Saturday, November 13, 2010

The Insanity Virus

Richard found a fascinating article that suggests that schizophrenia may be the result of a retrovirus that hides permanently in our genes and is set off by an infection around the time of birth.

I find this idea particularly exciting as schizophrenia is just one of a number of illnesses that have in the past been blamed on dysfunctional families, especially mothers. When my son first came down with what was then called ME, I was told by more than one person, "I think it's all in the mind, you know." (So is anorexia, apparently, but that doesn't make it trivial.)

A similar viral cause is being suggested for Multiple Sclerosis and I can't help wondering about the CFS/ME connection. What is so hopeful is that if the scientists find a genuine cause for these illnesses then they are on the way to finding a cure.

The article is here.


Old Kitty said...

Hi - thanks for the link to the article! Yay for science doggedly finding potential causes (and therefore potential medical cures) for many many many illnesses once thought as being imagined or "all in the mind"! I still shudder to think how people affected by these illnesses were treated historically because such neurological/mental health issues were/are so misunderstood.

Take care

jjdebenedictis said...

That would be AMAZING if it's true. You could potentially innoculate people against schizophrenia.

It would also take away a lot of the stigma. Nobody should think of mental illness as a deficiency in willpower, but a lot do. However I think that perception would change for a lot of these people if you could show them that schizophrenia, at least, is caused by a virus.

fairyhedgehog said...

Kitty, yes, it's a big relief that things are finally moving on.

jj, it's a shame that mental health issues have such stigma but they still do and a physical cause does seem to help to remove that.

The Words Crafter said...

That would be wonderful. Because it seems that if they could find a cure or a preventative for these things, then something for other mental issues could be just around the corner, too. My mother suffered with severe chronic depression and I believe it's inherited. Wouldn't it be great if so many people could be freed from the darkness in their minds?!!

fairyhedgehog said...

TheWordsCrafter, it would indeed be wonderful. If they could really treat chronic depression it would impact so many people.

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