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Tourette Syndrome: An Overview Essay

2569 words - 10 pages

Tourette Syndrome: an overviewNot many people have heard of Gilles Tourette's Syndrome (GTS). It is a complex and intriguing disorder that displays distinct physical characteristics and unusual mental behaviour. It was the French neurologist Gilles de la Tourette who, in 1885, was the first to conduct a systematic study of the motor and vocal tics which are a hallmark of the syndrome. Over a century later the diagnostic criteria for GTS are still being refined, but the generally accepted diagnostic criteria found in the DSM - 111 - R of the American Psychiatric Association (1987) are as follows: a) Both multiple motor and one or more vocal tics which must have been present at some time during the illness, although not necessarily concurrently.b) The tics occur many times a day (usually in bouts), nearly every day, or intermittently, throughout a period of more than one year.c) The anatomical location, number and frequency complexity and severity of the tics change over time.d) Onset is before the age of 21 years.e) Symptoms do not occur exclusively during psychoactive substance intoxication or known central nervous system disease, such as Huntington's chorea and post-viral encephalitis. Although the disorder is still considered to be quite a rarity, it is believed to effect one person in every two thousand people in Britain. GTS effects people in all cultures and ethnic groups, (Abuzzahab & Anderson 1976) however, recent studies have suggested that it is more prevalent in people of Jewish or East European origin, (Eldridge et al 1977; Golden 1977; Shapiro et al 1978; Wassman et al 1978). One possible explanation for these findings might be, people with these origins might have a greater genetic predisposition towards GTS. However, a more likely explanation is that other cultural factors, such as their expression and tolerance of the symptoms are responsible for the higher referral rate of patients being treated for the disorder, (Golden 1978, 1979; Wilson et al 1978). Other studies have shown that GTS is found in all social classes, (shapiro et al 1878) and clinical studies of the disorder show a 3.7: 1 sex ratio of males to females who have been reported to suffer from the disorder (Corbett et al 1969). CLINICAL CHARACTERISTICS OF TOURETTE'S SYNDROME. The age of onset of symptoms ranges from 2 - 15 years, with a mean age of onset of about 7. By the age of 11 years symptoms have appeared in 96% of GTS sufferers. The most frequent initial symptom being the tic's involving the head, (e.g. hair-out-of-the-eyes-tic), grimacing, blinking, or other facial movements; twisting of the head and neck; or shrugging of the shoulders. They also demonstrate behaviours such as, licking, spitting, touching, hitting, smelling of hand or objects and a variety of complicated movements such as retracing steps, walking backwards, twirling, and deep knee bends. Other characteristics are vocalisation, which generally appears later than the motor tics. These include;...

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