Saturday, November 28, 2015

Exploring The Link Between Infection And Mental Illness

The latest research into the link between germs and mental illness -- and what we all need to know. 

In the early 20th century, if you displayed symptoms of mental illness a doctor might have searched you for signs of infection, and then removed the teeth, tonsils or other body part that was the suspected culprit. Treatment has evolved a great deal since then, but the idea that infection could play a significant role in some mental illness is making a comeback. A number of experts say ten to fifteen percent of conditions – from schizophrenia to bipolar disorder – could be caused by infection. But many others warn too much remains unknown to dramatically change our thinking about treatment. We explore the link between germs and our mental health.


  • Dr. Robert Yolken director, Stanley Laboratory of Developmental Neurovirology; professor of pediatrics, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine
  • Harriet Washington medical ethicist and writer; author of the new book "Infectious Madness: The Surprising Science of How We 'Catch' Mental Illness", and of 2007's "Medical Apartheid", winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award; Shearing fellow at the University of Nevada's Black Mountain Institute; former Research Fellow in Medical Ethics at Harvard Medical School
  • Dr. James Giordano Professor of Neurology; Chief, Neuroethics Studies Program at Georgetown University Medical Center
Read full transcript and/or Listen to the show:

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