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?
You dream one night about walking maskless in the deep cool green of a forest, of inhaling the smell of pine, of damp rich soil and moss. When the lockdown eases and you’re allowed outside, you take your child to a public forest stream in an upscale neighbourhood with all this and more. There are tall oak trees with old knotted trunks, a field of bright, sun-dappled, dew-soaked grass. The world is more beautiful than you could have hoped or remembered. And then you see to your dismay that other people have had the same idea, that other people have wanted the outside, longed for this soft, damp green. You stare at them, willing them away. Your six year old turns to you, his new lessons learned and says, ‘There are too many people here. We should go home.’BACK TO TOP