Do Parasites affect our consciousness?

     “You are what you eat,”

or is it more accurate to say,

“You become what infects you?”

Do Parasites Affect Our Consciousness?
by Steven Guth 2014

The idea that parasitic bugs can affect the way we behave is hard to accept. To do so suggests that “I”, the self-consciousness the very soul we have as a human being can – and is – is being affected by bugs. So am I really I, or is I me and some bug?

This problem exists because we have an essentially western medieval concept of who and what we are. We have been taught to accept that we are a self-conscious identity, a ‘soul’ if you will that lives inside a body during our existence on planet earth.

Or to put it simply, we are body and soul.

Religious people believe our ‘self-consciousness’ is our ‘soul’ and on the death of the body it will have a continuing life. This can be in Heaven, in a spiritualist world of the dead, or even inside another body.

Others believe the soul, our self-consciousness, is but a byproduct of the complex energy and chemical occurrences inside the human brain.

Both, the religious and the agnostic (those who reject the idea of an afterlife) are but two poles of the same thought. One holds the pre 1600’s medieval view the other the modern scientific view.

I suspect there is a bit of reality in between these two poles. Which is where parasites come in.

I have written elsewhere that there is a better way to look at the body, soul and mind dilemma – side stepping the continuum outlined above and borrowing from non-European cultures. I call this the ‘antenna theory of consciousness’. It is a hypothesis that breaks new ground and answers many the unanswerable problems associated with the bipolar religious versus agnostic hypothesis. http://chisync.com/Antenna_Theory/

Back to parasites: Do invaders, parasites, affect human behavior and consciousness? Yes, there can be no question about it.

Consider your own experience when a flu virus finds its way into your body. What happens? Your thought processes get fuzzy. You become overwhelmed, crawl into bed and are unable to fulfil your commitments.

You can say that flu is a simple viral infection that doesn’t affect your soul or your self-consciousness. This point of view would be held by both the religious and agnostic. But is it accurate?

Let’s move onto an infection that we culturally acknowledge can cause severe personality change. Tertiary syphilis, a simple bacteria reputed to bring on paranoia accompanied by delusions of grandeur. It has been suggested that Hitler’s manifested this symptom complex.

Ok, note that I’ve suggested that syphilis a ‘parasitic invader’, not a sickness. Perhaps by now you are coming to see my point of view.

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Now, let’s take the parasitic invader that has hit the fashion pages; it’s a true and fascinating story.  Meet Toxoplasma Gondii (hence force TG), a  protozoa that replicates itself in warm blooded animals – it is so good at this that once it gets into you it stays for your life. Yet it needs cats to sexually reproduce (sexual reproduction gives a huge evolutionary adaptability advantage.)  Now this is the scary part – it travels easily into cats via mice … and to make the mice an easy prey for cats it affects the way mice behave. There is no doubt about this, infected mice lose their fear of cats and even look for rather than avoid cat’s urine. This behavior has been seen time and time again many experimental situations. So here we have it, a parasite that affects consciousness. (Image from Wikipedia, cat and mouse pix Wendy Ingram)

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But humans are not mice. Is human consciousness, human thoughts, human behavior affected by TG ? Maybe and probably.

First digression … Does TG cause Schizophrenia?

Sorry about the digression, but I can’t just lay out facts because the facts are uncertain. So I will present tantalizing bits and pieces that point the way you to what will probably be the facts agreed upon tomorrow.

I first came across TG indirectly. A friend, Hugh complained to me that every spring he developed sever schizophrenia – which were over by summer.  Humm, I thought, that sounds like a fungus, a mushroom blooming in spring. I’ve had experiences with people who have been ‘blessed’ by magic mushrooms who had experienced horrible schizophrenic symptoms – I saw a possible connection. The fungus inside Hugh created a biochemical similar to whatever turned on the hallucogenic experience in the magic mushroom user.

Following this line of reasoning I suggested to Hugh that he eats coarsely grated fresh raw beetroot coated with salt and oil. (The oil helps the beetroot to slip past the stomach acid into the intestines where it can be picked up by the circulating lymph and blood fluids. And, believe it or not, this worked J, the beetroot acted as a harmless antiseptic.

So to return from the digression … The Schizophrenia and cat connection.

