A psychological illness characterized by an extreme impulse to dance, prevalent in southern Italy from the 15th to the 17th century, and widely believed at the time to be caused by the bite of a tarantula.
- From the 17th century to the 20th there was apparently great communal tarantism, in which whole towns would suddenly give themselves over to wild dancing, and the musicians had a profitable time.
- His study of tarantism, for instance, ignored traditional academic boundaries, making use of a team of scholars - a psychologist, a musicologist, a sociologist - with himself in the guiding position as historian-ethnologist.
- In many families naming tarantism was taboo, reflecting this ambiguity between condemnation and belief.
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