Jan 9, 2011

Stendhal Syndrome

Stendhal syndrome  
(Stendhal's syndrome, hyperkulturemia, or Florence syndrome) - is a psychosomatic illness that causes rapid heartbeat, dizziness, fainting, confusion and even hallucinations when an individual is exposed to art, usually when the art is particularly beautiful or a large amount of art is in a single place.

The term can also be used to describe a similar reaction to a surfeit of choice in other circumstances, e.g. when confronted with immense beauty in the natural world.

Italian scientists are to try to establish whether there really is such a phenomenon as 'Stendhal Syndrome' – the giddiness and confusion supposedly caused when one looks at great works of art.
The condition is named after the 19th century French author Stendhal, who wrote of feeling utterly overwhelmed by the Renaissance masterpieces he saw during a trip to Florence in 1817. 
"As I emerged from the porch of Santa Croce, I was seized with a fierce palpitation of the heart; the wellspring of life was dried up within me, and I walked in constant fear of falling to the ground," Stendhal, whose real name was Marie-Henrie Beyle, recorded in his book Naples and Florence: A Journey from Milan to Reggio.

Nearly two centuries on, researchers will use hi-tech recording instruments to measure visitors' reactions as they survey the treasures contained inside the Palazzo Medici Riccardi in Florence, Italy.
The scientists will monitor heart beat, blood pressure and rate of breathing as visitors take in the exquisite frescoes which adorn the palace.
Participants will afterwords be asked to write down their impressions of what they saw, and how they felt physically and emotionally.

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