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?
BACK TO TOP
Often now I turn away from things,
from jubilance save that
which from a quiet word
may grant my moment’s wealth:
a home town’s olive orchard
that shivers in dusklight, the pit-pat
as fruit fall free to the ground;
or the homeless manic’s quiet rage at grace
when a shop owner hands him coffee.
Most of all, I walk
so I may reach home and try to know
myself, so I may turn to work.
– Rustum Kozain (Cape Town, Jerusalem) in his volume of poetry, The Carting Life