As we begin our Tourette Awareness Month program, we’d like to introduce you to Coprolalia, the most well known yet most misunderstood symptom of Tourette Syndrome.

Coprolalia are involuntary vocalizations that are obscene or socially inappropriate. Coprolalia can at times include swearing as well as saying things that are culturally taboo, socially unacceptable or inappropriate because of age or context.


Movies, tv shows and other avenues of pop culture have often used this involuntary vocalization as a device of comedy, the result of which is that often Tourette Syndrome is referred to as the ‘swearing disease’. Yet the truth is that on average only around 3-10% of those who have Tourette Syndrome will have Coprolalia.

Treatments for Coprolalia include:

  • Waiting it out: Some cases are mild and can be tolerated while others improve over time. Remission can occur after adolescence.
  • Neuroleptic drugs
  • Sedatives or Tranquillizers
  • Antihypertensive drugs
  • Habit Reversal Therapy (HRT) can be effective for reducing severity in some tic behaviors, and similar cognitive-behavioral treatments can be effective for obsessions and compulsions

Studies suggest that people with TS who have coprolalia are more likely than those without coprolalia to use medication to try to reduce symptom severity.

Coprolalia is not only a serious illness, it isn’t nearly as much fun as the movies make it out to be. Keep that in mind the next time a comedian decides to make those who suffer from this debilitating ailment the butt of his or her jokes.

To learn more about the words involved in coprolalia, visit the Strong Language blog.