Talk:Jerusalem syndrome

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Minor things to add?[edit]

One: "Obsession" points to a disambiguation page. I went to fix it, but don't have the technical knowledge to feel comfortable dong so. Should it point to obsessive-complusive disorder, or was the word "obsessive" just pulled from the general lexicon?

Two: Type one seems to be the real deal, but type 3 is under some debate. Perhaps we need to stick an 'expert wanted' template on it? Again, I don't know enough about the subject to know wheather this is appropriate.Sim 04:07, 22 May 2007 (UTC)

Number of tourists[edit]

"About 2 million tourists visit Jerusalem each year". Sorry, but not even half that! Acmthompson 17:51, 24 March 2007 (UTC)

Source? Timbudtwo 17:52, 24 March 2007 (UTC)
I stand corrected, as according to the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics (hebrew site) the total number of entries to Israel on tourist visas during 2006 came to 1,825,863 including several thousands of Jordanian and Egyptian citizens. Most tourists would not leave Israel without seeing Jerusalem, so it would be indeed fair to say close to 2 million, especially as the tourism in 2006 was marred by the 2nd Lebanese War.Acmthompson 17:01, 25 March 2007 (UTC)

Nomination For Neutrality Check[edit]

The constant references to the delusional nature of the intent of the trip are highly biased against people who find it to be something to promote their faith; People that find it a religious obligation. Delusional refers to a fixed false belief, which to say of any religious ideals of any kind are as such is outstandingly biased. At the very least it could be stimulation for Evangelism. Timbudtwo 17:48, 24 March 2007 (UTC)

hmm, you don't seem to be getting too many responses. I would say that the article is well-sourced enough with academic sources to be considered neutral enough for WP:NPOV purposes. There may well be an expectation for people to become, say, religiously elevated, elated, and motivated when they travel to the Holy Land, but this does affect many people. This statement I'm about to make is POV: When I am in Jerusalem there is definitely an elevating and holy feeling that permeates the air. I think the article's fine. --Valley2city₪‽ 06:44, 3 May 2007 (UTC)
Hmm, I think the article is biased. (As regards to myself: I'm already quite mad, I'm Christian, and when I go to the psychiatrists – they say: "Get lost, we have work to do!"). I regard psychoses as essentially non-religious, or maybe a loss of the control needed to make an emotional experience religious. The religion happens in a sane humans brain when heshe interprets elaborate symbols to practical ethics and methods. But this is not my main objection towards the article.
Instead, the text reminds me of a series of incoherent anecdotes that contradict each other, f.ex.:
The majority of Jerusalem Syndrome patients are harmless and are usually regarded with pity and/or amusement. [anecdotal/not NPOV!] The most significant exception occurred in August of 1969, when an Australian tourist, Michael Rohan, overwhelmed with a feeling of divine mission, set fire to the al-Aqsa Mosque. His act was followed by citywide rioting. These events helped form the premise of a movie called The Jerusalem Syndrome. Rohan was both delusional and religious, but he met none of the other supposed signs of the "syndrome". [Then why the Heck is this mentioned here – he's a delusional person not exhibiting the Jerusalem syndrome]
I propose:
  1. first make this article coherent,
  2. thereafter NPOV it;
because I suspect it to be a psychologists hype (like everyone got Asberger's syndrome, then fewer, then everyone got the Tourette's syndrome then fewer), or a speculative confusion of different kind of psychoses triggered by mental or sensory overload. Thereafter the connection towards pseudo-religious psychoses can be clarified. Said: Rursus 08:51, 6 June 2007 (UTC)
The Jerusalem Syndrome is a delusional syndrome - i.e. an expression of psychosis, in which religious themes are common. See Clarke's Psychosis and Spirituality (ISBN 1861560192) or more recently PMID 17464638. - Vaughan 14:17, 6 June 2007 (UTC)

Is this for real?[edit]

You can't be serious, is this for real? Bensaccount 17:20, 3 Apr 2004 (UTC)

This does seem double-extra-fake. I feel like the article gives far too much credence to the existence of this... whatever it is. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 05:12, 14 July 2013 (UTC)

