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?
What is it with us looking for a saviour to rise from these streets? In the recent months it has been Cyril Ramaphosa who will save the ANC from itself and us all from Zuma’s government. And if that fails we have the National Development Plan that will fix everything. Like Ramphela and Ramaphosa, the National Development Plan is great. It might be my own pessimism, but in my opinion these are, all three, not (powerfully) shapers of historical outcomes … they are effects, not causes. The NDP is just a piece of paper, an adequate diagnosis and a bundle of good intentions. Ramaphosa is embedded in something much more powerful, and scarier, than he will ever be. Ramphela is a single person with no established political constituency, no party machinery and a reputation for humiliating her senior managers in public (… aside from all those good things I mentioned earlier). Sure, we can hope that she will sweep the ANC’s patronage networks aside and replace it with a meritocracy pure as the driven snow. But I wouldn’t hold my breath. – Nic BorainBACK TO TOP