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Was Raglan just another Cult Leader?

Is the Somafree Institute a cult compound? There are many similar characteristics to that of cults. Raglan is a domineering psychiatrist who demands complete obedience from his patients. He keeps them isolated from the outside world and even demands that their families obey his decisions. He lives in a rather extravagant home, while his patients are housed in plywood cabins on his property.

In the opening scene of the movie it shows how Raglan uses his psychoplasmic therapy to insinuate himself in a father role in order to "help" his patient Mike. It is almost an hypnotic form of therapy, where the patient comes to believe that it is his father who is speaking to him and he reacts to this stimulus in the way that Raglan manipulates him too. This scene is poignant because it sets up Raglan as a messiah-like figure to his patients, by being the one to console them after forcing them to a bad place psychologically. We, as participants in the film, must decide for ourselves whether or not Raglan's type of therapy is working. Does he get his desired results? I think to a point he does. He manages to bring his patients to the point of rage that manifests itself outwardly from their bodies, in the form of lesions, tumors, and for Nola a tumerous-like womb.

And what about his relationship with Nola and her brood of monstrous children? This is another area that Raglan seems to exemplify the cult leader mentality. He kicks all of his other patients out of the institute so that he can focus on Nola exclusively. Most, if not all, cult leaders demand that they have exclusive rights to the female members of their cult. Raglan manages this flawlessly. He keeps Nola locked up in her cabin and no one, not even her husband or father are allowed to see or visit her. The only person he allows access is her daughter Candy, another female.

In my opinion, Raglan is a type of father to the brood. He didn't father these creatures in the traditional sense, but he is the one who brought Nola to a place in her therapy that created them. The male patients outwardly projected their pyschoplasmic therapy through the markings on their bodies, while Nola gave birth. Raglan protected these creatures and housed them along side their mother, even when he had full knowledge of their murderous ways. Perhaps, it was his paternal instinct not to kill his own psychological childern. Raglan, even if not conventionally, is the father of the brood. He created the therapy and circumstances that surround their birth and life. The dormitory like room above Nola's is filled with beds, play toys and childerns clothes, which means that he also went out of his way to treat them, to some extent, like real childern.

Raglan dies in the end at the hand of his own creation. He sacrifices himself to save Candy, though why he does this is not completely certain. We can only assume he fears for the childs life. But, even the vision they give of his death is cult leader-like. The last we see of him he is lying on the floor with the brood's tiny bodies scattered around him. All of them dead. This is not a picture that is unusual for us, we have seen it in the case of many cult leaders and their followers.

Comments (1)

Wow...brilliant. Cults like the Jim Jones story were no doubt in the historical backdrop when Cronenberg was working on this film. I love how you explore the 'paternal' elements of the cult leader in Raglan. Bravo.

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on September 24, 2009 12:23 PM.

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