The Jerusalem
Syndrome
Esti Koeun Choi
What is it?
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A temporary state of sudden and intense
religious delusions, brought on while visiting or
living in Jerusalem.
The patients often perform “biblical” or otherwise
eccentric activities, having a strong feeling of
mission.
They typically adopt a lifestyle of religious
observance and attach unusual significance to
biblical relics.
The Discovery
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A clinical psychiatric diagnosis first identified
in the 1930s by Dr. Heinz Herman
Dr. Yair Bar El, former director of the Kfar
Shaul Psychiatric Hospital in Jerusalem,
conducted a research study involving 470
tourists who had been declared temporarily
insane.
Estimated to affect about 20 people a year
The Discovery (cont’d)…
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Bar El studied 470 tourists who were referred
to Kfar Shaul for treatment between 1979 and
1993.
66 percent were Jews, 33 percents were
Christians and one percent had no known
religious affiliation.
“intoxication” occurs mostly during holiday
seasons or summer months
The Discovery (cont’d)…
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Bar El’s Three Groups:
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Visitors who were already mentally ill when
leaving their country of origin
Pilgrims who arrive with deep religious
convictions
Sane people with no religious convictions, aka
the REAL Jerusalem Syndrome
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The Discovery (cont’d)…
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42 of the 470 tourists had no previous psychiatric
history
40 were Protestants, whose families were strict and
devout Bible-reading, mid-American Christians
Most afflicted ranges are from age l8 to 70, the
mean age is 35.
Most of the patients have higher education and not
all of them are connected to religious institutions,
although many are.
The shock of facing earthly Jerusalem caused a
psychiatric reaction which helped bridge the reality
with the dream city.
The Treatment?
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At the moment, there are no definite treatment
methods, however, much research is being done on
rapid and effective diagnosis and treatment.
Dr. Gregory Katz (a Russian psychiatrist who works
with Jerusalem Syndrome patients) says patients
who are experiencing jet-lag as well as the
syndrome are injected with melatonin and minor
tranquilizers. In the case of patients with previous
mental illness, anti-psychotic drugs are used.
Kfar Shaul Psychiatric Hospital is equipped to treat
tourists in many different languages.
Why are Protestants more affected
than Catholics?
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No middle man, direct prayer to God
Jesus is the paramount religious figure
Have little religious ecstasy incorporated in
rituals and few opportunities for spiritual
fervor
It affects Israel Economy!
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The Jerusalem Syndrome is posing an economic
problem for Israel. Some people who fall ill come
from countries where medical insurance is provided
for all citizens, and they are covered for their
treatment. Others hail from the U.S.A., and don't
have any medical coverage. The Israeli government
must pay for their treatment, their hospital stay and
then, if they are long-term patients who were ill
before they arrived in Israel, the government must
also provide a psychiatric escort to return them
home. It is putting a drain on Israeli resources.
A Biblical Experience
“Jerusalem is a kind of magnet for certain
people who develop their ideas before they
come and act out their behavior once they
are here.”
- Dr Moshe Kalian
What causes it?
The Theories…
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The dramatic setting of Israel- mecca of
religions
Shocked by the modern appearance of
Jerusalem in contrast to visitor’s belief
A little extra… The Jerusalem
Syndrome in Biblical Archaeology
During the last three decades a number of artifacts
have surfaced on the local antiquities market.
 Common feature of these artifacts is their reference
to Jerusalem through attributions to major biblical
landmarks or personalities
 Many of these artifacts are later discovered to be
forgery.
Ex) the ivory pomegranate, the Baruch Ben Neriyah
Bulla, The Moussaieff Ostraca, the Jerusalem Lamp,
etc.
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PowerPoint Presentation - The Jerusalem Syndrome