Monday

The Jerusalem Syndrome


So what's going on?

There's the Stendahl syndrome (named in 1989, but observed for centuries) where people faint, or feel dizzy while looking at the David in Florence (I've had that myself) and the Paris syndrome where Japanese tourists wig out while in the City of Light (I've felt wobbly in Paris too, but usually after a late night of playing piano at Monteverde in Odeon).  

In the article below science tells us that there's three possibilities.  1. People go nuts visiting Jerusalem. 2. People are nuts who visit Jerusalem, then it manifests. 3. People are temporarily nuts (but when removed from the city, return to normal.)

Or....

In "Flipside: A Tourist's Guide on How to Navigate the Afterlife" there's a deep hypnosis session where a woman (a friend actually) reports remembering a past life where she lived in Jerusalem.  It happened to be in the year 18, and when she was asked in detail about her experience there - including the question "Have you ever seen anyone speak in public?" she remembering seeing Jesus speak. 

As noted in the chapter, LBL therapist Paul Aurand in NYC has had numerous clients where they claim to remember a previous lifetime in Jerusalem (a handful, but enough to mention it when I asked if he'd seen any patterns or trends in his work), where people remembering knowing or seeing Jesus.

What's great about the Jerusalem syndrome is that it affects all religions.  People report being "overwhelmed" and then they have some kind of psychotic break where they "claim they used to live there before."  And instead of treating these people with hypnosis - and asking them question about what they saw or experienced in a non-judgmental way, or by asking neutral questions like "why did you come to Jerusalem?" they're given psychotropic drugs to cure them of their "illness."

Wow.

Last time I looked the Hippocratic oath is about helping people - not in the manner that the Doctor believes or insists on believing, but in a manner that actually helps the patient.  So why not hypnotherapy?  Why not learn the techniques taught by the Newton Institute that allow for clients to examine and explore all manner of issues as to what may or may not be happening with their patient?

But I digress.

In the syndrome itself, from Wikipedia: as listed 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."

So.  As painful as it may be for modern medicine, there must be included another possibility, one that requires examining how consciousness may not be relegated to the brain (Dr. Bruce Greyson's "Is Consciousness Created by the Brain" on youtube will help, Mario Beauregard PhD's "Brain Wars" or Gary Schwartz PhD's "Sacred Promise" - all scientists discussing how it's possible that memories might exist outside the physical body) - or we can just ask the people who under deep hypnosis remember a lifetime in Jerusalem.  

The key is to ask questions.  "Where did you live? What was the name of your parent or relative? What did you do for a living?" and "Why is this memory coming forth today, what significance does it have on your lifetime?"  

I hate to upset the apple cart, but there is a distinct fourth possibility with regard to this syndrome, if we can rule out that the person was psychotic prior (and of course, we'd have to examine if they'd spent most of their lifetime trying to get back to Jerusalem) to their visit, if they were prone to taking drugs or hallucinating, or, if they actually remember a lifetime where they lived in Jerusalem.

Instead of wondering "how is this possible?" or "How does that physically work?" wonder "How come I haven't looked into this before?"  Once you begin to examine multiple memories of people living in a particular city or previous lifetime, you can start to compare the details of these various lifetimes.  In Brian Weiss' work, he recounts having a client who remember Brian living in Jerusalem in a previous lifetime.  Dr. Weiss had told NO ONE about his past life memory of living in Jerusalem and wearing an robe which had orange piping as part of his daily wear, and during a past life regression, a client said that he too had lived in Jerusalem, and he remembered Dr. Weiss as well.  In fact he remembered a particular incident in Jerusalem and suddenly said "And you were there!" and described Dr. Weiss in detail, EXACTLY as Dr. Weiss had seen himself in his own past life memory.

Let's pretend for a moment that Dr. Weiss is telling us the truth. (I do, but many may not.)  Let's pretend for a moment that somehow this client sought out his services, not realizing that he'd met him in a previous lifetime.  And finally, let's just let the details of this story be what they are (instead of the rather stunning detail that both were attending the moment when Jesus carried the cross on the Via Della Rosa).

One fella standing off to the side.  One fella standing on the other side of the road.  He's lying on a couch in Dr. Weiss' office, and remembering a previous lifetime where he was standing by the side of the road, and suddenly says "and you were there" and describes in detail the same outfit that Dr. Weiss saw himself in.

What are the odds of that happening?

There aren't any really.  Some make the argument that the "client was reading the Doctor's mind" but then you have to demonstrate how that works, rather than how that dismisses this story.

And once we've accepted Dr. Weiss' story for what it is - just data - then we can see that the idea of the Jerusalem syndrome needs to be examined in the light of scientific data with regard to how and when and why this person remembers a lifetime where they once lived in the city they're currently having a "psychotic episode."

