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The Field Where I Died
 Science File Information:
  • In this episode, the FBI raids the compound of a religious cult, "The Temple of the Seven Stars," led by a madman named Vernon Ephesian who is convinced that he's a reincarnated prophet. A.D. Skinner compares Ephesian's followers to Jim Jones' People's Temple in Guyana and David Koresh's Branch Davidians in Waco, both infamous cults who committed (or may have committed) mass suicide. The phenomena of cults is one that is hotly debated by social scientists; some sociologists feel that religious movements pejoratively deemed "cults" by some can be considered distinct religions in themselves.

    Jeffrey K. Hadden, a sociology teacher at the University of Virginia, maintains an exhaustive site on the Sociology of Religious Groups. It includes an thorough essay on the social science and controversy of cult groups, at http://cti.itc.virginia.edu/~jkh8x/soc257/cultsect/cultsect.htm.

  • The agents interview Melissa Ephesian, one of Vernon's seven wives, about abuse at the compound. In the middle of the interview, she begins talking like an old man, says Harry S Truman is president, and answers to the name "Sidney" -- the same name as the mysterious informant whose tip to the Feds kicked off the raid on the compound. Mulder thinks Melissa is reliving a past life, but Scully argues that she's more likely suffering from a controversial condition known as Multiple Personality Disorder or Disassociative Identity Disorder. Patients with MPD/DID manifest separate personalities of varying ages and genders. Though MPD/DID's very existence is questioned by some doctors, it is generally believed to be caused by childhood abuse.

    Official information on MPD/DID is hard to find on the 'net, but you can read a fairly thorough article on the controversy surrounding it at http://slt.pobox.com/revenge/mpd.html.
    See also the Skeptic's Dictionary entry for MPD at http://www.dcn.davis.ca.us/go/btcarrol/skeptic/mpd.html.

  • A voice spectrogram matches "Sidney's" voice on the phone call with that of Melissa Ephesian, proving they're one and the same. Voice spectrograms use computers to make visual patterns out of the sound vibrations created when we speak.

    For a basic overview of voice spectrograms, see the Eastern Virginia Medical School's Voice Center's page at http://www.voice-center.com/spectrogram.html.
    For more in-depth information on spectrograms, their history, their use in forensic science, and their admissibility in court, see a text-heavy report by a trio of private investigators at http://www.acfe.com/forensic_articles/ aural_spectrographic/fulltext.html.

  • During a tour of the Seven Stars compound, Melissa manifests more personalities, including a woman from the Civil War who claims to know the location of Confederate bunkers behind the compound where Ephesian is hiding his weapons. In an attempt to discover where the weapons are hidden, Mulder and an ever-skeptical Scully subject Melissa to hypnotic regression therapy, taking her back to a "past life" during the 1860s. Hypnotherapy -- unearthing memories supposedly hidden in the subconscious mind-- is also a common treatment for people who claim they've been abducted by aliens. Scully herself undergoes this kind of therapy in THE RED AND THE BLACK.

    For more information on hypnosis itself, read the official FAQ of the alt.hypnosis newsgroup at http://www.hunter.holowww.com/HYPNOFAQ.html#BM1.
    The Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance's site has an impressive section on hypnotherapy at http://www.religioustolerance.org/rmt.htm, including a list of official medical organizations' opinions on its reliability.

  • Surrounded by FBI and ATF agents, Ephesian gathers the cultists together and passes out cups of poisoned fruit drink -- just like Jim Jones did on November 18, 1978. Mulder is too late to stop Melissa from drinking the poison, and hopes perhaps that a better life awaits her the next time around. The episode doesn't make clear what kind of poison Ephesian used, but Jones used cyanide in his lethal punch. Cyanide -- also used in gas chamber executions -- kills by attacking the lungs. Harmless trace amounts of cyanide can be found in the seeds of fruits like apples.

    See the National Safety Council's fact sheet on cyanide compounds at http://www.nsc.org/ehc/ew/chems/cyancmpd.htm.

 File #:

Basic Plot:
In trying to bring down a religious cult, Mulder thinks that he's met his soulmate from a past life in one of the wives of the polygamous cult leader.

Synopsis URLs:
Synopsis @ Official X-Files Site
Synopsis @ Deep Background

Title means:
Refers to a field behind the cult compound where Mulder believes he was killed in battle in a past life (during the American Civil War).

Special Guest Writer:
Nathan Alderman

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