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?
Legislators are under the sway of an army of lobbyists: Google alone spent more than twenty-one million dollars on lobbying last year; together, Google, Facebook, and Amazon spent an unprecedented forty-eight million dollars, which was an increase of seventeen per cent from the previous year, much of it to stave off regulation. (A recent tweet by the digital-rights activist and developer Aral Balkan put this in perspective, claiming that Eric Schmidt, the executive chairman of Google’s parent company, Alphabet, had told him, at a private book event in SoHo, “I wake up every morning and I fight regulation, it’s what I do, it’s my job.”)BACK TO TOP