Understanding Coprophenomena: Misunderstood Symptoms (2023)

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Understanding Coprophenomena: Misunderstood Symptoms

What are Coprolalia and Copropraxia?

Coprolalia is the medical term used to describe one of the most puzzling and socially stigmatizing symptoms of Tourette Syndrome—the involuntary outburst of obscene words or socially inappropriate and derogatory remarks. Other examples may include references to genitals, excrement and sexual acts. Although coprolalia is the most widely known symptom of TS, the majority of patients do not experience this feature. It is most often expressed as a single word, but may involve phrases or sentences. There is no way to predict who will develop coprolalia. Copropraxia is a related complex motor tic symptom involving obscene gestures, such as gestures representing obscene words or with genital reference. Like other tics, the root of this symptom is physical—that is, there is a neurobiological basis to coprolalia and copropraxia. Fortunately, only a minority of individuals with Tourette syndrome experience coprophenomena (coprolalia and copropraxia). However, for those with coprolalia who are trying to deal with the world—in public places, school, at home or work—just getting through the day can be excruciatingly difficult.

How are Coprophenomena Manifested?

While obscenities and profanities may be common in everyday conversation in our culture, coprolalia is different from simply swearing or using bad language. Usually these vocal tics are not uttered within social or emotional contexts, and often are spoken or repeated compulsively in a louder tone or different cadence or pitch than normal conversational speech. Particularly embarrassing for some individuals with coprolalia are involuntary outbursts within social contexts, such as racial or ethnic slurs in the company of the very people who would be most offended by such remarks. A minority of people with coprolalia have this particular problem. It is crucial to understand that these words or complex phrases do not necessarily reflect the thoughts, beliefs or opinions of the person with coprolalia. Some phrases can be quite complex, often meaningless and even comical. One young man with TS has been known to shout, “Help me, my underwear is on fire!!” Some people with TS do not actually say the inappropriate words out loud, but may repeat them mentally. Although not socially apparent, these individuals find their subvocalized coprolalia distressing. The words are usually expressed in a person’s native language, but it is not uncommon for someone with TS to swear in a language he or she has learned.

(Video) Everything you NEED to know about Vocal Tics in Tourette's

What Causes Coprophenomena?

The most commonly accepted explanation of what causes coprolalia involves the same “faulty wiring” of the inhibitory mechanism of the brain that causes involuntary movements that typify TS. It seems that the innate ability we all have to suppress unwanted movements and unconscious thoughts is somehow impaired in people with TS. Just as people with TS must satisfy the overwhelming urge to twitch, so they must “let out” sounds and words that build up and must be expressed before momentary relief can be felt. Depending on the symptom severity, the pressure to express those symptoms will reoccur, because the irresistible, unbearable urge to twitch, curse or shout cannot be inhibited indefinitely. The particular manifestation of such language may have to do with the individual’s stronger emotional content in certain parts of the brain. Such symptoms have been seen in individuals following stroke or other brain injury to the deep frontal regions of the brain. As with all tics, increased symptoms may occur with heightened emotional stress, pleasant excitement or even fatigue. The emotional state does not cause the tic symptoms, but rather may increase them. Of note, the words that may be expressed in coprolalia are often distressing to an individual, and not indicative of their personal convictions (such as in the context of racial slurs). In many individuals, coprolalia is not able to be controlled.

How Do People Cope?

Treatment for tics may also show benefit in improving coprophenomena in some individuals. Such treatments include behavioral therapy and medications. In addition, some people with coprolalia have discovered ingenious ways to hide or mask their outbursts when they are in social or work situations. They might utter only the first letters of a four letter word, (e.g. “ff” or “shhh”). Others may quietly mumble the unacceptable words or cover their mouths to muffle the obscenities. These masking techniques help to relieve the irrepressible urge to let out the involuntary symptoms, while at the same time mute the unacceptable and disruptive outbursts. Often the ability to substitute the obscenity with another word is limited, because a major change in the sound leaves the underlying urge unsatisfied. One way to understand this is to imagine that one has a cold, but that it is socially unacceptable to sneeze in public. It may be possible to cough instead of sneeze, but the urge to sneeze persists, and eventually the sneeze escapes. Children may also have coprolalia. Because they are less socially sophisticated, youngsters may not try or even be able to mask or hide their outbursts. Severely affected adults with continual vocal tics may not be able to suppress or mask these symptoms. Unfortunately, some have no warning when coprolalia is about to occur.


