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?
Populism denies complexity, denies constraint, and denies risk. It distracts attention from the real issues that must be addressed, and, as evident in the current context, closes down space for democratic dialogue and conversation… Hence its appeal to desperate politicians and the massive traction it enjoys among electorates. We need the wisdom and the courage to resist the bullshit, especially bullshit that divides us as South Africans.BACK TO TOP