Paris syndrome

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Last updated on March 6th, 2018 at 12:30 am

Idealistic Japanese are rushing to Paris, only to find the place infested with common French people:

A strange illness has descended on Japanese living in Paris, tipping many of them in a state of profound culture shock after realising their ideals about the French capital were unrealistic, a study published in Monday’s Liberation newspaper said.

More than a 100 expatriates a year are sinking into a state called “the Paris syndrome” which is characterised by feelings of persecution or suicidal tendencies, according to the mental health facilities of city hospitals.

“They make fun of my French and my expressions”, “they don’t like me” and “I feel ridiculous in front of them” are common refrains heard by the doctors.

The French sound sort of insular and intolerant. This is the sort of behaviour the French media usually links to bigoted Texan cowboyism. Here�s more from The Times:

A Japanese woman in her 20s stopped a well-dressed Frenchman in the Opera metro station yesterday afternoon and asked him in broken English for help with a public telephone. He replied with a finger in the air and walked on, leaving another potential candidate for �Paris Syndrome�.

UPDATE. In other European developments, the US has denied entry to former Red Army terrorist Astrid Proll. Der Spiegel‘s front-page headline: ‘AMERICA�S NEW ENEMIES:Why a German can�t travel in the USA’.

UPDATE II. These primitive countries should be busted down to component form and sold for spare parts:

Today, in Germany and France, divorcing your spouse is easier, and in most cases cheaper, than dismissing an employee under due observance of the provisions of the contract of employment. The administrative hurdles can be a long nightmare. Court approval may be required and failing it, the employees in question must be reinstated. The labor union representing a majority of the employees must agree to the “social plan” by which the employer company undertakes to assist the employees who lose their jobs.

(Via Rafe Champion)

Posted by Tim B. on 12/16/2004 at 02:34 AM
    1. I can’t figure it out. I’ve heard too many stories about rude Parisians for them all to be BS, but I’ve been here for two years and I’ve never encountered anything I’d call serious. It’s damn perplexing. God knows I’m not a particularly likeable or nice person…

      Posted by John Nowak on 12/16 at 02:57 AM • permalink


    1. He replied with a finger in the air and walked on, leaving another potential candidate for �Paris Syndrome�.

      I’ll check the French Hand-Gesture Dictionary.  Most likely it’s some cultural misunderstanding.

      It might be this one [url=] [/url] and the poor fellow was about to make a point.

      Posted by rhhardin on 12/16 at 03:07 AM • permalink


    1. When a Frenchman makes any sort of hand gesture at all, the polite and appropriate response is to deck him. This is incompatible with Japanese manners; hence the difficulties.

      Posted by Aarrgghh on 12/16 at 03:14 AM • permalink


    1. I’ve never been to Paris, but my old school ran excursions to France for the older grades. We were told to spend as little time in Paris as possible, because you won’t find many tolerant Parisians.

      Many years ago my grandparents travelled around Europe, and my grandfather’s German and English skills were good enough for all over Europe… except France.

      Posted by huw on 12/16 at 03:21 AM • permalink


    1. Damn, rh, that’s one mighty index finger.  If French women’s fingers are that long and menacing, imagine what a long meaty bird the male could flash at you!

      Posted by Joe Geoghegan on 12/16 at 03:30 AM • permalink


    1. Snap!.  Time stamps 10 minutes apart (yours first).

      Great Minds Think Alike

      or should that be

      Fools seldom differ

      Posted by Zoe Brain on 12/16 at 03:32 AM • permalink


    1. Snap!.  Time stamps 10 minutes apart (yours first).

      Great Minds Think Alike

      or should that be

      Fools seldom differ

      Posted by Zoe Brain on 12/16 at 03:32 AM • permalink


    1. Possibly odor is a factor as well!

      Posted by BruceW on 12/16 at 03:54 AM • permalink


    1. Sometimes simple arrogant disdain is mistaken for rudeness by the more sensitive visitors to France.

      Posted by rexie on 12/16 at 04:18 AM • permalink


    1. In the US we have psychiatrists treating people with what they have termed PEST: ‘Post Election Selection Trauma’ (seriously). Now we have Japanese psychiatrists treating Japanese expats in France for culture shock. Makes me wonder if the problems exist at all or are just a way for doctors to make money. Perhaps if they do exist they wouldn’t be so serious if psychiatrists couldn’t earn money off of them.

