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?
“I am so afraid. I have never stolen anything from anybody. Now I am being accused of stealing a piece of land. I have papers to prove that the government has approved the deed of sale. We are prepared to pay market value for this land and we are pleading with the government to not demolish our homes but to negotiate a settlement. I have R50 000 in the frozen bank account of the fraudster who was arrested – that can go to the government for the land. We did not know we were involved in a fraudulent deal. As it is I have taken out personal loans, bank loans…how will we pay these back while our homes are demolished?” – Nonhlanhla Pholo, whose house in Lenasia is earmarked for demolition, quoted by Gillian Schutte at SACSISBACK TO TOP