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Hopkins Reader

Tics and Tourette Syndrome: Key Clinical Perspectives

When Roger Freeman ’58 was a medical student, he not only studied child psychiatry with Leo Kanner (1894–1981), the father of that field, but also helped Victor McKusick ’46 (1921–2008) begin establishing the foundation for his landmark Division of Medical Genetics at Johns Hopkins by translating papers for him on rare syndromes that were written in several languages.

Nearly 60 years later—44 of them spent in the departments of psychiatry and pediatrics at the University of British Columbia—Freeman is recognized as one of the world’s foremost experts on Tourette syndrome, a formidably complex and mysterious neurodisability and childhood development affliction about which many misconceptions abound.

With Kanneresque and McKusickian thoroughness, Freeman led the effort in 1996 to establish the Tourette Syndrome International Database Consortium, which now has records on the histories and widely differing symptoms—ranging from mild to pronounced tics to blurting out inappropriate words (coprolalia)—of some 7,500 patients with Tourette syndrome, records gathered from psychiatrists, neurologists, pediatricians and medical geneticists in 28 nations. He also has maintained his own detailed clinical records going back 47 years.

Given his mastery of the subject, Freeman distills the staggering amount of information from these sources into 27 nontechnical chapters that concisely address everything from diagnosis, prognosis and treatment to working with the families of patients with Tourette syndrome and their schools to help them cope with the condition’s numerous facets and challenges. Weaving into the narrative many case histories, both child and adult, Freeman has produced a book that will serve clinicians—from general practitioners to specialists—and Tourette sufferers and their parents alike.

Roger Freeman, M.D.
Mac Keith (2015)