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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 18.djvu/186

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

Although called "Jumpers," they only jump in a minority of the experiments, the word jumping really including all such phenomena as lifting the shoulders, raising the hands, striking, throwing, crying, and tumbling. Jumpers have been known to fall head over heels over an embankment on which they were sitting, on suddenly hearing the whistle of a locomotive; they have been known to tumble head over heels over one another, when a number of them were sitting near each other.

The order to "drop it" they are compelled to obey, as well as that to strike or to jump or to throw. On one of the steamers on the Rangeley Lakes there was a waiter who was a Jumper, and when told to "drop it" he would drop whatever he had in his hands, even if it were a plate of baked beans, on the head of one of the guests. The Jumpers with whom I experimented exhibited the same phenomena.

These phenomena suggest epilepsy, particularly in their explosive character and in the nature of the cry. The hands strike or throw with a quick, impulsive movement, which is very hard to imitate artificially. They go off like a piece of machinery; it is more like the explosion of a gun than the movement of the limbs of even an angry man; and the cry suggests that which we hear in hysteria and in epilepsy. The face does not always exhibit any change, but in some cases there is a temporary flushing, and in others a temporary pallor.

All the Jumpers agree that it tires them to be very much jumped; that they feel worse after it, more or less exhausted and nervous; they all dislike to be jumped, and avoid it when it is possible; the more they are jumped the worse they are; and that after a while in the woods, where they are constantly teased and annoyed after the day's labor is over, they are made worse; whereas, after long periods of rest they become better, are less irritable and jump less, and do not jump so easily on excitement.

Nature of this Disease.—What, now, is the pathology of this jumping? How are we to rank these phenomena among the neuroses? What relation do they bear to the great family of diseases? Are they functional or structural? Are they physical or psychical? The answer is clear: jumping is a psychical or mental form of nervous disease, and is of a functional character. Its best analogue is psychical or mental hysteria, the so-called "servant-girl hysteria," as known to us in modern days, and as very widely known during the epidemics of the middle ages. Like mental or psychical hysteria, this jumping occurs not in the weak, or the nervous, or the anæmic, but in those, as a rule, in at least good if not firm and unusual health; there are no stronger men in the woods, or anywhere, than some of these Jumpers. Although some of them are injured by being excessively jumped for the time at least, yet to the majority, if not nearly all, this injury can not be said to be of a serious character. It does not apparently shorten life, and does not bring on, so far as I can learn, any other form of