Tourette's Syndrome [Edited title]

If a person who suffered from Turets had never been exposed to profanity would their outbursts be gibberish?

Turrets: A small medieval tower

Tourette’s Syndrome: an inherited neuropsychiatric disorder

I hate when I break out in turrets.

More on topic, Tourette’s does take on a variety of forms of which spontaneous profane exclamations are the best known. I had an acquaintance with mild Tourette’s whose tic was a cough that would punctuate his speech whenever he was even slightly stressed or nervous.

However, IANAD but I suspect that in the case proposed in the OP the person would utter whatever repressed words or phrases they knew, even though they might be mild by obscenity standards.

Most Tourette’s outbursts are gibberish anyway, I think.


At my previous place of employment, there was a woman in the mailroom who barked like a dog every few minutes, just a kind of onomatopoeia “BHARCK” sound.

A documentary program about the affliction showed one sufferer who struggled not to say “nigger” whenever a black person was nearby. He was not a racist by any measure, but as *Gyrate notes, the sufferer tends to blurt out words that come to mind that they know should not be uttered publicly, but they are unable to prevent the words from being uttered.

Case in point: a friend once worked at a place that employed a Tourettes sufferer. One day when they were in the elevator a small-breasted woman came aboard, and the Tourettes sufferer blurted out “no tits no tits no tits” several times before he got it under control.

I have mild Tourette’s. IIRC only about 15% of people with TS suffer from coprolalia (uncontrolled swearing). For most of us the verbal tics are things like little coughing or throat-clearing sounds.

That being said, if somebody with TS & coprolalia had never been exposed to the word “Fuck” I can’t see why they would spontaneously start saying it.

Machine Elf are you thinking of the woman in the documentary “Twitch And Shout”? She had a story about being in line at the bank when a large black gentleman stood behind her. She could tell she was about to say something inappropriate and she was able to partially control it, coming out with the phrase “Purple nigger”. Before she could explain the guy looked at her and said “Lady, if you think niggers are purple you’ve got a problem”.

My verbal tics are somewhat controllable - it’s kind of like holding your breath or not scratching an itch, you can do it for a while but eventually there’s a physical need to do it and you can’t stop it. I can sit here quietly, making no noise and not having any nervous tics…for a little while. Then there’s a sort of tension that builds up and it’s released by the tics.

I worked with a 6-year-old boy with Tourette’s. He did not know any “real” swear words, but would say things that were obscene by a 6-year-old’s standards such as “gotta go POOPIE” and “vagina.”

Actually it was someone else, a man in a department store. The documentary folks were following him through his day with a hidden camera, and on this particular occasion he managed to control his outburst, subverting it into “nickels” instead of “nigger.”

Edited title, originally “Turets.”

General Questions Moderator

I also have mild Tourette’s, and my only vocal tic is a clearing of my throat. If you didn’t know that I had the syndrome you wouldn’t know, I have it fairly well under control these days. Also, my case is pretty mild and has gotten better since I hit my 20’s so it’s not like I am a non stop tic-ing machine. It’s worse when I am in stressful situations of haven’t gotten enough sleep.

Valgard’s description is a good one. I often tell people that not tic-ing feels a lot like trying not to inhale. Try it. Exhale normally and then just hold your breath and don’t breathe in.

That’s sort of what it feels like to try to not tic. Doable, but uncomfortable.

I used to work as a bagger in high school. One of our cashiers would say “fuT!” (fut with a lot of emphasis on the ‘T’) every once in a while. Nobody really asked her about it, but the presumption was that she had tourette’s. I figured she said fut instead of fuck. Which was nice in such a customer-facing position. I think if she’d said “FUCK!” all the time that they would have made her night-stock instead of cashiering.

When I saw [Edited title] I immediately imagined that the original title was something like “Fuck-Shit-Bastard”.