❝ In a study involving 358 adult subjects, a team led by researchers from the University of Chicago found that toxoplasmosis, a relatively harmless parasitic infection carried by an estimated 30 percent of all humans, is associated with intermittent explosive disorder and increased aggression.
“Our work suggests that latent infection with the toxoplasma gondii parasite may change brain chemistry in a fashion that increases the risk of aggressive behavior,” said senior study author Emil Coccaro, MD…
“However, we do not know if this relationship is causal, and not everyone that tests positive for toxoplasmosis will have aggression issues,” Coccaro said, adding that additional studies are needed.
❝ Intermittent explosive disorder is defined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition, as recurrent, impulsive, problematic outbursts of verbal or physical aggression that are disproportionate to the situations that trigger them. IED is thought to affect as many as 16 million Americans, more than bipolar disorder and schizophrenia combined.
❝ As part of their pioneering research to improve diagnosis and treatment for IED and impulsive aggression, Coccaro and his colleagues examined possible connections to toxoplasmosis, an extremely common parasitic infection. Transmitted through the feces of infected cats, undercooked meat or contaminated water, toxoplasmosis is typically latent and harmless for healthy adults. However, it is known to reside in brain tissue, and has been linked to several psychiatric diseases, including schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and suicidal behavior…
❝ “Correlation is not causation, and this is definitely not a sign that people should get rid of their cats,” said study co-author Royce Lee, MD…“It will take experimental studies to see if treating a latent toxoplasmosis infection with medication reduces aggressiveness,” Coccaro said.
In a nation where a court ruled eating too many Twinkies a legitimate defense for murder, the discovery of a brain parasite that might provoke murderous rage is a bloody-well breakthrough.