"33-year old carpenter presented with narcissism, delusions of grandeur, hallucinations..." - Dr. Gregory House, on the diagnosis of Jesus' alleged mental illness.
PicturePhotography by Joseph Osei-Bonsu

    "They led Jesus then from Caiaphas to the Roman governor's palace. It was early morning. They themselves didn't enter the palace because they didn't want to be disqualified from eating the Passover. So Pilate came out to them and spoke. "What charge do you bring against this man?" They said, "If he hadn't been doing something evil, do you think we'd be here bothering you?" Pilate said, "You take him. Judge him by your law." The Jews said, "We're not allowed to kill anyone." (This would confirm Jesus' word indicating the way he would die.) Pilate went back into the palace and called for Jesus. He said, "Are you the 'King of the Jews'?" Jesus answered, "Are you saying this on your own, or did others tell you this about me?" Pilate said, "Do I look like a Jew? Your people and your high priests turned you over to me. What did you do?" "My kingdom," said Jesus, "doesn't consist of what you see around you. If it did, my followers would fight so that I wouldn't be handed over to the Jews. But I'm not that kind of king, not the world's kind of king." Then Pilate said, "So, are you a king or not?" Jesus answered, "You tell me. Because I am King, I was born and entered the world so that I could witness to the truth. Everyone who cares for truth, who has any feeling for the truth, recognizes my voice." Pilate said, "What is truth?" 
- (The Gospel of John the Beloved; chapter 18, verses 28-39a, The Message Bible)

    When we chance upon someone who is pretending, acting or looking like someone we know they're not, our conclusions about them may vary. We often dismiss them as comedians, victims of mistaken identity, 'wannabes', identity thieves etc. However, when we chance upon someone who believes and behaves in a way that we can't recognize at all as the norm, our conclusion about them is one and simple: that person is crazy! All humans fear the unknown. The unknown cannot be perceived. What cannot be perceived cannot be explained. What cannot be explained is is often considered irrational. Whatever is irrational cannot be controlled. Whatever we cannot control, WE FEAR. Since the unknown personality of the person we think is 'mad' cannot be recognized, controlled or fully explained, we fear that this 'unknown personality' may destroy them; or most importantly, the society. Hence, I believe that 'madness' is the world's most explanation for unrecognised behaviour. As to why this is so, I don't know fully. What I do know is that, 'madness' is never the supposed mad man's opinion of himself. Another has to inform or convince him that he is or he may be 'mad'. Therefore 'madness' is really the public perception of a certain behaviour or individual. The only time we fear 'madness' enough to consider it as a threat is when it has been diagnosed under the auspices medical science. It is in medical science that we find one of the common symptoms of madness: delusions of grandeur.

    "Delusions of grandeur are the manifestation of a psycho-pathological condition in which a person has fantasies of power, wealth, and omnipotence. These people often also have an inflated sense of self-esteem, and may hold an obsession with grandiose or extravagant things or actions. Even when presented with evidence contradicting their delusions, they will still cling to their erroneous beliefs...E.g. A person who thinks he has special powers, for example, might jump off a building because he genuinely believes he can fly." - http://www.wisegeek.com

    Delusions of grandeur, like many other medical terms, is often misused. People incorrectly or non-technically use it to refer to someone who is egotistic enough to overstate their importance, wealth, or self-worth. This is the social use of the term. In this essay, we'll be focusing on the social use of 'delusions of grandeur', rather than its medical use. We seldom use this term on another unless their words or actions are really annoying us. As a matter of fact, we never use this term on people we like, even though their exaggerations may be worse than that of those we don't like. It annoys us to see people whom we don't like, amplifying themselves around us. The annoyance usually stems from the fact that, the person who is exaggerating himself or herself, has practically nothing to show for his or her claims. And frankly, what is more annoying than listening to a poor man bragging about his apparent wealth? Or an okay-looking person acting as if she were Aphrodite, the goddess of beauty herself?  I have discovered that the main response people give to 'people with delusions of grandeur' is this interrogative sentence: 'Who do you think you are?!'.  "Who do you think you are?", has ceased to become a legitimate question of identity in the English language, or, any language for that matter.  Instead, it is now a rhetorical retort against any behaviour or speech that suggests 'foolish grandiosity'. The irony about this is that; we can never know whether a person is truly deluded with self-grandiosity, or if they're really who they say they are, without asking the same question: "Who do you think you are?". This time, however, the motive must be an authentic pursuit for an answer, and not a prejudiced reaction to annoyance. With this in mind, let's proceed to the next paragraph where we shall briefly discuss whether Jesus was who he really claimed to be, or whether he was suffering from delusions of grandeur.

    A delusion can only be proven with time. In other words, the only way to distinguish whether something is a truth or a delusion is to give it time. The same holds true for Jesus, a man who claimed to be the ONLY way to God - the Truth - which could give life to mankind. During his short-lived ministry on Earth, he made many 'I' statements. From 'the Way' to 'the Door', Jesus claimed to be almost everything in between. And he backed these statements with some wonders and miraculous works that haven't been repeated or reproduced in any way or form. How could a 30-year old carpenter's son become the most hated and the most loved public figure in Israel; within the space of just 3 years? Was it his controversial teachings, in which he claimed parity with God? Or was it his metaphoric threat to destroy the nation's oldest public building - the Temple - and rebuild it in 3 days? Certainly, he was wise beyond his years, and without doubt, the most influential man in the whole country. However, none of his behaviours, actions or statements considered him a threat to the reigning power of the day: the Roman Empire. None, except his obvious proclivity, to act, speak and behave like a king. Though very unusual, it was likely that a carpenter's son could become the wisest Rabbi, the most influential man and the most sought-after miracle-worker in Israel; but how could he possibly become a king over a vassal nation? By behaving and talking like a king, Jesus was assumed' to have challenged the authority of the most powerful monarch in the world, Caesar. Since this was an outrageous thing for any man, let alone an Israeli carpenter to do, Jesus was considered 'mad' with delusions of grandeur. A large section of the leaders and the people thought the fame he had acquired over the years had gone to his head. Others believed that he was who he really said he was. If Jesus is really a king, as well as, the singular way to the Truth about God, the only way to prove this claim is to subject it to the test of time. It's been 2000 years since Jesus last walked on the surface of this planet - enough time to test the validity of his claim. During this time, Jesus' legacy has outlasted everything, including, the Roman Empire that condemned him to death. 2000 years later, Jesus is either a mad man plagued with delusions of grandeur, or, the one true King with access to absolute Truth. I'll leave you to decide for yourself "what is truth?".



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