Jerusalem Syndrome

Jerusalem syndrome is a group of mental phenomena involving the presence of either religiously themed obsessive ideas, delusions or other psychosis-like experiences that are triggered by a visit to the city of Jerusalem. It is not endemic to one single religion or denomination but has affected Jews, Christians, and Muslims of many different backgrounds.

The best known, although not the most prevalent, manifestation of Jerusalem syndrome is the phenomenon whereby a person who seems previously balanced and devoid of any signs of psychopathology becomes psychotic after arriving in Jerusalem. The psychosis is characterised by an intense religious theme and typically resolves to full recovery after a few weeks or after being removed from the area. The religious focus of Jerusalem syndrome distinguishes it from other phenomena, such as Stendhal syndrome in Florence or Paris syndrome for Japanese tourists.

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In a 2000 article in the British Journal of Psychiatry, Bar-El et al. claim to have identified and described a specific syndrome which emerges in tourists with no previous psychiatric history. However, this claim has been disputed by M. Kalian and E. Witztum. Kalian and Witztum stressed that nearly all of the tourists who demonstrated the described behaviours were mentally ill prior to their arrival in Jerusalem. They further noted that, of the small proportion of tourists alleged to have exhibited spontaneous psychosis after arrival in Jerusalem, Bar-El et al. had presented no evidence that the tourists had been well prior to their arrival in the city. Jerusalem syndrome is not listed or mentioned in the DSM nor in the ICD.

Jerusalem syndrome has previously been regarded as a form of hysteria, referred to as “Jerusalem squabble poison”, or “fièvre Jerusalemmiene”. It was first clinically described in the 1930s by Jerusalem psychiatrist Heinz Herman, one of the founders of modern psychiatric research in Israel. Whether or not these behaviors specifically arise from visiting Jerusalem is debated, as similar behaviors have been noted at other places of religious and historical importance such as Mecca and Rome. It is known that cases of the syndrome had already been observed during the Middle Ages, since it was described in the itinerary of Felix Fabri and the biography of Margery Kempe. Other cases were described in the vast literature of visitors to Jerusalem during the 19th century.

The classic Jerusalem syndrome, where a visit to Jerusalem seems to trigger an intense religious psychosis that resolves quickly or on departure, has been a subject of debate in the medical literature. Most of the discussion has centered on whether this definition of the Jerusalem syndrome is a distinct form of psychosis, or simply a re-expression of a previously existing psychotic illness that was not picked up by the medical authorities in Israel.

In response to this, Bar-El et al. classified the syndrome into three major types to reflect the different types of interactions between a visit to Jerusalem and unusual or psychosis-related thought processes. However Kalian and Witztum have objected, saying that Bar-El et al. presented no evidence to justify the detailed typology and prognosis presented and that the types in fact seem to be unrelated rather than different aspects of a syndrome.

Type I
Jerusalem syndrome imposed on a previous psychotic illness. This refers to individuals already diagnosed as having a psychotic illness before their visit to Jerusalem. They have typically gone to the city because of the influence of religious ideas, often with a goal or mission in mind that they believe needs to be completed on arrival or during their stay. For example, an affected person may believe himself to be an important historical religious figure or may be influenced by important religious ideas or concepts (such as causing the coming of the Messiah or the second coming of Christ).

Type II
Jerusalem syndrome superimposed on and complicated by idiosyncratic ideas. This does not necessarily take the form of mental illness and may simply be a culturally anomalous obsession with the significance of Jerusalem, either as an individual, or as part of a small religious group with idiosyncratic spiritual beliefs.

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 behaviors has been noted.

Anxiety, agitation, nervousness and tension, plus other unspecified reactions.
Declaration of the desire to split away from the group or the family and to tour Jerusalem alone. Tour 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.
A need to be clean and pure: obsession with taking baths and showers; compulsive fingernail and toenail cutting.
Preparation, often with the aid of hotel bed-linen, of a long, ankle-length, toga-like gown, which is always white.
The need to shout psalms or verses from the Bible, or to sing hymns or spirituals loudly. 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.
A procession or march to one of Jerusalem’s holy places, ex:The Western Wall.
Delivery of a sermon in a holy place. The sermon is typically based on a plea to humankind to adopt a more wholesome, moral, simple way of life. Such sermons are typically ill-prepared and disjointed.
Paranoid belief that a Jerusalem syndrome agency is after the individual, causing their symptoms of psychosis through poisoning and medicating.
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.

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During a period of 13 years (1980–1993) for which admissions to the Kfar Shaul Mental Health Centre in Jerusalem were analysed, it was reported that 1,200 tourists with severe, Jerusalem-themed mental problems were referred to this clinic. Of these, 470 were admitted to hospital. On average, 100 such tourists have been seen annually, 40 of them requiring admission to hospital. About three and a half million tourists visit Jerusalem each year. Kalian and Witztum note that as a proportion of the total numbers of tourists visiting the city, this is not significantly different from any other city.

