Coprolalia is the involuntary utterance of offensive or obscene words and phrases, particularly the use of obscenities, racial slurs, and sexually charged language. It differs from swearing or insulting others in that it is involuntary and may cause great discomfort to the person with the condition.
What Causes Coprolalia?
Coprolalia can be a symptom of Tourette Syndrome, although only 10 to 20 percent of people with Tourette Syndrome exhibit this particular tic. Neurological abnormalities may cause verbal tics in people with Tourette’s. Levels of neurotransmitters, particularly dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine, can also influence the condition.
People with Tourette Syndrome often feel immense anxiety about expressing their tics, particularly when they have coprolalia. This anxiety may make symptoms worse for some people, and frequently leads to social isolation. Coprolalia is commonly mocked in popular media, and people with Tourette Syndrome may be portrayed as social outcasts, even subhuman.
Is There Treatment for Coprolalia?
The injection of botulinum toxin—the toxin that causes botulism—near the vocal cords can help quiet verbal tics in some people. However, this is often a treatment of last resort, as it is not without risks. Therapy and certain medications–particularly dopamine blockers–can also be effective, and some people grow out of Tourette Syndrome. Symptoms often peak during the teenage years and improve in young adulthood.
Because Tourette Syndrome can be caused by neurological factors, anti-seizure medications are beneficial to some people. Tourette Syndrome frequently co-occurs with other conditions such as ADHD, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and impulse control problems. Treatment often focuses on these factors in addition to the coprolalia.
How Common are Tics?
Tics are surprisingly common in the general population, with as many as 10% of people experiencing some variety of tic. However, verbal tics are relatively rare, and coprolalia is even rarer. The presentation of Tourette Syndrome in the popular media as a disorder primarily consisting of coprolalia likely adds to the stigmatization of people who experience coprolalia.
- A.D.A.M. Editor Board. (0000, November 18). Gilles de la Tourette syndrome. Gilles De La Tourette Syndrome. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0001744/
- American Psychological Association. APA concise dictionary of psychology. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association, 2009. Print.
Last Updated: 08-4-2015
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Ken ShyminskyOctober 22nd, 2013 at 7:28 PM
Would just like to share a comprehensive article about coprolalia from our website at neurologicallygifted.com. We hope those affected by coprolalia with gain more understanding and acceptance from the article. Thank you kenshyminsky.com/coprolalia/
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