For centuries, thousands of visitors have been visiting Jerusalem.
Among them there is a small number – victim of what experts call the ”Jerusalem Syndrome”.
This is the result of an emotional trauma caused by the proximity of the Holy Places …
There are about forty people each year from among two millions of tourists, who have been hospitalized in Jerusalem for believing to be either the Messiah, Mary Magdalene or any other biblical character.
In the Capital they are being taken care of by the Emergency departments of Kfar Shaul Psychiatric Hospital. These ”would-be Messiahs” with their eccentric and bizarre behaviour are attracted by the mystique of the Holy City and are completely losing touch with reality. They become psychotic upon entering Jerusalem.
Contrary to what was expected, the year 2000 was not the safe haven for all these “false Messiahs.” Only a few arrived in Jerusalem, and were taken care of by the Israel Police, psychiatrists and psychologists.
Specialists from the Kfar Shaul Psychiatric Hospital in Jerusalem published in August 2000
in the British Journal of Psychiatry a study that reported on this syndrome:
”Jerusalem, a city that combines the sense of the sacred, history and paradise, has an unparalleled attraction for believers of various religions of the world – especially the Jews, Christians and Muslims.
When people dream of Jerusalem, they do not see modern Jerusalem and politically controversial, but the City Religious Scripture and biblical.
Since 1980, psychiatrists of Jerusalem met with a growing number of tourists, arriving in Jerusalem, suffer psychotic decompensation. Because of the high incidence of this phenomenon, it was decided to direct all such cases to a single institution – the psychiatric hospital in Kfar Shaul – for psychological counseling, psychiatric intervention and, if necessary, admission to hospital. Over a period of 13 years (1980-1993), 1200 tourists with serious mental problems were taken to this hospital in Jerusalem . Of these, 470 were admitted to hospital which sees an average of 100 tourists per year for this condition, including forty need to be hospitalized.”