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
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
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
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.