Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Do you have Type III Jerusalem Syndrome?

Type III

Jerusalem syndrome as a discrete form, uncompounded by previous mental illness. This describes the best known type, whereby a previously mentally balanced person becomes psychotic after arriving in Jerusalem. The psychosis is characterised by an intense religious character and typically resolves to full recovery after a few weeks, or after being removed from the locality. It shares some features with the diagnostic category of a 'brief psychotic episode', although a distinct pattern of behaviours has been noted:

  1. Anxiety, agitation, nervousness and tension, plus other unspecified reactions.
  2. Declaration of the desire to split away from the group or the family and to tour Jerusalem alone. Tourist guides aware of the Jerusalem syndrome and of the significance of such declarations may at this point refer the tourist to an institution for psychiatric evaluation in an attempt to preempt the subsequent stages of the syndrome. If unattended, these stages are usually unavoidable.
  3. A need to be clean and pure: obsession with taking baths and showers; compulsive fingernail and toenail cutting.
  4. Preparation, often with the aid of hotel bed-linen, of a long, ankle-length, toga-like gown, which is always white.
  5. The need to scream, shout, or sing out loud psalms, verses from the Bible, religious hymns or spirituals. Manifestations of this type serve as a warning to hotel personnel and tourist guides, who should then attempt to have the tourist taken for professional treatment. Failing this, the two last stages will develop.
  6. A procession or march to one of Jerusalem's holy places.
  7. Delivery of a ‘sermon’ in a holy place. The sermon is usually very confused and based on an unrealistic plea to humankind to adopt a more wholesome, moral, simple way of life.

Bar-El et al. reported 42 such cases over a period of 13 years, but in no case were they able to actually confirm that the condition was temporary.

Credit Wikipedia (the rest of the article can be found at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jerusalem_syndrome /http://he.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=סינדרום_ירושלים )


Matthew Rutta

Jerusalem, ISRAEL

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