Jumping Frenchman of Maine

Nature of the Genetic Difficulty

Currently the genetic relation for the syndrome is unknown, but many studies have shown continuance of the disease within closely knit communites and within families (disease prone). It is this understanding that has lead many scientists to believe that the probability of Jumping Frenchman of Maine being attributable to a genetic mutation (Lanska).

Basis Facts of Disease

"Jumping Frenchmen of Maine is an extremely rare disorder characterized by an unusually extreme startle reaction. The startle reaction is a natural occurrence. It is the normal, rapid, involuntary response to a sudden or unexpected stimulus (e.g., a sudden noise or sight)" (WebMD). In some people with Jumping Frenchman of Maine Disease, this reaction can be something as simple as screaming or jumping (hence the name). In others, however, the response to a stimulus will make them follow any commands that they are told. In a controlled experiment, a person with JFOM was given a knife, startled, and told to throw the knife across the room. Even though the person was aware that such an action was dangerous, their reaction was just to instantly follow the directions. Some people also begin to imitate the movement of people around them or start to speak in gibberish.
The disease is often compared to Tourette's Syndrome. The interest that was created by JFOM Disease was actually inspired Georges Tourette to research the disorder that he would eventually give his name.


Jumping Frenchmen of Maine Disease is not fatal and it is relatively to live a normal life with the disease. Besides the annoyance of a super sensitive startle reflex, there are hardly any other major disadvantages associated with the disease.

Sources Cited

Lanska,Douglas J. M.D., M.S., M.S.P.H.. "Classical Articles of 19th-Century American Neurologist: A Critical Review." Journal of the History of the Neurosciences. 2002, Vol. 11, No. 2, pp. 156?73.
WebMD, LLC. Jumping Frenchmen of Maine. 2010. Web. 19 March 2011.