      I’ve been to Paris. I didn’t find the people there so rude that I needed to see a doctor because of it. Some of the reasons given for the Japanese/French culture shock would apply equally to the US.

      ” The need to forcibly express one’s self to be noticed .. a Western society based more on individualism..They can be aggressive. People were cold, rude and never smiled.” => Could apply to many places in the US as well.

      I don’t mean to make light of a condition that seems to be impacting so many Japanese in France. But I do wonder at the cause and if those same people would be traumatized in some large US city as well.

      I’m reading more and more articles that convince me our world is filled with people who seem to be traumatized easily, or convinced they traumatize easily. From those people in the US who are traumatized by election results to Japanese in France who are traumatized by French culture.

      There are many things in the world I can imagine causing trauma and the need for professional help. Election results and culture shock aren’t on my list of traumatizing events or situations. Must be just me. Perhaps I’m just an unfeeling SOB and don’t realize it!

      Posted by CJosephson on 12/16 at 04:30 AM • permalink


    1. Josephson, until you realize that everyone is oppressed, traumatized, formed from the forge of hegemony mixing with innocence and sensitivity, you will not see your mission.

      As one of the insensitives, you must save them!  Somehow you have escaped the condition, a sign of being chosen by your Father to come again?

      Well, that’s how I see it.  But, now, I must needs get my thorazine.  Adieu

      Posted by J. Peden on 12/16 at 05:20 AM • permalink


    1. As much as I loooove mocking the CESM’s, both of my sisters have been to Paris and reported nothing but kindness and helpfulness from the Parisians with whom they interacted. Although one sister did report receiving weird looks (but no hand gestures) which she traced to the fact that she was wearing tennis shoes. Apparently, tennis shoes mark you as not just an American but a cowboy American. I’m heartbroken, but unsurprised, that a cherished stereotype is but a, well, stereotype. Say la vee.

      Posted by tongueboy on 12/16 at 05:26 AM • permalink


    1. “The Japanese are like ants. They stay up all night working hard, trying to figure out how to screw you in the morning.” — Former French Prime Minister Edith Cresson

      Posted by Jim Treacher on 12/16 at 05:53 AM • permalink


    1. Whereas the French stay up all night screwing something so that they can hardly work in the morning.

      Posted by The_Real_JeffS on 12/16 at 06:20 AM • permalink


    1. That Edith Cresson statement is particularly ironic in light of the huge 1990s EU corruption scandal she was a central figure of.

      Posted by PW on 12/16 at 07:48 AM • permalink


    1. What is so complicated about accompanying a shrug of the shoulders with a “French C**t” and continuing on your way?

      Posted by Isumbras on 12/16 at 08:03 AM • permalink


    1. Exactly.  Some Parisian knob gobbler shoved me out the way while I was crossing a street (legally).  My response was to push the garlic muching, snail slurping, cheese eating, surrender monkey straight on his backside.

      You should have seen the look on his face: as if he’d just lifted up his newbride’s dress and found the last turkey in the shop hanging between her legs.

      Classic bully!

      ps the rest of France is generally pretty good.

      Posted by murph on 12/16 at 09:37 AM • permalink


    1. I we are selling France for spare parts, can I get a winery?  I have always wanted a winery.

      Posted by Anthony on 12/16 at 09:58 AM • permalink


    1. If you can’t beat ‘em, eat ‘em.

      Posted by Habib on 12/16 at 12:58 PM • permalink


    1. The French notion of “personal cleanliness” must also be quite a culture shock to anyone of Japanese origin.

      Posted by Lew on 12/16 at 01:59 PM • permalink


    1. the US has denied entry to former Red Army terrorist Astrid Proll. Der Spiegel’s front-page headline: ‘AMERICA�S NEW ENEMIES:Why a German can�t travel in the USA’.

