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The History of Tourette Syndrome

Georges Albert Édouard Brutus Gilles de la Tourette (30 October 1857 – 26 May 1904) was a French neurologist who is the eponym of Tourette syndrome. He was born in 'the small town of Saint-Gervais-les-Trois-Clochers, in the district of Chattellerault near the city of Loudun, France', and died in Lausanne, Switzerland.

The first reported case of Tourette Syndrome in medical literature was in 1825, when Jean Marc Gaspard Itard described the case of the Marquise de Dampierre. The Marquise was a noble woman whose symptoms included coprolalia (the utterance of swear words).  She regularly shocked her high society friends by yelling out obscenities during conversations.

In 1885, Dr. George Gilles de la Tourette (1857 - 1904) a French neurologist at l'Hôpital de la Salpêtrière described nine patients with "maladie des tics", citing the Marquise de Dampierre as his primary case example. He described a condition where those affected twitched and jerked uncontrollably.  The sufferers also cried out or grunted, or, in the Marquise's case, swore.
Dr. George Gilles de la Tourette (Born Georges Albert Edouard Brutus Gilles de la Tourette) was a student of Jean-Martin Charcot.  Charcot was the director of l'Hôpital de la Salpêtrière and one of the most important and influential neurologists of his day.

Most of his subjects were young males. This was probably one of the reasons his "maladie des tics" was so widely accepted. When these symptoms appeared in females, they were considered to be part of the vague condition, hysteria.  However, because this malady affected males as well, it was considered a separate medical condition.

Georges Albert Édouard Brutus Gilles de la Tourette (30 October 1857 – 26 May 1904) was a French neurologist who is the eponym of Tourette syndrome. He was born in 'the small town of Saint-Gervais-les-Trois-Clochers, in the district of Chattellerault near the city of Loudun, France', and died in Lausanne, Switzerland.

At the time of Gilles de la Tourette's "maladie des tics", Charcot was on a personal quest to classify groups of neurological symptoms into syndromes. "Maladie des tics" was perfect, and Charcot renamed it 'Gilles de la Tourette illness'. Gilles de la Tourette also noticed that the illness tended to run in families.  The parents or siblings of a patient with a serious case of Tourette would tend to have a mild form of the same condition.

Ironically, Gilles was shot by a deluded woman who was a patient at the famous l'Hôpital de la Salpêtrière hospital.

Tourette syndrome was initially considered to be a psychological one. The observation in the 1960s that certain drugs called neuroleptics were effective in treating TS, refocused attention from a psychological to an organic central nervous system cause.

Very much like OCD, people with Tourette Syndrome are not psychologically impaired, obstinate, or unintelligent. Most people with the disorder lead normal productive lives, with some of them excelling in their given professions.  Those thought to have suffered from TS include Samuel Johnson the lexicographer, and André Malraux, the French author.   Mozart, and Manchester United and US goalkeeper, Tim Howard, also recently admitted to suffering from the condition.

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