Mental health of Jesus

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The mental health of Jesus is a topic of discussion among philosophers, psychologists, physicians, theologians and historians.


What is truth? Christ and Pilate, by Nikolai Ge, 1890
  • La foi en leschou est si bien la condition essentielle pour entrer dans le royaume, que bons et mauvais y seront admis indscintement, puurvu qu'ils l'aient cru et suivi, ou qu'ils aient cru Iohanan le Baptiseur affirmant la mission du Nazaréen.
    • Translation: Faith in Jesus is so much the essential condition for entering the kingdom, that good and bad will be there without distinction provided they have believed and followed him, or that they have believed John the Baptist affirming the mission of the Nazarene.
    • Commentary on Luke 9:61-62.
    • Charles Binet-Sanglé, La Folie de Jésus (tome 2), Paris: A. Maloine (1910), p. 158.
  • Il se livrait constamment au prosélytisme et avait des explosions de fanatisme contre les profanes, les sceptiques et les incrédules.
  • Son temperament anarchiste sa haine des riches les lui fait écarter du divin séjour. L'un d'eux s'en étant allé tout triste parce qu'il lui avait ordonné de vendre ses biens et d'en donner le produit aux pauvres, il s'écrie.
    • Translation: His anarchist temperament and his hatred of the rich make him exclude them from the divine abode. One of them went away sad because he had ordered him to sell his property and give the proceeds to the poor.
    • Commentary on Matthew 19:21-24.
    • Charles Binet-Sanglé, La Folie de Jésus (tome 2), Paris: A. Maloine (1910), p. 155.
  • Le juif Joshua, que les chrétiens appellent Jésus-Christ, était un dégénéré vésanique, et, selon toute appatence, un mélancolique à délire systématisé. Vous savez, Messieurs, qu’en Orient les fous ont eu de tout temps un caractère sacré, et qu’on rencontre encore dans l’Inde et en Égypte des saints très analogues aux saints catholiques de la décadence latine et du moyen âge, les uns et les autres n’étant que psychopathes. Si les saints sont devenus si rares dans le monde civilisé, c’est qu’on les enferme. J’ai eu l’occasion d’entendre récemment dans un asile un délirant mystique d’une éloquence rare, et qui eût eu, à n’en pas douter, un succès considérable au temps des apôtres. Qu’on ait fait un Dieu de Joshua, comme on fit un prophète de Mohammed, lequel était un épileptique et un halluciné, rien là qui soit étonnant pour qui est au courant des mœurs orientales.
    • Translation: The Jew Joshua, whom Christians call Jesus Christ, was a psychotic degenerate, and, to all appearances, a melancholic with systematized delirium. You know, Gentlemen, that in the East madmen have always had a sacred character, and that we still find in India and Egypt saints very similar to the Catholic saints of Latin decadence and the Middle Ages, the both are just psychopaths. If saints have become so rare in the civilized world, it is because they are locked up. I recently had the opportunity to hear in an asylum a delirious mystic of rare eloquence, and who would have had, without a doubt, considerable success in the time of the apostles. That a God was made of Joshua, as a prophet was made of Mohammed, who was an epileptic and a hallucinator, is nothing surprising for anyone familiar with Eastern customs.
    • Charles Binet-Sanglé, Le crime de suggestion religieuse et sa nouvelle prophylaxie sociale [The crime of religious suggestion and its new social prophylaxis], Extract from: Archives d’anthropologie criminelle et de médecine légale, (Paris), 16th year, n°95, 1901, pp. 453-473.
  • Les propos tenus par les hystériques ou les fous délirants sont tenus par les démons, avec lesquels Ieschou entre eu convcrsation.
  • Pour être sûr qu'on n'aime que lui, il exige qu'on haïsse les siens et qu'on se haïsse soi-mèmc, ordre monstrueux qui est encore suivi à la lettre par les demi-fous de nos monastères.
    • Translation: To be sure that we only love him, he demands that we hate those close to us and that we hate ourselves, a monstrous order which is still followed to the letter by the half-crazy people of our monasteries.
    • Commentary on Luke 14:26.
