Coprolalia and swearing tics

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Please note: Articles on lived experiences can be a trigger for those with tics, OCD and anxiety disorders. Articles are intended to show we aren’t alone, and that help can improve quality of life.

Swearing tics (Coprolalia) affect roughly 10% of all Tourette and tic disorder sufferers. Coprolalia has gained much attention worldwide due to its seemingly shocking nature.  It has been portrayed in many TV shows, movies and stand-up routines in recent decades.

Swearing tics are vocal tics. Despite having a unique name- Coprolalia– these tics come from the same processes as other motor or vocal tics.

Would swearing be classed as a simple or complex tic?

Like shouting tics, this depends on a couple of factors.

Is the tic to state one word, or does it form more of a sentence?

Is the swearing tic combined with a larger pattern of behaviour, or carried out with other tics simultaneously?

A simple tic would be to say a swear word, whereas a complex tic would be more of a sentence, or combined with more actions.

Main article: The difference between simple and complex tics

Coprolalia can bring about more problems than just tics

In a world still uneducated on Tourette syndrome, swearing tics can be seen as offensive or rude by other people. This is particularly true for those feeling ‘targeted’ by a tic. 

Although this is no fault of the person with tics, this can bring on added stress or potential confrontation.

Overly using the vocal chords can sometimes wear out the voice, and cause mouth and throat dryness and soreness.

Is this caused by Tourette syndrome?

Despite coprolalia being the stereotypical symptom of all Tourette sufferers, not all sufferers have this tic, and not all swearing comes from Tourette. 

This has to be diagnosed by a professional, over a specific time period. 

Main article: The difference between Tourette and other tic disorders

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DISCLAIMER: Articles contain lived experiences, but cannot be used to diagnose. Medical advice can only come from trained professionals. 

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Dealing with Disorder was created by a sufferer, struggling to find information to help manage the conditions.