Now that Charles Manson is dead, some of the mystique of his persona has fizzled out. We no longer see his past interviews played over and over again on television every time the anniversary of the Tate-LaBianca murders comes up, every time one of the followers dies, or every time one of the remaining Manson women in prison gets put up for parole. Slowly but surely, Charlie Manson is becoming a thing of the past.
With more important crimes and criminals facing the country and the globe today, Manson is hardly what I would describe as the criminal mastermind he’s been made out to be over the past oh, fifty years. Over the decades, with the help of Vincent Bugliosi and the constant retelling of the Helter Skelter theory, Manson has been portrayed as one of the greatest, smartest, most conniving and carefully manipulative cult leaders ever to walk the earth.
I maintain this is a myth. I submit to you that Charles Manson is no more than a two-bit hood with a severe inferiority complex and a major insecurity issue compounded by an ego that was blown into massive proportions. ALL of which drove him to be the incredibly weak schmuck that ended up in prison pretty much his whole life. Can I back up this theory? Oh, you bet I can.
I have long been interested in Charles Manson. Ever since I was in single digit ages. His was the first cult I ever heard of. I found it absolutely baffling that anybody would follow this jackass anywhere. So, I had to learn more. And over the course of MY lifetime, I feel I finally found enough information that I can generally explain who the REAL Charlie was. And he was far from a genius criminal mastermind. But, let’s start at the beginning, shall we?
We have been led by Manson himself to believe a number of things about his birth and early childhood. These things were gathered from interviews Manson gave throughout his incarceration AFTER being sentenced for his commanding role in the Tate-LaBianca murders. We as the American public are supposed to believe the following: that Manson was born in 1934 as No-Name Maddox to his young prostitute mother, Kathleen Maddox. We have been told by Manson himself that he never had any family and that he was abused from an early age and was never loved by his mother. He has said that the only home he has ever known is a prison cell or a reformatory dorm room. He has repeatedly blasted the system for beating, cutting, whipping, molesting, raping, starving him, anything and everything horrible that you can imagine, Manson said it happened to him as a child, and it happened in the confines of OUR youth and adult penal systems.
Charlie has gone on in filmed interviews to explain that since his parents were a jailhouse and abuse, we as a society should expect nothing less than what we got as a result in him. For decades Manson spun a long winded tale about how he was abused and neglected by every person at every turn in his life. How he never got a break. How nobody ever cared about him or loved him or tried to help him. He constantly fed us the “oh poor me” pity party and expected a rough and troubled upbringing to be the end all be all excuse for every bad act he ever perpetrated on anyone throughout the entirety of his life.
The truth is, from his own mouth in a book that he wrote with Nuel Emmons, Manson In His Own Words, that Charlie’s childhood and adolescence, while tough and not perfect, was not near as bad as he made it out to be. The fact is that Manson repeatedly bolstered and embellished, and often outright lied, about his past in order to “justify” his actions or words.
After reading the above book cover to cover, watching countless interviews with Manson so many times I could probably repeat them to you verbatim, reading Bugliosi’s book Helter Skeltertwice and watching every documentary and fact-based movie I could find, I found that Charles Milles Manson was no more than a frightened, scraggly, insecure little man who hated himself so much he felt he had no choice but to build himself up with lies until he believed them himself.
Manson was a man filled with self-hatred and self-contempt. He felt deep down inside that he was an insignificant human being. He saw himself as nothing, which he stated in his book many times. The psychotic, wild-eyed killer persona that he embodied for the last 50+ years was an act, a role that he played and perfected for the cameras, the courts, the followers and the onlookers, all intended to distract and conceal the fact that he really had almost no self-confidence, self-esteem or self-worth.
So, let’s look at this horrible childhood he had. Charlie has repeatedly stated in interviews that he had no family, that his mother was a prostitute, that he was given away to a pimp to pay a debt, that he was beaten and raped. He even stated that his first sexual experience was in a juvenile reformatory when he was molested by a fellow young male detainee and it didn’t bother him. Thus, he became the perpetrator in violating other boys during his time in such places as a youngster.
The truth is, Charlie was born to fifteen-year-old prostitute Kathleen Maddox on November 12, 1934. Initially, yes, he was No-Name Maddox. That was only until Kathleen gave him a name. Standard law, not to mention common sense, dictates that a name MUST NOT be left blank on a birth certificate, whether one has been chosen at the time the document is typed up or not. Since Kathleen had not chosen a name yet, No-Name was inserted until one was provided. Within weeks he was given the name of Charles Milles Maddox. However, Charlie used this temporary space filler as an attempt to tug at the heartstrings of the American public from the moment he knew the information, using it as an example of proof that he was unwanted and unloved from the moment he was born.
Next, Charlie was not abandoned by his mother and given to a pimp for a debt. Charlie spent a good portion of his childhood, when he wasn’t breaking the law, with his grandmother (Kathleen’s mother). She cared for him and loved him just as any grandmother would. This is not to say that she didn’t have rules, wasn’t strict at times and didn’t punish him. While there is a lot of information about his childhood and the life he had with his mother, her drinking and running around with different men, it seems that Kathleen DID try at many times to give Charles as normal of a life as she could in her destitute circumstances.
She married a man before he was born, which was where the Manson last name came from, in an effort to give her newborn son some semblance of a family life. When he screwed up, she tried to follow through with the punishment the law set for him. Although she made many mistakes and fell into countless drinking binges and bad choices of lovers, it is clear that she did make effort in her moments of clarity to do right by her boy. There were quite a few times that Kathleen would take Charlie back into her custody after she would get released from incarceration but, her freedom and their time together would often be short lived.
