Jim Jones Essay

1638 Words 7 Pages
Jim Jones

The mass suicides, that took place under the influence of Reverend Jim Jones, can be explained from a sociological perspective. By looking at how the group dynamics played into the outcome one gets a better idea of the whys? of the massacre. The sociological explanation is but one way to explain this horrific event. It is , however, the only one explored in this essay for reasons of concision.

At one level, the deaths at Jonestown can be viewed as the product of obedience, of people complying with the orders of a leader and reacting to the threat of force. In the Peoples Temple, whatever Jim Jones commanded, the members did. When he gathered the community at the pavilion and the poison was brought out, the populace
…show more content…
The members poor diet, heavy workload, lack of sleep, and constant exposure to Jones's diatribes exacerbated the coerciveness of their predicament; tremendous pressures encouraged them to obey.

By the time of the final ritual, opposition or escape had become almost impossible for most of the members. Yet even then, it is doubtful that many wanted to resist or leave. Most had come to believe in Jones -- one woman's body was found with a message scribbled on her arm during the final hours: "Jim Jones is the only one" (Cahill, 1979). They seemed to have accepted the necessity, and even the beauty, of dying -- just before the ritual began, a guard approached Charles Garry, one of the Temples hired attorneys, and exclaimed, "Its a great moment... we all die" (Lifton, 1979). A survivor of Jonestown, who happened to be away at the dentist, was interviewed a year following the deaths:

Deception. Recruits are duped into believing that the group is benevolent and will enrich their lives by, for example, advancing their spirituality or increasing their self-esteem and security. As a result of this deception and the systematic use of highly manipulative techniques of influence, recruits come to commit themselves to the group's prescribed ways of thinking, feeling, and acting; in other words, they become members or converts.

Dependency. By gradually

More about Jim Jones Essay

Open Document