Coprolalia is surely among the most difficult symptoms that a minority of individuals with TS must endure. The public often views these behaviors as either strange or offensive and hostile. However, the presence of coprolalia symptoms is not related to one’s intelligence or character. There are people with coprolalia who develop an exceptional ability to cope with TS and its ramifications. Understanding and acceptance of the symptoms of Tourette Syndrome including coprophenomena is a key element in helping people with TS lead full and productive lives.

(Video) I cured my Tourette's with diet.
(Video) Misunderstandings (Copropraxia and Coprolalia)


What is the disease where you say inappropriate things? ›

#1 People with Tourette don't always blurt out obscenities.

Known as coprolalia, this only affects about 1 in 10 people with Tourette. Coprolalia is a complex tic that is difficult to control or suppress, and people who have this tic often feel embarrassed by it.

What are examples of copropraxia? ›

Examples include a shoulder shrug, head jerk, dart of the eyes, and twitch of the nose. Most often, simple tics are repetitive, such as a run of eye blinking. When multiple simple tics occur in a sequence that is repeated over and over, the tics change from simple to complex.

What are the 3 types of tics? ›

Three tic disorders are included in the DSM-5:
  • Tourette syndrome (TS, sometimes called Tourette disorder)
  • Persistent (sometimes called chronic) motor or vocal tic disorder.
  • Provisional tic disorder.

What conditions mimic Tourette's? ›

Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) Autism spectrum disorder. Behavioral problems, such as oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) or conduct disorder (CD)

What is Klazomania? ›

Klazomania is a rare but characteristic paroxysmal compulsive shouting attack. The authors report a patient with chronic alcohol abuse who developed klazomania in later life, many years after carbon monoxide poisoning.

What disease makes you blurt out random things? ›

Tourette (too-RET) syndrome is a disorder that involves repetitive movements or unwanted sounds (tics) that can't be easily controlled. For instance, you might repeatedly blink your eyes, shrug your shoulders or blurt out unusual sounds or offensive words.

What are 5 common tics of Tourette's? ›

Symptoms of Tourette's syndrome
  • blinking.
  • eye rolling.
  • grimacing.
  • shoulder shrugging.
  • jerking of the head or limbs.
  • jumping.
  • twirling.
  • touching objects and other people.

What are examples of nervous tics? ›

blinking, wrinkling the nose or grimacing. jerking or banging the head. clicking the fingers. touching other people or things.

What is an example of an anxiety tic? ›

When you are anxious, you might experience tics such as twitching eyes, legs, arms, or a spasm in your throat muscle. These physical sensations may even last for a few days before disappearing. These tics are a symptom of anxiety that occur as a result of muscle tension caused by stress.

What can trigger tics? ›

Tic triggers

Your tics may worsen with excitement or anxiety and get better during calm, focused activities. Certain physical experiences can trigger or worsen tics; for example, tight collars may trigger neck tics. Hearing another person sniff or clear the throat may trigger similar sounds.

What is the most common tic disorder? ›

provisional tic disorder — this is the most common type of tic disorder. With a provisional tic disorder, the tics have been happening for less than a year. chronic (persistent) tic disorder — this is a less common tic disorder. With chronic (persistent) tic disorder, tics have been happening for more than a year.

Can emotional trauma cause tics? ›

There are only a few cases of psychogenic tics associated with trauma. This includes reported cases of pseudo-tics or psychogenic movements related to stressors, such as sexual abuse, in children previously diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome (TS).

What is the mildest form of Tourette's? ›

There are two broad levels of Tourette syndrome. These are: Simple – a milder version, including tics (such as blinking, sniffing, shrugging and grimacing) and vocalisations (such as grunting and clearing the throat)

Does Benadryl help with Tourette's? ›

Acute dystonic reaction such as face and neck spasms, lock jaw or involuntary eye deviation may occur with all these drugs, but this side effect can be effectively reversed with anticholinergic medications such as benztropine (Cogentin) or diphenhydramine (Benadryl).