    • Charles Binet-Sanglé, La Folie de Jésus (tome 3), Paris: A. Maloine (1912), p. 258.
  • Ce qui signifie: "Laisse ceux-là enterrer leurs morts qui, ayant refusé de me suivre, ne posséderont point la vie éternelle."
  • For the serious student of the New Testament the problem of the psychic health of Jesus is not to be solved by religious recoil at the thought of such a suggestion, nor by an appeal to history, but it is to be faced and met on the basis of an historical and critical study of the sources of our knowledge concerning Jesus' words and deeds as found in the Gospel literature. The battle is to be fought out on the field of the New Testament, and any shift of the scene of action from this field renders the issue unscientific and indecisive.
  • It is the high duty, and should be the pleasure, of every follower of Jesus to greet and welcome any study that will throw new light upon the person of Jesus and help to a renewed, perhaps new, appreciation and understanding of him. The raising of the problem of Jesus' psychic health, we repeat, is to be welcomed as all new problems should be, sorry to say not always have been and are, welcomed because it brings us to read our New Testament again from a different point of view and with new thoughts in mind.
  • Last of all, the pathographers of Jesus have toyed wantonly and wilfully with the one figure in history to which are attached the sincerest sentiments and the dearest affections of the occidental religious world; and without sufficient reason or justification.
  • That the baptism of Jesus should figure prominently in the pathographic position is only natural because the incident is inaugural in the place it occupies in the evangelical life of Jesus and because it, not only historically, but psychologically marks a high point in the life of Jesus. The rupture of the heavens, the descent of the dove, and the assuring voice are psychic phenomena uncommon and unusual to the average run of healthy-minded persons and are quite common and usual in the experience of psychopathic subjects.
  • There is no need or purpose in trying to explain Mc 3,21 22 away. Both constituted a problem for Mt and Lc as they do for us. They solved the difficulty by omission or modification ; this we cannot do. We may urge critical considerations concerning Mc's theology of Jesus' person as incomprehensible and his method of presenting his theology. Historical reconstruction may find reasons for an estrangement between Jesus and his family. We know further that a man's enemies are seldom, if ever, reliable and impartial judges of his mental soundness. But we must admit that some of Jesus' contemporaries, some of his family and friends as well as his foes, regarded him as an alien. But that these contemporary judgments passed upon Jesus are correct is quite a different question which can be answered only by our study as a whole.
  • All those cities in which he was not acclaimed and honored as "king" and "Messiah" he curses, neck and crop. In vain do we seek here for the "Christian love" which strives only for the good and happiness of the enemy. Or, are his doctrines applicable to all others and not to him?
  • In view of such utterances, the diagnosis of a mental disease is charitable. For it would be degrading to mankind to think that a mentally normal human being could give expression to such vileness. And this is the God of mankind!
  • Jesus hates the "wise and prudent" for not believing in him. And because he hates them, he "praises" the Father for "having hidden these things" from them. What a nonsensical chain of thoughts, which could have originated only in a paranoical brain.
  • Thus psychologists have found that the megalomania of John's Jesus mounts ceaselessly, for he is con­tinually occupied with his ego, openly proclaiming his messianic dignity.
  • There is a 5%–10% lifetime risk of suicide in persons with schizophrenia. Suicide is defined as a self-inflicted death with evidence of an intention to end one’s life. The NT recounts Jesus’ awareness that people intended to kill him and his taking steps to avoid peril until the time at which he permitted his apprehension. In advance, he explained to his followers the necessity of his death as prelude for his return.
    • Commentary on Matthew 16:21-28, Mark 8:31, John 16:16–28.
    • Evan D. Murray, Miles G. Cunningham, Bruce H. Price, The Role of Psychotic Disorders in Religious History Considered, Journal of Neuropsychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences: Vol. 24 No. 4 (October 2012), p. 415.
  • Jest to wyraźnie wypowiedź kogoś, kto nie może już dłużej wytrzymać tu, na tych nizinach, na tym nędznym padole, w tej szarej codzienności, wśród cierpień, wśród tych oziębłych, zajętych wyłącznie sobą robaczków, niedowiarków, słabeuszy. Jest to wypowiedź kogoś, komu spieszno odejść wreszcie z tego małostkowego świata.
