Friday, February 25, 2011

Paris Syndrome

The Parisians are legendary for their rudeness. I, of course, knew that before moving here. However, the severity of the situation did not hit me until I was living amongst them. It took me about a year to fully experience the totality of the Parisian rudeness and I can personally attest to the fact that it is much worse than I could ever have imagined. I am a strong willed, bossy broad who does not rattle easily so the idea of moving to a city populated with rude people did not worry me in the least. Plus, I speak the language so I was confident I could give at least as good as I got. However, when your daily interactions are only with people who are nasty and mean, it can become rather stressful. This post is about the weirdest thing I’ve ever heard about this city: that it causes people to literally lose their mind.

“Around a dozen Japanese tourists a year need psychological treatment after visiting Paris as the reality of unfriendly locals and scruffy streets clashes with their expectations. A third of patients get better immediately, a third suffer relapses and the rest have psychoses," Yousef Mahmoudia, a psychologist at the Hotel-Dieu hospital, next to Notre Dame cathedral, told the newspaper Journal du Dimanche. Already this year, Japan's embassy in Paris has had to repatriate at least four visitors -- including two women who believed their hotel room was being bugged and there was a plot against them. Previous cases include a man convinced he was the French "Sun King", Louis XIV, and a woman who believed she was being attacked with microwaves. "Fragile travelers can lose their bearings. When the idea they have of Paris bumps up against the reality of what they discover, it can provoke a crisis," says psychologist Herve Benhamou. The phenomenon, which has been dubbbed "Paris Syndrome", was first detailed in the psychiatric journal Nervure in 2004. Bernard Delage of Jeunes Japon, an association that helps Japanese families settle in France, says: "In Japanese shops, the customer is king, whereas here assistants hardly look at them ... People using public transport all look stern, and handbag snatchers increase the ill feeling." A Japanese national named Hiromi put it this way: "For us, Paris is a dream city. All the French are beautiful and elegant ... And then, when they arrive, the Japanese find the French character is the complete opposite of their expectations."

You can say that again, sister! I wonder if one of the ‘scruffy’ streets they describe includes men urinating into the gutter? That nearly made me lose my mind. Honestly, if you’ve never lived in Paris I’m sure you couldn't possibly imagine that living here could cause psychosis, but I can personally attest that it does. I once saw a person do something so horrific on a bench outside my building that I still have nightmares about it.

1 comment:

  1. After our two week honeymoon in Paris, my husband is convinced that living there would be wonderful and perfect. Don't get me wrong, I loved Paris, too, but it presents its own problems, like rudeness and the lack of bathrooms. He's a therapist, so I'm pretty sure he'd like reading this study. Perhaps that will convince him that life would not be perfect no matter where we lived. He dreams of sitting in a cafe drinking double espressos and eating baguettes. LOL