JONESTOWN SURVIVOR Responds to Further Question

A new question came from a student who had many questions earlier.

Here is his question and my answer.I previously asked you about the main reasons that led to the massacre. Relating to that, what do you think were Jim Jones motivations for the massacre or do you think he simply acted irrationally given his mental state at the time?

I would say that the massacre happened, and was allowed to happen, because of multiple reasons. Jim was very sick and likely dying soon. He was addicted to drugs which made him even more paranoid, and certainly no longer in control of himself, his secretaries/mistresses, or the community. He was always in control as a leader. He was in a remote area and under “house arrest” sort of, while the government figured out what to do with several custody battles that had been filed against him in Guyana. His followers worked so hard we had no time for worshipping him, or even staying awake when he spoke endlessly. He didn’t have the worship he had become accustomed to in the USA. Also, he totally failed to understand that he was no longer essential to the whole community. He didn’t want oversight from the US government into Jonestown – he wanted the isolation, and the power he had, to create and control his own community. So – all that was happening while his sanity continued to decline.

At the end, I think he had talked himself into not leaving his “flock” behind, and not abandoning them. He thought at the end, that without him, everyone would be lost. He never gave anyone else any of the credit for building the community – or for anything else. He wanted all the glory, all the acknowledgement, for all the good things Peoples Temple did.

Those closest to him, and with the most power, enabled him to stay deranged until the end, and then they carried out the plan when he was too drugged and too sick. They were too close to see the depth of his insanity. And, they were caught up in it.

He may be one of the few in Jonestown who actually did commit suicide – if that is possible when you are as mentally ill as he was.

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