Here's What Happens When You Get Paris Syndrome

Ooh La La Paris! The "city of lights" might sound like a dream come true to many, but for some tourists, it can turn into a nightmare. Welcome to the strange but very real "Paris syndrome," which affects mainly Japanese and Chinese tourists in growing numbers.

Japanese psychiatrist Dr. Hiroaki Ota first identified the syndrome over 25 years ago, while he was working at a hospital in France (per BBC News). A much more in-depth study of it was published in the psychiatric journal Nervure in 2004. Paris syndrome is described as a sense of disappointment experienced when encountering the "real" Paris and realizing it's not as beautiful as you expected it to be and nothing like what you see in the movies.

In a way, Paris syndrome is similar to culture shock and has similarities to the Jerusalem syndrome. According to The Atlantic, it often manifests soon after landing in Paris and being confronted with a different reality: Paris isn't what you see in movies, commercials, or tourism ads. There aren't girls wearing high heels and Chanel dresses everywhere nor friendly locals having romantic picnics in the Champs-Elysées. And, to the disappointment of tourists, the waiters don't break into songs when serving you breakfast.

Instead, Paris is often overcrowded, the locals don't always welcome tourists, and the city can be a lot dirtier than anything you'd find in Japan — and this can cause a dramatic response in some visitors expecting something completely different.

Paris syndrome manifests differently in everybody

For some, it's so severe that it causes a psychiatric breakdown, according to BBC News. For others, it can manifest in the form of anxiety, dizziness, nausea and vomiting, and extreme shock.

The effects tend to be more extreme for tourists coming from Asian cultures (and especially from Japan), who aren't used to screaming taxi drivers, pushy salespeople, and less-than-helpful locals. The reaction is so dramatic for some visitors that they experience hallucinations and delusions. According to Reuters, this has included people who believed they were being attacked by microwaves, had their hotel rooms bugged, or were King Louis XIV.

While rest — and maybe a few days to acclimatize to the idea of the "real" Paris — sometimes helps, a few visitors every year have a reaction so strong that they have to be expatriate through the embassy under medical supervision (via The Atlantic). Experts agree that there's no other cure for Paris syndrome than simply to go back home.