Tourette’s syndrome tends to be associated with random outbursts of expletives or obscenities, but this symptom is only one of many motor and phonic involuntary movement or sound-based utterances, or “tics”. Tourette’s syndrome is just one of many “tic” based disorders, albeit the most severe, and in the vast majority of Tourette’s cases, the symptoms are very mild. To the untrained eye they are probably unnoticeable, so are there any famous people with Tourette’s syndrome?
Only around 1% of the population are diagnosed with Tourette’s syndrome, which means that relatively few famous people have the disorder. But although it is easy to think that having Tourette’s must be a death sentence for anyone living in the public eye, surprisingly there are a few very famous individuals willing to admit they have Tourette’s syndrome.
Famous people with Tourette’s syndrome
Dan Ackroyd was diagnosed with Tourette’s and Asperger’s syndrome from an early age. His tics took the form of grunting and involuntary movements when nervous, but despite these problems, he has still managed to enjoy a successful career in movies, music, comedy, and screen writing. Dan Ackroyd is famous for his roles in the Blues Brothers and Ghostbusters and having Tourette’s has never prevented him from enjoying a fulfilling career.
David Beckham, the world famous footballer married to Posh Spice, has struggled with obsessive compulsive behavioral disorder as well as Tourette’s syndrome, but you would certainly never know as David has managed to build up an extremely successful and profitable career as an athlete, fashion icon, and all-round family man.
Howard Hughes, the famous Hollywood film director and one of the richest men in the world, was well known for his tics and obsessions. Despite his problems, he still managed to enjoy a wildly successful career directing films and making obscene amounts of money. He was also a gifted pilot, owning and flying many planes and airlines. Like many others with Tourette’s, Hughes also suffered from obsessive compulsive disorder and struggled with a germ obsession throughout his life, refusing to touch anything unless he had gloves or tissue to protect his hands from what he perceived to be disease and bacteria.
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart is widely believed to have suffered from Tourette’s syndrome, although such a diagnosis would not have been possible back in the 1700s. He is well documented as having numerous tics, plus it was reported that several letters written by Mozart to his cousin, Maria, contained numerous inappropriate expletives and references to bodily functions. From such evidence, a leading endocrinologist in 1992 wrote an article speculating that Mozart probably had Tourette’s syndrome.
Another of Mozart’s contemporaries, Dr. Samuel Johnson, a famous literary figure from 18th century England, was also believed to have had Tourette’s syndrome plus Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Johnson wrote essays, biographies, critiques of English Literature, and was one of the most famous wit and prose stylists of his generation. Yet he endured a great many involuntary tics as well as the symptoms of OCD, plus he had terrible eyesight and was hard of hearing.