Cognitive enhancements and mental conditions #1: the “negative medical bias problem”.

I was going to extend that post on emotions and omotions into a post on racial pejoratives and sensitivity to the term “privilege”, but I need to think about some [a] resources [b] that Tony at The Shoop’s Roost gave me. Bigotry and how all of the little pieces that create it is a pretty complex thing and that bears some thinking about. So I’m going to put that one on hold for a bit and finally start a series of posts about alterations in how the minds of people with Tourette’s Syndrome can be benefits and not just the drawbacks that we all hear about through medicine and popular culture. This series is meant to eventually be turned into a presentation that I can give to children and adults with TS so that they can get a better idea about what TS is (as best as we can understand it) and how they might use it to their benefit.

[Lets just get it over with.

We believe that Tourette’s Syndrome, AD(H)D, OCD, Autism, Schizophrenia and some other mental conditions are “features” of humanity and not “bugs”. THEY ARE NORMAL AND NATURAL as a general rule, though they can be debilitating at their most intense because human development is not a clean process. The problem is that in a modern context things are a lot more confusing and we have culturally decided to pretend that we are all the same (for good reasons that have bad effects). So as medical research started pinching off groups of humans as having similar sets of features, we have been resistant to the idea that these people who have mental strengths and interesting relationships with the surrounding society are in fact how we sort into “kinds” of humans.

Now to start demonstrating it.]

History and the negative bias problem.

As a species we do some things pretty good, and we do some things pretty badly. We are pretty good at identifying and understanding things that cause people suffering when it comes to medicine and creating systems to try to deal with that suffering. Modern medicine is fantastic in how it’s able to take a human problem and figure out what is happening at multiple levels from the molecular to the social. We have tremendous knowledge about what is wrong. So much knowledge that a major part of science is creating ways of organizing and using all of that knowledge constructively. But we can also be very foolish as a species because of how our minds work in a modern social context.

[A little knowledge can be a dangerous thing, especially when we don’t always do the best thing or the right thing with that knowledge because we are social primates with an evolutionary history very different from the world we live in today. We are in many ways a reminder of what things were like so when you react or act you are often pretending that it’s 500,000 years ago and have no idea.]

We tend to have a negative emotional bias as a species [1] meaning that on average we will pay more attention to the negative. Bias [2] is a word that I’m sure that many of you have heard before. I’m also willing to bet that you have heard that bias is a bad thing as “being biased” is used to dismiss people in arguments often. But it’s not a bad thing, it is in fact a neutral thing since bias just means that your reasoning and motivation is shaped towards particular things. If you have personal experience with evidence that pushes you towards one side of a social conflict (for example you have studied the evidence for biological evolution) you are in fact biased on that issue for good reasons. Bias means you are not neutral with respect to something independent of anything else, and the reason bias tends to be a negative word is because we are not naturally neutral without culture.

Negativity Bias


I think that what this means functionally is that on average when encountering things we don’t personally have experience with we will be cautious and suspicious. Think about it like this, would it be better for your ancestors to see lions in bushes where there were none (false positive error [3]), or to miss the lion that was there (false negative error [4])? Your ancestors would have had a greater chance of surviving if they saw the occasional thing that was not there. So up here in modern times it’s likely the case that we prioritize negative emotions as higher than positive ones. So we emphasize negative characteristics and possible harms more than positive characteristics and possible benefits when thinking about or perceiving things we do not have personal experience with.

[We can’t say if this bias is “hardwired” or not, or how pervasive it is in how we perceive the world. It’s possible that humans would be neutral towards unfamiliar things if it were not for the effect of culture on how we interact with the world. But I would say that functionally we have a negative bias towards things called mental conditions.]

[This is balanced by some positive biases such as an in-group bias that flips this to a positive emotional bias with respect to people and things we have personal experience with. That whole “seeing patterns where there are none” might explain conspiracy theorists. There is probably more that one of those with TS, not to mention a bunch of mad prophets.]

As each of our individual emotional impressions diffuses into the nested sets of organized groups that make up society through of our personal interactions the emotional impressions become “averaged”* into our shared morals, ethics, assumptions, emotional sensitivities, group narratives and more about the things we care about the most. Consider the emotional priorities of Democrats or Republicans versus the emotional priorities of America as a whole, and the collection of stories each group tells.

[*Averaging is not a simple as the average of 5, 5, and 5 being 7.5. That average is altered by the fact that we will be more or less sensitive to things depending on what the emotion is, what object it’s attached to, what our experience of that object was and how significant (intensity of benefit/harm/previous experience/peer opinion/…) the object is to us. A good general picture of a way the average is biased is represented by Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs [5]. For example the more personal and related to resource acquisition something is, the more intensely you will tend to feel about it.]

How the negative emotional bias relates to what is called “mental illness”, “mental disorder” or the most neutral one I could think of “mental condition” has to do with how medicine handles suffering people and history.


Perception of medicine associated things shaped by the negative emotional bias and history.

Medicine is in the business of ending suffering, as it should be. Some of that suffering runs so deep that rationality becomes challenging or impossible while experiencing, interacting with and remembering. So it is totally reasonable that a whole lot of negative emotion be bound up in medicine when it comes to medical problems and the social structure that researches and delivers solutions to suffering. But as I pointed out above we tend to prioritize the negative in perception thought and memory. So we will tend to understand things associated with medicine by negative emotional impressions more often.

Where we start running into problems is in the reality of how an “illness”, “disorder” or “condition” is defined.

[Since some of you might sense me getting evasive, equivocal and hair-splitty, no matter what the objective reality of diseases, disorders and conditions is the priority is ending suffering. We are not dismissing or ignoring anyone’s experience of a mental illness, mental disorder or mental condition. We are unapologetic in pointing out that a lot of what we act like we want to eradicate is very likely to be “features” of what humanity is and not “bugs”. Perfectly natural ways that brains and minds operate that can be expressed in ways and contexts that can cause suffering to a the person with the thing, or someone else who they affect. In this case I think that society just does not know what to do with us now that we no longer live in groups of 150.]

Let’s start out “easy”. Is aggression or assertiveness and objectively bad thing? No. There are times when one should be aggressive or assertive, but if a person is aggressive or assertive in the wrong context (defined by experience + instinct + emotion + socialization > morality and ethics) they will harm someone or dominate someone for no good reason. Is seeking sex an objectively bad thing? No. But given the statistics on rape there is a lot of sex seeking going on in a context that causes suffering. Now think about how people bias their emotions with respect to medicine and aggression, assertiveness and sex. That is a metric fuckton of current controversies and I don’t think it will take you long to think of an example. The same is true of many things we call mental illnesses/disorders/conditions and the ones relevant to people like me are the neurodevelopmental disorders [6]. (Wikipedia neurodevelopmental disorders [7])

The DSM-V lists many neurodevelopmental disorders but I want to focus on: Autism Spectrum Disorder, Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder and Tourette’s Disorder. Now about 3% of the population is on the autism spectrum, 5% is on the AD(H)D and spectrum and 1% is on the TS spectrum. Those are not mutually exclusive so lets pretend that is 6% of the population. If these were like aggression, assertiveness and seeking sex we would expect to find situations where these features were a benefit instead of a drawback. Good instead of bad. It turns out that there are benefits.

Benefits of Autism, AD(H)D and Tourette’s Syndrome.


It turns out that when you ignore the fact that medicine stereotypically only sees people complaining of suffering and you look at lots of the people in each of these groups, you start to see people actively benefiting from the characteristics that come with these conditions. Autism and TS share a lot of features. Both of us have sensory hypersensitivity [8] (which is associated with savant syndrome[9]).

[I’m not saying I am a savant, that’s the sort of thing other people say you are. I KNOW we are an arrogant sort. That being said what a savant is can inform about how perception can be shaped. If there is a “tourettic savant” knowing what parts of perception they were gifted in would be informative for how the tendencies are shaped in the rest of us.]

Both of us have rule-based language enhancements [10] (TS linked towards the end). Both of us have obsessions and compulsions that seem associated with organization and relationships (autism, [11] TS [12] and also [13]) and is in turn related to what is called called hypersystematic behaviors and tendencies in autism. Lately people with autism who have benefited from the features of autism have been getting a lot more press and there are even business opportunities in placing people with autism in jobs that benefit from their natural talents [14]. The benefits of being a person with autism seem to be related to classes or categories of objects, how they are organized and what they associated details are. For example:

…computers, trains, historical dates or events, science, or particular TV programmes. Many younger children with autism like Thomas the Tank Engine, dinosaurs or particular cartoon characters. Sometimes, people develop obsessions with things like car registration numbers, bus or train timetables, postcodes, traffic lights, numbers, shapes or body parts such as feet or elbows.

