Stendhal syndrome

Stendhal syndrome

Do you like art and are often moved by a beautiful work? You have goosebumps when entering a prestigious museum? Congratulations!This is completely normal. Nevertheless, some people are extremely sensitive to certain situations. They then manifest the symptoms of Stendhal syndrome. It is also known as Florence Syndrome, Traveler Stress or Museum Illness.

This particular syndrome appears after observing works of great beauty.The story of his discovery, besides being due to chance, is very curious.Almost as much as the phenomenon itself. We invite you to know him!

Its origin: the art of Florence

In 1817, Henri-Marie Beyle, a prestigious and famous French writer,traveled across Italy in order to gather information for his next book.You probably guess what is the pseudonym of this author. Yes, Stendhal!

During his trip to Florence, he traveled through every corner of the city.He was amazed by the art that emanated from all his streets. Museums, churches, chapels, landscapes, roofs, facades, frescoes … Beyle wanted to take advantage of all this.

While visiting the Basilica Santa Croce, his perplexity, his ecstasy and his enthusiasm led to physical discomfort.More particularly, cold sweats and a deep feeling of anxiety. His heart started beating faster and he began to feel dizzy. He had to immediately sit down and rest. Once calm, he began to think.

As he narrates later in his bookRome, Naples and Florencehis own experience provides valuable information to psychology and medicine.Their deductions were as follows:

"I had arrived at this point of emotion where the celestial sensations given by the Beaux Arts and the passionate feelings meet.Santa CroceI had a heartbeat, life was exhausted at home, I walked with the fear of falling. "
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His detailed and crucial description of the phenomenon gave the syndrome its name.As if to honor the discovery of its symptomatological framework.

Symptoms of Stendhal's syndrome

Nevertheless, this phenomenon was considered a syndrome only a century later. In 1979, the Italian psychiatristGraziella Magherini studied a hundred similar cases among tourists in Florence.She noted that all the symptoms could be summed up in a beautiful metaphor: a kind of "artistic indigestion".

The symptomatology consisted of tachycardia, cold sweats, palpitations, choking, tremors, emotional tension and exhaustion.In the most serious cases, there was a whirlwind that led to vertigo or even depression.

Some people consider Stendhal syndrome as a psychosomatic illnessbecause of the bidirectional relationship that exists between mind and body. In this case, the emotional seizure would cause the physical symptoms described previously. Others classify it as an animated situation. Thus, besides being punctual, it is due to the observation of great beauty in a brief period of time. Stendhal's syndrome would be like ashockartistic.

Can anyone suffer from it?

Yes, everyone can feel its effects.We can all feel exhausted or our heartbeats may increase at a specific time. This moment may or may not coincide with the fact that we are admiring a beautiful work. It is therefore a very unusual syndrome.

It often occurs in tourists and art-conscious visitorswho travel to admire works or monuments. Normally, the syndrome begins in dazzling places. For some unknown reason, these places contain a very intense emotional sense for these people.

Controversy: myth or reality?

Over the past decades, Stendhal's syndrome has evolved into a model of the reactions of individuals facing a work of art. Especially when the latter is particularly beautiful or when we find many in one place.But, like almost everything, this syndrome is not free of controversy.

There is no doubt that when we listen to a song that brings back memories, we are moved. We can not help but have goose bumps when we go to see a play.Something happens in us. Art is an emotion.

Although this fact is recognized by the majority of psychologists,others question, question and consider it a mere myth.They think that Stendhal syndrome is pure suggestion. In other words, it exists only in the minds of people.Moreover, most skeptics believe that the unconscious of visitors to the city plays them wrong tricks. This would cause them to feel different symptoms.

Tourism has increased significantly in Italy in recent years. Art has become popularized and democratized and cases of Stendhal syndrome have tripled in Florence hospitals. That's why it's also called Florence Syndrome.
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Economic motivation?

Florence was the cradle of the Renaissance. It is one of the most beautiful cities in Europe, the one that contains the greatest artistic history.The scientific community is therefore concerned about the possible economic interests that may be behind this phenomenon. Among other things, we can find the intention of attracting more visitors or increasing revenues. Or to further increase the reputation of the city.

And you what do you think ?Is it just a way to attract the attention of new tourists? Or can appreciating works of art for a short time really cause these physical alterations?

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