What is Jerusalem Syndrome?


Courtesy of FerrelsTravelBlog.com

Jerusalem Syndrome is the odd condition in which someone who travels to Jerusalem feels as though they are a biblical figure.

Lori Pacuku, Eastside Staff

Paris, France is most commonly known as the City of Love (or Light) for its charming landmarks and cultural delicacies. As a popular honeymoon destination, Paris builds itself up to be one of the most beautiful cities in the world. People that have never visited the city probably already have a set idea of how it looks: cafés on every corner, a view of the Eiffel Tower from every direction, etc.. However, after a trip to Paris for the first time, tourists may find themselves in shock of how different the city is from what they originally envisioned. The shock is so great that it is referred to as the Paris Syndrome. Paris Syndrome takes the biggest toll on tourists from Japan, where Paris is portrayed as a rich and beautiful city filled with rich and beautiful people. In reality, Paris has its share of crime, sour locals and uncleanliness, which are things that most big cities inevitably contain.

In the summer of 2011, Paris Syndrome took hold of 20 victims. Every year there are at least six cases of Paris Syndrome that can result in the tourist being flown back to their home country under medical supervision. Symptoms can include hallucinations, sweating and dizziness, that can usually be subsided within a few days with bedrest.

Also rare but riveting still is the Jerusalem Syndrome, in which people that are visiting Jerusalem become convinced that they are biblical figures. According to the Telegraph, cases include a woman who wasn’t pregnant thought that she was giving birth to Baby Jesus, a man who believed he was “Biblical strongman” Samson trying to remove the stone from the

Wailing Wall and a man who was outraged when his hotel restaurant wouldn’t cook him the

Last Supper. The hallucinations occur about 50 times a year from tourists, especially around Easter. Doctors are familiar with the case and are prepared for any upcoming incidents.

Some people who suffer from the syndrome may already have mental issues, and they visit Jerusalem because they believe that they were called to go there. People that had no mental illnesses prior to their visit are called ‘Type III cases’ by doctors. Common behavioral symptoms are using a bedsheet as a toga, reciting sermons and wailing in the streets. The whole fiasco can take five to seven days until it subsides completely. The best treatment is to get the patient out of Jerusalem to a familiar place around their friends and family.  

The Jerusalem Syndrome dates back to medieval times while the Paris Syndrome is exclusive to the 21st century. While both mental phenomena are rare, they have affected enough people to be recognized by the public.