The Ulysses syndrome: an illness of immigrants
I came across an interesting article Monday in the Ecuadorian daily El Comercio on what some psychologists call the Ulysses syndrome, which is an illness that inflicts some immigrants when they live separated in faraway lands from their loved ones.
The article continues: Norma lived in terror and in hiding. This 45-year-old single mother left her 11-year-old son in 1999 when she migrated to Madrid. When she moved to Spain, she didn’t know anyone never mind have have a place to sleep. She was an illegal alien.
The woman was afraid that the police would find and deport her. “It was that way nine years ago,” she admits. I would never go out for a stroll. I’d forget to board a metro at stops because I was in another world thinking of my child.
It took some time for the Ecuadorian to find work. She eventually got a low-paying job that paid 300 euros ($435) a month working four hours a day. She’d wire money to her family in Ecuador, pay debts and lived in extreme conditions.
This is one example of the Ulysses syndrome.
Immigrants cannot sometimes figure out why they feel depressed. Psychiatrist Joseba Achotegui of the Universitat de Barcelona describes the illness in the following manner, according to an article in the Naples Sun Times: It comprises loneliness, as family and friends were left behind; a sense of personal failure, and a survival struggle that takes over all other priorities. The syndrome is characterized by physical symptoms like headaches, and psychological symptoms like depression.
Those who are critical of immigrants and accuse them wrongly of being lazy and that they don’t want to learn the local culture, nothing could be further form the truth. The only way an immigrant can survive in a new country is by NOT being lazy and learning the ropes of the new culture.