I went to the neurologist recently for the first time in many years. It was the conclusion of a genetic study I agreed to participate in 10 years ago. It concluded with an MRI and a long survey regarding Tourette’s Syndrome. One thing struck me–they still don’t seem to know the exact Tourette’s causes. This can be extremely frustrating to someone who is recently diagnosed. I didn’t really care by that point, but I thought I’d take a moment today and give you the remedial explanation I got when I was a freshman in High School.
It comes down to chemicals. In this case, I was given a riveting lesson about dopamine. Then, as now, Tourette’s facts were in short supply.
“Josh,” said the good doctor, who seemed to hate his job, “Whenever you move part of your body, your brain sends a signal to the part of your body that you’re going to move. Those signals ride a drug called dopamine. There is too much dopamine in your body, so it overflows and signals get sent that you are not consciously sending.”
“Even if it’s just a wink?”
Hence the involuntary motion of this tic disorder. I’ve done a lot more research since then, and so far, it’s as useful an explanation as any I have found. It makes it a lot easier to talk to people when they say, “Now, why are you doing that?”
If it helps, feel free to run with the explanation. If not, you won’t hurt my feelings!
Good luck, you beautiful, twitchy people:)