Why Those Suicides in Guyana? Two Experts Describe How Religious Cults Can Cause Their Members to 'Snap' - 1978-12-04
The mass suicide of more than 400 members of the Rev. Jim Jones' Peoples Temple in Guyana is the latest and most sickening example of the power of cults to control the personalities of their disciples. For four years researchers Flo Conway, 37, and Jim Siegelman, 28, studied this bizarre phenomenon, and they now have written a book about it titled Snapping: America's Epidemic of Sudden Personality Change (Lippincott, $10). Conway has an M.A. in communication, psychology and anthropology and completed her doctoral work at the University of Oregon, while Siegelman is a Harvard honors graduate in philosophy and English. They combined disciplines in a project that took them to 29 states for interviews with more than 200 ex-members of cults. The authors also talked with former evangelical preachers, "deprogrammer" Ted Patrick and ex-Manson family member Leslie Van Houten. Conway and Siegelman, both single and residents of Manhattan, talked about their findings with Cheryl McCall of PEOPLE.
What is snapping?
It is a sudden, drastic personality change. In our opinion it represents a new form of mental and emotional disorder, a growing phenomenon unlike anything this country has witnessed.