is never diagnosed in some children.
Critics point out that the discovery of PANDAS was made from case-finding among sick children who fit the general profile rather than from forward-looking studies of large numbers of children selected at random, and some wonder whether this method creates an illusion of causality.
Strep throat and related infections are everywhere, but Tourette's and OCD are not. Does this mean that GAS infection is a cofactor, insufficient to cause disease on its own but exacerbating the damage from genetics, stress , trauma , or even poor parenting? Or is GAS just a near-ubiquitous, innocent bystander?
Genetics, immunological vigor, general state of health, and perhaps environmental insults may all determine who develops PANDAS and who is able to avoid antibody damage. Basic standards for proof of infectious-disease causation were laid in by the German bacteriologists Robert Koch and Friedrich Loeffler, whose criteria are called Koch's postulates. A suspected pathogen can be said to cause a disease only when:.
But there are known limitations to the postulates: Some microbes that cause disease fail to fulfill them. Mary Mallon, or "Typhoid Mary," carried the fever without suffering signs or symptoms herself. This carrier scenario is so common in infectious disease, especially in viral diseases such as polio, herpes simplex, and hepatitis C, that it invalidates Koch's first postulate. Koch's second postulate rests on shaky ground because some disease-causing micro-organisms, such as prions—infectious proteins that many think responsible for Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease—cannot be grown in culture.
Koch himself knew that the third postulate was flawed: Ever since the establishment of germ theory, it's been known that not all organisms exposed to a pathogen will fall ill. Immunological resistance, genetics, and variations of general health can affect the outcome. They "require that you grow something, put it in an animal model, and replicate disease.
But there are agents that you can't cultivate in laboratories. You have infectious agents for which there is no animal model because you have to have a receptor for the virus," he explains. All these things are difficult. That's why we classify agents as possible, probable, and definitive evidence of disease. And why does the medical literature show that John Lykoudis, M. A perusal of the NIH PubMed site for gastroenterology journals tracing ulcer treatment shows that during the century before Marshall and Warren's breakthrough, an infectious cause of ulcers had been "discovered" on at least 15 separate occasions—in in Italy, in Poland, the s in Iran, among others.
Catch the Madness at KINGS!
Without scientific publication or rigorous testing, the infection theory of ulcers was consigned to the forgotten annals. Lykoudis's notebooks detail a life blighted by professional frustration until his death in , just two years before Warren and Marshall validated his life's work. The duo could prove the connection because they had access to tools unknown to Lykoudis, including the flexible fiber-optic endoscope developed in the late s, which provided a safe technique to view the stomach and to collect specimens from the gastric mucosa of patients.
Modern nutrient media and incubation techniques also allowed Warren and Marshall to grow the organisms in culture, as Koch dictates. In , having satisfied Koch's postulates, Warren and Marshall published their findings that H. But once again, the H. According to the Centers for Disease Control, most physicians knew of the H. Despite their superior tools and access to publication, Warren and Marshall were about to share Lykoudis's professional fate: In the end, it took showmanship to get the medical world's attention.
To illustrate his claim, Murray drank a beaker of H. An endoscopy revealed both H. The fading of his symptoms in two weeks demonstrated, for at least the 15th time, that a microbe causes gastric woes and that antibiotics can cure them. The infectious cause of ulcers finally entered the medical canon when, in , the CDC spearheaded a public-health campaign to spread the word that ulcers are a curable infection.
In Marshall and Barry scored the ultimate validation: She was also named a research fellow in medical ethics at Harvard. From the book Infectious Madness by Harriet A. If you would like us to consider your letter for publication, please include your name, city, and state. Letters may be edited for length and clarity. For more stories like this one, subscribe to Psychology Today, where this piece originally appeared.
I particularly enjoyed the section on pre-Freudian ideas and treatment of mental illness. My only criticism would be an over use on reporting on the reporting of studies, rather than reporting on the studies directly. At times it can be two levels of bias on a study rather than one. But still thoroughly engaging and I would recommend this book to others. Dec 15, Theresa rated it really liked it. This is a great book on how some disorders may arise from infections. For example, strep throat in young children can result in OCD or anorexia.
But her conclusions are not limited to medical disorders. She also has a chapter on cultural disorders. Nov 28, Lauren rated it liked it Shelves: This is a good introductory synthesis about the human microbiome and how it plays into physical and mental health. A good place to start to learn more. Jul 24, Kaite rated it it was amazing. I would recommend it to everyone. Nov 27, Jennifer rated it liked it. Some really fascinating and intriguing ideas in this book, but the information was presented in a haphazard way that I think can detract from the message.
Still, very much worth reading and I appreciate knowing that there are people willing to look outside of psychotropic medication box when it comes to mental illness. I would have rated this book as a "4" based on the premise alone. Unfortunately the author's tendency to try to make political statements reduced it to a 3. Everytime, she tried to make a political statement, she got all discombulated while trying to make the facts fit her statements. Feb 22, Maria Ryan rated it it was ok.
Disjointed Agenda It would have been nice if Washington could have managed to stick to ethical investigative journalism and perhaps kept to the topic at hand, the theory of how various pathogens cause mental illness. It would have been a lofty goal at that because the topic itself is so vast. But Washington did a poor job of even trying. My one burning question is who is the true author of this book? Deviating from the subject many times over, Washington goes off on multiple axes to grind such as Disjointed Agenda It would have been nice if Washington could have managed to stick to ethical investigative journalism and perhaps kept to the topic at hand, the theory of how various pathogens cause mental illness.
She barely utters a word about the myriad of environmental issues that potentially cause these diseases while once again touting the imagined efficacy of non- existent vaccines that might not be made available to these populations even if they did exist. There are also plenty of US citizens who are also denied potential life-saving medications due to economic position or lack thereof and some of them are even white.
None of what she expounds is news and her outcries had little to no place in this book, a book supposedly about pathogens that cause a neuro-psychiatric presentation, not about the groups of people denied healthcare and not about one size fits all vaccination to save the world from every medical bogeyman imaginable. If vaccines can harm a developing fetus and we should dispense with vaccinating all pregnant women yet protect those unborn children by vaccinating every single living human regardless of their circumstances, why is it that those same vaccines would not harm a newborn, toddler, or adult?
This backwards logic has to stop once and for all. Her own misconceptions and fears surrounding vaccines and how they truly work along with her complete lack of regard over the fact that one size does not fit all makes this book a poor choice for this topic. Wait a minute, what was this book supposed to be about again? The title is catchy but I cannot recommend this book to anyone who wants to learn how it may be possible to catch mental illness much like we catch a cold. Jul 21, Valarie rated it really liked it Shelves: Very informative and engaging. Some sections repeated anecdotes relayed in previous chapters, which made me wonder if the editing was too rushed to get comprehensive organization.
Mar 02, Mala Ashok rated it really liked it. 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?
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If you are fascinated by medicine and treatment methodology this book is for you. Jan 27, Monica Snyder rated it it was amazing. My life has been rescued because a few brave doctors have begun to understand how a virus or infection can truly attack your brain in such a way you seem completely mad. Outstanding I learned so much and have so many more questions. Well researched and written, but it seems tip of the iceberg? Feb 06, Kelly Martin rated it really liked it. This was a wonderful book. I found the new theroy so interesting. We all need to read this book in order to protect ourselves.
Mar 08, Heather rated it did not like it Shelves: Fascinating Idea; Sloppy Approach The idea that a variety of severe mental illnesses "may also be caused by bacteria, parasites, or viruses" is not new, but it is gaining some attention. I was hoping this would be some good science writing for the lay reader, but the attempt to sensationalize the topic is as off-putting as the writing style.
This is a red flag for self-import Fascinating Idea; Sloppy Approach The idea that a variety of severe mental illnesses "may also be caused by bacteria, parasites, or viruses" is not new, but it is gaining some attention.
This is a red flag for self-important BS, the kind of BS you get when the teacher assigns a research paper and requires at least 10 footnotes. The assumption is that the item footnoted will require some additional clarification or insight best provided outside the context of the writing. Did anyone get lost there?
- Infectious Madness: The Surprising Science of How We "Catch" Mental Illness.
- Catch the Madness at KINGS!.
- The Psalms and the Life of Faith.
Footnotes also provide references to other works, such as when the great humorist, Robert Benchley, was quoted on the next page. Remember the old gag about there being two kinds of people in the world? The kind who think there are two kinds of people in the world, and those who don't? Well, Harriet Washington thought that this work needed a specific quotation and attribution to convey that idea, and checked another footnote off her to-do list. Unfortunately, when it comes to the meat of the topic, relevant source material is often not footnoted, or is footnoted unnecessarily for something so general as to be pointless.
Because footnotes lend authority to works pretending to be scientific. I personally don't mind writing that is long on speculation and short on science, if the text is honest about posing questions rather than answering them, and doesn't try to pretend to academic assertion. I don't trust writers who try to fluff up the appearance of a scholarly approach and skim over ground work. Losing trust in a writer would not be important, even with poor style, if the substance included better groundwork, more meticulously laid. That is not the case here. In terms of content: Jumping from "chilling" anecdote to "shocking" anecdote, the writing makes sweeping assertions and assumptions.
I'm not saying there is nothing of interest, only that there are so many wild ideas running through the book -- from cultural differences in the interpretation of symptoms, to the future of psychopharmacology when research is profit-oriented, to the problem of proper diagnosis, to the biases of scientific paradigm shift -- that we are jerked in every direction.
Even this could work if the author seemed to be trying to make the reader ask more questions, and question more assumptions. But as we are being whipsawed by random assertions, with varying degrees of support, blanket assumptions are made, which seem factual because they are islands of certainty in a flood of speculation. That's not a good approach for non-fiction. At best, this book reads like an exploration of ideas that could one day be turned into multiple books. The ideas are important and worth learning about. But the author's other titles begin with click-bait phrases such as "Deadly Monopolies" and "Medical Apartheid" -- which tell me that they are also dealing with important topics, and also likely to be vague and ominous junk drawers of cocktail party speculation, supported by weak references, and phrased in the most sensational language.