Wikipedia and Google

Vatican Increases Exorcism Training

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In response to an unsettling increase in demand for exorcisms in Italy, the Vatican has announced plans for a new course to better train priests to perform the practice.

The week-long event to be held in April was detailed by Italian priest and exorcist Benigno Palilla in an interview with Vatican Radio.

According to Palilla, requests for exorcisms from the Church have skyrocketed in Italy over the last few years with experts estimating an astounding 500,000 such cases being reported.

Although the priest acknowledged that not all of these events are genuinely connected to an actual possession, he cautioned that the jaw-dropping number of exorcisms indicated that there is some sort of sinister surge happening.

As to what may be behind this spike, Palilla pointed to the popularity of fortune tellers, tarot card readers and other soothsaying mystics in Italy.

He warned that partaking in such ‘sorcery’ unwittingly “opens the door to the devil and possession.”

Additionally, Palilla expressed concern that the whopping number of exorcism cases in the country has led to inexperienced priests being enlisted to perform the ritual.

Calling for a proverbial apprenticeship for exorcists, he lamented that the phenomenon of possession is often verboten during the process of preparing for the priesthood, leaving newcomers overwhelmed when they are called to confront the issue.

By holding this new course on the subject later this year, Palilla hopes to strip away some of the sensationalism surrounding exorcisms and better prepare priests for the various cases they may encounter.

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What is behind all this is the Vatican trying to scare people back to the pews. The church is losing believers en masse. Another attempt to get more money in the collection baskets.

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The World’s Largest Cemetery

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Wadi Al-Salaam (Arabic وادي السلام; Valley of Peace) is an Islamic cemetery, located in the Shia holy city of Najaf, Iraq. It is the largest cemetery in the world. The cemetery covers 1,485.5 acres (601.16 ha; 6.01 km2; 2.32 sq mi) and contains over 5 million bodies. It also attracts millions of pilgrims annually.

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The cemetery is located near the shrine of Imam Ali ibn Abi Talib, the fourth Sunni Caliph and the first Shia Imam. Thus, many Shi’ites in Iraq request that they be buried in this cemetery. As a result of improved transportation methods, Shi’ites from across the globe are (or seek to be) buried in the cemetery. However, burial at the cemetery “means being placed in one of the cemetery’s many catacombs.” According to an undertaker at the cemetery, each crypt can hold up to 50 bodies. The burial plots are controlled by Marja’.

cemetery wadi-us-salaam

Daily burials have been on going for over 1,400 years and the site is on the Tentative List of UNESCO’s World Heritage sites. Burials in Najaf have been documented as early as the Parthian and Sassanid eras and ancient Mesopotamian cities often had similar cemeteries, where there was an accumulation of tombs.

It is estimated that during the Iraq War about 200 to 250 corpses were buried there daily, however, in 2010 this number had decreased to less than 100. Approximately 500,000 new bodies are interred in the cemetery annually from across the globe. This figure is an increase on the approximately 20,000 bodies, primarily from Iran, that used to be interred annually in the early 20th century. Most Iraqi and many Iranian Shi’ites have a relative buried in the cemetery.

As of 2014—coinciding with conflict against ISIL—it has been reported that burial plots are running out, resulting in many being stolen, illegally resold or improvised. According to one gravedigger: “I’ve never had it so busy. Not even after 2003 or 2006 [the height of Iraq’s civil war].”

The Battle of Najaf was fought between United States and Iraqi forces on one side and the Islamist Mahdi Armyof Muqtada al-Sadr on the other in the Iraqi city of Najaf in August 2004. The battle spilled over into the Wadi Al-Salaam.

Battle of Najaf

Major conflict began on 5 August, when the Mahdi Army (MA) attacked an Iraqi Police Station at 1 am. Their first attack was repelled but the MA regrouped and attacked again at 3 am. Soon after, a quick reaction force (QRF) from the U.S. Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) was dispatched at the request of the governor of An Najaf. Around 11 am the QRF came under heavy machine gun and mortar fire from the Mahdi Army within the Wadi-us-Salaam. The cemetery has been layered over the centuries resulting in large underground tombs, tunnels and surface monuments, many reaching two stories tall. The U.S. soldiers of 1st battalion, 1st Cavalry Division fought across this inhospitable terrain and under it in some of the first tunnel fighting seen since Vietnam.

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cementery Wadi-Al-Salaam-001

 

Meet Five Men Who All Think They’re the Messiah

National Geographic

These men say they’re the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. Their disciples agree.

