Leo Tolstoy said: “Happy families are all alike and each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way." The same can be possibly true for individuals. It is unhappy and unsatisfied people that commit most violent crimes. Those, who appear to want to “to get even” with the society, commit the most cruel murders. Charles Manson is one of those people. A short study of his life and some findings may show some aspects that led to development of that beastly side of his nature that resulted in such atrocities.
To begin with his life, it is necessary to look into his childhood and even go back to the time before his birth. His mother, Kathleen Maddox lived in a home that Manson describes as a very unfriendly place, with his mother‘s “life filled with a never-ending list of denials” (Emmons, 1986). His mother ran away from home at age fifteen and spent several decades drinking and went to jail on several occasions. She gave birth to Charles when she was sixteen.
Charles Manson was born on November 12, 1934 in Cincinnati, Ohio. His mother was not in marriage, and initially hospital records listed the child as “no name Maddox” (Emmons, 1986). He later learnt that his biological father appeared to have been “Colonel” Walker Scott. Manson received his last name from the person whom his mother married some time later. That marriage ended in divorce. Charles Manson admitted disliking his step-father. His mother did not take any interest in him, and according to the story told by one Charles’ relative, once she sold him for a pitcher of beer (Emmons, 1986). On another occasion of his stay with the relatives, one of his uncles dressed him like a girl because he thought the boy was very feminine (Crime Causation, 2012). Since his mother could not take care of him, Charles spent his teenage years living at the homes of his various relatives and at special schools and boys’ homes. As he recalls, grown-ups often called Charles “the little bastard”.
Charles started stealing when he was nine and his first problems with the law began when he was 13 (Rosenberg, 2012). Relatives sent Manson to the Indiana Boys School where he was sexually abused. He tried to escape from it and after several unsuccessful attempts he managed to do it with two other boys. As Manson claimed later, guards and personnel in reform schools brutally treated the boys.
Manson first went to prison in 1951, and in 1954 at the age of nineteen he gained freedom on parole for good behavior. It was then that he got married for the first time. His further life was a series of imprisonments and releases, stealing, relationships with women and illegal activities. During one of his incarcerations, Manson took guitar lessons from Alvin Karpis, who was Barker-Karpis gang leader.
Upon his release from jail in 1967, Manson and his associates moved into the Spahn Ranch, and founded what later became known as the cult group “The Family". He was good at manipulating people around him. Manson took pieces from different religions and formed his own philosophy which he passed down to his followers. People that were around him were obedient to his orders, and so when he killed and told them to kill, they did not think twice before murdering even a pregnant woman in cold blood.
Charles Manson and his associates were all under arrest in December of 1969. The court found him guilty of murder and conspiracy to commit murder, and sentenced him to death. In 1972, it reduced his death sentence to lifetime sentence.
The life of Charles Manson provoked many stories. Although a small minority of people who went through hardships and inhuman treatment ended up murdering others, it is still necessary to analyze several aspects that may have been critical for changing the direction of his life and contributed to his criminal behavior.
Firstly, it is the lack of good models that Manson experienced from his early childhood. His mother's behavior was antisocial and not motherly. He never had a father figure to show him a good pattern of caring and loving relationship. His relatives, instead of accepting him into their families, rather stressed the negative sides of his background, calling him “the little bastard” and reminding him of the facts like his mother’s selling him for a pitcher of bear and similar events. Later on he underwent brutal abusing in reform schools. The people, assigned to teach the boys the principles of discipline, abused them verbally and physically instead and encouraged them to “punish" the undesirables like Manson, who resisted any form of correction. It is common for boys and girls growing in dysfunctional families, to look for behavior models. Unfortunately, with parents busy with work or themselves, they are often on their own. Therefore, they fall under the influence of their peers who do not always produce a good effect on them. This is how street gangs gain their “new converts”. It is a pity that not a single person in Manson’s life, went out of his way, to welcome him, and to show patience to the boy.
Secondly, it is the family surrounding that shapes the child’s worldview. Abraham Lincoln belonged to a poor family. However, he became one of the greatest men that America has ever produced. His family raised him on strong moral principles and, apparently, the lessons that parents gave him were not hypocritical. Thus, they taught him to disapprove slavery (Abraham Lincoln, 2012). Love that children receive from their parents in early childhood has a subconscious effect on their social behavior and relationships with people in the later age. Unloving parents often raise cold-hearted people who, in turn, have difficulty loving their children.
Lastly, humiliation that Manson repeatedly experienced from those around him developed him into a psychological wreck, perceiving him as nothing valuable and, in fact, did not care about his life and the lives of other people. For some reason, none of the people around him attempted to see a suffering miserable boy in the little criminal that Manson tried to portray, let alone walking a mile with him to overcome the wounds in his bleeding heart. This world needs good Samaritans who would come to help the rejected and the unloved ones. It may be one of the principal ways to help clean out our streets of criminal activity.
In the final analyses, it is necessary to stress that unhappy and unsatisfied people, whose world was so much wrecked by unloving people and adverse circumstances, commit many violent crimes. Looking into the circumstance of Charles Manson’s life, such as lack of good models, unloving family surrounding and humiliation, one can see that circumstances like that are likely to give rise to moral monsters who can take anyone’s life when they deem it necessary.