ⓘ Paris syndrome


ⓘ Paris syndrome

Paris syndrome is a condition exhibited by some individuals when visiting or going on vacation to Paris, as a result of extreme shock at discovering that Paris is different from their expectations. The syndrome is characterized by a number of psychiatric symptoms such as acute delusional states, hallucinations, feelings of persecution, derealization, depersonalization, anxiety, and also psychosomatic manifestations such as dizziness, tachycardia, sweating, and others, such as vomiting. Similar syndromes include Jerusalem syndrome and Stendhal syndrome. The condition is commonly viewed as a severe form of culture shock. It is particularly noted among Japanese travellers. It is not listed as a recognised condition in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.


1. History

Professor Hiroaki Ota, a Japanese psychiatrist working in France, is credited as the first person to diagnose the condition in 1986. Later work by Youcef Mahmoudia, a physician with the hospital Hotel-Dieu de Paris, indicates that Paris syndrome is "psychopathology related to travel, rather than a syndrome of the traveller." He theorized that the excitement resulting from visiting Paris causes the heart to accelerate, causing giddiness and shortness of breath, which results in hallucinations in the manner similar to although spurring from opposite causes the Stendhal syndrome described by Italian psychiatrist Graziella Magherini in her book La sindrome di Stendhal.


2. Susceptibility

Japanese visitors are observed to be especially susceptible. It was first noted in Nervure, the French journal of psychiatry, in 2004. From the estimated six million yearly visitors, the number of reported cases is not large: according to an administrator at the Japanese embassy in France, around 20 Japanese tourists a year are affected by the syndrome. Women are also said to be susceptible, particularly those in their early thirties on their first international trip. The journal also identified two types of the affliction: Those who have previous history of psychiatric problems and those without morbid history who exhibit the delayed-expression type.

Mario Renoux, the president of the Franco-Japanese Medical Association, states in Liberation: "Des Japonais entre mal du pays et mal de Paris" The Japanese are caught between homesickness and Paris sickness. This is also a play on words since Pays and Paris sound similar, 13 December 2004) and that media and touristic advertising are primarily responsible for creating this syndrome. Renoux indicates that media, magazines in particular, often depict Paris as a place where most people on the street look like "stick-thin" models and most women dress in high fashion brands such as Louis Vuitton with no signs of the pollution, overcrowding or rudeness of the locals. In this view, the disorder is caused by positive representations of the city in popular culture, which leads to immense disappointment as the reality of experiencing the city is very different from expectations: tourists are confronted with an overcrowded and littered city especially if compared to Japanese metropolis and a less than welcoming attitude by French hospitality workers like shopkeepers, restaurant and hotel personel without considering the higher safety risks to which tourists used to safer cities are suddenly exposed.


3. Bibliography

Notes References
  • Viala, A.; H. Ota; M.N. Vacheron; P. Martin; F. Caroli 2004. "Les Japonais en voyage pathologique à Paris: un modele original de prise en charge transculturelle". Nervure Supplement. 17: 31–34. Retrieved 4 November 2009.