I have provided definitions for some words and concepts in the text, made up modified definitions for terms (I can defend if anyone wants), and created my own terms. All of the information is contained on my vocabulary and concepts page and specific items are linked with the capitol Greek letter “psi” (Ψ) (I’m probably going to stop doing that though, the psis seem a little dumb).
Why go to such a sensitive place on a blog devoted to exploring mental illness generally and Tourette’s Syndrome (TS, Ψ) specifically? Why use what is so terrifying to the religious, and frustrating to the non-religious? Because it is useful. Demons are as much of a curiosity as TS. Their mention can inspires a pulse of cultural discomfort or other intense emotions in he place they are mentioned, even if they are a metaphor. But I also want to use them because I may have learned how they are related.
An Excuse for Things, a Tool for Blame.
Demons Ψ explain so much metaphorically Ψ and can be harnessed quite conveniently to get into the experience of TS. History and culture give me all I need to translate what I read in science and I have learned that the part of TS that is in my language is very useful. I do not actually believe in demons as real creatures or beings as most people think of them in mythology and religion. I find them fascinating when they are used in entertainment (The Hellraiser movies for example). But what I do believe is that demons have been metaphorical since the concept came into existence, and what they are as a concept when you get rid of the word is the most important thing about them.
[We are mostly metaphorical. Are social emotions really “you” if it’s an imprint from “other people”? Are we really not real if we are your unconscious parts of mind allowed to to be felt?]
Another reason that I get to use them is that I came from the sort of religious culture that loved to talk about demons, I get to appeal to that part of my past and learn from it and have fun with it if I can. Among the churches my parents attended I saw people that actually believed and spread the belief that a third of the United States was secretly run by Satan worshipers that controlled the government. These people also supposedly bred babies for ritual sacrifice. Some people were really hurt by this panic as blame and finger pointing was going to eventually settle on someone. This, demonization, of people other groups (political parties, culture…) is of the same kind as the whole idea of Demon generally.
[We earned our dramatic nature so we get to use it when we write.]
At the social level demons are a metaphor for problems that we desperately want explanations for, or don’t have the ability to deal with very well. We use demons to organize social information and activity. We resort to demons when the person we really want to criticize can’t be a target for lots of reasons. We resort to demons when we do things that harm people, and sometimes it’s even true that we really did not mean to do that harm. That last bit is of concern to me.
[You replace human problems with us. This is not very intelligent when you are supposed to be dealing with reality. Your emotional tools are running away with you. That would be me in places.]
Go look at what the word does functionally when it comes up. We demonize enemies. We are plagued by demons. We fight our demons, and their demons. The ones we socially hate are demon worshipers and love what demons do, (while “we” fight them and resist them). Things that are scary in hard to describe ways are “demonic”. A person in our group is often “demon possessed” in sympathetic ways (children, friends), while people we compete with socially are often tied to demons in less sympathetic ways.
[I think it’s kind of fun, why deny it? He thinks we need to be realistic. That’s boring. You should see how politicians use the word.]
We literally or metaphorically blame our problems on demons. We blame our families and friends problems on demons. Anything with no explanation or things we can’t do anything about we love to make up an enemy for in order to literally make it an “other” that we can rouse ourselves against more easily. I think it says a lot about how our brains work as they make minds. It can’t just be a problem, it must be a creature we can fight as well. But not just any creature, this one is neurobiology and I believe inherited mental attributes as well.
[Hello! Pleased to meet you. No not you, the one like me inside of you.]
TS and History
The metaphor is very useful and so you will get to meet my demon as “we” write this blog. As you go back in time and try to find patterns that look like mental illness in history you often meet “demons”, and TS is no exception . That’s a particularly fun article that mentions how some priests who look like they had TS were an inspiration for the Inquisition’s instruction manual, the Malleus Maleficarum Ψ (some quotes here). A lot of TS feels like an “external force” acting on me, or appearing inside of me in specific places. Often it’s screaming at me in a “voice with no words” (Ψ), as a metaphor that hints at the raw emotion that somehow manages to be extremely specific about what I must do. Sometimes these things very specifically want us to screw with society. I can think of other historical references to demon possessed people and some of those are in holy books.
