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The guilt, shame and embarrassment he feels has not diminished over the years.And he is constantly worrying about what people think of him, and apologising.

It would be wonderful but after a while I would find it really difficult and I would worry that it would change me as a person.The thought that he probably won't have children gets him down. "Even at work when there are people around me, if I'm having a good day, I'm happy as Larry and I go round whistling and I can focus 100% on what I'm doing.But on a bad day I want to hide." Fishing, on his motorbike or walking in the countryside with his dog Tilly are the times when John's tic is diminished and he feels most at peace.Few lives can have been so transformed by an hour of television.When John Davidson sat down to watch the BBC's QED programme about his condition, John's Not Mad, in 1989, he was a lonely 16-year-old boy with such severe Tourette Syndrome that he was too scared to venture outside and face people.He feels he has to walk on pavement cracks and touch lamp-posts, and he gets up six times a night to check the front door is locked.

He has an urge to touch men's crotches and women's breasts, but without any sexual motivation, he says.

But the next day, as he stepped out on to the street to nervously assess reaction to the programme, the same people he had been too embarrassed to face were stopping him to congratulate him on his bravery. "It was a total transformation overnight and life became so much easier," says John, now 37 and casting his mind back 20 years to the day his life started afresh. I started to hang around the town and play football.

I met a lot of good people, a lot of good friends who I'd known in the past but I felt I couldn't fit in with in the past.

It's as if the self-control switch that others have in their brains is not working. John is constantly resisting a destructive urge that haunts his thoughts.

It could be to knock over a pint in the pub, smash a piece of crockery or jump in front of traffic.

"People I know with Tourette's don't have coprolalia [involuntary swearing] but they suffer as much as I do." John's condition encompasses a whole range of other symptoms, such as echolalia, which is repeating others' words, and sudden, violent body movements.