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MEDICAL HISTORY
Year : 2019  |  Volume : 7  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 303-308

Georges Gilles de la Tourette and his legacy


1 Department of Neuropsychiatry, BSMHFT and University of Birmingham, Birmingham, United Kingdom; Sobell Department of Motor Neuroscience and Movement Disorders, Institute of Neurology and University College London, London, United Kingdom; Aston Brain Centre, School of Life and Health Sciences, Aston University, Birmingham, United Kingdom
2 Aston Brain Centre, School of Life and Health Sciences, Aston University, Birmingham, United Kingdom

Correspondence Address:
Prof. Andrea E Cavanna
Department of Neuropsychiatry, National Centre for Mental Health, 25 Vincent Drive, Birmingham B15 2FG

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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/amhs.amhs_121_19

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The first comprehensive description of Gilles de la Tourette syndrome as a neurological condition dates back to 1885 when Georges Gilles de la Tourette (1857–1904) published his case series of nine patients sharing the clinical triad of tics, echolalia, and coprolalia. At the time, Gilles de la Tourette was working at the Salpêtrière Hospital in Paris, France, under the guidance of Jean-Martin Charcot (1825–1893), one of the fathers of modern neurology. It was in fact Charcot who credited Gilles de la Tourette with the description of the syndrome that was named after him and gave him eponymous fame. Gilles de la Tourette's character was described as talented but erratic, and his life was relatively short for current standards but far from uneventful. Gilles de la Tourette syndrome, the complex neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by multiple motor and vocal tics, is undoubtedly his main legacy. The importance of the 1885 article was greatly underestimated at the time of its publication, partly because Gilles de la Tourette's main interests lied in the field of hysteria and hypnosis. Throughout the first half of the XX century, his name was progressively neglected, as the psychoanalytic paradigm that prevailed associated tics with rare and somewhat bizarre psychologically driven manifestations. However, Gilles de la Tourette's posthumous fame resurged during the 1960s, concomitant to a paradigm shift whereby the development of neurobiological models drove the renaissance of the scientific study of tic disorders, together with a reappraisal of Gilles de la Tourette's initial contribution.


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