Many tourists are overwhelmed by religious zealotry when they visit Jerusalem. However, most cases of "Jerusalem Syndrome" do not result in the loss of ancient artifacts. Sadly, two 2nd-century Roman statues were "substantially damaged" this time.
A 40-year-old American man told Israeli authorities he destroyed the statues because they contradicted his religious beliefs. The gentleman's lawyer claims this is a case of "Jerusalem Syndrome," wherein tourists to the area become obsessed with some aspect of their religion because they are in the city.
The man's lawyer, Nick Kaufman, said the statues his client was accused of knocking down were second-century Roman sculptures.
Kaufman said his client did not act out of religious "fanaticism." Rather, he said he believed his client suffered from a mental health condition labeled by psychiatrists as "Jerusalem syndrome." The condition is believed to cause foreign pilgrims who visit Jerusalem, a city considered sacred to Christians, Jews and Muslims, to believe they are figures from the Bible, according to The Associated Press.
"His acts prior to the incident and general demeanor suggest that he is suffering from a well-recognized condition known as the Jerusalem syndrome," Kaufman said in a statement shared with NBC News.
The lawyer said his client was referred for psychiatric evaluation with agreement from authorities.
Jerusalem Syndrome is described on Wikipedia as:
Jerusalem syndrome is a group of mental phenomena involving the presence of religiously themed obsessive ideas, delusions, or other psychosis-like experiences that are triggered by a visit to the city of Jerusalem. It is not endemic to one single religion or denomination but has affected Jews, Christians, and Muslims of many different backgrounds. It is not listed as a recognised condition in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders or the International Classification of Diseases.
The best known, although not the most prevalent, manifestation of Jerusalem syndrome is the phenomenon whereby a person who seems previously balanced and devoid of any signs of psychopathology becomes psychotic after arriving in Jerusalem.[not verified in body] The psychosis is characterised by an intense religious theme and typically resolves to full recovery after a few weeks or after being removed from the area. The religious focus of Jerusalem syndrome distinguishes it from other phenomena, such as Stendhal syndrome in Florence or Paris syndrome in Paris.