The city of Jerusalem contains some of the most venerated sites in the Muslim, Christian, and Jewish religions. To name only a few, the Muslims built the Dome of the Rock over the place from which Muhammad ascended to heaven; the Jews revere the Wailing Wall, all that remains of the great Temple of Solomon destroyed by the Romans; and the Christians flock to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, built around the tomb from which Jesus rose from the dead. Because of the extreme emotionality and religious fervor which exists around such sacred sites, a bizarre psychological condition known as "Jerusalem Fever" plagues certain visitors to the city, causing them to believe that they are on a mission from God and that they must carry out His will.

Thousands of pilgrims come each year from all over the world to experience the sacred sites of Old Jerusalem. The visitors are able to walk the streets where many of their biblical heroes and heroines trod. In Jersusalem, citizens of our modern, fast-paced technological society can meditate under the shade of olive trees and reflect upon the divine inspiration that guided the ancient prophets, teachers, and kings to write the psalms, sermons, and scriptures. The pilgrims can leave the city and travel through the same landscapes where the great figures of the bible and the Qu'ran sought God and heard His messages.

Such a total immersion in the places and events recounted in scripture overpowers some visitors with a desire to bring about a oneness of all religions and all people on Earth. They develop a deep sense of sadness for all the religious wars and crusades that have been waged over earthly possession of the Holy City; they want to do whatever they can to bring together all believers. At the other end of the spectrum, other pilgrims are struck with a paranoia that makes them think the End-Times are near and that they must prepare at once for Armageddon—the last great conflict between good and evil and the precursor to Christ's Second Coming and the Final Judgment.

Both psychological conditions are clinically identified as "Jerusalem Fever." While these peculiar psychological symptoms are usually fleeting, they can occasionally be severe enough to result in bizarre behavior and acts of violence against others.


Jerusalem Syndrome., 12 October 2001.

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