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In 2012, the upstate New York town of LeRoy became something of a neuropsychiatric battleground when it witnessed an outbreak of cases of sudden-onset tic-like behaviour in high-school age girls, many from a single school.1 The ‘Tourette's epidemic’, as it was dubbed by a fascinated world media, attracted different explanations: for every claim that this was ‘mass hysteria’ (ie, conversion disorder), there was an outraged counter-claim to the effect that such a diagnosis was missing a real organic cause of these tics and jerks, variously thought to be PANDAS (a rare and still controversial apparent autoimmune response to streptococcal infection), a response to human papilloma virus (HPV) vaccination or even the result of an environmental toxin.
While the dust has yet to settle on the diagnostic facts of the matter, interviews with patients, their families and many experts made abundantly clear how …
Contributors The editorial was commissioned by the editors of JNNP. TAP contributed the text.
Competing interests None.
Provenance and peer review Commissioned; internally peer reviewed.