So, fast forward thirty years. Charlie, by this time, spent approximately seventeen of his thirty years of life in boy’s homes, reformatories, jails and prisons. It is over the course of these seventeen years that Charlie used his time in incarceration to educate himself at the “Crime University” as it is sometimes called. Prisons are well known for being breeding grounds for making criminals better criminals. I mean, let’s face it. If they were good at what they did they wouldn’t have gotten busted and ended up in the slam to begin with. So, they often trade tales and tips, hoping to learn something from each other and their mistakes. This can be true and not true. In Charlie’s case, it was both.
On one hand, while incarcerated he was able to learn various things that made him better able to move about in the free world and function easier in and out of prison. In his book, Manson boasted that he wanted to learn how to be a pimp, that he idolized the ones he met in prison and that he wanted that kind of power and access to money and girls. This isn’t what I would consider a lofty aspiration, even for a career criminal. Still, he spent all his time with these characters, talking to them, asking them questions. He learned all he could about turning girls out, how to control them, how to exploit their weaknesses. This would be the beginning of his lessons as to the art of the con and what it would take to be a cult leader. On the other hand, Charlie remained fairly inept at thievery and his many other crime endeavors. Perhaps he wasn’t an outstanding pupil in all subjects, only pimpology.
Although I don’t believe Manson actually actively set out with the intent of being a cult leader when he got out of prison in the 1960s, I do think he had the distinct goal of becoming a powerful pimp with a lot of women and money at his fingertips. And interestingly enough, during the late 1960s, it wasn’t difficult for him to find young women looking to “live a little outside society’s norms”.
Now, before I get into all the Helter Skelter jazz, there are some things from his book I want to mention. First, Manson was always well aware of the impact his persona had on the public. He even stated in the introduction of his book that he wasn’t too thrilled about being part of it, baring things about himself, because it would detract from his known persona that he’s spent years building for us.
There are many times, in interviews and in his book, that he spouts off about how we the public have our own picture of him, this scary, horrible psycho that has been painted as a liar, a cheat, a killer, a maniacal cult leader, a rapist, a drug dealer, all by the lawyers, judges, police, etc. He then goes on to paint the picture of the abused child no one wanted in a way that implies we should feel sorry for him because he was “pushed around” all his life. But, then he contradicts himself saying that no one should feel sorry for him because he doesn’t pity himself. That is an outright lie if you pay attention to his words.
He also bad mouths his mother for being a drunk and a prostitute in his rants and then in the next paragraph he commends her for doing what she had to in order to make ends meet and professes his love for her. In an interview in the 2000s he stated that the only thing his mother ever taught him “was that everything she ever said was a lie.” Yet, in the 1980s he defended his mother vehemently for her efforts and behaviors. He bounced back and forth like this constantly throughout his entire life. He even blamed his mother’s promiscuity for ruining her marriage to his stepfather, leaving him fatherless yet again. But again, contradicted himself moments later in the book when he said, “But hey, I like my mom, loved her, and if I could have picked her, I would have. She was perfect! In doing nothing for me, she made me do things for myself.” Yet this would be the same thing he would use as the foundation for his entire case as to why he began his life in ruins.
Charlie also took the time to point out that he didn’t want to talk about his failures in the regular world. In my opinion, doing so would mean that he would be seen as something other than the crazy, ultra-manipulative madman we’ve always seen him as. He seemed very content in speaking of his failures as a criminal. This would still add to his character and mystique even if he wasn’t a successful thief or burglar or conman. After all, nobody starts off as a perfect criminal, do they? Everyone makes mistakes. And believe me, there were many. Though Charlie spoke of his criminal exploits as if he were some sort of diabolical kingpin heading up a high class escort service, the reality was he was penniless, dirty, homeless and hungry with young runaways following him around because they either wanted food, drugs, shelter or just plumb didn’t know any better.
He constantly bragged and boasted about everything from who he knew to the girls he slept with to the crimes he committed and much more. One of the biggest problems with someone like Manson is that their ego. Now, any career criminal worth their salt knows that in order to keep their career going they have to remain in business and the first rule to staying in that line of work would most likely be to keep your mouth shut. Nobody is going to stay in a business like that for very long if they run their mouth to everyone they come into contact with. I would think another rule would be to be good at your crime of choice. Charlie wasn’t very good at anything when it came to breaking the law. That’s evident by his criminal record stemming from his childhood through his death. If he was good at that lifestyle, he wouldn’t have spent sixty-nine of his eighty-three years on this earth incarcerated. Period. Obviously he would have probably been better suited for something OTHER than thief, pimp or murderer.
One thing Charlie did put SOME effort into was his music. He didn’t have talent really but he had some passion. However, he had no patience and no will to work his way through the ropes like most musicians have to, earning their way into a recording contract. Instead he thought he could buy his way in with drugs, girls, sex, charm (which I feel he had very little of) and when that all failed to work, he tried to threaten his way in with violence.
In his book Charlie stated that he felt like an equal in prison. I find it interesting that out of all the places in his life, prison is the place where he felt he was amongst his own. This could have been because he felt this was where he could learn the most. It could also be because this was where he felt the most comfortable. Anywhere you have spent the majority of your life is probably going to be where you feel the most comfortable. Especially if it wasn’t always a bad experience for you. Manson expressed time and again that he liked being in prison. He said that it was a constant place to sleep, he had clean clothes and a shower, food to eat and for a long time he had his guitar. He said that was really all he needed in life.
