Now, the stigma surrounding mental health isn’t surprising — at all. A mental illness generally suggests that something is wrong with the brain. Our brain is our control center. It’s responsible for everything we do, and the idea of something being wrong with the brain generally suggests that we’re out of control. And as humans we hate that idea. We hate it so much that we just don’t talk about it. We sweep it under the rug and pretend that it’s not there. But it is. Mental illnesses are a thing. They’re real, and they’re very present. And we need to talk about them.

A large body of research, mostly conducted by parasitologist Jaroslav Flegr of Charles University in Prague, supports the idea that Toxoplasma harbors the potential to change human behavior. In a series of personality assessments spanning more than a decade and involving nearly 2,500 individuals, Flegr and his colleagues found that certain traits often coincide with a Toxoplasma infection. For example, infected men tend to be introverted, suspicious and rebellious, whereas infected women tend to be extraverted, trusting and obedient.

Startling new research suggests certain bacterias may be subtly tweaking our health and even our personalities