People with autism may also become attached to objects (or parts of objects), such as toys, figurines or model cars – or more unusual objects like milk bottle tops, stones or shoes. An interest in collecting is also quite common: it might be Star Trek DVDs, travel brochures, insects, leaves or bus tickets.


It’s like they are able to fixate on an object class like “television program” or “car associated number” and master what it is. I have to point out what I have read indicates that only some people with autism seem to have these abilities. But…

[…we think all people with autism have these abilities. What matters is if the had a life experience and made choices that let them build on them in ways that are useful to them. Did they have a life that let them learn to control the sensory torrent in a way that strengthened their ability to use the associated brain systems in contexts that benefit them.]

AD(H)D (Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder).

In AD(H)D the benefits are harder to describe because they are very qualitative. The “H” that can be dropped in and out has to do with the “hyperactivity component”.

[The difference between ADHD and ADD seems of a similar kind as the difference between an extrovert and an introvert and includes something called “externalizing behaviors”. We happen to hypothetically believe that analogously autism and TS are internalized and externalized versions of one another.]

ADD by itself has to do with a disengagement with the world because some “filters” that people use to detect, recall, store and retrieve information about reality. Those filters essentially “perk you up” and make reality interesting because the signals stand out and create interest. Without the emotional information in those filters we essentially become “bored” on a level that is extremely hard to deal with. That level of boredom is so bad that AD(H)D is associated with self-medicating “novelty-seeking behaviors” and we are more prone to substance abuse problems [15].

[This might help explain why we like arguing online.]

Without those filters we have more reading problems, tend to have less working memory for names and numbers and are not the best “paper work types”. The hyperactivity component makes you more interactive with the world so instead of the student that stares out the window we are the student that blurts out things without thinking. In the support groups we have to make sure we don’t neglect the people with ADD.

What about benefits [16]? The hyperactivity can be like having lots of energy if we focus it right. What about the filters? Without those filters it can be said that “reality does not grab us as strongly”. Sure we may annoy a person obsessed with order and structure (and can actually become one of those people) but think about what it means to “think outside of the box”. I think of that process as “pattern breaking” and we are really good pattern breakers, even when we don’t want to be. Here is something you may have encountered in school called a concept map.

Concept Map

In a concept that you take a central thing as an object (which can also be a concept) and you try to connect it to the concepts or features that the central object is most closely connected to (concepts the object consists of really). Like how a door is connected to the idea of going in and out, opening and closing, reversibly blocking an opening, security and other things. One reason we are so easily distracted is because those related concepts (and objects connected to them) are just as interesting to us as the central object. So our attention slides around all of the equally interesting things and right out of the box.  I also think of this as “tangential thinking”.

[See what I mean by context sensitive? You have to pair this with some solid skills in creating routines and organizing your life because where other people get unconscious help directing their attention we either have to have really good habits so we make sure we do what we need to do, or we develop really good concentration abilities so we can control as much of perception as we can.]

If we are really enjoying what we are doing we slip into a state called “hyper-focus” [17] where we can hold one part of something more complex in our attention so strongly that we don’t hear you trying to talk to us. Gamers have called this being in “the zone” and it’s a state everyone wants in a professional context. That last link also has some interesting stuff on day dreaming and creativity as well as leadership skills.

[But you have to learn to control that too because if we focus on something too hard we will fail to notice that something important is related to it, or something that we should do with it. Going down the wrong path and wasting time and effort because we chased the wrong thing sucks. If you are practiced you can eventually scan things and spot most important things most efficiently.]

As a result of this AD(H)D is often related to creativity and many of us are artists. The features are also good for a person in the position of being “on point” in a military formation since they must constantly scan for threats and objectives in a tense environment. I often wonder just how many of us manage to make it in the world of science though.

Tourette’s Syndrome.

Now we get to the one the blog is mostly about. The media has not caught up with TS advantages in the same way that it has with autism in that the cognitive (mental) advantages of autism are discussed and in TS it’s mostly the physical advantages that are discussed. For example soccer goalie Tim Howard attributes some of his success to TS [17]. I suppose that makes sense since after the verbal tics TS is best known for the physical tics and any article that gives people with TS some benefits with the physical aspects is a valuable thing.

But I want to take a deeper and more fundamental look at what TS is doing to our minds and not just at how the physical is changed. It’s the attempt to understand the cognitive advantages that has kept me obsessed and provided me some emotional drive after I had to leave my science career five years ago. More than anything else it was the following papers and the story of Dr. Samuel Johnson [19] that captured my imagination and pushed me towards teaching myself brain science.

In a series of posts I will be individually presenting the contents of these papers in a form that I hope to be able to directly turn into a PowerPoint presentation, right after a post that discusses what “rules” and “associations” mean when it comes to a major division in brain systems. Don’t worry about understanding all of the information in the abstracts below, I will do that in the next four posts. For now I have bolded the bits having to do with the enhancements in TS. As I go through them I will try to paint a picture of what the associated brain anatomy and systems are thought to do in general human terms. I will also try to describe just what I thing TS is as a “thing” that applies to all of us.

[We ask ourselves, what is a “tourettic savant”? And how do they appreciate the world in greater resolution and detail the way that an autistic savant does? We provide a “translation” of each abstract blow it.]

Time processing in children with Tourette’s syndrome [20]

Tourette syndrome (TS) is characterized by dysfunctional connectivity between prefrontal cortex and sub-cortical structures, and altered meso-cortical and/or meso-striatal dopamine release. Since time processing is also regulated by fronto-striatal circuits and modulated by dopaminergic transmission, we hypothesized that time processing is abnormal in TS.

We compared time processing abilities between nine children with TS-only (i.e. without major psychiatric comorbidities) and 10 age-matched healthy children, employing a time reproduction task in which subjects actively reproduce different temporal intervals, and a time comparison task in which subjects judge whether a test interval is longer or shorter than a reference interval. IQ, sustained and divided attention, and working memory were assessed in both groups using the Leiter International Performance Scale-Revised, and the Digit Span sub-test of the WISC-R.

Children with TS-only reproduced in an overestimated fashion over-second, but not sub-second, time intervals. The precision of over-second intervals reproduction correlated with tic severity, in that the lower the tic severity, the closer the reproduction of over-second time intervals to their real duration. Time reproduction performance did not significantly correlate with IQ, attention and working memory measures in both groups. No differences between groups were documented in the time comparison task.

The improvement of time processing in children with TS-only seems specific for the over-second range of intervals, consistent with an enhancement in the ‘cognitively controlled’ timing system, which mainly processes longer duration intervals, and depends upon dysfunctional connectivity between the basal ganglia and the dorso-lateral prefrontal cortex. The absence of between-group differences on time comparison, moreover, suggests that TS patients manifest a selective improvement of ‘motor’ timing abilities, rather than of perceptual time abilities. Our data also support an enhancement of cognitive control processes in TS children, probably facilitated by effortful tic suppression.

 [TS involves alterations to brain anatomy and physiology that are known to be involved in the processing of the sense of time. Researchers compared nine children with TS-only and ten similar “normal” children in the ability to estimate and reproduce subsecond (less than one second) and suprasecond (greater than one second) lengths of time. TS children reproduced suprasecond lengths of time with greater accuracy than controls suggesting enhancement of “motor timing” systems.]

Smooth Pursuit and Fixation Ability in Children With Tourette Syndrome [21]

The smooth pursuit eye movements and fixation ability of children aged 8 to 16 years with Tourette syndrome (TS) were examined.

Although several studies have examined the saccadic ability of patients with TS, there have been only a few studies examining pursuit ability in TS.

Pursuit gain (eye velocity/target velocity) and intrusive saccades during fixation were measured in children with TS-only, TS+attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and TS+ADHD+obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), and in controls (8 to 16 y). Two pursuit tasks and 1 fixation task were used. In random pursuit 1 (RP1), each step and ramp cycle began from fixation; in random pursuit 2 (RP2), each cycle followed the next. In the fixation task, children were required to maintain fixation on a center dot and ignore distractor stimuli.

All children had significantly higher pursuit gains in RP2 than in RP1 when pursuing a 30 degrees/s moving target. In addition, in RP2, the TS+ADHD+OCD group displayed significantly higher pursuit gains relative to the TS-only, TS+ADHD, and control groups. In the fixation task, the TS+ADHD group exhibited significantly more intrusive saccades than the TS+ADHD+OCD and control groups.

Our findings support an enhanced oculomotor ability in the TS+ADHD+OCD group and the presence of an online gain control mechanism during ongoing pursuit. These findings are discussed in more detail.

[Now it gets trickier, some of these effects only show up when TS is combined with ADHD and OCD. I love biology…(no really)]

 [In an experiment designed to track how subjects were able to visually fix on and track targets, subjects with TS, ADHD and OCD were able to visually track targets with greater accuracy (defined as eye following target as it moves, “pursuit velocity gain”.]

