Ask McFartnuggets: “Why Do People With Tourette Syndrome Sometimes Say The N-Word?”

Basal ganglia.
Dear McFartnuggets:
I met a guy with Tourettes Syndrome today and he kept saying the N-word. I knew it wasn’t his fault, but I was still offended. I know that people with Tourettes can’t control what they say, but what in the brain decides to make it racial? Why does Tourette have to go there? -- Randall from Baltimore

Dear Kenny:
First of all, are you sure you actually met someone with Tourette Syndrome? Because the actual saying of the n-word is considered “Coprolalia”. Coprolalia is a Latin term merging the words for “feces” and “talking”. It’s the technical definition of “Talking shit.” Coprolalia is merely one possible symptom of Tourette Syndrome, but anyone can do it. Less than 30% of all people with Tourette actually experience Coprolalia so who knows maybe the guy you saw didn’t have Tourette Syndrome. Maybe he was just some jerk saying the N-word and pretending to have Tourette Syndrome.

Assuming this person really did have TS, there’s no telling why exactly he was saying the N-word. Until more is known about TS I can’t really answer that question, but I can speculate. I would guess that subconsciously the brain knows what words are the most offensive and whatever triggers Coprolalia in TS pulls those offensive words out. Since the N-word is far and away the least socially acceptable word in English, it makes unfortunate sense for that to be a favorite. Remember, it’s not the person’s choice at all if it’s TS. If they’re solely suffering from Coprolalia then they are choosing. Just make sure you find out exactly which it is before judging.

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