Indeed. For example, it's described in literature indexed on PubMed at a webpage. Vaughan 18:10, 3 Apr 2004 (UTC)

Umm, although that link does indeed take us to PubMed summaries of articles on the subject, it finds only 8 articles relevant to the subject, and if we drill down to the actual articles quite a few of them are disputing the existence of the syndrome. In particular, the typology discussed in our article comes directly from Bar-El et al., and most of the rest of the PubMed links are either disputing this article, or its original authors defending it. (There are also two which are relatively neutral.) Bar-El et al. is strongly criticised by Kalian and Witztum (2000) - who note that it presents no epidemiological data to justify its typological system, no data to justify regarding the "syndrome" as a distinct clinical entity, and also that 40 hospitalisations per annum out of two million tourists, makes the condition "uncommon". The paper Kalian and Witztum (1999), also criticises the syndrome, observing that the overwhelming majority of people exhibiting the syndrome were known to have existing mental disorders before going to Jerusalem, and in fact usually the existing mental disorder was a factor in deciding to visit the city.

That's it, this has to be a wind-up! Was it first published on 1st April? I guess existing mental disorders is coded for religiosity? [math]\alpha[/math] 16:14, 19 February 2008 (UTC)

Type I - already crazy[edit]

Indeed, if we examine the case studies in Bar-El et al., there isn't really much to go on. The first "Type" (comprising 4 subtypes) explicitly concerns persons who were already mentally ill before visiting Jerusalem. In all the examples given (one dating back to 1848!) the existing mental illness was the reason for visiting Jerusalem, and in one example there was not even any known religious factor (the ill person simply believed that a person who had raped his daughter was hiding in Jerusalem.) We might characterise "Type I" by saying "each year, about 40 crazy people and millions of sane people, choose to visit Jerusalem. Many (sane or insane) are motivated by its religious significance. But some aren't". That wouldn't make for much of an article, though.

Type II - not crazy, just odd[edit]

The second "Type" is "idiosyncratic ideations" - in other words, just eccentric ideas, not necessarily mental illness at all. In both the examples for the two subtypes of this "Type", Bar-El et al. freely admits there was no evidence of mental illness! So, umm, what are they doing in a psychiatry paper as a classification of a mental illness?! (It does observe that in a certain group of unspecified size, 3 members who got into a fight were found to have "personality disorders". Pffft.) What's more, in neither example is the eccentric belief particularly fixated with Jerusalem. We could characterise "Type II" as "some people have odd ideas. Some of them live in Jerusalem". Also not much of a WP article. But we begin to see what is going on here; as Bar-El et al. notices, eccentrics make excellent news stories in slow news weeks.

Type III - the real deal, suddenly crazy. Maybe.[edit]

We finally get to Bar-El et al.'s "Type III", cases of psychosis occurring in Jerusalem among pilgrims or tourists who had no known history of mental illness, and "apparently" were quite well soon after leaving. This, IMHO is the sole category of real interest. Unfortunately, we discover that this "classification" is based on just 42 persons over a period of 13 years (a time during which tens of millions of tourists or pilgrims visited Jerusalem), and the claim of having no subsequent pathology appears to be based on just four of these persons, none of whom actually completed the questionnaire!! In other words, we are presented with no evidence that "Type III" actually exists. At this point one might be inclined to think that Bar-El et al. is a filler paper, an article that doesn't really say anything written in order to keep up ones' publication count without doing any real research. But it gets worse!

Seven signs of madness. (Hymns, etc.)[edit]

Some of Bar-El et al.'s "seven clinical stages of type III", quoted verbatim in our article, are positively surreal. Apparently one of the earliest signs of this terrible psychosis is when an otherwise sane, healthy tourist exhibits a desire to separate from a tour group to visit parts of the city solo. To anyone except Bar-El et al., this would seem to be a perfectly common and sane behaviour. Oh, you think, this is just one of many signs to be taken in conjunction with others, right? Nope, Bar-El et al. actually recommend that at this "stage" of the "syndrome" the tourist be referred to a psychiatric institution!!!! At this point I checked to see if the paper was submitted or published on April Fool's Day (it wasn't).

