Under an ebullient, eruptive, clownish surface, he was a deeply serious man – and a man in despair. He had never heard of the TSA (which, indeed, scarcely existed at the time), nor had he heard of haldol. He had diagnosed himself as having Tourette’s after reading the article on ‘Tics’ in the New York Times. When I confirmed the diagnosis, and spoke of using haldol, he was excited but cautious. I made a test of haldol by injection, and he proved extraordinarily sensitive to it, becoming virtually tic-free for a period of two hours after I had administered no more than one-eighth of a milligram. After this auspicious trial, I started him on haldol, prescribing a dose of a quarter of a milligram three times a day. He came back, the following week, with a black eye and a broken nose and said: ‘So much for your fucking haldol.’ Even this minute dose, he said, had thrown him off balance, interfered with his speed, his timing, his preternaturally quick reflexes. Like many Touretters, he was attracted to spinning things, and to revolving doors in particular, which he would dodge in and out of like lightning: he had lost this knack on the haldol, had mistimed his movements, and had been bashed on the nose.

Oliver Sacks · Witty Ticcy Ray · LRB 19 March 1981


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