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INRI

Near Brasília, Brazil, followers of INRI (Iesus Nazarenus Rex Iudaeorum: Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews) push their messiah around on a rolling pedestal. A dozen disciples—most of them women—live full-time with the celibate 69-year-old in his walled compound, which is protected with barbed wire and electrical fencing. INRI takes his name from the initials that Pontius Pilate inscribed on Christ’s cross. His awakening came in 1979.

 

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MOSES HLONGWANE

also known as The King of Kings, The Lord of Lords, Jesus

In Eshowe, South Africa, Moses Hlongwane preaches to his flock during his own wedding ceremony—an event he says marks the beginning of the End of Days. Moses says that God identified him as the Messiah during a dream in 1992. At the time Moses was working as a jewelry salesman. Since then, he’s preached in Eshowe, Johannesburg, and other cities in the region. Moses has about 40 disciples.

 

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This guy really looks the part.

VISSARION

also known as The Christ of Siberia

In an off-the-grid Russian village called Obitel Rassveta (“abode of dawn”), Vissarion sits in the living room of a disciple. Born Sergei Torop, he had a revelation around the time the Soviet Union collapsed that he was Jesus Christ reborn. Founder of the Church of the Last Testament, he now has at least 5,000 followers; many of them live with him in several utopian eco-villages in the Siberian woods. They’ve built their own schools, churches, and society. Vissarion’s proclamations have been published in 16 tomes titled The Last Testament.

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VISSARION’S FOLLOWERS

In Russia, disciples of Vissarion, aka the Christ of Siberia, walk past the village of Cheremshanka on their annual Christmas pilgrimage. Led by priests carrying a lit candle in a glass box, the followers sing psalms, exchange greetings, and indulge in merrymaking.

 

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JESUS OF KITWE

also known as Parent Rock of the World, Mr. Faithful, Mr. Word of God

Bupete Chibwe Chishimba sits on a sofa in his home in Kitwe, Zambia. This messiah goes by several names, but his disciples refer to him simply as Jesus. He spends his days driving a cab, spreading the gospel, and preparing the world for the Kingdom of God.

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JESUS OF KITWE

Jesus of Kitwe walks around a marketplace in the town of Ndola, Zambia, proclaiming the arrival of the Messiah and the End of Days. When he’s not sermonizing, the 43-year-old man named Bupete Chibwe Chishimba wears street clothes, drives a taxi, and lives with his wife and five children in neighboring Kitwe, a copper-mining city with more than half a million inhabitants. This Jesus says he received a revelation from God when he was 24. Shortly after this image was taken, a crowd of churchgoing Christians accused him of blasphemy. When the crowd began to threaten violence, Jesus of Kitwe left in a hurry.

 

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 JESUS MATAYOSHI, JAPAN

also known as The Only God. In Tokyo, Jesus Matayoshi sermonizes during his most recent campaign for a seat in the Japanese parliament. His scripture is titled How the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, the One True God, Jesus Matayoshi Will Change Japan and the World.

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JESUS MATAYOSHI

Atop a van in Tokyo, Jesus Matayoshi delivers a fiery sermon as part of his campaign for a seat in the House of Councillors, instructing opponents to commit suicide and threatening hellfire upon transgressors. During two weeks of campaigning in 2016—he’s run in many elections over the past two decades—he drove around Tokyo, spreading his message. Many people ignored him, but he did garner 6,114 votes. Mitsuo Matayoshi was born in Okinawa in 1944. In 1997 he founded the World Economic Community Party, which bases its policies on his identity as Jesus Christ reborn. Jesus Matayoshi says his goal is to bring about the End of Days via the democratic political process, eventually occupying the post of United Nations secretary-general and instituting the will of God on Earth.

Instructing opponents to commit suicide! Bring about the End of Days via the democratic political process. This is a bad Jesus.

Bill O’Reilly points finger at “God” after accusations of sexual harassment

Bill O’Reilly has seemingly run out of options for blaming others after a series of sexual harassment allegations canned the former Fox News host. From accusers to the news media, the only logical scapegoat left would surely be his Almighty.

During a recent episode of his web series “No Spin News,” O’Reilly spoke candidly about his anger toward God for not protecting him, as more details surrounding allegations have surfaced, according to CNN.

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“You know, am I mad at God? Yeah, I’m mad at him,” O’Reilly said. “I wish I had more protection. I wish this stuff didn’t happen. I can’t explain it to you. Yeah, I’m mad at him.”

He also admitted people have it “much rougher” than him and that he’s a “bigmouth.”

The New York Times reported Saturday that O’Reilly paid $32 million to settle accusations with former Fox News contributor Lis Wiehl. Six other agreements have been made by either O’reilly or the network on his behalf.

With this latest rant under his belt, his New York Times bestseller Killing Jesus: A History is beginning to look more like a manifesto.