Paris Syndrome: Falling Out of Love with the World's Most Romantic City

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Il n'y a que deux endroits au monde où l'on puisse vivre heureux: chez soi et à Paris.

'There are only two places in the world where we can live happy: at home, and in Paris." - Earnest Hemingway.

This quotation, by Earnest Hemingway, illustrates the power of idealism over individuals, specifically with regard to the famous "City of Love" - Paris, France. For as long as we can remember, Paris has been a near-perfect city of romance and happiness. And indeed, many people find romance and happiness upon visiting this beautiful city. However, there are also people who arrive in Paris, only to find that the city doesn't actually live up to their lofty dreams.

Unfortunately, for many of us, finding the negative aspects of the City of Love does much more harm than simply tarnishing our 'perfect vacation'. In fact, a recent article from the BBC details a very specific mental disorder called 'Paris Syndrome'. This syndrome usually only affects Japanese visitors to Paris, and occurs when these visitors experience a severe culture shock upon arriving in the city. In these cases, the victims do not find the city as incredible as it is often portrayed in the media; therefore, when they encounter rude tour guides or unkind waiters, they undergo severe culture shock and often must leave the city.

This mental illness is quite intriguing. I know that we have been discussing mental illness diagnosis in class lately, especially with regard to the "Four Ds" of diagnosis. Someone diagnosed with Paris Syndrome is certainly dysfunctional, and this type of intense cultural shock undoubtedly deviates from normal social activity. I'm sure the effects of this psychological illness are dangerous to the individual as well.


One thing about Paris Syndrome that I find especially interesting is its connection to the media. The media greatly affects the way people view Paris; more specifically, the fact that this syndrome is found only in Japanese tourists makes me think that the media's portrayal of this city is drastically different from the media portrayals of Paris found in other parts of the world.

How do you guys think the media plays into mental illness diagnosis? Studies have shown that the media dictates 'normal behavior' in society; I feel as though this is quite evident with regard to Paris Syndrome. What do you guys think??


1 Comment

Interesting article, I never thought of people being so disappointed in a place that they would develop a mental disorder. I'm kind of interested if this is a serious mental illness or if these Japanese tourists are just depressed for a week and then get over it.

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This page contains a single entry by pauls695 published on May 6, 2012 10:51 PM.

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