This project started on a hunch. I was sure that had heard someone use the phrase “political Tourettes”, or I was at least sure that I could find an example of it. One of the first things I found was Lewis Black on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart assailing Glenn Beck. Black said Beck had “Nazi Tourettes”. This got me thinking about how many other kinds of this colloquial use of Tourette’s could I find.
So I sat down with Google and got to work categorizing every possible type I could find. I thought I might find a handful, but I ended up with over twenty distinct types of what I started calling colloquial or non-clinical Tourette’s — there’s Artistic Tourette’s, Musical Tourette’s, Keyboard Tourette’s, Shopping Tourette’s, Twitter Tourette’s, Laughing Tourette’s, and Religious Tourette’s just to name a few. The prolific use of this term, technically the co-opting of a disorder very close to my heart, indicated to me that for whatever reason, people felt comfortable using “Tourettes” as a way to diagnose their own strange urges.
Despite the ignorance implicit in most of these colloquial uses, I find joy in people using Tourette’s as a way to explain their behaviour. Tourette’s Syndrome is spectral both in its relation to other disorders (such as OCD, bipolar, ADHD, schizophrenia, Autism/Asberger’s, and others) and it’s distribution of intensity across the population. How many people have Tourette’s? That depends on how strong a dose of Tourette’s you’re talking about. A strong dose? Is the person barking, braying, shouting profanities, coming out of their chair, hitting people? Then we’re talking about a very small portion of the population. But a weak dose? Your Aunt with the twitchy eye thing, the guy at work with the “nervous cough”, your friend that keeps pulling her hair? Then we are talking about a huge portion of the population. This is all guess work on my part, but my current feeling is that if we broaden our definition enough, it could be more likely you have Tourette’s than not.
Be sure to visit the website where you can take a quiz and get your own personalized diagnosis and find out What’s Your Tourette’s.