Dan Aykroyd suffers from mild Tourettes and Aspergers

Dan Aykroyd is most famous for his roles in cult classics such as The Blues Brothers and Ghostbusters, which he also wrote, as well as comic performances on Saturday Night Live.

But things have not always been easy for the actor cum comedian. In an NPR radio interview with Terry Gross in 2004, Aykroyd talked about his childhood struggle with neurological disorders Tourette and Asperger’s Syndrome.

During the half-hour long interview, Gross asks the star whether he was diagnosed with schizophrenia aged 12 because he heard voices in his head.

The now 57-year-old answered that he was analyzed as a Tourette’s and Asperger’s child, not so much schizophrenia, adding that the former can also be associated with hallucinogenic voices.

“I grew up being pulled one way by my mother, who was very very strict, and then being relaxed by my father, who was very passive. I had the Tourette’s pretty badly there, and I went to a therapist about it,“ Aykroyd said.

“At 12 years old I was able to have the luxury of sitting down with a therapist and talking through all kinds of things, books and music. She was quite influential in kind of evening me out.“

The actor commented on doctors’ willingness today to just give kids pills, but said that back in his day, they didn’t have the benefit of sophisticated medicine:

“Whether it works or not, I don’t know. I think time will tell on that,“ he adds laconically.

Dan Aykroyd has been able to gain control of his condition without medication, but still has “a little touch“ of it today. He talked about physical tics such as grunting and nervousness, adding that the Tourette’s had pretty much allayed by the time he was 14.

“I really haven’t had too much occurrence except on the Asperger’s side, where I have a fascination with police, and I always have to have a badge with me.“

Dan Aykroyd is one of less than 1% of children who are diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome. Tics experienced by the sufferer can vary greatly in intensity and in half of all patients symptoms disappear by the age of 18. Other neurological disorders such as Asperger’s, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD),  Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and epilepsy often come hand-in-hand with Tourette Syndrome.

The star himself comments: “I just find in my research and reading today that there’s a lot of people who have this kind of mild condition, and some of them get over it, and [for] some of them, it spins out where it affects them quite negatively.“

Image: Wikimedia Commons

18 thoughts on “Dan Aykroyd suffers from mild Tourettes and Aspergers

  1. He could not have been diagnosed as Asperger`s as a child because it only became a recognised condition in the 1990s.I am 44 and was not diagnosed til I was 42.

    • Asperger’s was added in the 1990s in the USA. Asperger’s was recognized in the UK and Canada long before it was in the United States. Mr. Aykroyd is from Canada so it is possible he was diagnosed before 1990.

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  3. Hans Asperger recognized the condition in the 1940’s. Was known a bit in Europe. Maybe he had a really well versed doctor when he was growing up.

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  9. I really must point out that most Aspies do not consider themselves to be “suffering”, any more than people “suffer” from being gay or having blue eyes. We consider it to be an innate trait, not a disease.
    (I can’t speak for those with Tourette’s, because I’m not one)
    I know Dan Aykroyd has discussed his conditions before, and it’s great that he’s out there and honest about it. He shows that people like us can succeed just like anyone else. Great job!

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  12. outoutout said:
    “I really must point out that most Aspies do not consider themselves to be “suffering”, any more than people “suffer” from being gay or having blue eyes. We consider it to be an innate trait, not a disease.”

    I’m obviously not most “Aspies” (I greatly dislike that term), then, because while I do consider my asperger’s to be an innate trait — just the way my brain (and my father’s brain) was made — I do very much feel that I would have had a LOT less suffering in my life if I had not been born with asperger’s.

    Of course, the suffering has mainly been due to other people’s reception of me, but to say that I’m not suffering from asperger’s just because the suffering is externally induced rather than internally induced would be somewhat disngenuous. No matter where the suffering *ultimately* comes from, the root cause is my asperger’s differences.

  13. Aspergers, Autism, ADHD, and Tourette’s are not diseases – while I think it can be helpful and instructive to post info. about celebrities that have overcome these potentially limiting disorders, lumping them in a site called ” Celebrities with Diseases” promotes disinformation.

  14. I did the grunting and nervous tics as a child. Took a lot of teasing about it. It subsided in my middle years, but is slowly coming back at age 59.

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