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Tuesday, 16 September 2014

The Paris Syndrome - How Idealization Could Ruin Your Health

The Paris Syndrome

There is a city so big and popular that it comes with its own syndrome? I'm not talking about Stockholm or Jerusalem, but about Paris (as the title of this article has already suggested).

If you haven't heard of the Paris Syndrome, here is what it's all about:
Every year, there are around a million Japanese tourists in Paris. Each of them comes with big expectations for the city. But around 20 (annually) of the tourists have their dreams shattered. This causes different psychological and physical symptoms, which need taking care of. The Japanese embassy has a special hotline for cases like this.

The symptoms could include anxiety, hallucinations, nausea, depression, feeling angry or acting hostile, dizziness and much more. Everybody could get different symptoms, this is why not everyone (specially French doctors) agree that this is a syndrome. But there are similarities between all the patients. And psychiatrist have discovered the main reason for this phenomenon.


Cultural shock.


The Paris Syndrome is mainly connected with Japanese tourists, because they live in an environment completely different from Western Europe. They have a different culture,  different understanding of the world. Since young age they have been taught that Paris is one of the most beautiful and perfect cities in the world.

You've seen it in advertising, in films, in music videos. Paris is always described as this dreamy, romantic place, where people are perfectly looking, models walk down the streets, even farts smell like flowers, tasty food is absolutely affordable to everyone, there is no crime, people are polite. There is this myth given to the audience that Paris is the city of love, where everyone can find his perfect match. The capital where everyone will smile at you, everything is beautiful, locals sing on the streets and are always rich.

It's a weird thing how media could change the image of a city. Some other towns around the world have accepted their dark side and are not afraid to show it to the world. But Paris isn't one of them. There are only a few movies where you can see the bad part of town and how people are not as happy as you think. But those motion pictures are not as popular as the big mainstream.

This is where the cultural shock comes from. The poor tourist comes with his idealized version in his mind, but he/she discovers that the capital of France is a lot less than perfect. People tend to be rude (not everyone, but the majority) to foreigners. They treat tourists like sh*t and act like they are the greatest people in the world. Even thought Paris is the most visited capital in the world, the French still don't know how to communicate in English and they really blame the tourists for not knowing their mother tongue.
Paris Hilton Syndrome is different
Different Paris Syndrome
The monuments, museums and sights are really amazing, but the whole experience is not quite the same as you see in the films. Forget the rudeness, you will have trouble with birds, you'll witness the difference between classes, the pollution, the not so shiny parts, specially if your hotel is in a cheaper neighbourhood. Every city has these issues, but Paris prefers to hide them. And since there are only a handful of tourists suffering from the syndrome, I doubt there will be anyone making a change.

More info: Wikipedia