This morning, as I was sharing with a friend about my upcoming trip to Israel, he made a joke about something called Jerusalem Syndrome. I had never heard about it before, but a quick Wikipedia search revealed the following. Though surely no laughing matter for those who’ve been afflicted, you can’t deny that it sounds highly entertaining:

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

Some of the symptoms include:

1. An affected person may believe himself to be an important historical religious figure.

2. A need to be clean and pure: obsession with taking baths and showers; compulsive fingernail and toenail cutting.

3. Preparation, often with the aid of hotel bed-linen, of a long, ankle-length, toga-like gown, which is always white.

4. The need to shout psalms or verses from the Bible, or to loudly sing religious hymns or spirituals.

5. Impromtu delivery of a ‘sermon’ in a holy place. The sermon is usually very confused and based on a plea to humankind to adopt a more wholesome, moral, simple way of life.