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?
ut elites find it hard to believe the worst of our own – just as families do members of their kin. Some of this is due to the nature of sociopaths – they con even the most skeptical (I always think of the hard-nosed skeptic, Hanna Rosin, who defended the fabulist, Stephen Glass, out of loyalty and friendship and disbelief at the extent of his ethical vandalism). But some is due surely to our refusal to believe we can have long associated with people capable of such acts. Rather than question our own judgment, we rush to defend or ignore the indefensible. – Andrew Sullivan on why friends are defending IMF chief Strauss-Kahn (casting new light on why so many people kept on supporting Jacob Zuma during his corruption case)BACK TO TOP