Tourette’s Syndrome Outbreak in NY Town

First: Tourette’s Syndrome is not the involuntary shouting of obscenities—that’s coprolalia, one of it’s possible and fairly rare symptoms. (More here.)

Now to the story:

Last August, 16-year-old Lori Brownell passed out while head-banging at a concert. A month later, she lost consciousness again at her school’s homecoming dance in upstate Corinth, N.Y. Brownell says her doctors put her on Celexa, but she only developed more symptoms, including involuntary twitching and clapping. In videos she posted to YouTube, Brownell flutters her fingers, touches her hair, snorts through her nose and throat, and shouts “Hey, hey, hey,” seemingly without control. On Christmas Eve, doctors diagnosed her with Tourette’s Syndrome. Now, however, her symptoms have another name: conversion disorder, or mass hysteria.

Since Brownell first passed out last summer, 14 other upstate New York students—13 girls and a boy, most of them students at LeRoy Junior-Senior High School—have come down with similar symptoms.

Is it a case of mass hysteria? That’s what one doc thinks. More at the link.

We’ve done a bunch of stories on mass hysteria outbreaks over the years. One of the wildest: “The Great Seattle Windshield Epidemic,” in Uncle John’s Slightly Irregular Bathroom Reader (page 413).  (You can read it here.)