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?
It gives one a nice warm feeling to know that Nelson Mandela is celebrating his 90th birthday today. His humility, humour, sense of forgiveness and the fact that he does not act like a saint but like a real human being stands out.
I was wondering though: what about all those other guys who were on Robben Island with Mandela, who have died or are now forgotten. Don’t they get a bit irritated that the chattering classes make such a fuss about Mandela while they do not warrant a mention?
Mandela is a remarkable man and we are an incredible lucky country to have such a leader. But many others also sacrificed to make freedom possible. We should not forget them.BACK TO TOP