Science-based flash about the parasite that changes people’s behavior

While I have a lot of publications, I mostly only mention the ones here that fit squarely inside one of the most common genres. It’s always tempting to include my other stories, but that would defeat the purpose of providing something for people with a more Genre mind-set, as I fully understand Lit, Interstitial, and Experimental fiction can be kind of a turn-off.

However, I’m going to write about three of my newest stories to come out at Literary Orphans, because though they aren’t about the future, and aren’t hard SF, they are, like so much of my writing, based on science. If you don’t like Slipstream or Science Fiction Fantasy, don’t read these, but if you enjoy playful imagining based on reality, enjoy!

Cat People

is based on a real phenomenon. I like to write about shared consciousness, and this is a good example of that. Here are a few of the links available about it:

“toxoplasmosis-infected drivers are 2.6 times more likely to be involved in car crashes……

Infected men were “more likely to disregard rules,” and were more “suspicious, jealous, and dogmatic.” The traits of the women were the
exact opposite. They were more “warm-hearted,” “outgoing,” and

“Toxoplasma gondii is arguably the most interesting parasite on the planet. In the guts of cats, this single-celled protozoan lives and breeds, producing egg-like cells which pass with the cats bowel movements. These find their way into other animals that come in contact with cat crap. Once in this new host, the parasite changes and migrates,eventually settling as cysts in various tissues including the host’s brain, where the real fun begins.

Toxoplasma can only continue its life cycle and end up a happy adult in a cat’s gut if it can find its way into a cat’s gut, and the fastest way to a cat’s gut, of course, is to be eaten by a cat. Incredibly, the parasite has evolved to help ensure that this occurs. For example, Toxoplasma infection alters rat behavior with surgical precision, making them lose their fear of (and even become sexually aroused by!) the smell of cats by hijacking neurochemical pathways in the rat’s brain.”

“The parasite is thought to have different, and often opposite effects in men versus women, but both genders appear to develop a form of neuroticism called “guilt proneness.”‘

“between 30 and 50% of the global human population is infected.

For example, rats infected with the parasite lose their fear of cats, and are even attracted by their scent, making them easy prey. Scientists have suggested this is how the parasite assures its own survival and propagation: the cats eat the infected rats, shed more parasite through their feces, and that in turn helps to infect more rats.

Other studies have found schizophrenia, depression, anxiety, and other mental diseases are more common in people with toxoplasmosis, and there is also evidence to suggest infection by the parasite is linked to more extroverted, aggressive and risk-taking behavior.”

It’s associated with schizophrenia, ocd, bioplar, suicide, impulsiveness, parkinsons, neurosis, insecurity and the cyst’s location in the brain matter.


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