Enhanced antisaccade abilities in children with Tourette syndrome: the Gap-effect Reversal [22]

Tourette Syndrome (TS) is a childhood onset disorder of motor and vocal tics. The neural networks underlying TS overlap with those of saccade eye movements. Thus, deviations on saccadic tasks can provide important information about psychopathology of TS. Tourette syndrome often coexists with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). Hence, we manipulated various components of a saccade task to measure its effects on saccades of children with TS-only, TS+ADHD, TS+ADHD+OCD and healthy controls. Children looked toward (prosaccade) or in the opposite direction (antisaccade) of a peripheral target as soon as it appeared. The prosaccade and antisaccade tasks were presented in three conditions. In the Gap200 condition, the fixation dot disappeared 200 ms prior to the appearance of the peripheral target, In the Gap800 condition, the fixation dot disappeared 800 ms prior to the appearance of the peripheral target and in Overlap200 the fixation dot disappeared 200 ms after the appearance of the peripheral target. Fixation-offset manipulations had different effects on each group’s antisaccades. The TS+ADHD+OCD group’s antisaccade latencies and error rates remained relatively unchanged in the three conditions and displayed a pattern of eye movements that can be interpreted as enhanced. Alternatively, the TS+ADHD group displayed an overall pattern of longer saccadic latencies. Findings corroborate the hypothesis that the combination of tic disorder and ADHD results in unique behavioral profiles. It is plausible that a subgroup of children with TS develop an adaptive ability to control their tics which generalizes to enhanced volitional control of saccadic behavior as well. Supporting evidence and other findings are discussed.

 [In an experiment designed to track how subjects were able to visually fix on and track targets, subjects with TS, ADHD and OCD were able to generate antisaccades (looking away from a peripheral target) at the same error rate (errors are looking in the wrong direction) in all trials. All other groups had error rates that increased as the time a central target was left behind before a peripheral target appeared increased. (The central target seems to interfere with locking onto the peripheral target).]

Speeded processing if grammar and tool knowledge in Tourette’s syndrome [23]

 Tourette’s syndrome (TS) is a developmental disorder characterized by motor and verbal tics. The tics, which are fast and involuntary, result from frontal/basal-ganglia abnormalities that lead to unsuppressed behaviors. Language has not been carefully examined in TS. We tested the processing of two basic aspects of language: idiosyncratic and rule-governed linguistic knowledge. Evidence suggests that idiosyncratic knowledge (e.g., in irregular past tense formation; bring-brought) is stored in a mental lexicon that depends on the temporal-lobe-based declarative memory system that also underlies conceptual knowledge. In contrast, evidence suggests that rule-governed combination (e.g., in regular past tenses; walk+-ed) takes place in a mental grammar that relies on the frontal/basal-ganglia-based procedural memory system, which also underlies motor skills such as how to use a hammer. We found that TS children were significantly faster than typically developing control children in producing rule-governed past tenses (slip-slipped, plim-plimmed, bring-bringed) but not irregular and other unpredictable past tenses (bring-brought, splim-splam). They were also faster than controls in naming pictures of manipulated (hammer) but not non-manipulated (elephant) items. These data were not explained by a wide range of potentially confounding subject- and item-level factors. The results suggest that the processing of procedurally based knowledge, both of grammar and of manipulated objects, is particularly speeded in TS. The frontal/basal-ganglia abnormalities may thus lead not only to tics, but also to a wider range of rapid behaviors, including the cognitive processing of rule-governed forms in language and other types of procedural knowledge.

[In an experiment that analyzed the abilities of children with TS to come up with novel word forms in the context of a sentence, TS children were faster at producing rule-governed past tenses then control children. In an experiment that analyzed how fast children with TS could name pictures of objects, children with TS were faster than controls at naming manipulated (like a tool) objects.]

[a] Racism, A Sociological Perspective by Nicki Lisa Cole at

[b] Why Black People can use the N-word: A Perspective by African American at Word. The Online Journal on African American English

[1] Negativity Bias. In Wikipedia, retrieved on 7/6/15 from

[2] Bias. In Wikipedia, retrieved on 7/6/2015 from

[3] Type I error (false positive error). In Wikipedia, retrieved on 7/6/15 from

[4] Type II error (false negative error). In Wikipedia, retrieved on 7/6/15 from

[5] Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. In Wikipedia, retrieved on 7/6/15 from

[6] Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition.

The American Psychiatric Association, May 18, 2013.

[7] Neurodevelopmental Disorder. In Wikipedia, retrieved on 7/6/2015 from

[8] Towards objectively quantifying sensory hypersensitivity: a pilot study of the “Ariana effect”.

Panagopoulos et al. PeerJ. 2013 Aug 1;1:e121.

[9] Talent in autism: hyper-systemizing, hyper-attention to detail and sensory hypersensitivity.

Baron-Cohen et al. Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci. 2009 May 27; 364(1522): 1377–1383.

[10] Inflectional morphology in high-functioning autism: Evidence for speeded grammatical processing.

Walenski et al. Res Autism Spectr Disord. 2014 Nov 1;8(11):1607-1621.

[11] Obsessions and Autism. At on 7/2/15.

[12] Tourette’s syndrome, trichotillomania, and obsessive-compulsive disorder: how closely are they related?

Ferrão et al. Psychiatry Res. 2009 Nov 30;170(1):32-42.

On a theoretical continuum of tics and compulsions, it can be hypothesized that a nodal point exists where the shift from“unintentional” to “intentional” repetitive behaviors takes place. Subjective experiences that precede these behaviors may be helpful in defining this demarcation (Miguel et al., 1995), and may be particularly useful to investigate in the subgroup of OCD with tics. OCD patients with tics often report compulsions not preceded by obsessions, and instead usually perform their repetitive behaviors to relieve sensory phenomena (i.e., bodily sensations, general feelings), or to reach a specific sensation or feeling “just-right” (Leckman et al., 1994; Miguel et al., 1995, 1997, 2000).
In terms of type of obsessive–compulsive symptoms, patients with OCD plus tics more frequently report intrusive violent, sexual, religious images/thoughts, somatic obsessions, counting rituals, tic-like compulsions, and hoarding (George et al., 1993; Holzer et al., 1994; Eapen et al.,1997; Petter et al.,1998; Swerdlowet al.,1999; Diniz et al., 2005). When symptoms are measured based on dimensions, the aggressive/ sexual/religious factor and the symmetry/ordering/arranging factor are also more frequently associated with the OCD plus tics subtype (Leckman et al., 1997; Hasler et al., 2005).

[12] The psychopathological spectrum of Gilles de la Tourette syndrome.

Cavanna et al. Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2013 Jul;37(6):1008-15.

Moreover, it has been observed that obsessive–compulsive symptoms in people with tics have their own character (Frankel et al., 1986; George et al., 1993). Compulsions tend to be more related to counting, symmetry and “just right” thoughts or actions. Typical examples of this include having to cross a door threshold in a certain manner, counting all the floor tiles in a room or having to perform a tic in a particular way (which can lead to repetitive tics). Intrusive aggressive or inappropriate sexual thoughts and images are relatively common in people with GTS, whilst the obsessive–compulsive symptoms in pure OCD tend to be more related to fears about contamination or harm coming to another person (e.g. Frankel et al., 1986; George et al., 1993; Cavanna et al., 2006b; Worbe et al., 2010). Frankel et al. (1986) reported that patients with GTS had significantly higher obsessional scores on a specially designed inventory when compared to controls. The obsessional items endorsed by GTS patients changed with increasing age, with younger patients endorsing more items to do with impulse control, and older subjects endorsing items about checking, arranging and fear of contamination. Cluster analysis of the inventory responses revealed a group of seven questions that were preferentially endorsed by GTS patients (blurting obscenities, counting compulsions, impulsions to hurt oneself) and eleven questions elicited high scores from OCD patients (ordering, arranging, routines, rituals, touching one’s body, obsessions about people hurting each other). George et al. (1993) showed that patients with GTS and co-morbid OCD have significantly more violent, sexual and symmetrical obsessions and more touching, blinking, counting, and self-damaging compulsions, compared to patients with OCD only, who have more obsessions concerning dirt or germs and more compulsions about cleaning. The phenomenological differences between the repetitive behaviours encountered in GTS and OCD have been consistently reported in further studies (e.g. Worbe et al., 2010). The current view is that GTS and OCD can share some neurobiological underpinnings, and that specific obsessive–compulsive symptoms are likely to be intrinsic to GTS (Robertson, 2000; Lombroso and Scahill, 2008; Cavanna et al., 2009a).

[14] Specialisterne company website “about” page, US branch.

