The subsequent adulation of Jones by his supporters made Jones increasingly narcissistic; he claimed that he was the reincarnation of Lenin and Jesus Christ. Gosney said that, though Jones’ rule was tyrannical, “Still, Peoples Temple was a family, if a punishing family. More attention to researching and working with cult victims is needed, Hassan adds. Over the compound’s loudspeaker, Jones would sometimes report events which followers had no way of verifying, ranging from warnings of an imminent nuclear holocaust to stories of the Ku Klux Klan “marching through the streets of American cities” (Nelson). They had crops growing. Jones had his followers do practice suicide drills right up to the actual mass suicide event. It had been the community, in part, which had prevented Temple members from defecting when they still had the option. According to Blakey in her affidavit, “The members appear to speak freely to American representatives, but in fact they are drilled thoroughly prior to each visit on what questions to expect and how to respond” (Mears). 9 July 1999. They were unaware that there was no freedom of any sort left in Jonestown. And because Jones’ orders went unchallenged in the Temple, he was able to guarantee politicians a significant number of votes – an ability which earned him friends in high places. They included all sorts of articles from experts on religion and people who have dedicated their professionals lives to studying the psychology behind Jonestown and cults like it. My two sisters and … The massacre resulted in the mass suicide of more than 900 of Jones’ “Lester Kinsolving Series on Peoples Temple.” Alternative Considerations of Jonestown and Peoples Temple. They’ll torture our people…We can not have this!” (Nelson) He continued, “If we can’t live in peace, then let’s die in peace” (Nelson). The people in Peoples Temple – because they were so submissive and under Jones’ control – unanimously were used as an instrument with which Jones could increase his own sphere of influence in the world. Out of the chaos created by these societal issues, Rev. 24 Nov. 1978. According to O’Shea, Jones had once proposed setting fire to the Temple building in San Francisco while his followers were locked inside (O’Shea); he had also discussed intentionally crashing a plane full of Temple members (O’Shea). Drug use, compounded by pressure from several other sources – including a custody battle over one of Jones’ illegitimate children – made Jones turn on the community with more intensity. A year after its founding, Wings of Deliverance was renamed Peoples Temple. His addiction, which had escalated from minor pharmaceutical usage earlier in his life, was only made apparent to most of his followers after the move to Jonestown, particularly because of the change in his style as an orator. It’s a disease. As the leader of the religious group Peoples Temple, Reverend Jim Jones was responsible for the psychological massacre of his followers because of the manipulative means he used to demoralize and control them. Jim Jones, who had led … You think they’re going to allow us to get by with this? MK-ULTRA was terminated in the 1970s after the Washington Post published an exposé describing its methods (Porter). In 1960, Jones and his wife adopted a black child. We wanted to live, to shine, to bring light to a world that is dying for a little bit of love” (Nelson). They included all sorts of articles from experts on religion and people who have dedicated their professionals lives to studying the psychology behind Jonestown and cults like it. Towards the end of the Temple, potential defectors and “troublemakers” had been placed in an “extended-care unit,” where they were given drugs like Thorazine – used normally as a treatment for severe neuropsychiatric conditions – until they “lost their desire to leave the commune” (King). They had been beaten, sleep deprived, degraded, separated from their families, and stripped of all personal freedoms. Back at the compound, Jones had been seriously shaken by the defections. And how do you get power? August 9, 2018 Steven Hassan . For example, in the 1960s, psychologists Stanley Milgram, PhD, Leonard Bickman, PhD, and Lawrence Berkowitz, EdD, demonstrated social influence by having a group of people on a busy New York City sidewalk gaze up at nothing in the sky. I think he…was delighted that these heartfelt beliefs would be a calling for so many followers. They discussed it, rehearsed it, and accepted it with little dissent. Yet, Hassan observes the lasting psychological effects every day in his work with former cult victims, and he says cults are growing more powerful and more cunning in their deceit--often by using psychological research findings--while the public remains largely unaware of them. By the late 1970s, media reports were beginning to paint images of the Temple which were increasingly removed from the positive ones of its early days (Lindsey). Kilduff, Marshall. 