[By Nic Lindh on Tuesday, 24 October 2006]
According to a Reuters story,
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 newspaper reported on Sunday.
Yes, we’re talking full-blown psychosis here, on the level of believing you’re the Sun King or that you’re being attacked by microwaves. (Would Madame like to try on a Gaultier tin-foil hat?)
The phenomenon has been dubbed the Paris Syndrome and is closely related to the Jerusalem Syndrome, the label for when people go to Jerusalem and have psychotic episodes.
I can see where if you’re a bit of tightly-wound believer in one of the Abrahamic religions going to Jerusalem could be a bit of a let-down, but really, Paris? You can build Paris up to be that big of a deal? Enough to go completely off your rocker when you realize that Parisians are—shockingly, yes—rude and with their very own standards of cleanliness?
It makes you wonder what other places people out there have built up to be their own versions of Avalon only to have their fantasies horribly shipwrecked on the iceberg of reality…
London? “Aaaaarrgghhhh … the British have bad teeth! I’m George III!”
Los Angeles? “Aaaaarrgghhhh … I’ve been here three days and haven’t seen Brad Pitt! I’m Brad Pitt!”
Phoenix? “Aaaaarrgghhhh … The sun has fried my brain! Give me water!”