Following my initial Italy infatuation and overwhelming desire to return, a friend told me about Stendahl Syndrome. …” psychosomatic disorder that causes rapid heartbeat, dizziness,fainting, confusion and even hallucinations when an individual is exposed to an experience of great personal significance, particularly viewing art“. (Wikipedia).
This has been common in Florence for decades. Wiki elaborates that, “The staff at Florence’s Santa Maria Nuova hospital are accustomed to dealing with tourists suffering from dizzy spells and disorientation after admiring the statue of David, the masterpieces of the Uffizi Gallery and other treasures of the Tuscan city”. I think it could also be due to the heat, excitement and jet lag, different food, drinking during the day, being way out of our comfort zone,… I’m sure there’s more.
Today, I was watching a fabulous documentary about Pilgrimage and discovered Jerusalem Syndrome. This one is even more extreme. “…religiously themed obsessive ideas, delusions or other psychosis-like experiences”. (Wiki). It seems these people, of any denomination, simply by being in Jerusalem can be triggered into believing themselves to be Jesus or other holy being. Again, thankyou Wiki for the symptons of type 3 Jerusalem Syndrome, (I have abbreviated them):
- Anxiety, agitation, ….
- Declaration of the desire to split away from the group …and to tour Jerusalem alone.
- A need to be clean and pure…
- Preparation, often with the aid of hotel bed-linen, of a long, ankle-length, toga-like gown, which is always white.
- The need to shout psalms or verses from the Bible, or to sing hymns or spirituals loudly.
- A procession or march to one of Jerusalem’s holy places…
- Delivery of a sermon in a holy place. ..typically ill-prepared and disjointed.
The other one I found is Paris Syndrome. This one it seems, the Japanese are particularly prone to. There are similar symptoms to Stendahl symdrome but it is thought to be caused by language and cultural barriers, the enormous expectations and idealization that they have built up, and of course jet lag and exhaustion. There is even a 24hour helpline set up by the Japanese government for assistance in these cases.
Travel is a transformationary trigger for all of us. Some of us seem to be able to do it in a healthy, happy manner where we can integrate the experience gradually and seamlessly. Some of us do it in chunks which can be very exciting and very unsettling triggering all sorts of outward ripples across our lives. And for some, it is too much, and the ability to cope is lost.