“Spiritual Starvation” in a Holy Space—a Form of “Jerusalem Syndrome” Academic Article uri icon


  • The purpose of this article is to study the narratives of two religious tourists who have chosen self-starvation on the streets of Jerusalem as their idiom of distress. Both were hospitalized involuntarily due to self-endangering behavior. It appears that in specific groups, restrictions of food intake are regarded as particularly holy, pure, and blessed. Extreme cases of self-starvation using religious explanatory models could be regarded as forms of “spiritual starvation”. Patients involved in these acts of fasting differ in both religious and cultural backgrounds, as well as the extent to which their families regard the importance of religiosity. Representing extreme forms of religious practice, both spiritual starvation and Jerusalem Syndrome are rare phenomena. The so-called “Jerusalem syndrome” is a rather dramatic, cultural–religious phenomenon, rarely displayed by pilgrims and tourists visiting the Holy City. Jerusalem, the “axis mundi” of faith, is perceived as the arena where great events are ab...

publication date

  • January 1, 2008