Saturday, November 29, 2008

Jerusalem Syndrome

This is hilarious. From Jerusalem Syndrome by Judith Fein (featured on The Savvy Traveler):
The malady called Jerusalem Syndrome is no joke. Afflicted tourists have been found wandering in the Judean desert wrapped in hotel bed sheets or crouched at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, waiting to birth the infant Jesus.


[Dr. Yair Bar-El of Jurusalem's Kfar Shaul Hospital] explains that there are three categories of tourists who get Jerusalem syndrome.
Dr. Bar El: "We speak first about clearly mentally ill people in their country. They arrive to Jerusalem with psychotic ideas. The second, the biggest group, tourists, pilgrims with deep religious convictions."
Dr. Bar-El: "We have a little third group, the REAL Jerusalem syndrome. Completely sane persons without psychiatric history, without drugs, and arrive here as normal tourists. Here they develop this specific, imperative psychotic reaction that is the real Jerusalem Syndrome."
The same clinical picture always emerges. It begins with general anxiety and nervousness, and then the tourist feels an imperative need to visit the holy places. First, he undertakes a series of purification rituals, like shaving all his body hair, cutting his nails and washing himself over and over before he dons white clothes. Most often, he lifts the white sheets from his hotel room. Then he begins to cry or to sing Biblical or religious songs in a very loud voice. The next step is an actual visit to the holy places, most often from the life of Jesus. The afflicted tourist begins to deliver a sermon, demanding that humanity become calmer, purer, and less materialistic.

In Israel, Jerusalem Syndrome is taken very seriously. Everyone involved in security, tourism, or health is on the lookout for afflicted visitors. In an average year, three or four tourists develop real, palpable Jerusalem Syndrome. In l999, more than 50 visitors were diagnosed, the increase possibly attributed to millennial activities.

From a religious point of view, the Syndrome seems to favor Protestants, who account for 97 percent of all cases. Almost all of them were raised in ultra-orthodox homes where the Bible was the book of choice for family reading and problem-solving.
Maybe this explains Jesus's behavior.

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