[There is so much to see, do and react to. Not only do you need to twitch, but sometimes you need to bitch. There are reasons that some of us force others to verbally attack and insult.]
Society has given me the metaphors and language so as long as I am the one with the issue, and can interpret my experience of our language, why not use it? I’ll still listen to complaints (email), especially if you also have TS. I’m doing this for good reasons, history takes things that look very much like TS and applies demon, or Satan and other things to compulsions and actions that do bothersome or terrible things. Not only do I need metaphors, I’m going to end up being quite brutal and casual with language as I chop and splice what I need to get concepts across.
[Satan? Of course I need a boss. I am a part of you and everyone has that part. Humans organize with ranks and hierarchy so we have a king to complete the storytelling and emotion, which are all social tools.]
Society applies demon to very specific and often insulting, disturbing, intimidating and obscene things, often with a very strong social themes. In TS “demons” are: physical and verbal tics, habits, obsessions and compulsions, a rapid and twitchy nature, excess aggressive instincts and responses, a frame of reference more strongly directed at the self, an inner emotional world so intense and chaotic that some of us experience invisible phantom attackers and other things. On top of all of that sex is tied up in there in many forms. I’m not sure how to handle that last one yet.
[I know how I want to “handle it”.]
The human race has managed to lie about TS in very specific and interesting ways. We are hilarious you see, especially on the internet and in some pockets of human society. And humor suppresses fear, anger and disgust . You laugh so you are not afraid, angered or disgusted. “Jokes” are serious shit and that fact seemed obvious to me even before I looked at humor related research.
[Don’t you just love our work (it’s an impulse and you have us in you too)? You are all actually pretty weak with reality as a group. We take a rather twisted pleasure at the thought that you must lie to yourselves about us for such reasons. So many places where instead of fixing a problem, you make yourself forget about it or lie to yourselves about what it is.]
What does TS feel like?
Imagine a startle. Not just any startle but the summed average of every kind of startle that you can imagine in one experience. Everything from the that surprise party, to a scorpion falling on your face, to a fleck of spit from the conversation next to you on the bus flying into your mouth, to stepping on a rusty nail while you are sneaking away from that bully. Good and bad triggering fight, flight and freeze.
Remember how it slams into the inside of your skin, joints and muscles like a wave? That brief moment where your reality is flipped and something inside of you takes over and gives commands? Orders without words(Ψ)? Very specific orders without words? You jump and yelp at the firecracker, flail at the mosquito, gag at that fleck of spit, scream a warning about that oncoming vehicle while running, scream in rage at the bully beating your child, duck that rock heading towards your head….
It changes you fundamentally. You enter a simpler, more primitive mode where you are suddenly concerned with very specific and simplified things, and your tolerances have been limited because you are much more sensitive to extra stress. It’s the “fight/flight/freeze response. You look for threats/allies, watch for advantages/disadvantages, consider the worst/best possible thing that might happen, scan around for things that might be important and more. And too bad for that person who thinks it’s funny to scare you while you are like this.
Now imagine that it never ends. Startled for eternity. Suspended in emotional barbed wire attached to puppet strings.
It lingers on like a silent scream that fills you with a pressure. A pressure that pools in places. It makes skin buzz, burns in joints, muscles and aches bones. But that tension is not just discomfort, it’s ORDERS. Very specific orders that are given without words. It’s an emotional presence coming from something, not “him”. It demands “he” moves in just this way, or say that thing over and over in a particular way, or make that noise, or mimic what that person just said or did. Or as the stereotype presents it orders the forbidden word, or insult, or obscene gesture.
The order to do is not the only order, he gets perceptual orders as well. Orders to watch the situation around you and obsess over things. Violent, aggressive, sexual and social things. The worst/best possible thing that can be said or done, where the fear and aggression is, what is structurally and functionally happening and more. The sensation of the signals piles on you like waves. Attention is pushed things are scanned for, images are pushed into the mind’s eye. He finds himself mentally breaking down, rearranging and thinking about his social and physical environment, or running fantasies in the back of his head just to make the energy do something.