What are the 2 types of Tourette's? ›

There are two types of tics—motor and vocal.

What is it called when you randomly cuss? ›

Coprolalia is the medical term used to describe one of the most puzzling and socially stigmatizing symptoms of Tourette Syndrome—the involuntary outburst of obscene words or socially inappropriate and derogatory remarks. Other examples may include references to genitals, excrement and sexual acts.

What is it called when you randomly yell? ›

Klazomania (from the Greek κλάζω ("klazo")—to scream) refers to compulsive shouting; it has features resembling the complex tics such as echolalia, palilalia and coprolalia seen in tic disorders, but has been seen in people with encephalitis lethargica, alcohol use disorder, and carbon monoxide poisoning.

Why do some people talk to themselves outloud? ›

People talk to themselves out loud for many reasons. It could come from loneliness, stress, anxiety, or even trauma. Usually, though, talking to yourself is a healthy, normal, and even beneficial way to process thoughts and experiences.

What disease causes vocal outbursts? ›

Tourette syndrome is a neurological disorder. It is a syndrome that involves recurrent involuntary tics, which are repeated, involuntary physical movements and vocal outbursts.

Why do I keep blurting things out? ›

Impulsivity is the tendency to act without thinking, for example if you blurt something out, buy something you had not planned to, or run across the street without looking. To a degree, this kind of behavior is common, especially in children or teenagers, and isn't necessarily a sign of trouble.

What syndrome starts with T? ›

Tourette syndrome is a disorder of the nervous system.
It often occurs with other problems, such as:
  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • Anxiety.
  • Depression.
Aug 4, 2016

What is the best medication for tics? ›

Neuroleptics, also called antipsychotics, are the main medicines for tics. They work by altering the effects of the chemicals in the brain that help control body movements. Examples include risperidone, pimozide and aripiprazole.

Can you develop Tourette's from anxiety? ›

Can you develop Tourette's from anxiety? Tourette's is almost always the result of some sort of anxiety disorder, and the tics that those with Tourette's display are a way for them to alleviate that anxiety. So yes, an individual can develop Tourette's from anxiety.

Are tics mental or physical? ›

Causes. Provisional tic disorder is common in children. The cause of provisional tic disorder can be physical or mental (psychological). It may be a mild form of Tourette syndrome.

How do nervous tics start? ›

No one knows exactly what causes tics to occur. Stress and sleep deprivation seem to play a role in both the occurrence and severity of motor tics. Doctors once believed that certain medications, including some used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, induced tics in children that were prone to them.

How do you calm a tic without medication? ›

In mild cases, tic disorders can be treated with informal relaxation exercises that help children and adults reduce the stress that can exacerbate tics. Examples of these techniques include deep breathing, visual imagery, and guided muscle relaxation.

What are 3 symptoms of Tourette's syndrome? ›

What Is Tourette Syndrome?
  • Motor tics: These are sudden, apparently uncontrollable movements such as exaggerated eye blinking, grimacing, head jerking, or shoulder shrugging.
  • Vocal tics: These include repeated throat clearing, sniffing, or humming.

What are weird anxiety tics? ›

Tics are often confused with nervous behavior. They intensify during periods of stress and don't happen during sleep. Tics occur repeatedly, but they don't usually have a rhythm. People with tics may uncontrollably raise their eyebrows, shrug their shoulders, flare their nostrils, or clench their fists.

What is the main symptoms of anxiety? ›

Signs and Symptoms
  • Feeling restless, wound-up, or on-edge.
  • Being easily fatigued.
  • Having difficulty concentrating.
  • Being irritable.
  • Having headaches, muscle aches, stomachaches, or unexplained pains.
  • Difficulty controlling feelings of worry.
  • Having sleep problems, such as difficulty falling or staying asleep.

What are psychogenic tics? ›

Psychogenic Tics

They are usually associated with a premonitory sensation or urge to make the tic movement followed by a sense of relief when the tic movement is completed. It is not uncommon for other psychogenic movement disorders to coexist with psychogenic tics.