Well ladies and gentlemen, it’s very easy to say that’s all you need when that’s all you are allowed to have. If you will remember the beginning of this article I told you Charlie wanted to learn to be a pimp because he wanted that power and money. Well, he craved it. His gift of gab was also there not to please anyone but himself. Charlie had an incessant need for attention, a need to be idolized and adored.
There was a small stint in 1955 when Manson got married and had a son. He was living a “normal life” but it didn’t last. Charlie hated not having any money and always being in need. Charlie said, “The patience, willingness to struggle and earn that normal life demands wasn’t part of my make up.” So, he went back to the life of a thief and landed back in prison.
Now, to me all his ranting and raving about being abused, abandoned, unloved, unwanted, created by the system, all that jazz is just a bunch of excuses. There are a ton of people that grow up way harder than poor little Charles ever did and they don’t turn into total douchebags. They don’t abuse women, become criminals and wind up morally questionable idiots known for orchestrating mass murders. No. They grow up, end up recognizing that they didn’t like how they grew up and try to do everything in their power to never have to live that way again OR put their families through anything even remotely close to that in their lives either. But, Charlie has a real problem with taking responsibility for anything when it actually means something bad will happen to him.
And the kids Charlie went after for his followers, well, he had a type, at least for the girls. He looked for girls who were “mostly young, not too pretty and without a lot of smarts”. This would not only make them easier to control but, also easier to read from the get go. For instance, upon meeting Susan Atkins he determined that she had self-esteem issues and daddy issues. This was easy to determine as most girls in their teens are self-conscious and a good portion of teen girl runaways would have had problems with their father (or lack thereof) or father figure. Then, you have someone like Leslie Van Houten. She was a very good girl, good grades, from a good family. It is easy to assume Charlie pinpointed her as a “goody-two shoes” who was looking to rebel against her straight laced family. He would easily catch onto things like this and while the kids and others around his would see it as some sort of mind reading or fantastic insight into their drugged out souls, all he was really doing was paying attention to their needs and exploiting them.
So, Charlie couldn’t’ make it as a musician no matter how hard he tried. Even when he tried to impress Dennis Wilson of The Beach Boys and record producer Terry Melcher and flopped, he ended up becoming more of a nuisance and was actually told to go away. A guy like Charlie would have hated being rejected in such a fashion. But that’s not entirely made him feel the need to send people out to kill, according to him. In truth, I believe there were a number of things that conspired together to launch the tragic events of August 8 and 9, 1969.
I suppose, if you follow what Manson said in his book, it all began when Susan Atkins and Tex Watson robbed some bikers. It’s not as if this was anything new but, these particular bikers decided to come looking for their money at Spahn’s Ranch. When they arrived, there was a man named Crowe with them. (I do not know if Crowe was a biker or a friend of the biker gang’s or what.) During the argument that ensued, Charlie shot Crowe. He said it was in self-defense.
Now Charlie is scared that the bikers are going to somehow bring the cops down on them at the ranch, because you know, that’s what criminals do when they get jacked, is rat out the other criminals. Cops are definitely going to spend time and effort finding the scum that robbed a criminal of his money. (Not that all bikers are criminals. Some of my best friends are bikers, so relax peeps. But, I think we can all agree that bikers that come to your house with people and guns to get back money you stole would probably not be considered an upstanding citizen.) Anyways, Charlie also somehow gets it in his head that this Crowe fella is a Black Panther and that it’s only a matter of time before that organization comes looking for revenge on The Family.
To top it all off, one of the guys in the room at the time of this shooting was connected to the recording industry and Charlie was convinced that THAT ruined his chances for ever recording an album. Yet he had already been denied by Melcher AND The Beach Boys, not to mention random people at various studios and auditions. This caused Charlie to begin to stew endlessly in hatred and contempt.
He was always very generous with the drugs. He often just gave away whatever he had access to. There were many nights when he would lead massive campfire LSD trip parties where he would perch himself on a big rock and sit higher than his flock and preach to them as they left the world of reality and crossed into the world of whatever Charlie shaped for them that night. He often used scripture and reenacted scenes from the Bible while everyone else was stoned, drunk or tripping out of their minds. And here’s the kicker. While Charlie would be the only one to dole out the drugs, he would often give his followers two sometimes three times the amount he would take, just so he could better maintain his faculties and more easily control theirs.
So, Crowe was dead. Charlie was a failed musician and hating it. His ego was being slammed and he felt disrespected. He was still getting a lot of admiration from his followers though as his nighttime preaching was going over very well. He was focusing on The Book of Revelations and the end of the world. Now, a lot of people think this is a big deal, I’m about fifty-fifty on that. I mean, a lot of cult leaders use End of Days fear to intimidate their followers and conversely, a lot of regular average non-cult members are still scared about the end of the world and judgment day. Either way, he’s pissed off and drugged out. Needless to say, he’s paranoid and irritable by this point.
Enter the Gary Hinman fiasco. Gary Hinman got killed, truly at the behest of Manson, over $2000, after being tortured for days. Hinman was a slight and meager type fellow who wasn’t going to let Manson or his people push him around. He refused to give The Family ANY money when they came to rob him and it got him killed. Later Bobby Boselie was arrested in connection with Hinman’s murder because he was pulled over driving Gary’s car (like I stated before, these people were never criminal masterminds or geniuses to be reckoned with…felony stupid maybe…but not geniuses).
