The Phenomenology of Tourette Syndrome Open Access

Rolling, Christopher Gregory (2015)

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This thesis utilizes a phenomenological methodology to explore the experience of Tourette syndrome (TS). The motor and vocal tics that characterize TS challenge our everyday notions of autonomy. While the subject does not "choose" to tic, tics clearly express the sense of the subject's world. This work draws heavily upon Merleau-Ponty's notion of the lived body to investigate the ambiguity of our being in the world as subjects. This thesis argues that tics need to be understood as a habit which thwarts the subject's idealized sense of being in the world with others. This thesis is organized into four chapters. Chapter I includes a brief historical and factual account of TS that I refer to as the "traditional" conception of TS. Chapter II provides a brief introduction to phenomenology. Here I will consider what it means to have a body in a meaningful world with other people. Chapter III will investigate my lived experience of TS and consider some difficulties within the traditional account of TS. Finally, in Chapter IV I will explicate the significant structures of being in the world as an embodied TS subject.

Table of Contents

Introduction 1

Chapter I: The traditional account of Tourette syndrome

1.1 Introduction to Tourette syndrome 4

1.2 History of Tourette syndrome 6

1.3 Contemporary Tourette syndrome research 10

Chapter II: A theoretical account of phenomenological being in the world

2.1 Perception 14

2.2 The body 17

2.3 The habit world 22

2.4 Being with others 24

Chapter III: The ticcing habit body

3.1 Childhood 30

3.2 The diagnosis 34

3.3 Anxious tics 37

3.4 The premonitory urge 39

Chapter IV: A destructive being in the world

4.1 The thwarting tic 43

4.2 Anxiously being with others 46

Works Cited 52

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