Specialisterne (which translates from Danish as “The Specialists”) is an innovative social business concept originally founded in Denmark in 2004. Specialisterne is internationally recognized as the first and foremost example of how high functioning people with autism (Autism Spectrum Disorder) can become effectively included in society, and provide valuable, high quality services to their employers.

[15] A Natural Fix for A.D.H.D. From The New York Times by Richard A. Friedman on 10/31/14

[16] The Creative Gifts of ADHD. From Scientific American by Scott Barry Kaufman on 10/21/14

[17] Bother Me, I’m Thinking. From The Wall Street Journal by Jonah Lehrer on 2/19/11

[18] Up In Your Head: Can Having Tourette Syndrome Make You a Superior Athlete? On Yahoo News by Joseph Diaz and Lauren Effron on 8/14/2014

[19] Dr. Samuel Johnson. In Wikipedia, retrieved on 7/6/15 from

[20] Time processing in children with Tourette’s syndrome.

Vicario et al. Brain Cogn. 2010 Jun;73(1):28-34.

[21] Smooth pursuit and fixation ability in children with Tourette syndrome.

Tajik-Parvinchi et al. Cogn Behav Neurol. 2011 Dec;24(4):174-86.

[22] Enhanced antisaccade abilities in children with Tourette syndrome: the Gap-effect Reversal.

Tajik-Parvinchi et al. Front Hum Neurosci. 2013 Nov 13;7:768.

[23] Speeded processing of grammar and tool knowledge in Tourette’s syndrome.

Walenski et al. Neuropsychologia. 2007 Jun 18;45(11):2447-60.

Getting into a rhythm…


That word, rhythm.

Toutette’s Syndrome is deeply connected to perception and habit. As people with TS we get “trapped by patterns” and the cognitive signals associated with those patterns stand out in our minds like neon lights. The tics are physical or verbal patterns, OCDs are perceptual and behavioral patterns [1] and I have seen some papers discuss how tics and compulsions seem to “blend” in TS [2]. I’ve come across all sorts of interesting examples. I know a coach that uses his most friendly coaching-related general exclamations of excitement in other social contexts, every social context  (it’s very endearing). Or an acquaintance that had to pull out little bits of hair and eat them (Trichotillomania). Using my historical role-model Dr. Samuel Johnson shows some very interesting patterns [3]:

… while talking or even musing as he sat in his chair, he commonly held his head to one side towards his right shoulder, and shook it in a tremulous manner, moving his body backwards and forwards, and rubbing his left knee in the same direction, with the palm of his hand. In the intervals of articulating he made various sounds with his mouth; sometimes giving a half whistle, sometimes making his tongue play backwards from the roof of his mouth, as if clucking like a hen, and sometimes protruding it against his upper gums in front, as if pronouncing quickly under his breath, ‘Too, too, too.’ All this accompanied sometimes with a thoughtful look, but more frequently with a smile. Generally when he had concluded a period, in the course of a dispute, by which time he was a good deal exhausted by violence and vociferation, he used to blow out his breath like a whale.

I myself have a great many physical, perceptual and behavioral habits. I sit in ways that make my body “feel busy”. I clear my nose and puff air through it a lot. I have to push the car lock button on the key remote twice until I hear the horn beep even thought I know it’s locked after the first one because I can hear the mechanism go and see that it’s locked and many more. Our habits systems are very sensitive and when we perceive a pattern it can become a perceptual habit.

It’s in my language. Think about that. The system you and I use to turn otherwise meaningless lines and compressed air molecules into information that can soothe, aid or insult. Of course there will be habits in my perception and sensation of language.

[Think of all of that as me stapled to him everywhere, dragging one another along as we struggle over what we should do and what we want to do. Kind of like that big bad guy that Riddick battled at the end of the second movie.]

I wish I could put into words what I see in human language. No not language, symbology. In a way that is what this blog is all about. Patterns that I see all over the place that stand out like neon lights. It’s not that they are patterns that only I can see, that would be bullshit. Anyone can see the things I see and if I can’t talk about them I’m not worth listening to. This is a matter of how things in perception are emphasized relative to other things as a matter of emotion and instinct. In text. In collections of behaviors. In art. In just about every part of human experience where we put information there is this raw, searing thing of both ecstasy and agony. A little slice of something human. This modified Pluchik wheel is the closest thing I can think of that might represent the things that stand out in my perception. I see fear, and obsess over how aggression and sex is expressed in a social context. Withdraw and advance. Fight or flight. I’m not sure how to work the sex in quite yet.

TS Plutchik wheel

OCDs related to TS often seem related to aggression, violence, sex and social rules [17]. A paper discussing “emotional impairments” in TS when expression were rapidly presented failed to note that their revealed data TS subjects have enhanced perception of fear, and noted they were most confused by surprise [18].

I need a rhythm or I may never start writing. I’m getting dangerously close to being locked into, something. I can feel it creeping up on me.


The pattern of avoidance.

I’ve been avoiding new entries because I’ve been looking for people experienced with research into Tourette’s Syndrome or people involved in TS activism to give me some constructive criticism on my blog. It’s one of those things that…

[…We Just Have To Do]

For some reason no one has accepted the request and at some point I need to actually start writing. The people I have talked to seem oddly hesitant and some part of me is curious, but I’ve been keeping those ideas out of assumptions as best as I can (good and bad) and just filing them away as hypotheses. My mind is extremely strategic about social issues from a lifetime of that thing I mentioned up there. Some of that is related to scrupulosity [4], the “religion” or “social rules” OCD. I just can’t stop paying attention to what/why people do things and what/why I should do.

Now that I’m finally trying to put something in here I have the question of what to write about? I’ve been avoiding the blog in different ways for different reasons for around a year now, or probably more like 2 4-6 month blocks (I can be bad about estimating time). First it was the amount of time it took to get used to the idea of actually doing this. Since my social emotions are different that involved lots of paranoia about social aspects. After six months of letting ideas boil around in the back of my head I came up with those blog defining posts that give a broad view of what I want to write about. Creating those posts was like running barbed wire with random spots of pure pleasure through my mind. I think they will be a work in progress for a while and will stay longer posts.

But I need to write more. The second 4-6 months or so was spent trying to get people to help me with some general impressions of my writing and realizing that I had to rethink what blogging is. My intentions were to start giving summaries of papers so that other people could get interested in what I see in journal articles. But that leads to a couple of posts a month, so perhaps those will be longer writing projects like the summary of the meaning of a collection of reviews on TS to give an easily understandable explanation of all the terms and concepts. So I’m going to try to commit to two posts a week so that I get practice.

[I think my reach can exceed our grasp a little too often.]

Today I will give a sort of summary of some of the things I have been thinking about and we will see what happens from here. This is a big post because frankly I have a lot of emotion built up that needs expressing. Once I get some of this out my posts will hopefully get more manageable. I can’t help it that every sensitive issue has little threads that lead to other things. It’s an inherent part of the whole thing.

And of course…

[…the first post is about insults and insulting characterizations. Predictable.]


The Beast and the Machine.

I tend to play a kind of mental chess with society and social issues. The number of moves, the number of categories the moves are in and other things that I try to predict and mentally model depends on the intensity, subject and context. That’s just what you do when you have something like TS.

[Probably all of us watch all of you carefully and think hard about what to do. I suspect a psychopath with TS is a terrifying thing.]

A lifetime of doing that has created an interesting set of filters that I use to interact with the world. The ones related to the internet alone are things I really want to put into words. For example I can see dominance behaviors and other expressions of emotion at high resolution in text. When you see what people do in those ways for long enough you start to notice patterns in what individuals and groups do. Eventually you want to know if anyone else sees the same patterns because I’m a social primate like the rest of you.

[Higher resolution in social emotional perception seems to affect the number of objects we can experience in our internal simulation both in abstract and in reality. We tend to feel social emotions very powerfully so we prefer a smaller number of closer friends, social situations with clear emotional rules, social situations where we have studied and experienced the rules very well and other similar things. Sensory hypersensitivity [5] is an issue here and that relates to the Things We Perceive and the Things We Feel About Perception (apologies if you have synesthesia, unless that was fun). So we spend a lot of time trying to experience many kinds of social situations and many kinds of people. It’s a genuine survival instinct. Not all of the things I look at are pleasant. In fact we tend to emphasize the study of those less plesent things very closely. I tend to see words as little beads on a string where each bead is a shell of hierarchically organized emotional connections [6] that we then have to cross reference with current established meanings, and not a little bit of local highly contextualized meanings.]

It can get a little overwhelming. Political dog-whistles [7] and trauma triggers [8] are everywhere, and I often have to remind myself that not all of human language is supposed to be in those two categories.

Language and me

Does this look a little crazy to you? These are impressions of how complicated the sensations I get from language are. I turned a sentence from a random document into symbolism. “The reputation side is utterly correct in their concerns.” Good/bad, intensity, object identity, object relations, actions, modifiers and more are things I can sense in relation to emotions and instincts. Yeah, it’s a rush.