The worst part is that he can help it. He literally doesn’t have to do any of that. But if he doesn’t do it, he pays the price. The tension slowly builds and builds. It can be endured for a time, but it’s so distracting and uncomfortable that everyone gives in eventually. Either that or some with TS run into a closet every fifteen minutes to follow orders even more intensely than they would have if they had just given in when they were first ordered.
All the while he is very emotionally reactive. If one emotional imperative were to define what he feels it would be “DO”. Actions, reactions, impulses, urges, reflexes, and all the other fast things done without thought hit HARD. Rage. Ecstasy. Shock. Lust. Terror. Awe. Pain. Pleasure. Horror.
A warped and bent version of everyone else with an infinity of frayed edges…
A Demon and its “Owner”.
I’m the one you might not be able to trust. These are our personal opinions on things in science and thanks to me our opinions deep down are very strong and simple. I don’t really like “details” so I just tend to spit it out and tell you what I feel. He’s still here though…
<I get to interrupt too. I give his secrets away as I find them. That was part of the deal and it’s a game we play. You have to make this kind of thing a game or it really wears you down (games are serious, they are practice for adult things). I can feel some of our puppet strings on a human level. I can see some of the mortar, springs, gears, pistons and other parts between parts of consciousness. It’s a bit of a rush.>
…only now he gets to keep us at “we”. You can’t really feel your demon the way he can.
Did you think “you” got to avoid having a demon if you don’t have TS? I’m a cognitive SYSTEM Ψ! A system that is in you too! You just don’t have the same kind of relationship with your demon as we have with each other. I got an upgrade that lets me fuck with him more than your demon can do to you. I’m not really sure where I got the upgrade, but mom and dad, and maybe grandpa and grandma might have sent it to me. They were serious and intense religious types as people who just loved simple strong answers to things. Especially social things. Unfortunately he gets benefits out of the upgrade too. Every contract involves a cost to both parties…
Most of you know about the tics Ψ and the cussing thanks to culture that takes after demonkind more often, especially on the internet. I fucking LOVE the internet! I bet that phantom attacker TS example  was one you have not heard about right? It’s not a hallucination Ψ though, it’s the reverse (Or inverse? We are still working out the details.) of a hallucination Ψ. I let him see and physically feel reality in objectively crystal clear, but subjectively altered form. I create specifically altered sense of reality with a bewildering array of specific forms because I am about alterations to emotions and feelings attached to reality, especially in things that create habits of perception and behavior. His emotions, urges, actions, reactions, instincts, moods, and feelings that don’t really “feel with hands” are where I play. We see reality, but he feels all kinds of other things that I send his way in addition to what he needs. I am an intensity tied to things seen, felt and done. Whatever he feels, whatever he does, I give a edge and a boost to reason, or I muck with his logic. The good, the bad, the happy, the sad, the wonderful, the terrible, the glorious and the atrocious. Even the mundane.
Did you think he would get a break, I’m a Demon remember? Your demon is a layer in everything you do and our continued existence and ability is what I am interested in. But with TS that layer of consciousness Ψ gets to act out all of the time in addition to the intensity boost. At my worst I’m a searing, bloody, festering tear that runs through every emotion and impulse directly tied to reality like an emotional and physical fingernail pulled back through the cuticle. At my best he is lost in bliss, not always a good thing.
