Regressed Carnivore Syndrome (RCS) is a degenerative neurological disorder that sometimes occurs in Recoms descended from predatory animals. RCS causes a Recom to become dangerously aggressive while gradually losing the ability to reason, in time regressing to entirely instinctual behavior.
This disorder only affects Recoms descended from predatory animals, or who at least draw a significant percentage of their genetic heritage from predatory animals; recoms of feline and/or mustelid descent are especially susceptible to this condition.
RCS does not affect any species other than Recoms; something unique in the mixture of human and animal DNA results in this condition.
Talesians have certain exceptionally rare mental disorders unique to their species that resemble RCS, but are completely separate conditions.
There is no cure for RCS and no way to reliably predict if a Recom is going to ever develop signs of the illness. Fortunately incidences are rare, only affecting 1 individual out of every 200,000.
Symptoms of RCS include heightened aggression, increased territorial behavior, shortened attention span, an inability to focus on tasks requiring advanced cognitive skills, a marked decreas in a Recom's ability to communicate verbally, an increased reliance on body language and animalistic noises for communication, a sudden desire for raw meat, an increased desire to hunt, predatory behavior demonstrated in the presence of small animals or even Recoms descended from prey animals, cruel and sadistic behavior. In most cases of RCS a neural scan will reveal a degradation of the frontal lobes and an increased level of activity in the more primitive regions of the brain. In the advanced stages of RCS a Recom may become so feral as to lose any capacity for rational thought, the individual behaving entirely like a wild animal.
Very rare instances of RCS will case an increase in aggression but leave the higher functions of the brain unaffected, resulting in a dangerous balance of extreme predatory aggression and human reason. Such individuals have a high likelihood of becoming serial killers.
RCS is treatable in its early stages with certain mood altering drugs; such treatments have a high rate of success, with minimal side effects beyond some case of listlessness and depression. Advanced cases of RCS have been treated to some degree with more aggressive drug treatments as well as minor brain surgery, though the changes to personality and neural function tend to be irreparable. In a majority of cases, early treatment will prevent RCS from advancing to its later stages. Once RCS has advanced to its later stages, the Recom usually has to be either euthanised, institutionalized, or exiled to a wild colony world where it can cause the least amount of harm.
First observed in early generations of Recoms in the late 20th century, RCS was not formally diagnosed until 1997, resulting in a significant backlash against the already controversial program of genetically engineering, nearly resulting in the outright banning of the practice. The corporations responsible for creating Recoms started a public relations campaign insisting that RCS was just a fluke in design and that it could be easily screened out and eliminated. Euthanasia was usually the solution for affected Recoms. In subsequent generations the disorder still occured at random, but cases were rare; after Recom rights became law there was a greater emphasis on treating RCS rather than killing the affected individual. Doctors today routinely screen Recoms for signs of RCS and are very aggressive in treating the disorder in its earliest stages, making it very rare that it can ever advance to a more severe stage. More often RCS is seen occurring on colony worlds where medical treatment is not as reliable; within core systems it is virtually unknown.
A few rare individuals afflicted with RCS maintain their capacity for reasoning in spite of the hightened state of aggression, usually resulting in them becoming serial killers or assassins....cunning, sadistic and exceptionally dangerous. Such individuals have been become a manifestation of the darker side of Recoms, in the popular media; frequently brought up throughout history by anti-Recom activists as a reason why it is a mistake to have created Recoms in the first place, and why they can never live peacefully with humans.
The condition "Regressed Carnivore Syndrome" was created by science fiction author Roz Gibson, and first mentioned in her novella, "Unforgiven". RCS is referenced in NeoSpace with her permission.