The Town That Caught Tourette's

Radio Times
Review by:
Jane Rackham

In a small American town last year, more than a dozen teenage girls from the same school suddenly developed uncontrollable tics, convulsions and outbursts. Diagnoses varied from stress, an infection or mass hysteria
(ie they were copying each other) to environmental causes (jet trails, a chemical spillage in the 70s or using their mobiles too much). A hoax was even suspected. “Why would I fake it,” asks one 16-year-old angrily between repeated twitches, “when I can’t do anything I used to do?”

This affecting documentary tells the stories of the girls, their families and the media frenzy, but offers no answers.

About this programme

In October 2011, a handful of students from the same high school in the small town of Le Roy, New York, developed the symptoms of Tourette's syndrome - facial twitching, violent limb gestures and uncontrollable verbal outbursts. The epidemic strangely seemed to affect only teenage girls and the eventual diagnosis was one of mass hysteria, where physical tics spread among vulnerable people in close proximity. This documentary features interviews with those at the heart of this outbreak, including the girls who have recovered, as well as those who are still suffering. Using archive footage, it also tells how this bizarre situation began and how the individuals and their families not only dealt with the disorder, but how they reacted to the media frenzy that came to surround them.

Cast and crew

Crew

Director
Amanda Blue
Executive Producer
Bart Layton
Categories
Documentary