The Tangled Mind of Charles Manson



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Charles Manson is one of the most famous serial killers of all time, but very little is know about what makes him tick and why he did what he did.

The Tangled Mind of Charles Manson


Serial killers and cult leaders are two types of people that demonstrate power, control and have been around for centuries. These two types of individuals are very similar and very different in how they are portrayed. Serial killers are notorious for leaving a trail of bodies over the course of several days, months, even years. They usually act with limited assistance and are brutal in how they commit their crimes. The cult leader is more charismatic and able to influence others to commit acts of defiance toward governments; even individuals with no clear reason for there those The cult leader is more charismatic and able to influence others to commit acts of defiance toward governments; even individuals with no clear reason for there those actions.

These two types of personalities combined into one person are rare but not impossible. Over the years, there has been several individual in this category, Charles Manson is probably the most notorious of them all as he was the person that created media attention for him and his cult followers, known simply as the “Family.”

Charles Manson has remained in the limelight for the past 40 years. Psychiatrists attribute the behaviors of serial killers to early childhood, others look at personality and the individuals the follow these individuals. What contributed to the mind of Manson? Was it the actions of his mother, his childhood or was it the power and sense of control he had over his followers? Some would argue it was simply revenge.

The Tangled Mind of Charles Manson


Serial killers and cult leaders are two types of people that demonstrate power, control and have been around for centuries. These two types of individuals are very similar and very different in how they are portrayed. Serial killers are notorious for leaving a trail of bodies over the course of several days, months, even years. They usually act with limited assistance and are brutal in how they commit their crimes. The cult leader is more charismatic and able to influence others to commit acts of defiance toward governments; even individuals with no clear reason for there those actions.

These two types of personalities combined into one person are rare but not impossible. Over the years, there has been several individual in this category, Charles Manson is probably the most notorious of them all as he was the person that created media attention for him and his cult followers, known simply as the “Family.”

Charles Manson has remained in the limelight for the past 40 years. Psychiatrists attribute the behaviors of serial killers to early childhood, others look at personality and the individuals the follow these individuals. What contributed to the mind of Manson? Was it the actions of his mother, his childhood or was it the power and sense of control he had over his followers? Some would argue it was simply revenge.

History of Charles Manson


Charles Manson, killer, cult leader, musician, father, dictator; where does Charles Manson fit? Charles Manson was born as Charles Miles Maddox on November 12, 1934, to Kathleen Maddox a 16-year-old prostitute from Cincinnati, Ohio. Kathleen had been in prison for armed robbery, solicitation and other offense leaving little Charles with neighbors or friends for hours and days at a time. On one occasion, it has been reported that Kathleen used Charles as payment for a pitcher of beer in a local bar and reports from Manson himself about hearing his mother “entertain” men at night while he was in the next room.

As a child Charles lived with relatives and moved often from one home to another, at the age of nine Charles was caught stealing and was sent to a reform school. That was the start of Charles’ life in the correctional system. In 1947, Charles was sent to the Gibault School for Boys in Terre Haute, Indiana for stealing after about a year he escaped and attempted to return to his mother but was harshly met with rejection.

Charles committed another burglary and the court arranged for him to go to Father Flanagan’s Boys Town. At the age of 17, Manson was accused of rape on a younger male. Charles while staying at Flanagan’s Boys Town committed two armed robberies and was sentenced to three years in the Indiana School for Boys.

At the age of 21, Charles Manson married 17-year-old Rosaline Jean Willis and moved to California, from this union, Rosaline gave birth to Charles Manson Jr. While Charles was in prison for auto theft, Rosaline left California with their son. Charles would marry again and from that came two more children.



Manson would be arrested several more times for robbery, theft, and solicitation of prostitution. According to documents, Manson raped a 15-year-old boy while in a juvenile facility. While in prison, Manson was befriended by Alvin “Creepy” Karpis who was known to have ties to the mob underworld. Karpis gave Manson guitar lessons while in prison.