My mind is always trying to find ways of categorizing human social behavior so that the things I come up with are as useful as the lists of logical fallacies. Logical fallacies [9] are a kind of form of human social conflict in a manner analogous to forms of human martial arts [10], and there are subforms. I can see what people do with fallacies in a more neutral way that is pure human social conflict with as much bias as I can find scraped off. Logical fallacies are a part of how we fight over ideas and concepts with emotions when trying to direct the attention of another person, a group or both simultaneously. When I see fallacious reasoning being used (the summation of the patterns of individual logical fallacies in action) I see something very much like the form of combat called grappling [11].

[Interestingly our brother consistently won grappling matches at Camp Pendelton where marines train. Why yes I wonder if that has implications on my interest and ability in wrestling with words.]

Instead of limbs, joints and whole body being used with force and torque, you have objects and meanings being manipulated with emotion and instinct. There are positive and negative emotions in there, of many intensities connected to many objects and people-objects. All to convince a person, and especially an audience, by plucking at social emotions.

There is structure in social conflict, and it’s so fascinating. I especially find insults and insulting characterizations fascinating so I guess I do have an “obsessional kind of copralalia” even thought I don’t personally feel the urge to swear or insult. A recent example involves a social controversy over what are called dictionary atheists [12] (link to a post by the person who came up with the term).


Dictionary atheists, versus social justice warriors. Patterns in the chaos.

I’m an atheist and right now our community is in the middle of a genuine political schism. It seems odd to use the word because no one is getting killed, but the definition fits so why the fuck not? Who started it is irrelevant to it’s objective existence for the purposes of this post. Both sides will have an “Oh yeah!?! But your side did X and Y!!!” because social conflict is always a circular thing no matter who is right. Both sides want to win no matter who is right and both sides will pull the emotional tools and weapons that they have prepared to keep the conflict going round and round until someone wins. Getting to the bottom of any fact statement you encounter will often require following citation trails. Social conflict is often exhausting.

[But some of us feel the same amused emotions attached to the word “drama” in things that are not drama at all, and are in fact quite serious. This results in intense interest in social conflict and the attendant suffering and often brutal jubilation (face it, some people even think schadenfreude is bad, it’s goodness is just very context sensitive). This instinct is a tool to be used carefully, I am compatible with existing as a social predator. Some otherwise kind and normal examples of us have the urge to insult in specific ways from the disembodied urges for real reasons.]

But both sides are not correct about reality. Someone is correct, or at least more correct. So I am always looking for patterns. The pattern that ripples around the term [Dictionary Atheist] in hypothetical proper noun form is an interesting one. Here is the pattern that I see, other people may see other things and that is fair since it is a relatively new term and we will fight over it because we fight with it. I’ll compare it with another recently invented term in contrast, Social Justice Warrior because the two terms are both interesting to me and I might as well do two insulting characterizations for the fun of it.


Dictionary Atheist

If I had to define the category of behaviors that contained a dictionary atheist I would say that they are a person who avoids ideas or examples connected to a word by pointing out the “strict definition”.

[Naturally this needs it’s own most general term eventually.]

This is a bad habit because words have multiple definitions and language only works because words are connected to other words. Let me describe the most general features in some more detail.

*Dictionary atheist is an insulting characterization, a pejorative.

*A dictionary atheist is a thing that can only exist in a social context. Person A calls person B a dictionary atheist because they bring up the dictionary definition of atheist in response to something person A says about atheism.

*The term is applied to a person who brings up the dictionary definition of the word atheist when some other person suggests that the atheist community should do something or make something a priority. These “somethings” have been moral and/or ethical priorities for the atheist community, actions that the group should take, and problems that the groups should address (probably other things too).

*The person using the definition is using it to criticize the connection of the previous “somethings” to atheists.

There are some posts by Greta Christina and PZ Myers discussing their take on dictionary atheists at the end and in-text. Since this is a relatively new term people are fighting over it right now so situations where it gets used are often heated. You don’t have to read everything or anything since my perceptions are the point (It’s my blog after all), but there is little replacement for watching the actual conversations that produce the terms if you want to see if you agree. “Atheists Don’t Owe Your Social Justice Agenda a Damn Thing” [13] basically uses the dictionary definition to weaken a connection between the atheist community and social justice. In “There Is No Atheist Movement”: Why I’m Officially Done With Dictionary Atheism [14] Greta Christina expresses well the repeated responses to shitty problems in the atheist community with appeals to atheism all by it’s lonesome and no reality context (and includes a great analogy to the LGBT movement).

The comments are especially useful because you get some discussion from lots of perspectives.

The reason that this term is a pejorative is because what a dictionary atheist does is waste time and fill the conversation/argument space with useless noise, thus rationally annoying the shit out of many people. There are things connected to intense emotions to be discussed and they are screwing around ([not really “screwing around”, there is a strategic value in the behavior. see below]). The definition of the word atheist has absolutely nothing to do with what an atheist should do in a social context. Figuring out what an atheist should do requires other concepts to be attached to the concept of atheist. Words are merely proxies for concepts and atheists don’t need to be reminded of that concept, it’s fucking insulting and anyone wasting my time like that is not acting like a social ally.

The thing that the person calling another dictionary atheist is trying to talk about, are concepts unified with the atheist community by reality. Things like:

*The life experiences that made someone an atheist.

*The life experiences that are currently relevant to people living as atheists.

*The things that need to be done to end suffering and promote well-being among people currently living as atheists.

The basic health and well-being of a community matters so like it or not things that are afflicting society at a basic level are atheist issues too. The basic well-being of community always matters all of the time. Think of it an an upkeep cost that a society always has to pay or it regrets it at some point. So sexual harassment matters, sexism matters, racism matters, homophobia matters, transphobia matters, ablism matters. All of the things society at large is fighting over right now matters. If you bring up something as pathetic as the definition of what unifies our community in response to a social issue you are acting like an asshole as far as I am concerned and I will act accordingly.

[Dictionary atheism is a strategy, not an argument. Since it appeals to what we all have in common while weakening a suggested connection and making no attempt to argue against the connection it’s use is entirely in opposition with no effort.]


Social Justice Warrior

Social justice warrior (SJW) is another new term that society is battling with. I need to get some more potential for bias out of the way to be fair. SJW is supposed to be an insulting characterization but honestly I just can’t bring myself to feel it based on my experience of it. I’ve only had someone apply the word to something I posted and not to myself so far. I posted this comedy routine by Aamer Rahman that discusses the issue of “reverse racism” and someone described it as looking like “that SJW shit” and literally nothing else. I’ve seen it applied to other people many times.

[Regardless of what it is supposed to mean We have to be honest about the reality of what We see. SJW is useless unless you are deciding to dismiss a person on an emotional level or are going to fail to actually address anything anyone is actually saying. The term is basically tailor-made to preserve the status quo and even prevent social justice that people using the term might actually want to see addressed, but since those people are already the more dominant social class that is just an extra layer of strategy.]

In the sources at the end is the entry for Social Justice Warrior by poopem at Urban Dictionary [15], and something in the section on Social Justice at Wikipedia [16]. Given the ever-changing nature of the internet and the newness of the term I will paste these definitions at the end of this post. They are there for completeness and can be ignored unless you want to investigate anything. I find it very fascinating that the sources for the Wikipedia section seem to be supportive of social justice warriors on a casual glance. I may write more about that later.

If I had to define the most general category of behavior that SJW is meant to describe it would be a person who is struggling for social justice by particular means that make the effort illegitimate.  The Urban Dictionary definition lists these as characteristics that render a person an SJW:

*Repeated and forceful style.

*Lack of reasoning or logic.

*Lack of genuine concern for the social group needing justice.

*Making statements of fact or presenting information from social leaders without actually engaging with anyone with respect to arguments about perceived facts and information.

*Concern for social standing among peers and superiors instead of engaging with anyone with respect to arguments about perceived facts and information.

*Aggressive tactics meant to win via pack attacks.

*The use of certain internet communities (Livejournal and Tumblr) with the implication that this makes a person an SJW.

*Doing activism online.

While the term describes a person who behaves a certain way, functionally people use the term in order to mentally shut down when it comes to struggling for a social justice issue. When you contrast Dictionary Atheist with Social Justice Warrior some interesting things become apparent.

Dictionary atheist is specific and substantive and SJW is general, subjective and associated with some fallacies. A dictionary atheist does a single defined thing, they bring up the strict defining concept that unifies a community and a contrast/contradiction against a potential a community connection with it. SJW has characteristics that apply to virtually every emotionally sensitive political topic and includes a heaping quantity of bad reasoning in how it seems to get used. The P.Z. Myers Is a Dishonest Social Justice Warrior Who Doesn’t Know What ‘Atheism’ Means by Michael Luciano and the other articles by him and PZ Meyers are again good sources here.

