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?
The indignation of ‘Je suis Charlie’ and the momentary confection of national identity – carefully stage-managed by the government – were overwhelming. People find public grief exhilarating, as we know from the death of Diana. In the avalanche of sentiment, Todd argues, France lost sight of the fact that ‘the right to blaspheme against your own religion’ is not the same as blaspheming ‘against someone else’s’, especially ‘the religion of a group that is weak and discriminated against’.BACK TO TOP