17 Dec. 1978. Because Jones was responsible for enforcing these manipulative conditions, the deaths of the 913 deceived Peoples Temple members cannot be remembered as the “Jonestown suicides.” Jim Jones’ demoralization of his followers, and their inability to escape from the iron vice of his control, make the “Jonestown massacre” the only accurate title for the events at Jonestown on November 18, 1978. Staff. The Jonestown massacre was, before 9/11, the largest single incident of intentional civilian death in American history. (2001). . Jones' followers originally came to the Guyanese community, known as Jonestown, seeking paradise and an escape from racism and persecution in the United States. “Lessons from Jonestown.” American Psychological Association (APA). Some weeks before the massacre, a US embassy official interviewed almost 50 Jonestown members out of Jones’ earshot – members whose relatives in the United States had expressed concern that they were being abused (Mears). Many psychologists remain skeptical that behavior is intentionally controlled by these organizations at all, rather believing that people join cults of their own free will, as they do with traditional religious groups. "When you believe 'It can't happen to me,' that's when con artists or cult agents have you at their mercy because then you're not as vigilant to the little situational ploys that can get you to step across the line," Zimbardo explains. Over the loudspeaker in Jonestown – which he used to preach to his congregation for hours every day – Jones’ speech was becoming increasingly slurred, and, as observed by many Temple members, “he stumbled over his words, which was not a common thing with Jim” (Webb). Print. Jim Jones, Founder of the People’s Temple.” Florence Times. Abstract. Techniques which Jones borrowed from Orwell included the idea of “big brother is watching you” and self-incrimination (Dittmann). According to research, people who are sleep deprived “do not have the speed or creative abilities to cope with making quick but logical decisions, nor do they have the ability to implement them well” (Ledoux). Dittmann, M. (2003, November). Followers were made to feel guilty if they slept for longer than several hours a night; they were expected to work six days a week and were perpetually exhausted. I can trust you more now that you’ve gone through and accepted this discipline.’ (Kilduff and Tracy). 918 people lie dead – men, women, children. It wasn't as if these people were captured and taken to a prison camp, they followed Jim Jones to Jonestown. Help us improve your experience by  providing feedback  on this page. One common instrument of punishment was a coffin-sized box kept several feet underground; people put in the box would be talked to incessantly and reprimanded for their wrong-doings by someone above ground (O’Shea). According to former Temple member Vernon Gosney, “Part of [Jones’] philosophy was that family relationships are sick and need to be broken down” (Ross, Rick). Now empty your glasses” (Brinton). Yet the reason why Jones wanted to have uncontestable control over his followers is debated. The frequent “white nights” have been cited in the argument that the Jonestown deaths were suicides, and not a massacre. “Inside Peoples Temple.” New West. 25 July 2005. Then, he began to make good use of the messages” (Kohl). Jones’ use of heavy prescription drugs on people whose only problem was their desire to leave Jonestown was another way of maintaining uncontestable control – when under drug-induced stupors, followers were even more acquiescent to Jones’ demands. The San Francisco newspaper The Examiner only published four of the eight parts, after Temple members picketed outside of the newspaper’s offices and wrote letters of protest to the editor (“Lester Kinsolving Series on Peoples Temple”). This blog post was really well-written, as I find the unifying power behind cults so interesting. For people like O’Shea, Peoples Temple appeared to be a safe haven where they could work on reshaping and rebuilding their lives. Advancing psychology to benefit society and improve lives, Call for Papers/Proposals/Nominations (4), © 2021 American Psychological Association. Jones further magnified his followers’ paranoia by pretending that he could read their minds. Mothers and fathers gave the deadly drink to their children and then drank it themselves. Nelson, Stanley, Producer, Director. Though "1984" is fiction, Orwell possessed a deep understanding of influence processes from social psychology, and his depictions of mind control have been used systematically and effectively by cult leaders, Zimbardo says. His congregation was “completely mixed, race, age, creed”– the composition of the Jonestown population was 75% black, 20% white, and 5% Asian, Hispanic, and Native American (O’Shea; Chidester). While O’Shea described him as a “sociopath,” Stephen Jones, Jones’ only biological son with his wife Marceline, said of his father, “There’s no denying there was a warm heart inside a really sick being. You must be insane. (Nelson). He urged Temple inductees to sell their belongings and turn their assets over to the Temple – an act which, in effect, was the first step towards putting Jones in a position of significant power (UPI). "It's shocking to me that so many people today have not even heard of Jonestown," Hassan says. The people at Jonestown had been driven past the breaking point. They were the first white couple in Indiana’s history to do so (Ksander). Temple membership soon grew from several