Document Type

Honors Thesis


Philosophy and English


Carla Billitteri

Committee Members

Susan Bredlau, Heather Falconer, Kirsten Jacobson

Graduation Year

May 2023

Publication Date

Spring 2023


This thesis examines the lived experience of tic disorders, such as Tourette Syndrome, and discusses how that lived experience has been impacted by ableist ideological medical theorizations of the “ticcing body.” In my review of the medical discourse on TS, I point out how the failure to adequately account for the experience of “ticcing” has obfuscated some of the most important characteristics of tic disorders, including the experience of performing tics in social settings as opposed to performing tics away from others. I believe this obfuscation is not intentional, but it is the effect of a discourse that is not interdisciplinary. In fact, I argue that only an interdisciplinary approach can account for the lived experience of TS. The most useful interdisciplinary approach to TS comes from the blending of phenomenological studies and disability studies. This is the path I follow in my thesis. My interdisciplinary phenomenological approach allows me to highlight the unique manner in which tics (and ticcing) impact the lived experience of embodiment and our need to cultivate new language about TS so as to arrive at a better understanding of the experience of ticcing. In the final portion of my thesis I extend the interdisciplinary approach to the field of social sciences and contemporary critical phenomenology to discuss how the embodied performance of ticcing allows us to arrive at a critical understanding of the ideological structures of our ableist culture and how the educational environment partakes of this ableist ideology, presenting a uniquely challenging situation to people who tic.