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?
By the time we got to the Moustafa Mahmoud mosque around noon, it was packed. People were spilling into the streets, their prayer rugs rolled out on the pavement. In the women’s section, I spotted faces I had seen at the protests in the days before, many of them without prayer rugs, praying on the Egyptian flag instead. “Let us respect this sacred space,” the imam began his sermon through a loudspeaker, “and all turn off our phones.” The crowd—by then numbering in the thousands—erupted into laughter. – Yasmine El Rashidi in the New York Review of Books on the protest in Egypt on Friday. The regime had cut off all cell phone coverage that morning.BACK TO TOP