Anthropologists and ethnographers are trained in, and can experience severe culture shock since their goal is often immersion to learn more about a culture. Panic attacks in severe cases of culture shock are not uncommon, one of my professors did a stint in Spain and lost it when she saw a slaughtered pig being carried through a market place. She described being short of breath, and other classic symptoms of a panic attack.
Another instance I know of is a Japanese American female anthropologist being immersed into Japanese culture while staying as a guest at a family. She found herself panicking at the supermarket. After nearly a year there, dressed in "homewear" with a stroller and the family's children looking to buy food to make for the night's dinner, in the midst of the crushing social obligations she had such an identity crisis right then and there that she abandoned ship and moved in with a friend she knew in Tokyo. She still finished her book, which is really good.
The article itself portrays very well that Paris syndrome is probably not real (in a statistical sense). There is a big number of tourists in the city at any given moment, some of them will statistically snap during their stay. I do like the theory that disillusionment and added stress contribute to the timing, though - especially if the trip was expensive.
Since the article mentions it, Jerusalem syndrome is similar but qualitatively different. Many people who go there are not just tourists. I'd wager that for over 90% of travelers there the city has some kind of religious significance. They are essentially pilgrims. And you'd have to be to want to go there: the city itself is a dirty, oppressive mess filled with scary people and shady salesmen.
Combining these factors, it wouldn't surprise me if the incidence of Jerusalem syndrome was much higher than Paris, mostly due to the clientele but also the city itself.
Now Stendhal syndrome is more interesting: it's a generalized description of these kind of psychotic breaks, though they are mostly understood to be a little bit more benign than Jerusalem syndrome. By definition, these effects are attributed to exposure of a susceptible individual to an object of great personal importance, such as a piece of art. In this context, the same pattern of breakdowns has been studied with tourists who snap while visiting Florence.
This is absolutely untrue. My French is sub-intermediate, I've been perhaps five times, and I've never had a bad experience. Plenty of people have been super friendly and I've had great conversations with people just hanging around on the street waiting for a store to open or having a break from walking.
Perhaps the core of the problem here is that many people who visit Paris are not well traveled and have only limited empathy for the seen-it-all-before-99-times-a-day locals.
I mean, if I was busy and had a job to do, and by fate alone simply happened to be near some generic tourist attraction or other, and had whiney American/English/Russian/Chinese tourists come and ask me where the closest vegan restaurant or crossfit gym was ten times an hour like clockwork, I'd also get to the point of shrugging.
This is the same genre of people who, when you ask them where they are from, answer "America", because they're honestly unaware that it's blatantly obvious to everyone else and the interlocutor was curious about city or state.
We can put it down to cultural discontinuities. They are a blessing we should revel in them while we can, because it seems that all roads lead to generic globalized interactions in a minority of languages with increasingly unsophisticated speakers and reduced cultural appreciation.
Last month, I was there, I made the mistake of being there with a man of colour, he was thrust violently against the wall and frisked until a Blonde lady asked what they thought they were doing. They quickly said OK and left, no apology, no explanation.
Sure in my home town of London stop and search happens all the time, but the problem is with Paris it is romantacised to something far more than it is. This makes people all the more disappointed. In London that kind of behavior by police would be considered unacceptable. I would have demanded badge numbers and made a formal complaint.
Now this is just one anecdote, and in my many trips to Paris, that's not happened before, but Paris is marketed, idealised so heavily, you don't expect it.
To me that is the problem. Expectation management.
It's more a case of the stress of living in a big city, and in that respect mirrors the reputations that New York and London have in their own country (it always makes me chuckle to hear Americans complaining about how abrupt New Yorkers are, as a non-American I consider the baseline of friendliness of Americans to be so high that even the lower than average New Yorker still rates high on the friendliness scale in a global sense).
If you realize that people in Paris have lives (not unlike New York), and don't accost everyone you see for directions to X before looking at a map, and you actually introduce yourself when talking to a local, you'll have a great time.
