Faking It – Why This Is Silly

If you’ve ever cruised Youtube videos made by people with TS, one of the most common comments is, “They’re faking it.” Here’s why this is a silly thing to say:

First, unless the person making the comment is a specialist who’s well-versed in neurological conditions, how the hell would they even know?! This is the equivalent of someone walking up to you and saying, “That noise your car is making is just a loose tail light. It’s coming from the front of the car because the engine is faking it.” (Please don’t ever let this person work on my car!)

Here are some other reasons why it’s silly to assume people with neurological conditions are faking it:

I’ve seen your house. It’s a mess. You can’t possibly have OCD!

Most of the time this comment comes from people having seen the movie Sleeping With The Enemy. For starters OCD is never mentioned, so it’s a little odd to associate those symptoms with OCD. It’s a closer match to obsessive personality disorder. I don’t have OPD. I have OCD. But as I mentioned in my last post I’m not a neat freak at home. That’s just not how my obsessions and compulsions manifest. Intrusive thoughts? Yes. Not stepping on cracks? Yes. A reasonable expectation of a clean kitchen before I start cooking? Yes, though I think that’s human nature rather than any three-letter acronym tacked on my chart by a doctor. But I’m not a neat freak. Besides, I have kids. There’s no greater power of chaos in the universe than kids. If I was like the character in Sleeping With The Enemy my kids would’ve driven me crazy years ago.

I talked to you the other day. You weren’t ticcing at all. You can’t possibly have TS!

If you talked to me any time in the last six months I’d have to say you need new glasses! But tics wax and wane. Right now mine are peaking, but in the past they’ve been relatively mild. Unless someone was looking for them they might not be obvious at all. For a period of over a year my two main tics were a breathing tic that only I was really aware of and a tic I did with my ears that had no visible outward component. I had others, but those were the biggies. That was the year I was diagnosed.

Another reason someone with TS might not visibly tic is because they might be medicating. To put this another way, saying someone with TS who’s not ticcing while on medication is “faking it” is like telling a hypertensive who’s medicating that their 120/70 blood pressure proves they’re “faking it”. Take either one off their meds and it’s a completely different story.

You’re just doing it for the attention!

People say there’s no such thing as good press or bad press… just press. But there is such a thing as good attention and bad attention. Good attention wins you the respect and admiration of your peers. Bad attention gets you punched repeatedly during recess. Guess which one this falls under? Very very few people go looking for this kind of attention.

But you don’t do that swearing thing!

Ok, first of all anyone who says this about me must have blinders on and ear plugs in. I swear all the time! I even swear when writing this blog. I just don’t have a swearing tic. Swearing is only a requirement for a TS diagnosis if you’re a Hollywood filmmaker. The definition in the DSM only mentions it as one example of a vocal tic, not as a requirement for a diagnosis. To put this another way: Not everyone with TS has a swearing tic. Get over it.

I know you’re swearing on purpose! That’s not a tic!

No kidding. See above.

I’ve seen the Tourette’s Guy. He’s hilarious! You’re not like him.

No, nor are most people with TS. I really don’t know his story, so I can’t say much about him. But if you’re looking for a typical case of TS, that’s not even close to what it would look like.

(I know I said there’s no “typical case” of TS. I’m trying to point out that judging an entire group of people based on one particular stereotype, regardless of its validity, is silly. Work with me here.)

You’re just doing it for the attention!

Already covered this one. See above. (Sheesh! Why is this one so common?!)

You’re just…

Ok, enough. Here’s a thought exercise: Let’s say you’re someone who has multiple motor and vocal tics, and you want to go see a movie. You know full well people will stare at you when you’re in line for the tickets. You know they’ll stare, laugh, or yell at you to shut up once you’re in the theater. You know you’ll be judged and found wanting before you’re ever even given the chance to offer an explanation. And you have to go through that thought process every single time you want to go see a movie. Or go out to dinner. Or go to the beach. Or visit your kid’s school. Or any of the myriad things people do on a daily basis. And for some non-zero number of these that thought process leads to the conclusion: I’ll just stay home. They win.

WHY exactly would people want to “fake it”?

That’s just silly!

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