Vanessa V. Friedman
September 03, 1999 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Passing for Normal

Current Status
In Season

We gave it a B+

When she was eight, the author began to twitch. This was followed by other physical tics (foot tapping, wrist flipping, teeth clicking, and shoulder rolls) and psychological ones (setting the alarm clock for only an even-numbered time, chewing every bite a certain number of times). Until Amy Wilensky was 24, her condition was attributed to ”nervous energy,” a euphemism suggesting that it was controllable. Actually, Wilensky had (and has) a combination of Tourette’s syndrome and obsessive-compulsive disorder. The tale of the way Wilensky denied her problem and ”passed,” and the emotional toll such effort took, has a happy ending: Thanks to medical and behavioral therapy, the author is now able to manage her condition. Passing for Normal is not a fairy-tale success story but a real one.

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