I'll need a holiday after my holiday


Well, the bags are packed, the sunscreen is bought and my wife has seized my passport so it must be holiday time again. It is always a bit stressful in the weeks before we go as I have generally lost my passport having put it somewhere 'safe'. My wife also insists on spreading clothes across three cases. This has been the case ever after that unfortunate holiday where my case decided to stay in the UK and she had to walk round with me in clothes from the, um, 'exclusive' range available at the resort. 

Once we get going the problems are far from over. I know my daughter will start asking 'are we nearly there yet?' before we even get on the plane. Once on the plane there is the argument about who gets to sit by the window.

At the destination the stress continues: strange food, half built hotels, sunburn... and the list goes on.

There are some more dramatic psychological consequences of travel. 'Paris Syndrome' is a condition affecting tourists to France's capital city. Tourists develop an acute psychotic condition, often believing the are being persecuted or threatened by the Parisians. After trying to cross the road in Paris I can see how this could happen.

Japanese tourists seem to be particularly susceptible. The current hypothesis is that jet lag, language barriers and profoundly different cultural norms explain this.

'Jerusalem Syndrome' is a similar condition affecting Jewish, Christian and Muslim visitors. A study in 2000 in the British Journal of Psychiatry found various sub-types. In most people this presents as having an old illness come back. They did however find a group who had no mental health problems prior to the trip who became acutely psychotic with religious delusions. This group spontaneously recovered once they left the city and required no treatment.

There are a number of these conditions described often based on the supposed profound emotional impact of certain cities. It is not altogether clear if they exist as 'real' conditions. If they, do they are very rare.

Unfortunately not the hotel we are staying in! http://www.flickr.com/photos/joi/2086020608/

Unfortunately not the hotel we are staying in!

http://www.flickr.com/photos/joi/2086020608/

The stress of travel is real and common. Also people with mental health problems want to go on holiday but often find insurance extremely difficult to get. There is some good practical advice here about looking after your psychological health on holiday

Well I'm off to check the plane tickets for the twentieth time, wish me luck.

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