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At first the victim may begin to feel symptoms of anxiety, nervousness, and insomnia. "Your frontal lobe isn't there to say, 'Hey, this doesn't sound like a good idea.' And the person winds up engaging in behaviors that are not their norm." The psychosis typical of Jerusalem syndrome develops gradually. For example, there's Stendhal syndrome, in which visitors to Florence are overwhelmed by powerful works of art.
It's here that he has become one of the world's leading experts on the peculiar form of madness that struck Ronald Hodge - a psychiatric phenomenon known as Jerusalem syndrome. "We had a new Chosen One brought into the ward this morning." We go down to Lichtenberg's office; on top of a bookcase is a giant shofar, a curved ram's horn that religious Jews sound on the high holidays. And Hodge knew that whatever called him to the Holy Land was emanating from there. Taking a cue from the sign of the cross that Catholics make when they pray, Hodge decided that if the vibrations came from the right side of his chest, it was the Holy Ghost communicating with him. He walked through the ancient, labyrinthine streets until he found a cheap hostel near the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Supposedly built on top of the spot where Jesus Christ was crucified and three days later rose from the dead, the domed cathedral is the holiest site in Christendom. It was like his body had become a giant tuning fork or a dowsing rod. "In extreme cases, that can lead to hallucinations, where someone might believe they're seeing the face of God or hearing voices," Newberg says. The limbic system, the center for our emotions, begins to show much higher activity, while the frontal lobes, which might ordinarily calm people, start to shut down.