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Sunday, February 5, 2012

Crazy Travel: Are You a Road-Tripping Deviant?

As I begin my exploration into mental health and travel, there are so many paths from which to choose. As I mentioned in a previous post, place-related ailments, such as Jerusalem Syndrome and Paris Syndrome, fascinate me for some crazy reason. But given that the majority of us are unlikely to fall prone to such maladies*, perhaps we best embark on the journey elsewhere.

Let's start, instead, with a quote I discovered while reading boatloads of backgrounders about Jerusalem Syndrome and related psychological disorders. The research comes courtesy of the Department of Hotel and Tourism Management at the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel.

But, if I may, a slight digression--when reading the faculty roster, I was thrilled to note that said list includes one Dr. Yaniv Belhassen, whose research interests include “Deviant Behavior and Drug Usage in Tourism” and “Ideological Manifestation and Consumption in Tourism”. Holla…or should I say “Challah”? Have I found the Holy Grail or what?

Back to our tale, my little teacups. After finding my U. of Essex grad school beanie, I donned it before ingesting Dr. Belhassen’s Cannibis Usage in Tourism: A Sociological Perspective and his Drugs and Risk Taking in Tourism (and one more digression before continuing: I would like to note truthfully that I may be the only person who didn’t inhale. Really…just ask my college boyfriend if you can track him down).

Okay, full disclosure out of the way, let’s go back to that aforementioned yet unmentioned-to-date quote mentioned at the beginning of paragraph two (lesser minds may need to get high to understand that sentence). Cannibis Usage cites a sweet guy named Hirschi, who says “every one of us is attracted to what is considered deviant behavior. However, the fear from social sanctions deters us from acting upon such temptations.” EXCEPT…as one Dr. Bellis writes, “individuals abroad are often free from the social constraints of work and family….” Therefore, Dr. Belhaussen and Cannibis co-authors Carla Almeida Santos and Natan Uriely conclude, “The notion that while on vacation individuals feel that they are free from norms that govern their daily life is quite familiar..."

Next up in Cannibis is a heady dude named Shields, who defines travel as a “liminal zone” --"an area where ‘social conventions…are relaxed under the exigencies of travel and of relative anonymity and freedom from community scrutiny’.” In non-academic terms, the straight dope is that we are all prone to going a bit crazy when traveling.

I myself am certainly not immune to travel-induced crazy (see right). However, I will plead the Fifth in terms of the specifics of my own deviant behaviors while on the road. After all, my journalistic integrity and objectivity must not be questioned. However, I should very much enjoy hearing about yours. Not, I should emphasize, in a voyeuristic sense, but merely as a journalistic/academic exercise. Now, I realize such a request is unlikely to yield results unless anonymity is protected. So, please feel free to use a secret e-mail address from which to share your heteroclitic travel proclivities.

*undocumented in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM)/the American Psychiatric Association's standard reference for psychiatry

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