At what age do tics get worse? ›

Children who have Tourette syndrome usually have their worst symptoms when they are between 9 and 13 years old. After that time, the tics may fade in intensity or go away completely.

How do you calm a tic? ›

  1. Medications that block or lessen dopamine. Fluphenazine, haloperidol (Haldol), risperidone (Risperdal) and pimozide (Orap) can help control tics. ...
  2. Botulinum (Botox) injections. ...
  3. ADHD medications. ...
  4. Central adrenergic inhibitors. ...
  5. Antidepressants. ...
  6. Antiseizure medications.
Aug 8, 2018

Can magnesium help tics? ›

Depending on the size of your child, 250 – 500 milligrams of a quality magnesium supplement can often reduce twitches and vocal tics.

Can tics be seen in EEG? ›

A doctor may order an electroencephalogram (EEG) to rule out other conditions that can cause tics, such as dystonia, encephalitis, or Huntington's disease. An EEG measures electrical activity in the brain and can tell the doctor if the nervous system is not working properly.

Is tics a neurological disorder? ›

Tics can be seen in different neurological conditions. Tourette disorder is characterized by the presence of at least two motor tics and one vocal tic present before the age of 18. Tics can also occur as part of a functional neurological disorder (FND), in which case they are referred to as 'functional tics'.

Can lack of sleep cause tics? ›

There's no single cause of tics, but researchers believe that any number of factors can lead to the development of tics, such as lack of sleep or stress.

What happens in the brain when someone tics? ›

Tics are thought to result from dysfunctions in cortical and subcortical regions that are involved in habit formation, including the basal ganglia, thalamus, and frontal cortex (Graybiel 1998; Leckman and Riddle 2000; Leckman 2002; Leckman et al. 2006; Graybiel 2008).

What are PTSD tics? ›

Tics after head trauma can cause a person to make sudden, repetitive movements or vocalizations. These movements are involuntary, although they do not always appear that way.

Why is clonidine used for Tourette's? ›

For children with Tourette's syndrome, clonidine will help to reduce the severity and frequency of tics. For children with ADHD, clonidine helps to reduce hyperactive symptoms. For children with sleep disorders and difficulty getting to sleep, clonidine will help them fall asleep.

What causes Tourette's to get worse? ›

Your child's tics related to Tourette syndrome may seem worse in certain situations or during times when your child experiences strong emotions. Common triggers include: Stressful events, such as a family fight or poor performance at school. Boredom, physical illness, or fatigue.

Who does Tourette's affect the most? ›

Boys were about three times more likely to have TS than girls. Children from all racial and ethnic groups or socio-economic backgrounds had similar estimates for diagnosis of TS. Children 12–17 years of age were more than twice as likely to have a diagnosis of TS than children 6–11 years of age.

When do Tourette's symptoms peak? ›

Tourette Syndrome (TS) is a childhood-onset neuropsychiatric disorder that is characterized by both motor and phonic tics. In TS, tics typically begin at age 5 or 6 years and reach their peak severity between 10 and 12 years of age.

Can CBD oil help Tourette's syndrome? ›

evidence that CBD alone is effective in treating Tourette Syndrome, anxiety is known to increase the frequency and severity of tics and testimonials for CBD as an effective anxiety reducing treatment are numerous. children and adolescents. The Tourette Association of America shares that concern.

What natural supplements help with tics? ›

Supplementation with L-Theanine and vitamin B6 was significantly more effective than psychoeducation in reducing tics and co-occurring disorders, as measured by neuropsychological findings.

Which treatment is new for Tourette's disorder? ›

Tourette's disorder can be treated with medication. But new behavioral interventions like habit reversal therapy (HRT) can also help treat tics without the potential adverse effects that some medications have.

What is palilalia in Tourette's? ›

SIR: Palilalia is an involuntary repetition, two or more times, of a patient's own phrase or word that is semantically adequate and compulsive in nature. The reiteration occurs in spontaneous speech or when replying to questions.