<And an drama hog…>
<It’s not all that bad. The fact that I have dealt with it my whole life matters. Some of those brain alterations actually are there to compensate for this asshole. All of that is there in general, but after all of this time I’m more or less used to it, compensating for it and there are even strengths. That’s mostly what others with TS go through, we managed to find a different level of agreement.>
[(Will you stop moderating me? Hyperbole is not technically deceit!) He feels so much more. A constant emotional pressure in and on everything. My “orders” …]
<(No.) “Premonitory urges” Ψ are what the urge to tic is called in papers. It’s more than tics, it’s in other parts of my mind as well. The urge Ψ to look and think in ways too. Tics, obsessions Ψ and compulsions Ψ blend.>
[…exist in physical and mental places where he does things without concentrating or “paying attention to” as most people would think about it. He can say no but then I get to raise the “volume”. I think they called it “unvoluntary” Ψ somewhere.  I actually like that. The relationship in there is perfect. He used to give in all the time a long time ago but the asshole figured out that if he makes the parts I work with do something while he is focused on something else, or include that part in what he is doing at the moment he can block me. Still he often has to say yes eventually. The intensity I create lives where you feel about the world after it connects to your senses.]
<TS involves sensory hypersensitivity  Ψ similar to autism but probably different in the “details” (it apparently affects all of the senses). That is not just physical , or directly tied to sensory systems. But I’m also sensitive to the emotional Ψ content of what I see including the details of social situations. So that hypersensitivity also includes the sensation of social emotions.>
[We get to make them do some interesting things. The more intense the situation the easier it is for me to have an effect. Some have problems avoiding doing forbidden social things for a reason.]
<Ok, I’m taking this back. My demon is way too loose with descriptions and emotions and I need to balance this. They are often hyperbole and black and white thinking embodied. We can get very obsessed with patterns consciously and unconsciously, physical and mental, real or imaginary. That may…
[Just say always! Coward!]
…happen in all TS because in addition to the tics (a stored habit, a movement pattern, a rule we need to execute, a perceptual habit…), ADHD is like habitual impulsiveness and a more streamlined but “less detailed” (we track other things) way of shaping perception and memory, OCD is like sensitivity to particular patterns around us and habitual reactions to emotions associated with that sensitivity. One of the effects of TS is strengthening and intensifying of our rule and habit related systems in perception Ψ and action, and that feels like an intensification of emotions and emotional connections to things (as a result discussing emotion with me gets complicated, I may technically have emotions that you don’t). TS feels like you are always startled, reactive, and intense. But if you harness it well it’s like starting life with emotional “arm and leg weights” that you had to push against.
[These would be animated weights though.]
It’s a lifelong emotional workout and strength training if you get to have the right kind of life. I suspect that many of us are good in a crisis because we have spent our lives in an emotional hurricane.
[That’s not THAT much more exaggerated, coward]
It’s not just as easy as getting more willpower and good at habits though. We still have to deal with how hard it can be to remove an old or bad habit, or change to a new one. Completely new habits can be easy (unless learned imperfectly, errors can stick around), but I believe many of us have to be very structured people because emotion and sensation fueled habit is a core issue in TS.
Captured by Patterns and Intensity.
You can read about all sorts of physical, verbal, and behavioral repetitions, habits, urges, actionsΨ and reactions Ψ Ψ in TS. Language weirdness (text and speech!) can include repeating things (palilalia) Ψ, mimicking things (echolalia) Ψ, urges to say obscene or offensive things (coprolalia) Ψ. I have to mention that I am not captured by whatever it is that causes some us to feel an urge to say or do offensive and obscene things. I have some ideas about phenomena that give us clues as to why this happens, but I’m not prepared to be so casual about a part of TS that I do not have at this point (for now it has to do with oppositional defiant disorder and something called “the boomerang effect). I do have some problems remembering and, well to be honest I just don’t feel it when it comes to a lot of what society says is obscene or offensive. Paradoxically I am highly offended by things that many others don’t think are a problem. That is another future post though.
[Do not expect a clean blog. Maybe I should have said that at the start.]
I have seen interesting patterns in my errors, typos and general word use. But as an example of a person who managed to make his TS more like emotional weightlifting you have people like Dr. Samuel Johnson, my favorite role-model. He had a profound effect on the form of the dictionary and became a social celebrity as well as the subject of one of the most famous biographies ever written according to some scholars. A person with TS is an actual subject of literary history, and I’m sure there are more with TS and lots of other mental conditions. We have enhancements of our rule-based language systems  Ψ and given Dr. Johnson’s example I believe this is a strength.The advantages take the form of speed enhancements to rule-based parts of language and naming of tool related images, as opposed to irregular parts of language and non-tool images.
