Medicine: Curse Cleanser

People who uncontrollably utter obscenities may be more sick than sickening. Doctors have long known (TIME, Aug. 29, 1949) that such compulsive cursing, often accompanied by a violent muscular tic, may precede insanity.

Writing in the current British Medical Journal, London's Dr. Richard P. Michael gives the case history of a 28-year-old man who was a spectacular example of the Gilles de la Tourette syndrome (named for the French doctor who outlined the symptoms in 1885). The patient developed a tic at the age of seven, was an accomplished curser at 13, when even the reading of Tom Sawyer would set him...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!