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?
We cannot agree with either the President’s submissions or those of Adv Abrahams. In a rights-based order it is fundamental that a conflicted person cannot act; to act despite a conflict is self-evidently to pervert the rights being exercised as well as the rights of those affected. And section 96(2)(b) [of the South African Constitution] makes that clear beyond the pale. If conflicted, the individual simply cannot act, is “unable” to act, whether section 90 was there or not.BACK TO TOP