By Steven Goss
Stendhal syndrome is a serious ailment. It causes heart palpitations,
delirium, depression, memory failure and unconsciousness. People with
it have been known to strip naked in public, scream hysterically and go
into convulsions. While it's rare, it's easy to catch because it's caused
by looking at art. Yes it's true. Art has been known to produce all of
the afflictions just mentioned. And the scary part is any old artwork
will cause it. The most infectious art is claimed to be in Florence, where
in 1817 the novelist Stendhal became the first recorded case of the disease.
He wrote that after observing the cultural artifacts of Santa Croce he
felt exhausted, drained and panicked. Since then others have recorded
their experience with the syndrome. Sigmund Freud alleged that he fainted
after seeing the Acropolis for the first time. Marcel Proust claimed he
suffered a slight stroke while gazing upon the works of Vermeer. And what's
frigthening is that the Stendhal syndrome isn't the only illness caused
by art. Since 1988 new mental illnesses caused by art have been recorded.
Most doctors say we have nothing to worry about, but we don't want to
take any chances do we? Here are some other art-related disorders to watch
Fluxus Bruxism is the unconscious grinding or gnashing
of the teeth brought on by the avant-garde actions of the Fluxus art group.
This condition is often exacerbated when the sufferer observes a violin
being smashed, hears electronic music or sees Yoko Ono.
Vincent Van Goverdose (VVG)
Psychological state caused through
an excessive interaction with merchandise related to Vincent Van Gogh. Items
such as Van Gogh posters, calendars, refrigerator magnets, pillows, mouse
pads or neckties can cause a catatonic-like state in the sufferer of VVG.
This disorder is related to Georgia O'Keeffe Overdose (GOO) and Henri
Matisse Malaise (HMM).
Kazimir Malevich Color Vision Deficiency (KMCVD)
to see only white while looking at White on White by Malevich. KMCVD
produces the sensation that what the sufferer is seeing is not White
on White, but white on White on White. Taking in a healthy
amount of Wassily Kandinsky will prevent KMCVD.
Group Exhibition Atrophy (GEA)
The weakening or loss of interest
concerning new artists after seeing more than 5 group shows in a single
afternoon. This degenerative disease can be fatal to the person who contracts
it and to the artists who bring it about. Since 1998 this disease has
killed 22 people and the career of Nicole Eisenman.
Lisa Yuskavage Distress (LYD)
LYD is a condition commonly found
in males where the sufferer has an irrepressible desire to touch his
penis during or after viewing a painting by Lisa Yuskavage. Coming in
contact with a work will create sensations that accelerate the surge of
blood to the penis. Once this happens the penis becomes erect creating
a need to touch it. LYD can be controlled by looking at the art of Damien
Hirst or Marina Abramovic.
Video Art Attention Deficiency (VAAD)
The inability to concentrate on a video art piece for longer than 3 to
5 seconds. VAAD occurs when the sufferer is in a crowded museum watching
a video piece. During this situation they become distracted and fidgety
after realizing that the piece may run for as long as 23 minutes. Even
though they experience feelings of paranoia and fear sufferers will continue
to watch the piece until it finishes or other people move away from it.
Uncontrollable Goya Disorder (UGD)
The overwhelming urge to think
about Goya Red Kidney Beans in the presence of a work by Francisco Goya.
People who suffer from UGD are not aware that they have the disease until
they find themselves standing in front of a Goya thinking about kidney
Paradigm Shift Hernia (PSH)
The most common sufferers of a PSH are artists between the ages of 65
and 80. PSH is caused by the sudden or shocking realization that the art
these artists make looks nothing like the art they see on calendars. PHS
may lead to chronic migraines and sharp pains around the neck and back.
Behaviors that can worsen PHS are reading Artforum, looking at Internet
art or struggling to have a bowel movement.