YouTube star Jan Zimmerman, 22, is ‘linked to rise in Tourette symptoms’ among fans mimicking his tics and outbursts, study shows
- The star posts funny videos about Tourette’s to 2.2million YouTube subscribers
- Hanover Medical School saw patients copying his Tourette-driven exclamations
- They claimed this was first identified case of ‘mass social media-induced illness’
YouTube star Jan Zimmerman is ‘linked to rise in Tourette symptoms’ among fans as they have started mimicking 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 2.2million subscribers.
Doctors at Hanover Medical School were initially confused by the growing number of young people reporting physical tics associated with Tourette’s.
YouTube star Jan Zimmerman, 22, is ‘linked to rise in Tourette symptoms’ among fans as they have started mimicking his tics and outbursts according to a new study
But they soon realised patients were watching Zimmermann’s videos, and had begun copying his physical tics, according to The Times.
The star sells clothing with some of his Tourette-driven exclamations, and patients had started shouting these, including saying ‘bomb’, ‘you are ugly’ and ‘flying sharks’.
‘Over the past two years, a remarkably high number of young patients have been referred to our specialised Tourette outpatient clinic with symptoms closely resembling the ones Jan Zimmermann shows in his videos,’ the Hanover doctors wrote in Brain, an Oxford University Press journal.
The Hanover team claimed that the spread of symptoms among the YouTuber’s followers was the first identified case of a ‘mass social media-induced illness’, and warned of more to come.
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 2.2million subscribers
They said that Evie Meg, 20, a British TikTokker, could be linked to a growing number of young British women displaying symptoms, as identified in a study by researchers at the University of Canada.
This comes after teenage girls are experiencing an ‘explosion of tics’ and Tourette’s Syndrome triggered by anxiety and stress during 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 presented with tics in one year – but now there are three or four referrals a week, The Sunday Times reveals.
Some young women have been turning to social media platforms for reassurance, but some psychologists believe this may be prolonging rather than helping symptoms
This is in stark contrast to the usual 200 cases seen by the clinic in a year, 80 per cent of which were boys aged seven to 12.
Tics are fast, repetitive, muscle movements that result in sudden and difficult to control body jolts or sounds.
A more extreme form, Tourette’s Syndrome, can include shoulder shrugging and blinking, as well as vocal tics, such as tongue clicking, animal sounds and more rarely, swearing.
An article published in the Archives of Disease in Childhood journal suggests the shift has come about as a result of the pandemic and the mental health impact on young girls and women.
Teenagers have also been posting footage of their symptoms onto sites such as TikTok as a way of reassuring each other, though psychologists warn this may actually be prolonging rather than helping their symptoms.
While this has been reassuring for many teenagers, creating a sense of identity and breaking down isolation, it has also helped to prolong symptoms.
WHAT IS TOURETTE’S SYNDROME?
Tourette’s syndrome is a neurological condition characterised by a combination of involuntary noises and movements called tics.
It usually starts during childhood and continues into adulthood. Tics can be either be vocal or physical.
In many cases Tourette’s syndrome runs in families and it’s often associated with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Tourette’s syndrome is named after the French doctor, Georges Gilles de la Tourette, who first described the syndrome and its symptoms in the 19th century.
There’s no cure for Tourette’s syndrome, but treatment can help to control the symptoms.
Source: NHS Choices