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View Full Version : Cats and mental illness - brief analysis of the research


Juls
November 12th 05, 05:13 PM
One has to wonder why Dr. E Fuller Torrey has, for thirty years,
continued to promote his theory that cats cause schizophrenia and other
psychiatric illness. He claims to simply be a believer and on a
scientific quest, but I don't buy it.

My opinion, after doing some research on the subject, is fairly simple
on the whys: it makes good headlines. It's controversial, and the media
loves something so simple, so black and white: schizophrenia is not a
complex spectrum of disorders, and its cause is not found in
contemporary theory - that the root of the disease is likely a complex
interaction of genetics and environment. Torrey can make a wild claim,
backed up by no evidence, and the media runs with it: cats cause
schizophrenia.

What leads me to this opinion is a piece of his "research" that is
conveniently ignored in media stories: the handful of studies that do
show a higher level of antibodies to Toxoplasma gondii in schizophrenics
also show higher levels of herpes and cytomegalovirus.

Saying that herpes causes schizophrenia isn't as fun as blaming it on
cats. It's also safer to blame cats, because they don't have much of a
voice and aren't likely to show up at Torrey's house with protest signs.

For 30 years, it's been his obsession, despite his protests that he
loves cats. And for 30 years, Torrey and collaborator, virologist Robert
Yolken, have tried to prove infectious agents, notably viruses during
pregnancy, cause mental illness. They continue to come up with very
little. The best they can do is point to studies that show untreated
schizophrenics have a higher incidence of antibodies to Toxoplasma
gondii than schizophrenics taking medication, or persons without
schizophrenia.

The same studies show similar rates of herpes virus and cytomegalovirus.

Other studies show schizophrenics more likely to be born in winter or
spring, though Torrey's own study in Australia showed no connection.
More studies have shown schizophrenia to appear more often in urban
areas, as well as in crowded households.

These factors helped convince Torrey that an infectious agent played a
key role in the development of schizophrenia.

In reality, despite the claims of advertisements on TV, or flippant
claims by psychiatrists, nobody knows what causes mental illness. It's
called biological, but the evidence for that remains as elusive as
evidence showing viruses cause the illness. E Fuller Torrey gets more
press by being the kook who says cats cause schizophrenia. And book
deals.

His first clue, he has said, was the realization that cats were
introduced into modern society as pets in the late nineteenth century,
the same time that schizophrenia and bipolar disorder went from being
rare diseases to common ones. He believed that cats were the culprit.

Since 1953, 19 studies of Toxoplasma gondii antibodies in persons with
schizophrenia and other severe psychiatric disorders have been
published. Of those, 11 reported a statistically significant difference
between the mentally ill persons and controls. In other words, slightly
more than half said there *were* differences and the others said there
weren't. That's hardly convincing evidence.

Torrey has nearly 400 brains stored in 55 freezers in his "Brain Bank,"
part of the Stanley Foundation. Torrey examined 51 postmortem brains and
found herpes virus 6 in two of them, but no Toxoplasma gondii at all.

Key points:

--Almost half the studies that have been done have NOT shown any
correlation between mental illness and the presence of Toxoplasma gondii
antibodies

--In studying 51 brains, he found no Toxoplasma gondii

--Torrey has been researching this for thirty years, and has yet to
provide any evidence of cause and effect

--The studies have also shown similar incidences of herpes and
cytomegalovirus in persons with schizophrenia, but these results have
largely been ignored...because they don't fit in with blaming cats

--The studies showing a difference in antibodies also show that
schizophrenics taking antipsychotic drugs have a lower rate of
antibodies, leading Torrey to make claims that this class of drugs may
actually fight viral infection. If there were any evidence of that,
wouldn't the drug companies be rushing to find another market for their
antipsychotic medications? If these drugs had any effect on viruses, the
drug companies could make billions by remarketing the drugs.

--No mention of other societies (ancient Egypt) that have had cats, and
whether or not they had psychotic disorders.

--A least one-third of the world may have contracted toxoplasmosis

--A study in the 90s of Czech soldiers and students (funded by Torrey's
Stanley Foundation) claimed toxomplasmosis made men more aggressive,
jealous and suspicious, while it raised the intelligence of women and
apparently caused them to spend more on clothes and engage in
promiscuous behavior



Links:

good article on toxoplasmosis, says it's usually caused by undercooked
meat:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toxoplasmosis

NY Times Magazine: (date unknown, but appears to be about 2000-2001)
http://cogweb.ucla.edu/ep/Schizovirus.html

Medline, medical journal abstracts:
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=pubmed&dopt
=Abstract&list_uids=14725265&query_hl=2

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=pubmed&dopt
=Abstract&list_uids=14991372&query_hl=2

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=pubmed&dopt
=Abstract&list_uids=12505139&query_hl=2

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=pubmed&dopt
=Abstract&list_uids=12837520&query_hl=2

Birth season study:
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=pubmed&dopt
=Abstract&list_uids=9088486

--
Email (remove annoying hyphens)
j-u-l-i-AT-e-c-t-DOT-o-r-g

No More Retail
November 12th 05, 05:30 PM
The main problem I have with research that has statements about the past
when they say some disease was rare and uncommon back than. We have no idea
there is no way to tell unless the disease effects DNA. Bipolar,
depression and other mental illness could describe why some people acted
they way they did in the past.

