A viral cause for real insanity

The Insanity Virus
[Via Daring Fireball]

Douglas Fox, writing for Discover:

Schizophrenia has long been blamed on bad genes or even bad parents. Wrong, says a growing group of psychiatrists. The real culprit, they claim, is a virus that lives entwined in every person’s DNA.

Same for multiple sclerosis. Fascinating and compelling theory.


It is a fascinating article and a nice demonstration of how science deals with a new theory that attempts to explain all the data that has been generated. And how discoveries by others in slightly different areas help more the research ahead.

And it is also a personal story of a researcher examining a disease that has affected his own family. He was right there for all the research that showed schizophrenia was a biological disorder not a psychological one.

Perhaps caused by an inactive virus that we all carry in our DNA. It just gets turned on in some people due to other viral infections young in life. It may be that these disorders are more the result of inflammatory responses than genetic causes.

It makes one wonder how much of the genome not normally expected to be active or even useful can have detrimental effects. And it makes me wonder if some of this also has beneficial effects that we have not yet found.

Getting the definitive answer will be pretty amazing.