Paris Syndrome Is So Ridiculous, It’s Hard To Believe It’s A Real Condition


No way.

I understand that mental illness is a complex and sensitive subject, and it comes in many shapes and forms. But when I stumbled upon something known as ‘Paris Syndrome’ it took me a good hour researching the subject before I was fully convinced that it was an actual medical condition.

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Before I provide you with anymore insight into my baffled confusion over the topic, I might as well just describe to you what Paris Syndrome is (if you don’t know already). This condition, as described by Wikipedia (yes, it has its own Wikipedia page), is:

A transient psychological disorder exhibited by some individuals when visiting or vacationing to Paris, as a result of extreme shock resulting from their finding out that Paris is not what they had expected it to be.

So basically Japanese people think that Paris is going to be this beautiful place of high-culture, stick-thin models wearing designer gear and stunning architecture. When in reality, it’s just like any other city. And this causes those travellers to experience extreme culture shock while visiting the city of love.


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As if that wasn’t ridiculous enough, wait until you hear the symptoms:

Acute delusional states, hallucinations, feelings of persecution (perceptions of being a victim of prejudice, aggression, or hostility from others), derealisation, depersonalisation, anxiety, and also psychosomatic manifestations such as dizziness, tachycardia, sweating, and others, such as vomiting.

I know, I know, it’s hard to believe. Nonetheless, as said, this is a well documented and recorded mental condition. People have actually suffered from it, no exaggeration.

So what are its causes? Well apparently a significant factor is the language barrier, as in not many Japanese people speak French and vice versa. I mean, that’s generally the case when you go to another country – surely you’d be prepared for that? Another contributor is an idealised image of Paris. The Japanese often picture Paris as the land of beauty, culture, romance and dreams. Whereas when that plane lands, they realise it’s actually quite a regular place that is, like any other city, disorganised and noisy. Again, surely you’d be prepared for that? What were they expecting – toy town?

Probably one of the most ridiculous causes, which I really can’t believe is true but it is noted down in medical journals, is exhaustion:

The over-booking of one’s time and energy, whether on a business trip or on holiday, in attempting to cram too much into every moment of a stay in Paris, along with the effects of jet lag, all contribute to the psychological destabilisation of some visitors.

Lol. If the tight schedule was bothering you that much, you’d just chill out and have a wine surely? Sticking to the schedule hardly seems worth having an acute psychological breakdown for.

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So now you’re all clued up on this ridiculous syndrome – what do you think? It’s hard to believe it’s legitimate right? Unbelievably, it’s not even that uncommon. In fact, around a dozen or so Japanese tourists get this condition every single year. Back in 2006, a report from the BBC showed that in that year alone, the Japanese embassy in Paris had to repatriate four people with a doctor on board the plane to help them get over the shock. And the Japanese embassy even has a 24-hour hotline for travellers feeling the symptoms from this psychological disorder, and can help find hospital treatment ASAP for anyone who needs it.

With such a sophisticated assistance system in place, it seems that Paris Syndrome really does affect enough people for it to be genuine. So it actually is possible for culture shock to be enough to send someone into meltdown. Incredible.

Even though the embassy is on hand to help people make their way back to Japan if they are feeling unwell, it seems the syndrome is only getting worse. In fact, it’s spreading to different countries now, with many Chinese tourists experiencing the same issue. The permanent fix, according to the embassies, is to go home, never to return to Paris. But that seems silly. Maybe Japan needs to portray Paris in a more realistic light so that tourists aren’t shocked when they come over. Get everyone to watch ‘La Haine’ or something and learn about the grittier side to the country. Or send over some of the footage of the Paris football riots earlier this summer. That doesn’t do much to romanticise the city.

For more weird disorders, check out this story on ‘Exploding Head Syndrome’.


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