By Howard I. Kushner
Over a century and a part in the past, a French medical professional suggested the weird habit of a tender aristocratic girl who could by surprise, all of sudden, erupt in a startling healthy of obscene shouts and curses. similar to the Marquise de Dampierre echoes throughout the a long time because the emblematic instance of an disease that this day represents one of many fastest-growing diagnoses in North the United States. Tourette syndrome is a collection of behaviors, together with recurrent ticcing and involuntary shouting (sometimes cursing) in addition to obsessive-compulsive activities. The attention-grabbing background of this syndrome finds how cultural and scientific assumptions have decided and substantially altered its characterization and therapy from the early 19th century to the current. A Cursing mind? strains the complex class of Tourette syndrome via 3 precise yet overlapping tales: that of the claims of clinical wisdom, that of sufferers' reports, and that of cultural expectancies and assumptions. prior researchers asserted that the unusual ticcing and impromptu vocalizations have been psychological--resulting from sustained undesirable behavior or loss of self-discipline. this present day, sufferers showing those behaviors are obvious as struggling with a neurological affliction and usually are taken care of with drug treatment. even if present medical study shows that Tourette's is an natural illness, this pioneering background of the syndrome reminds us to be skeptical of scientific orthodoxies in order that we may well remain open to clean understandings and more suitable interventions. (20001209)
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Extra info for A Cursing Brain? The Histories of Tourette Syndrome
13 However, Guinon insisted that careful observation over time demonstrated that sufferers did not ªt Gilles de la Tourette’s assertion of a life-long progressive disorder. , he reported that “to the contrary, outside her periods of illness,” Mme J. was completely normal. 14 The case of a thirty-eight-yearold railway employee who displayed tic disorders and compulsive behaviors, including the need to count to seven whenever he got up in the morning, convinced Guinon that convulsive tic disorders were often informed by what today might be characterized as obsessive-compulsive behavior.
Indeed, it was partly the rigidity of Gilles de la Tourette’s classiªcation that undermined its diagnostic usefulness by the late nineteenth century. This has had two important consequences, one historical and the other clinical; although the boundaries separating medical history from clinical practice are less demarcated than is often supposed. In essentializing Gilles de la Tourette’s particular reading of Itard’s text, other possible meanings of Dampierre’s symptoms have been lost. Those who wish to trace the history of tic illnesses have searched for clinical cases that mesh with the symptom course that Gilles de la Tourette ascribed to the marquise.
Advocates of the moral treatment believed that health depended on the combination of diet, atmosphere, climate, work, and lifestyle; disease, even lesions in the brain, resulted from imbalance of these elements. Fed by a belief that, like the environment, individuals were malleable, suppressive The Case of the Cursing Marquise ◆ 15 modes of control were de-emphasized in favor of more repressive behaviors. 14 Thus, Itard persisted in his attempt to teach Victor to read and speak, and insisted that the mute be taught to talk as well as to learn sign language.
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