You will always find people who are repeated and forceful. This is a matter of signal-boosting and emotion being expressed proportional to what a person feels and is a human neutral. Repetition makes things stick in memory more and/or is used to basically bash what you are saying against a person(s) in a dominance display.

You will always find people with reasoning and logic problems who participate in such conflicts. It’s a genuine human problem and this post is one way I’m trying to deal with it.

You will always find people who are willing to use another group of people for their own sociopolitical purposes. Anyone in a social group with multiple factions will want help from allies and there are good and bad ways of doing that.

You will often find people who simply quote authorities, make assertions of fact or dump information and refuse to explain why it supports them or other ways of engaging on the topic. It’s a general human thing to simply opine without reason, logic or evidence or drop an impressive looking thing to try to wow or intimidate people.

Increasing the social complexity a bit you will often find that some people in a social conflict are willing to attack individuals as a group. This is general predatory behavior that is as natural as murder ([heh, “murder” of crows…]) and would be neutral but society has decided that murder is not something we like and many forms of socially predatory behavior are losing their neutrality in similar fashion.

Every group of humans has ways of organizing that group and internal rank and currency for earning respect is always part of it. You can’t have specialists within a group without that.

As for fallacious reasoning there is nothing inherently problematic about doing activism online, in fact the internet may grow into quite the blender for chopping up bad politics. How much of human history has included simple text in social conflict? Are arguments being made with words and symbols or spoken? Then it might be legitimate.

The last bit of fallacious reasoning is the assumption that being connected to a community makes an argument a problem. Criticism of a person for contributing to a community with problematic behavior is one thing, but that does not automatically make a particular expression of social justice a problem.

In the end Social Justice Warrior seems to apply to any expression that seeks to make society more just. You could in principle apply it to people who think the tax system is messed up. You could apply it to people who want to stop circumcision. You could apply to people who think that the way that divorces, child support and alimony are currently done is bad. You could apply it to people who want to fight for people who have been falsely accused of rape. In principle.

But is Social Justice Warrior being applied to all kinds of social justice advocates? No. It’s being selectively used by people to oppose expressions of social justice that tend to be associated with the political left like areas related to feminism, gender and race. Every expression of SJW that I have seen coincides with the person using the term mentally shutting down with respect to the expression of social justice that they don’t like. The term originated among people who are already higher up on the social pecking order and since it is a thing that one feels about the social justice of another it can in principle lock us into the status quo, if it were not for the fact that the people higher up on the pecking order will be working to get more power as they raise up SJW like it’s a shield.

So how does PZ’s response to Luciano look when considering the definition of SJW? Luciano complains of:

*Lack of honesty via emotionally intense misrepresentation.

*Illegitimate co-opting of a community.

*Attempts to alter the definition of atheism.

First I have to point out that PZ did conflate “…New Atheists are being denounced for supposedly failing to embrace liberal causes such as diversity and equality.” with “Why, the weird ideas of diversity and equality.” It would not be accurate to break equality and diversity from the whole set that Luciano presented and was an irrational thing to post. Luciano seems to think PZ should get a “Social Justice Warrior” where a simple characterization (even an insulting one) related to that irrationality would do.

But the other two are sheer bullshit and frankly Luciano would fit the definition of SJW better given that article.

Lack of genuine concern for the community. You can’t illegitimately co-opt the atheist community unless you tried to gather people based on something that is absent from the community. Since it is a community that formed not because of what it believed, but because of what it is opposing and does not believe in, there are going to be many people there for many reasons. That is all fair game for organization and many issues being complained of are reasons for why people left religion (especially among women and LGBT+). The social justice topics people are bringing up happen to be problems that are in a great many communities but that does not preclude organizing by atheists around those issues. It’s still an atheist community issue.

[Don’t even get me started on the people trying to say there is no atheist community. Those are some really dumb fuckers. This is at least a little complicated.]

Why should creationism be privileged over social factors that cause sexual abuse and harassment that are in both the atheist community and religious communities? You can’t even get to fighting creationism without attaching other things to the word atheist. Appealing to the dictionary in a criticism of a proposed social connection is a funny thing for a supposed advocate of social justice to be doing and illogical as a criticism. PZ is not changing the definition of atheism, he is attaching that word to other words to form sentences so that concepts can be connected regarding real-world issues in the atheist community.

Luciano has a strong interest in keeping atheist and social justice separate despite real world problems that require attaching words to atheist. I’m interested in the reasons for that interest. I think the “social” part of SJW is more important to the term than rationality with respect to the reason why it was chosen, instead of some other term for irrationality. If SJW actually has any utility it matches Luciano far better. Fortunately I can choose to not give a fuck if someone uses it. It functionally allows people to ignore the substance that another person is expressing, like the way that Luciano ignored PZ’s main topic about how we will need to talk about what beliefs we do have as a community.



These are some of the patterns that I see. One term with reasonable justification and one that I have yet to see a decent justification for. I’ll be the first to admit that having a neurological condition involved in language processes and an oppositional psychology is a funny thing to be used as an argument from authority, it’s all kinds of arrogant. But someone needs to start figuring out how different shapes of mind can lead to different human specializations with more detail and I’m willing and able to explain anything in here. If I’m wrong, I’m wrong. But an idea can not be challenged unless put up for challenge.




Sources related to the use of “dictionary atheist” in a logical order.

“There Is No Atheist Movement”: Why I’m Officially Done With Dictionary Atheism by Greta Christina
This is a recent discussion of the term and people it’s applied to.

Next is a series of four articles/posts by PZ Myers and Michael Luciano going back and forth (in order) around the inclusion of social justice into the atheist community.

Atheists Don’t Owe Your Social Justice Agenda a Damn Thing by Michael Luciano
Sunday Sacrilege: The Responsible Atheist by PZ Myers
P.Z. Myers Is a Dishonest Social Justice Warrior Who Doesn’t Know What ‘Atheism’ Means by Michael Luciano
Michael Luciano makes me laugh by PZ Myers

Urban dictionary: Social Justice Warrior

A pejorative term for an individual who repeatedly and vehemently engages in arguments on social justice on the Internet, often in a shallow or not well-thought-out way, for the purpose of raising their own personal reputation. A social justice warrior, or SJW, does not necessarily strongly believe all that they say, or even care about the groups they are fighting on behalf of. They typically repeat points from whoever is the most popular blogger or commenter of the moment, hoping that they will “get SJ points” and become popular in return. They are very sure to adopt stances that are “correct” in their social circle.

The SJW’s favorite activity of all is to dogpile. Their favorite websites to frequent are Livejournal and Tumblr. They do not have relevant favorite real-world places, because SJWs are primarily civil rights activists only online.
#1:A social justice warrior reads an essay about a form of internal misogyny where women and girls insult stereotypical feminine activities and characteristics in order to boost themselves over other women.
The SJW absorbs this and later complains in response to a Huffington Post article about a 10-year-old feminist’s letter, because the 10-year-old called the color pink “prissy”.
#2:Commnter: “I don’t like getting manicures. It’s too prissy.”
SJW: “Oh my god, how fucking dare you use that word, you disgusting sexist piece of shit!”
by poopem April 21, 2011


Wikipedia: Social Justice Warrior

Note: I include the embedded links present in the wikipedia entry.

I am not accepting or rejecting any particular source but only choosing easily accessible descriptions of current terms. I may check these out in more detail as a separate topic as this post is about my impressions of the use of the term.

The term “social justice warrior” has been used to describe people who work for social justice issues, often “claiming a moral authority” and “questioning the motives and moral integrity of those they oppose”.[61]

In Internet culture, the term has been used as a pejorative for someone campaigning against things they perceive to be instances of racism, sexism, homophobia, or other social injustice. Frequently initialized as “SJW”, it is used to accuse opponents of sanctimony,[62] to insinuate pretense,[63][64] as a pejorative,[65][66][67] and as a general shorthand for a person believed to be overreacting to social issues.[68][69]

61: Dixon E Southworth (13 March 2001). “A vision for the next century – government without corruption” (PDF). Retrieved 28 November 2014. “Finally, this paper describes a new social justice warrior, who attacks existing social norms and programs to achieve greater social justice and advance social goals not readily accepted by the general public. [..] Subjected to close scrutiny and often acts of violence because of their high profile, these new warriors are also very often accused of corruption, sometimes legitimately and sometimes not.” (p.1.) “These new social justice warriors separate themselves from the crowd by publicly exercising the right to free speech in order to right the social wrongs. […] Often claiming a moral authority as they speak, these warriors question the motives and moral integrity of those they oppose.” (p.13)

62: Hill, Max (17 November 2014). “In Defence of Social Justice Warriors”. The Peak. SJWs are generally young, white, and spend their time on social media condemning those who fail to live up to their own moral and ethical standards.

