Have you heard of Tourette syndrome? In Spain, it is still considered a rare disease based on its prevalence in the population. However, studies at the international level indicate that the disorder is actually much more common than previously thought [1,2].

Given that , June 7, is European Tourette Syndrome Awareness Day, today’s post is dedicated to debunking common myths and misconceptions about Tourette’s.

Let’s deconstruct Tourette syndrome.

WHAT IS TOURETTE SYNDROME?

According to international diagnostic criteria, Tourette syndrome (TS) is a primary motor disorder with the chronic presence of tics as a core feature [3,4], and is often associated with other conditions such as ADHD and OCD [1].

WHAT DEFINES A TIC?

The word tic derives from the Italian ticchio [5] meaning caprice as synonym of whim and extravagance [6,7]; however, far from being a whim or caprice of the individual who manifests them, tics are involuntary movements or vocalizations, although they may be extravagant because they appear repetitively with an inappropriate intensity and frequency, and are decontextualized or unrelated to situations since they are not goal-directed behaviors like voluntary movements [8] or the voluntary emission of words or sounds.

DECONSTRUCTING TOURETTE’S

  • More than a syndrome, it is a spectrum disorder. Different subtypes of Tourette’s have been described [1,9], which is why it is currently considered more appropriate to speak of the spectrum of Tourette disorder rather than of Tourette syndrome [10].
  • Blurting out obscenities is a rare symptom of Tourette’s. Coprolalia (inappropriate involuntary uttering of obscenities without offensive intent [1,10]) is one of the most popular symptoms of TS, partly due to its diffusion through cinema and media. Although coprolalia might certainly be one of the most significant features, it only occurs in less than one fifth of affected individuals [11].
  • Special creativity for music. Although there is no linear relationship between excess of dopamine and creativity, the scientific literature emphasizes an association between Tourette’s disorder and musical creativity [12].
  • Its origin is not psychological. The idea that the aetiology of Tourette syndrome was psychological has now been discredited [1] since aetiological suggestions include genetic factors and environmental influences [1].

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