"Jerusalem syndrome": a psychosis in which a person considers himself to be Jesus Christ

"Jerusalem syndrome": a psychosis in which a person considers himself to be Jesus Christ

Categories: Asia | Health and Medicine | Travel

Pilgrimage is one of the most important spiritual events in religious life. But some people are so imbued with impressions during a trip to the shrines that they begin to think of themselves as prophets and biblical characters. A strange condition called "Jerusalem syndrome" is quite rare, but it can turn into a serious mental breakdown. Most often it occurs in Jerusalem, from where it got its name. Find out how such a psychosis develops and how it is treated from our material.

"Jerusalem syndrome": a psychosis in which a person considers himself to be Jesus Christ

Guides in Jerusalem must constantly be on the alert to notice tourists who behave strangely, become agitated and separate from the group. Perhaps they are beginning to develop Jerusalem syndrome. Such people are convinced that they have become prophets and carry a special mission to the world.

A person falls into a state of psychosis, in which he has obsessive thoughts. As a rule, this happens during a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Jerusalem syndrome is experienced by about a hundred people every year. It can occur in the bearer of any religion, but is most often found among Christians and Jews coming from the United States and Western Europe. About 40 people out of a hundred suffering from this type of psychosis require hospitalization.

According to the British Journal of Psychiatry, 1,200 people were diagnosed with Jerusalem syndrome between 1980 and 1993. 470 of them were placed in mental hospitals.

"Jerusalem syndrome": a psychosis in which a person considers himself to be Jesus Christ

An unusual syndrome develops in a person when he sincerely begins to consider himself a biblical character. Men often call themselves Jesus Christ, and women - the Virgin Mary. There are also those who consider themselves other heroes of the Bible from the Old and New Testaments.

There was a case when one patient called himself Samson, whose power was in his hair. When he was placed in a hospital and the doctors said that he was not a biblical hero, the patient broke a window, jumped out of the building and ran away. The man was caught, and the nurse managed to convince him that the mission was over. Only after that he stopped resisting the doctors. Later, he was also diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia.

"Jerusalem syndrome": a psychosis in which a person considers himself to be Jesus Christ

Most people with Jerusalem syndrome already have mental disorders before it develops. The syndrome can manifest itself in various forms, which are influenced by external and internal circumstances: for example, the reasons why a person came to Jerusalem, and with whom he travels.

"Jerusalem syndrome": a psychosis in which a person considers himself to be Jesus Christ

Usually, the "Jerusalem syndrome" is successfully treatable. After it, patients are advised not to come to the Holy Land anymore. In most cases, no medical intervention is required. After recovery, people usually remember all the details of their abnormal behavior. Most often, they become ashamed of these actions.

Now people in this condition are being sent to a special clinic that has opened in Jerusalem. This is the Kfar Shaul Psychiatric Center. Here, patients receive counseling from a psychologist, and with more severe development of the syndrome, patients are hospitalized.

The most difficult pilgrimage in the world can be considered Nanda Devi Raj Jat, which is held in the Himalayas every 12 years. The path that pilgrims travel to the Holy Land is not easy and long — within three weeks they have to overcome 290 kilometers, 230 of which are barefoot.

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