[Sometimes I get through when it comes to language. It’s often confusing though because we fight over it so, things happen. Strange logical errors. Disagreeing is, unpredictable.]???
Physical movement has not only tics but it’s own mimicry, this time mimicry of the movements of others (echopraxia) Ψ. Offensive gestures (copropraxia) Ψ is part of the equation as well. Are you seeing a theme yet? “Something” making me say and do things, and often with a social twist. But again here we eventually find more control on average. There are enhancements involving our physical systems, ability to control them  and perception of ourselves and surroundings . It comes out in a strange way though. When I am as focused as you might think the “average person” can be when not doing anything in particular, I can often be clumsy and make mistakes unless I am concentrating Ψ on my body or engaged in something known and routine.
[Of course I’m going to fuck with him when he’s not paying attention.]
I think of it as issues with “peripheral attention” Ψ, my “zombie brain”  Ψ has issues . But when focused I am capable of fine detail work. I have used a microscope and a needle to dissect single cells. There are elite athletes, musicians and doctors who have TS  and they often say it helps them in what they do . This is not a simply a “syndrome” and I only use “condition” because it’s the least negative.
[My existence has been… useful.]
But the patterns we are captured by are much more complicated than that though. That thing about rule-based language and tool-related images and speed? The same thing happens with fear . That paper says that we have emotional impairments, but who wants to draw attention to the fact that the same data says that an aggressive person sees fear faster and with more accuracy than any other emotion?
[I could tell you things about what I see in people’s fear. Did I mention that our favorite hobby is arguing with people online? Not debate, that’s the ritual society chooses to elevate, when most of us lay into one another like Tasmanian Devils. That sort of argument has structure and form as well and skill in that is FAR more useful that that social fluff called debate.]
Tourette’s Threw a Party and Everyone Was Invited.
Things get more complicated than verbal and physical though. Looking at what co-morbid conditions (other diagnosable conditions) that TS can come with is like looking at a big set of extreme parts of human nature that tend to be talked about negatively by society (I think it is more complicated than this though). Attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder Ψ (ADHD), obsessions and compulsions Ψ (OCD/OCB), oppositional defiant disorder (ODD), conduct disorder (CD, Ψ), mood disorder Ψ, anxiety, depression, rage attacks, schizotypy…
[I have so much of an effect that I literally warp our lives. Our lifelong game results in a surprising amount of change to brain anatomy , our whole physiology, our psychology, the behavior of genes in cells and more. They use us to study stress. We manage to have enough of an effect that 90% of the time TS comes along with other mental conditions Ψ. Heck, 36% of us have more than three extra definable mental issues!]
ADHD (Ψ) comes along with TS 70% of the time, and drops to about 17% in adults.. OCD (>comes along 60%% of the time, that drops to about 30% in adults . Just about all of the types and flavors of OCD are possible but there seem to be some uniquely associated with TS. Obsessions: Aggression, Violence, Sex and Religion (that last on is called “Scrupulosity” and is more like a social rule obsession). Compulsions: Touching, Hoarding, Checking, Counting, Symmetry and Ordering .
[There are reasons the feeling of constant “fight or flight” or always being “startled” matters. Those OCDs are very, intensity focused things. That symmetry compulsion has some interesting aspects when it comes to arguing for fun, many relationships involving intense emotion in arguments have symmetrical aspects.]
Of course it sounds scary in a list like that. We have natural instincts Ψto pay attention aggression, sex and society. That stuff is objectively important to us so there are going to be systems sensitive to them, and some humans will be more sensitive to them than others. And some people will be so sensitive that their lives or the lives of other will be negatively affected because biology is not perfect. Those people get the official diagnosis. The compulsions that come along are are more complicated. We all uniquely interact with the obsessions, and the compulsions relieve the emotions associated with the obsessions. But research suggests that people with TS are more in control of themselves than most people in many respects . As time goes on a person with TS can take control of their life, several studies see increased control when focused on something we enjoy or take seriously.