Now there’s a lot of pressure in Charlie’s eyes. First of all, Charlie had been running the family for a long time by now, at least in his mind. He never wanted the family life even though he had more than one child with more than one woman. It’s not like he was actually father material. The pressure of being responsible for all these people was starting to get to him. Yes, they were allowed to come and go as they pleased but, these were really just lost flower children of the 60s with nowhere to go and very little knowledge of the real world. I think that’s one of the reasons they not only stayed with Charlie but stayed out on the ranches. They didn’t have all the rules of society and it’s hard to live by rules you don’t know, don’t understand or don’t agree with. Then there was the Hinman murder, Bobby’s arrest, Crowe’s murder, the bikers, they’d been stealing auto parts and cars for some time. Manson knew things were starting to get too complicated, too hot.
With Bobby in jail, it is suggested by SOMEONE (there is disagreement as to who) that they should commit some copycat murders so Bobby will be released, as the police will think they have the wrong guy. (I know, but they were on copious amounts of acid so, they weren’t thinking 100% clearly.) So, they all agree that THIS is the banner idea of the century to get Bobby out of jail and thus the skeleton plan to commit the Tate murders is hatched.
On both nights Charlie was not present at the murders. He also admitted to his co-author that while he never explicitly forced anyone to kill, he did know that me made suggestions that lead to those events and that he was the only one that could have stopped those events from unfolding. Even after the murders Charlie left the ranch immediately because he was sure that the police were going to be hot on their trail. Especially since he told them where to go for the night of the Tate murders. They knew that was Melcher’s old house. Manson picked that house not only because it represented a place of personal rejection to him and he could get some sort of satisfaction by the murders being there but, also because he knew the layout of the house and was familiar with the grounds.
Also in the days after the August murders of 1969, Charlie started to really dive into his theory of the end of the world and the need for The Family to relocate to the desert to hide and wait for the war to be over. While Charlie talked a lot about this “race war” and supposedly linked it to “Helter Skelter”, this was a theory he made no mention of in his book, nor did he mention much of The Beatles except that he liked their music. No, his explanation for the crimes for which he was convicted is much more believable, plausible and provable.
The Helter Skelter theory is as follows:
Charlie supposedly wanted to start a race war during which he and his followers would hide out in the desert until it ended. He also said that the black man would rise up against the white man and would win said war. This is where things become laughable and ridiculous. After the war is over, Charlie believed that the black race would be too inept to run the world on their own so they would still need white people to tell them what to do. (This is some of the dumbest crap I’ve ever heard.) As he felt such instruction would be needed and all the other white people would be killed off in the war, Charlie and his followers would be the only white folks left, there would be no choice but to have Charlie lead the world in their new way of life. However, Charlie got tired of the American public being too civilized especially after general society began to accept the Civil Rights Movement and Equality for All (which I agree, is unfortunately still in progress). So, he decided he would jumpstart the whole ordeal by committing some horrifyingly gruesome murders in a rich, upper-class white neighborhood. He then assumed by trying to leave Black Panther clues and a wallet in a black neighborhood that the Keystone Kops that made up LA’s finest at the time were going to somehow come to the conclusion that this was ALL racially motivated and THEN publicize it and THAT would cause a race war to break out.
Needless to say, that’s a very flimsy plan that hinders on a lot of what-ifs and a lot of variables that were way out of their control. In my opinion, that just further lends more credence to the much more plausible story Manson gave in his book.
I commend Bugliosi for getting his conviction on the Helter Skelter theory and the sensationalism it brought. That man lived and breathed this case for two years and then countless interviews and books, movies, documentaries, etc. after that. This was his legacy. I don’t want to take away from that. He did a fantastic job with what he had at the time and that was very little considering that none of the Manson followers had become disillusioned and deprogrammed yet.
Here is what Charlie said about himself toward the end of his book:
“I was a half-assed nothing who hardly knew how to read or write, never read a book all the way through in my life, didn’t know anything except jails, couldn’t hold onto my wives, was a lousy pimp, got caught every time I stole, wasn’t a good enough musician to hit the market, didn’t know what to do with money even if I had it and resented every aspect of family life. But a week after Sadie’s story, I was a charismatic cult leader with a family, a genius who could program people into doing whatever I asked of them.”
All his life Charles Manson blamed the system for his shortcomings. He also blamed the system for driving its youth into his criminal arms. He remarked that he was disappointed that so many would just eat up whatever they were fed, that people would be so gullible. Still, had it not been for that very gullibility he wouldn’t have had his little moment in the sun, his time living as a leader, an idol, the one who was adored.
Over and over he criticized everyone who wasn’t him. But all he really wanted was to be accepted and successful. And those were the two things he just wasn’t willing to work with society for. Society and life are both all about compromise, negotiation, effort. And Charlie was only willing to compromise other people. He never compromised on anything. He wasn’t willing to work for anything. And the only effort he was willing to make was the effort that was going to give HIM immediate gratification…and nothing more.
So, was Charlie Manson REALLY a criminal genius? Was a REALLY a masterful manipulator that carefully concocted a plan to murder seven people so he could lead the free world?
