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Do any of these people remind you a little of yourself or anyone you know?

~ A woman who compulsively vacuums her carpets at least eight times a day.

~ A man with severe conduct disorder who has been in therapy for two years with no improvement.

~ A boy who is punished by school officials for acting out by making noises and slapping desk tops and walls.

~ A 7 year old who, after biting away his nails, could not stop chewing the skin from the sides of his fingers.

~ An intelligent 9 year old who is failing school because she cannot read or focus on a task to completion.

~ A young woman who has panic attacks which keep her from working.

~ A newly married woman whose husband left her because of her violent temper.

~ A respected doctor who continues blurting out of context profanities during staff conferences.

~ A teenager who is frustrated at how slow she is to add numbers because she does not trust her answers and keeps rechecking them.

~ A corporate executive who must avoid stepping on cracks in the sidewalk or else must begin walking the entire block again.

~ A young child who must keep tapping his feet in quiet places and has not worn socks in months because he can't stand their feel on his skin.

     TS (Tourette syndrome) and OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) are not mental or psychiatric problems, but neurological disorders affected by the disruption of the delicate balance of neurotransmitters in the brain. Whatever affects the brain and body that way will also reach into the behavioral and thinking domain of the person and how he or she experiences the world. Some studies indicate a "source" gene which is responsible for these symptoms and suggest that perhaps up to 20% of the population are carriers of these gene, which can express itself in various persons in diverse ways. Obviously, many affected are confused by their "intrusive" thoughts, problems with learning, problems controlling their behavior, and keep their struggles and confusion secret lest they be judged crazy or a threat by others.

     The connections between the body and mind, between the heart and behavior, are diffused and intertwined. They are the ends which define the whole, as the north and south poles of a magnet, although opposing each other, make the magnet what it is and gives it its power. These disorders have been described as a curse, a handicap, a painful explosion of misdirected energies. It is also a mysteriously wonderful window through which to look and learn about the powerful connections between mind, body and spirit which define and create us.

John S. Hilkevich, Ph.D.

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