My colleagues and I often care for patients suffering from hallucinations, prophesying, and claiming to speak with God, among other symptoms—in mental health care, it’s sometimes very difficult to tell apart religious belief from mental illness…. Our conclusions frequently stem from the behaviors we see before us. Take an example of a man who walks into an emergency department, mumbling incoherently. He says he’s hearing voices in his head, but insists there’s nothing wrong with him. He hasn’t used any drugs or alcohol. If he were to be evaluated by mental health professionals, there’s a good chance he might be diagnosed with a psychotic disorder like schizophrenia. But what if that same man were deeply religious? What if his incomprehensible language was speaking in tongues?
As Danny Jordaan, the World Cup’s lead South African organizer said, “People will see we are African. We are world-class.” Note that the concern is about what the world sees not what South Africans see. What South Africans see, as one young man told me, is, “Football ..looting our country.” The contrasts are becoming conflicts because the government at the behest of FIFA is determined to put on a good show, no matter the social cost. – david Zirin, author of the forthcoming book “Bad Sports: How Owners are Ruining the Games we Love”BACK TO TOP