Saturday, April 11, 2015

A Tourette tale

I encountered an individual with the most impressive Tourette syndrome I have ever seen long before I know anything about neurology, much less Tourette syndrome. This was in the late sixties/early seventies at a small liberal arts college. When I went to visit as a prospective student, I attended a seminar in which this obviously brilliant and academically aggressive student played a predominant role, He had long, curly, tousled hair which he tossed or scratched with impressive frequency. He sniffed and snorted. He made facial grimaces. He was an early admission freshman. I said to myself, I want to be in college with this fellow.

When I was later in college, the college had a relatively small library. You always knew exactly when this student entered, no matter where you were in the library. I did not disdain him; rather, I envied him.

He graduated magna cum laude (the college at the time on principle did not issue summa cum laude degrees). He went to an Ivy League law school. He then went into the entertainment business, serving as a manager for a variety of movie stars. He married a famous actress.

Given what a powerful personality he was at the small college I attended, had anyone applied the diagnosis Tourette syndrome to him, presumably it would have become common knowledge. Just imagine if he had been diagnosed and treated how his life would have been.

1 comment:

  1. Now 61, Peete barely plays anymore, having retired from competitive golf in the spring of 2001 after eight winless and frustrating seasons on the senior tour. He blames his early departure from the game on a debilitating and often embarrassing battle with Tourette's syndrome, the inherited neurological disorder that affects an estimated 100,000 Americans.

    It wasn't until 1999 that Peete was diagnosed with Tourette's, but Dr. Siong-chi Lin, the psychiatrist at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville who made the diagnosis, says the disease has affected Calvin for much of his life. "He actually had the neck jerking ever since he was a kid," Dr. Lin says.

    Peete also would make noises when he got into stressful situations, often by putting his tongue to the roof of his mouth. "It's an involuntary kind of thing," Lin says. "Sometimes he would be under stress playing golf and would have to walk away because he couldn't stop himself from making those sounds."