"When I breathe, it breathes. When I speak, it speaks. When I try to sleep, it won't let me. Whatever I attempt to do, it's there, waiting to spoil the moment. To a doctor, it's a disorder, a medical oddity. To an onlooker, it's a spectacle—perhaps humorous, perhaps grotesque. To me, it's a monster, a demon, a hellish beast who has no right to exist in my world or anyone else's—it's my unwelcome companion," wrote Rick Fowler, a sufferer of Tourette syndrome. In a recent film, one of the characters suffered from TS. This disease was portrayed as humorous and easily controlled. However, actual research of TS shows quite the opposite.
Touretts syndrome is mainly known as a tic disorder. Tics are involuntary, rapid, repetitive, and stereotyped movements of individual muscle groups (Bruun, 1984, p. 2). However, Tourette's is not the only tic disorder that one can have. A transient tic disorder begins during the early school years, occurring in up to 15 percent of all children. These tics are said to not persist for more than a year, but it is not uncommon for a child to have a series of transient tics over the course of several years. Chronic tic disorders are differentiated from those that are transient, not only by their duration, but by their relatively unchanging character (1984, p. 4). These tics are said to persist unchanged for years. Chronic multiple tics suggest that an individual has several chronic motor tics, with a hard line between to determine the differences. The most debilitating tic disorder is Tourette syndrome (Fowler, 1996, p. 26). TS is a complex behavioral disorder that is poised between the mind and body, governed by innate vulnerabilities and environmental circumstances. The interaction of these forces within the mediating influences of the individual's personality and interpersonal environment shapes the expression of this disorder and influences the individual's long-term adaptation (1996, p. 27). TS is so powerful that it can almost completely take control over the mind and body, in some cases forcing a person to withdraw from society.
In the 1800s, Tourette's was once thought to be a demonic possession (Kushner, 1999, p. 15). However, a French neurologist, Georges Gilles de la Tourette, was fascinated by these supposed "demons" in the person. In 1885, he studied and described to medical doctors the symptoms of this disease, in which he discovered caused those afflicted to exhibit uncontrollable "tics" (Fowler, 1996, p. 33). The disease later became known as Gilles de la Tourette syndrome.
The symptoms of TS usually appear before the individual turns eighteen. When involuntary tics occur in a person for over a year, they are usually diagnosed with TS. However, this concept of "involuntary" tics may be hard to define operationally, since some patients experience their tics as having a volitional component—a capitulation to an internal urge for motor...