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Planet Word, by Stephen Fry - Tourette's

We're a bit behind with Stephen Fry's brilliant series about language, and just watched the third episode this evening (while some of you will have been watching the fifth and final one as it went out on BBC Two). Lots of fun intellectual stuff, but I was bowled over by the courage and humour of Jessica Thom, who has Tourette's syndrome and explained her situation as follows (here, from 1:57):
Lots of people misunderstand Tourette's, and they say, "I wish I had Tourette's, cos it would mean I could get away with swearing, and it means I could say whatever I - BISCUIT! BISCUIT! - I could say whatever I wanted to." - BISCUIT! - The whole point is, I can't say whatever I wanted to, lots of what I say I don't want to say, I just [bangs chest] HAH! it's just there, I just - FUCK! - and it's - BISCUIT! BISCUIT! BISCUIT! HAPPY CHRISTMAS! - but, you know, that doesn't mean that I haven't, I can't articulate my thoughts and make myself understood. FUCK! BISCUIT!

I think one has to be creative about it to be able to, sort of, to have a decent quality of life and not let the tics impact on me, especially socially, and part of the, part of the im, part of - BISCUIT! - one of the big elements of Tourette's is the social FUCK impact that it has. And by then engaging with people, and engaging with it creatively, and FUCK celebrating the humour and saying, look [bangs chest] HAH! it's not OK to laugh because I have Tourette's, but it's all right to laugh - FUCK! - I'm saying, laugh at - FFF! - the funny things that - FUCK! - I say as tics that are the result of Tourettes's - BISCUIT! - because they're often - FUCK! BISCUIT! - very visual. HAH!
She dresses up as a superhero with Tourette's to educate children about the condition. More power to her.


( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
Oct. 23rd, 2011 09:18 pm (UTC)
My son has Tourette's, but what's interesting is that it does NOT manifest as him swearing or even necessarily saying anything. It manifests as a cycle of "tics" that he can't stop, or can't easily stop, and if he forces himself to stop one he just moves on to a different tic.
Oct. 24th, 2011 06:22 am (UTC)
The programme does make it clear that only a minority of people with Tourette's swear like that.
Oct. 23rd, 2011 09:55 pm (UTC)
How did it compare with the various radio serieses? Is it a retread with pictures?
Oct. 23rd, 2011 11:42 pm (UTC)
The bit about her father scolding her for swearing is hilarious.
Oct. 24th, 2011 06:10 am (UTC)
I seem to have missed everything but this episode.
It is hilarious, and most interestingly gives me an argument to stop $child swearing too much (not now, but when this happens later on in life): swearing to control pain only works if you don't swear too often.
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )

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