It is always so easy to tell people there is a problem, who to blame and why
they should.
An old saying People are stupid, a person is intelligent. Sometime the
freedom of speech really sucks and the media doesn't help at all.

I say this man is suffering from some sort of mental illness.

Juls
November 12th 05, 05:39 PM
In article >,
"No More Retail" > wrote:

> I say this man is suffering from some sort of mental illness.

It's the mental illness of trying too hard to be a big shot and get some
glory and the only way you can get attention is by bashing cats.

My research suggests it's caused by the continual handling of human
brains and the lack of petting cats.

There are legit studies that show having pets can improve your life
emotionally. And we all know that in our hearts. Obviously he's missed
those studies, though I don't think any of us would want him anywhere
near a cat.

--
Email (remove annoying hyphens)
j-u-l-i-AT-e-c-t-DOT-o-r-g

No More Retail
November 12th 05, 06:21 PM
The bad point is Juls a little pussy in his life might help ;-)

teejay58
November 13th 05, 09:30 PM
I have a tortoirseshell who is six mo old and I wonder if she is psycho.
She jumpos from the tile to the fridge onto the table chairs and chases
imaginary mice. I think she see things or is very imaginative.

Joe Canuck
November 13th 05, 09:50 PM
teejay58 wrote:

> I have a tortoirseshell who is six mo old and I wonder if she is psycho.
> She jumpos from the tile to the fridge onto the table chairs and chases
> imaginary mice. I think she see things or is very imaginative.
>

My own cat is either psycho or very smart...

I grab a snack from the kitchen and she is there meowing for a treat. I
ignore her and cart my snack off to the tv and rest my weary bones in
the Laz-Y-Boy. She peeks around the corner viewing me enjoying the
snack... then all hell breaks out.

She is normally very well behaved and laid back, but in this situation
she chases around like a madman... er woman since she is female. :-D

The message is clear... "if you are going to snack, then I want a snack
too... and there will be no peace or enjoyment of *your* snack until I
get *my* snack!"

So, I either stick with my diet or get a snack for Molly as well if she
happens to be around.

No More Retail
November 13th 05, 11:39 PM
Damn Joe how does it feel to be owned by a cat :-)

Joe Canuck
November 14th 05, 12:21 PM
No More Retail wrote:

> Damn Joe how does it feel to be owned by a cat :-)
>
>

I take orders and feel like a recruit at boot camp for the first time.


:-D

cybercat
November 14th 05, 12:41 PM
"Joe Canuck" > wrote in message
...
> No More Retail wrote:
>
> > Damn Joe how does it feel to be owned by a cat :-)
> >
> >
>
> I take orders and feel like a recruit at boot camp for the first time.
>
>
> :-D
>

I just wanted to say that the subject of this thread sounds like
a journal article. Just add a colon and "evidence of psychosis as
presented in the newsgroup 'rec.pets.cats.health+behav.'"

:')

Juls
November 16th 05, 06:18 PM
In article >,
"cybercat" > wrote:

> "Joe Canuck" > wrote in message
> ...
> > No More Retail wrote:
> >
> > > Damn Joe how does it feel to be owned by a cat :-)
> > >
> > >
> >
> > I take orders and feel like a recruit at boot camp for the first time.
> >
> >
> > :-D
> >
>
> I just wanted to say that the subject of this thread sounds like
> a journal article. Just add a colon and "evidence of psychosis as
> presented in the newsgroup 'rec.pets.cats.health+behav.'"
>
> :')

I' m looking to publish it. hahaha.

It's every bit as scientific as Torrey's bull****.

I'm off to Jasmine's appointment....been waiting anxiously for this.
(Her heart checkup)

Cross your fingers!!!!

--
Email (remove annoying hyphens)
j-u-l-i-AT-e-c-t-DOT-o-r-g

cybercat
November 16th 05, 07:45 PM
"Juls" > wrote in message
...
> In article >,
> "cybercat" > wrote:
>
> > "Joe Canuck" > wrote in message
> > ...
> > > No More Retail wrote:
> > >
> > > > Damn Joe how does it feel to be owned by a cat :-)
> > > >
> > > >
> > >
> > > I take orders and feel like a recruit at boot camp for the first time.
> > >
> > >
> > > :-D
> > >
> >
> > I just wanted to say that the subject of this thread sounds like
> > a journal article. Just add a colon and "evidence of psychosis as
> > presented in the newsgroup 'rec.pets.cats.health+behav.'"
> >
> > :')
>
> I' m looking to publish it. hahaha.

<G>

>
> It's every bit as scientific as Torrey's bull****.

Absolutely!

>
> I'm off to Jasmine's appointment....been waiting anxiously for this.
> (Her heart checkup)
>
> Cross your fingers!!!!
>

You bet, Juls. Think good thoughts. I bet you will find out
that she is just fine, but gets overexcited and plays too hard
and doesn't know when to stop.