I saw this discussion on a linkedin group. Someone came up with this hypothetical question when she “witnessed the breakdown of communication between people who are passionately attached to their beliefs.” I couldn't read the entire thread which literally had thousands of comments. Some said that this paradigm shift would be the best thing that ever happened to them. Others said it would be depressing or horrifying. Some made references to “The Matrix” and other science fiction stories. However, a few people, including myself admitted that this is not a far fetched scenario. This happens all the time. In fact, it happened to most of the characters in my latest novel.
When I first started writing this story, I was a playwright and asked myself the question of how a cult leader can convince someone to kill themselves. The idea that someone can control your mind so well that you would override the basic instinct of survival just to obey him was unfathomable, yet it has happened so many times in history, and also relatively recently with the news of the Order of the Solar Temple’s suicides (this news was recent when I started writing this story). I started writing this play as I researched the topic of cults and brainwashing. As I did this, I came across some remarkable stories and realized there was so much more than brainwashing going on.
As I researched the psychology of brainwashing, I learned that while some people may believe a lie wholeheartedly, others may have doubts but will stay in an organization because that is there home. They may not agree with their authority figures but will still obey them due to loyalty to their tribe. And, as someone mentioned in her linkedin thread, some people wake up one day and realize that everything they believed is a lie. This doesn't mean they will leave. This doesn't mean they will stay. This is an earth shattering revelation because it might mean that everything they gave their life too no longer exists. When I started writing this story as a play, I explored brainwashing. When I explored it as a novel, I examined the different ways people respond when they realize that all they had previously believed was a lie.
When this happens, some fall into depression, maybe even suicide. Others escape, change their lives or turn over a new leaf. Some will deny the truth to the bitter end and live in denial. Some will passionately fight the truth and will enact revenge on those who took away their fantasy. We've seen all of these things happen throughout the dawn of history and no matter how many times we witness seeing what happens when the beliefs of people clash, we are still dismayed and saddened by the results.
In my small, intimate story, I explore all of these things. Through the lives of these different but very real characters, I created scenarios that challenge our own sense of judgment. This book took a lot of courage for me to write and release to the public. I suspect (as pointed out by my first reviewer) that it will take a lot of courage to read but if you ask yourself these same questions and you have a passion for psychology, relationships and adventure, please check it out. Maybe you will find all of your former beliefs of what a novel should be, challenged to the extreme.
Enlightened Ones is now available on Amazon on kindle or ebook format. It will be out in paperback edition very shortly: