Encyclopedia of Psychology and Religion

2014 Edition
| Editors: David A. Leeming

Jerusalem Syndrome

  • Mark Popovsky
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4614-6086-2_344

The term Jerusalem Syndrome refers to a group of psychopathological phenomena in which religious delusions lead to or are triggered by a visit to the city of Jerusalem. Those suffering from Jerusalem Syndrome characteristically believe themselves to be biblical or messianic figures. Common patterns of behavior include splitting away from sightseeing groups or families and touring the city on one’s own, a sudden increased interest in issues of cleanliness and ritual purity, shouting biblical verses or singing liturgical songs in public, formal processions to holy sites, and delivering sermons which may be strongly moralistic in nature or altogether incoherent. Violent behavior is rare. However, in one well-publicized case, an Australian tourist set fire to the Al-Aqsa Mosque in 1969.

Written records of foreign tourists expressing symptoms of Jerusalem Syndrome date back to the mid-nineteenth century when rail travel first made visiting Jerusalem accessible to a large number of...

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  1. Fastovsky, N., Teitelbann, A., Zizlin, J., Katz, G., & Dwst, R. (2000). The Jerusalem syndrome. Psychiatric Services, 51(8), 1052.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. Kalian, M., & Witztum, E. (1999). The Jerusalem syndrome – Fantasy and reality. Israeli Journal of Psychiatry Related Sciences, 36(4), 260–271.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Pastoral Care, Weill Medical College of CornellNew York Presbyterian Hospital – ChaplaincyNew YorkUSA