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Related to tarantism: tarantella, Tarantino


A form of mass hysteria that originated in Taranto, Italy, in the late Middle Ages as a dancing mania to cure the madness allegedly caused by the bite of a tarantula.


A disorder characterized by an uncontrollable urge to dance, especially prevalent in southern Italy from the 15th to the 17th century and popularly attributed to the bite of a tarantula.


(1) Chorea.
(2) A term of largely historical interest for a condition first recognised during the Middle Ages and characterised by choreiform spasms that occurred in large closed communities, and is now thought to have been a mass hysterical conversion reaction.


(tar'an-tizm) [ Taranto, seaport in southern Italy, + Gr. -ismos, condition]
A disorder that is culturally specific to regions of Italy and Northern Africa, marked by stupor, melancholy, and uncontrollable, manic dancing. It is popularly attributed to the bite of the tarantula, although some experts believe it to be an example of a mass psychogenic illness. Synonym: tarentism
References in periodicals archive ?
Ritualized Illness and Music Therapy: Views of Tarantism in the Kingdom of Naples.
Tarantism is an affliction supposedly produced by the bite of a tarantula, has been endemic in impoverished southern Italy for at least 500 years, and is cured through music and trance-dancing the famed tarentella.
The modern city of Taranto in the Italian region of Apulia was the centre of tarantism in the 15th to 17th centuries.
Taranto): The tarantula was the name given to the European Wolf Spider (Lycos tarantula) after people in Taranto believed the spider's bite caused the disease Tarantism the symptoms of which are uncontrolled weeping and jumping about leading to the wild dance the Tarantalla.
The Dancers also features the premiere of new works by major artists such as Joachim Koester, whose film Tarantism (2007, inspired by the uncontrollable bodily convulsions caused by a spider bite) has been included in several dance-related museum exhibitions around the world.