    • Translation: This is clearly the statement of someone who can no longer stand here, in these lowlands, in this miserable world, in this gray everyday life, among suffering, among these cold, self-absorbed worms, unbelievers, weaklings. This is the statement of someone who is in a hurry to finally leave this small-minded world.
    • Commentary on Mark 9:17-19.
    • Leszek Nowak (2000). Prywatna Witryna Internetowa Leszka Nowaka [Private Website of Leszek Nowak], chapter Upadek [Fall].
  • [Jezus] prawdopodobnie nie mógł już wtedy nawet spokojnie patrzeć na tych obojętnych, zimnych ludzi, żyjących zwyczajnie z dnia na dzień, zabieganych wokół swych codziennych spraw i obowiązków, zamkniętych w kręgu swoich interesów, swojej rodziny, na swój skromny sposób urządzonych i w miarę sytych, umiejących cieszyć się z drobiazgów. Miał ochotę to wszystko zniszczyć.
    • Translation: [Jesus] probably could no longer even calmly look at these indifferent, cold people, living simply from day to day, busy with their daily affairs and duties, closed in the circle of their interests, their family, arranged in their own modest way and relatively well-fed, able to enjoy the little things. He wanted to destroy it all.
    • Commentary on Luke 17:26-30.
    • Leszek Nowak (2000). Prywatna Witryna Internetowa Leszka Nowaka [Private Website of Leszek Nowak], chapter Upadek [Fall].
  • Jezus podejmował długi szereg zaplanowanych działań, mających doprowadzić do skazania go na śmierć.
  • Christ never lost the balance of mind under excitement, nor the clearness of vision under embarrassment; he never violated the most perfect good taste in any of his sayings. Is such an intellect — clear as the sky, bracing as the mountain air, sharp and penetrating as a sword, thoroughly healthy and vigorous, always ready and always self-possessed — liable to a radical and most serious delusion concerning his own character and mission? Preposterous imagination!
  • It is to be noticed that de Loosten and Binet-Sangle lay great stress upon the statements concerning the mental condition of Jesus which have been handed down to us from contemporaries. They appeal to the fact that his opponents among the Pharisees maintain that he is "possessed", and that his family wish to bring him home from Capernaum to Nazareth because he is "beside himself". From this, however, one may only infer that the former wish to discredit him with the people at any cost, and that the relations perceive a change in him and are not able to explain to their satisfaction how it comes about that he sets himself up as a teacher and a prophet. Besides, it should be laid down as certain that the Pharisees and the followers of Jesus do not declare that he is beside himself because he considers himself to be the Messiah, for they know nothing whatever about this claim.
  • Jesus takes a hostile attitude towards his family because his relatives wish to take him home and to obstruct his public ministry (Mark 3:21). When, moreover, he declares that the bonds knit between men by the common faith in the nearness of the Kingdom of God are holier than the ties of blood (Mark 3:31-35) and desires that men in the days of the coming persecution should not be led astray by looking back toward their relations, this is not a lack of family loyalty to be accounted for psychopathologically, but a special point of view to be explained by peculiar preconceptions contemporarily conditioned, as indeed everything is to be explained by those premises which the psychopathologists consider moral defects in the ethical conduct and teaching of Jesus.
  • Moreover, the factor of antagonism is lacking, as we have already emphasized in the discussion of the one-sided, expansive evolution of the mental disease assumed by the three authors. Jesus had, indeed, enemies and opponents because he spoke out against the narrow-minded and external piety of the Pharisees. In relation to these opponents, not imaginary but genuine, Jesus conducts himself in a fashion diametrically opposite to the conduct of a sick man with a persecutory trend. He does not remain inactive and does not limit himself to a defensive attitude like so many of the sick who believe themselves persecuted, but rather seeks by actions which have a provocative character-the driving from the forecourt of the temple of the traders and moneychangers, the discourses against the Pharisees (Matt. 23) — to bring on a conflict with the authorities and to force them to take steps against him, until in the end he brings the high council to the decision to get rid of him even before the festival.
