Israel: US tourist diagnosed with Jerusalem Syndrome jumps off building

A 38-year old American tourist diagnosed as suffering from ‘Jerusalem Syndrome‘ jumped off a 13-feet walkway on Friday night at the Poria Hospital in Tiberias. He broke several ribs, one of which punctured a lung, and also smashed a vertebra in his back. The man was placed in the intensive care unit.

The tourist was evacuated to the hospital along with his wife by the physician accompanying their tourist group. The couple told the medical staff they were devout Christians who had arrived in Israel 10 days earlier to tour various holy sites. Over the past few days the husband began feeling anxious and suffered from insomnia. He roamed the hills surrounding the guest house he was staying at, muttering about Jesus.

Dr. Taufik Abu Nasser, a senior psychiatrist at Poria, said the man underwent a series of tests in the emergency room, including a psychiatric examination and blood tests to determine whether he had used hallucinogenic drugs.

“Then at some point, after he’d calmed down, he suddenly got up and left the ward,” recalled Dr. Abu Nasser. “There’s a walkway connecting the emergency room to the other wards, and he just climbed the wall next to it and jumped from a height of over 13 feet to the ground level.”

According to the doctor, the man is most likely suffering from the rare yet well-documented ‘Jerusalem Syndrome.’

“This psychotic state is brought on by visits to Jerusalem or the Galilee. It induces a state of religious ecstasy which overcomes the tourists. They feel euphoric at being surrounded by so many holy sites,” explained Dr. Abu Nasser.

“This state is characterized by megalomania and delusions of grandeur. Those afflicted often believe they are the Messiah, Jesus or the Mahdi, depending on their religion and sect. They attempt to reconcile Jews and Palestinians, speak to God and genuinely believe he answers them.”

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Religion News Blog posted this on Monday May 26, 2008.
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