Using obscene words might indicate Tourette syndrome


12 March 2023

TS is caused due to damage of amygdala, a region of the brain that normally lessens anger and aggression

Hyderabad: Cursing and outbursts of anger that are uncontrollable and a feeling of relief after such episodes can indicate the presence of Tourette’s syndrome (TS), experts said.

TS is caused due to damage of amygdala, a region of the brain that normally lessens anger and aggression. The damage could result in an inability to control anger, including verbal aggression, cursing and using obscene language.

A doctor from Hyderabad reported that a deaf man with TS used sign language to spell out obscenities during episodes of Tourette.

“Tourette Syndrome is common and can affect 1 per cent of children,” says city-based neurologist Dr Sudhir Kumar.

Sharing his experience about treating a 14-year-old adolescent, who repeatedly used socially unacceptable obscene words and gestures, said the boy was generally well-behaved but was undergoing drastic changes over the past six months.

“The boy’s parents had to face embarrassment due to his use of inappropriate words. They tried their best and advised their son to mind his choice of words and his abusive outbursts. They also checked whether his friends were teaching him to use foul language,” Dr Sudhir said.

The boy, despite realising his poor behaviour, was unable to curb the use of foul language and told his parents that he was ashamed, the doctor said.

Dr Sudhir Kumar, a neurologist at Apollo Hospital in Hyderabad, said, “A month ago, the boy developed other symptoms, such as clearing throat, shrugging his shoulders and blinking his eyes (he was unable to control these too). At this stage, parents realised there could be something wrong and he was brought for consultation with me. These symptoms are typical of a relatively common disease.”

According to Dr Kumar, a diagnosis of TS can be easily made by detailed and careful history taking. “We decided to start medical treatment for Naresh as TS was adversely affecting his social life. He showed improvement and his family was quite pleased,” the doctor said.

About Tourette syndrome

A neurological disorder characterised by effective stereotyped, involuntary movements and vocalisations called tics

1 in 100 children is diagnosed with TS

Tics are fast muscle movements that are difficult to control


· Making obscene gestures

· Obsessive behaviour

· Grimacing/winking

· Shrugging

· Sniffing

· Throat clearing

· Barking


The cause of this disease is unknown.

There is no cure for Tourette’s

The condition improves for many in their late teens and early 20s.

“Diagnosis of TS can be easily made by dedicated and careful history taking. Treatment decision is based on symptom severity and individualised approach is needed,” Dr Sudhir Kumar, neurologist, Apollo Hospitals

Famous personalities suffered from TS

· David Beckham (Footballer)

· Billie Eilish (American singer)

Movies on TS

· The Road Within

· Front of the Class

· Hichki

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