Charles Manson, one of the most notorious serial killers of the modern age, died this week November twentieth 2017 at the age of eighty-three. Manson, who was responsible for nine high profile murder committed from July to August during the Summer of 1969, dies yesterday morning after serving the remainder of his life behind bars.
Manson has become infamous for his crimes and is most well known for the establishment of the ‘Manson Family’. The family was a commune run by Manson which he used to induct young men and women and persuade them to commit crimes for him. Manson believed that a so called “Helter Skelter” (a term taken from a Beatles song) was coming to bring about the end of the world through an apocalyptic war of the races. He used this belief to persuade men and women to join his commune and commit crimes under his direction.
Manson’s California cult first gained infamy after their murder of the actress Sharon Tate, who was eight months pregnant at the time; the group would go on to kill eight other men and women throughout the course of their violent escapades. Manson was convicted on seven accounts of first degree murder and one count of conspiracy to commit murder. Manson was initially sentenced to death, but had his sentence was modified to life without parole when the death sentence was ruled unconstitutional in 1972.
Manson’s crimes developed such a profound following due to his prevalent cult of personality, which created a certain psychological fascination with the ‘Manson Family’. Even Manson’s commune functioned under the idea that he had a certain kind of power to influence the minds of others. The intrigue with these murders stems from the fact that Manson was not present during the crimes, yet he was still able to direct his followers to kill and have them follow through with the horrific tasks. Manson had such an all encompassing hold on his followers that his charisma is recognized even today despite his heinous crimes. Even after the vicious killings Manson was still able to build and maintain a dedicated following from behind bars. The continued question in regard to the Manson case is weather his great influence comes as a result of a specific personality that incites people to follow his directions, or from the active search for vulnerable individuals that are easily manipulated. Cases of women seeking out and marrying well-known killers are more common than one might think, and Manson is a prime example of this phenomenon.
Even in the Modern era psychologists are still fascinated by Manson’s unique ability to attract certain individuals who are more susceptible to persuasion. Manson’s crimes and the enormous influence that he held over pop culture will continue to shape the way the public and psychologists a like think about crime and the human psyche for decades to come.