Felines are Fine: New Research Finds No Evidence that Owning a Cat Might Make You Psychotic

Toxoplasma gondii

In recent years there has been a surge in interest in the idea that human behaviour might be sometimes manipulated by microscopic parasites, as this has been observed happening in many other species. Perhaps the most famous example is the brain parasite toxoplasma gondii, which manipulates rodents' behaviour to make them less fearful of cats. It does this because toxo only reproduces inside a cat's stomach - by making the rodents less fearful, they are more likely to be eaten and 'deliver their payload' to where it needs to be.

Some have suggested that humans too might be affected by toxo, an idea that sounded even more plausible when last year researchers found that chimpanzees with toxo seem to be less fearful of a feline predator, the leopard. Previous to that study, other research had implicated toxo as the possible cause of a range of psychological effects in humans, from delayed reaction time right through to suicidal thoughts.

But a new piece of research has now thrown doubts over that idea, with scientists finding no evidence that cat ownership contributes to mental health problems in teenagers:

Congenital or early life infection with Toxoplasma gondii has been implicated in schizophrenia aetiology. Childhood cat ownership has been hypothesized as an intermediary marker of T. gondii infection and, by proxy, as a risk factor for later psychosis. Evidence supporting this hypothesis is, however, limited.

We used birth cohort data from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC) to investigate whether cat ownership in pregnancy and childhood (ages 4 and 10 years) was associated with psychotic experiences (PEs) in early [13yo] and late [18yo] adolescence, rated from semi-structured interviews. We used logistic regression to examine associations between cat ownership and PEs, adjusting for several sociodemographic and socioeconomic factors, household characteristics and dog ownership.

Cat ownership during pregnancy was not associated with PEs at age 13 years or 18 years. Initial univariable evidence that cat ownership at ages 4 and 10 years was associated with PEs at age 13 years did not persist after multivariable adjustment. There was no evidence that childhood cat ownership was associated with PEs at age 18 years.

The researchers concluded that while pregnant women "should continue to avoid handling soiled cat litter, given possible T. gondii exposure", overall the study "strongly indicates that cat ownership in pregnancy or early childhood does not confer an increased risk of later adolescent PEs."

So there's one less excuse to use when your child asks you for a kitten...

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"I believe that imagination is stronger than knowledge. That myth is more potent than history. That dreams are more powerful than facts. That hope always triumphs over experience. That laughter is the only cure for grief. And I believe that love is stronger than death."

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News Briefs 22-02-2017

My daughter Isis reviews fantasy genre books from her viewpoint as a teenager - check out her blog 'The Book Goddess' for some cool recommendations (both old and new).

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The Golden Ratio Coloring Book

The Golden Ratio Coloring Book by Steve Richards

When I was looking for suitable artwork for the cover of Darklore Volume 8, I was lucky enough to serendipitously come across the amazing drawings of Steve Richards, aka the (poetically named) 'Cosmic Joker'. When I asked Steve about how he fell into drawing sacred geometry-themed artworks, he told me that the urge to make art hit him just seven years ago in 2010, though stopped shortly after, before returning in 2012, when "I immediately knew it was staying and it wasn't going to just disappear". Along with this urge came a "throbbing" in Steve's forehead as well as tinnitus.

So for 6 months I just drew non stop bright vibrant pictures with colouring pencils...and then in Dec 2012 I picked up a fineliner [and] haven't stopped since!

My life long passions regarding the nature of reality, consciousness, ancient Egypt, synchronicity, cycles and symbols are themes I'm trying to put into my Art and finding ways of including information too, where symbolic, coded or literal. Trying to make information beautifull springs to mind.

Steve now has more than just a book cover as part of his portfolio - he has an entire book! As part of the recent interest in colouring-as-a-form-of-meditation, Steve created the illustrations for the recently released book The Golden Ratio Coloring Book: And Other Mathematical Patterns Inspired by Nature and Art. If you're into colouring, and you read this site, then it's likely this book will be right up your alley with illustrations like this:

Platonic Consciousness

You can find out more about Steve/follow him on social media/buy his stuff via the following links:

News Briefs 21-02-2017

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Thanks @thePumamama and @MattStaggs..

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RIP to the funky drummer...

Thanks Kat.

Quote of the Day:

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A Question for Alex Jones: Are the Owls What They Seem?

Bohemian Grove

When, in 2000, conspiracy theorist cum Presidential advisor Alex Jones infiltrated the infamous 'Bohemian Grove' - a meeting place for the rich and powerful - he was confronted with a pagan sacrificial rite (or a piece of theatre, take your pick) taking place in front of a 30-foot high sculpture of an owl, the official symbol of the Bohemian Grove meeting.

From this it was clear: the owl is a symbol of the global elite, our hidden and not-so-hidden rulers, who gather at Bohemian Grove to decide our fates. So much so that even 8 years later, Jones's InfoWars site ran with their insights on a video of George H.W. Bush wearing a cap with an owl on it...

