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?
But [Venezuelan President] Maduro’s intransigence has been more than matched by that of the opposition. Its leaders are fervently committed to overturning chavismo, driven by a visceral loathing that often comes with a strong dose of racism. The first direct challenges to Maduro’s rule came in early 2014, with a series of protests, the guarimbas, led mainly by the middle class and students. Then, in December 2015, the opposition gained control of the National Assembly: the first time it had a majority there since Chávez took office in 1999. With this, an institutional deadlock came into being that has lasted to this day: chavistas are in charge of the executive and – since Maduro designated a new supreme court in 2015 – the judiciary; but the opposition has the legislature, and refuses to recognise the authority of the other two branches of government.BACK TO TOP