YouTube star Jan Zimmerman, 22, has been ‘linked to an increase in Tourette symptoms’ among fans mimicking his tics and outbursts, study shows
- The star posts funny videos about Tourette’s for 2.2 million YouTube subscribers
- Hanover Medical School saw patients copy its Tourette-powered exclamations
- They claimed this was the first identified case of ‘mass social media-induced illness’
YouTube star Jan Zimmerman has been ‘linked to an increase in Tourette’s symptoms’ among fans as they have come to mimic his tics and outbursts, according to a new study.
The German social media star, 22, who hosts a YouTube channel that translates as Thunderstorm in the Brain, posts funny videos about his condition to his 2.2 million subscribers.
Doctors at Hanover Medical School were initially confused by the growing number of young people reporting physical tics associated with Gilles de la Tourette.
YouTube star Jan Zimmerman, 22, has been ‘linked to increase Tourette symptoms’ among fans as they have come to mimic his tics and outbursts according to new study
But they soon realized that patients were watching Zimmermann’s videos and had started copying his physical tics, according to The times.
The star sells clothes with some of his Tourette-powered exclamations, and patients started yelling these, including “bomb,” “you’re ugly,” and “flying sharks.”
“Over the past two years, a remarkably high number of young patients have been referred to our specialist Gilles de la Tourette outpatient clinic with symptoms very similar to those shown by Jan Zimmermann in his videos,” the doctors in Hanover wrote in Brain, a magazine of Oxford University Press.
Hanover’s team claimed the spread of symptoms among the YouTuber’s followers was the first case of a “mass disease caused by social media,” and warned more would follow.
The German social media star, 22, who hosts a YouTube channel that translates as Thunderstorm in the Brain, posts funny videos about his condition to his 2.2 million subscribers
They said Evie Meg, 20, a British TikTokker, may be associated with a growing number of young British women showing symptoms, according to a study by researchers at the University of Canada.
This comes after teenage girls experience an ‘explosion of tics’ and Tourette syndrome, triggered by anxiety and stress during the lockdown, experts have warned.
Specialist clinics at Great Ormond Street and Evelina children’s hospitals in London report that prior to the pandemic, no more than six teenage girls were developing tics in a year – but now there are three or four referrals a week, The Sunday Times reveals.
Some young women turn to social media platforms for reassurance, but some psychologists believe it may prolong symptoms rather than help
This is in stark contrast to the usual 200 cases the clinic sees in a year, 80 percent of which are boys aged seven to 12.
Tics are fast, repetitive muscle movements that result in sudden and hard-to-control body jerks or sounds.
A more extreme form, Tourette’s syndrome, can include shrugs and shoulder blinking, as well as vocal tics, such as tongue clicking, animal noises and, more rarely, swearing.
An article published in the journal Archives of Disease in Childhood suggests the shift came about as a result of the pandemic and its impact on the mental health of young girls and women.
Teens have also posted images of their symptoms on sites like TikTok to reassure each other, though psychologists warn that this could prolong their symptoms rather than help.
While this has been comforting for many teens, creating a sense of identity and breaking through isolation, it has also helped prolong symptoms.
WHAT IS TOURETTE’S SYNDROME?
Tourette’s syndrome is a neurological disorder characterized by a combination of involuntary sounds and movements called tics.
It usually starts during childhood and continues into adulthood. Tics can be both vocal and physical.
In many cases, Tourette’s syndrome runs in families and is often associated with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).
Tourette’s syndrome is named after the French physician Georges Gilles de la Tourette, who first described the syndrome and its symptoms in the 19th century.
There is no cure for Tourette’s syndrome, but treatment can help control symptoms.
Source: NHS Choices