A rare autosomal dominant genetic disorder
characterized by repetitive
muscle movements and sudden vocal outbursts
. In earlier centuries, it was sometimes misdiagnosed
as demonic possesion
. Related disorders
, Impulse Control
problems, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
, certain Learning Disabilities
, and sleep disorders
It is believed that Tourette's Syndrome is caused by an abnormal metabolism of the neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin. Girls with the Tourette's gene have about a 70% of succumbing to the syndrome. With boys, the probability is 99%.
The Diagnostic criteria for Tourette's are as follows:
- Multiple tics of both muscular and vocal quality.
- Occurrence of tics every day, usually in bouts, for about a year
- Periodic changes in the number and location of tics.
- Onset before the age of 18.
Tourette's is usally diagnosed
by ruling out
other causes of the tic
Uncontrolable swearing is the stereotype of the Tourette's sufferer, but it actually occurs in only about 30% of victims. It should also be noted that these tics are not spasms as much as they are urges by the subject to perform the repetitive motions.
Tourette's has no effect on life span, but it can severely hamper social interaction. It is usually treated with antipsychotic medications such as chlorprozamine and haloperidol. Reducing stress through exercise, music, counseling, and other methods also helps.
Oliver Sacks relates a story of a jazz drummer whose affliction with TS kept him from holding any steady day job. However, once he was put on medication, he found that his drumming skills suffered. He found fulfillment by taking his pills during the week, in order to retain control, and by taking a drug holiday on the weekends to retain his creativity.
Thanks to health.yahoo.com, http://members.tripod.com/~tourette13/, and to The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat by Oliver Sacks.