No. He was a tiny little nobody who wanted nothing more than to be somebody. And no matter how hard he tried, the only somebody he ever was, was selfish, evil, full of anger and hate, jealousy and resentment towards anyone who had anything he didn’t. He didn’t want to try. He didn’t want to work. He made excuses and felt entitled. All because he had a chip on his shoulder and couldn’t get it off. Between that chip on one shoulder and his ego on the other, I’d say they crushed his brain in the middle. If Manson had put in half the effort into working that he put into being “an outlaw”, the man could have had a freakin; career and a family easy. He just didn’t like that life. And I mean, let’s face it. Nobody would have REALLY wanted him as a neighbor anyways, would they?
The first time I ever heard any reference to a cult was when I was a kid. I think I was around ten or eleven but it could have been as late as thirteen or fourteen. And while there were things going on in the current era such as David Koresh or the Tokyo Train Sarin Attacks, I first heard about Charles Manson and The Manson Family through the movie Helter Skelter…and my fascination, bewilderment and need for more explanation was born.
Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary lists five definitions of “cult”. The first and most popular definition of the word is “a religion regarded as unorthodox or spurious”. But, just because something isn’t mainstream doesn’t mean it’s bad, evil or harmful. The second definition is a more explanatory definition, broken down into three parts, that basically describes a profound devotion to a person, idea, object, movement or work (such as a film or book) which usually involves said particular object of devotion and small group of people characterized by such devotion. Then, we finally get to what seems like a simplified meaning of the term with “a system of religious beliefs”. (Wait, what? Uh huh, that’s what it reads. Yes, that means it basically could apply to any religion.) After that, it gives a vague and more antiquated definition with “formal religious veneration”, which basically just means worship. But, the last definition has to go back a long time and I think is the strangest and yet it still makes sense to me, given that it too is obviously an antiquated definition. The fifth read, “a system for the cure of disease based on dogma set forth by its promulgator (promotor)”, so basically, health cults.
Anyway, the whole idea that people could subject themselves to the complete control of another human being was just baffling to me, even at a young age. I asked my father when we watched Helter Skelter how it was that Manson was able to get these people to do whatever he said. Now, Dad tried to explain but, there’s only so much you can grasp at that age. But we kept the conversation going over the years. As I got older I learned about more cults that have existed, even just in my lifetime. And over time, more information continued to come to light.
With the interest always being there, over the past nine months to a year, I have spent a great deal of time focusing on various cults and learning more about them, the leaders and their traits, the commonalities they all hold, the kinds of people that join them and what happens within them. (No, I haven’t gone out and joined any cults and No, I’m not looking to join so no recruiting, please.) I am going to share with you what I have learned and the observations I have gleaned from the information I have gathered. I do hope you find this as fascinating as I do. So, let’s get started. (Note: This information is based off of casual research from countless hours reading books, articles and watching documentaries on television and the internet.)
With those definitions in mind, there are two basic kinds of cults. One is benign. While their thoughts and beliefs may be different from the mainstream folks, they aren’t hurting themselves or anyone else and they aren’t a danger to themselves or anyone else. They pose no threat to society or National Security. The other kind of cult is the one we always seem to hear about. I would say these are malignant, which we know would be the opposite of benign. These cults would still have different thought and belief systems but they would also employ strategies and behaviors that would be considered harmful (either physically, financially, emotionally, psychologically, even spiritually) by the average human being. These kinds of cults pose a possible threat…to everyone. They also often produce “Doomsday Cults” like The Manson Family, David Koresh and The Branch Davidians, Jonestown, and the Heaven’s Gate Cult. The interesting thing I found is that the most simplified definition of the word ‘cult’ can apply to ALL organized and unorganized religion. In fact, the first known use of the word was in 1613 in reference to some manner of worship. And yet, when we hear the word today, we automatically give it very heavy and negative connotations, assuming it is a “Doomsday Cult” the second we hear about it (or we were informed that from the very start). It is this type of cult I want to focus on.
These groups always have some sort of leader. This is usually a very charismatic person that exercises complete and utter control over the flock. Usually a male, although there have been women cult leaders, this person is likely a master manipulator and skilled liar. These leaders tend to be good speakers, they have a way with words and engaging with others when they talk. They tend to label critics and detractors as enemies and use other buzz words in their vocabulary that are specific to their group faith to impact their followers. They are good at memorizing and reciting scripture, also at interpreting it often using scripture and religion to manipulate their followers into doing whatever they want to fit their needs.
These characters are a special kind of con-artist and are typically very adept at reading people and identifying general weakness, specific vulnerabilities and needs and exploiting them for their own gain. Cult leaders may very well lack a conscience of any kind. If they do have one, it’s almost non-existent and they function under the idea that “the end justifies the means”. Many cult leaders, if not all of them, are ego-centric but still highly insecure. Many of them had issues in their childhood ranging from abuse to abandonment, unloved to overprotected. They seek adoration and the feeling of being needed. They like feeling important and powerful.
I also found a number of them who were either failed musicians or once in a music related field as a profession. For example, Charles Manson and David Koresh were both failed guitar musicians and Marshall Applewhite (Heaven’s Gate) was once a music professor. Hitler also was a failed musician and artist. These kind of people can’t handle rejection so, being a failed “anything” is a real slam to their ego. Many of the male leaders are thought to be handsome and charming. Many of them turn out to be some kind of sexual predator. I’ve also found that they tend command a lot of manual labor and reap its benefits but, they never do that kind of work themselves. A large number of these leaders can also end up showing a violent or, at minimum, an aggressive side over time, making their followers more frightened of them. And ALL of these leaders are motivated by three things: power, money and sex…and in that order.
