The Atlantic: David Kohn: When Gut Bacteria Change Brain Function

There’s a premise for a screenplay in here somewhere. It could be a “House MD” style medical detective story. A patient’s behaviour suddenly changes, presenting with what looks like autism, but they’re fifty. Test upon test leave the team stumped, until they discover a recent trip abroad introduced an unfamiliar bacteria to the patients gut. The happy ending version of this story has the team introducing healthy bacteria, restoring the patient to full health. There’s also a “Lorenzo’s Oil” type story in there. Parents struggle to raise their child with severe behavioural problems. Setting out on a mission to help their child, they take on experts, challenge orthodoxy, and discover an imbalance of bacteria in their child is causing the problem. I could also see this premise being more sinister. A pandemic story. Our germaphobic heroine starts to see the people around her change, congregating like bees in a hive, as the bacteria spreads. Our heroine hooks up with a small group trying to evade this new “normal”, and find a way to fight back. I envision something more akin to “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” than “28 Days Later”. It has the potential to explore issues of power and control and normalisation.

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