Monday, January 02, 2006

Tics and pig dicks

So, here we go again with a new term, a new year and a whole bunch of new resolutions. One of mine last year was to find a way to control my terrible swearing, which got so bad at work that I used to joke about having Professional Tourette's. Not that having Tourette's Syndrome is a laughing matter, as today's article in the Guardian makes very clear. Tourette's is a brain disorder which affects language and behaviour. On the language side of things it causes coprolalia (involuntary swearing and bad language) and echolalia (repeating words), which can make life very difficult for people with the condition.

The article is based on an interview with a girl called Jessica (and her parents) who features in a documentary starting tomorrow about five British children who went to the States on a special Tourette's camp. Hmm, sounds suspiciously like the teenagers from hell documentary so I'm not expecting much more than voyeuristic entertainment masquerading as intelligent TV, but I'll give it a go as I find language disorders deeply fascinating. If I understood the first thing about Science, which I wish I did, I'd want to know more about what these disorders have to tell us about the function of the brain. But as I don't, I'm really curious to know how other people react to people with Tourette's in social situations, especially given the frequency with which the most taboo language is used, particularly racist language.

Jessica explains that once people know she has no control over this, they are cool with it. I have no reason not to believe her, but if this is the case it raises really interesting questions about the way we perceive taboo language ie it is not nearly as 'absolute' as we tend to think it is.

Check the article, check the programme.

'If I was offered one wish, I'd ask not to have Tourette's for one week. But it won't happen, will it?'

Tourette Syndrome

4 Comments:

At 4:20 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your sort joke about this but try living with it! It isn't so funny when you cannot control it. Have you ever asked yourself how much your use of it depends upon conscious effect? Wish mine could. I challenge you to a day where you have to say the F-ward at least every 10th word. Really! How long would it be before the school sent you home? Let me know. Henry

 
At 7:31 pm, Blogger Dan said...

I sympathise with your problem, Henry but "your sort"??! It's not just swearing that can offend but sweeping generalisations about other people!

Presumably, if it's a recognised condition then you're hardly likely to be expelled for swearing if you can't control it.

 
At 7:57 pm, Blogger E-Julie said...

I said in the post that Tourette's ISN'T a laughing matter. The 'joke' about Professional Tourette's perhaps relies on knowing that I was working in a situation I found so mind-bendingly stressful that I did develop an inability to control my swearing. It wasn't Tourette's, but my verbal behaviour was out of control and I found it frustrating and upsetting to be like that. So, rather than laughing at anyone for a verbal tic, I empathise very deeply. I also recognise that I am fortunate that a change of job solved the problem...

 
At 8:37 am, Anonymous MrsRochester said...

It's absolutely no f**king joke - look for the t***s did to me! B******s! (Oh - you wouldn't happen to have a light would you?)

 

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