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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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Mysticism and Psychosis

Mysticism and Psychosis

The Fate of Ben Zoma

18 Mysticism and Psychosis
Sanity and Sanctity

David Greenberg

Eliezer Witztum

Yale University Press

This chapter presents the cases of two young men who left secular lives to become baalei teshuva. In the course of their change, they immersed themselves in mystical study and eventually became psychotic. These cases were selected from a number of similar cases and are explored in order address the following issues: Does mystical study precipitate illness, or does it appeal to those who are already mentally unstable (or both)? Do local religious attitudes toward mysticism affect the development of psychopathology? How do religions distinguish between the mystic and the psychotic?

Keywords:   ultra-orthodox Jews, Jewish men, baalei teshuva, religious change, religious attitudes, psychopathology

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