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The Sex Virus - Open Knowledge — LiveJournal

Oct. 15th, 2006

01:10 am - The Sex Virus

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A friend of mine (who I won't identify out of a desire to continue breathing) reports that illness often makes her randy.

Now, I can't recall that ever happening to me. All I've ever wanted when really sick was just to lie in bed and watch Star Wars, or read a book. However, other people have reported simular phenomenon.

What might be the mechanism? We know that certain parasites can change their hosts behavior in order enhance the parasite's reproduction. For example, the parasite Toxoplasmosis gondii can only complete its reproductive cycle in cats. But it can live in a variety of intermediate hosts in the meantime, including rats and humans. And it appears that T. gondii changes the behavior of both.

Normal rats avoid areas marked by cat urine. But rats infected with the parasite T.gondii are indifferent to cat urine. Some even seek it out. Obviously this increases the likelihood that the rat will be consumed by a cat, allowing T. gondii to reproduce.

In humans, high concentrations of antibodies to T. gondii have been correlated with schizophrenia and other neuorological disorders. It's still unclear to what extent T. gondii contributes to these disorders, or how they would enhance T. gondii's survival. But isn't it curious that one of the sterotypes of the mad is their fondness for cats? The "crazy cat lady" in the house down the street may be feeding her pride of 27 cats at the behest of a parasite infecting her brain.

And if T. gondii can influence behavior, why not viruses? After all, what better way to transmit a virus than to make your host want to swap bodily fluids with someone else?

And imagine if, through genetic engineering, the mechanism of action could be identified. Or enhanced. And made sex selective.

Imagine hordes of randy sick women ripping their clothes off and throwing themselves at the nearest shocked, but somewhat flattered male.

What a horrible day that would be for us all.

Comments:

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From:pentomino
Date:October 15th, 2006 06:08 am (UTC)

Occam's razor!

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The crazy cat lady is probably better explained by the human hoarding instinct, unless there is also a baseball card parasite, comic book parasite, and garage full of shit from eBay parasite.
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From:crasch
Date:October 15th, 2006 06:15 am (UTC)

Re: Occam's razor!

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No doubt the hoarding instinct gone awry explains much. However, if it were merely the hoarding instinct, we should expect that other companion animals would be hoarded with equal frequency. Why do we rarely see or read of the "crazy dog lady"?
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From:pentomino
Date:October 15th, 2006 07:10 am (UTC)

Re: Occam's razor!

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First, I think Janeane Garofalo was up to three at one point.

Second, stray cats are more common than stray dogs, as dog owners generally have to contend with leash laws, and dogs have a sense of loyalty that cats lack. So if there's a cat lady in your neighborhood, she might start with one or two. Then that one goes into heat, attracts some strays, and next thing you know, it's a cat orgy. And once you've fed more than one stray, you're in the Cat Zagat's Guide.

I'm most concerned about correlation vs causation. The parasite may be linked with schizophrenia, not because the cats cause it, but because schizophrenia causes cat hoarding.
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From:crasch
Date:October 16th, 2006 08:52 am (UTC)

Re: Occam's razor!

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Then that one goes into heat, attracts some strays, and next thing you know, it's a cat orgy.

Yes, that's true. Although wouldn't the same apply to stray dogs? Perhaps it's because cats have more kittens/litter?

I'm most concerned about correlation vs causation. The parasite may be linked with schizophrenia, not because the cats cause it, but because schizophrenia causes cat hoarding.

Oh, I agree that no causal link has been established.
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From:integreillumine
Date:October 15th, 2006 02:23 pm (UTC)

Re: Occam's razor!

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Also, pets can supplement social needs, especially for those who find it easier to give/take love from those who can't talk or argue or need as complexly as more human equals.
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From:integreillumine
Date:October 15th, 2006 02:25 pm (UTC)

my mom's a crazy cat lady

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Cats are also lower maintenance, generally. Easier for the crazy to care for.
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From:crasch
Date:October 16th, 2006 08:52 am (UTC)

Re: my mom's a crazy cat lady

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True.
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From:nelliebelle
Date:October 15th, 2006 06:34 am (UTC)
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i'm the crazy cat lady
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From:crasch
Date:October 15th, 2006 06:47 am (UTC)
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And Toxoplasmosis Gondii thanks you!
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From:zandaralee
Date:October 15th, 2006 06:38 am (UTC)
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Not sure if you're aware, but quite a few studies have been done about the links between T. gondii and behavioural changes in humans. The women apparently do become more social and more sexually promiscuous. I'm linking to one of the first articles I found, as I'm having a bit of difficulty picking the correct phrase to search with, but I have read of it in the past as well.

Link.

Wikipedia also has a small section about human behavioural changes.
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From:crasch
Date:October 15th, 2006 06:48 am (UTC)
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Thanks! Yes, I'm aware of an alleged link between T. Gondii and human behavior. (See link I made in my post. ) But I don't think a causal mechanism has been established yet.

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From:jenarael
Date:October 15th, 2006 11:12 pm (UTC)
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I recall having a couple journal articles pass across my desk and T. gondii and behaviour -- there are so many examples in entomology that I find it quite plausible that mammalian behaviour is just as strongly influenced by parasitism.

This said, I actually have a stuffed "mind-controlling parasite" hanging from my rear-view mirror.
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From:plantgirl
Date:October 15th, 2006 07:19 am (UTC)
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I've noticed an association between a small increase in my regular temperature, and feeling more randy. I'm not sure if the elevated temperature mimics the increase that happens during ovulation, or if it's that my skin is more sensitive, and so more reactive to touch, or some other factor I haven't yet considered.

Very high fevers just make me feel icky.
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From:herbaliser
Date:October 15th, 2006 06:32 pm (UTC)
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agreed.
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From:pasquin
Date:October 15th, 2006 12:00 pm (UTC)
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I think you're looking at the wrong etiology. This isn't biology, it is psychology. It was reported to me that being sick makes a woman feel vulnerable, unprotected—bound, if you will.

That's why you don't find being ill arousing.
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From:crasch
Date:October 16th, 2006 08:45 am (UTC)
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An interesting hypothesis. I had not considered that some women find being vulnerable arousing. If true, we should also expect that other events which make one vulnerable to also be arousing. For example, do women with broken legs feel more aroused than normal?
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From:pasquin
Date:October 16th, 2006 01:51 pm (UTC)
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A more apt comparison is the arousal some women experience when bound. That feeling of being at someone else's mercy. Another condition where affection can be a part of the process.

I wouldn't recommend running over women as foreplay, Christopher.
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From:crasch
Date:October 21st, 2006 04:41 pm (UTC)
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I wouldn't recommend running over women as foreplay, Christopher.

Well, how else do you get them to lie down?
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From:jasonecaesar
Date:October 15th, 2006 03:17 pm (UTC)

Umm..

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I've been following along all right so far. But I have to ask; what s that a picture of?
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From:crasch
Date:October 15th, 2006 03:30 pm (UTC)

Re: Umm..

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Click the picture. The I recommend reading only the first two paragraphs if you don't want spoilers.
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From:jasonecaesar
Date:October 15th, 2006 03:45 pm (UTC)

Re: Umm..

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Okay. Will do. ^_^
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From:kenshi
Date:October 16th, 2006 06:12 pm (UTC)
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I get really horny when I'm just getting over being sick, but not during the illness itself. My wife reports similar effects.
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