Jonestown Mass Suicide: A Look at Jim Jones diagnosis and the People’s Temples 918. This is the number of people that died in Jonestown, from apparent cyanide poisoning because of Jim Jones. This mass murder/suicide was one of the largest in modern history that resulted in the largest single loss of American civilian life, without being caused by a natural disaster until the events of September 11,2001. Jim Jones was the leader of the Peoples Temple, a religious organization also seen as a sect. Criminal psychology is the study of the wills, thoughts, intentions and reactions of criminals.
This is why, in the following essay, I will discuss, take a look and analyse Jim Jones and his diagnosis. I will also explore many ideas surrounding the Peoples Temple and their members. It is my hope that my research paper will provide an extensive and interesting psychological look at Jim Jones behavior, Jonestown mass suicide and the members of the Peoples Temple. Born on May 13,1931 in a rural area of Indiana, James Warren ? Jim? Jones had an uncommon childhood . His dad James was a World War 1 veteran, and his mother Lynetta believed that she had given birth to a messiah.
Jim was Irish and Welsh, and was claiming that he was partial Cherokee, but it wasn’t true. Hall (1987) basically explain that because of the Great Depression, his family had economic difficulties that necessitated them to move in another town in Indiana in 1934. He grew up there in a shack without any plumbing. According to a childhood friend and Jim Jones himself, his father, James, was associated with the Ku Klux Klan, which is a far-right organizations in the U. S who had advocated extremist reactionary currents such as some white supremacy, nationalism and anti-immigration through terrorism.
In one of the interviews that took part in 2006 for the documentary ? Jonestown: The Life and Death of Peoples Temple? some acquaintances of Jim childhood described him as being a ? really weird kid obsessed with religion and death?. They also reported that Jones was frequently holding funerals for small animals that he killed or that he found dead, and he had once stabbed a cat to death. As a child, Jim was a big reader and he studied Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, Karl Marx and Mahatma Gandhi a lot. He was looking to find every strengths and weaknesses of them.
Lately, Jones became a member of the Communist Party USA in 1951. In a way, Jones wanted to demonstrate his Marxism, and the only way that he found was to infiltrate the church. In 1952, he become a student pastor in a Methodist church. One theorist suggest that he didn’t stay not much longer because they were barred him from integrating black people into his congregation (Wessinger, 2000). Jones started to do faith-healing services, and he observed that it was attracting people and their money. He started to organized religious convention with healing evangelist .
He then began his own church, the Peoples Temple. It was initially made as an inter-racial mission. Then, Jones left the Communist Party because they were criticizing some of the policies of Joseph Stalin. During these years, Jones helped to integrate black communities into churches, restaurants, telephone company, police department, a theater, an amusement park and the Methodist Hospital. A lot of people were criticizing his integrationist view. Jim and his wife adopted several children with non-Caucasian ancestry. For him, this was his ? ainbow family? , and he was encouraging the member of his Temple to do the same. In the same year, Jones and his family travel in Brazil to find another location for the Temple. He then came back from Brazil and claimed that there would be a nuclear war, so the temple had to move to California. Like other cult leaders, Jones was easily able to gain public support and contact with important figures, such as politicians from among the United-States and other countries. The Peoples Temple and Jones were getting more and more known by the entire population.
He was forging media alliances and was getting a lot of attention by political figures. It is in the summer of 1977 that Jones and several hundred of members moved to Guyana. This Temple was a ? Agricultural Project?. He named it Jonestown. This Temple was created both for a ? socialist paradise? and also a sanctuary to be hide from the media. According to both (Reiterman;Jacobs,1982), Jones didn’t permitted members to leave Jonestown. For him, it was the beginning of one of his belief called ? Translation? here he and all of the members would die together to move to live on another planet. When Jones left, a lot of political allies broke ties with him. This is why, on April 11, 1978, a document called ? Accusation of Human Rights Violations to the Peoples Temple? by Jones had been distributed to members of the press and congress. With the testimony of an escaped Temple member, US delegations had enough details about rimes and the living conditions to an investigation on human right abuses. By this time, Jones hired Mark Lane and Donald Freed to repair his reputation.
The investigation group, that included news reporter, congressman and cameraman arrived in Jonestown on November 17, 1978. Finally, they had an abrupt end because one of the members tried to kill the congressman with a knife. However, they succeeded to take fifteen members that wanted to leave with them. They were about to leave when a group of Jones Guard arrived in a trailer, armed, and started to shoot the group. The guards killed the congressman, the deputy chief of mission and three other news reporter. It is later on the same day that the mass suicide happened.
The reason that gives Jones to convince people to commit suicide was his conspiracy theories of intelligence organizations against the Temple. He was saying that some men would parachute in Jonestown, shoot some innocent babies and torture the children and the seniors. It is in a big storage container that they made the mix ? Kool-Aid. For him, it was a worthless suicide “We didn’t commit suicide; we committed an act of revolutionary suicide protesting the conditions of an inhumane world” (Jones,1978). Children’s were given the drink first, and families were told to lie down together.
Some people escaped, but the majority drink the poison. Jones, for himself, committed suicide with a gun. According to the (DSM-IV-TR), Jim Jones is suffering from several personality disorders. One of it would be Anti Social Personality Disorder Cluster B. ASPD, is define to be ? a pervasive pattern of disregard for, and violation of, the rights of others that begins in childhood or early adolescence and continues into adulthood?. There is several point form that makes you diagnosed as ASPD, and you need to be indicated by three or more.
For the case of Jones, there is easily three points that can be indicated. The first one is deception, as indicated by repeatedly lying, use of aliases, or conning others for personal profit of pleasure. One good example of it would be that Jones was doing some faith-healing. By doing this, one time, he engaged a woman to fake that she was handicapped and wasn’t able to walk. Then, Jones did his faith-healing, the woman got up of his wheelchair and started to walk. He was getting attention and was making money for personal interest out of it.
Also, Jones was lying repeatedly to his members, saying that they had to leave to California because the world would engage in a nuclear war and they had to move for safety. Also, this is only few examples from all of them. The second one is the reckless disregard for safety of self or others. An obvious example of it is that Jones wasn’t letting people to leave Jonestown, and he obligated everybody to committed suicide. Also , he ordered his guard to shoot at the group who were coming to investigate the issue.
The third one is the lack of remorse as indicated by being indifferent to or rationalizing having hurt, mistreated, or stolen from another. Jones had killed 918 peoples, and didn’t express any remorse. For him, he was helping them to live on another planet. References Hall, John R. (1987), Gone from the Promised Land, Transaction Publishers. Chidester, D. (2004). Salvation and suicide: Jim jones, the people’s temple and jonestown (religion in north america). (2nd ed. ). Indiana University Press. Wessinger, Catherine (2000), How the Millennium comes violently: From Jonestown to Heaven’s Gate, Seven Bridges Press
Reiterman, T. , & Jacobs, J. (1982). Raven: The untold story of Rev. Jim Jones and his people. Dutton. Rosenburg, J. (2005, April 10). About. com. Retrieved from http://history1900s. about. com/od/people/p/jimjones. htm Jones, J. J. (1978, 11 17). [Audio Tape Recording]. Alternative considerations of jonestown and peoples temple. Jonestown project. Transcript of Recovered FBI tape Q 42. , San Diego State University. Antisocial personality disorder- Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders Fourth edition Text Revision (DSM-IV-TR) American Psychiatric Association (2000) pp. 645-650
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