I just ran across this article from Huffington Post where Dr. Weiss did a session with his daughter Amy who was suffering from cataracts - and by doing her past life regression (in a group! from her own dad!) she saw herself in a lifetime where she was blinded for her beliefs - and then end result of this memory was that she was cured of her cataracts.  

"Amy says she closed her eyes and heard Dr. Weiss instruct her to go back in time to when the symptoms first began. Rather than picturing herself as the young woman she was, Amy experienced something very different. "Immediately, I saw myself in the body of an old man with long white hair, living in the Middle Ages," Amy says.

This old man, she explains, lived a very solitary life inside a hut. "I was basically a hermit," Amy says of her past life. "But these townspeople thought I was a wizard and that I was doing evil."

The townspeople took action, storming the hut. "They came in with their torches and set fire to everything I owned," Amy says. "And the fire burned my eyes. It blinded me... I could feel his pain, and, so, that man just sunk into a deep depression."

Dr. Weiss then told his workshop attendees to go to the end of that life and hear what the message of that life was. "The message I heard was, 'Sadness clouds the eyes,'" Amy remembers. "For me, that had a double meaning, not just that I had been carrying the cataracts and the literal blindness from the past life, but... I had been carrying that man's sadness in the present life too."

After this regression, much to Amy's surprise, her doctors told her that her cataracts had disappeared. "There could be biological explanations for why my cataracts healed," she says. "But it doesn't really matter to me. What matters to me is that they were gone."

So if past life regression can help remove cataracts, might it also help people treat the Jerusalem syndrome?



Bizarre Syndrome Makes Visitors to Jerusalem Go Crazy

Bizarre Syndrome Makes Visitors to Jerusalem Go Crazy
LiveScience.com 
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A small number of people who visit Jerusalem have developed seemingly spontaneous religious delusions, a set of conditions known as "Jerusalem syndrome."
As Christians and Jews around the world prepare to celebrate the holidays of Easter and Passover, many will flock to the city of Jerusalem. Since ancient times, the city has been a magnet for religious pilgrims from some of the world's largest faiths — namely, Judaism, Christianity and Islam.
But for a small percentage of these visitors, their reverence ofJerusalem may become pathological — in other words, a visit to the city may trigger obsessive ideas, delusions or other psychotic experiences.
Some psychiatrists have dubbed this condition "Jerusalem syndrome," and say it happens in people who have no prior history of mental illness. However, others dispute the diagnosis and say the condition is more likely part of a broader psychosis, and is not unique to Jerusalem. [Top 10 Controversial Psychiatric Disorders]
"I'd never heard of it before," admitted Simon Rego, director of psychology training at Albert Einstein College of Medicine/Montefiore Medical Center in New York City. "You see things like this emerge periodically in the literature, where people think they have found a unique syndrome," but it may just be the result of an underlying mental illness, Rego told Live Science.
Jerusalem syndrome was first identified in 2000. Israeli psychiatrists reported in The British Journal of Psychiatry that they had examined 1,200 tourists who had been admitted to the city's Kfar Shaul Mental Health Center with "severe, Jerusalem-generated mental problems" between 1980 and 1993. The researchers identified three varieties of Jerusalem syndrome.
The first type included people who suffered from a previous psychotic illness, which often made them believe they were characters from the Bible. For example, one American tourist who had paranoid schizophrenia believed he was the biblical Samson, and visited Israel because he felt compelled to move one of the stone blocks in the Western Wall. (After some commotion, police intervened and took the man to the hospital.)
Patients with the second form of the syndrome may have some signs of mental disorders but not a full-blown mental illness. This category includes some people in nonmainstream Christian groups who settle in Jerusalem to wait for the reappearance of Jesus Christ. The researchers also gave the example of a healthy German man who was obsessed with finding the "true" religion, and came to Jerusalem to study Judaism, but wound up having a psychotic episode in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre (built on the site where Jesus is believed to have been crucified and buried).
Finally, the third type of patient identified in the study had no previous history of mental illness, had a psychotic episode while in Jerusalem and recovered spontaneously after leaving Israel. Only 42 of the 1,200 patients in the report fit these criteria.
...Dr. Alan Manevitz, a clinical psychiatrist at New York City's Lenox Hill Hospital, said he thinks Jerusalem syndrome may result when a person who is at risk for psychosis undergoes the stress of traveling to another country and is immersed in a place of religious significance.
"I think what happens is, vulnerable people can be inspired by the circumstances around them," which, in Jerusalem, happens to be religion, Manevitz told Live Science.
Rego agreed that the psychotic syndrome is not unique to Jerusalem. It may be influenced by being in the city, he said, but not caused by it. "If it was purely causal, you would expect everybody who visits Jerusalem to get it," he said.

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