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Deconstructing Tourette Syndrome

Deconstructing Tourette Syndrome

Have you heard of Tourette syndrome? It is considered a rare disease based on its prevalence in the population. However, studies at the international level indicate that the disorder is actually much more common than previously thought [1,2].

Given that , June 7, is European Tourette Syndrome Awareness Day, today’s post is dedicated to debunking common myths and misconceptions about Tourette’s.

Let’s deconstruct Tourette syndrome.


According to international diagnostic criteria, Tourette syndrome (TS) is a primary motor disorder with the chronic presence of tics as a core feature [3,4], and is often associated with other conditions such as ADHD and OCD [1].


The word tic derives from the Italian ticchio [5] meaning caprice as synonym of whim and extravagance [6,7]; however, far from being a whim or caprice of the individual who manifests them, tics are involuntary movements or vocalizations, although they may be extravagant because they appear repetitively with an inappropriate intensity and frequency, and are decontextualized or unrelated to situations since they are not goal-directed behaviors like voluntary movements [8] or the voluntary emission of words or sounds.


A month ago, a study published in Neuron estimated that there are approximately 400 genes that contribute risk in 12% of clinical cases [13].


  1. Robertson, M.M. (2012). The Gilles De LaTourette syndrome: the current status. Archives of Disease in Childhood: Education & Practice97(5), 166-175.
  2. Robertson, M.M., Eapen, V., &Cavanna, A. E. (2009). The international prevalence, epidemiology, and clinical phenomenology of Tourette syndrome: A cross-cultural perspective. Journal of Psychosomatic Research67(6), 475-483.
  3. American Psychiatric Association (2013). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders: DSM-5 (5th ed.) Washington D.C.: Author.
  4. Organización Mundial de la Salud (1992) Clasificación Internacional de Enfermedades y Problemas Relacionados con la Salud: CIE-10 (10ª revisión). Ginebra: Autor.
  5. Varsemanas, D. R. (septiembre de 2002). La incidenciadelestrés y losobjetivos de la terapiapsicológicaenlosaspectosbiopsicosociales y comportamentales del síndrome de Gilles de la Tourette. Unmodelointeractivo para la integración de factores. En S. Jurado (Presidencia). Primer Congreso Nacional de Síndrome de Tourette y TrastornosAsociados. ASTTA, Córdoba, España.
  6. Accademia dellaCrusca(27May2017).
  7. Dizionari Corriere (27May 2017)
  8. Jankovic, J., &Fahn, S. (1986). The phenomenology of tics. Movement Disorders1(1), 17-26.
  9. Robertson, M.M. (2000). Tourette syndrome, associated conditions and the complexities of treatment. Brain123(3), 425-462.
  10. Robertson, M.M.&Eapen, V. (2013).Wither the relationship between aetiology and phenotype in Tourette In: Leckman JF, Martino, D (Eds.), Tourette Syndrome. Oxford University Press, New York, pp. 361–394.
  11. Freeman, R.D., Zinner, S.H., Muller-Vahl, K.R., Fast, D.K., Burd, L.J., Kano, Y., Rothenberger, A., Roessner, V., Kerbeshian, J., Stern, J.S., Jankovic, J., Loughin, T., Janik, P., Shady, G., Robertson, M.M., Lang, A.E., Budman, C., Magor, A., Bruun, R., and Berlin, C.M. Jr. (2009) Coprophenomena in Tourettesyndrome Med. ChildNeurol,51: 218–227.DOI:10.1111/j.1469-8749.2008.03135.x
  12. Espert, R., Gadea, M., Aliño, M. & Oltra-Cucarella, J. (2017). Neuropsicología del trastorno de Tourette: cognición, neuroimagen y creatividad. Revista de Neurología, 64 (s01): S65-S72.
  13. Jeremy Willsey, Thomas V. Fernandez, DongmeiYu, Robert A. King, Andrea Dietrich, JinchuanXing, Stephan J. Sanders, Jeffrey D. Mandell, Alden Y. Huang, Petra Richer, Louw Smith, Shan Dong, Kaitlin E. Samocha, (2017). De NovoCodingVariants are StronglyAssociatedwithTouretteDisorder.Neuron, 94 (3), 486 – 499. DOI:
  14. Ganos, C., Roessner, V., &Münchau, A. (2013). The functional anatomy of Gilles de la Tourette Neuroscience &Biobehavioral Reviews37(6), 1050-1062.
  15. Comisión Europea (27May2017). Las enfermedades raras: un desafío para Europa.
  16. Ministerio de Economía, Industria y Competitividad e Instituto de Salud Carlos III (27 May 2017).Registro Nacional de Enfermedades Raras.
  17. Instituto Nacional de Estadística (27 May 2017).
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