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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.
Farlex Partner Medical Dictionary © Farlex 2012


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.
The American Heritage® Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2007, 2004 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.


(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.
Segen's Medical Dictionary. © 2012 Farlex, Inc. All rights reserved.


(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
Medical Dictionary, © 2009 Farlex and Partners
References in periodicals archive ?
In recent decades there has been a revival of tarantism, as discussed by Luisa Del Giudice in 'The Folk Music Revival and the Culture of Tarantismo in the Salento'.
"Ritualized Illness and Music Therapy: Views of Tarantism in the Kingdom of Naples." In Music as Medicine (2000), 255-72.
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.
By and large it works very well, especially on the tracks such as Mandragora meets The Baghdaddies' Mess Up Me Life and The Knights Of The Occasional Table meets Tarantism's Mr Potato Head Goes To Hardware Village, where the bpms take second place to the rich timbres, melodies and textures of the traditional (or traditionally inspired) tunes, acting as a dynamic counterpoint rather than, as in the case of the Transglobal Underground meets Tragic Roundabout track Strange Albanian Genius swamping the basic track in fussy electronica.
While in Italy, a curious malady known as tarantism became prevalent during the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries.
In the case of "tarantism"--in other words possession attributed to the bite of a spider--the place of music in the cure is well known, and at least one edition of De Martino's book includes a recording made in southern Italy in the 1950s.
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.