Mental Health: Have You Heard of Paris Syndrome?

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Most tourists who suffer from Paris Syndrome hail from Japan, and experts believe that the reason is the glaring, stark, grotesque cultural difference between the Japanese and the French.
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Traveling to Paris soon and are worried about Paris Syndrome that has recently made waves in the world of psychological disorders?

It’s bizarre as hell, but it’s completely true – some tourists simply cannot handle the REAL Paris; their disappointment giving way to serious physical as well as psychological symptoms that makes them want to take the next flight back home.

So if want to know what Paris Syndrome is all about and who is most vulnerable and hence more at risk, here’s some information to answer all your questions.

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Most of us relate Paris to Fashion, Glamour, Fine Dining, Art and oodles of Style. However, the truth is quite different.
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Decoding Paris Syndrome

No…Paris Syndrome doesn’t define the unreasonable behavior of some women who are snooty, elitists and behave like Paris Hilton…LOL! In fact, Paris Syndrome is actually more serious. It’s a very unusual disorder that came to light in 1980s, when first-time tourists traveling to Paris, ‘The City of Lights’, started to show unpleasant and troublesome symptoms brought about by the cultural shock they experienced.

It is a city that comes with a glitzy romantic reputation, which is why many first-time tourists who visit Paris with strong per-conceived notions find it hard to deal with their disappointment when they realize the city they idolize is not at all like how they imagined it to be.

The media image created of Paris doesn’t help much either. No, the city doesn’t smell of Chanel No. 5 and pigeons don’t flock to parks and surround happy tourists.

Paris is a harsh city – there is a major language barrier for those who don’t speak French as most Parisians don’t speak English, the city has its own share of social problems like crime and inequality, and what makes things worse is that the locals are unaccommodating and downright unfriendly towards foreigners.

So why do Japanese tourists fall susceptible to this syndrome?

Japan is a country where being polite to guests is ingrained in to their culture, while the Parisian lifestyle is nothing short of rude, blunt and direct. Additionally, even the hospitality industry in Paris isn’t overtly hospitable towards foreigners!

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The fact is – Paris is not a friendly, affluent and quaint city that movies set in the French capital depict it to be. And sometimes the reality is so dramatically different from our imagination that it has the power to cause severe dissonance within our psyche.
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Symptoms of Paris Syndrome

This strange disorder is very real, and can be quite disturbing. The only treatment is taking the first flight back home, where everything feels familiar and safe.

But what are the symptoms? Should you be worried only because you feel ‘uneasy’ about digesting the harsh reality that Paris really is? The symptoms, as defined by medical experts, include:

  • A sense of paranoia that comes from finding it hard to deal with rejection.
  • Feelings of persecution.
  • For some people, the physical symptoms include dizziness, delusions and profuse sweating.
  • It’s rare, but some patients also start hallucinating.
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So if you are traveling to Paris for the first time, make sure that you have only realistic expectations from the trip. The city is crowded, dirty, indifferent and loud.
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What should you know about Paris Syndrome?

For most people, visiting Paris is a ‘dream come true’. They walk out of the airport all full of expectations and hopes of falling deeply, madly in love with the Parisian lifestyle, and the stress caused by realizing that the Paris of their dreams and the Real Paris are not the same is too much to handle.

Add to that the stress any foreigner undergoes when removed from a familiar environment where the social norms are radically different. Don’t forget, traveling is always stressful. And when you add to that the burden of your expectations from Paris and all it promises to represent, sometimes the very force of your disappointment can drive you to behave in an unhealthy, unexpected way.

But if you are willing to look beyond these, you will eventually see the Paris of your dreams; the Paris that is for sure the most beautiful and breathtaking city in the world.

Also read: Tokophobia: Are you afraid of pregnant women?

9 Comments Add yours

  1. ouidepuis1 says:

    Having said that, there is no sight like the Eiffel tower, the Louvre is a little slice of heaven and the Sacre Coeur and Notre Dame are really just breathtaking.


    1. I am sure! But for our Japanese friends, the city is overwhelming and scary.


  2. Loved this topic! What made you decide to write about it? Have you recently went to Paris, ha ha?


    1. Hey Felicia,

      Glad you liked this topic 

      I love Paris but yes, it’s a little underwhelming since the people are a little insolent. A Japanese friend of mine was so devastated with the ‘real Paris’ (a waiter at a local café spoke rudely to him) that he went to Japanese embassy to talk to someone ‘from his country’. Its then that I realized that Paris syndrome is very real and it affects our Japanese friends more than we or the Parisians realize. The embassy did manage to calm him down but after that I spoke to more Japanese tourists and trust me, most of them told me, ‘this Paris is so different’!

      Strange are the ways of the world and the mind, I say🙂


      1. So interesting the difference between cultures! I hear ya so strange🙂


  3. gretaallison says:

    I think Paris is a place that you either love or hate. I have friends that go at every opportunity and just love it whereas others including Le Chef dislike it immensely. As a consequence I have never visited Paris as Le Chef digs his heels in and refuses to go. One day I will go as I’d like to make my own mind up. I enjoyed your post.


    1. I agree with you. Paris evokes different reactions from different people but strangely, our Japanese friends are affected the most. I am glad you enjoyed the post. Thanks for the positive feedback🙂


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