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?
President Thabo Mbeki yesterday stated in his speech before the Polokwane conference that there was a virus in the ANC that was destroying it.
In response to this unfortunate turn of phrase, my friend Justin commented that this begged two crucial questions:
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1. Does this virus cause a syndrome?
2. Does showering help prevent its transmission.