Stephen Homer - Email:

School of Chemistry, University of Bristol

1. Introduction - What is Gilles de la Tourette's Syndrome?

Gilles de la Tourette's Syndrome is a neurological disorder affecting a small but significant proportion of the population. The disease was first described by the French neurologist Georges Gilles de la Tourette, who observed and classified the effects of the disease on a young noble woman (the Marquise de Dampierre) in the late 1800's. Georges de la Tourette called this disease "les maladies des tics" which translates as "the illness of tics". The nature of the disease often leads to misdiagnosis and sometimes the symptoms are so minimal that no abnormality is even noticed. Thus it is difficult to estimate the true number of people affected by this disease. While once thought to be rare, Tourette's Syndrome is now seen as a relatively common disorder affecting up to one person in every 2,500. It is also known that males are much more susceptible, with the male:female ratio being approximately 3-4:1. Tourette's Syndrome predominantly occurs before the age of 15 with the average age for the onset of tics being between 7 and 9 years.