Valerie Curtis

Valerie Curtis is senior lecturer in hygiene promotion at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. She leads a programme on handwashing in developing countries.

Sick as a Parrot: animal self-medication

Valerie Curtis and Alison Jolly, 10 July 2003

“A better theory is that drugs are a short circuit to the pleasure centres. Pleasure is usually a reward for behaviour patterns that are good for survival and reproduction. By taking a psychoactive drug, animals (and people) skip the hard work of getting food, getting resources or getting laid, and get the pleasure pay-off directly. Because psychoactive chemicals are rare in the wild and come in small doses, the casualty rate in spaced-out animals hasn’t been high enough for it to be a factor in selection.”

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