After falling victim to what has become known as the ‘Paris Syndrome’, up to two dozen Japanese tourists a year, mainly women in their early 30s, are repatriated from the French capital, Paris.
These Japanese tourists require immediate psychiatric assistance, when they discover the shocking inconsistency between the general image of Paris, city of flowers and cobbled streets, accordions, light and romance, compared to the reality of the popular tourist destination.
In some cases the person requires immediate admittance to hospital, after repeatedly coming in contact with impatient waiters, or rude taxi drivers who yell at customers unable to speak fluent French. The Japanese embassy has a 24 hour hotline for those suffering from this extreme form of ‘culture shock’.
The Japanese tourist experience of their ‘dream city’ turns into a nightmare. They are accustomed to a more helpful and polite society, in which voices are very seldom raised in anger.
It is understood this syndrome affects Japanese more than any other nationality, as the Japanese have been over-exposed to film and advertising images of an idealized Paris.
Almost a million Japanese travelers visit France per annum.
A similar sort of mental affliction affects travelers to the holy city of Jerusalem. These tourists have been found wandering in the Judean desert wrapped in hotel bed sheets, or crouched at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher waiting to give birth to the infant Jesus.
"There are three categories of tourists who get Jerusalem syndrome. The first group are clearly mentally ill people who arrive with psychotic ideas. The second and biggest group is the pilgrims who arrive with deep religious convictions, " says Dr. Yair Bar-El, from the Kfar Shaul Hospital in Jerusalem.
A second group involves persons who in general belong to weird fringe church groups and believe they must perform specific things to instigate the major events such as the return of the Messiah, the resurrection of Jesus Christ, or the war of Armageddon.
Bar-El says “The third group are usually without any psychiatric history, or taking drugs. They don't see strange things, they don't hear voices, they remember everything and all the time they know they're John Smith or Yan Huber. They don't think they're another person and this reaction usually passes completely in five to seven days. "
Those who become afflicted in this manner frequently undergo a number of purification rites, like shaving their body hair, washing over and over and putting on white clothes, which are quite frequently hotel linen. They sometimes begin to cry, or sing Biblical songs in a very loud voice. They visit the holy sites and often deliver a sermon, demanding humanity become, calmer, purer and less materialistic.
Every person involved in tourism in Israel takes the Jerusalem Syndrome very seriously and is constantly looking out for affected tourists. An average of 3 – 4 tourists a year are affected, though up to fifty were discovered in 1999, possibly because of the millennial scare.
John the Baptist is the most popular syndrome choice for Christian males, while the Virgin Mary is the most popular among Christian females.