The Family-Charles Manson started attracting followers that were transfixed or mesmerized by his teachings of freedom and having an open society. These followers were mostly women who were searching for affection and meaning during the age of flower power. Manson was able to manipulate his followers to believe he was of a higher power and groomed his hair and beard to resemble God. Manson would control his family by subjecting them to drugs such as LSD and having them participate in orgies so they could release there sexual inhibitions. The family included the following:

  • Leslie Van Houten

  • Mary Brunner

  • Lynette Fromme

  • Susan Atkins

  • Linda Kasabian

  • Patricia Krenwinkel

  • Bobby Beausoliel

  • Steve “Clem” Grogan

  • Charles “Tex” Cobb

Over the next two years, Manson continued with his teaching of forming a free society. During this time, Manson started to exert his power on members of the family by having them participate in sexual acts in front of all the family members, to display their loyalty to him. One request Manson had made to Bobby Beasoliel a family member that Mason befriended in prison, was to kill one of Manson’s friends, a musician that he suspected of having a large sum of money at his home. Mason instructed two other family members Brunner and Atkins to accompany Beasoliel and help carry out this request. After killing the musician, the family under Manson’s instruction tried to make the killing resemble that of the Black Panthers.

The Murders-On August 9, 1969, Charles Manson instructed his followers to murder everybody in a house that he had designated. That night the Manson family went to the house of writer Roman Polanski. The Manson family killed five people they found at the house: Steven Parent a local teenager found shot dead in his car, Abby Folger, coffee heiress and her lover were found on the lawn of the home, Jay Sebring, a famous hairdresser and actress Sharon Tate along with her unborn child. Upon arriving back at the Manson Ranch, Manson expressed his displeasure stating it was too messy and that very night, Manson along with the same four family members involved in the Tate murders, drove around looking for other victims. They came across the LaBianca home, Manson expressed to his family “don’t let them know their going to die.” The next morning the police found Leno and Rosemary LaBianca stabbed to death in their home. The murders were completed and the aftermath was just starting.

The Evolution-Trying to understand why a person could commit acts that are so horrible still baffles scientists and doctors. Here is an ordinary man, nothing particularly special about him, however, he was able motivate, inspire many to carry out his orders. How did an ordinary person develop the ability to control a group of people? What would possess a person to commit such brutal crimes? Some say his childhood was highly hostile to society, pathologically so, and he wanted revenge. One suggestion is that he targeted the Tate house because it represented his rejection by the show business community he wanted to enter, and that it was of no interest to him who his actual victims would be, or was it simply that Manson got a ‘kick’ out of death and control. The murders were on the surface motiveless and unconnected to Manson, but some key motives were later identified. These are the answers everyone seeks when discussing serial killers and cult leaders. Although growing up, all the signs indicated Charles Manson could become a threat to himself or others. Charles had all the signs, he had superficial charm, he was manipulative, and Charles although small in stature had a grandiose personality and his followers often said he was “godlike.” Charles Manson never displayed remorse for the atrocities he manifested, but showed no emotion toward his victims, he blamed his victims for his actions.


The timeline that lead up to his heinous crimes demonstrates Manson’s evolution from ordinary person to infamous monster. Psychiatrists that studied Manson viewed him from 1951-1966 as the following:

  • 1951 – A very sensitive but dangerous person; displayed aggressive and homosexual tendencies.

  • 1952 – Described as having unpredictable behavior but could still change his direction.

  • 1955 – Was unable to demonstrate socially acceptable behavior.

  • 1956 – A mediocre worker

  • 1957 – As demonstrated unstable behavior.

  • 1958 – Personality as withdrawn and began to demonstrate hostile behavior.

  • 1961 – Demonstrates need to rebel against society and participate in anti anything causes.

  • 1963 – (Nearing the time of his release) institutionalized and in need of assistance in making the transition from prison to society.

Conclusion-In studying the history Charles Manson, it is impossible to miss the gradual change from an innocent child to a psychopathic killer. There was warning signs throughout his life, starting with his relationship with his mother, to his need for survival. The events that transpired in his early childhood shaped his mind and set forth in motions the events that took place on August 9, 1969. Charles Manson had to survive, so he used the abilities to manipulate those who came in contact with; his followers believed he was larger than life; the family even described him as Christ like. Charles Manson has remained in the mainstream although in prison, psychiatrists want to study him, and others want to emulate him, but trying to understand him is truly impossible. Charles Manson has spent the majority of his life in prison but even today, bodies continue to be discovered and he continues to baffle the minds of everyone who crosses his path.




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