Bad Language

Yesterday, I read an article about a concert pianist with Tourette’s. The article recounted how the man, a former child prodigy, has faced a lifetime of rejection from orchestras, something which he attributes to his potential employers being unwilling to deal with his condition.

The article sounded entirely plausible. No matter how talented or intelligent you are, it can be incredibly hard to find employment when you have Tourette’s. In my case, one employer told me that they didn’t think they could hire me because of the “duty of care” they had to the customer. Situations like these are all-too-common, and the article shed some light on to what people with Tourette’s have to put up with, and how hard cases of discrimination can be to prove.

Even though overall it was a positive article, I did find it unfortunate when the author decided to write that, eventually, the man “conquered” his Tourette’s. For me, this was an inaccurate and somewhat bizarre choice of vocabulary.

From the sounds of it, this man was one of those with Tourette’s who find that their symptoms alleviate with age. However, even if this was the case, the man wasn’t “conquering” anything. Tourette’s is a chronic, incurable condition. It can’t be “conquered”.

To say that the man conquered his Tourette’s is to say a) you can win against Tourette’s if you try hard enough, b) anyone with Tourette’s can “fight” the condition c) those whose symptoms persist despite their age are losing somehow.

Basically, it’s just not a great thing to say.

The problem is, people often use bellicose language when describing people’s relationship with their medical conditions. We often hear of people’s “battle” with a disease, they “fight for their life”, “struggle”, “conquer”, but, ultimately, “lose”.

I’m not sure this kind of language is helpful for anyone. Fighting Tourette’s isn’t an advisable activity, because we simply don’t know enough about Tourette’s to know how to fight it. We don’t know what causes it and what doesn’t, why some medications work for some and not others, why some people grow out of their symptoms and why some people don’t.

It can be a really hard thing to do, but when you have Tourette’s, it’s important to accept that you have Tourette’s, to go with its ups and downs, and to realise that raging against it will get you precisely nowhere.

4 thoughts on “Bad Language”

  1. Well said. A few years ago, I heard a lot about Cognitive Behavioral Training (CBT) where someone might actually “conquer” Tourettes. I live in a tiny town where there are no Tourettes CBT practitioners withing a 60 mile radius.. As a city dweller, have you looked into this?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have indeed looked into it, and as it happens, I am currently undergoing some CBT for Tourette’s – something that was pretty hard to secure, despite living in London. However, it’s totally not a cure and they have made it clear that, alas, I will always tic.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I have so much appreciation for your blog and I think it deserves recognition therefore, I’ve nominated you for the Liebster award! (Check out the post about this on my blog with more details if you’re not familiar with the award). Happy Blogging Dean@EverydayAnomaly

    Liked by 2 people

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