[In the video] Bush 41 unabashedly wears a ball cap with an owl, the mascot of the Bohemian Grove Club. After the video loads, scrub to 2 minutes, 20 seconds to see George’s hat.

The initiation ceremony totem animal of Bohemian Grove is the owl, which figures prominently in occult symbolism as the fusion of “wisdom” and nature. So important is the occultic owl to our rulers, it long ago found a place on our fiat currency.

Bush, of course, is a fixture at Bohemian Grove, although the vast majority of the people are ignorant of this fact. And maybe that’s why George is rubbing this in our faces, as the elite are wont to do, even on national television.

Fast forward 17 years from Alex Jones's first-hand look at the goings-on at Bohemian Grove, and now, incredibly, Jones himself is buddies with the President of the United States, with InfoWars acting as an official propaganda channel for the Trump candidacy and subsequent administration.

But Trump needed more help than just Jones's proselytising to get elected. He also needed campaign finance: and one of his biggest backers was mysterious billionaire Robert Mercer, CEO of the equally enigmatic Renaissance Technologies, who chipped in more than $20 million to Trump's Super PACs. Mercer's "people" were also installed in high places in Trump's team, such as Kellyanne Conway and Stephen Bannon (Mercer had earlier backed Bannon's Breitbart website to the tune of $10 million).

So maybe someone should tell Alex Jones that Robert Mercer is fixated with owls...

Mercer has dubbed his house the Owl’s Nest. Owls seem to be something of a familiar for Mercer. He’s commissioned a succession of yachts, all called Sea Owl, the latest of which stretches to 203 feet, with a pirate-themed playroom for the grandkids and a chandelier of Venetian glass...

...At the Owl’s Nest, visitors pass through pillars crowned by a pair of owl statues, their wings outstretched as if taking flight. People who’ve been inside describe a pistol range, a series of secret passages, and an octagonal tower holding a two-story library.

I'm sure you wouldn't have to remind Jones that one of the 'camps' (groupings) of people at the Bohemian Grove event is..."Owls Nest" (consisting of "U.S. Presidents/Military/Defense Contractors"). Could it be that Alex Jones has had the wool pulled over his eyes, and - rather than being a Presidency for the people - the man pulling the strings of the Trump presidency is Bohemian Grove personified?

Or perhaps I'm assuming far too much here, and the owls are not what they seem. But all the same, I do like to imagine the batshit insanity we would be seeing from Jones right now if Clinton had been elected president instead, and it turned out one of her major financial backers embraced the owl symbol in the way Mercer does...

Sleep Paralysis Nightmares Recreated By Photographer

Nicolas Bruno sleep paralysis hypnogogic hynpogogia photography art

For years, photographer Nicolas Bruno has suffered hypnogogic sleep paralysis. His mind is awake, but his body feels completely paralysed. Unable to move, Bruno is assaulted by hyper-realistic visions of malevolent presences, screaming disembodied heads, demonic creatures crushing his chest, and other nightmares. So real are the experiences, Nicolas began to think he was possessed by demons.

I would go to bed and I would wake up immediately right into one of those dreams. I wouldn't sleep for two days at a time because I was so afraid to go to bed.

Soon, insomnia and suicidal depression became worse than the sleep paralysis. A conversation with a high school teacher changed his life, and Nicolas began to recreate his hypnogogic hallucinations through photographic art. His work is both fascinating and frightening.

“For people who haven’t experienced it, and say they want to – they really don’t. You’ve never woken up being choked out by shadow hands. You’ve never had a looming figure floating above your bed, screaming into your ear.”

Nicolas's art has reached out to other sufferers, and he's now working on a virtual reality project. You can find more of Nicolas Bruno's photography on his website, and by following him on Facebook and Instagram.

Nicolas Bruno
Facebook
Instagram

Quote sources: 1, 2.

If you're curious to know more about sleep paralysis, a phenomenon experienced worldwide and since ancient history, I highly recommend Sleep Paralysis: A Guide to Hypnagogic Visions and Visitors of the Night by Ryan Hurd, an in-depth and practical exploration. Australian sleep paralysis experiencer Louis Proud approaches the phenomenon from a perspective a la Colin Wilson and Whitley Strieber in Dark Intrusions: An Investigation into the Paranormal Nature of Sleep Paralysis Experiences. The Terror That Comes In The Night is a scholarly investigation by David Hufford, with historical accounts.

  • Sleep Paralysis: A Guide to Hypnagogic Visions by Ryan Hurd
    Amazon US/Kindle
    Amazon UK/Kindle

  • Dark Intrusions by Louis Proud
    Amazon US/Kindle
    Amazon UK/Kindle

  • The Terror That Comes in the Night by David Hufford
    Amazon US/Kindle

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