Woman's Abrupt Hyper-Religiosity Has Medical Cause

Patient already believed in God, so it wasn't a 'case of religious conversion'
By Elizabeth Armstrong Moore,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 18, 2017 2:45 PM CST
Woman's Abrupt Hyper-Religiosity Has Medical Cause
A statue of the Virgin Mary is shown in this stock photo.   (Getty Images/Photogrape)

Her friends and family felt something was wrong: The Spanish woman went from simply believing in God to believing she was seeing and talking with the Virgin Mary. And that's not all. The 60-year-old abruptly shifted from being happy and positive to sad and withdrawn, reports Live Science. Suspecting depression, they had her see doctors, and an MRI revealed glioblastoma multiforme, the aggressive type of brain cancer that Brittany Maynard suffered from. The National Brain Tumor Society doesn't mince words, calling it "the most common, complex, treatment resistant, and deadliest type of brain cancer, accounting for 45% of all brain cancers."

With tumors so big they couldn't be surgically removed, the woman was treated with anti-psychotic drugs sometimes given to glioblastoma patients and chemo and radiation over five weeks; her religious visions ultimately ceased. The doctors write in the journal Neurocase that because she previously believed in God, hers "was not a case of religious conversion." And as there was no "trigger or reason [for the hyper-religiosity] except for the disease ... it can be considered a clearly pathological experience." The researchers suggest that this is not the first such case, writing that "in some cases, religiosity can appear as a pathological correlate in patients with brain lesions"; but they present no data as to how often this might occur. The patient died eight months after being diagnosed with cancer. (This man credits Facebook for helping spot his brain tumor.)

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