In 1959 at the Ypsilanti State Hospital in Ypsilanti, Michigan Dr. Milton Rokeach assembled three schizophrenic men for a psychological study. This study would principally concern itself with each man’s individual claim that they were Jesus Christ of Nazareth. In theory, and according to Rokeach’s federal research grant proposal, the experiment was to shed light on the psychological formation of human belief systems; in practice however, this pretense was seemingly abandoned in favor of pseudo-scientific observations of and interactions with the Christs. Rokeach hoped that by facilitating daily conversations between the Christs, he could cure one, if not all three; the idea being that when confronted with a living, breathing contradiction to an adopted identity each patient would shed their “delusion.” Observations lasted two and a half years and the study’s results were deemed inconclusive. In the end, Rokeach and his assistants only succeeded in further entrenching the Christs in their identities. Rokeach compiled his work in the book The Three Christs of Ypsilanti. Twenty years after the book’s publication Rokeach apologized for his study, claiming that he too “played God.”
All three Christs remained wards of the state of Michigan for the rest their lives.
This body of work was produced with material from Rokeach’s The Three Christs of Ypsilanti, Rokeach’s archive at The Michigan State University Archives and Historical Collections, The Ypsilanti Historical Society, The Archives of Michigan, and The Saline District Library.