Saint Vitus dance

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Saint Vitus dance

[′sānt ′vīd·əs ‚dans]
(medicine)
Chorea associated with rheumatic fever. Also known as Sydenham's chorea.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
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In the late nineteenth century, various forms of hysteria were named choreas because they looked like dance, and in fact, members of Charcot's circle sometimes called movements associated with hysteria St. Vitus' dance (see McCarren 749).
By contracting St. Vitus' dance, an illness that can be interpreted as a form of hysteria, eleven-year-old Else no longer had to attend school and was thereby able to defy the social forces that employed intimidation and punishment in shaping a child's "appropriate" identity.