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July 4, 1980

Are the Jumping Frenchmen of Maine Goosey?

JAMA. 1980;244(1):70. doi:10.1001/jama.1980.03310010056034

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I was raised in a small southern rural community. I was 17 years old when my girlfriend confided to me that her mother was goosey. I was astonished that this reserved, kind, intelligent woman responded when startled or tickled by jumping in the air and shouting curse words that I had not thought possible for her to utter.

To my further amazement, she responded to sudden loud commands by repeating the command while performing the order. If, for instance, she was suddenly told: "Stir your tea with your finger!" she would shout: "Stir your tea with your finger!" while stirring her tea with her finger. She appeared to be normal in every other way, but she could not prevent these remarkable responses when poked or startled. Her daughter was not goosey.

My father told me of two goosey boys in the small town in North Carolina where he grew up.