Next, cutting up the hotel bed-linen to make a toga seems pretty wacky (unless actually participating in a toga party, of course) but oddly hotel staff are not expected to notice this, so perhaps it doesn't always happen, or the toga isn't actually worn, or something (they don't really go into details). On the other hand, singing hymns is a definitely a sign of psychosis according to Bar-El et al., who recommend that the hapless soul at this point be taken (not referred) to an institution as the final, dire phases of the illness are now inevitable!! It would almost be an amusing joke about cacophanous blue-noses if not for the fact that these quacks are actually recommending the involuntary committal of persons for being found singing hymns in Jerusalem. At this point I begin to wonder about those 42 "Type III" cases over 13 years; how many were actually ill, how many just religious people in high spirits? (Presumably less high in spirits after being bundled into a white van.)

And what is this dire seventh stage? It is publicly making a "confused and unrealistic plea to humankind to adopt a more wholesome, moral, simple way of life". Gosh. Lucky we caught that one in time.

This has to be some kind of wind-up! —Preceding unsigned comment added by 51kwad (talkcontribs) 15:38, 19 February 2008 (UTC)


If we include all of the three types in order to determine the limits of what can characterise "Jerusalem syndrome", it appears that sufferers of this illness are:

  • either previously psychotic, temporarily psychotic, or not psychotic;
  • either visitors to Jerusalem or residents there;
  • motivated either religiously or non-religiously (e.g. politics, family problems); and
  • prone to exhibit any of a variety of odd behaviours, such as visiting historic sites alone, singing, or breeding cattle.

Seen in this light, it is difficult to avoid Kalian and Witztum's conclusion that "Jerusalem syndrome" is not a syndrome at all, but a media story that takes whatever form is likely to titillate the readers.

Old version better[edit]

It frankly appears to me as if our current article is close to nonsense. It is based (verbatim in places) on a single journal article which appears not to be accepted by any other authorities in its field, and in fact has been strongly criticised. Examination of that article shows that it has many flaws, and even its authors admit (in the "Limitations" section) that it is not a research paper. Yet our article omits even the caveats in the original paper! The version of our article from around 4th August 2003 was, in my opinion, a much more accurate and fairer representation. Securiger 16:41, 25 Aug 2004 (UTC)

Hi there,
The criticisms you mention are good ones, but they are largely criticisms of the concept of the Jerusalem syndrome, not of the article itself, which aims to reflect the medical literature on the subject. However, you have raised a particularly valid point about the article not covering the debate about the syndrome fully, and I agree this needs to be added to provide more balance to the article. - Vaughan 19:31, 28 Aug 2004 (UTC)

Jerusalem syndrome in contempory show[edit]

I don't see how to fit this into the article at the moment, but there is a review of exhibitions in the Guardian newspaper's arts section which includes mention of a "video segment" which is all about Jerusalem syndrome.

In the article: " The Jerusalem Syndrome is the subject of a two-part video projection by Nathan Coley, the most interesting segment of which is the interview with the city's district psychiatrist, who describes the variety of symptoms displayed by some visitors to the city (invariably, he observes, these are Christian and Jewish rather than Muslims), whose delusions are often what lead them to take their pilgrimage in the first place.",3604,1531260,00.html

Just in case anyone can do anything with that. As I say, I don't see where any of it can be worked in.

Telsa 09:02, 19 July 2005 (UTC)

what exactly is so wrong with "singing religous hymns in Jerusalem" and begging mankind to adapt a more moral life etc.? can you explain why is this a "case"?


Because mentally normal people do not come to a given historical place and start yelling about those things. I was in Jerusalem for Passover and Easter. I left thinking the world was crazy. This is bare editorial, so go ahead and take it out: My dream is that one day Jerusalem becomes known as a historical place where religions once had their center, back when people thought organized religions were a tenable idea. "How quaint," visitors will say, "I am glad we are no longer deluded." Anyway, more substantively, this article should not be stewarded by a religious project, because it it is on a medical issue precipitated by religion, but is not about religion.

