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Not many people have heard of Gilles Tourettes Syndrome GTS It is a complex and intriguing disorder that displays distinct physical characteristics and unusual mental behaviour It was the French neurologist Gilles de la Tourette who in 1885 was the first to conduct a systematic study of the motor and vocal tics which are a hall mark of the syndrome Over a century later the diagnostic criteria for GTS are still being refined but the generally accepted diagnostic criteria found in the DSM - 111 - R of the American Psychiatric Association 1987 are as follows a Both multiple motor and one or more vocal tics which must have been present at some time during the illness although not necessarily concurrently b The tics occur many times a day usually in bouts nearly every day or intermittently throughout a period of more than one year c The anatomical location number and frequency complexity and severity of the tics change over time d Onset is before the age of 21 years e Symptoms do not occur exclusively during psychoactive substance intoxication or known central nervous system disease such as Huntingtons chorea and post-viral encephalitis Although the disorder is still considered to be quite a rarity it is believed to effect one person in every two thousand people in Britain GTS effects people in all cultures and ethnic groups Abuzzahab Anderson 1976 however recent studies have suggested that it is more prevalent in people of Jewish or East European origin Eldridge et al 1977 Golden 1977 Shapiro et al 1978 Wassman et al 1978 One possible explanation for these findings might be people with these origins might have a greater genetic predisposition towards GTS However a more likely explanation is that other cultural factors such as their expression and tolerance of the symptoms are responsible for the higher referral rate of patients being treated for the disorder Golden 1978
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