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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.
(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.
tarantism(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