Type of paper: Essay

Topic: Charles Manson, Family, Crime, Religion, Cult, Psychology, War, Murder

Pages: 10

Words: 2750

Published: 2020/12/14



The Manson family is associated with Charles Manson who is serving behind bars as a convicted serial killer in the 1960s. Charles Manson did not committed the killings but formed a cult that he named “The Family” who carried out the brutal murders on his behalf.
Charles Manson was sentenced to death however since California eliminated capital punishment in 1972 so he is serving his time behind bars.
Charles Manson was an American musician turned criminal, he had a criminal record from early age including burglaries, robberies and stolen vehicles and served imprisonment often for similar crimes. However the formation of the cult was the most notorious crime that he is remembered with.
The following paper will discuss the group “the family”, their strategies and reasons to carry those brutal murders and the later trials. The paper will also discuss the relevant theories why Charles Manson chose to form a group to commit these crimes rather than doing it himself.

Psychology Of Serial Killers

The manual od diagnostic and statistical mental disorders describes Sadistic personality disorder as a condition where a person feels happy or is amused by the physical or psychological pain of others and feels a sense of accomplishment from that.
It is often believed that serial killers or habitual criminals develop their aggressive and notorious sides mostly due to their early childhood experience and surroundings. Psychologists believe that analysis and comparisons of several serial killers over time has shown that all of them have gone through a troubled and traumatic period as a child or as a young adult. Child abuse and violence at early ages by parents or guardians also results in vengeance to the society in children.

Brief History Of Charles Manson

The childhood and early years of Charles Manson were no different from that of several other serial killers or sadists. He was born in 1934 as an illegitimate son to sixteen year old Kathleen Maddox, a prostitute by profession in Ohio. His father was unknown as in many cases of serial killers. Even his surname was derived from one of the sexual partners of Kathleen as Charles Milles Manson. Shortly after, in 1939 Kathleen was imprisoned for five years on account of robbing a bank with her brother and Charles was given in custody of an aunt who was a religious frantic and her husband was abusive and sadistic brutally affecting the child psychologically. Some accounts of his childhood also state that Kathleen sold him to the woman for a pitcher of beer.
Though after her release from prison Kathleen reclaimed her son but the traumatic lifestyle continued for Charles Manson as he grew up seeing his alcoholic mother with sexual partners from both genders at home. The loneliness and violent childhood soon turned him into a juvenile criminal who was in and out of jail every now and then on convictions of pimping, rape, drugs, robbery, and fraud. He was sent to several rehabilitation and reform schools bit ran away shortly.

Charles Manson as a musician

Charles Manson met some inmates at jail who taught him guitar and he developed a passion for music. Prominently he became a fan of Beetles and believed that he would become a bigger hype than them. It is believed that he write one song for the Beach Boys too when he was briefly associated with the beach boys drummer Dennis Wilson who even helped him get studio time for recording in Brian Wilson's studio. He had a passion and skills to make music that was ahead of time and already had a following. His music career didn’t get any hype mostly due to the long list of convictions associated with his name and also due to his irritable behavior while the recording sessions.

Charles Manson’s Cult: “The Family”

The life and personality was analyzed by various psychiatrists as he represents a textbook example of a correction facility inmate and a quasi-communal cult leader. They stated that from early age he was an example of an upset youth who appears slick but can be extremely dangerous as he can be irritated by almost anything. He has strong tendency to attack and highly instable and volatile personality. He was seen as a person with lot of energy and as in case of most psychopath killers and criminals hide his resentment and loneliness behind hostility and develops a superficial personality that would be likable and exemplified. This superficial personality also helped such killers to keep their intentions hidden behind a mild and lustrous personality.
After his release in 1967 he became more social than ever. With drugs and his hippy music he grabbed a lot attention and followers who moved with him to San Francisco as it was becoming the place for the hippie revolution. San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury district was considered the focus of attention for the hippie followers and Charles Manson used his skills to attract the right people.
It is important to understand at this stage, that Charles Manson had never attended a school. His thinking pattern was developed entirely with the impressions from their views and belief. His mixed and stern religious beliefs can be directly associated with his guardians at early age who represented religion as a way of atrocities and punishments. Additionally the various criminals and sadists he met during his time in jail and reform centers instilled more hatred and vengeance towards the society. Thus he combined various theories and concepts from different religions and formed his own rulings that he believed were required to perform in order to fulfill our duty. His manipulative skills, availability of drugs such as LSD and magic mushrooms and music and a nomad style of living was enough to attract the hippie revolution.

