Nat S Ford (natf) wrote,
Nat S Ford

"The Insanity Virus"

This is a fascinating article if you can cope with reading biochemistry and neuro-chemistry that is written with the educated layperson in mind. There is also an article linked in the comments of naamah_darling's post that is more science-y and I have not yet found the spoons to read it. This is very relevant to my interests with three cases of diagnosed schizophrenia on both sides of our family, MANY cases of diagnosed (and potentially undiagnosed) depression (also on both sides) and my own MS (and possible other cases of undiagnosed MS in the family). Also, my niece is due to be born on my birthday (4th August - so SOON!) and so I am trying to work out whether or not to point my brother and SIL (who has a psychology degree) at this research/article(s)/post. Tricky dilemma.

Originally posted by naamah_darling at "The Insanity Virus"

The Insanity Virus

The title is unnecessarily sensationalistic, but this is a must-read article containing information that should be much, much more widely-known.

Short version:

Schizophrenia, and potentially bipolar and MS and maybe some other stuff too, are related to HERV-W, a retrovirus found in the DNA of every human being. Apparently, HERV-W becomes activated by certain common illnesses (herpes, cytomegalovirus, toxoplasmosis), usually in the very young, and this appears to lead to the conditions we know as schizophrenia/MS/bipolar/who knows what else.

The idea that some mental illnesses might be traceable back to viral or parasitic infection is not new information, but this is the first I've heard of an individual virus being a common factor linking those illnesses. This changes the playing field dramatically. It is at once tremendously exciting, and fucking heartbreaking and tragic.

This carries with it the potential for treatments more closely related to areas of science we understand. Parts of medicine far more understood and less arcane (and less stigmatized . . . even the medical profession itself often treats mental illness as a severe personality flaw). It presents us with the hope that more effective treatments and cures might be available within a human lifetime.

But even if we pin it down and figure it out, even if it's the underlying cause of bipolar disorders, it's likely too late for me, and many others like me. And even if there were treatments, I probably won't live long enough to see them become accepted and affordable. The best I can hope for is that those who come after me won't suffer the way I have.

As I often say, I stopped being surprised and delighted by the advances made by science long ago. We achieve incredible, unbelievable things every day. I have started being surprised and delighted when those advances become available to the people who need them, which for a host of reasons, almost never happens.

But hey, knowledge is good.

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Tags: biochemistry, bipolar, mental health, ms, neuro-chemistry, schizophrenia, science

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