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?
Hamlet’s idea is to catch out his uncle Claudius, who has usurped the throne by killing Hamlet’s father. So the meta-theatrical prince devises a plan to have the murder acted out in front of the murderer: “guilty creatures sitting at a play”, he says, cannot tolerate it when their sins are portrayed to them by actors, and so they “proclaim their malefactions” — they are forced to confess. As expected, Claudius betrays himself through his outraged response to Hamlet’s play. He falls into the trap of mimesis, confusing the work of art for the real world, precisely because it aggravates his guilty conscience. Zuma and his allies, through their over-reaction to Murray’s art, are in fact acknowledging that there is some merit in its critique. Claudius calls off Hamlet’s play; Zuma wanted The Spear removed from the gallery; two “free radicals” pre-empted any court decision by defacing the painting. But although Zuma and his supporters have pretended to be offended by the artist, or may even have convinced themselves they are truly offended, like King Claudius they will soon privately admit: “O, my offence is rank — it smells to heaven!” – Chris Thurman in Business DayBACK TO TOP