When Paris Doesn't Meet Expectations, Some Seek Hospitalization for Syndrome

Paris, France is just too real for some tourists to handle. This results in Japanese tourists getting sick, and seeking therapy because of unmet expectations. 

Japanese Tourist with Baby
Japanese Tourist with Baby (Wikimedia)

Paris Syndrome sounds like a condition a college freshman that has read too many Jane Austen books might develop. While the name implies something young and idealized, it can be a very serious disorder that, in the tourist season of 2011, affected twenty tourists visiting the city of lights, according to The Atlantic.


The idea of Paris is a perfect one: used in the backdrop of romantic movies, or to show how heavenly a perfume might smell in commercials. Paris is an alleged heaven on earth. Bridges are pictured over shimmery rivers in front of romantic sunsets, and when a person goes they expect to have a lovely honeymoon experience. Paris Syndrome exists specifically because there is a distance between reality and those expectations.

Paris Syndrome, which on average affects about a dozen tourists per year, hurts Japanese travelers more than anyone else. It has become such a problem that the Japanese Embassy in the city itself created a hotline for the very purpose of helping out its citizens. The line is available 24 hours a day, and aims to help those flustered by their unmet expectations. The hotline helps tourist get past their culture shock, or even seek hospitalization for those that need it.

The film industry is partly to blame for Paris Syndrome but there is one other reason that it affects Japan more than any other country. Their culture is far more polite than others. While the customer is always right in the United States, the customer is “king” in Japan. When a Japanese tourist goes to Paris they are facing, head-on, a culture where the server might yell at the dinner guest for not speaking the local language. This can turn their world upside down. Suddenly, not only is the shimmering, romantic city a dirty, dangerous, and realistic one, but it is also one where tourists just aren't respected with the same manners that they are at home. Etiquette is very important in Japan, with everyday customs such as removing shoes before going indoors being widespread. Even the Washington Post has written about how to stand on escalators when visiting. 

This is not to say that the French aren't respectful—but the city is a real city, filled with real people with real, individual problems who don't want to stop their day for a tourist. It is not the wondrous image filled with models often seen in movies. There is an expectation that tourists will know some French before going to France. It is understandable that the citizens would get annoyed by the expectation of perfection, without preparation.  

Facing this reality check can cause continuous issues. While some simply need a good night's rest, others have problems ever traveling again. Symptoms can include thoughts of persecution, paranoia, convulsions, and hallucinations. One man became convinced he was King Louis XIV. Treatment can mean hospitalization, therapy, as with most syndromes, and of course never going to France ever again. 

So what can be done about it? There is the unrealistic hope that perhaps Paris could change its marketing. Films might start portraying the city differently, highlighting the occasional mugging in a film or that servers get paid the same no matter what, and their treatment of you depends on how nicely you treat them. This is incredibly unlikely, and for now the only remaining option is to remain aware, or, of course, never go to Paris. 

What early US presidents looked like, according to AI-generated images

"Deepfakes" and "cheap fakes" are becoming strikingly convincing — even ones generated on freely available apps.

Abraham Lincoln, George Washington

Magdalene Visaggio via Twitter
Technology & Innovation
  • A writer named Magdalene Visaggio recently used FaceApp and Airbrush to generate convincing portraits of early U.S. presidents.
  • "Deepfake" technology has improved drastically in recent years, and some countries are already experiencing how it can weaponized for political purposes.
  • It's currently unknown whether it'll be possible to develop technology that can quickly and accurately determine whether a given video is real or fake.
Keep reading Show less

Catacombs of Paris: The city of darkness finds its new raison d'être

Ancient corridors below the French capital have served as its ossuary, playground, brewery, and perhaps soon, air conditioning.

Excerpt from a 19th century map of the Paris Catacombs, showing the labyrinthine layout underground (in color) beneath the straight-lined structures on the surface (in grey).

Credit: Inspection Générale des Carrières, 1857 / Public domain
Strange Maps
  • People have been digging up limestone and gypsum from below Paris since Roman times.
  • They left behind a vast network of corridors and galleries, since reused for many purposes — most famously, the Catacombs.
  • Soon, the ancient labyrinth may find a new lease of life, providing a sustainable form of air conditioning.
Keep reading Show less

Baby's first poop predicts risk of allergies

Meconium contains a wealth of information.

Surprising Science
  • A new study finds that the contents of an infants' first stool, known as meconium, can predict if they'll develop allergies with a high degree of accuracy.
  • A metabolically diverse meconium, which indicates the initial food source for the gut microbiota, is associated with fewer allergies.
  • The research hints at possible early interventions to prevent or treat allergies just after birth.
Keep reading Show less
Mind & Brain

Big think: Will AI ever achieve true understanding?

If you ask your maps app to find "restaurants that aren't McDonald's," you won't like the result.

Quantcast