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May 1, 1967


JAMA. 1967;200(5):406. doi:10.1001/jama.1967.03120180094016

Two years ago an editorial in The Journal noted that certain citizens of Maine in the distant past were found to be unduly sensitive or "jumpy" when startled.1 The original description by Beard in 1880 was resurrected in 1965 by Stevens, who added a new case report.2 The editorial predicted further interest in this colorful disorder, at least in its original home. Such an enterprise is now recorded by a physician currently practicing in Maine.3 With little difficulty he found 15 typical jumpers, almost all male and each prone to violent startle responses, generally dating from childhood. Despite Beard's first impression, the reaction is not restricted to those of French descent; it is found in various ethnic groups but seems to prefer laborers and factory workers. A feature not previously reported was present in the majority—an involuntary aggressive gesture or actual blow aimed at the nearest bystander,