Question: What is the most read book in a psychiatric ward?
Answer: Based on my observations, it’s the Christian Bible. During my psychiatry rotation in the third year of medical school, I saw so many patients researching, reading and preaching the word of God. Clearly, in those pages they found something they needed: vengeance against those who’d wronged them, a secret prophecy, confirmation of their sanity. Or maybe they saw the central message: “You’re loved. We (God, humans, nature, whatever) care for you and will take care of you. We understand you.”
Seeing these patients cling to the Bible felt moving and deeply sad–painful, really. A younger, more innocent me might have seen some grace and faith. But, honestly, all I saw was emptiness–in the sense that patients in deep despair, who’ve been told, “Your mind is broken,” “Your body is broken” or “You’re going to die soon,” lack something in their lives: real human connection.