Toxoplasmosis; an odd reason for BDSM

Toxoplasmosis linked to decreased fear response

cat photo toxoplasmosisThe article title crossed my Twitter feed. And I just had to click.  I mean, my mouse clicked out of necessity.  Maybe it was attracted to the potential danger of going down another research rabbit hole and it had no fear at the mention of “cat”.

The headline read:
What Having A Cat Says About Your Sexual Preferences: Cat Owners May Be More Into Bondage And Sexual Submission (BDSM) Than The Rest Of Us

“Oh!,” I thought, “Another one of those cute lists about cats being dominant animals in any household and …”

I’m sure you know the type of post I’m referring to. I did not expect it to be a real scientific study. But, there I found myself … staring at those words that pull me in every time:

” According to a new study, a symptom of toxoplasmosis, a condition humans catch from their feline friends, is sexual arousal by fear, violence and danger. This means your love for all things painful could be due to Mr. Fluffy.”

Oh, this I have to read! (because “study” and “cats” and “BDSM“)

Reduced fear response

As is often the situation, scientists observed a behaviour in mice & rats … in particular, they found that rodents that were infected with the parasite Toxoplasma gondii had a change in their behaviour. Instead of being afraid of the smell of a cat, they were attracted to it. This is commonly called “the fatal attraction phenomenon“.

The conclusions? Here’s an excerpt:

Our study confirmed the existence of specific differences in sexual behavior, desires, and preferences between Toxoplasma-infected and Toxoplasma-free subjects. The character of these changes, that is, the higher attraction to bondage, violence, and, in men, to masochism and raping supports our hypothesis about the coactivation of sex-related and fear-related medial amygdala circuits in humans. It must be stressed that the Toxoplasma infection explains only small part of the variability in BDSM-associated traits.

And now I want to get a serology test to screen for Toxoplasma gondii because I have had cats for most of my life and I may have a sexual attraction to fear and violence.

Other toxoplasmosis links

It should probably also be pointed out that toxoplasmosis has been connected with OCD, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder, as well as an increased chance of being in a car accident (according to a Czech study). While it is odd to think that having cats could be a possible cause for increased attraction to danger, toxoplasmosis does affect the amygdala which has been shown to perform a primary role in the processing of memory, decision-making, and emotional reactions.

Being exposed to the faeces of an infected cat is not the only way to contract toxoplasmosis.  Handling certain types of meat and contaminated water are also sources of the parasite.

Camille Beaujolie
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Camille Beaujolie

On-Air Personality at Stereo-Typed on TPOK Radio
Host of Stereo-Typed on TPOK Radio, an educational, research-based internet radio show/podcast that seeks to challenge beliefs about and within the Alternative Sexuality cultures. Contributor to the TPOK Monthly newsletter.
Camille Beaujolie
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