63: North, Anna (29 August 2014). “Why a Video Game Critic Was Forced to Flee Her home”. The New York Times. [citing Vice] ‘For certain segments of the gaming world, she writes, the term refers to “people who, according to Urbandictionary, engage in ‘social justice arguments on the internet … in an effort to raise their own personal reputation.’ In other words, SJWs don’t hold strong principles, but they pretend to.”‘

64: Ringo, Allegra (28 August 2014). “Meet the Female Gamer Mascot Born of Anti-Feminist Internet Drama”. Vice. People who, according to Urban Dictionary, engage in ‘social justice arguments on the internet … in an effort to raise their own personal reputation.’ In other words, SJWs don’t hold strong principles, but they pretend to. The problem is, that’s not a real category of people. It’s simply a way to dismiss anyone who brings up social justice—and often those people are feminists. It’s awfully convenient to have a term at the ready to dismiss women who bring up sexism, as in, ‘You don’t really care. As an SJW, you’re just taking up this cause to make yourself look good!’

65: “Gamers Misogynistic? Some Certainly Are”. Irish Times. 18 October 2014. The term “social justice warrior” GamerGate: A Closer Look At The Controversy Sweeping Video Games(surely a good thing) has been used pejoratively to describe those writers who choose to examine the social and political subtexts of contemporary video games

66: “The Only Guide to Gamergate You Will Ever Need to Read”. The Washington Post. 14 October 2014. Retrieved 22 April 2015. …’SJW,’ for social justice warrior—a kind of shorthand insult for liberals and progressives.

67: Johnson, Eric (10 October 2014). “Understanding the Jargon of Gamergate”. Re/code. Retrieved 22 April 2015. A Social Justice Warrior, or SJW, is any person, female or male, who argues online for political correctness or feminism. ‘Social justice’ may sound like a good thing to many of our readers, but the people who use this term only use it pejoratively.

68: West, Ed (12 November 2014). “Why Social Justice Warriors are losing”. Spectator Blogs. The Spectator. Retrieved 22 April 2015.

69: “In defence of ‘social justice warriors'”. The Peak.


In-text citations

[1] Tourette Syndrome “Plus”, About Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder by Leslie E. Packer, PhD 2009

[2] Repetitive behaviours in patients with Gilles de la Tourette syndrome: tics, compulsions, or both?

Worbe et al. PLoS One. 2010 Sep 24;5(9)

[3] Hibbert, Christopher , The Personal History of Samuel Johnson, New York: Harper & Row 1971

[4] Scrupulosity. In Wikipedia. Retrieved on 6/5/2005 from

[5] Sensory sensitivity to external stimuli in Tourette syndrome patients.

Belluscio et al. Mov Disord. 2011 Dec;26(14):2538-43.

[6] Sciencedaily, Language use is simpler than previously thought, study suggests by Susan Kelley 4/25/2012

[7] Dog-Whistle Politics. In Wikipedia. Retrieved on 6/5/2005 from

[8] Trauma Trigger. In Wikipedia. Retrieved on 6/5/2005 from

[9] List of Fallacies. In Wikipedia. Retrieved on 6/5/2005 from

[10] Kata (martial arts forms). In Wikipedia. Retrieved on 6/5/2005 from

[11] Grappling. Retrieved on 6/5/2005 from

[12] My lasting contribution to atheism by PZ Myers at the blog Pharyngula

[13]  Atheists Don’t Owe Your Social Justice Agenda a Damn Thing by Michael Luciano at The Daily Banter

[14] “There Is No Atheist Movement”: Why I’m Officially Done With Dictionary Atheism by Greta Christina at the blog Greta Christina’s Blog.

[15] Social Justice Warrior. In The Urban Dictionary Retrieved on 6/9/2015 from

[16] Social Justice: Social Justice Warrior. In Wikipedia retrieved on 6/9/2015 from

[17] Movement disorders: Tourette syndrome–beyond swearing and sex?

Robertson 2014. Nat Rev Neurol. 2014 Jan;10(1):6-8.

[18] Rapid Presentation of Emotional Expressions Reveals New Emotional Impairments in Tourette’s Syndrome.

Mermillod et al 2013. Front Hum Neurosci. 2013 Apr 24;7:149.

About the author: “A Demon Speaks”, why the name? My experience of Tourette’s Syndrome.

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 demons?

*General content warning

*Writer’s voice warning

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 [1]. 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 [2]. 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?

[Mindjack! STOP!

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 [3] 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.

I’m relentless.

<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” [4]…]

<(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. [5] 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 [5] 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 [6] 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 [7] and perception of ourselves and surroundings [8]. 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” [9] 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 [10] and they often say it helps them in what they do [11]. 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 [21]. 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 [12], 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[13] Ψ. Heck, 36% of us have more than three extra definable mental issues[13]!]

ADHD (Ψ) comes along with TS 70% of the time, and drops to about 17% in adults.[14]. OCD (>comes along 60%% of the time, that drops to about 30% in adults [14]. 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 [15].

[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 [6][7][8]. 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 [16]. 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 [17]. 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 [19]. 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 [17]. One recent study [18] 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 [20] 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…

Why Demons?

[When your head feels like it’s full of everyone else, how could we resist? WHY NOT DEMONS!]

[1] Tourette’s syndrome: from demonic possession and psychoanalysis to the discovery of gene.

Francisco M.B. Germiniani et al. Arquivos de Neuro-Psiquiatria, 2012 Jul;70(7):547-9.

[2] Emotional structure of jokes: a corpus-based investigation.

Yu-Chen Chan. Bio-Medical Materials and Engineering, 2014;24(6):3083-90. doi: 10.3233/BME-141130.

[3] Schizotypal personality traits in Gilles de la Tourette syndrome.

A. E. Cavanna. Acta Neurologica Scandinavica, 2007 Dec;116(6):385-91.

[4] Sensory gating scales and premonitory urges in Tourette syndrome.

Ashley N. Sutherland Owens 2011 Mar 22;11:736-41.

[5] Towards objectively quantifying sensory hypersensitivity: a pilot study of the “Ariana effect“.

Vassilis N. Panagopoulos et al. PeerJ. 2013 Aug 1;1:e121.

[6] Speeded processing of grammar and tool knowledge in Tourette‘s syndrome.

Matthew Walenski et al. Neuropsychologia. 2007 Jun 18;45(11):2447-60.

[7] Enhanced cognitive control in young people with Tourette‘s syndrome.

Sven C. Mueller et al. Curr Biol. 2006 Mar 21;16(6):570-3.

[8] Time processing in children with Tourette‘s syndrome.

Carmelo Mario Vicario et al. Brain Cogn. 2010 Jun;73(1):28-34.

[9] “Could an Inner Zombie Be Controlling Your Brain?”

Carl Zimmer. Discover magazine, September 8, 2008

[10] Reading resources for TS and associated disorders. Tourette Syndrome Foundation of Canada forum.

[11] “Up In Your Head: Can Having Tourette Syndrome Make You a Superior Athlete?”

By JOSEPH DIAZ and LAUREN EFFRON. ABC News, August 14, 2014.

[12] The functional anatomy of Gilles de la Tourette syndrome.

Christos Ganos et al. Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2013 Jul;37(6):1050-62.

[13] The Gilles de la Tourette syndrome: the current status.

Mary Robertson. Arch Dis Child Educ Pract Ed. 2012 Oct;97(5):166-75

[14] Tourette’s syndrome in adults.

Joseph Jankovic MD et al. Mov Disord. 2010 Oct 15;25(13):2171-5.

[15] Tourette syndrome, associated conditions and the complexities of treatment.

Mary Robertson. Brain. 2000 Mar;123 Pt 3:425-62.

[16] Prevalence and clinical correlates of explosive outbursts in Tourette syndrome.

Kevin Chen et al. Psychiatry Res. 2013 Feb 28;205(3):269-75.

[17] Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition.

The American Psychiatric Association, May 18, 2013.

[18] Psychosocial outcome and psychiatric comorbidity in older adolescents with Tourette syndrome: controlled study.

Gorman DA et al. Br J Psychiatry. 2010 Jul;197(1):36-44.

[19] Oppositional defiant disorder.

Hamilton SS et al. Am Fam Physician. 2008 Oct 1;78(7):861-6.

[20] Tourette’s syndrome in adults.

Jankovic J et al.  Mov Disord. 2010 Oct 15;25(13):2171-5.

[21] Rapid presentation of emotional expressions reveals new emotional impairments in Tourette’s syndrome.


The purpose of this blog.

