Essay on Tourette in Fiction: Lethem, Lefcourt, Hecht, Rubio, Byalick

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Disorder - both in narrative and of narrative - is omni-present today, and trauma and syndromes proliferate: Tourette Syndrome1 has become a trope for the whole post-modern condition... Amnesia is more widespread than in living memory... Attention Deficit Disorder adds up... These disorders and their names are more familiar to us than ever before, and the terminology of trauma and symptomology no longer belongs to a narrow professional (medical or therapeutic) register. We are disorder-, syndrome- and trauma-aware like never before. This greater awareness and label dissemination indicates that a popularisation of trauma terminology has taken place, and that these labels have entered a wider cultural field. The reason
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There are also other instances of the dissemination of the label in the pop culture realm, and among these we may note the existence of punk bands such as Tourette’s Lautrec and Pussy Tourette, both names which inscribe themselves in the tradition of subcultural bricolage, a practice where negative or stigmatic labels are embraced,
both for their (out-group) shock value and for their (in-group) semiotic value in signalling cool deviance. For a collection of images portraying Tourette in the pop culture realm please access my homepage, following the hyperlink given in this footnote.2
What interests us particularly here, though, is the growing number of semi-fictional and fictional treatments of Tourette. Books bordering on the fictional can be found in the semi-documentary and very popular work of Oliver Sachs. One of his books (The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat
(1985)) bears the revealing subtitle “Clinical Tales”, thus using a telling mixture of archetextual or generic markers to place the book squarely between fact and fiction. Sachs’s books have also inspired several TV documentaries. Fully fictional treatments are, however, rarer to find, but another Amazon search turns up the existence of a keyword category in

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