Helter Skelter

The family of Charles Manson were his loyal followers who obeyed him religiously and respected him in a Christ-like manner. The experts believe that Charles Manson also preached them regularly to brain wash them and make them accept and believe the teachings of Charles Manson that he self- developed from various sources.
It took some time to develop the “cult” from the followers. The family is said to be engaged in criminal activities such as sexual orgies and celebrations where Charles Manson being the cult leader would decide the sexual partner for each member too, hallucinogenic drug trips, and frequent sermons by Manson.
In 1968, Beetles released their album “White Album”. Based on his own beliefs he predicted and preached his followers that the song “Helter Skelter” indicated a race war among the black and the white in1969 when all the black will rise against the white and slaughter them mercilessly. He believed and preached that the innate desire of black men for white women will result in an apocalyptic war where black men will commit all kinds of serious violent crimes that would involve all racial groups at some point, thus would end with the end to the world.
He assured his followers that he would save them by taking them into an underground city where they would become virtually invisible to others. He even gave them a description of this fake underground city that would be made of gold and would keep everyone inside it safe from any worldly atrocities.
However, to their astonishment nothing of that sort appear. No racial war was initiated and no man slaughtering took place.
It is interesting to note that why Charles Manson did utilized the idea of race war to terrify his followers and give them a feeling of surety that staying with him will be the only way to survival.
Most of the followers of Charles manson and part of his cult were females of a very young age group, additionally almost all of the members of The Family were white men or women. The era before 1960 and the time period of 1960-1970s is considered as the most racist period in American history. There were common news of conflicts and disputes resulting in violence such as beatings and shooting. The tension was only raising as black men/women were not allowed to “white” restaurants or places and vice versa. In such circumstances it was not highly unlikely or unthinkable that these daily scattered conflicts could turn into a big war incorporating all ethnic and racial groups in the country. Since all the members of the family were white the threat was even bigger.
Charles Manson had all his followers. Cult members entranced enough that they would obey all his commands. Since nothing of the sort happened as predicted by Manson, thus he ordered his members that they had the duty to show it to the black, how to start the war as Armageddon was imminent. This was the start if the brutal killings that his cult carried out on his behalf. Before starting the actual killings he moved all of them to a Spahn Ranch a tumble-down series of buildings in northwest of los angles in 1969, where all the murders were planned.
It is believed that the first murder they committed was of Gary Hinman, a drug dealer and acquaintance of the Manson family. Although there is still speculations regarding the murder however it is stated that Manson order his cult members Mary Brunner, Susan Atkins and Beausoleil to retrieve money from Hinman and on show of that money they stabbed him to death. They left a signature with his blood by writing “political piggy” and drew a panther paw to represent the Black Panther party factiously, an African American revolutionary group who used to take care of the neighborhoods to protect blacks from police violence.
The murder spree never stopped from there on and in later months several high profile Hollywood murders were committed. Top on the list was the Tate murders that were carried out at Roman Polanski's Beverley Hills residence in august 1969. Manson ordered his family members Susan Watkins, Patricia Krenwinkel, Charles "Tex" Watson and Linda Kasabian to carry out the murder in the most gruesome way possible.
Though Polanski was away shooting a film in London his wife and actress Sharon Tate who was also pregnant at that time, was accompanied by her close friends, writer Wojciech Frykowski, hairstylist Jay Sebring and a heiress to coffee bean a prominent coffee brand then. As ordered by their leader, the Manson family members killed each of them brutally stabbing everyone to death. As later investigated Sharon Tate was stabbed almost 16 times by Susan Atkins and later used her blood to write “pig” at her front door as their signature.
Following the Tate murder, on august 10th , Manson joined his family members Susan Atkins, leslie Van Houten, Steve Grogan,Patricia Krenwinkel and Linda Kasabian to commit another high-profile murder. He thought that there was not enough panic regarding the happening so they need to create more fearful episode. After a through thinking they decided about successful owner of a Grocery company, Leno LaBianca, and his wife, Rosemary LaBianca. The group did enough to create a more heinous crime scene by stabbing the couple to death for as many as 41 times. Krenwinkel carved “war’ on Leno LaBianca’s stomach while their blood was used to write “death to pigs”, “rise” and a smeared “Helter Skelter” was also written all over the living room representing their beliefs.

