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Could Vaccines and Antibiotics Prevent Mental Illness?

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Usually, mental illness grabs the public’s attention when it’s linked to a terrible tragedy, such as a mass shooting or a particularly heart-wrenching suicide. The public’s reaction usually is to mourn, and then to go about their lives. They dismiss the mentally ill by thinking, “These people are weak. They were brought up wrong. They’re crazy. They have something wrong with them.” Now, however, in her new book Infectious Madness: the Surprising Science of How We “Catch” Mental Illness (Little, Brown; October 6, 2015) award-winning investigative science writer Harriet A. Washington presents compelling evidence that mentally ill people weren’t merely “born that way.” She claims that many mental illnesses aren’t genetic. They’re caused by viruses, much the same way viruses…

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