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?
“Looking back, I think we have triumphantly avoided being triumphalist. There is no officially commanded art. Artists may be poor but they are free. Freedom of artistic creativity is expressly guaranteed in the constitution, as is freedom of artistic expression. Ours is an admirably open and democratic society. It artists are afraid, it is that they might be regarded by their colleagues and critics as being too politically correct. We take this freedom for granted, which is as it should be. The range and diversity of themes and forms of expression are unlimited; Leading public figures are mimicked and mocked and frequently, if not always, join in the laughter. I feel proud of the maturity of our nation. We are in a strange position. No group is in charge; no section exercises cultural hegemony. The old establishment has lost its hauteur, but no confident and powerful new establishment has emerged to replace it.” – Justice Albie Sachs, Sunday Times, 15 October 2000BACK TO TOP