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Tourette's Disorder

  1. John Piacentini,
  2. Shannon Bennett

Published Online: 30 JAN 2010

DOI: 10.1002/9780470479216.corpsy1001

Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology

Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology

How to Cite

Piacentini, J. and Bennett, S. 2010. Tourette's Disorder. Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology. 1–2.

Author Information

  1. University of California, Los Angeles

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 30 JAN 2010


Tourette's Disorder (TD), also known as Tourette syndrome, is characterized in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV-TR; American Psychiatric Association, 2000) by the presence of multiple motor tics and one or more vocal tics beginning prior to age 18 and continuing for at least one year or longer. Although the motor and vocal tics do not need to occur concurrently, the tics need to occur several times a day or more nearly every day or intermittently with no tic-free interval of more than 3 months for the diagnosis to be given. Motor tics are defined as sudden, rapid, repetitive, stereotyped muscle movements, and vocal tics are similarly rapid and spontaneous vocalizations or repetitive sounds. Motor and vocal tics can be further categorized as simple or complex. Simple motor tics are brief, seemingly insignificant movements involving one muscle location, for example a hard eye blink, shoulder shrug, head tilt, nose twitch, and/or facial grimace. Simple vocal tics are monosyllabic, usually meaningless sounds, such as grunting, throat clearing, sniffing, and/or coughing. Complex tics are longer in duration, can be mistaken as voluntary and purposeful, and involve the coordination of multiple muscle groups, for example spinning, jumping, bending, kicking, touching self or objects, and facial or hand gestures. Complex vocal tics include interpretable noises, such as barking, shouting, or chirping, as well as vocalizations, such as words, phrases, repetition of self (palilalia) or others (echolalia). Coprolalia (e.g., profane language), often thought to be a defining symptom of TD, is quite rare, occurring in only about 10% of cases.


  • tourette syndrome;
  • motor or vocal tics;
  • habit reversal training;
  • basal ganglia