I was astonished to learn that there are about 1200 rare diseases that people suffer from. The National Organization for Rare Disorders, USA, lists these diseases on their website http://www.rarediseases.org/
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, which most of us have probably at least heard of, is one of the top ten disabling conditions according to the WHO. But OCD itself covers a wide spectrum of disorders and many of these remain untreated and even undiagnosed due to lack of awareness.
I’d like to consider just one of these disorders here – Tourette’s Syndrome – as I have known well people with this disorder. I must mention that it has never occurred to them that they could be suffering from any malady and would not accept the fact even if they were informed.
Tourette’s Disorder is named after the French neurologist who discovered the syndrome, Dr. Gilles de la Tourette. The main characteristic of this disorder is continuous, involuntary body movements and vocal outbursts – what are called tics.
Most children, and adults, habitually contort their limbs, muscles and body parts in involuntary movements. They also swear and abuse periodically. But only those who show such characteristics for a continuous period of 12 months are said to be suffering from Tourette’s syndrome.
“Tourette’s Syndrome was considered rare and exotic at one time (however now,) Tourette’s syndrome is a relatively common childhood-onset disorder defined by persistent motor and vocal tics and frequently associated with obsessions, compulsions, and attentional difficulties,” says James F. Leckman, Director of Research, Neison Harris Professor of Child Psychiatry and Paediatrics, Child Study Centre, Yale University School of Medicine.