The Psychological Development of David Koresh

Steven Barrie-Anthony

In order to understand these
characteristics, however, it is helpful to understand the similarity between varying totalistic leaders and movements.  Towards that end, let’s look at Bin Laden in relation to David Koresh, the leader of an infamous American « cult » called the Branch Davidians.
Koresh, born Wayne Howell, wasisolated as a child, made fun of, ridiculed. In conversations with FBI agents during the siege on his compound, he
characterized his childhood as lonely.  He said the other kids teased him and called him « Vernie ».  He was dyslexic, a bad student, and dropped out of high school.  He felt totally isolated, alone.He found solace in the Bible – and by the time he was 12, he hadmemorized large tracts of it.  When he was 20, Koresh began attending his mother’s church, the Church of the Seventh Day Adventists.  He was, as correlates with his track record of rejection and ridicule, subsequently kicked out due to his « bad influence on the young people ».  After failed attempts to « make it » in Hollywood as a rock star, Koresh returned to Waco in 1981, where he joined the Branch Davidians (which had about 1,400 members).
Koresh proceeded to havean affair with the then-leader Lois Roden, who was 60 at the time.  The two traveled to Israel together on a spiritual pilgrimage. When Roden died, a powerstruggle emerged between Koresh and Roden’s son.  Koresh split from the group, taking some followers with him.  He then returned to the compound in late 1987 with seven other armed men, and 
attacked the Davidian compound.  During the conflict, Roden was shot multiple times (but wasn’t killed).  Koresh and his followers were brought to trial, but the followers were acquitted, and a mistrial was declared in Koresh’s case.

By 1990 Koresh had changed his name from Wayne Howell, andcharacterized himself as the leader/prophet of the Branch Davidians.  (« Koresh » is a Hebrew transliteration of Cyrus, the Persian King who allowed the persecuted Jews in Babylon to return to Israel.)  As you can see, his dedication to the Bible was still present.  Koresh proceeded to isolate the Davidians in their compound, stating that they were the chosen ones, the « good » ones, and the world was made up with forces that will spur the oncoming Armageddon, the day of atonement; and that when that day comes, God will spare the Davidians because of their dedication to His truth.