So, it’s clear the leaders tend to follow a formula in their personality composition. But, who would listen to and follow a person like that? Who would give up their lives, their thoughts, their families and their freedoms for such a person? Well, just like any other type of predator, these animals look for a certain type of prey.
I have found that there is one thing that all cult followers seem to have in common. They all feel that they are missing something in their lives. The fascinating thing about this missing element is that it can be anything. It doesn’t have to be a religious aspect that they feel is void from their lives. While there are some that are indeed looking for that spiritual faith and connection to a higher power and the guaranteed path to their salvation, many lack a sense of general belonging and acceptance. Others crave a sense of family unity or a need to fill a family member’s role, such as a mother or father figure. There are also a number of people who join up thinking that they are working towards not only their own eternal salvation but, a common goal of the betterment of the world and humanity. They can believe they are saving the planet and the human race. In addition to that, they may also be religious zealots that believe the current doctrines are not strict enough and a more concentrated devotion to the higher power of choice is required. And last but certainly not least, cult followers might be seeking answers to problems in their lives or to profound eternal questions such as “Why are we here?”, “What is my purpose on this Earth? In life?”, etc.
It is a very common misconception that those who are sucked into cults must be stupid and idiotic to fall for such blatant trickery and outright lies. This is just simply NOT TRUE. The people who join cults come from all walks of life, from all around the world, all races, all economic backgrounds. Some hold PhDs while others never attended a day of actual accredited school in their lives. David Koresh had not only a lawyer amongst his followers but, he was even able to convince a scholarly theologian to join his flock. David Miscavige, the leader of Scientology, has everything from doctors and lawyers to contractors and brick layers in his “congregation”. (I put that in quotes only because there is a lot of controversy going on right now, and has been for over a decade, about whether or not Scientology is a cult or a religion. Although the organization continues to maintain tax exempt status from the IRS, they also continue to battle repeated claims made by former members alleging not only abuse but that the organization is a BUSINESS of personal profit for L. Ron Hubbard when it was founded and now David Miscavige which goes against the requirements for tax exemption status.) So, clearly while these people who join may be suggestable in some fashion, they are not ALL lacking in intelligence.
There’s also a specific type of personality within these “incomplete” people that cult leaders will zero in on. They look for a certain set of traits, a set that suggests their prey will be easily suggestible, easily influenced and easily controlled. These traits would include things like a desire for spiritual meaning or connection, unassertiveness and/or an unwillingness to speak up or voice an opinion, especially if it were to be a dissenting opinion. They would possess a need for a black and white answer couple with a need for things to be resolved and answered quickly. Ideal recruits would be gullible. This could mean they were naïve or perhaps uneducated but, either way they would be easy targets for swindlers and the like. This means they will believe more and question less. Prospects would often seem to have a dependency issue, relying on someone for their well-being and care, whether it be health or financial or living quarters, something, somehow always depending on someone else.
Many leaders look for followers from other already established groups. They want these followers to be disillusioned with the current belief practices, the current culture climate, the current government, whatever their complaints may be, this new leader has the solution. The leader can then use that displeasure and disillusion to convert the member to the new group.
Finally, (as if all that wasn’t enough) a cult leader will dig into the basic goodness of a human being and use that against them. There are so many people out there that believe in the basic goodness of a person and that there is good in every human being. This is called “naïve idealism”. A leader can tap into that and by manipulating it, use the follower’s own belief in that very same goodness against them to create inner guilt if they do not follow the leader’s wishes. This would be like if the leader asked a follower to do something and the follower declined and the leader replied with, “GOOD people understand that this is required for salvation, for protection, for God. I know the good in YOU wants to do the right thing. Don’t be like our detractors, those non-believers. God will not love them in the end. You want to be on the side of the Lord when Judgment Day comes, don’t you? Then you must reach for the good inside you and do what I and God are telling you to do. We know what is right. You must trust and listen to me. And to God, who speaks to you through me.”
Sounds pretty whacked out huh? The thing is, after they’ve been listening to this person tell them for months (or years) that they are either God or are talking directly to God, they don’t even think to question it. But I’ll get to that in a second.
Now that we know who these cults are looking for, where do they find their victims of unwitting participation? When modern cults first started really actively recruiting members, what they basically did was type or draw up posters and flyers, get the copied and post them all over town stating meeting places and times. Then word of mouth would get around and the group would grow that way. Nowadays, with the advent of the internet, recruitment is in many ways a lot easier because the reach is so much farther is less time. However, the critics of the cult groups have just as far as reach in just as little time.
Most of the places the groups look for new members other than word of mouth still remain the same because the types who frequent these places remain the same. The main go-to recruit hotspots are college campuses, religious gatherings, self-help and support groups, seminars for spiritual and social change (regardless of what changes are being proposed in these seminars) and the unemployment office. That last one really tugs at me because that’s like kicking a person when they are down. I mean, what? You grab a seat next to some poor, struggling person at unemployment office and start selling them on traveling to space on the tail of a comet named Hale-Bop while they are trying to figure out how they are going to afford to feed their family of five that night and pay the mortgage payment that Friday…something you and the comet are obviously not concerned with. It just seems so cruel to try to snag a person when they are depressed and struggling and at their lowest but, I know that psychologically, that is also when they are likely the most vulnerable. So, that would be prime pickings for a cult leader. They would also be much more agreeable and pliable in that mental state as most people hit a wall and feel like giving in at some point during depression, even if it’s a fleeting thought and they never follow through. It’s a moment of weakness that a cult leader can easily pinpoint and capitalize on.
