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My new interest in Tourette’s syndrome


'Witty Ticcy Ray'
Oliver Sacks Scientist
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So in... early in 1971 after this article and the slew of replies to it, I saw Ray, Witty Ticcy Ray, with his 'ticcy witticisms' and his 'witty ticcysisms’. These were his coinages. I was extremely fascinated by what was going on with him, and not only the tics but the... the speed of thought, the acceleration of thought, the wittiness, and what he was telling me of his life, although life was very difficult for him. Although it was a sign of his strong personality and toughness and affectionate nature, that he had a good job and was happily married. But his... he couldn’t walk down a street without everyone looking at him, you know, he’d been a cynosure and a target for disapproving glances since he was five years old. The day after seeing Ray, I thought I saw three people in the streets of New York with Tourette’s, and the day after that another two.

Oliver Sacks (1933-2015) was born in England. Having obtained his medical degree at Oxford University, he moved to the USA. There he worked as a consultant neurologist at Beth Abraham Hospital where in 1966, he encountered a group of survivors of the global sleepy sickness of 1916-1927. Sacks treated these patients with the then-experimental drug L-Dopa producing astounding results which he described in his book Awakenings. Further cases of neurological disorders were described by Sacks with exceptional sympathy in another major book entitled The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat which became an instant best seller on its publication in 1985. His other books drew on his rich experiences as a neurologist gleaned over almost five decades of professional practice. Sacks's work was recognized by prestigious institutions which awarded him numerous honours and prizes. These included the Lewis Thomas Prize given by Rockefeller University, which recognizes the scientist as poet. He was an honorary fellow of both the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and held honorary degrees from many universities, including Oxford, the Karolinska Institute, Georgetown, Bard, Gallaudet, Tufts, and the Catholic University of Peru.

Listeners: Kate Edgar

Kate Edgar, previously Managing Editor at the Summit Books division of Simon and Schuster, began working with Oliver Sacks in 1983. She has served as editor and researcher on all of his books, and has been closely involved with various films and adaptations based on his work. As friend, assistant, and collaborator, she has accompanied Dr Sacks on many adventures around the world, clinical and otherwise.

Tags: Witty Ticky Ray

Duration: 1 minute, 38 seconds

Date story recorded: September 2011

Date story went live: 02 October 2012