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What Is Paris Syndrome?

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  • Written By: Geisha A. Legazpi
  • Edited By: Shereen Skola
  • Last Modified Date: 21 November 2016
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Paris syndrome is an unusual disorder that a person can go through upon realizing that not everything in Paris, France is what he or she expects. It usually affects tourists who have high regard for Parisian culture, only to find out later that it is far from being perfect. Those who suffer from Paris syndrome usually anticipate that most citizens of the famous city are like models commonly seen in advertisements, magazines, and fashion shows. They also believe that high fashion is for everyone in Paris. Upon arrival in Paris, however, these people are met with culture shock and the realization that high fashion in Paris is intended for foreign patronage.

While working in France in 1986, Professor Hiroaki Ota identified what in French is called syndrome de Paris, as one of the transient psychological disorders that affect mostly Japanese tourists. According to the professor, the shocking experiences that tourists encounter in Paris, especially those that go against their norms, can result in too much stress and psychological disturbances later. The Japanese are vulnerable to Paris syndrome because they are accustomed to a gentle, disciplined society. This theory, however, was opposed by Dr. Yousef Mahmoudia, stating that it is over-excitement that creates anxiety, and that over-anxiety creates hallucinations. Whatever the cause, there are several factors that contribute to the occurrence of Paris syndrome.

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The first factor involves the differences in culture, which can cause culture shock. Nations differ in cultural identities; thus, if a stranger goes to Paris, he or she might not get used to the manner of the people, the way they live, and how they treat strangers. Language barrier is another factor because those not speaking the French language may find it hard to communicate. An additional factor is excessive admiration of the city, which can lead to unreasonable expectations. Exhaustion caused by preparing for the trip and by the trip itself can also lead to temporary mental disorders such as Paris syndrome.

Major symptoms of Paris syndrome include anxiety, emotional disturbance, and disturbance in sensory perceptions. The patient may also feel threatened all the time, or, if the patient had a bad experience with someone from Paris, he or she might fear everyone from Paris. Minor symptoms include irritability, lightheadedness, and excessive sweating. With all these symptoms combined, the patient may experience cardiac arrest especially if the disorder continues to manifest or if medical intervention is not sought.

Most psychologists agree that the cure for Paris syndrome is for the patient to go back to his or her home country. It is also important for family and friends to help the patient cope with the disorder. Patients who have severe cases may also be advised never to go back to Paris. Nevertheless, many experts agree that there is nothing to cure if Paris syndrome is prevented in the first place through immediate realization and acceptance.

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Sporkasia
Post 4

In my opinion, Paris lived up to all expectations and more. I have visited France and Paris many times and I find something different and exciting every trip.

Drentel
Post 3

Animandel - Maybe Paris has a syndrome named after it because it is such a popular tourist destination and it is associated with romance and love as well as fashion and style. That's a thought anyway.

Also, I would be disappointed if I were to visit Paris and it turned out to be nothing like I imagined. I'm not sure I would develop Paris Syndrome, but I would be miffed.

Animandel
Post 2

Drentel - Before reading this article I had heard of the term, Paris Syndrome, but wanted to find out exactly what it was. Sounds like this could apply to other places as well. Why isn't there a New York Syndrome?

Drentel
Post 1

Wow! Who knew there was such a thing as Paris Syndrome?

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