* ‘I wish I could get away with swearing like that!’
* ‘I wish I had what you had so I could get away with saying c**t/s**t/any other swear word to people I don’t like’
* ‘It must be so much fun to be able to just swear when you want’
* ‘I wish I had Tourette’s so I could swear when I want’
All those above, and more, have been said to me more times than I can remember. Usually by strangers who clearly have no idea about Tourette’s.
Coprolalia– involuntary obscene vocal tics.
Copropraxia– involuntary obscene motor tics (can include touching) e.g. putting your middle finger up at people, nazi salutes, touching others.
So let me clear some things up about coprolalia (inc: copropraxia. I’ll just write coprolalia but I am meaning copropraxia as well)
* Tourette’s does NOT equal coprolalia.
You may think from the media that everyone with Tourette’s has coprolalia. Any documentary that I’ve seen showing Tourette’s (TS) there is coprolalia.
In reality though it is only about 10-15% of people with TS who have coprolalia
There are many people with TS who don’t have coprolalia, some may never have it and others may not have it now but develop it. As new tics always appear.
* Not having coprolalia does NOT mean that someone is lying about having TS.
I’ve read things where people say that someone has accused them of lying about having TS because they haven’t sworn. As the media portrays us all as just compulsively swearing people often doubt you have TS if you haven’t sworn.
But you can see from the above point that a larger percentage of those with TS don’t have coprolalia. So there will be many people with TS who don’t have coprolalia.
* Coprolalia isn’t just swearing
I’ve heard many people refer to TS as ‘the swearing disorder’ and it does seem to be what many people link to TS ‘compulsive swearing’
However coprolalia isn’t just swearing. It is also: racist tics, homophobic, biphobic and transphobic tics, ableist tics, xenophobic tics, tics about sex, nazi related tics, etc etc etc.
So even coprolalia isn’t just about swearing.
* Some of us have very frequent coprolalia
The first point I said Tourette’s doesn’t equal coprolalia and that the majority of people with TS don’t have coprolalia.
However, I also wanted to make a point about those of us who have very frequent coprolalia. I myself have so many coprolalia tics, in probably all of the categories listed in the above point and I know others in the same position.
I remember once seeing something saying that for all with TS, coprolalia is such a small part, it is virtually insignificant. I wanted to correct them and say ‘many people with TS not all’
Yes there are many of my tics that aren’t coprolalia, but with the amount of coprolalia and the frequency of it for me. It is significant and impacts me.
* Coprolalia is NOT funny
I’ll be the first to admit that I do laugh at my funny tics, laughing helps and sometimes my tics are funny.
However, I don’t just mean because I ticced a swear word. Laughing at me is different to laughing at a tic.
I’m gay and trans so spend time in the LGBTQ community. Can you imagine being in a room of trans people and ticcing transphobic words. There are people it may distress (including myself)
Imagine going down the street ticcing ‘I love hitler’ and doing nazi salutes.
Imagine being on public transport with POC and ticcing racist stuff.
None of those things are funny. They’re horrible. I feel like an awful person (even though I know I haven’t done it on purpose)
I feel anxious, scared and distressed.
I may have caused someone distress.
So no coprolalia is NOT funny.
* Coprolalia is NOT an excuse to swear
I opened this blog with some things people regularly say to me. And 3/4 are about getting away with swearing or just swearing when you want.
I don’t get away with swearing. I have a neurological condition and one of the things it causes me to do is involuntary swear and other coprolalia tics. That’s not getting away with swearing, that’s having a disability. I’ve never once used my TS as an excuse to swear (or other coprolalia tic) at someone. Anyone who does do that isn’t that great a person.
Also, coprolalia doesn’t mean I can swear when I want. I never know when I’ll tic (although they’re pretty damn frequent and often very constant) and I never know what tic will come out.
I don’t choose when to tic, or what to tic.
* Coprolalia is NOT the severest form of TS.
I’ve seen in the media and in what others say that they think coprolalia is the severest form of TS. It isn’t. It may be the tics that shock people or are noticed the most, but coprolalia doesn’t equal severity.
There will be people with mild and infrequent tics who have coprolalia. There will also be people with severe and frequent tics who don’t have coprolalia.
Coprolalia and copropraxia are types of tics. The same as echolalia and echopraxia (repetition tics of others words or movements) palilalia (repetition of ones own vocal tics) and non-obscene socially inappropriate (NOSI) tics are all types of tics. None of them however equal any sort of indication of the severity of someone’s TS.
* A child having coprolalia does NOT equal bad parenting.
I’ve seen and heard this a few times.
However just because a child with TS has coprolalia doesn’t mean they’ve been brought up badly or their parents/guardians/carers say obscene stuff around them.
Tics are picked up from everything around us, kids go outside and they will hear all sorts of stuff. So a child with coprolalia could have picked up those tics from absolutely anywhere (strangers on public transport or in the street, from the media etc etc etc)
Don’t start blaming the people who are bringing up the child.
* Coprolalia is NOT bad behaviour
Whatever the age of the person with coprolalia, it isn’t bad behaviour.
TS is a neurological condition with involuntary vocal and motor tics, for some people that includes coprolalia.
It isn’t a thing of being naughty or for attention, it is a disability.
So please remember that TS isn’t ‘the swearing disorder’ and that there is much more to coprolalia than you think.