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?
But there was a moment when the mask slipped, and slipped badly. Moffet Mofokeng from the City Press, a mild-mannered, very experienced, and very polite reporter asked simply, “Mr President, the movements in your office, can you give us an update on them?” No hostility, no malice, no agenda. Just a request for information. Zuma became a different person. He leant forward as far as the lectern would allow, “The problem with you guys”, he said, “is that you discuss matters that are not relevant to you, the discussions are confidential, we should end the matter there. Don’t go to speculation, even though that’s your right.” He stopped there. And caught himself. There was a definite pause, then that peculiar grunt he makes whenever under pressure, and he laughed. And ended with, “you’re just trying to make matters confidential not confidential.” – Stephen Grootes on President Jacob Zuma’s post-lekgotla press conferenceBACK TO TOP