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Sanity and SanctityMental Health Work Among the Ultra-Orthodox in Jerusalem$
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David Greenberg and Eliezer Witztum

Print publication date: 2001

Print ISBN-13: 9780300071917

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: October 2013

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300071917.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM YALE SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.yale.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Yale University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in YSO for personal use.date: 22 January 2022

Ritual as Psychopathology, or Is the Code of Jewish Law a Compulsive's Natural Habitat?

Ritual as Psychopathology, or Is the Code of Jewish Law a Compulsive's Natural Habitat?

Chapter:
(p.108) 13 Ritual as Psychopathology, or Is the Code of Jewish Law a Compulsive's Natural Habitat?
Source:
Sanity and Sanctity
Author(s):

David Greenberg

Eliezer Witztum

Publisher:
Yale University Press
DOI:10.12987/yale/9780300071917.003.0013

This chapter examines the religious rituals that often become obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) symptoms in ultra-orthodox patients to determine whether there are limits to the expectations of religious ritual and, consequently, whether it is possible to define compulsive behaviors as excessive and pathological. If these behaviors emerge from a body of law that encourages care and order and that even condones checking and repetition—all of which are cardinal aspects of compulsive behaviors—and if the rabbis over the generations have tended to add “fences” of further restrictions around the law, then it may be that the law never limits the lengths to which adherents should go to avoid slipping into error. Such an attitude is likely to make diagnosis difficult. It can dissuade the patient from viewing himself as unwell and could make any attempt at a therapy that limited these precautionary measures religiously indefensible.

Keywords:   ultra-orthodox Jews, obsessive compulsive disorder, OCD, religious rituals

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