The Town That Caught Tourette's

9:00pm Thursday, October 25 on C4

In October 2011 in the tiny town of Le Roy, New York, a handful of teenage girls from the same high school suddenly developed symptoms that looked like Tourette’s syndrome: facial twitching, violent limb gestures and uncontrollable verbal outbursts. Some doctors believed they were victims of conversion disorder, where real physical symptoms – in this case tics – are triggered not by a physical cause, but by psychological trauma. However within a few months, the stunned community watched up to 18 students get sick and the diagnosis became ‘mass hysteria,’ formally known as ‘mass psychogenic illness’, where symptoms spread among vulnerable people in close proximity. As a cry for help, the girls went on national TV and their story caused a global media frenzy. This one-off documentary has secured exclusive access to the people at the heart of this outbreak, including the girls who have recovered, as well as those who are still suffering. Using archive footage, it also tells how this bizarre situation began and how the individuals and their families not only dealt with the symptoms, but how they reacted to the media frenzy surrounding their small American town. Contact: Kiran Poonia; kpoonia@channel4.co.uk

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