Jerusalem Syndrome

The ancient city of Jerusalem (Israel) is home to three religions and the Jerusalem Syndrome affects Jews, Christians and Muslims alike. The syndrome frequently occurs in a religious context with delusions brought on by the proximity to a heavy concentration of iconic religious sites in the area.

Sufferers sometimes believe they are Biblical characters or become unnaturally fixated on a spiritual or religious idea or concept during their visit. Some might have a history of mental disorders, but some do not and have previously been regarded as sane.
Jerusalem syndrome is generally regarded as a form of hysteria[1]. It was formerly known as Jerusalem squabble poison or fièvre Jerusalemmiene, but you know how it is these days: everything has to be a syndrome. Which means that psychiatrists can start to treat it. Therefore it is not quite clear if the Jerusalem syndrome is a distinct form of psychosis, or simply a re-expression of a previously existing psychotic illness that was not diagnosed earlier.

Because other cities of exceptional beauty or religious significance also create their own delusions in susceptible people, the Jerualem Syndrome might simply be the result of overwhelming impressions on these feeble minded people.

This syndrome has much in common with the Paris Syndrome and the Florence Syndrome.

[1] Bar-El et al: Jerusalem Syndrome in British Journal of Psychiatry - 1998

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