Jumping Frenchmen of Maine Syndrome

The Jumping Frenchmen of Maine (USA) were a group of early 19th century lumberjacks who exhibited a rare disorder of unknown origin. The Jumping Frenchmen of Maine syndrome entails an exaggerated "startle" reflex which may be described as an uncontrollable "jump" but individuals with this condition can exhibit sudden movements in all parts of the body. Individuals with this condition were first found in the northern regions of Maine; hence, the name for the condition.

This syndrome shares symptoms with other startle disorders. Individuals with this condition were first found in the northern regions of Maine; hence, the name for the condition.
Individuals would obey any command given suddenly, even if it meant striking a loved one; the patients seemed to react abnormally to sudden stimuli. More common and less intense symptoms consist of jumping, yelling and hitting. Others exhibited echolalia (repeating vocalizations made by another person) and echopraxia (repeating movements made by another person).

Jumping Frenchmen of Maine Syndrome may be a cultural personality or a formed habit[1]. These French "jumpers" lived in a very remote region. This type of small community would allow for a majority to adapt to this sort of reaction.

[1] Saint-Hilaire et al: Jumping Frenchmen of Maine in Neurology - 1986

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