The arrest and trial

Although investigations started right after the bodies were found, however no connection could be found between the Manson family and the victims. The breakthrough in the case happened when the Manson family members were arrested by police to allegedly sabotage some area of the Death Valley National Park. The county sheriff arrested some members including Susan Atkins who somehow confessed in jail regarding the murders including the Hinman murder. The confessions helped the police to find the links between the murder and Charles Manson along with his faithful members were arrested and put on trial for the Hinman, Tate and LaBianca murders.
The actual theory behind these motiveless murders became known to the police as some of the defense witnesses who were a part of the Manson family spoke out. The 19 year old Van Houten confessed the murders and also accepted that Charles Manson took advantage of her emotional weakness and brain washed her into the cult. On the other hand Susan Atkins not only confessed how brutally she killed these people but also accepted that she showed no mercy to Susan Tate or her unborn child. She also told that their list had more high profile celebrities on the list and wanted everyone to take notice of their cult. All along the trial, the Manson family members were seen relaxed and amused about their crime. Charles Manson along with some of his members carved an “X”on their foreheads that later became a swastika like sign as in figure, that represent luck and fortune in several religions such as Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism.


Cults are based on a single set of belief and ideology. People who join cults may or may not completely agree with that ideology however they eventually accept it. Like in an army, cults are usually run under a commander who first break a person by taking advantages of their vulnerabilities and then remake them according to the cult’s belief. Cults like The Manson family utilize the emotions like fear, guilt and pride to force the members into believing and acting the way the leader wants them to.
The case of the Manson family also shows the formation and working of a cult that was formed under the wrong beliefs of Armageddon. Charles Manson who was diagnosed with schizophrenia and paranoid delusional behavior and was a classic example of a sadist behavior mainly due to his traumatic and violent childhood. As most of his life was filed with criminal convictions and jail time, he met and absorbed ideology, beliefs and views of several people and developed his own based on all those. When he was turned down from the music industry, his only hope to have a better life, his vengeance and arrogance towards the society increased. The cult that he named his family, representing the loneliness in his personality was an outlet for his to take revenge for his sufferings. Since he never had a respectful personality, he used his music, life style and drugs to attract the kind of people he wanted. Mostly girls of a young age group who could easily fall prey to his manipulation and charm. The slow brain wash of these members resulted in loyal comrades who followed his orders as gruesome as murdering with no second thought. His preaching were based on the fear of being killed (by blacks). He assured his members that assisting the blacks to wipe out whites to win the racial war was the only way to survive for them. He even promised them a safe and secluded place where they will not have to worry about the imminent war. His teachings mixed fear, pride and hope to send a strong message of following him blindly and thats what his members did before they were arrested and sentenced to death.


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CHARLES MANSON AND THE MANSON FAMILY. (n.d.). Retrieved from Crime Museum: http://www.crimemuseum.org/crime-library/charles-manson-and-the-manson-family
Charles Manson Biography. (2015). Retrieved from The Biography.com: http://www.biography.com/people/charles-manson-9397912
CNN Library. (2014). Manson Family Murders Fast Facts. Retrieved from CNN Library: http://www.cnn.com/2013/09/30/us/manson-family-murders-fast-facts/
Linder, D. (2014). The Charles Manson (Tate-LaBianca Murder) Trial. University Of Missouri-Kansas City. Retrieved from http://law2.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/manson/mansonaccount.html
Short Bits 2: Charles Manson and the Beach Boy. (n.d.). Retrieved from Lost in the grooves: http://www.lostinthegrooves.com/short-bits-2-charles-manson-and-the-beach-boys
Traumatic Childhood Experiences. (2007). Retrieved from Psychological Disorders: http://twistedminds.creativescapism.com/psychological-disorders/psychopaths/childhood/

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