Impact of Environment on Charles Manson


Impactof Environment on Charles Manson

Impactof Environment on Charles Manson

Criminologistsuse different theories to explain felonies. Contravening the law hasa multidimensional approach therefore, a single approach cannotexplain a criminal tendency satisfactorily. Theoretical perspectivesanalyze the conditions in which offenders live and relate them totheir behaviors. Charles Manson is one of the most notorious outlawsin the United States for having engaged in crime since he was ajuvenile and later becoming a serial felon. He was incarcerated fornine concurrent offenses. This paper will analyze his context as thepossible cause of his criminal behavior and perceivedpreposterousness by pondering the question of whether hissurroundings affected his conscious thoughts. Mason’senvironment influenced his sanity because he was surrounded byoffenders who introduced him to crime at a tender age leading tofrequent incarcerations.

Mansonwas born in Cincinnati in 1934 by a juvenile mother, Kathleen Maddox,who was too vulnerable and disenfranchised to take care of his needs(Smith, 2013). Consequently, Manson wandered looking for comfort inrelatives’ homes and institutions. His delinquency began at atender age, and he would escape from the boys’ schools back to thestreet to find his mother. In 1960, he became the pioneer of theManson family, and they engaged in a series of brutal killings(Smith, 2013). Masson was not convicted of directly taking part inthe felonies, but he was found culpable of giving instruction totheir effect.

First,the conditions surrounding Manson’s birth oriented him todelinquency at a young age. Her mother was young, and she did nothave a stable source of income. Manson did not know his biologicalfather and his mother was bitter for being rejected by Manson’sfather (Altman, 2015). As a habitual drinker, Manson’s mother spenther life in the streets, and this exposed his son to various crimes.Altman (2015) indicates that his mother once sold him to a childlesswoman for a pitcher of beer. Also, to relieve herself of the burdenof bringing up Manson, Maddox tried several times to put him underfoster care unsuccessfully. She sent him to several boys’ schools,but Manson always sneaked back to the streets. At one time, he wassent to live with his uncle who turned out to be a religious fanatic.He subjected him to embarrassing behaviors like being dressed in agirl`s clothes while going to School. At such a young age, he wasfrustrated by the ways everyone was treating him. It is notsurprising that he began robbing filling stations to establish anindependent life. According to the social conflict theory, onebecomes a convict when the laws governing the society defines his/herconduct as undesirable (Hagan, 2010). The ideology further explainsthat those without resources are put on the receiving end ofpunishment as a result of their vulnerability to commit crimes. Theeconomically disenfranchised background of Manson and his motherdenied them basic commodities like housing and education, and he hadto look for ways to survive.

Secondly,Manson’s sanity was also influenced by the pop culture. As a youngboy in the streets, he adopted the idea of songwriters who in a wayadvocated for violence. He confesses that the hit Helter Skelter, byThe Beatles, became his source of inspiration (Altman, 2015). Itdrove him to crave for dominance and recognition. Consequently, hebrain-washed the members of the Manson family to execute his wishes.He also describes the song as prophetic since it revealed to him howhe would fight racial wars. Through the song, he foresaw a situationwhere the African-Americans would kill all the whites except hisfamily. To prevent such a war, he could not withhold any wrathtowards the Blacks. His obsession with pop music and culture as wellas the consequent crime can be explained from a social learningperspective. The theory indicates that individuals pick behaviors intheir environment. Furthermore, their role models largely influencethem (Eck &amp Weisburd, 2015). Also, the basic assumption of thetheory that the context of social structure, interaction andsituation leads to either conforming or deviant behavior explainsManson’s sanity. The street context marked with vehemence andtruancy could not produce a conforming character. It also explainswhy Manson presumed that it was right to eliminate all Blacks. Thosein his environment also harbored similar thoughts.

Theattitude that those in Manson’s environment had about him alsoimpacted on his sanity. He took to the streets to rob people of theircars and looted filling stations after being reprobated by his mother(Altman, 2015). Although she was an occasional burglar, Maddoxreferred to Manson as a delinquent and chased him away. Even from atender age, he knew that people regarded him as dangerous. Also, theofficers in the juvenile institutions used to shift him from oneprison to another because they considered him as a ruinous criminal.The labeling theory of crime outlines that individuals engage inatrocities for consistently being identified as black sheep and theyadopt the behavior that is consistent with the characteristics (Eck &ampWeisburd, 2015). His dominance and typical delinquency were evidentduring his trial, whereby, many of those who were close to him wereunwilling to share information that would lead to his conviction.They regarded him as the leader and “Messiah”. He had built onthe attributes that the institutions and citizens around him heapedupon him as a dangerous criminal.

Inaddition to becoming a hardened criminal because of the attitude ofthose in his surroundings, Manson turned out to be heartless andunremorseful, and most of the people thought that he was crazy.According to Altman (2015), some people also hypothesized that Mansonsuffered from a severe mental illness after being questioned on thedeaths of the citizens killed by members of his family and showing noremorse for their demise. Also, he emphasized his control anddominance by being referred to as the Messiah by members of theManson Family. Although the behavior depicted his acuteAnti-Personality Disorder, it can be traced back to his upbringing.His cradle years were devoid of love, recognition, and appreciation.In times of trouble, he had no one to turn to, and he worked his wayout of problems. His disregard for others hardened and he could notshow any trace of love or care.

Inconclusion, the environment in which Manson lived impacted on hissanity because it was devoid of support, positive role models and itmade him famous for labeling him as a dangerous criminal. His familyoriented to nonfeasance at a young age and the insufficient care hereceived from his mother and relatives drove him to becomeindependent by engaging in crime. Also, the attitude that people hadtowards him impacted on his sanity. He strived to prove them right bybecoming a serial felon and being transferred from one prison toanother. His lack of remorse for the individuals murdered by hisfollowers had its roots in his childhood environment whereby he didnot receive any parental love. Manson’s sanity, therefore, can onlybe explained from a multi-dimensional perspective since variedfactors shaped his behavior in his environment.


Altman,R. (2015). Sympathyfor the devil: Charles Manson`s exploitation of California`s 1960scounter-culture.Fort Lewis: University Press of Colorado.

Eck,J. E., &amp Weisburd, D. L. (2015). Crime places in crime theory.Crime and place: CrimePrevention Studies,4.

Hagan,F. E. (2010). Introductionto criminology: theories, methods, and criminal behavior.Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE, 2010

Smith.W. (2013, Aug. 3). The making of a monster: Charles Manson’schildhood. TheDaily Beast.Retrieved from