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?
Government’s inability to accept criticism and facilitate dialogue was highlighted in the recent vociferous debate about whether Cape Town is a “racist city”. The phrasing of the debate is unproductive, but the truth is that there are few cities in South Africa where our nation’s divided past is so stark. Although our city has made some progress since 1994 in providing services to historically neglected communities, we must accept that Cape Town’s racial and class divisions remain largely intact. You just have to drive the short distance from Cape Town’s leafy suburbs to the sprawling shantytowns at the city’s margins to see this. Finding lasting solutions requires us to be honest about these difficult realities. – Gavin Silber in an article on PoliticswebBACK TO TOP