  • The expectation of the end of the world and the coming of the Messianic Kingdom has nothing in it of a nature of a delusion, for it belongs to a world-view which was widely accepted by the Jews of that time, and was contained in their religious literature. Even the idea held by Jesus, that He was the One Who on the appearance of the Messianic Kingdom would be manifested as the Messiah, contains nothing of a morbid delusion of greatness. If on the ground of family tradition He is convinced that He is of the House of David, He may well think Himself justified in claiming for Himself one day the Messianic dignity promised to a descendant of David in the writings of the prophets. If He chooses to keep to Himself as a secret His certainty of being the coming Messiah, and nevertheless lets a glimmer of the truth break through in His discourses. His action, looked at solely from the outside, is not unlike that; of persons with a morbid delusion of greatness. But it is, in reality, something quite different. The concealment Of His claim has with Him a natural and logical foundation. According to Jewish doctrine the Messiah will not step out of His concealment until the revelation of the Messianic Kingdom. Jesus, therefore, cannot make Himself known to men as the coming Messiah. And if, on the other hand, in a number of His sayings there breaks through an announcement of the coming of the Kingdom of God made with all the authority of Him who is to be its King, that, too, is from the logical point of view thoroughly intelligible. Altogether, Jesus never behaves like a man wandering in a system of delusions. He reacts in absolutely normal fashion to what is said to Him, and to the events that concern Him. He is never out of touch with reality.
  • When Jesus was alive, the Gospels tell us that his enemies accused him of being 'demon-possessed and raving mad' (John 10) and that even his own family feared that he was 'out of his mind' (Mark 3). In our day, some atheists have re-asserted that Jesus was severely mentally ill in order to discredit him. As psychiatrists we cannot remain silent when our professional experience enables and equips us to offer a robust defence of Jesus' mental health.
  • In 20th-century England, an individual announcing that he was the son of God and would return after death in glory would probably attract psychiatric attention; but earlier generations might have regarded such claims as unsurprising.
  • Jezus, w uniesieniu, powtarza obelgi Jana Chrzciciela pod adresem Faryzeuszów i wprost zachęca ich w straszliwie ironicznej apostrofie do zabicia jeszcze jednego proroka za przykładem ojców. Wiadomo, o którego „proroka” chodzi w tym wezwaniu.
    • Translation: Jesus, in his ecstasy, repeats John the Baptist's insults against the Pharisees and directly encourages them, in a terribly ironic apostrophe, to kill another prophet following the example of their fathers. It is known which "prophet" this call refers to.
    • Commentary on Matthew 23:29-32.
    • Władysław Witwicki, Dobra Nowina według Mateusza i Marka [The Good News according to Matthew and Mark], Warsaw: Państwowe Wydawnictwo Naukowe (1958), pp. 343–344.
  • Faryzeusze mają odpowiadać za wszystkie zabójstwa, popełnione przez kogokolwiek, na osobach niewinnych od początku świata. (...) Zaczęło się od docinków raczej – o rozsiadaniu się na kazalnicy, o modach, obyczajach, o próżności, a kończy się na przekleństwach i zapowiedziach ogólnych, ociekających krwią na czas najbliższy.
    • Translation: The Pharisees are to be held accountable for all murders committed by anyone against innocent people since the beginning of the world. (...) It started with jokes - about sitting at the pulpit, about fashions, customs, vanity, and ends with curses and general announcements, dripping with blood, for the near future.
    • Commentary on Matthew 23:35-36.
    • Władysław Witwicki, Dobra Nowina według Mateusza i Marka [The Good News according to Matthew and Mark], Warsaw: Państwowe Wydawnictwo Naukowe (1958), p. 344.
  • Niepohamowany bezsilny gniew dyktuje tu obelgi, za które w Kazaniu na Górze groziło piekło każdemu. Wyrok potępienia wydany w formie ogólnej i skrajnej bez przesłuchania i obrony i bez litości i bez miłosierdzia. Wzmożone poczucie mocy i godności boskiej, która zamiast uznania i poddania się, napotkała na opór i krytykę.

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