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?
As early as 1981, one of Thatcher’s advisers complained that she bullied her weaker colleagues: “You criticise colleagues in front of each other and in front of their officials. . . . You give little praise or credit.” “If this is the best you can do,” she told Geoffrey Howe, a long-abused Cabinet minister, “then I’d better send you to hospital and deliver the statement myself.” On one occasion, when she became particularly “strident,” the Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney had to remind her, “I am not a member of your government, I am the head of a sovereign nation!” But she could just as easily rebuke entire nations, genders, or both at once. “You men, you’re all so weak,” she spat at some Dutch representatives after an episode of failed European negotiation.BACK TO TOP