Join The Conversation With Mishpacha's Weekly Newsletter

Reflexes Gone Awry

Azriela Jaffe

People who suffer from Tourette’s disorder never know when the next tic will hit them. Will they feel compelled to blink uncontrollably during an important meeting? Will they have an irrepressible urge to shout in the middle of shul? A closer look at tic disorders and what sufferers can do to control them.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

child“Everyone at school thought I was a troublemaker,” recalls Ephraim Sherr about his junior year of high school. “During class, I’d jerk my shoulders and make other kinds of movements. When I was especially bored, I’d let out a grunt or some other type of verbal sound. People thought I was doing it for attention. I wasn’t even sure why I was doing it, or what was happening to me.”

When the outbursts became more frequent, Ephraim missed a day of school to get tested for Tourette’s. “I was explicitly told it was not Tourette’s. For several years, I lived on thinking that what I had was undiagnosed and, ergo, untreatable,” says Ephraim, who lives inHighland Park,New Jersey.

Then, this past summer, his tics grew worse. When he sought a second opinion from a different neurologist, he was given the diagnosis: Tourette’s disorder (TD). “I took the whole thing in stride until this past Rosh HaShanah,” says Ephraim. “I was in shul, and in the middle of Shemoneh Esrei, while the entire place was quiet, I let out a series of yells. People were shushing me. I tried to stop it. But have you ever tried to hold in a sneeze? It was impossible and I was really embarrassed. I’m not embarrassed that I have Tourette’s. It’s the people who don’t know and think I’m being immature and acting out to get attention — that’s what bothers me more.”

After the High Holiday outburst, Ephraim bravely asked his rav to share with the entire congregation that he has Tourette’s. He wanted the congregants to understand that when he sometimes makes inappropriate noises or gestures during Shabbos morning services, it’s the very last thing he wants to do.


 To read the rest of this story, please buy this issue of Mishpacha. To sign up for a weekly subscription click here.

Share this page with a friend. Fill in the information below, and we'll email your friend a link to this page on your behalf.

Your name
Your email address
You friend's name
Your friend's email address
Please type the characters you see in the image into the box provided.

Top-Down Theory
Shoshana Friedman Our true currency, the accomplishments we value most
Strive for What Binds Us
Yonoson Rosenblum The chareidi community represents something of an oasis
Embracing Victimhood
Eytan Kobre Combating the allure of victimhood
The Kids Are Going to Camp, the Parents Are Going Broke
Miriam Klein Adelman Mindy has to feel good; it doesn’t matter that I feel ba...
Work/Life Solutions with Carlos Wigle
Moe Mernick “Rejection is Hashem’s protection” 
How to Create a Simple 900-Page Novel
Rabbi Emanuel Feldman All of us can reset the titles of our own lives
Stand There or Do Something
Baruch S. Fertel, MD, MPA, FACEP It’s called collaborative care, and it works miracles
I'm Here — Are You Ready?
Riki Goldstein Upbeat and catchy, but still makes listeners think
Back in Time
Riki Goldstein "I wish I could recapture that excitement"
Mixed Messages
Riki Goldstein The unsung craftsmen who give albums their special touch
Go in Peace
Faigy Peritzman Inner peace makes us vessels for blessing
All Work and No Play
Sarah Chana Radcliffe A life only about doing your duties loses all its color
Dying to Believe
With Rav Moshe Wolfson, written by Baila Vorhand Emunah peshutah is the force behind Jewish continuity