History of Tourettes

The first published representation of Tourette Syndrome is believed to be in a 1489 book Malleus Maleficarum ("Witch's Hammer") by Jakob Sprenger and Heinrich Kraemer. It described a priest with strange tics.

The formal recognition of Tourette's Syndrome as a disorder occurred during the 19th century. The first reported case of the disorder occurred in 1825 by French doctor, Jean Gasparted Itard. A French woman named Marquise de Dampierre, a woman of nobility, suffered from episodes of coprolalia. The madams vulgar statements and strange behavior were in stark contrast to her otherwise refined manners, background, and intelligence.

In 1885, Georges Gilles de la Tourette, a French neurologist, published a report of nine patients with the disorder. Tourette studied psychotherapy, hypnosis, and hysteria under influential French physician Jean–Martin Charcot. The specific goal of the studies was to define an illness distance from chorea and hysteria.

Tourette concluded his account by stating that a new clinical category needed to be defined for the disorder. Charcot named the disorder in Tourette's honor, following the publication of his 1885 account entitled "Maladie des tics".

Tourette's was originally believed to be a psychological disorder. However, research during the 1970s advanced the argument that the disorder has a neurological cause. Recently, a hybrid view of the cause has been more widely accepted, which combines biological predisposition with environmental factors. However, there is still no consensus as how to best classify Tourette's.

Tourette's affects people from all over the world. More than fifty countries have contacts with the Tourette Syndrome Association, ranging from Brazil to Australia, China to Poland, South Africa to Turkey. Since the disorder is not frequently detected, it is difficult to determine how many people suffer from the disorder. Based on estimates, it is likely that more than one million people worldwide have Tourette's.