On first glance, the following is a straightforward list of delightful and cultural places. Yes, but these places also seem to have begotten weird afflictions and some of us are suffering from them. Most of these syndromes have their root in situations that occurred in these places – it’s not always the place’s fault, but sometimes it definitely is. Naughty mean place, stop that!


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1. Stockholm

Probably the most famous “place syndrome” is Stockholm syndrome. It’s the name for when a kidnapped person begins to start feeling empathy for their kidnappers. It really ought to be about getting lost in Stockholm’s awesomely artistic metro system, but no.

2. Paris

Paris syndrome occurs when somebody visits France’s capital for the first time and they go “OMG I CAN’T BELIEVE I’M IN PARIS. LOOK THAT’S THE ACTUAL EIFFEL TOWER. OMG NO WAY” and their brain just sort of snaps – they become giddy and pass out. If we had to pick a favourite syndrome, it would have to be this.

3. Jerusalem

Jerusalem syndrome is pretty much the same as Paris syndrome, except the religious version. “OMG I CAN’T BELIEVE I’M IN JERUSALEM. LOOK THAT’S THE ACTUAL GARDEN OF GETHSEMANY. OMG NO WAY” etc. Paris syndrome is a bit more chic, frankly, and much hipper to endure than its Middle Eastern cousin.

4. Sarajevo

Sarajevo syndrome is essentially a post-traumatic stress disorder particular to people who survived the bloody wars in Yugoslavia. Modern Sarajevo is lovely though.


5. London

The opposite of Stockholm syndrome is London syndrome. Namely it’s when a kidnapper starts feeling empathy for their hostage. You see this in the TV show 24 all the time – some terrorist/freedom fighter (delete as appropriate) just goes all mushy and then Jack Bauer kills them anyway. 24 is awesome. Did you know it’s set in London this year? Wait, what were we talking about? Oh yeah, syndromes.

6. Lima

Lima syndrome is another name for London syndrome, but somehow more Peruvian. Feel free to use whichever takes your fancy when you end up kidnapping somebody but start feeling bad about it.

7. Helsinki

Helsinki syndrome is to do with official meetings where “groupthink” occurs and poor decisions are made based upon groundless idealism, meaning problems never get solved. So yes, in a nutshell, all contemporary politics is symptomatic of Helsinki syndrome.

8. Florence

Also known as Stendhal syndrome, Florence syndrome is when you see a piece of art that’s so amazing, your body goes mental. It would happen all the time in Florence since the city is so lavishly covered in artistic and architectural delights, but it can occur any time something aesthetic overwhelms you. It’s a lot like the Paris and Jerusalem syndromes but for those who don’t want to be constrained by location and think they’re all fancy.


9. China

China syndrome is, disappointingly, nothing to do with people, but rather what happens if the coolant leaks in a nuclear reactor. The inherent “joke” in the name China syndrome is that the coolant could be so radioactive, it might reach China. In reality, it would cause a huge explosion upon contact with groundwater and kill everything within hundreds of miles. We should definitely build more nuclear reactors so that one day we can say to whoever made up the name “Ha, it doesn’t reach China, you buffoon!” while floating on a giant mushroom cloud.


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About the author

Adam ZulawskiAdam is a freelance writer and Polish-to-English translator. He blogs passionately about travel for Cheapflights and runs Download his free e-book about Poland's capital after it was almost completely destroyed by the Nazis: 'In the Shadow of the Mechanised Apocalypse: Warsaw 1946'

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