hundred to approximately 20,000 at the Temple’s peak in San Francisco, where Jones relocated the Temple in 1971 (UPI). “The Sacrament of Suicide.” Alternative Considerations of Jonestown & Peoples Temple. O’Shea, Teri Buford. “Find A Grave – Millions of Cemetery Records and Online Memorials.” Find A Grave – Millions of Cemetery Records. He further demoralized some of his followers by making them strip naked in public meetings and be subject to criticism from the rest of the congregation (Kilduff). Mertle said in the article: The first forms of punishment [in the Temple] were mental, where they would get up and totally disgrace and humiliate the person in front of the whole congregation. Everybody “knows” what happened in Jonestown, Guyana in 1978. Whether these early suggestions had any backbone behind them is questionable. 16 Apr. “Enigma of Jim Jones: A ‘Saint’ Becomes a Devil.” The Day [Eastern Connecticut]. What was great about this source was that it agreed with me that the psychology behind Jonestown and events like it is incredibly dangerous to our society and a solution is needed. Jones, who acted as the pastor of the People's Temple, studied Orwell's system of mind control described in "1984" and commissioned a song that his followers were required to sing at Jonestown about the advent of the year 1984, Zimbardo has found. Print. The article was filled with information, detailing what was going on inside the minds of the members of the Peoples Temple when they submitted their children and themselves to the fatal poison drink. Heavy rainfall had washed away much of the fertile soil from the site of the commune, and the wood from the trees surrounding them was so hard that they had to import planks to build structures (Brinton). When Temple members died, Jones announced that he had killed them because he had read their thoughts and they had been thinking of leaving (O’Shea). 2011. The events at the agricultural project Jonestown on November 18, 1978 have been described in two different terms: as the “Jonestown suicides” and as the “Jonestown massacre.” Some argue that the deaths at Jonestown cannot be perceived as a massacre, as the majority of the people who died of cyanide poisoning had drunk the Kool-Aid and cyanide mixture voluntarily. At the behest of their charismatic leader, all the members of the Peoples Temple religious cult—the residents of Jonestown—“lined up in a pavilion in front of a vat containing a mixture of Kool-Aid and cyanide” and “drank willingly of the deadly solution” (Aronson, … The mass suicide of People's Temple followers 25 years ago teaches psychologists what happens when social psychology is placed in the wrong hands. Another similar experiment exemplified the destructive effect that mind control techniques can have on the human psyche. And within a few minutes on Nov. 18, 1978, 912 people were dead. Jim Jones, lead to the jungles of South America to get away from the oppression of life here in America. Staebroek News. In reference to why the Mertle family stayed so long in the Temple, Mertle said, “We had nothing on the outside to get started in. Teri O’Shea (who defected from Jonestown three weeks before the massacre) had been 19 years old when her mother tried to strangle her with a dog chain. One person, Christine Miller, stood up and plead for everyone to choose another option. Increasingly paranoid that his followers would turn against him, Jones went to greater lengths to assert his control by constantly testing his followers’ loyalty. In an eight-part series, reporter Les Kinsolving described allegations of beatings and shady financial dealings within the Temple, as well as the improbability of Jones’ “divine powers” (“Lester Kinsolving Series on Peoples Temple”). . 16 Nov. 2008. According to Moore, “His ‘super-human’ abilities to stay awake clearly were the result of drugs” (Moore). As part of Crime+Investigation’s Twisted Faith season, we look into the devastating events and exactly what went on behind the scenes that day in our documentary, Jonestown: The Women Behind the Massacre.Here though, we want to examine the methods that Jones employed to turn a healthy, happy and normal Christian congregation into a brainwashed mob almost incapable of … . Instead, they found something that resembled a concentration camp in which they worked long hours with little food and much abuse, those who escaped Jonestown have reported. These forms of degradation created a status quo within the Temple which was vastly different from that of the outside world. The Truth About Jonestown Offers a look at the Jonestown holocaust and explains why 13 years later, we should still be afraid. He took with him to Jonestown a group of aides, journalists, and concerned relatives. In an interview with CNN, Kohl said, “The thing that I think is the most understated was that we really did have a community that, had Jim Jones been forced aside…would make a successful community living there with people of all different races and backgrounds, which really would have been a promised land or heaven on Earth” (Ross, Rick). Kohl said of Jones in the beginning of his leadership, “I think that Jim learned the Bible thoroughly and then was surprised by the power he was able to develop around it.