Also known as Florence syndrome and hyperkulturemia, Stendahl syndrome is a psychosomatic condition that can occur when viewing artwork. When encountering a particularly remarkable piece of art or a large number of paintings in a single location, a person with Stendahl syndrome will experience intense psychological and emotional reactions. Typical symptoms include dizziness, anxiety, heart palpitations, and fainting.

In the 1970s, Italian psychologist Graziella Magherini named the condition after the 19th century French writer Stendahl, who once described his extreme feelings upon viewing artwork in Italy. The “Florence syndrome” moniker applies because many masterpieces are housed in the museums of Florence, Italy. Although Stendahl syndrome is rare, some attribute its presentation to being overwhelmed when visiting a new city and subsequently trying to do too much in a day.

About the Author: A former psychiatrist, Dr. Reed Moskowitz continues to dedicate his career to aiding others as a life coach based in New York City. A subject of interview requests from the press, Dr. Moskowitz spoke to New York Times reporter Clyde Haberman in conjunction with the article “Art and Stress – The Stendahl Syndrome.”