Okay, so now that we know about the creeps that run these groups and the people that follow them. Let’s talk about how these jokers get these normal everyday people to abandon all hope and reason for the lunacy they label their new faith and religion.
It always starts basic and innocent enough. A promise of peace and spiritual growth, a new holy foundation that will lay the path of righteousness to their eternal well-being and happiness…in general. They all have variations. Heaven’s Gate members thought they were aliens trapped in human bodies and were meant to go back to their planet on a mothership. Jim Jones preached he was God and could finally give his followers a society of total equality. Koresh said he was the Messiah and God was talking to him. Manson is said to have claimed to be the second coming of Christ. They all (well, almost all) start with the basics of already organized religion. Why? Because it’s what we are all already somewhat familiar with. Even Scientology doesn’t come out in the very beginning and tell their followers, “You are buying into a belief structure that relies on a galactic overlord named Xenu and that your mission is to clear the planet of everything we tell you to.” If they said that at orientation, there would be no Scientology, regardless of what Tom Cruise and John Travolta say.
So, once they get you to start showing up to meetings, it’s not like they just kidnap you and you belong to them. They have to make you think this was your idea, the idea to stay, to leave your life. First, they make you feel very comfortable and welcome. So welcome in fact, you will wantto stay and never leave. At that point, the real indoctrination begins. Followers are often separated from the outside world and sometimes from each other. Isolation is a key element in the breakdown of a person’s psyche. The cult will use sleep, light, food and water deprivation, all of which will drastically affect a person’s ability to think and function. It also creates a very heavy dependency where the follower must now choose between their life or their principles and while we all like to think we are very stand-up, principled people, when reality sets in the truth is we are still animals and survival instinct will knock out principles when you haven’t eaten or slept in days. They will control access to TV and radio, magazines and books, and of course, the internet, to prevent the follower from being indoctrinated against them in any way. Public humiliation, abuse and torture are very common ways to break people down AND to keep the flock in line. It quickly instills fear among everyone in a short amount of time.
Once the leader has full devotion of a follower, there really are no limits. At that point the leader can control when this person eats, drinks, works, sleeps, has sex (and with whom), when and if they have children, what they eat and drink, how much they get, who they talk to, what they say, what they wear, where they go, their money (if they get any at all, if they have any income by now it goes directly to the leader), when they can shower, EVERYTHING. The goal is that by dehumanizing the follower and leaving them with no identity of their own, the leader can then mold them into whatever they need that follower to be, like a soldier for their cause.
ALL religions practice some indoctrination. It doesn’t mean they are all bad. Like I said in the beginning, just because it’s different doesn’t mean it’s evil. The government does something very similar to cults with our military service people. Those eight to thirteen weeks of basic training (depending on the branch of service) are really weeks of the military breaking down the civilian behaviors of the enlisted people and rebuilding them into trusted armed service men and women. The only difference is that the military has to report to the government and justify their actions to at least SOMEONE, even if the explanation is sometimes a crappy one. Those actions are still sanctioned by the government.
Cults leaders answer to no one.
One thing that has always fascinated me was that, with all the brains a lot of these people in these groups had, nobody ever thought to question God’s choice of prophet. In the Bible it says God gave you free will. Why then would he choose a prophet that would go out of his way to take away your free will? No one ever questioned that. And there are other things that puzzle me. I mean, for instance, (and although I was raised with a religion in my childhood, I am not a religious person) I know that God sent an angel to talk to his only son. An angel. To speak with his only child. If that’s true, then why would God choose to speak directly to someone like David Koresh or Charles Manson or Jim Jones? I mean, it’s not like these guys would be front runners for the Prophet of the Year Award before they were cult leaders (or even after, for that matter). I’ll let that marinate in your brains while I talk about something else.
In the Bible, where so many of these flakes find their arsenal of ammo, God repeatedly says he wants man to work and prosper. That rich preacher in Texas, Joel Osteen, he knows ALL about the prosper part. So, again I ask you, why would God repeatedly pick deadbeat lowlifes for his messiahs? I know that Jesus wasn’t a rich man but at least he worked as a carpenter. And while we are always told that God loves everyone and God forgives everyone, I find it very difficult to believe that God would choose pedophiles as his prophets and then direct them to rape children, marry and impregnate them.
And yet none of this every occurred to anybody. To me it’s just common sense to be looking at Koresh or Manson and ask, “And God chose you because…why?” I would have been like, “Okay so, out of ALL the schmucks on the face of the Earth, you mean to tell me that God found YOU so special, above all else, he decided to make YOU the next Lord and Savior?” Yet this thought NEVER went through anyone else’s mind when they met these fools. And Jim Jones? Did it never strike anyone as suspicious that this man always had dark aviator sunglasses on? I was taught to never trust a man that won’t show you his eyes. If he can’t show you his eyes, he’s hiding something. Well, Jones was hiding the fact that not only was he a complete fraud but he was also a complete speed freak and on his way to speed junkie…fast.
And nobody ever noticed that not one of these leaders ever had to follow the same rules as the followers? They never had to do the same work? That their prophecies never came to fruition? Here’s another example: L. Ron Hubbard stated with complete certainty that through the learning and practicing of Scientology, man could heal himself of all ills and sicknesses, thus virtually never getting sick and never dying. Hubbard died of a stroke in 1986. You would think at this point people would have been completely bowled over with reality but, NO. A simple explanation in a twist of words by Miscavige and they were content and drawn in even deeper.
