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It is named after the famous 19th century French author Stendhal (pseudonym of Marie-Henri 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 written up 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.
There is also a horror film called The Stendhal Syndrome (penned and directed by Dario Argento) in which a policewoman suffers from a dramatized Stendhal syndrome while tracking a serial rapist and killer in the Uffizi.
- Internet Movie Database: La Sindrome di Stendhal
- Auxologia: Graziella Magherini: La Sindrome di Stendhal (book) (excerpts in Italian)
- Word Spy definitiones:Síndrome de Stendhal
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