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My simple schizophrenia cure sent me on a literature search, had anyone else succeeded with a beetroot, turmeric or other similar natural dye antiseptics? I could find no reference. I did mention my experiment to a practicing medically qualified Psychiatrist and he was keen to try it out as part of his ongoing research. Alas, not unexpectedly, the guiding establishment regarded the project as not medically appropriate.

But the literature search brought up an intriguing co-relation between people who had cats as childhood pets and adult schizophrenia. The link in the causal chain, some suggest, is TG. And it has been reported that people who have their first schizophrenic attack have significantly higher levels of TG antibodies (indicating a new TG infection or a TG replicating cycle) than the control group. Sounds like a direct link BUT about 30% of the world’s population have TG antibodies (yes, that many, with large National variations – 67% Brazilians vers 3% for English people) yet only 0.5% to 1% of people develop schizophrenia. Attempts are being made to link schizophrenia with genetic predispositions – set off by certain variables (like TG) via genome studies. But it is all difficult, parasites have been conducting guerrilla warfare with humans and proto-humans since life began on the planet; science is only beginning to understand their complex and symbiotic relationships with other life forms.

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Other Manipulative bugs.

A large number of parasitic organisms probably exist in helminths, protozoa, fungi, bacteria, archea and viruses that may influence the phenotype of their human host even more than the Toxoplasma {TG}. These organisms are, however, still waiting for research teams to engage in a systematic study of their influence on the human host. Article by Jaroslav Flegr in The Journal of Experimental Biology     http://jeb.biologists.org/content/216/1/127.full  (Pix from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jaroslav_Flegr)

How might TG affect human consciousness?

Leaving aside the intriguing issue of how can one measure consciousness and working only with behavioral data one can see strong co-relates between TG infestations and some behavior.  We have considered the possible schizophrenic connection. Another is the possibility that TG is linked to bi-polar depression illness. Many severe bi-polar sufferers have a strong smell from the mouth before an attack of depression. In the olden days this was seen as a sign of Demonic possession and exorcism was often performed. Perhaps beetroot and turmeric would be better cures.

Which brings up another digression. There is a belief in the alternative energy community that mild electric shock – like one can get from an electric cattle fence – can upset the life cycle of parasitic invaders like TG. This approach is exemplified by the ‘Zapper’, and ECT (Electroconvulsive therapy) … look up parasite zapper on the web and view the sales pitches with a touch of cynicism. But to me the interesting thing is that ECT treatment … look it up on Wiki … passes a zap of current through the brain – a site of TG infestations – to elevate depression and bi-polar symptoms. Does electricity give parasites a hard time? Why not, it’s a new weapon in the continuing adaptive warfare between us and them.

TG, does it cause traffic accidents?

The first study that I stumbled on was done in 2003 when 3890 male military draftees were tested for TG. At the end of one and a half years of Czech army experience those who had a TG infection had 6 times more traffic accidents. (The full study is at http://www.biomedcentral.com/1471-2334/9/72)

Since then there have been many other studies linking traffic accidents to TG – none with the same high correlation. Some attribute the accidents not just to a TG generated fearlessness but to reduced TG generated reaction times.

Many further studies on the affect TG have been done using attitude questioners to separate mind sets between the TG infected and control populations. The results are confusing, culturally determined, and generally with too few subjects. My academic background in Social Psychology and Psychometric testing has made me wary of paper and pencil tests and so I have not included the complex results in this paper. But in summary, besides National differences, differences between males and females were recorded.

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Other parasites that affect behaviour.

Just to make you aware that we humans and mice are not the only candidates for behaviour change brought on by parasites let me quote from an article by Carl Zimmer in the Nov. 2014 National Geographic. On the cover the picture of a lady bird bug completely Zombifed by a species of wasp that has spun a cocoon between its legs. The ladybird is now programed by the wasp (which had been living in its body) to guard the wasp cocoon until it emerges and flies off to continue its life cycle. There are many more examples of altered behaviour brought on by parasitic invasion. Here is one from the National Geographic article …

Killifish normally stay away from the surface of the water to avoid being picked off by wading birds. But when they’re infected with flatworms known as flukes, they spend more time near the surface and sometimes roll so their silvery bellies glint in the light. And it just so happens that the gut of a bird is where the flukes need to go next to mature and reproduce.

