Tourette studied and lectured in psychotherapy, hysteria and medical and legal ramifications of mesmerism (modern-day hypnosis).
He could be retrospectively classified as a neurologist, but the field did not exist in his time. During 1873 Tourette began medical studies at Poitiers. He later relocated to Paris where he became a student, amanuensis and house physician of his mentor, the influential contemporary neurologist Jean-Martin Charcot, director of the Salpêtrière Hospital.
Charcot also helped him to advance in his academic career.
Tourette described the symptoms of Tourette syndrome in nine patients in 1884, using the name "maladie des tics". Charcot renamed the syndrome "Gilles de la Tourette"s illness" in his honor.
In 1893, a former female patient shot Tourette in the head, claiming he had hypnotized her against her will. Both Tourette and many modern hypnologists state that this is impossible.
After these events, Tourette began to experience mood swings between depression and hypomania.
Nevertheless, he organized public lectures in which he spoke about literacy, mesmerism and theatre. Tourette published an article on hysteria in the German Army, which angered Bismarck, and a further article about unhygienic conditions in the floating hospitals on the river Thames. Around 1902, Tourette"s condition worsened and he was dismissed from his post.
Gilles de la Tourette died on 26 May 1904 in a psychiatric hospital in Lausanne, Switzerland.