And while I speak French, I also spent a lot of time with my sister speaking English, and the language used didn't seem to matter. If you can drop the tourist mentality, just go, hang out in cafés, and actually experience the culture and Paris lifestyle, you'll find Parisians are perfectly nice people, possibly a little busy, and the attitude stems more from dealing with hordes of people that come from foreign places who apparently can't be bothered to learn manners...
And another thing I've noticed, we have some tourist spots here (Canada), namely the rocky mountains and national parks, and Japanese tourists will come in hordes, on buses, taking pictures of everything and not really interacting with anyone else. That's a recipe for disappointment...
Your comment contains a lot of assumptions about the people visiting Paris, and since I wrote the parent, the assumptions are presumably about me as well. You are mistaken.
If you showed up in NYC and started randomly accosting people in French you'd definitely have a bad experience. Yet Americans do the same in Paris and wonder why people are rude to them...
Groups of women with clipboards surrounding you trying to pick pocket when you hold the clipboard.
The horrible wedding ring women and the blokes that are always nearby.
The wrist bracelet creeps. Don't let them grab your wrist, they won't let go unless you pay (saw this happen).
Tricked by "helpful" man who gave us fake tickets in exchange for real money. I know. Naive.
These sets of cunts really pissed me off. I was glad to get back to to UK I felt safer, I didn't get the impression the police in Paris were tackling the issue.
Otherwise very nice and I should go again a bit wiser (just said that for a balanced post).
And the police are not tackling them, but not being naive is a good advice anywhere.
Keep off the tourist path and you'll have a much greater time.
Paris is a lovely city, in parts, but the "media hologram" builds it up as more than that - it's a utopia, the birthplace of romance and art, a lifestyle. And maybe it is, but not the theme park portrayed in the media. So I found myself wondering what that girl really expects if she ever does make it there, and whether reality would match up to her dream.
But, still, your town is one of the most wonderful cities in the world. From the places I visited I would tie it at the top with Venice.
And to make appointment reminders.
On the other hand, I expected to love London and Barcelona, but they fell flat for me.
We found London to be quite nice, too, fwiw. (Both the people and the city.)
I have never been to Paris proper, but I do enjoy French cuisine, and so was hoping that you might be able to add a quantitative dimension to this comment (as in €X for Y)
Oh, and obviously, there's lots of wine, but I'm not much of a wine drinker so I didn't investigate too much. Good beer was surprisingly cheap, though: I found a supermarket near me selling Chimay Blue for €2/11oz.
: Literally. There's an annual contest! http://parisbymouth.com/paris-top-baguettes-for-2014/
A few good places :
- le Parc Floral (in Vincennes , South East,you can spend the day there you wont regret it).
- le Parc de la Vilette
- see Paris from the sky with "les ballons de Paris"
- the garden of Versailles (dont bother visit the castle itself,it's crap,on the other hand the garden is HUGE )
- go to the Latin neighbourhood ,have a dinner there , then walk down the "quais" , a lot of people their partying. In my opinion if you want to meet new people you should go their.
There are thousands of stuffs to do in Paris in Summer,and a lot of them are free.Also each first Sunday of each month, museums are free,so you cant visit the Louvres or the Pompidou center for free,some other museums are free at night,...
Madame Tussauds and MOMA were wonderful and yes, it has some other very nice parts like Grand Central Station. I didn't feel ill enough to leave America, but I did feel let down a tad.
It's easy to book a bad hotel, it's easy to get lost amid the irregular street patterns and hard to find someone to give directions, it's easy to head into bad neighborhoods & get drawn into scams. It's also very easy to not know any French & think you'll get by.
These are all things that can be avoided by an hour of research or alternatively traveling with someone that has been before or on a tour that has a guide.
There are so many small tips & tricks that go into experiencing Paris properly. Having arranged visits for many friends & family it CAN be as magical as you'd expect it to be.
I agree! I just came back from a honeymoon in Paris and doing research ahead of time made it a fantastic trip. A couple of guide books, some offline phone apps, knowing some French, and being able to spot sketchy people and bad areas (like any other city) made things very easy. And honestly we never even experienced any stereotypical rude behavior; most locals were happy that I even attempted to speak French.
