“You befriend a number of unfortunates, indigent, alone, abandoned and unhappy. The sheep of this misbegotten flock need be old enough to have forever lost their zest but too young to carry with them an official record of mental illness, drug dependence, tendency towards violence, or history of self-harm.
“You take life insurance upon each of them. You foster in them a feeling of self-worth and joy. This achieved by the simple expedients of spending time, listening, taking seriously, showing some respect. The purchase of small presents, mere tokens, may be involved.
“You have them execute their last wills and testaments. In these documents, you are appointed the sole executor. The only bequests are to a testamentary trust controlled by you, in which you are a beneficiary, and effectively, the sole beneficiary.
“You arrange support groups where these unfortunates gather anonymously, trade stories, build confidence and excitement in their lives. Your burgeoning circle will rely upon that disguise of self-assurance and compassion (for you cannot safely serve your higher purpose without some imposture.)
“The benefit provisions of the insurance policies state that payment is to be made into the estate of the relevant deceased, subject to provision of a true and certified copy of the death.
“Co-ordinate and control the vital and profound aspects of your new friends, ensuring they do not build relationships with social services or interfaith groups. For thirteen months you must dedicate your waking hours to the communal welfare of the group, neither neglecting their spiritual or carnal welfare. It may be necessary to administer medication, for fellowship and good cheer alone will not always prevail against dark canines of the soul.
“You inculcate a unique, virtually complete dependence in your new friends and on expiration of the thirteenth month from the commencement of each respective policy (“the operative dates”), you sever links with each subject, leaving them utterly cast-away, excommunicate and anathema, without support, without recourse to the various substances on which they now depend: loveless, friendless, dysfunctional.
“Best to withdraw without any communication, as this enhances the abandonment and bewilderment. However, with the most intransigent, intractable personalities, a less subtle method may be employed, such as staging some public rejection or humiliation; a false (or better yet, true) accusation of some infamous conduct can constitute an especially blunt and effective tool.
“At this point, imaginative and occasionally factual material might be drawn to the subject’s attention: web sites on suicide — novels likely to foster hopelessness, reality television — one might direct members to a special hotline staffed by you, to promote the guaranteed benefits of that most radical form of self-help.”[From Tranquility]