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June 1996

Gilles de la Tourette and the Discovery of Tourette Syndrome: Includes a Translation of His 1884 Article

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Psychology (Mss Lajonchere and Nortz and Dr Finger), the Neuroscience Program (Dr Finger), and the Philosophy-Neuroscience-Psychology Program (Dr Finger), Washington University, St Louis, Mo.

Arch Neurol. 1996;53(6):567-574. doi:10.1001/archneur.1996.00550060111024

In 1885, Gilles de la Tourette described 9 patients who suffered from a disorder characterized by involuntary movements, echolalia, echopraxia, coprolalia, and strange, uncontrollable sounds. In his article, Gilles de la Tourette presented some earlier descriptions of this disorder. To appreciate what first led Gilles de la Tourette to Tourette syndrome, however, it is necessary to turn to an article that he published a year earlier. In his 1884 article, Gilles de la Tourette cited several movement disorders that he thought were similar to each other, yet different from true chorea. After describing these disorders, namely, "jumping" of Maine, latah of Malaysia, and miryachit of Siberia, he briefly mentioned a boy in Charcot's ward in Paris, France, who seemed to exhibit the same condition. In an addendum, he then said that other cases were now surfacing in Paris and that he would write an additional article describing these individuals. To achieve a more thorough understanding of the events that led Gilles de la Tourette to his 1885 description of the disorder that now bears his name, we herein present an English-language translation of his 1884 article along with a commentary.

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