History of medicine - Prophecy and mental illness

Tali Vishne, Eran Harary

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


It is a well known platitude that a mentally ill person may think that he is God or believes that he is the Messiah. Despite the generalization and shallowness of this attitude, sometimes psychotic patients indeed have delusions with contents of divine revelation, messianic assignments or prophetic power. In this current article we examine the different connections between prophecy and mental condition, especially psychotic. We present sources that combine prophecy and insanity, and also possible psychiatric interpretation of these situations. Finally, we present the attitude of the Rambam to prophecy and the personality characteristics of the prophet, limiting the possibility of the mentally ill patient who pretends to be a prophet.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)660-663
Number of pages4
Issue number9
StatePublished - 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Mental illness
  • Prophecy
  • Prophet
  • Psychotic state
  • Religion


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