(Ed. Note: This is a rerun from March, 2009. Seems like long ago, but not really!)
Stendhal syndrome is a psychosomatic illness that causes rapid heartbeat, dizziness, 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. It is named after the famous 19th century French author Stendhal (pseudonym of Henri-Marie Beyle), who described his experience with the phenomenon during his 1817 visit to Florence, Italy in his book Naples and Florence: A Journey from Milan to Reggio. Although there are many descriptions of people becoming dizzy and fainting while taking in Florentine art, especially at the Uffizi, dating from the early 19th century on, the syndrome was only named in 1979, when it was described by Italian psychiatrist Graziella Magherini, who observed and described more than 100 similar cases among tourists and visitors in Florence. The syndrome was first diagnosed in 1982. The term is often used when describing the reactions of audiences to music of the Romantic period.
Sorry, but the following persons, places, things or concepts will cause me to be overcome , resulting in disorientation, dizziness, palpitations, and sweating, with symptoms lasting two to eight days...
Peggy, Britney Spears, Alexis Grace, the new prosecutor on Law & Order, a whole-wheat crust veggie pizza with the lo-fat cheese melted just ever so, a really well-constructed BLT, TBS, CNN, The Simpsons, Family Guy, the music of Elvis, the wit and wisdom of Keith Olbermann, walking around Harford Mall, Mila Kunis, The New Yorker, the smell of Old Bay seasoning, the taste of Old Bay seasoning, a look of love from a little child, walking the bayside Promenade at Havre de Grace, poems by John Updike, novels by Jack Kerouac, nonfiction by Tom Wolfe, my iPod, the first ten minutes of "Wedding Crashers", giving gifts, riding around looking at Christmas lights, diner food, the music of LOVE, Daedalus Books, my cup of coffee after dinner, visiting Williamsburg, dinner by candlelight, the very concept of Kid Rock, my old skool country, Ring Lardner and Jennifer Love Hewitt. And Peggy some more.
Oh well, now, at least there's a name for it!
"I'm gonna be silly for a while"!
"OK, I guess it's that doggone Stendahl Syndrome actin' up again!"