Jaroslav Flegr

Mind-controlling cat parasites

Theories that a cat parasite can alter the minds of humans — triggering sexual desire, testosterone levels, recklessness, suicidal urges, and now even schizophrenia — are gaining momentum. A fascinating Atlantic profile of the Czech scientist leading the theories about Toxoplasma documents the mind-control hypotheses as they've grown from crackpot fringe science to heavily studied phenomena. Once seen as mainly a threat to pregnant women (it can cause brain damage in fetuses), Toxoplasma then became known as "zombie rat parasite," then "crazy cat lady parasite," and now it's gaining a reputation as the "all kinds of scary shit parasite." NPR, Radiolab, and Carl Zimmer's parasite chronicling have made it a star.

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