Síndrome de Stendhal , artículo en inglés

 Stendhal Syndrome

Hello to everyone:

Today I would like to talk to you about Stendhal Syndrome, let's talk about art then! It is a phenomenon that happens to us when we see something that seems truly artistic, beautiful (what we call fine art:  is art developed primarily for aesthetics or beauty), and it is so even for neophytes as well for professional artists when it comes to the “creation” or design of their work as perceive as art. But we might be confused if we take the meaning of a syndrome, in a medical sense (second meaning, which appeared much later in time), in which we are given a certain pathological picture, as for example like “a set of symptoms and signs that concur in time and form and that those are of a wide-ranging etiology”.

The first meaning, closest to the psychological and figurative gist of this syndrome (from the Greek syndromé, concurrence or gathering), is that of a set of any phenomena which concur with each other and that characterize any given situation or state of affairs such as seeing a landscape, seeing an architectural building, considering a sculpture, in view of a movie, going to the theater, listening to music,… and with regard to our article today: taking into consideration a painting. It was in this first meaning that Stendhal's Syndrome was baptized. This is one of the reasons why museums, exhibitions, galleries, etc. are full of people: to provoke these stunning emotions in people, they are in search of Stendhal Syndrome.  

        A note apart, a brief digression if I may request from my readers, is that we have in Madrid, lucky for us, three museums "top of the one" called “the Triangle of Art or Golden Triangle”, that is a group of museums located in the area of Madrid at ​​Paseo del Prado avenue. Not to be missed!

Back to trail, already with this first meaning we have some understand of this psycho-affective phenomenon that leaves us a deep impression (in our mind, in our soul, in our being) as was experienced by a famous French writer by the name Henri Beyle (1783-1842), better known by the pseudonym of Stendhal.  
Its literary production was marked by a high romantic sensitivity, and a powerful analytical sense of the human passions and the social behaviors. He stands out for his love for art and music, with an epicurean sense of pleasure, his characters went through “the hunt for happiness" that harmonizes with a rigorous critical intelligence and psychological analysis. He is considered one of the creators of the modern novel.

There for, this psycho-affective phenomenon is like a kind of ecstasy -–similar as our nineteenth-century writer experienced when contemplating paintings on one of his travels-- that impresses, touches or astonishes us deeply, by a admiration of "a sublime beauty". Our writer would describe his syndrome, which felt a sort of fuss in which “the celestial sensations provided by the fine arts” were mixed with the feelings of a passions. Exhausted from such a stupor,  his heart beat hard, not without touching the point of faintness as he walked away from that work of art. So with this definition we are far from being mentally ill, and if we speak of beauty we could understand it as a crisis of love, with reactions of hypersensitivity, euphoria or enthusiasm. 

 On the other hand, and changing the record, although keeping the point of our article, from more dramatic, tragic or unfortunate compositions we can react with this syndrome with panic attacks (fear of dying or to go crazy), feelings of depersonalization, amnesia or vertigo ... The positive pole of these complex emotions (syndrome) is always more gratifying, and this is the description of the Stendhal syndrome we mentioned and as we understand it. 
All these events can be understood from the sensitivity and creativity of certain people, or from the physical exhaustion that involves a cultural trip to another country, museum or art gallery, etc.  

And finally, that is the third element where we will focus our article: The properly contemplated work of art. Therefore, we observe two convergent disciplines for our study. If the history of art is related to the chronologies of culture, documentation and style, psychology looks at the evolutionary history of the individual. We can see examples in artists like Goya, Fuseli and the symbolists, where they would have represented mental states, dreams ..., as internal phenomena of the human being. Art is a way of thinking, and we orient it from symbolism, sublimation, creativity (we would also add biography and autobiography) as ways and forms of mental operations that we would all be able to do whether we are artists or whether we are the passive agents of an artistic action.

We know that the impact of the images for human beings are notorious, and it reminds us of the saying that " A picture is worth a thousand words ", but not because it is really so, it is because we are captured by an artistic phenomenon, and less  by assigning an  intellectual complexity to the image than to the word. Here beauty works at its best.  Although often a paradox develops when we say “seeing is believing", and sometimes "do not believe everything you read", it can be a punctual and temporary phenomenon of a kind of a loss on boundaries between our self and the thing we observed. And as it is punctual and temporary emotional phenomenon, it possesses a force capable of affecting the unconscious of any passer-by.

From the work of art itself, as we have said, we personally prefer those works of art which associate a physical quality, for example, a moral quality. We are not talking purely symbolism, but of being able to express the feelings of a character and endowing him with a psychological plot, as when a big hand is made to give greater relief to a bust, providing one part of the body in relation to another, emphasizes a moral, psychological or affective trait, that in our opinion, the peace of work loses its human features. Another way of looking to art is  by assigning human dynamics like when we are able to look, for example, at a still sculpture of stone or marble, but feeling that it communicates “latent force and agility” to us as if it were alive. Or when we see a bust, a face sculpted on hard stone, and we observe the details of his eyes, or his smooth forehead evocative of a suggestive symbolic imprinting to demonstrate deep thinking.  
So, art as an expression of the “human and the eternal”, it cannot just stay with a narrative tail, limited to certain themes, tracing repetitive models, because it will be losing this important resource that helps us to know ourselves mentally and physically.

To conclude, we are returning to the second meaning in this article, the medical and the psychological point of view, to understand that in all human activities we can find signs of syndromes that lead us to certain pathological pictures. In this sense, we know that mental disorders (severe or medium) interfere or inhibit artistic work. This goes a bit against the "romantic" idea that neurosis and madness favor creativity (nor Absinthe liqueur), on the contrary, they disturb the artist and his work. Examples demonstrated were Van Gogh, who could not work while hospitalized, Michelangelo or Leonardo when they left their works halfway (the “non finito” that the biographers said) or Caravaggio or Cellini could not work while running away from law. Artists who show less conflict in their art are freer and more productive. A factor to keep in mind, when it comes to wanting things to go well, is the reaction of the talent of a child by parents, school or friends, and the envy it generates, creating harm and psychic conflict to whom It suffer; because the right environment (cultural environment) is also important: Rome in the sixteenth century, Paris in the nineteenth century, or New York from the Second World War (Gauguin to Tahiti, etc.). But as the family is prior to the cultural environment, recognition, stimulation and reflection create a child development that benefits from an intelligent care seeking a good foundation for the life of the child who with creative talent stimulates the Fine Arts , Cinema or Theater. Otherwise, any artist can be inhibited and lost to incongruity. We can all find our "philosopher's stone or the Sorcerer’s Stone)” in the Fine Arts, in the theater or in the cinema, in our professions or offices if we understand these serious restrictions of our evolving character.

Gracias por leerme.

Bibliography: Stendhal (2011). El síndrome del viajero. Diario de Florencia. Editorial Gadir. Madrid.

David   Norberto   Gascón   Razé
Psicólogo en Madrid
Teléfono: 636 554 562
  E-Mail: dnd.gascon@cop.es
           Página Web: http://www.psicologaenmadridarganzuela.com


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