July 17, 2014 • By Ed Wrather
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also abounds through Christ. Now if we are afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effective for enduring the same sufferings which we also suffer. Or if we are comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation. And our hope for you is steadfast, because we know that as you are partakers of the sufferings, so also you will partake of the consolation. - 2 Corinthians 1:3-7 NKJV.
At a gas station and convenience store combination in Poland, there was an unexpected incident which occurred. One of the customers, Cezar Zawadzki, was present and recorded the event using his phone. For most people, it would likely be a memorable occurrence in that it is not often that a young woman without clothes walks into a store. According to Cezar, everyone tried to act as though there was nothing strange about what was happening. The woman walked to a display and picked out some food and something to drink, and then walked to the counter. Cezar says, “She completely ignored me and she didn’t seem drunk or on drugs, she just stood patiently waiting in the line to be served so that she could pay for her drink and sandwich. It was a really surreal experience. After she paid she just left the shop and went back down the road as if it was the most normal thing in the world.” (Orange News 07.16.14)
Why would someone do something like the young woman in the above incident? There are multiple possibilities; however the one most likely is mental illness. A study from the National Institute of Mental Health indicates that in any year, one in four adults suffers from a diagnosable form of mental illness. It is common for some unknown reason for people who are mentally ill to disrobe. Some of the possibilities are schizophrenia, catatonia (resulting from schizophrenia), and psychosis. In addition, medications and illegal drugs can be a causal factor. In older people with dementia, disrobing is sometimes seen, but it is more related to confusion in thinking.
Personally, I have heard many reports of people disrobing at inappropriate times and read many articles similar to the young woman in Poland. My own Mother who had been unable to walk by herself for several months had a strange incident of this behavior. In the middle of the night, she jumped out of bed ran out of the house without clothes, ran down the road for more than a quarter of a mile before collapsing in the middle of the road before my Dad could catch up with her. My Mother did suffer from mental illness at times during her life. At times, she was very well and at other times she had trouble functioning at all. During the time that she had the incident of running down the road, she was on several types of medications that could have caused an adverse psychotic reaction. Of course, not all disrobing incidents are caused by mental illness, some are the result of…how can I say this…unwise behavior. Also, some incidents like this are simply an attempt to gain the attention of others, but maybe that is a type of mental illness too?
The truth is that the mentally ill sometimes do far more shocking things outside of the societal norms than simply disrobing. It is tempting, when confronted with this type of behavior to run, not walk, away from it as fast as we possibly can. We do not want to see it and we do not want to talk about it. However, what we need to remember is that for whatever reason, people exhibiting these types of behavior are hurting. People acting in these ways likely need medical treatment, but even more they need the consolation of God and the compassion that we Christians can extend toward them. God has comforted us “that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.”