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Jumping Frenchmen of Maine

Jumping Frenchmen of Maine Definition

A part of every human's instinct of survival includes sudden reaction to unexpected stimulus. Often, the reaction is a startle which is a reflexive movement to get away from the stimulus. This reaction also causes change of blood pressure and respiration. Among normal people, this could only last for seconds but for those who suffer from Jumping Frenchmen of Maine disorder, the result could be very interesting (and in some cases, shocking). Jumping Frenchmen of Maine is a very rare disease which was originally described in 1878 by a certain George Miller Beard.

Jumping Frenchmen of Maine Presentation

Jumping Frenchmen of Maine is a startle reflex which has been exaggerated. It was first observed among the lumberjacks of French-Canadian origin in Maine (Mooseland Lake). It is still unclear whether this disorder is psychological or neurological. These ‘Jumping Frenchmen’ seem to abnormally react to sudden stimulus. Beard has recorded that these individuals, for instance, would follow any command which is given suddenly. These people could have the ability to hit a loved one or even repeat foreign or unfamiliar phrases without control (also known as echolalia/ this happens when the commands are given suddenly). Beard also noted that this condition is often shared within the family which suggests that it can be inherited. A patient who suffers from this disease has a mutation of the gene which prevents ‘exciting’ signal regulation in the nervous system. This irregular occurrence causes various startle responses. Other than being startled, sufferers of this syndrome could respond through crying loudly, twitching, limb flailing, and sometimes, even convulsions. It is also notable that the first incident of startled response could still be followed by simultaneous episodes of the same manner. This, often makes the patient the butt of jokes among his peers.

Jumping Frenchmen of Maine This Syndrome and Tourette's Syndrome

The publication of Beard’s work inspired Georges Gilles dela Tourette to further investigate a certain disorder which later became famous as the Tourette’s syndrome. The condition was studied further in the 80’s but the results gave way to doubts on whether the Jumping Frenchmen of Maine phenomenon is, at all, a physical condition like Tourette’s syndrome. Documents of the direct observations of Jumping Frenchmen of Maine had been very scarce and although there are video tape documentation of various researchers (pointing out that the disorder is for real), Saint-Hilaire has concluded, through the study of eight subjects, that their conditions were brought about by lumber cramps. He also recorded that the condition is not neurological but psychological.

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