The Three Christs of Ypsilanti (1964) is a book-length psychiatriccase study by Milton Rokeach, concerning his experiment on a group of three paranoid schizophrenic patients at Ypsilanti State Hospital in Ypsilanti, Michigan. The book details the interactions of the three patients, Clyde Benson, Joseph Cassel, and Leon Gabor, who each believed himself to be Jesus Christ.
Ah the eyes widen, the spine straightens, the attention zooms in. The possibilities are obvious, and abundant.
To study the basis for delusional belief systems, Rokeach brought together three men who each claimed to be Jesus Christ and confronted them with one another’s conflicting claims, while encouraging them to interact personally as a support group.
Ok admit it – who wouldn’t want to be behind the one-way mirror to watch those sessions? Who wouldn’t want to write a play with three characters who all think they’re Jesus? (Or Mo, or Abraham Lincoln, or the man who shot Liberty Valance?)
While initially the three patients quarreled over who was holier and reached the point of physical altercation, they eventually each explained away the other two as being mental patients in a hospital, or dead and being operated by machines.
Interesting! One correct explanation, and one incorrect one. Was that reflected in their relative schizophrenia scores?
It’s a nice little allegory of human life, though. All the others are mental patients in hospitals, but I alone am