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Tarachow, S. (1951). 'Tarantism. Mass Hysterical Reaction to Spider Bite in the Middle Ages.': Howard F. Gloyne.. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 32:264-265.
Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing: 'Tarantism. Mass Hysterical Reaction to Spider Bite in the Middle Ages.': Howard F. Gloyne.

(1951). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 32:264-265

'Tarantism. Mass Hysterical Reaction to Spider Bite in the Middle Ages.': Howard F. Gloyne.

Sidney Tarachow

The American Imago, 1950, Vol. 7, No. 2, pp. 29–42.

A not uncommon phenomenon of the Middle Ages was tarantism, a disease caused by spider bite

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and supposed to be cured by music. The disease was marked by great excitement, compulsive dancing, extreme emotionality, extravagant and licentious behaviour, sadomasochistic activity, rolling in filth and excessive drinking. The disease was somewhat contagious and chronically recurrent, especially in summer. It was known in Europe for over four hundred years, beginning in the fourteenth century. It is likely that this disease served as an outlet for the tendencies inherent in the suppressed orgiastic Dionysian rites. The behaviour of those afflicted offered an instinctual release, but consciously treated in a phobic fashion, as though provoked by the bite of the spider, and accompanied by great anxiety and compulsiveness. The group character of the symptomatic behaviour made the emotional and instinctual discharge easier to accomplish.

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Article Citation

Tarachow, S. (1951). 'Tarantism. Mass Hysterical Reaction to Spider Bite in the Middle Ages.'. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 32:264-265

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