      Why a German can’t travel in the USA? Give me a freaking break!@

      I have some really “nice” photos of the remains of the car bomb used in an attempt to blow up the PX in Weisbaden. Some lovely photos of the crater that was left as well. It happened the second day my husband was on post.

      Too bad about that nice soldier they murdered to steal his id in order to get on Too bad about the two that were killed when the bomb exploded. Too bad about the dozens of others that the Red Army Faction killed over the years..

      So former Red Army Faction members are now just “a German” huh? Kind of like how the members of Al Qaeda and the Taliban my hubs deals with today are “insurgents”..give em a few weeks, someone will bitch that we don’t welcome them at our borders either.

      It just gets crazier and crazier.

      Posted by Tink on 12/16 at 02:20 PM • permalink


    1. Of course the Japanese are so nice and understanind to the French gaijin in Tokyo.  Kettle. Calling. Black. Pot.

      Posted by Pauly on 12/16 at 02:25 PM • permalink


    1. I agree with Pauly. Tokyo’s not a particularly friendly city and the Japanese can be as thick as the French. Racial superiority attitudes are common, if not as aggressive as the French: there are plenty of restaurmnats and clubs that won’t allow entry by foreigners.

      Probably the Japs in Paris were shocked that they couldn’t find a Japanese enclave like the Gold Coast in Queensland, where they don’t have to speak English, mingle with the natives or eat their food, and where they can play golf cheaply.

      Posted by roxylady on 12/16 at 02:44 PM • permalink


    1. Pauly :

      Excellent point, Sir. Dammit, why didn’t I think of that?

      Posted by Zoe Brain on 12/16 at 03:03 PM • permalink


    1. Pauly

      The point is that Parisians are first class chook chokers.  That fact that Tokyo is brimming with four foot high, psychotic, misogynistic, racist deviants doesn’t make Paris any nicer.

      Posted by murph on 12/16 at 03:16 PM • permalink


    1. How will you keep them down on the paddy, after they’ve seen Paris?

      But hey, Paris Metro Japanese subway porn.., could be a big seller.

      Posted by richard mcenroe on 12/16 at 03:45 PM • permalink


    1. Ah Paris- dogshit capital of the world; the funny thing is the average Parisian makes the barker’s eggs seem positively fragrant. Possibly the reason the Nips love Paris is that they feel safe there; anyone who’s survived the Metro in rush hour in summer would be impervious to a bit of sarin.

      Posted by Habib on 12/16 at 04:47 PM • permalink


    1. Paris is probably the most disappointing city I’ve ever been to.  Everybody goes on about how wonderful and beautiful and magical it is.  It’s not a particularly bad city, it’s just not nearly as great as the hype implies.  For Americans or Australians who haven’t been to Europe before, I’d recommend Prague, Venice, Barcelona, Madrid, Amsterdam, London, Edinburgh over Paris.

      Posted by PJ on 12/16 at 08:56 PM • permalink


    1. AAAH!! Travel … the lure of the Lebanon, the frisson of France, the intrigue of Italy. I could go on … don’t bother, I hear you say.
      Really, all this travel crap is vastly overdone, I suspect. Huge amounts of money are wasted on air fares and hotels, and taxis to the Pyramids, to discover that we are all really quite comfortable at home. Does it broaden the mind? Didn’t seem to work for seasoned travellers I know.
      Yes, you can go to the Louvre or the MOMA! But Google are going to bring all that to a screen near you in the near future. 90% of the turistas don’t understand art anyway. In what way does it improve you. One way I observe is that it makes people glad they live in Australia.

      Posted by blogstrop on 12/16 at 10:49 PM • permalink


    1. when my sibling’s friend went to paris they emailed my sibling complaining about the vast number of discarded corn cobs (!?) that littered the streets. what the hell?

      Posted by benson swears a lot on 12/16 at 11:12 PM • permalink


  1. Anthony � If it’s whinery you want, I can do you a good price on a Berkeley Feminist Studies major…

    Posted by richard mcenroe on 12/17 at 03:41 AM • permalink