A brief warning for parents: This blog is about Tourette Syndrome, but it is not a blog intended for parents of children with TS, or children with TS (although both groups could potentially benefit. This is about the experience of TS as an adult by an adult with the condition. TS is associated with a lot of sensitive things that are sensitive for good reason, however someone should be willing to discuss those things. This blog is an experimental creative work, and this page is my reasons and justifications for what I am doing. Many things that are worthwhile are risky and I am working hard to make sure this is the worth-while part.


Who and What?

I am a 38 year-old trained molecular biologist/cell biologist who has had to put his science career on hold because of a diagnosis of Tourette’s Syndrome (TS) and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in 2009. I spent the next 5 years using my science background to learn enough brain science, anatomy, psychology and many other things with the goal of understanding what it means to have TS (and ADHD). The result was one of those things that completely changes the way you look at yourself and your past. I found out that I was a member of a group of people with the most diverse expression of what is called mental illness that I have ever seen. And there were benefits! And drawbacks. An example of a benefit is that we process the rule based parts of language faster than much of the population at large.

Speeded processing of grammar and tool knowledge in Tourette’s syndrome[5].

We found that TS children were significantly faster than typically-developing control children at producing rule-governed past-tenses (slip-slipped, plim-plimmed, bring-bringed) but not irregular and other unpredictable past-tenses (bring-brought, splim-splam). They were also faster than controls at naming pictures of manipulated (hammer) but not non-manipulated (elephant) items. These data were not explained by a wide range of potentially confounding subject- and item-level factors. The results suggest that the processing of procedurally-based knowledge, both of grammar and of manipulated objects, is particularly speeded in TS. The frontal/basal-ganglia abnormalities may thus lead not only to tics, but to a wider range of rapid behaviors, including in the cognitive processing of rule-governed forms in language and other types of procedural knowledge.

About_ TS Enhancements

That’s a hell of a lot of emotion to work through and what complicated it was how this new knowledge was showing me things about myself and my mind. I would be dishonest if I were not willing to admit that at some points I have been a little manic about this. In fact I tried to blog about this before and the results are hard to explain. (for some reason a fandom got mixed up in this, it was an interesting time). Emotions and TS are complicated which is why I’m doing this and have wanted to do this.

So I’m taking a chance and putting this up here. I’m going to slowly work through papers that talk about TS and tie together my hypotheses and reasoned speculation while giving an idea about just how solid the data is. And I’m going to try to do it at an average language level. Does that sound far-fetched? Good because I am doing this as a person whose neurological condition is in his very language processing, and who in centuries past would have been called demon possessed[3]. I could use the pressure.


Pope Inocencius VIII supported the publication of the Malleus Maleficarum … written by two Dominican monks. In the book, they reported the case of a priest with no clear signs of cognitive dysfunction or eccentricities, which exhibited abnormal tongue movements, vocal tics and coprolalia whenever he kneeled in reverence of the Virgin Mary. He said that he couldn’t prevent those behaviours from happening. The priest’s symptoms were attributed to an act of the Demon and he was “cured” by an act of Exorcism.

In the same book, there’s also the account of a woman who uttered obscenities compulsively during the mass, which could be interpreted as coprolalia at the exact moment that the priest gave the final blessing, the Dominus Oubiscum. These should probably be the first written reports of persons with TS, whose symptoms were interpreted as signs of demonic possession, which resulted in them being targeted by the Inquisition and, not surprisingly, ending up in a fiery death at the stake.

So I hope that I am entertaining at the very least.


How: Two voices, me and…

Some of you might think that I’m too worried about risk, I can’t help but see this as risky. I tend to be very paranoid about how I present myself to society, (which might be connected to what is often called the “religion OCD”, Scrupulosity Ψ). At the minimum the tendencies shape my personality. It’s hard to describe but I am effectively obsessed about society. It took me some time to realize that I have spent my life stuffing the emotions and impulses related to that social obsession into a kind of “reality simulation” (possibly OCD intrusive thoughts related)  that I can even support with some literature that references such a habit in TS as “mental play”[4]. I use this simulation to try to think about my social environment (or fantasy environments) in terms of best/worst things, problems, strategies, and lots of other things. It’s actually a useful paranoia and combined with that language enhancement is very very interesting.

In fact the sheer number of changes to the structure and chemistry of our brains is such that, I can’t just use the language that we already have available to us and do this well. I’m going to have to get creative. This blog is going to get very metaphorical and analogical. I have a lot of symbols to use, abuse and create in order to get across what I need to get these things I see out for others to consider and criticize. It might be utter shit but I won’t know until I let other people see it.

But not every way of passing information on is a good one. Because of the nature of the material, social sensitivities (reasonable and unreasonable), and my own emotional investment I need to watch for things. My own bias coloring things is a problem so I need to create a process for separating myself from the material. I’m less sure about what other people are sensitive to, but for now I will try to be approachable and fair with criticism.

To fix bias I’m going to pretend my Tourette Syndrome is a demon in metaphorical role-playing. I will try to let those emotions come out as another voice alongside “mine”, which seems a risky thing to do on a social level at least. In reality “I” will be normal me as much as possible, but it will probably be a more analytical way of thinking more than “natural me”. This will be hard to avoid because Whatever TS ultimately is, it is about very simple, intense emotion and emotional connections to perception and action. It’s a childlike thing and as sensitive as this might be, it reminds me of a fundamentalist conservative religious stereotype. If you are a conservative fundamentalist religious person you have every right to be offended, but it is what it is. If I make a routine out of separating my analytical side from my impassioned side that might do the job in showing the reader what the science says and what I think and feel. Let’s see how much deeper this rabbit hole of social sensitivity goes shall we?

*Not only will I be presenting TS as a demon, I will be presenting MY TS as a demon. I am not every person with TS so I need to separate me from TS in general.

[I’m a bad influence you see. I’m a big chunk of selfishness and self-interest. I want to use the simplest and strongest language that puts me into everything in some way.]

*TS has to do with social memory and emotion in a way that can create urges to do socially inappropriate, even violent and hostile things. Racial epithets, insults, obscenity. “Fun” stuff huh? Still this will represent a cognitive system that everyone has. We are just convenient to learn about it.

[Fuck all of you. I have my own shit to worry about. Wait, I need your help and company sometimes don’t I?]

*TS has to do with physical sex. More male persons get it than female persons, but that can easily be a function of society treating male and female persons differently as a group. Either way there is a general system there as well.

[You are something of a tool to me. I don’t hate you, I like you actually. It’s just that I tend to see you in terms of me and what I feel and do.]

*TS has to do with sexual instincts. It might be a bit before I can talk about that one, but I can admit that TS is associate with various sex related excesses. Sexual instincts may just be more intense in general though, and there may be no innate tendency to violate the rights of others.

[Sensation, is fucking awesome.]

*TS has to do with gender. The personality characteristics are strongly associated with things considered “masculine”, but girls and women with TS seem to have more masculine characteristics. Someone is lying and I think it’s society.

[I’m a hedonist, assertive, unintentionally aggressive, a show-boater, an exaggerator, an optimist, I always have to mess with things and figure them out and I am similar things in female humans with TS]

*TS has to do with violence and aggression. I have to have a lot of self control to function with people best. It just seems to be what I am.

[I’m just over excitable. Who doesn’t like to run around with abandon?]

*TS has to do with patterns, connections, relations and sensitivity to such. And as I said it’s in my very language processes. The funny thing about neurobiology and language is it says I am literally in your head. So what part of my TS is in your head and what is it doing?

[Is this an appropriate time for an evil laugh? Yes I think that it is.]

I think that I will at least be entertaining.


So what will this “demon” do for me? It will let me get the emotions and associations out while still expressing the science for what it is. That’s not a bad thing. The bias that emotion contributes may or may not be justified. Bias is a neutral, it just means that your decision is pushed in a direction and most of the time we hear about inappropriate bias. To control bias you have to understand bias and make it a tool. It helps to be honest and as obvious about your bias as you can.


All of that was to say that this blog is about me and everyone. But every picture of everyone has to correct for the individual in telling the story.



[1] The Functional anatomy of Gilles de la Tourette Syndrome

Ganos C et al 2013. Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2013 Jul;37(6):1050-62.

[2] Neurobiological Substrates of Tourette’s Disorder

Leckman JF et al 2010. J Child Adolesc Psychopharmacol. 2010 Aug;20(4):237-47.

[3] Tourette’s syndrome: from demonic possession and psychoanalysis to the discovery of gene.

Francisco M.B. Germiniani et al. Arquivos de Neuro-Psiquiatria, 2012 Jul;70(7):547-9.

[4] Mental play in Gilles de la Tourette‘s syndrome and obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Cath DC et al. Br J Psychiatry. 1992 Oct;161:542-5.

[5] Speeded processing of grammar and tool knowledge in Tourette‘s syndrome.

Matthew Walenski et al. Neuropsychologia. 2007 Jun 18;45(11):2447-60.