Rage Disorder Tied to Cat Feces Parasite
People who “fly off the handle” at what seems like little provocation may actually be suffering from a strange disorder.
According to the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, irrational outbursts (like road rage) have been significantly linked with toxoplasmosis, a parasite commonly associated with cat feces.
Intermittent explosive disorder (IED) has been defined as "recurrent, impulsive, problematic outbursts of verbal or physical aggression that are disproportionate to the situations that trigger them." Up to 16 million Americans are thought to have IED.
That’s a lot of anger.
Toxoplasmosis is a common and generally harmless parasitic infection that is passed on through the feces of infected cats, contaminated water or undercooked meat. It affects around 30% of all humans but is normally latent.
Researchers evaluated 358 adult Americans for IED, personality disorder, depression and other psychiatric disorders and gave them scores for traits such as anger, aggression and impulsivity. They also screened for toxoplasmosis using blood tests.
The results showed that 22% of those with IED tested positive for toxoplasmosis exposure, compared with 9% of the healthy control group and 16% of the psychiatric control group. The group with IED scored far higher for aggression and impulsivity than either of the other two groups.
The authors point out that the findings do not mean that toxoplasmosis causes IED, or that people with cats are more likely to have the condition. It simply reveals a relationship that needs further exploration.