It’s safe to say that most people have experienced the occasional sore throat or a rough bout of seasonal influenza. Yet for all of the ordinary, run-of-the-mill afflictions we deal with on a day-to-day basis, there are just as many unbelievably bizarre diseases that exist throughout the world. Here are some of the most insane illnesses you’ve probably never heard of:
Jumping Frenchman of Maine
The Jumping Frenchman of Maine were first discovered in a medical journal article written by Dr. George Beard in 1880. He described people in an isolated community of lumberjacks of French Canadian decent who were unable to keep from startling. After being startled, the men would utter weird phrases and obey ridiculous commands.
Though startle responses are normal, people affected by Jumping Frenchman of Maine have a greatly exaggerated startle response. Aside from the pronounced jumping, other symptoms include involuntary imitative behavior and obedience to commands. Observers have noted similarities to Tourette’s and other “tic” disorders.
Jumping Frenchman of Maine is one of multiple culture-specific startle disorders (the other main disorders are Latah and Myriachit). It’s unknown how the disease comes about, though researchers say it most likely occurs due to an extreme conditioned response to a particular situation influenced by cultural factors. Researchers consider the disease to be part of a behavioral pattern and neuropsychiatric in nature.