City syndromes

Stockholm Syndrome is a term we often hear, particularly in movies, and is the paradoxical psychological phenomenon wherein hostages express empathy and have positive feelings towards their captors, sometimes to the point of defending them. These feelings are generally considered irrational in light of the danger or risk endured by the victims, who basically see a lack of abuse from their captors as an act of kindness. But there are other city syndromes out there.

On average, up to a dozen Japanese tourists a year have to be repatriated from the French capital, after falling prey to what has become known as ‘Paris syndrome‘. The condition was first identified by Professor Hiroaki Ota, a Japanese psychiatrist working in France, some 20 years ago.

Paris Syndrome is what polite Japanese tourists suffer when they discover that Parisians can be rude or the city does not meet their expectations and the experience can apparently be too stressful for some and they suffer a psychiatric breakdown.

The Japanese embassy has a 24-hour hotline for those suffering from severe culture shock, and can help find hospital treatment for anyone in need.

Visitors to the Holy Land who have a deeply religious disposition can be overwhelmed by the culture shock and suffer from what is called ‘Jerusalem Syndrome‘ The syndrome involves obsessive, delusional or even psychotic behaviour which can, in some cases, lead to messianic hallucinations. The condition afflicts Christians, Jews and Muslims alike and is triggered by the proximity to religious landmarks.

Stendahl Syndrome, or Florence Syndrome as it is also known, relates to people who become overwhelmed by the cultural treasures of Florence. The syndrome is named after the French writer Stendahl, pseudonym of Henri-Marie Beyle, who experienced the phenomenon during his 1817 visit to Florence, although the syndrome wasn’t actually named until 1979.

Stendahl Syndrome manifests itself through palpitations, confusion, dizziness and even hallucinations and is associated with exposure to a large amount of art in a single location.

And then we have ‘Hamburg Syndrome‘, an irrational compulsion to blame anything and everything in a serial manner, without evidence or proof, in the hope of one day being correct. The syndrome particularly affects politicians.

  1. Peter Wilkinson says:

    I have another one – NERJA SYNDROME

    Projects promulgated by the council before the last election which were still awaiting completion by the time of this election. The usual copout is that they are still awaiting approval from other sources. eg Sanitation, New Ambulatoria, Relocation of Bus Station etc
    To be fair though it seems to happen to councils and governments worldwide.

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