Tuesday, 16 October 2018

Jerusalem Syndrome

(The following article was included for the autumn issue of the CPCA's newsmagazine INTERVALS.  Each Hallowe'en, I have chosen an odd psychological condition; Cotard's Syndrome; Alice in Wonderland Syndrome, etc just to offer something bizarre and spooky.  The Executive Director and  the Board of Directors have chosen to censor the article, for fear it may "offend religious people.
In the four decades I have written professionally, I have NEVER been censored, nor will I tolerate it now.  I have resigned as Editor, Art Director, and Feature Writer for the CPCA.  SO here is the original article for your consideration.)
Jerusalem Syndrome is a rare, temporary cluster of psychological phenomena comprised of religious obsession, delusions, and psychosis triggered when visiting the city of Jerusalem.  The syndrome can occur regardless if the person is Jewish, Christian, or Muslim.  Jerusalem Syndrome causes a psychotic episode in visitors who had may have never displayed any signs of psychosis, delusional, or obsessive thinking, although some clinicians dispute this; maintaining that visiting the city unleashes pre-existing latent psychotic tendencies.
The symptoms of Jerusalem Syndrome are diverse, but most centre around obsessive religious mania;
  • Anxiety, agitation, nervousness and tension
  • A desire to separate from family or their group in order to explore Jerusalem on their own
  • A sudden manic need to be ‘clean’ and ‘pure’; obsessively taking baths and showers; compulsively trimming fingernails and toenails
  • Using hotel bed linen to fashion an ankle length, toga-like gown, always white in colour
  • Shouting psalms or bible verses impulsively, or singing hymns loudly as they travel through the city
  • A ‘processional march’ to one of Jerusalem’s ‘holy’ places
  • Delivering a ‘sermon’ in one of the holy places, usually themed as a plea for humanity to adopt a wholesome, moral, and holier way of life - such sermons are typically disjointed and rambling
  • A paranoid delusion that a Jerusalem shadow organization is stalking them and causing their symptoms through medication and poisoning
From 1980 to 1993 the admissions to the Kfar Shaul Mental Health Centre in Jerusalem indicated that 1200 tourists with profound Jerusalem-themed psychological issues were referred with 470 requiring admission to stabilize them enough to transport them home.
The syndrome is classified under three types;
Type I
Jerusalem syndrome imposed on a previous psychotic illness referring to individuals already diagnosed as having a psychotic illness before their visit to Jerusalem. They have typically gone to the city because of the influence of 
religious ideas, often with a goal or mission in mind that  they believe needs to be completed on arrival or during their stay. For example, an affected person may believe himself to be an important historical religious figure such as the new messiah, or be the person who will trigger the second coming of Christ
Type II
Jerusalem syndrome superimposed on and complicated by idiosyncratic ideas. This does not necessarily take the form of mental illness and may simply be a culturally anomalous obsession with the significance of Jerusalem, either as an individual, or as part of a small religious group with idiosyncratic spiritual beliefs.
Type III
Jerusalem syndrome as a discrete form, uncompounded by previous mental illness. This describes the best-known type, whereby a previously mentally balanced person becomes psychotic after arriving in Jerusalem. The psychosis is characterized by an intense religious character and typically resolves to full recovery after a few weeks or after being removed from the locality. It shares some features with the diagnostic category of a ‘brief psychotic episode’.
The fortunate aspect of Jerusalem Syndrome is that the symptoms are temporary and recede upon the person returning home.

Jerusalem Syndrome is not listed as a diagnosis nor mentioned in the DSM-V nor in the ICD-XI, and some scholars argue that some form of psychosis must be present prior to a visit to the city for it to occur.
Aaron D. McClelland, MPCC-S - www.interiorcounselling.com

Monday, 15 October 2018

101 Ways to F*ck Up Your Kid

#99: Factory Kids
It has been the norm since the Industrial revolution that parents send their kids to school often with the best intentions.  School is necessary to prepare them for the journey toward being productive and happy adults, right?
Maybe not.
The modern school system has not changed since its creation by factory owners in the late 18th century.  This act by this new breed of industrialists was not one of altruism or civic humanism, but based solely on greed.  
Factories were built in large cities to take advantage of shipping and export hubs.  To man the factories, owners enticed able-bodied adults in from rural areas with the promise of modern homes, a steady wage, and year round employment.  To their dismay, the industrialists discovered that only men came to work while their wives stayed home to care for children and elderly parents. 
To solve this dilemma and entice women to come work in the factories as well as their husbands, the industrialists created Poor Houses for the elderly (now ‘retirement care homes’) and schools where children could be sent while mom worked.  They based both on the factory model.
Modern educators will scream blue-bloody-murder at this, but today’s schools are still factories; the raw material is pushed into one end, treated the same throughout the process, and the finished product is wave after wave of identical people.
These factory schools have - and are - failing our children.
Schools are a top-down, teach and test system, and restrict freedoms more than any adult would tolerate in their workplace.
Schools remain a law unto themselves, tolerating violent crimes within their halls and choosing to deal with those crimes internally, thereby depriving children of the rights for justice and law that adults demand.
Schools produce students who are burned-out by unrealistic demands and excessive hours of imposed homework. 
Mihaly Czikszentmihalyl and Jeremy Hunter fitted more than 800 sixth - through 12th - graders, from 33 different schools across the United States, with special wristwatches that provided a signal at random times of day. Whenever the signal appeared, they were to fill out a questionnaire indicating where they were, what they were doing, and how happy or unhappy they were at the moment. The lowest levels of happiness, by far, occurred when they were in school and the highest levels occurred when they were out of school playing or talking with friends. In school, they were often bored, anxious or both.
Twenty-five percent of students from grades one through twelve have a diagnosable anxiety disorder and the second leading cause of death for children and adolescents is suicide, often due to bullying at school.
Children are naturally driven to learn by their own innate curiosity.  Prior to attending school they learn how to crawl, walk, climb, and speak their native language independently and with that learn to converse, argue, tell jokes, and ask questions. 
As they grow, they begin to explore and learn experientially about the world that surrounds them, and develop skills and knowledge with little or no help from adults.  Many children learn to read before they begin school, studying the letters and words as their parents read to them.
That spark of natural learning is extinguished the moment a child sets foot within a factory school, and any child following their innate curiosity is punished.
There is a growing movement amongst parents to accommodate their children in self-directed learning as opposed to the factory model of education.
These parents base their child’s education in the home environment devoid of set curriculums and testing, connecting their children with community activities where they can learn on their own, such as museums, community centres, and libraries.  Parents who began this alternative to standard schooling decades ago have adult children who are now thriving in higher education and careers.
A recent survey of 232 of these families found that their children maintain their curiosity and passion for learning and have stronger bonds with their families.  One mother stated; “As an educator I see that my daughter has amazing critical thinking skills that many of my adult college students lack … My daughter lives and learns in the real world and loves it. What more could I ask for?”
Another study of these families found that older children who had pursued higher education (about 75% compared to an average of 32% for factory schools) reported no particular difficulty getting into the schools of their choice and doing well there once  admitted. Some, including a few who had never previously taken a formal course, had gone on successfully to highly prestigious colleges and universities.

Our factory-based schools are failing our children, seeing lower grade averages and crushing our children’s natural curiosity which in turn stifles their desire for a higher education, not to mention the psychological damage a factory school environment causes.
Aaron D. McClelland, MPCC-S - www.interiorcounselling.com