Revisiting Jonestown: An Interdisciplinary Study of Cults

Author:   Domenico A., Nesci ,  Nancy McWilliams
Publisher:   Lexington Books
ISBN:  

9781498552714


Pages:   178
Publication Date:   11 September 2019
Format:   Paperback
Availability:   Not yet available   Availability explained
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Revisiting Jonestown: An Interdisciplinary Study of Cults


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Author:   Domenico A., Nesci ,  Nancy McWilliams
Publisher:   Lexington Books
Imprint:   Lexington Books
ISBN:  

9781498552714


ISBN 10:   1498552714
Pages:   178
Publication Date:   11 September 2019
Audience:   Professional and scholarly ,  Professional & Vocational
Format:   Paperback
Publisher's Status:   Active
Availability:   Not yet available   Availability explained
This item is yet to be released. You can pre-order this item and we will dispatch it to you upon its release.

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The cataclysmic end of the Utopian Jonestown settlement established in Guyana by the California-based Peoples Temple occurred in November 1978. Even after 40 years, it continues to attract scholarly and popular attention and contrasting interpretations, among them a mass suicide, a collective revolutionary protest ritual, a covert operation mounted by unknown rogue insurgents or government representatives, and a tragic-but-predictable result of lives given over to an unstable and authoritarian cult leader. Nesci (community psychology, Universita Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Italy) supports the last of these interpretations. In the introduction, he defines a cult as a movement centered on the absolute power of its leader and the abuse of `brainwashed' followers. He views the Peoples Temple as the prototype of a religious cult and uses psychodynamic categories to explain how a cult produces forms of psychopathology in which identities become fused, group members regress to a placental level, paranoia is typical, and collective death rituals (murder or suicide) are likely to result. Nesci's post-Freudian interpretive categories have affinities with psychiatrist Stanislav Grof's perinatal matrices. Those interested in Jonestown or religious cults in general may wish to visit Alternative Considerations of Jonestown & Peoples Temple . Summing Up: Recommended. Graduate students, researchers, faculty. * CHOICE * Revisiting Jonestown is an outstanding book on the life and death of Peoples Temple, a religious cult that Dr. Nesci has been studying throughout his life. The book is a captivating narrative, blending the facts of the story of Jim Jones and his followers with theoretical reflections on the meaning of cults, explaining how and why they are exposed to the risk of violent, destructive (and self-destructive) behaviors. To solve the riddle of Jonestown, Dr. Nesci developed new theories on the dawn of human awareness, the origins of religions, and the relationships between different death rituals of Homo Sapiens: collective suicide, genocide, and war. I am sure that the next decades will see a vibrant scientific debate on these new interdisciplinary ideas, as well as on the changes in perspective that they will inevitably bring to different fields: psychology, anthropology, sociology, political science, women studies, history, religion, and so on... As a psychiatrist, I think that this book will open new horizons in our way of conceiving psychopathology and the practice of psychotherapy with destructive (and self-destructive) patients. I strongly recommend this book to all graduate students in the humanities and in medicine (especially in psychiatry, criminology, and forensic psychology) as well as all lay (but cultivated) readers who are concerned with understanding cult mentality. -- Robert O. Pasnau, MD, University of California, Los Angeles, emeritus As a psycho-historian and prenatal psychologist, I can confirm the high quality of the theoretical background of this book on Jonestown by Domenico A. Nesci, who devoted many years of research to collect documents from Peoples Temple and find some meaning to their poison ordeal. His analysis of the death ritual of Jonestown opens up new levels of understanding of the unconscious dynamics in large groups, linking collective suicide to genocide and war. This book is going to become a great tool for its Readers, and allow them to grasp new insights even on some uncanny political processes of our time. -- Ludwig Janus, MD, Psychoanalytic Training Institute This book makes visible how psychoanalysis, with its interdisciplinary approach, is able to uncover something precious and alive out of an event that, at first sight, appears as totally negative, uncanny, and to be discarded. Dr. Nesci revisits Jonestown and discovers new theoretical perspectives that are in continuity with the work of Franco Fornari, a Kleinian psychoanalyst who applied her theories to the phenomenon of war. With this new book, we come full circle, analyzing collective suicide and syncytial mourning, the Paleolithic emotions of primal group of mothers faced with the tragic experience of frequent death at delivery when Homo Sapiens appeared on the planet, during the course of evolution. Revisiting Jonestown is rooted in the past (of American history and of human pre-history) but is a book for the future. I recommend it to every person who wants to know more about the hidden motives of human nature and culture. -- Maria Teresa Hooke, Former President, Australian Psychoanalytic Society


Author Information

Domenico A. Nesci, MD, is professor of community psychology at the Universita Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, president of the International Institute for Psychoanalytic Research and Training of Health Professionals (IIPRTHP), vice president of DREAMS onlus, and co-director of the Scuola Internazionale di Psicoterapia nel Setting Istituzionale (SIPSI).

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