I am not saying it is easy to "hack" a city you've never visited before, and for the 2 years I spent myself in San Francisco I still believe I coud have hacked my way around much better. But if I were to provide a few advices to anyone about to embark on a Paris trip, that would be:
– Buy the Paris edition of the Lonely Planet and decide to not go to all the places they mention.
– Don't come in August (most of the city is basically shut down during the holidays). May, June, July, September, October, November.
– Most of the most interesting buildings (+ the overall Haussmannian architecture of Paris) are better seen from the outside: better spend 30 great minutes on le Parvis du Trocadéro watching the Eiffel Tower, than actually waiting 3h in line to get "inside" the Eiffel Tower.
– Get in line at museums roughly 1:30 hour before they're about to close: shorter lines, people on their way out. You have less time but it's clearly optimized.
– When in doubt, rely on locals: I know many Americans actually living and enjoying their life in Paris. You're always a few friends away on Facebook from knowing someone who lives here.
– Somewhere in their inboxes Parisian people have crafted for friends and/or received from friends "lists" of insider places to go that they'll happily forward to you once you've made connexion (I made a very long and detailed one of my favorite restaurants once).
– Use local guides. If you're a foodie, following the Lefooding.com recommendations for example is always a guarantee to both eat at wonderful places and visit fun areas where these restaurants are located in. For all the things we suck at if there's one thing the Paris scene is amazingly good at is food & restaurant innovation.
– If you're part of the tech community: damn it, you just need to hit your local counterparts. At the opposite of gross taxi drivers, young french tech people are very welcoming and easy to get in touch with.
– You can definitely hit me up anytime even if we don't know each other, I'm always happy to help.
I'm probably omitting a ton here but there's an apéro down my street with friends waiting for me to show up :)
I spent more than four years in that city and those years were probably the unhappiest of my life. I never felt disillusioned (in fact, you need expectations to feel so), I had no feelings of persecution, and the only hallucinations I might have had were under the influence of recreational drugs.
I don't think I suffered from Paris Syndrome at all, but from undeniable facts that the beautiful Paris postcard won't tell you about:
1) Overpopulation. The massive economic exodus to Paris has made this town the biggest urban area of Europe. The concentration of population is among the highest in the world (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_cities_proper_by_popula...). As a consequence, you pay absurd amounts of money to live in tiny shitty HK-sized flats. Crowds are an annoyance year round, in the metro, while shopping, or even while crossing on the sidewalk.
2) Hostile inhabitants: the dwellers of Paris are incredibly unfriendly, stressed out and stressful. I think they are responsible for the reputation of arrogance that the French have in most parts of the world.
3) Venice 2.0: inner Paris nowadays has just become an open museum. Its popular neighborhoods are progressively getting drained and the city is culturally dying slowly. Tourism seems to be the new business model and it is slowly crippling the city with fake, unauthentic, cliche like kind of businesses.
4) Consumerism: just ask a Parisian what he did over the week end, he'll most likely tell you he had a drink with buddies, then dined in a restaurant, then went shopping. Other than breading and walking, there's absolutely zero to do in Paris other than spending money. If you like sports, you're screwed, there's very little options in that town. The parks all suck, and the pollution makes it even hazardous to practice sports outdoors.
5) Horrible region: most maps of France are actually quiet political in the way they position Paris in the center of the country. The truth is that Paris is very much in northern France. As a consequence, the countryside around Paris (not talking about the ghetto ring), is among the ugliest areas of this country with flat, boring and depressing landscapes everywhere in a 100km radius. Only regions like Beauce or Baie de somme rival with this land in its hideousness.
6) Terrible weather: simply put, the weather in Paris is very much like London's, with greater co2 pollution.
Here's my tip to anyone embedding on a Journey to France: avoid Paris.
There's a lot to love, and I've very quickly found my feet here. There are lots of accessible co-working spaces, and finding accommodation has proven pretty easy so far. Compared to London, the quality of life at the same cost is far, far better. For me at least.
The biggest negative find is families of gypsies living on mattresses on the street, which I've never seen anywhere before on this scale. It's shocking to me to see toddlers playing in the gutter of an affluent western city.