Health: Destroy Works of Art -- A New Syndrome

If you thought art galleries were quiet havens of contemplation, think again. Looking at great works of art can inspire a strong, sometimes irresistible urge to destroy, Italian researchers have found. Dubbed the 'David syndrome', after the statue of the young Hebrew king by Mr.Michelangelo Buonarrotti , the condition can provoke an overwhelming desire to damage the art being viewed, the psychoanalyst said.
'It's a range of strong emotions which go from enchantment, through vexation, aggression, a vandalistic impulse, right through to panic attacks,' said Graziella Magherini who is leading a group of doctors, psychiatrists and art historians looking into the syndrome.
The group has spent months at Florence's Accademia Gallery studying how visitors react to seeing 'David', Michelangelo's towering marble nude, one of Italy's best loved art treasures. Most of those who feel the destructive urge -- which may affect 20 percent of people -- manage to restrain themselves, Magherini said, but some can lash out. In 1991 a vandal smashed 'David's' foot with a hammer before being restrained.
'Great works of art, at a deep level, bring about a feeling of destruction, an urge to destroy which also many artists have.
'Michelangelo himself destroyed some of his own works or parts of them.'
But the will to destroy is not just caused by a subconscious link between creating and destroying. 'The David syndrome' is also caused by people's deepest fears and desires, by sex and death. Magherini has interviewed gallery visitors who are fixated with -- and disturbed by -- the physical attributes of 'David', considered by art critics to be a vision of male perfection.
'There's a great force, an impulse of an erotic and sexual nature, not just in women, but even more so in men.
'Men of 35-40 year of age who are attracted by the extraordinary masculine beauty and at the same time are also agitated.'
'The David syndrome' has links to the somewhat better known 'Stendhal syndrome', a term Magherini coined more than 20 years ago, which causes viewers of art to be physically overcome by their reaction to art, sometimes leading to hospitalisation. In both syndromes, a large proportion of those affected are Americans, Magherini said, declining to give more details before the study is completed next year. Even with the potentially dangerous impulses from art, Magherini does not advocate closing down galleries on public health grounds.
'If the person manages to deal with it, he grows.
'All our aesthetic experiences can be important ways of growing even if there is a moment of dismay or anxiety.'
'Art for destruction's sake-it's the David syndrome', Yahoo! News, 2005-11-30 15:51 Su


Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is whacked. I dont no if this is for real tbh I sinserely hope not :[

12/07/2005 12:52:00 am  

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