I'm not a neurologist, not a psychoanalyst, not a speech therapist. I do not take any nerve water and do not conduct clinical trials, but I am interested in tics and Tourettes Syndrome. Just as others are enthusiastic about football or underwater animals, I am fascinated by phenomena that are unintentional and touch the unconscious.

Mascha Jacobs, born in 1978, author, podcaster and co-editor of the magazine "Pop Culture and Criticism". She is a member of the editorial staff of "10 to 8." © ZEIT ONLINE

This interest was triggered by the observation of a stranger in a canteen. The woman's movements, which were rather simple and probably in her early 40s, were so peculiar that at first glance they might have been thought awkward. First I noticed her double jumping step - a tripping like a tap dance. Applied a bit too thick for a mishap. Elegant and loud, I liked this mix immediately. To her movements the woman made noises. Pretty skilful and seemingly unerring, but at the same time strangely automatic and arbitrary. No hawking, coughing, pulling your nose up. Nothing disgusting. With every movement a noise. The transport of the tray towards the cash register was a choreography, the woman put down the tray, pushed it a piece, picked it up, put it down again, everything over again. I was right behind her. When I write this movement down now, I see the woman right in front of me and can not stop sending her like an animated GIF in a loop.

On the way to the table, I followed her silently, an inconspicuous bump against another tray, a short crunch, minor delays in the hallway, tack, taa-tack , the bite in the apple, grsch even while she was looking for a table. Then she sighed three times in quick succession before sitting down.

It was as if I had fallen into the first short film by Chantal Akerman, Saute ma Ville : sound-picture-scissors, everyday noises, bizarre rhythms of actions that could get out of hand at any time. I could not look away, sat down near the woman and felt immediately like the best employee of a detective agency. The woman's gestures became over-precise, her noises a melody.

But what appeared so beautifully composed was by no means intended. The woman obviously suffered from a tic disorder, the strange gestures and sounds escaped her unconsciously, I learned during the first research afterwards at home.

Tics are spontaneous sounds, expressions or movements that come about without the will of the person concerned. An apt description of this complex disease appears in the book The Tic, his nature and his treatment of the French neurologists Henry Meige and Eugene Feindel, whose translation was published in 1903 in German. It says: "It is not enough for a gesture to be inappropriate at the moment it occurs: it must rather be certain that, at the moment of its execution, it is not related to any idea to which it owed its origin in addition, the movement by too frequent repetition, by constant futility, stormy pressure, difficulty in suppressing and subsequent satisfaction, then it is a tic. " Meige and Feindel observed that tics often occur at unequal intervals and follow no rhythm. Tics are more disordered when it suggested the scene I observed.

In 1884, this mysterious neuropsychiatric condition was first described in detail by Gilles de la Tourette and distinguished from hysteria and epilepsy. Today it is possible to localize with the help of imaging techniques which areas in the brain work in a "seizure", namely the so-called basal ganglia, several core areas of the end brain below the cerebral cortex.