I would like to tell you, my colleagues in the psychiatric community, about a rather unique patient of mine. And I would like to request your assistance. I will call this patient "J", to protect His anonymity. I use the pronouns in capitalized form out of respect for J's preferred identity, as you will shortly understand.
J first came into my office a little over a year ago. He told me that He had certain identity issues which He wished to discuss with a professional before undertaking certain drastic and irreversible medical steps. I told Him that I would be happy to listen and do
whatever I could to help Him.
J's identity issue is this: He believes that He is God. Now I hear you saying, "What is so unique about that? I have plenty of delusional patients." But the point is that J is NOT delusional. Nor, may I quickly add, do I mean to imply that J is in fact God--at least
not in the conventional sense. Please let me explain. Or better yet, let J Himself explain, as this is what He told me in that very first session.
J clearly understands that He was born natally, genetically, a human male--a man like any other. However J believes that He has a dual nature. To His understanding and definition of God, He is God. He is also a man. J believes that He is in fact God incarnated as man;
that His Godly nature does nothing to diminish His manly nature, nor does His manly nature diminish His divinity. He acknowledges that this is something of a mystery, "beyond the understanding of human reasoning," He says, but He nevertheless accepts it. J insists that He can never be happy in merely His human aspect. He needs to present His divine nature to the world in order to live a fulfilling life.
I will jump ahead to my diagnosis, the evidence for which will be apparent as we proceed. For now let me state that I believe J does in fact clearly and truly understand His own nature; and His beliefs are within the possibilities of reality and physics such as to be credible to an intelligent (albeit willing) person. But what could motivate a person to evolve such a unique philosophy, and to have such strong convictions about it? Obviously the idea of being a god could be attractive for the power, or knowledge, or material goods it could bring. But none of these things seemed to matter to J. I conclude that J's is that most powerful of human (especially male) motivators: sex. I believe J is sexually stimulated by the image of Himself as God--that indeed this is the prime target of J's sexual drive. I have invented a term for this pathology: autogodephilia--the sexual attraction to one's self as God. J Himself never acknowledged any sexual satisfaction from His Godhood, nor indeed, any sexual activity or desire at all. But I conclude that it is a deep-seated repression of these very sexual desires which fuels His God-obsession.
I did initially challenge J's contention that He possesses a divine nature. I asked Him if He believed Himself to be the one and only God. He confirmed that indeed, this was the truth. "What then," I asked, "of God in heaven?"
"You speak of My Father," replied J. "He is God, as I am God. There is but one God, and We are both manifestations of Him." Again, we were getting into territory that was "beyond the understanding of human reasoning."
As the patient so quickly brought up His family situation, I naturally inquired further into it. It turns out J was raised by a step-father, a kindly man in the construction trade, but He never knew His biological father. In fact His mother never shared any information with Him about His biological father, which made it possible for J to construct the paradigm that His actual father is God in heaven. J told me that there is a third component or manifestation of the one God, which is some kind of ghost. From this I deduce that J's biological father is deceased; or maybe there is a dead sibling somewhere in the picture. J would not be more specific in this regard.
I asked J if He would reveal His divine nature to me by performing a miracle. He smiled and asked me if I thought the rose which sat in a little vase on my desk was beautiful. "Indeed it is," I said. "Do you require a more substantial miracle than that?" He replied. I asked nothing further, for I could see His point. What miracle could be more wondrous than a beautiful rose?
J visited me about once a month over the last year. I asked Him to tell me about His past, and He shared a few stories. One of His earliest memories is that as a child He would carry on complex debates with the rabbis in his temple (J was raised in the Jewish faith), and apparently they were most impressed with His intelligence. Even at this young
age, J says He already understood and manifested His divine nature. As a young man, J
recalls attending a wedding reception where they ran out of champagne. J quickly rounded up some cases of Dom Perignon. The hosts were most grateful and called it “a miracle". Another time J made a blind man see, apparently by removing cataracts from the man's eyes. I expressed great concern that J would harm someone, not to mention being arrested for performing surgery without a license! J assured me that this was a one-time crazy stunt He had done as a young man, just a college prank really, and that He did never and would never repeat it.
It is of course impossible to disprove J's dual nature, by its own definition. But this did not present a problem for me, because I do not believe it is the purpose of therapy to prove or disprove a patient's belief system. Rather, it is my goal to assure that the patient can live a happy and productive life within a belief system that works for him. I asked J to talk about His current life. He appeared to be happy. He had a support system of friends who seemed to accept--even encourage—his divine identity. J had a circle of about a dozen of these "God-chasers", or "apostles" as He liked to call them. J did not have a regular job, but appeared to be doing fine living as a sort of itinerate preacher.
I began to suspect the sexual source of J's motivation, so I questioned Him about His sex life. It turns out that He has completely suppressed every aspect of His sexuality. To begin with, He sincerely believes His own mother to be a virgin! (This is one rare case where J's beliefs simply defy the laws of nature.) J denies ever masturbating, either to pornography or his own Godly image, but this is of course a matter about which patients often lie. J does have one God-chaser who is a woman, apparently a woman who is sexually liberated herself, but J does not consider her to be an "apostle"--perhaps to distance Himself from her sexual nature? While J does not have a conventional sex life in any sense, He clearly derives great satisfaction from being worshipped by His followers, and by re-affirming His own divine nature by communing with His father in heaven and the ghost.
So J appeared to be a happy, productive individual, with simply a rather unique self image. As such, I did not see that there was any problem that needed fixing. If J was happy going through life presenting Himself as God, and society accepted it, and it worked for Him, then that is a good condition. But there was a problem. J did not want to maintain the human part of his dual nature. He wished to transcend it, and become God only. I believe this is the final proof that the source of J's dysphoria is sexual: the sex drive dominates the male human nature, and J was determined to get rid of it completely. This is where things start to get strange. J said He heard about a surgical procedure that was available overseas to rectify His condition. Strangely, it did not involve genitalia at all. (Or perhaps this was not so strange? Because if it did, it would force J to confront the sexual nature of his problem.) He said the procedure was known as God Reassignment
Surgery (GRS), and it involved holes in the hands and feet and an incision in the side. I do not understand the significance of the surgery, although I can speculate that the holes in the hands are punishment for masturbating or to prevent masturbating, and the incision
in the side represents a vagina. I cannot figure out about the holes in the feet. (Maybe J has a foot fetish?) If this is a real procedure, I think it would be better called Sexual Repression Surgery (SRS). But I truly hope no such procedure exists, that it is only a construct of J's imagination.
My story unfortunately ends here. At J's last visit, He was speaking seriously of going overseas for this GRS procedure. He said that the recuperation period was only 3 days, and that He would be going to live with His father afterwards. I told J that I was very concerned about His plans, and urged Him to speak with me some more before He did anything permanent. J replied that I should have faith in Him, and that everything would be all right. His last words to me were, "Remember that I love you always, Dr. Rose."
That was the last time I heard from J. It has been 6 months since His last visit. If anyone reading this article has news of J, would you please drop me a line and tell me what you know? I would be most relieved to hear that J is alive and doing well. Thank you.
Dr. Lannie Rose