Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Paris Syndrome

Have you ever heard about the Paris syndrome?
Some Japanese tourists suffer a shock when visiting Paris. Having idealized Paris as the perfect romantic European city for a long time, once in the city they feel disappointed with what they find.

A BBC article by Caroline Wyatt describes this situation as follows:
A dozen or so Japanese tourists a year have to be repatriated from the French capital, after falling prey to what's become known as "Paris syndrome". That is what some polite Japanese tourists suffer when they discover that Parisians can be rude or the city does not meet their expectations. The experience can apparently be too stressful for some and they suffer a psychiatric breakdown. Around a million Japanese travel to France every year.Many of the visitors come with a deeply romantic vision of Paris - the cobbled streets, as seen in the film Amelie, the beauty of French women or the high culture and art at the Louvre.

The reality can come as a shock. An encounter with a rude taxi driver, or a Parisian waiter who shouts at customers who cannot speak fluent French, might be laughed off by those from other Western cultures. But for the Japanese - used to a more polite and helpful society in which voices are rarely raised in anger - the experience of their dream city turning into a nightmare can simply be too much. This year alone, the Japanese embassy in Paris has had to repatriate four people with a doctor or nurse on board the plane to help them get over the shock. They were suffering from "Paris syndrome". It was a Japanese psychiatrist working in France, Professor Hiroaki Ota, who first identified the syndrome some 20 years ago. On average, up to 12 Japanese tourists a year fall victim to it, mainly women in their 30s with high expectations of what may be their first trip abroad. The Japanese embassy has a 24-hour hotline for those suffering from severe culture shock, and can help find hospital treatment for anyone in need. However, the only permanent cure is to go back to Japan - never to return to Paris. To know more you can read the article on Msnbc.com Travel News. Have you ever experienced something similar to this in Paris or anywhere else? Please leave your comments.

21 comments:

pk_isa said...

I didn't know nothing about this!!it's the first time I hear about the "Paris Syndrome", and I confess that at first I thought it was a joke, but I can see that it really happens. Well, here we can see what happens when we idealize a place or anything we don't know, and the consecuences. I think the best will be getting information about the places before booking a travel, like readings forums, videos, and not only see what they expect to see.

pk_isa said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
pk_isa said...

I didn't know nothing about this!!it's the first time I hear about the "Paris Syndrome", and I confess that at first I thought it was a joke, but I can see that it really happens. Well, here we can see what happens when we idealize a place or anything we don't know, and the consecuences. I think the best will be getting information about the places before booking a travel, like readings forums, videos, and not only see what they expect to see.

Michael Pedrera said...

Hi everyone,

The first time I visited Paris I was 11 or 12 years old and I just went to Disney Land Resort Paris, so I did not realize if people were polite or not to me… in general I think so, except a worker who was quite rude to me when I was trying to access to a part of the park which was closed. I thought: ‘such people are everywhere.’ Also, I did not know that Paris was the most romantic city in Europe.

The second time I went was during my exchange with USA. We took a plane from USA to Paris and from Paris to Spain. But there were 13 hours between flight and flight so we decided to visit Paris. I went to a restaurant to eat and the waiter started to yell at me in French and he threw me out… I could not believe my eyes. It happened the same in all the restaurants, like if they did not want any tourists inside… I had to eat a sandwich I bought in a shop near the Eiffel Tower. In the airport, kindness was absent too.

I could not see romanticism anywhere! I did not know why people acted like that, but one thing is for sure: I am not coming back!

luismifa89 said...

I simply think that's their fault. They deserve it for just expecting the same city as in the films. Don't they realize that is just fiction? Rude people exist everywhere, and it's silly believing that everybody is all that polite in Paris.

Furthermore, isn't exagerated a shock for not meeting your expectatives about a city? You can say that is a deception or that you have been dissapointed, but a shock? Who knows, maybe these people needed psychiatric help even before travelling to France.

Danica said...

It is normal to have expectations when thinking about Paris. We have all read books, watched movies, or heard romantic stories about Paris. But every person knows that reality is one thing, and imagination is other. Maybe Japanese people were shocked so much because they are more sensible, and therefore more gullible.

Cynthia Triviño said...

It is quite funny for me to know how sensitive and innocent are the Japanese people. But I am sure it is true, as it is shown in the Japanese series or comics (manga). They find our manners rude and eccentric and with good reasons, if we are compared to them. Personally, I have been in Paris once and I found it very disappointed too, but if you look for charming places, you usually find them. Most of the famous European cities are becoming functional and are losing their essence, though some remain more as they were, as Bruges. That city will not let the Japanese down!

Lydia_lrg said...

Hello everyone,

I didn't know anything about this topic! Well, I knew that Paris was the “City of Love” so, it had to be romantic but nothing about this syndrome… once I have read this post I got very shocked. Paris syndrome? It is something surreal! How can a person get sick because of it? It is not strange to be disappointed with a place you have visited. You know that different places are presented like the best places of the world. If you are looking for information about a place you want to visit, you make an image in your head. Books, advertisements, internet… all the information sources will show their best stories, their best pictures… but it is not real until you see it with your own eyes. You can think “arrgg have I travelled here to see that?” maybe you can get angry because of this… but this is for 3, 4 days… maybe a week but I don’t think this is something so bad to get the point of the Japanese. This is the reality, so I think that what happens to Japanese is something excessive.

franjrr_ said...

