For most travelers, food poisoning and pickpockets are the biggest things they worry about while exploring different countries. For others, it’s these peculiar syndromes.
It’s not uncommon to see women strolling through the city’s ritzy Ginza district while wearing the hottest fashions straight from Paris. Unfortunately, when Japanese people who love French food and culture finally make a trip to the fabled “City of Light,” they tend to be disappointed with what they discover. Instead of enjoying leisurely meals with fantastic wine at picturesque sidewalk cafes, they wind up being completely disgusted by Paris’ graffiti-covered modern streets and its citizens’ inability to pick up dog poop. Most of them head back home and vow never to return but, for others, they get very, very depressed. There’s even a term for this malady: Paris Syndrome. Symptoms include: extreme distress, anxiety, sweating, dizziness, intense culture shock, and even hallucinations. It’s so common that the Japanese Embassy in Paris reportedly has a 2- hour phone line to help tourists suffering from the effects of Paris Syndrome. As of 2006, the embassy claimed that they deal with around 12 serious cases annually.
For many religious people, a trip to this city is a lifelong dream. Unfortunately, it’s one that can also turn into a nightmare for the unprepared. “Jerusalem Syndrome” was coined by local psychiatrist Heinz Herman in 1930 but it’s been theorized that visitors have been suffering from it since at least the Middle Ages. For the devout, a trip to Jerusalem is a proper pilgrimage that must be taken very seriously. As such, this can lead to all sorts of weird disorders. The symptoms of Jerusalem Syndrome include: anxiety, intense desires to bathe due to feelings of “impurity” and even bizarre religious delusions. In recent years, around 100 visitors to the city are treated for the syndrome and 40 or so are admitted to area hospitals. (In a 2010 episode of The Simpsons, Homer catches it after becoming dehydrated and drinking water from the Dead Sea. He briefly becomes convinced that he’s the new Messiah.)
This one is supposedly caused by the famous paintings and sculptures that are located in the Italian city. Tourists, overtaken by the splendor of works like Michelangelo’s David, are said to suffer from dizziness, confusion, and fainting. It’s named for 19th century author Stendhal who supposedly caught it while viewing frescos at Florence’s Basilica of Santa Croce. While there aren’t many official studies or accounts of the syndrome, Italian psychiatrist Graziella Magherini published a report in 1979 claiming that he had encountered no less than 100 cases among visitors to the city.