City Diagnoses: 13 Locations With Their Own Psychological Conditions


The New York Minute. Chihuahuas. Chantilly lace. Since cities have existed, they have been the namesake of many incredible things. At the same time, cities have also become the nominal inspiration for various ailments, most of which we refer to as syndromes. We take the bad with the good and hope you are fortunate to avoid most (if not all) of these municipality-inspired conditions.

1. Stockholm Syndrome

Scenic summer aerial panorama of the Old Town (Gamla Stan) in Stockholm, Sweden
Image Credit: leksiy Mark/Shutterstock.

They say, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.” By that same token, when you're in Stockholm, Sweden, it's courteous to develop an empathetic connection with your kidnapper, Patty Hearst style. 

The term “Stockholm Syndrome” arose from a group of hostages held for six days by bank robbers in 1973 (in Stockholm, of course). When it was time to leave hostage-dom, the freed individuals showed concern for the bank robbers who had held them captive. Thus, Stockholm Syndrome was born.

2. Havana Syndrome

Havana Cuba
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

A relatively new and debilitating syndrome, Havana Syndrome refers to a set of symptoms American diplomats in Cuba (and elsewhere) experienced beginning in 2016, with the first case reported in 2016. Victims report ringing in their ears, dizziness, debilitating headaches, and sometimes other symptoms.

The official line is that these symptoms are “health anomalies,” but others maintain that Havana syndrome is the result of sonic weapon attacks on American targets by hostile nations.

3. Lima Syndrome 

Image Credit: David Felipe Ruiz Hoyos, Own Work – CC BY-SA 4.0/Wiki Commons.

A long-term hostage situation in Lima, Peru, became the inspiration for Lima syndrome. This syndrome applies to captors who develop an emotional connection with the person they're holding hostage. In other words, if you have Lima Syndrome, you have basic human empathy (though, apparently, not enough to resist kidnapping someone).

If you're ever captive, this is the ailment you want your captor to develop, stat. 

4. Paris Syndrome

Image Credit: Shutterstock.

Though not as serious as other syndromes on this list, Paris syndrome is almost as real. This phenomenon occurs when someone saves thousands of dollars for a trip to Paris, enjoys the multi-hour flight, gazes up at the Eiffel Tower, tours the Louvre, and feels…immense disappointment.

While some with Paris syndrome actually experience physical symptoms that might mirror extreme disgust, milder forms of the syndrome have also been reported.

5. London Syndrome

Big Ben, UK, London, England
Image Credit: Colin, CC BY-SA 4.0/Wiki Commons.

Rather than some fun, London-centric quirk (like an insatiable urge to rack up charges at Harrods), London syndrome is yet another hostage-centric psychological response. This condition refers to a captive determined not to follow their capturer's commands, even at the risk of self-preservation. 

Like several other syndromes in this list, the name originates from a combative dynamic between hostages and their captors in London in 1981.

6. Florence Syndrome

Image Credit: Petar Milošević, Own Work – CC BY-SA 4.0/Wiki Commons.

Also known as Stendhal syndrome, Florence syndrome is a psychosomatic condition characterized by heart palpitations, sweaty palms, and a sense of unease about what is going on. While Florence's rich history draws about 15 million visitors to the city each year, there is apparently something overwhelming about the magnitude of it all.

Florence syndrome is surprisingly common and appears unique to tourists who are overtaken while gazing upon various artworks.

7. Detroit Syndrome

Detroit 2
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

Detroit syndrome refers to the psychological tendency to want to replace older workers with younger ones. An allusion to the churn of annually replacing older vehicles with new ones ( a common practice in Detroit, Motor City), Detroit syndrome must be more common in those who value speed and strength over experience.

8. Jerusalem Syndrome

Night view of Jerusalem.
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

If you find yourself in a state of psychosis during a trip to the Holy Land, you're not the first. You may be suffering an acute psychotic state known as Jerusalem syndrome, particularly if you believe you are Cain, Abel, Moses, or any other character from the Bible.

Psychotic breaks are a trend among visitors to Jerusalem, so consider this glaring risk if you ever plan a visit to this holy site.

9. Amsterdam Syndrome

The Netherlands
Image Credit: Evaldas Jankauskas/Shutterstock.

Amsterdam syndrome is a physical disease but one that manifests behavioral symptoms. The condition refers to symptoms that may include dwarfism and intellectual disability. The condition's city-specific name is derived from Dutch pediatrician Cornelia Catharina de Lange, who discovered the syndrome in 1933.

Amsterdam syndrome is also known as Bushy, Brachmann, and Cornelia de Lange.

10. Brooklyn Syndrome

Brooklyn Botanical Garden
Image Credit: Betty Crocker, Own Work – CC BY-SA 3.0/Wiki Commons.

Brooklyn syndrome describes a primal urge to move into a rough neighborhood around the edges, encourage your well-to-do friends to move along with you, purchase record players and vinyl records in bulk, and open as many Starbucks as possible.

Just kidding. The actual Brooklyn syndrome came from Navy psychiatrists, who decades ago jokingly used the term to refer to recruits with an overabundance of toughness and bravado—traits disproportionally found in Brooklynites of that era. 

11. Venice Syndrome

Grand Canal at night, Venice
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

Of all the tourist destination cities in the world, Venice is perhaps the most claustrophobic. However, not the packed cafes or crowded streets cause Venice syndrome. Instead, this syndrome refers to those who visit the Italian city with no intent of leaving.

Researchers believe that Thomas Mann's novel Death in Venice sparked a morbid phenomenon by which travelers venture to Venice with the express intent of taking their lives. Mann's German nationality, combined with the overrepresentation of Germans among those with Venice syndrome, supports this theory.

12. Helsinki Syndrome

Helsinki Finland
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

We include Helsinki syndrome to spare you from potential embarrassment. When you watch Die Hard and hear the “expert” in the movie refer to “Helsinki syndrome,” know that he should have said “Stockholm syndrome.”

We do not know whether this was an error by the film's writers or an intentional move. We just know that Helsinki syndrome is not a real thing.

13. Berlin Syndrome

Image Credit: Shutterstock/canadastock.

If you hear the phrase “Berlin syndrome,” you might assume it resembles the many other psychological conditions named for European cities. Instead, this is a physical syndrome that can cause stunted growth and intellectual disability. Of course, it comes with its share of behavioral conditions that are person-specific. 

Author: Sam Mire

Title: Popular Culture and Film Writer

Expertise: Film and Television, Life Advice, Comedic Writing, Movies, DIY Handiwork, Books, Current Events and Popular Culture


Sam Mire is a freelance writer with over seven years' experience writing about entertainment, global events, American law, and sports. With a Journalism degree from the University of South Florida, Sam focuses on popular culture, film and television, and general life advice in his role for Wealth of Geeks.