Oh my God! Poor Japaneses... I have never heard anything similar!
They are used to an extreme politeness which has nothing to do with the europeans' one.
I knew from several English friends that Spanish tone of voice sounds rude for them. It is true that it is higher than others, but I tell them it is for cultural reasons neither than being impolite. But when you don't know what the other person is saying you can not differenciate if he is angry or telling a joke!

And do you think the opposite syndrome would exist? I have a Spanish friend who is totally bessoted with this city! She has been there four or five times but it isn't enough for her! She absolutely empathise with French culture!

Nineve said...

Hello everyone,

Oh my god! I did not know about this syndrome, but I can understand poor Japanese.
The first time I went to Paris, in 2006, I felt this disappointment. I idealized this city, I thought that I fell in love, I know wonderful and extremely nice people but the reality was very different.
Not all Parisians were rude, but especially shop assistants and waiters when noticed that we could not speak fluently French they get a little angry and rude.
However I think that are people nice and rude everywhere, so may be if I go to Paris for a long time, 3 or 4 months, I find that not all are rude.
On the other hand, I think that Japanese are very sensitive and kind people, so I understand that the city let them down, but I am really surprise that this can cause this syndrome.

Danica said...

It is normal for people to have expectations when visiting other cities. We have all heard romantic stories, saw movies, read books about Paris. But imagination is one thing and reality is something completely different. I think Japanese people shocked because they are more sensible, and maybe even gullible, than the other nations.

IsaSM said...

Hi!

I have never been in Paris, but as I have been in the South of France, I can truthfully say that I agree with the vision of parisiens that the Japanese have. Well, I have been in places like Avignon or Montpellier and every person to whom I spoke was friendly and kind to me even if they did not know me. Once there I met some people from Paris and they were the only exception as they were not very gentle with me and the other students. They even considered theirselves better than people from the South because they thought that they spoke more appropriately than other French people. To me they were much better in the sense of their posh status, but that was all.

Anyway, the problem with first impressions and with people is that we tend to generalize and I think that not all parisiens are going to be like that. This is a fact that we all must bear in mind.

On the other hand, in the case of Japanese, their prejudice with French people comes from a shock of cultures. They are people quite peaceful and Europeans are not as calm. They even are not used to look into the eyes when they talk to a person because they consider this gesture as a bas manner. But, above all, they respect the silence. I think that when they arrive for the first time to another place, and in particular, to a place like Paris, their visions and their expectations can let them down.

I have never been to Paris and I would like to go someday, but I hope not to know the ''Paris Syndrome'' as soon as I get there.

Regards

magott_41 said...

Still I can not believe it. I think one bad experience or just a disappointing trip should not be classified as "syndrome". Maybe it's a misleading publicity or high expectation caused by the media, but in any case this could adversely affect to the tourism in the city. Marce Escobar.

magott_41 said...

Still I can not believe it. I think one bad experience or just a disappointing trip should not be classified as "syndrome". Maybe it's a misleading publicity or high expectation caused by the media, but in any case this could adversely affect to the tourism in the city. Marce Escobar.

magott_41 said...

Still I can not believe it. I think one bad experience or just a disappointing trip should not be classified as "syndrome". Maybe it's a misleading publicity or high expectation caused by the media, but in any case this could adversely affect to the tourism in the city. Marce Escobar.

Daniela_MR said...

I traveled to Paris and me it seems a romantic city and I did not cause any shock, though of course I'm not Japanese

Wilda niezzz said...

Oh my god, I'm very disappointed when I read this article, as i know Paris is a romantic place one, many people inside and outside country they go there especially with their couple to make a romantic moment, I hope and I wish Paris will be change and be the best place, don't make something disappointed to the other visitor, and do the best, okay ^_^

Srimoon said...

Still I can not believe it. It is normal for people to have expectations when visiting other cities. We have all heard romantic stories, saw movies, read books about Paris. I did not know about this syndrome, but I can understand poor Japanese. We have all read books, watched movies, or heard romantic stories about Paris. But every person knows that reality is one thing, and imagination is other.

Catherine Kennedy said...

Thank you for a fun sourc for a lesson! I look forward to reading your blog often.

putri handayani said...

This is the first time I heard about "Paris Syndrome". I do not know sure what it was Paris Syndrome. After I read the article I got new information about Paris. Apparently Paris does not match what I imagined. Paris is beautiful and romantic city. But it is not supported by all the people there, it turns out they are arrogant and rude to newcomers who are not fluent in the French language. They assume that their language is higher than other languages.

Wanti said...

Maybe the problem is the cultures of Japanese and French are just too opposite. Both cultures are very different. And also tourists should be looking for information before they believe something that they haven't seen before. it may be useful to avoid disappointment.