Sudden wink, abruptly shouted screams, sudden sniffing at the other person: Patients with Tourette's syndrome show strange behavior. They can do little about it and are - contrary to common assumptions - not intellectually impaired.
How does a person feel with Tourette syndrome?
Imagine, you feel that a hiccup is approaching. You are currently in an important meeting and are trying hard to suppress it. For a while, that works too - just by being able to concentrate on it. But then the pressure increases, the hiccup makes its way - unstoppable and loud.
And now try to imagine that the hiccup manifests itself as twitching of the eyes, shoulder or limbs, involuntary sounds, shrill cries, or compulsive ejection of obscenities. Extremely uncomfortable, right? This is roughly how people who suffer from (Gille-de-la) Tourette's syndrome (TS) often feel several times a day. In Germany, it is estimated that up to 40, 000 people are affected.
What is Tourette's syndrome?
The TS is a neuropsychiatric disorder that was first scientifically described in 1885 by the French neurologist George Gilles de la Tourette on the basis of patient observations. It is characterized by so-called tics, usually sudden, involuntary (purposeless), rapid, sometimes violent movements of muscle groups (motor tics) or vocalizations (vocal tics). They occur mainly in the same way and often in series. They are further subdivided into simple and complex forms.
The simple tics include motor, for example, head and shoulder prints, grimacing and eye blinking as well as vocal sniffing, tongue flicking, throat clearing, fiepening, grunting and squealing.
The complex tics include jumping, touching other people, twisting the body, showing obscene gestures (copropraxies) or self-injurious behavior (SVV) like beating, scratching or pinching and - as vocal forms - the expulsion of offensive words ( Coprolalia), the throwing out of inappropriate words and fragments of conversation as well as the obsessive recitation of sounds, words or sentences (echolalia) or the repetition of even spoken words or sentence ends (palilalia).