Charles Manson and "The Family"

By Maddie Owen and Lexi McCoy

Early Life of Charles Manson and the Manson Family

Charles Mason was born in Ohio in 1934. His alcoholic/prostitute mother delivered him when she was only 16 years old. In his teenage years, Charles Manson was already living life on the streets committing petty crimes. By 1952, Manson had spent most of his life behind bars and by 1957 he had fathered 2 children to 2 women. Manson's lifestyle outside of prison was influenced by drugs, art works, petty crimes, and music such as the song "Helter Skelter" by The Beatles. In 1967, Mason had gathered a small group of followers who shared the same unconventional lifestyle as him. His small cult relocated to San Francisco and then San Fernando. Mason's followers thought he was Jesus. Manson and his hundred followers or so soon became known as "The Family". The Family went on murderous rampages throughout Hollywood. Manson took no part in the actual murders, but he directed the entire thing. The Family was responsible for more than 35 murders even though most of the members were never tried. Charles Manson was originally arrested for vandalization. The confessions of Susan Atkins lead to his arrest for the murders. Manson is still in prison today. In 2007 he was denied parole for the 11th time.

Looking Glass Self

Looking glass self is a self-concept based on our idea of others’ judgement of us. Manson had to have a pretty clear picture of what everyone thought of him, considering he was locked up several times. Many people thought of him as psychotic, crazy, and a serial killer. This should have made him rethink some of his decisions knowing what everyone thought, but it obviously didn't because he was imprisoned for multiple things: pimping, stealing valuables such as cars, and even killing numerous people.

Game Stage

The child imitates the physical and verbal behavior of a significant other. Manson had many followers, he even had fairly young girls believing he was Jesus, or someone of very high power. He made them believe in his beliefs and he brainwashed all of these poor young women. This is definitely an extreme case of an game stage, but this just goes to show how crucial it is for parents to only act how they would want their child to act. They call themselves “The Family”.

Significant Others

Charles Manson was sent to an all boys school when he was a very young age. He would run away and try to find His mother, Kathleen Maddox, who was only 16 years old, even though she wanted nothing to do with him. She was a prostitute and an alcoholic, so this obviously had a dramatic affect on his life, he was pretty much doomed from the beginning. This was setting him up for failure and he pretty much followed in his mother’s foot steps.

Reference Group

He had many followers that carried out his devious crimes, he was easily associated with them, some of their names were: other men with the same name as him, Bobby Beausoleil, Bruce Davis, Catherine Share aka “Gypsy”, Sherry Cooper, Diane Lake, Juan Flynn, and Larry Bailey. They would imitate him and do anything he wanted, he made them believe very horrendous things. These are probably people that Charles Manson would have associated himself with.

Mass Media

The Family saw what they had done on the news, newspapers, and headlines. Charles Manson fed off of their anonymous fame and got thrill out of what they were doing. He was also very manipulative because he would never actually carry out any of the crimes, he would just direct them and lead them in the right path so he felt as though his hands were clean.

Total Insitution

The family is an example of a total institution because they are completely cut off from the real world and are controlled and manipulated by Charles Manson.


When Charles Manson goes to jail, not only does he loses contact with all of his followers, his followers are lost and have no idea what to do without him, because he’s been controling them for so long.


These people became part of “The Family” and that was what their whole lives revolved around. He learned how to participate in group life out of prison, and his followers became part of “The Family” when they joined.