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Is There Really a Link Between Owning a Cat and Mental Illness?

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Is there really a link between owning a cat and mental illness? Is it safe? Viacheslav Lopatin/Shutterstock.com Francesca Solmi, UCL and James Kirkbride, UCL Over the past few years, cats have increasingly attracted media attention due to a number of scientific studies reporting that a Toxoplasma Gondii (T. Gondii) infection is linked with mental health issues, including schizophrenia, suicide and intermittent rage disorder. Since domestic cats are the primary hosts of T. Gondii – that is, they provide an environment within which this parasite can reproduce – it is often speculated that cat ownership may put people at increased risk of mental illness, by exposing them to it. However, only a handful of small studies have found evidence to support a link between owning a cat and psychotic disorders, such as schizophrenia. And most of these investigations have serious limitations. For instance, they relied on small samples, did not specify how participants were selected, and did not appropriately account for the presence of missing data and alternative explanations. This can often lead to results that are born out of chance or are biased. To tackle these limitations, we conducted a study using data from approximately 5,000 children who took part…

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Carrie Fisher – Champion for Mental Health Discussion

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The end of 2016 is going to be remembered as a period where each day brought a new celebrity passing for us to mourn. One day after her daughter Carrie Fisher passed away, Debbie Reynolds suffered a stroke while planning her funeral and sadly left us as well. In what can only be described as a tragic state of affairs, it is an extremely sad ending to two incredibly gifted and talented women. The loss of Carrie Fisher is made even more sad from the fact that she was such an advocate of discussion on mental health. She truly epitomized what it meant to be a mental health advocate, taking any opportunity that she could to bring mental illness issues into the light for discussion and to help to remove the stigma that is attached to it. As mentioned in the opening quote on the Rolling Stones feature, Fisher understood that the power in talking about mental illness was to remove the shame that surrounds it. Shame cannot exist one it is spoken aloud and greeted with acceptance. After her passing on the 28th December, many of her fans took to Twitter and did the unexpected; they came out about…

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Book Review: The Consolations of Philosophy

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Book Review: The Consolations of Philosophy Occasionally, a book comes along that manages to capture that rare combination of being delightfully easy to read while also being remarkably insightful. ‘The Consolations of Philosophy’ is one such book and the one that made me become an instant fan of Alain De Botton. While some may find it bordering on ‘self-help’, there is a charm about this work that makes it feel more like a casual chat that is inspiring rather than trying to take itself too seriously and coming across as overly pretentious. There is something truly approachable about De Botton’s writing style in that it feels like he is sitting across a cafe table from you, casually chatting about all these fascinating philosophers from the past and what they had to say that can be used to provide us with some assistance today. He has the incredible ability to make philosophy come to life so that it becomes more than just a framework of thought but something that is relevant to us and that we can apply to our own lives. De Botton offers up six chapters covering different topics within ‘The Consolations of Philosophy’; Unpopularity, Not Having Enough Money,…

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OUTthink – Chat with Daniel

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The following is a transcript of the first podcast of ‘OUTthink’. It’s the first part of a two-part podcast. OUTthink is now available to download or stream now from iTunes, Youtube and Podomatic. Lawrence Akers: Hi, and welcome to OUTthink. My name is Lawrence Akers. I am a clinical therapist, a member of the LGBTQI community, and a passionate advocate for mental health. I’m going to pass it over to my guest to introduce himself for this week. Daniel Cordner: Good day! My name’s Daniel Cordner. I’m a graphic designer, I’m a bike rider, I like to dig in the garden, vegetarian, I love to train handstands, and I’ve also been living with HIV for 11 years. LA: Thanks Danny. So living with HIV for the past 11 years — obviously it’s something that’s become a part of your life and it’s something that you’re quite comfortable with. Let’s start perhaps by going right back to the start and perhaps talking a little bit about what it was back then to be diagnosed HIV positive. DC: So I was diagnosed 11 years ago. HIV was a very different thing 11 years ago. So when I was first diagnosed, I was…

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