And in summary

Let me quote from the beginning and end from the article “Protozoa Could Be Controlling Your Brain”; written by Christof Koch (a Neuroscientist  known for his work on the neural bases of consciousness.) The quote comes from  http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=fatal-attraction

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The ancient debate surrounding the existence of free will appears unresolvable, a metaphysical question that generates much heat yet little light. Common sense and volumes of psychological and neuroscientific research reveal, however, that we are less free than we think we are. Our genes, our upbringing and our environment influence our behaviors in ways that often escape conscious control … Yet nothing approaches the perfidy of the one-celled organism Toxoplasma Gondii {TG}, one of the most widespread of all parasitic protozoa. It takes over the brain of its host and makes it do things, even actions that will cause it to die, in the service of this nasty hitchhiker.

When I engage in a dangerous pursuit, such as taking the end of the rope on a steep section of a granite wall in Yosemite Valley while I’m climbing, I feel as if “I freely decided” to do so, whatever this might mean in a metaphysical sense. Yet my action is most likely caused by an inexhaustible multiplicity of factors not accessible to my conscious introspection, including, yes, possibly some tiny single-celled parasites lodging in my brain and making me act out their silent commands. (pix from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christof_Koch)

How does one catch TG?

Has your cat been eating a sacrificial mouse pushed to its doom by TG? If so, you have a good chance of picking up TG when you get clean out its litter box. So use gloves and take great care. I do wonder about cats licking themselves – and we humans than petting them.

Other sources are dirt, kids sandpits (cats love them as excretion locations), meat not cooked well enough and even the cutting boards on which infected meat has been prepared. TG occysts are hard to kill … taking over 4 years in a refrigerator before they become inactive.  The occysts can even be carried in tap water.

After reading the above you may wonder why not everyone has TG  infestations. Reflect that the infection rate in England with it mice and cats the infection rate is only 3%, while in Brazil it is 67%. Perhaps it is because the English boil their food to ‘death’ while Brazilians like their meat soft and juicy?

ADDENDUM January 2015

Do Parasites affect our consciousness? A note about Lyme’s Disease

Lyme’s disease is caused by an invasive spirochete bacterium related to syphilis. There are about 9 know sub types of Borrelia and it seems to be found pretty well worldwide. Discovered in 1981 it is still not well understood, diagnosis is uncertain and treatment unreliable. And it can more than affect the way your mind works, it can profoundly affect your body. It can hide effectively in the body and probably encysts itself in the brain and other body organs. This results in varied biochemical effects that cause all sorts of mental issues from depression to serious mental problems. The chronic physical results of Borrelia infestation range from known  issues like arthritis to uncertain manifestations like Parkinson’s and MS.

If the above is true, why don’t we know more about it? Why isn’t it discussed? Is it rare or common?

I know 8 people who have been diagnosis with the spirochete. Two have periods in wheel chairs, 2 are withdrawn and perpetually tired, 3 function fairly well in low stress situations with only occasional relapses and one seems to have been cured by a course in the appropriate antibiotic.

I know about 120 people well enough to know about their health. Still, leaving aside my personal experience what do the statistics show? Glaring inconsistencies. It is considered that deer tick is the beastie that carries the spirochete to humans so one would expect it to be common where there are deer – and it is. But it is also found in places with few if or no deer. It seems it can be carried by blood sucking horse flies, and maybe mosquitos, fleas, lice and other blood suckers. It can also be found in human saliva and sperm.

I suspect that a lot of the inconstancies come from the will to diagnosis and the ability to do so accurately. False test negatives are common and false positives are not rare.

Why is it that snowy Switzerland has 26% antibody indications for Borrelia in its population while fertile flat Poland has only 1.5%. While nearby north-western Croatia has an incidence of 43%.

Australia is officially proclaimed to have no Borrelia – yet I know 4 Australians who are confirmed to carry the infestation. It is telling that the Australian CWA – the Country Women’s Association – is currently pressurising the medical profession and the government to acknowledge that Borrelia exists in the Australian landscape. The CWA is an amalgam of farmers wives not a group known for its scientific or intellectual rigour. When organisations like the CWA feels it has to take on the government and medical profession one wonders what is going on.

It appears that Borrelia occurs in parts of Africa and because of the similar symptoms is often confused with Malaria. It is also in South America and its spread across the Northern hemisphere appears total.

The point I’m trying to make is that Borrelia appears to be a much under estimated cause physical problems and mental issues. It is indeed an invasive parasite worthy of your web investigation.

Steven Guth

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