Saturday, November 19, 2005

Of Note: Finally, an Explanation for the Crazy Cat Lady in 5B

My good friend and ever-brilliant writer Michael Rosenwald has a must-read profile in the current issue of Esquire: It's about a scientist who thinks house cats cause schizophrenia. As a scientist, there are moments where this guy sounds like he's onto something, others where he sounds like a complete quack. And this, of course, makes him a fabulously interesting character:

"People frequently mischaracterize Dr. Fuller Torrey's feelings about cats. The other day, an acquaintance gave him a present—a framed five-by-seven photograph of a white kitten sitting on a windowsill, his front paws held up like he was being robbed, a semiautomatic handgun pointed at his head. "Isn't that just wonderful?" Torrey says, looking at the photo in an office full of similar cat jokes. Still, he swears no hostility toward cats. "I like them," he insists. "I actually enjoy being around them." People naturally assume Torrey would enjoy traumatizing cats because he believes that cats make us insane—that they are the leading cause of human schizophrenia. Torrey's theory has led his wife to one of her own: Her husband will one day be assassinated by a cat lover ..." (See the full article for more.)
Now, I must point out a few things. First, the title of the article is "Finally, an Explanation for the Crazy Cat Lady in 5B." I live in apartment 5B. I think this is no coincidence, though Mike swears it is. And second: Don't pack your cat off to the shelter just yet -- as the story points out, this guy's research has a long way to go. And third: My friend Mike is a great writer. If you agree and want more, check out his ASME finalist story "Yesterday They Would Have Died," from Popular Science, and his recent New Yorker story "Drawing Pitchers."

And in case you're wondering about the air silence since my last post: I've been on the road working on a complex science story for the New York Times Magazine, finalizing some details for my book, and giving talks about my book at the University of Wisconsin in Madison for their History of Medicine and Bioethics Program (an absolutely wonderful place and department, though it was inhumanly cold and snowy the whole time I was there).

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