10 Surprising Ways to Lose Your Mind

Visiting Paris
New slogan for Paris? Dashing the dreams of a select few tourists for decades. Jacques Dermarthon/AFP/Getty Images

They were on vacation in Paris in the summer of 2011. The 20 or so Japanese tourists (not all traveling together) were taking in the sites, marveling at the museums, visiting the shops, snapping photographs. One by one, the tourists began having psychotic episodes brought on by the rudeness of the French. The City of Light had become dark. The tourists suffered from a mind-altering condition called Paris syndrome.

We all think of Paris as a romantic city, the home of famous writers and artists who for centuries have flocked to the Seine. It brims with history, art and culture, the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower. Yet, it is also home to rude taxi drivers, vulgar waiters and filthy, crime-ridden streets. It's a city, in other words. If you don't speak French, the locals may become boorish and uncouth. Paris begins to lose its allure. Sometimes that disconnect between fantasy and reality is too much for visitors.

The syndrome has been well documented. Experts say that Japanese tourists who come from a more polite society are very susceptible. The syndrome manifests itself differently for each person. Some have delusions, others hallucinations. Still others are stricken with dizziness and feelings of persecution as they come to grips with the reality of Paris and not the romantic versions [sources: Fagan, Wyatt].

C'est la vie.