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?
Then there’s the renewed promise to properly “secure state infrastructure”, to deal ever more harshly with those who throw poo at it, and to establish a piece of security apparatus – the Government Security Agency – in order to make sure we fill our prisons with demonstrators and Fallists. Does South Africa need another set of government-issue car guards working for another obscure agency with a bottomless budget for wraparound sunglasses? Probably not.BACK TO TOP