Giles de la Tourette Syndrome; girl uttering a swear word

Giles of the little tower syndrome.

Like most other people I have no idea who this particular Giles was and where the tower was with which he was associated. Neither do I know what connection he has with the phenomenon with which his name is also associated. I do know the following facts.

All or nearly all of the cases I encountered were seen by me in the residential school for e.b.d. boys which, for a time, housed the boy referred to in the article "A sad case".

It was interesting that all of these came from the Liverpool area, and all had been seen by one particular psychiatrist who had stuck the Giles de la Tourette syndrome label on them.

I interviewed all of these boys and, while they were all rather foul mouthed, the incidence of ticquing was very low, and the degree of this not much more than the odd twitch. It clearly was much more parsimonious and simple to explain these boy's behaviour in terms of a particular type of verbal model provided by their family and friends and general social group, than in terms of some bizarre neurological condition.

The facts demonstrated various interesting points.

A diagnostician, with a pet disease or syndrome, is apt to see this condition in almost anyone or anything he sees.

The person, and his family, will probably accept this, and this acceptance itself is determined by these factors:-

a)The tendency to be influenced by a high status individual, e.g. an 'expert' in a field, someone with a title, e.g. 'Doctor' etc.

b) An ulterior motive for the person, or his family, to accept the verdict of the 'expert'.

While the era of slavish acceptance of pronouncements by 'experts' is probably over, due perhaps to the proliferation of self-publicising self-proclaimed 'experts', this still has a role to play. As for the second factor the point is that a person, e.g. a parent, may accept the view of the professional, and also accept the fact of the professional accepting a view of their child's condition, because this gives them a weapon in a battle to have their child being given, sometimes free, various treatments and placements, e.g. in special schools which the parent sees as having facilities and resources not present in some other school.

c) The desire for a more interesting and acceptable reason for the child's behaviour than the actual one. This is the same motive as the one which makes the family insist that their child is 'autistic', rather than mentally handicapped. It is also the one which makes the child 'dyslexic' rather than just mentally backward. In our present case it makes the child a sufferer from a neurological condition rather than be the product of a low class, intellectually and linguistically challenged sub-group.

In short we see another chimera, to add to our list of chimeras.