Stendhal syndrome: extreme emotions in the face of beauty

it is common experience certain sensations when faced with a stimulus that motivates them.

However, there are people with great sensitivity to these stimuli, and they react exceptionally to emotions aroused by a work of art, a landscape or a movie.

Stendhal syndrome: discovery of a singular disorder

In these extreme cases, it is often called “Stendhal syndrome“, Also known as” traveller’s syndrome “or” Florence syndrome “.

The history of Stendhal syndrome

In 1817, Henri-Marie Beyle, a French writer who used the pseudonym of Stendhal, moved to the Italian city of Florence captivated by the colossal beauty and monumentality of the city, as well as by its close connection with the best artists of the Renaissance. Once there, visiting the Basilica of the Holy Cross, he was able to describe a series of sensations and emotions which, decades later, would be recognized as the symptomatic image of the syndrome. In his writing Naples and Florence: A Trip from Milan to Reggio, he recounted the sensations felt in these terms:

“I had reached that degree of emotion where the heavenly sensations given by the Fine Arts and the passionate feelings collide. As I left Santa Croce, my heart was pounding, life was exhausted in me, I was walking in fear of falling.

The recurrence of this type of sensation, which caused dizziness, lightheadedness and fainting, has been documented as a unique case in the city of Florence, but science did not invent this image as a differentiated syndrome until what in 1979, the Florentine psychiatrist Graziella Magherini defined and categorized as Stendhal syndrome.

Has Stendhal’s Syndrome Been Oversized? Does it really exist?

It is undeniable that certain artistic expressions arouse emotions: brushing your hair while listening to a song or tears while watching a romantic movie, are reactions that everyone has experienced.

However, Stendhal syndrome consists of feeling very intense sensations in front of an artistic piece, usually because of her beauty.

Today, many clinical psychologists agree that the disorder is true, but there is some controversy in this regard. After its strike in the late 1970s, at a historic time when globalization led to an increase in the number of travelers globally and in Florence in particular, the number of reported cases has increased significantly, Which led to the syndrome also being known as “Florence syndrome”.

For this reason, part of the scientific community describes that the excessive spread of the syndrome could be motivated by economic interests of the city of Florence itself, to increase the reputation of the beauty of its artistic monuments, in order to attract a even larger number. visitors.

The key could be in the suggestion

Likewise, the interest aroused by Stendhal syndrome raises certain questions, such as whether one is not fertilizing the soil and increasing the predisposition to feel the type of sensations described by Stendhal. moved by a deep state of suggestion.

Bibliographical references:

  • Chalmers, D. (1999). The conscious mind: in search of a fundamental theory. Barcelona: Gedisa
  • Gómez Milà, E; Pérez Dueñas, C. Consciousness: the brain puzzle
  • Magherini, G. Stendhal syndrome. Ed. Espasa Calpe, Madrid, 1990
  • Stendhal, Rome, Naples and Florence. Ed. Prétextes, 1999.

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