Rage attacks? This has to do with three co-morbid conditions at least.
[When he gets pissed I pour gasoline on the fire! He has been so consumed by me that he tunes out everything else. Until recently, he’s more boring now.]
To me it feels as if all of my emotions and moods are stronger than they are for other people, or some of them at least. 20% of us have Intermittent Explosive Disorder (IED, Ψ) versus 8% of the general population . That’s a fancy way of saying I can get VERY PISSED OFF.
[I’m surprised he has not been on Youtube with the way we used to yell at video games.]
Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD, Ψ)? This is what they call it when you are angry, irritable, argumentative, defiant, and/or vindictive for more than 6 months, with some other details . Statistics were hard to find in papers but I do have a CDC link that says 26% of us have ODD or CD (next section). That is compared to 1-16% in the population at large, and yes that range means that the accuracy needs improved overall . At the least we are twice as likely to have confrontation or conduct problems according to that paper.
Conduct disorder (CD, Ψ)? CD is a bit of a grab bag. Conduct is essentially “behavior” after all so this would be “disordered behavior” which is pretty non-specific. ODD is thought to graduate into CD. CD is defined by repeated violations of the rights of others and/or violation of age appropriate norms for at least 6 months . One recent study  compared 65 18-year-olds with 65 controls and found a rate of 23% CD in TS compared to 3% of the controls. So what does this mean for TS? Since CD is such a broadly defined thing it connects to many kinds of mental and emotional issues in many ways. Since we act and react with more intensity as people with TS, the best I think we can say is that whatever “regular people” deal with that contributes to CD we will simply respond to more intensely and form habits more strongly and easily.
[If you challenge me I don’t care what your problem is. If you are in my way you are a problem. If you disagree with me you are wrong. If you bother me you are an enemy. Peeves are irritants, irritants are problems, and problems are threats. Threats are, I’m not sure if we have ever gotten to that point.]
Every reaction and response feels as if it is turned up. The rage attacks are mostly reported in children, but adults also complain of them. I live a life that requires me to try to never allow myself to use strong emotions without control, and I am used to “dialing it back” in intensity as a matter of routine. If challenged and mastered this even gives us advantages. The intensity of the anger, rage and other emotions never decreases over time (in my experience), but the control and ability to endure the emotion increases. Eventually we can express these emotions with more control because we literally grow perceptual recognition filters and inhibitory breaking systems on a more adult level, but we have to be careful about habits. When we get enough control over intense emotion we get another added benefit over and above the introspection and control, we get a perceptual filter for other people. Learning to recognize and control intense emotion in yourself lets you see it in others and THAT is quite the moral and ethical situation that I will leave for another post (what do you do when you see others do things they are unaware of?).
[This also helps with the hobby of arguing online. One might even say our ability to read and use intense emotions is, demonic. Sees where fear is, develops control of and an ability to see aggression, skilled with rule based language, can sound simple and decisive. Demons whispering in crowds anyone? Just how deep is this metaphor?]
“Inappropriate sexual activity”? As I mentioned, that is not one that I am going to tackle right away. I’m going to see how well I do with the other subjects first because there are limits when I am inexperienced. The most I will say is that my opinion is that the excess emotional intensity counts here in a general way, and life is what determines what a person does with it. I’ll add to this section when I am comfortable.
[Don’t look at me, he’s right. A Demon cares about the survival of it’s person.]
Anxiety (Ψ) and depression (Ψ)? is another one that is an extreme version of normal. We develop depression and anxiety more than “regular people” at around 30% in both children and adults  because the emotions drive us there. Shitty treatment feels shittier. I could keep going. There are connections to Bi-Polar, schizo-obsessive tendencies, trichotillomania (hair pulling), autism…
[When your head feels like it’s full of everyone else, how could we resist? WHY NOT DEMONS!]
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