Is Tourette's autoimmune? ›

An autoimmune dysfunction has been proposed in the pathogenetic mechanism of Tourette syndrome and related neuropsychiatric disorders such as obsessive–compulsive disorder, autism, and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. This is based on evidence from animal model studies and clinical findings.

What is Palilalia disease? ›

Palilalia, a disorder of speech characterized by compulsive repetitions of utterances has been found in various neurological and psychiatric disorders. It has commonly been interpreted as a defect of motor speech.

What is a cussing disorder? ›

Coprolalia is the medical term used to describe one of the most puzzling and socially stigmatizing symptoms of Tourette Syndrome—the involuntary outburst of obscene words or socially inappropriate and derogatory remarks. Other examples may include references to genitals, excrement and sexual acts.

What is compulsive talking called? ›

Compulsive talking (or talkaholism) is talking that goes beyond the bounds of what is considered to be socially acceptable.

What is TikTok disorder? ›

The Link Between TikTok And Tics

Teen girls are watching TikTok videos featuring influencers who do have tics. Then, because they're watching these videos so often, their brains start to mimic the tics. “What these teen girls have are called functional tics—it's a functional neurological disorder,” says Dr. Danoun.

What is echolalia or echopraxia? ›

Echopraxia (which might also be called echokinesis or echomotism) is an involuntary imitation or repetition of someone else's actions. While echolalia is the involuntary repetition of language and sounds, echopraxia is the same but with actions. The word itself comes from Ancient Greek.

What is mitigated echolalia? ›

Mitigated echolalia is the questioning repetition of words spoken by others, often with a change of personal pronoun. Stengel postulated that mitigated echolalia may facilitate comprehension in patients with receptive language disturbance.

What is echolalia aphasia? ›

Echolalia, the repetition of words and/or utterances spoken by another person (Wallesch, 1990), is frequently documented in individuals with autism spectrum disorders (Stiegler, 2015), neurodegenerative dementias (Da Cruz, 2010; Kertesz et al., 2010), post-stroke aphasia (Geschwind et al., 1968; Christman et al., 2004) ...

What causes coprolalia? ›

Aside from Tourette's, brain injuries, strokes, dementia, seizures and many other forms neurological damage can usher the onset of coprolalia as well. It is known to be caused by brain dysfunction, but the details are, as yet, hazy.

What causes a person to swear all the time? ›

Inappropriate swearing can be observed in frontal lobe damage, Tourette's disorder, and aphasia. Swearing is positively correlated with extraversion and is a defining feature of a Type A personality. It is negatively correlated with conscientiousness, agreeableness, sexual anxiety, and religiosity.

What part of the brain controls swearing? ›

Swearing is connected to the limbic system and basal ganglia, located in the interior of the brain. The limbic system, which also houses memory, emotion and basic behavior.

What is tangential speech? ›

Tangential speech: Also known as tangentiality, this describes the phenomenon in which a person constantly digresses to random, irrelevant ideas and topics. A person might start telling a story but loads the story down with so much irrelevant detail that they never get to the point or the conclusion.

What do you call a person that keeps talking and don't stop talking? ›

A garrulous person just won't stop talking (and talking, and talking, and talking...). Garrulous comes from the Latin word garrire for "chattering or prattling." If someone is garrulous, he doesn't just like to talk; he indulges in talking for talking's sake — whether or not there's a real conversation going on.

What are examples of conversational narcissism? ›

  • Controlling the topic of conversation. ...
  • Monopolizing the conversation. ...
  • Displaying a superiority complex. ...
  • Being a "know it all" ...
  • Constantly interrupting. ...
  • Self-praise. ...
  • Giving unsolicited advice. ...
  • Manipulating the conversation.
Feb 19, 2022

Who is the TikTok girl with Tourette's? ›

WVU freshman Baylen Dupree was officially diagnosed with Tourette syndrome in 2021. Now she's using TikTok as a way to spread awareness about her condition to over 2.5 million followers.

Can social media cause psychosis? ›

It has been proposed that people with psychosis may be particularly vulnerable to paranoid ideas after using social media websites 21, and evidence from case reports suggests the development and exacerbation of symptoms associated with severe mental health problems after social media engagement 22, 23, 24, 25.


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