Sick Celebrities

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Dan Aykroyd suffers from mild Tourettes and Aspergers

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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

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