Five myths about Tourette’s that need changing

There are many misconceptions floating about the web related to Tourette’s Syndrome. It is one of the most misunderstood conditions out there, however with more awareness and social media coverage things are changing.

I wanted to publish a post with a handful of these misconceptions, in the hope that one day they are no longer.

Here are five of those myths about Tourette’s.

Tourette’s Syndrome makes people swear a lot

Tourette’s Syndrome makes sufferers carry out involuntary motor and vocal tics. They vary a lot from person to person, and some people swear as a result. However, this is roughly only 10% of those with TS.

This condition has a separate name, Coprolalia.

To say everyone with Tourette’s swears is like saying all cars are Tesla’s or all vegetarians eat grapes.

Some is not the same as all.

People with Tourette’s are attention seekers

If we asked anyone carrying out tics if they enjoyed it, they would give a definitive no.

When I was a kid, I found my tics to be incredibly embarrassing. It was devastating for my confidence and self esteem. In adulthood this hasn’t really changed, although I am more open to talking about it.

Adults can be as mean as children, and often the response to a tic isn’t very flattering. If the tic can be seen or heard as offensive, there is a risk of retaliation too. I am sure every sufferer would want nothing more than to suppress their tics until they are alone, but that isn’t always possible.

Person on platform as train speeds by

It has to be said that with the invention of social media, some people try to mock Tourette’s or even pretend they have the condition. These people no doubt seek attention, but they most certainly do not have TS.

Those with Tourette’s can stop tics if they want to

Tics starts with an involuntary urge, preceded with a voluntary action to relieve that urge.

Think of it like scratching an itch. You didn’t want to have that itch, this is involuntary. However the only way to get rid of it is to voluntarily scratch it.

Tourette’s is no different. Someone with a mild case of TS could probably resist the urge if really necessary, however it wouldn’t be pleasant like resisting a scratch. Someone with a more severe case would tell you they have no choice, or would not be able to resist. A little like grabbing your foot after accidentally kicking the door frame.

There are certain jobs that people with TS aren’t allowed to do

This is partly true, depending on the severity. Some jobs just couldn’t be carried out in extreme cases, being a driving instructor or brain surgeon for example.

Saying that however, surgeon Dr. Morton Doran did make headlines due to having TS, managing to suppress his tics whilst operating. Pretty amazing stuff.

There are also stories of people joining the military and police force with TS, and even gaining promotions.

Many people with Tourette’s have shown a creative or talented side, and used it to become very successful in their craft. Tim Howard the former U.S Mens National Goalkeeper, the artist and singer Billy Eilish and Ethan Klein of H3 being great examples.

People with Tourette’s need carers and face restrictions in life

Following on from above, most people with Tourette’s live relativley normal lives, and can go above and beyond that.

Only in extremely rare cases does Tourette’s require additional help from others, and most people only rely on specialists for therapy or medication to help reduce symptoms.

TS does not reduce life expectancy, nor does it increase the risk of seizures either. There is no reason why someone with it cannot go on to live a normal life and find a job, raise a family and achieve goals.

Family walk down beach at sunset

Roughly one in 100 people has TS, it isn’t as rare as one would think. Some people do not even realize they have it, or find it stressful enough to do something about it. We walk past people with the condition daily and it shows how common it is. It isn’t as rare as previously thought.

Ending the myths about Tourette’s

With more freedom and technology to share our stories to the world, we will have a more accurate account of what Tourette’s looks like across the board. Myth’s about Tourette’s will be a thing of the past and not just with TS, any condition for that matter.

We are all guilty of ignorance in one way or another. All we can do is help end it in the ways it affects us and try to do the same for others.

I hope this post provides a glimpse at some of the ways TS is misinterpreted in media.


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