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the FAQs about
Tourette Syndrome

1.2 - Emotional, Behavioural, and Other Related Problems

The scientific literature on tics and the like is fairly common. Occassionally one may catch side references to "associated behavioural problems" and "psychiatric syndromes" that often accompany chronic tic syndromes, but on these not all the books are very clear.

This is actually strange, since most authors mention that tics themselves often do not concern Touretters and that they seek medical and psychiatric help for other reasons.

The first two that I present here, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder and Attention Deficit Disorder, are relatively well described. But these don't seem to be the type of labels under which Touretters always identify themselves.

One often hears whispered questions in the vein of "Do you also have..." and then some or other "weird" experience. These "subjective" accounts of Tourette are in my mind more valuable than the scientific accounts. Please, post!


a) Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

Other common symptoms of TS are obsessions and compulsions, which also go by the label Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD). One could view the latter as extremely complex tics.

Obsessions are recurrent ideas or thoughts which seem to invade and take control of your mind, without your consent. The content of the obsessions can vary. Examples are:

* obsessions about violence and recurrently imagining violent scenes
 *obsessions about numbers and counting everything
* obsessions about words and spelling
 *obsessively having to question everything
Compulsions are repetitive actions one feels compelled to make, often in a ritualistic fashion. Quite often these rituals are gone through despite the fact that one does not really want to do them, and despite wanting to resist them. Examples are:
* having to do petty things just right
 *always aligning all books to be perpendicular with the table
* having to leave the same way you came
 *checking and rechecking something
* always touching things an even number of times
One could say that compulsions are the same as tics: a similar urge is present, but the actions are not carried out automatically because they are too lengthy and complex; the actions are carried through deliberately as one finally has to give in to the urge.

(There is an alt.support.ocd newsgroup.)


b) Attention Deficit Disorder

Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) is one of the most common companions of TS - as many as 50% of Touretters have some form of it.

In most cases, ADD is accompanied by hyperactivity, which leads to the term Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). In earlier years people spoke of "hyperactive children." What is less well known is that these children can grow up to be ADD adults.

The main symptoms of ADD are inattention and impulsivity - difficulty in keeping your attention focused on one thing, and being susceptible to a broad range of distractions.

Early in life many ADD'ers experience problems in school early in life and it is for this reason that their parents often seek help. The norm seems to be for most Touretters to be diagnosed in childhood or adolescence as having "Tourette Syndrome with ADD". If the physician making the diagnosis is ignorant of TS or is unfamiliar with its milder forms, the diagnosis of Tourette might never be made.

(There is an alt.support.attn-deficit newsgroup.)


c) Moods, Episodes and Weird Feelings

Many Touretters report that they are prone to moods such as despondency, and weird feelings such as that the world is just a movie or that there is something terrifically important in the specific contour of the pencil sharpener on their desk.

The main characteristic of all these seem to be that they suddenly appear "out of the blue" and diappear the same way. Also, rationally knowing them to be delusions does not always help - a deeper part of the mind seems to have caught a hold of them. Just to let go again without warning.

Most psychiatrists would class these under various headings such as mania or obsessions; and not much is written about them. I strongly believe that we as Touretters should get together and discuss these and other aspects of Tourette as we experience it.

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