What is Stendhal syndrome?

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What is Stendhal syndrome?

Do you really know?

What is Stendhal syndrome?

Stendhal’s syndrome is a rare and unusual psychological disorder. It’s a psychosomatic condition whereby certain people suffer from a rapid heartbeat, fainting or even hallucinations, when exposed to objects or works of art of great beauty. The condition takes its name from a famous French writer who experienced a similar state of intense emotion upon visiting Rome, Naples and Florence. Stendhal wrote about his visit to Florence’s Santa Croce Basilica in a book entitled Naples and Florence: A journey from Milan to Reggio. 

Here’s how he described the phenomenon: “I was in a sort of ecstasy, from the idea of being in Florence, close to the great men whose tombs I had seen. Absorbed in the contemplation of sublime beauty...I reached the point where one encounters celestial sensations ... Everything spoke so vividly to my soul...I had palpitations of the heart...Life was drained from me. I walked with the fear of falling”.

Although there are historical records of others fainting in the presence of Florentine art, the syndrome was only actually named in 1979 by Italian psychiatrist Graziella Magherini. While Stendhal Syndrome is not recognised as a psychiatric disorder, it’s now commonly used to describe a physical reaction to the beauty of the natural world or art masterpieces.

Working at the Santa Maria Nuova hospital in Florence, Magherini observed more than 100 cases where patients had severe emotional responses to art. These were mainly tourists, including many Americans. In 1989, she released a book named “The Stendhal Syndrome”, in which she told her story. The cases were divided into three types, based on the symptoms of their anxiety or psychotic episodes. The most common profile was a single woman, under the age of 40, travelling alone. Symptoms described in the book included dizzy spells, a loss of sense of identity, rapid heartbeat and hallucinations. Generally speaking, patients recovered after leaving the city of Florence.

 

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What is Stendhal syndrome?

Stendhal’s syndrome is a rare and unusual psychological disorder. It’s a psychosomatic condition whereby certain people suffer from a rapid heartbeat, fainting or even hallucinations, when exposed to objects or works of art of great beauty. The condition takes its name from a famous French writer who experienced a similar state of intense emotion upon visiting Rome, Naples and Florence. Stendhal wrote about his visit to Florence’s Santa Croce Basilica in a book entitled Naples and Florence: A journey from Milan to Reggio. 

Here’s how he described the phenomenon: “I was in a sort of ecstasy, from the idea of being in Florence, close to the great men whose tombs I had seen. Absorbed in the contemplation of sublime beauty...I reached the point where one encounters celestial sensations ... Everything spoke so vividly to my soul...I had palpitations of the heart...Life was drained from me. I walked with the fear of falling”.

Although there are historical records of others fainting in the presence of Florentine art, the syndrome was only actually named in 1979 by Italian psychiatrist Graziella Magherini. While Stendhal Syndrome is not recognised as a psychiatric disorder, it’s now commonly used to describe a physical reaction to the beauty of the natural world or art masterpieces.

Working at the Santa Maria Nuova hospital in Florence, Magherini observed more than 100 cases where patients had severe emotional responses to art. These were mainly tourists, including many Americans. In 1989, she released a book named “The Stendhal Syndrome”, in which she told her story. The cases were divided into three types, based on the symptoms of their anxiety or psychotic episodes. The most common profile was a single woman, under the age of 40, travelling alone. Symptoms described in the book included dizzy spells, a loss of sense of identity, rapid heartbeat and hallucinations. Generally speaking, patients recovered after leaving the city of Florence.

 

See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.

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