I too, thought this was a hoax on first reading this article. It certainly needs more of a criticism section or somethingMerkinsmum 01:02, 13 March 2007 (UTC)

The only reason I'm on the Talk page is that the entry has the *style* of a hoax. I've no doubt the topic is a serious one but the entry, at least in places and possibly throughout, is surely designed to be read as humour. JohnHarris 00:42, 27 July 2007 (UTC)

Wasn't Jesus the first known case of the Jerusalem Syndrome? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 03:14, 24 September 2007 (UTC)

In a word: no.

It is perhaps instructive that the Paris Syndrome page does NOT have a bunch of angry skeptics raging that "this cannot possibly be true1!!!!" even though it's the exact same damn thing without the religious overtones.

Weasel wording &c. in the intro[edit]

Hello hello!

I'm going to try to fix this intro a bit. Not my first edit, but my first with a real login. Pls be gentle :) P.S. Not sure if "weasel wording" is the right term (Is it still weasel wording if the source is cited?), but it still sounded bad.

Original 4th ¶: It has been claimed[1] that there is a specific syndrome which emerges in tourists who have no previous psychiatric history. However, this has been disputed[2][3] They stressed that nearly all of the tourists who demonstrated the described behaviours were already mentally ill prior to their arrival to Jerusalem. Further, of the small proportion alleged to have exhibited spontaneous psychosis after arrival in Jerusalem, there was no evidence presented that they had previously been well.

New 4th ¶: In a 2000 article in the British Journal of Psychiatry, Bar-El et al.[1] 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[2][3]. Kalian and Witzum 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.

I also changed the first sentence of History section: "It was previously regarded as a form of hysteria," changed to "Jerusalem syndrome has previously been regarded as a form of hysteria," I'm not sure if my new first sentence is very good, either, but at least it identifies the subject.

I made a few minor copy edits, too (hopefully non-rotsky!). Please revert anything I made worse. You won't hurt my feelings. WarEqualsPeace (talk) 19:26, 30 January 2010 (UTC)

Jerusalem syndrone cannot be merged with Paris syndrome[edit]

The two syndromes are not the same. The research cited in thsi article makes that clear: "...The religious focus of the Jerusalem syndrome distinguishes it from other phenomena, such as the Stendhal syndrome, which is reported in Florence, Italy, or the Paris syndrome, which has been reported predominantly in Japanese individuals. In a 2000 article in the British Journal of Psychiatry, Bar-El et al.[1] 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[2][3]...etc" IZAK (talk) 06:10, 1 February 2010 (UTC)

I've been interested by this article, and I feel the Jerusalem and Paris syndrome are connected. I'm not an psichiatric authority, but as a Spitirualist I recognize that those syndromes, despite from any belief from anyone (I respect each one opinion and I'm sure my opinion here is almost not welcome) they are actually linked, and not just Paris and Jerusalem, but every ancient city somehow works as a trigger for this issue. I have a cousin who also had triggered psychosis (schizophrenia) when was visiting the most ancient city on Brazil (Bahia). It may sound like a joke for medicine these syndromes, but as a spiritualist I realize this is a spiritual isssue, and the answer is spititual obsession, related to past lives from these individuals who linked them to those cities and to the energies who broke them down. You can once consider my appointments as pseudo-science, but you can insist constantly to solve those puzzles ignoring some key pieces. Perhaps my observations are worthy (not to necessarily agree). — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:36, 18 October 2013 (UTC)

"Squabble Poison"?[edit]

This just doesn't make sense: "Jerusalem syndrome has previously been regarded as a form of hysteria, referred to as "Jerusalem squabble poison," or fièvre Jerusalemmiene.[4]"

I googled "squabble poison" and the only references to it were quotes from this article. I think it's a made-up expression. I can't find the book this contributor was quoting from, but I'm going to guess that since the French expression is "fièvre," the English expression needed here is almost certainly "fever." Not to mention, it makes a hell of a lot more sense than "squabble poison." Dr spork (talk) 03:04, 26 May 2011 (UTC)

No studies about the possibility of a physical cause for this?[edit]

I would expect this could be easily explained for example as the result of inhaling the spores of a fungus species only found in that area (the same way not everyone reacts the same to many medications, not everyone would react the same, or at all, when in contact with such element). Has there been no studies looking for this type of explanation for the syndrome? --TiagoTiago (talk) 22:44, 22 October 2011 (UTC)