04 December 2007

Compulsions in Tourette's Syndrome

In An Anthropologist On Mars Oliver Sacks describes the compulsions of Tourette's Syndrome:
it is often difficult for Touretters, to see their Tourette's as something external to themselves, because many of the tics and urges may be felt as intentional, as an integral part of the self, the personality, the will. It is quite different, by contrast, with something like Parkinsonism or chorea: these have no quality of selfness or intentionality and are always felt as diseases, as outside the self. Compulsions and tics occupy an intermediate position, seeming sometimes to be an expression of one's personal will, sometimes a coercion of it by another, alien will. These ambiguities are often expressed in the terms people use. Thus the separateness of 'it' and 'I' is sometimes expressed by jocular personifications of the Tourette's: one Touretter I know calls his Tourette's 'Toby,' another 'Mr. T.' By contrast, a Tourettic possession of the self was vividly expressed by one young man in Utah, who wrote to me that he had a Tourettized soul.' [102]