Infectious Madness: The Surprising Science of How We

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

by Harriet A. Washington


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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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780316277815
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Publication date: 10/04/2016
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 352,945
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Harriet A. Washington has been the Shearing Fellow at the University of Nevada's Black Mountain Institute, a Research Fellow in Medical Ethics at Harvard Medical School, a senior research scholar at the National Center for Bioethics at Tuskegee University, and a visiting scholar at DePaul University College of Law.

She has held fellowships at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Stanford University. She is the author of A Terrible Thing to Waste, Deadly Monopolies, Infectious Madness, and Medical Apartheid, which won a National Book Critics Circle Award, the PEN/Oakland Award, and the American Library Association Black Caucus Nonfiction Award.

Table of Contents

Introduction 3

Chapter 1 Germ Theory Redux: The Acquisition of Mental Illness 9

Chapter 2 The Fetus as Battleground: Early Exposure and Psychiatric Fate 38

Chapter 3 Growing Pains: "Catching" Anorexia, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, and Tourette's 76

Chapter 4 Gut Feelings: The Brain in Your Belly 125

Chapter 5 Microbial Culture: Pathogens and the Shaping of Societies 158

Chapter 6 Winning at Evolutionary Chess: Strategies to Outwit Pathogens 192

Chapter 7 Tropical Madness: Infection and Neglect in the Developing World 225

Afterword 251

Acknowledgments 257

Notes 261

Index 289

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