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|Stairway to Heaven - Page 8|
Then I asked him to draw a self-portrait. What he drew was virtually a stick figure, something that a four-year-old could produce. Even more shockingly, when I asked him to draw his family, he paused and seemed confused. Finally, he created a page that was blank but for a tiny picture of himself, squeezed into the far right-hand corner. His drawings reflected what he had learned in the group: the elaboration of things that Koresh valued, the dominance of its supreme leader, a confused, impoverished sense of family and an immature, dependent picture of himself.
Inside the compound almost every decision—from what to eat and wear to how to think and pray—had been made for them. And, just like every other area in the brain, the regions involved in developing a sense of self grow or stagnate depending upon how often they are exercised. To develop a self, one must exercise choice and learn from the consequences of those choices; if the only thing you are taught is to comply, you have little way of knowing what you like and want.
One of my next interviews was with a little girl, almost six years old. I asked her to draw a picture of her home. She drew a picture of the compound. Then I asked her what she thought was going to happen at home. She redrew the same compound building with flames everywhere. Atop it was a stairway to heaven. I knew then—just days after the first raid—that the siege was headed for a potentially cataclysmic conclusion.
Earlier, we had created a group to facilitate communication between the various law enforcement agencies and our team. We had made a deal with the FBI: if they would respect the boundaries that we had created to help these children heal, we would share any information our work revealed that might help them negotiate an end to the standoff. After I saw these drawings and heard these remarks I immediately communicated my concerns that any further attack on the compound had the potential to precipitate some kind of apocalypse. I did not know the exact form it would take, but it seemed it would be an explosive, fiery end. The words, the drawings and the behaviors of the children all pointed to a shared belief that the siege would end in death.