Not my cup of tea. Oct 30, Carol Harrison rated it liked it. Fascinating book, arguing the case for infectious causes of a large percentage of mental illnesses. Sometimes I felt the author was stretching to make the point, and it puzzled me that she would recommend "mandatory" influenza shots but not other vaccines, for other diseases that also contribute to mental disorders.
Catching Madness | Psychology Today
Or that she would say that pregnant women should not get the flu vaccine because it is the immune system's response that does the damage--but surely that response would be much great Fascinating book, arguing the case for infectious causes of a large percentage of mental illnesses. Or that she would say that pregnant women should not get the flu vaccine because it is the immune system's response that does the damage--but surely that response would be much greater to the disease than to the vaccine!
Nevertheless, the book is thought-provoking and brings up some interesting points. May 24, Jake Palmer rated it did not like it. I give one star because of the obvious bias in the text. For example, the author, when making a point about infection in early term v late term pregnancy, states something to the effect of: I was already skeptical about some of the claims leading up to this point, b I give one star because of the obvious bias in the text.
I was already skeptical about some of the claims leading up to this point, but the unfair treatment of data here caused me to put down the book. The author is aiming to mislead a casual reader into comparing v 3. Aug 22, Karla Winick-Ford rated it it was amazing. This was better than anticipated. Well written - I enjoyed the passage about King George relating to the madness and being offered arsenic was absurd but common then. Wagner-Jauregg's approach spiking fevers so high, then the paradigm shift transforming the approach.
The face of medicine changed over the years. The diagnosis for Tourette's was astonishing to me. The message was clear though- by treating disease abroad, we strengthen ourselves. May 19, Deborah rated it liked it. I enjoyed this book a lot. That being said it did take me over a year to read it. It is amazing in it's possible world changing views, but disappointing on that the world may still not get it.
Jan 29, Willow rated it really liked it. Mar 22, Amie Jo rated it it was ok. However, the author covers a broad range of topics. At times, I felt as if I were reading the unedited brainstorming version of the book. To many loose thoughts lacking supportive data. In order to be insightful, Washington needs to add tons of more material.
I could easily see adding more pages to more complete discuss the ideas Washington throws out. Mar 01, Jeffrey Jarrett rated it it was amazing. May 04, Nancy rated it really liked it Shelves: Did you know that there's now a medical link between viruses and bacteria, and psychiatric disorders such as anorexia, OCD and Tourette's?
Did you know that having exposure to domestic cats increases the chances that someone in the household will be schizophrenic? Admittedly, the chances are still very small because there aren't that many schizophrenics occurring in the general population, but exposure does increase the odds. There were a few points made in the book that really made an impact on Did you know that there's now a medical link between viruses and bacteria, and psychiatric disorders such as anorexia, OCD and Tourette's?
There were a few points made in the book that really made an impact on me. For instance, there is a one celled parasite called T. In lab mice, the brain regions involving both fear responses and sexual attraction were transformed after exposure to cat odors where the parasite originates and that "somehow, this damned parasite knows how to make cat urine smell sexually arousing to rodents, and they fearlessly go and check it out.
They also begin to exhibit thrill seeking behaviors such as taking on more sex partners and becoming much more likely to jay way and die in an auto accident. Other aspects that caught my attention were in the chapter about societal behavior and how behavior can be seen as "catching", Washington talks about gun ownership and gun violence.
Did you know that according to Dr. Hemenway, "people living and working near gun owners begin to acquire, or at least to covet, guns themselves, and children of gun owners grow up to become gun owners, so that gun ownership spreads through a household and community in the same way the flu does. Further, Washington discusses the behavioral immune system, such as contagious avoidance behaviors.
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Someone looks or sounds sick and our natural inclination is to keep our distance or protect ourselves in some way. This is true of a person with boils on their skin, or even a skin color that is different from ours. Because we cannot accurately determine biological threats, the cost of xenophobia may well outweigh the speculative benefits of avoidance. The more disease a country harbors, the more likely ethnic violence is. Oct 18, Lynn rated it it was amazing. My fave quote from the book yeah, I know it's long, but worth it: Such musings often hinge on political speculation or tortured data, and they typically involve some theory of a brain irrevocably hardwired by evolutionary force to persecute outsiders.
This carries the whiff of something r Excellent! This carries the whiff of something repugnant. The supposition that humans are immutably hardwired for xenophobia or frank racism implies that people cannot be held accountable for genocide or xenophobia, or worse, that these are actual biological imperatives, not only beyond our control but also murkily sanctioned by the wisdom of evolution and the body; by "natural law.
But just as our species' [hormonal] immune system frequently overreacts, triggering everything from hay fever to autoimmune disorders, our behavioral immune system also overreacts, attacking unfamiliar people who might be carrying dangerous pathogens.