Tourette syndrome (TS) is now recognized as a common neurodevelopmental disorder. It has gained increasing public awareness and scientific interest worldwide. Unfortunately, tic disorders continue to be associated with significant social stigma.1 Public opinion continues to be overly focused on coprolalia,2 which is the vocal manifestation characterized by involuntary and repetitive use of obscene language. Coprophenomena (ie, other socially inappropriate behaviors),3 explosive or rage outbursts,4 intrusive echophenomena (ie, imitative behavior),5 and forced touching6 have been observed to trigger serious reactions in bystanders, especially within different social contexts.7 This, in turn, may lead to verbally abusive or violent altercations.8 Many of our colleagues overseeing tic disorder specialty clinics have anecdotally encountered patients with tic disorders who have both experienced violent assault and perpetrated criminal behavior. However, it is unknown how prevalent these issues truly are as well as whether social stigma may contribute to—and at times drive—these behaviors.
Martino D, Leckman JF, Okun MS. Why Some Individuals With Tourette Syndrome Experience Assault and Perpetrate Criminal Behavior. JAMA Neurol. 2022;79(5):442–444. doi:10.1001/jamaneurol.2021.5541
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