Infectious Madness: The Surprising Science of How We "Catch" Mental Illness (Hardcover)

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Infectious Madness: The Surprising Science of How We
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Staff Reviews

Infectious Madness is an exploration of an emerging area of medical inquiry: the connections between pathogens and mental illness. We've known that some cases of schizophrenia are connected to toxoplasma gondii, which is why pregnant women are told to not scoop cat litter. We're starting to learn of some connections between strep throat and ADHD and OCD. And we've been exploring the connections between what happens in our intestines (where more neurons reside than in our heads) and what happens in our brains. With several relevant detours to explore elements of science culture such as paradigm shifts and metaphors, this book is rich with fascinating information.

— Matt


A groundbreaking look at the connection between germs and mental illness, and how we can protect ourselves.

Is it possible to catch autism or OCD the same way we catch the flu? Can a child's contact with cat litter lead to schizophrenia? In her eye-opening new book, National Book Critics Circle Award-winning author Harriet Washington reveals that we can in fact "catch" mental illness. In INFECTIOUS MADNESS, Washington presents the new germ theory, which posits not only that many instances of Alzheimer's, OCD, and schizophrenia are caused by viruses, prions, and bacteria, but also that with antibiotics, vaccinations, and other strategies, these cases can be easily prevented or treated. Packed with cutting-edge research and tantalizing mysteries, INFECTIOUS MADNESS is rich in science, characters, and practical advice on how to protect yourself and your children from exposure to infectious threats that could sabotage your mental and physical health.

About the Author

Harriet A. Washington, Shearing Fellow at the University of Nevada's Black Mountain Institute, has been a Research Fellow in Medical Ethics at Harvard Medical School and a senior research scholar at the National Center for Bioethics at Tuskegee University She has held fellowships at the Harvard School of Public Health, Stanford University and DePaul University College of Law. She wrote Deadly Monopolies and Medical Apartheid, which won a National Book Critics Circle Award, the PEN/Oakland Award, and the American Library Association Black Caucus Nonfiction Award.
Product Details
ISBN: 9780316277808
ISBN-10: 0316277800
Publisher: Little Brown and Company
Publication Date: October 6th, 2015
Pages: 304
Language: English