«Hello, I am the Lord»: An Unusual Psychiatric Experiment

three jesusesThere was a remarkable meeting in one of the clinics in the U.S. in the mid-1940s. Two patients were having a cute chat, until one of them decided to introduce herself: “Mary, Mother of the Lord.” “But, my dear, this is impossible,” answered the other patient. ”You’re just crazy. After all, I am the Virgin Mary.” The debate dragged on for a long time, and the hospital staff watched them with interest until the eldest of the patients suddenly said: “Well, if you are Mary, then I must be Anna, your mother.” This decision satisfied everybody, and moreover, the elderly patient who demonstrated flexibility soon showed a better response to treatment and some time later was discharged from the hospital.

It is hard to say if this story was true or not. But in 1950s well-known psychologist Milton Rokeach read it. Such a collision seemed very interested to him: what if a direct meeting between two patients with conflicting illusions can help them get rid of them? Soon the doctor Rokeach received the support of his colleagues and found three eligible patients: all three considered themselves the living incarnation of Jesus.

The experiment began at the State Hospital in Ypsilanti, Michigan, in 1959. The Chief Physician of the Hospital Dr. Yoder agreed to cooperate with Rokeach on very limited conditions: he organized the transfer of all three patients in one office, and then withdrew from all further experiments. Three days later, all three “Jesuses” gathered in one room. The first to introduce himself was 58 -year-old Joseph, who had been in clinics for almost 20 years. He was the softest person of the three. “And besides all, I am the Lord“, said Joseph, telling the audience about himself.

The second to talk was the eldest of the three , 70 -year-old Clyde. He suffered from senile dementia and only in rare moments of enlightenment recalled that once he worked on the railroad. “Do you have other names?” Asked the doctor. “Well, the fifth of them is the Lord, and the sixth is Jesus“, replied Clyde.

The third “Jesus” was the youngest; he was only 38 years old. His name was Leon and he was raised by a single mother, a fanatical Christian. Once she caught him destroying crucifixes and other religious symbols, hanging on the walls of their home. Leon called his mother to abandon the worship of these false images and recognize him as the true Jesus. “My birth certificate states that I am the reincarnation of Jesus Christ of Nazareth,” he said.

Joseph was the first to protest, claiming that he was the Christ. Leon began to argue, and Clyde replied with a quiet, barely intelligible mumbling. However, soon the doctor managed to… read more

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