While many of us strongly feel that we would never fall victim to such schemes, we simply cannot rule out that there might be someone out there slick enough to manipulate us in our weakest state, just waiting for the opportunity to exploit our flaws and break us down for no other reason than to serve their purpose. Watch out for those things that sounds too good to be true. They often are in the end.
Watch Gayle King's Full Interview with R. Kelly HERE
On Friday March 8, CBS aired a one-hour interview Gayle King had with R. Kelly. Now, please understand I don’t follow a lot of what is in the media. I certainly don’t follow a lot about celebrity news. But, I AM always interested in behavior and psychology, things like that and when I saw the preview for the interview I saw R. Kelly out of his chair, yelling at the camera and violently pounding his chest. Sooooo, the natural observer in me felt the need to watch this. And before anyone wants to jump on me about any movement or politics, that’s NOT what this article is about. And let it be known right up front, I am not now, nor have I ever been, an R. Kelly fan. I also am probably the ONLY person to ever live that truly hates the song ‘I Believe I Can Fly’. There. I said it. Now, you can hate me.
I watched this interview strictly from a behavioral science kind of point of view. So much is SAID when stuff like this comes up, I wanted to see what he DID, how he ACTED, I didn’t care so much what he SAID, although some of his responses could be considered damning. So, please, no hateful political or ideation chatter. This is different.
While I watched and listened, I looked to see if his body language matched his words. I listened to his word choice. I also listened for what he DIDN’T say. Now, I didn’t watch the “Surviving R. Kelly” series. I saw about fifteen minutes of it. Those poor women are talking about some very heavy emotional, physical and psychological abuse. That should NOT be ignored. And from what I can tell, he’s been accused multiple times over the last 25 years but has NEVER been convicted of any sexual offense. I think that in itself says something. So, I wanted to look at the man’s behavior and well, see what I could see…so to speak. So, here we go.
At the start of the interview Kelly sits down in his chair. As they slap the clapperboard he lets out a deep sigh as he looks up towards the ceiling, almost rolling his eyes. Then, once he’s seated, he has his hands folded in his lap and he’s sitting forward, more on the edge of the chair. He’s leaning slightly forward toward Gayle as if he’s interested in the conversation about to take place but the look on his face appeared to be one of sadness and, he even seemed annoyed about being there.
Then the questions start. Gayle King asked him directly, “Have you ever had sex with anyone under the age of seventeen?”
“No. No.”, Kelly replies. However, at the very moment he speaks he goes from shaking his head ‘No’ to some sort of weird head roll of sorts. It’s like he wants to nod ‘Yes’ but he’s consciously trying not to.
Then, when King is recounting some of the victims allegations about the rooms they were forced to stay in, that they were dark and demeaning, one gal said it was the most degrading place she had ever been. Kelly actually has to pull his lips into his mouth and press down on them with his teeth to keep from smiling. And just to add insult to injury, he shrugs nonchalantly as he denies these allegations.
Shortly after this we are told that Kelly had been arrested and spent a few days in jail at one point for, get this, not paying child support. He owed an ex $161,000 in back support and somehow, this music industry superstar doesn’t have what should be considered pocket change to pay for his children. I found this to be extremely telling. I mean, what is this clown doing with his money, besides spending it on the two current girlfriends and a crap-ton of lawyers?
Next, when asked why all these women over the past two decades would be making these accusations against him, his only response was that they are scorned and angry that “things” didn’t work out and now they are “lyin’ on him”. So, Gayle takes the opportunity to, shall we say, clarify things. King says to Kelly, “So, they’re lying on you?”
Kelly replies, “Absolutely.” It wasn’t so much the finality of the word “absolutely” that made me question his veracity. It was that while he was speaking the word so adamantly, he was again shaking his head ‘NO’. Now, it fascinates me that this guy can’t seem to get his body language to coordinate with his speech. Let’s just say, for argument’s sake, that he IS guilty. Keep in mind he has not been proven guilty of any sex crime in any court other than that of public opinion. If we assume that he did in fact assault and brutalize these women, that means he’s had years, two decades in fact, to master the art of lying about his dirty deeds. And yet, this man can’t hardly make one statement without his tone of voice or body language betraying him. In addition, throughout the whole interview he seems to become repeatedly exacerbated and puts his head in his hand and rubs his face. It’s an act of frustration and annoyance. We’ve all done it. Imagine those times you feel you are talking to someone who is receiving your information as if they were a brick wall. That’s how he acts. As if he is the only person that can understand his plight.
This leads me to my next observation. Shortly after he claims all of these women are lying and are scorned females (which I’ll address in a few minutes because to me that is a “non-denial denial”, an admission of sorts in the world of investigative journalism, if you will), Kelly leans in towards Gayle and in response to something she asks he says, “Listen to me clear”. Okay, could he be anymore condescending? Not to mention trying to be innocuously aggressive and somewhat controlling, he talks to this professional grown woman as if she is someone that is supposed to answer to him. He immediately takes a position of authority and tries to flaunt it in front of her.
Then, comes the big outburst. This was one of the most telling moments in the entire interview. Robert gets incredibly frustrated and launches himself from his chair as he rants angrily at the camera. He is pacing back and forth, violently pounding his chest and screaming so loud that his voice becomes high pitched and broken. He sounds like he is crying. The whole time he is coming unglued, Gayle is leaning far back in her chair, as if she’s wanting to get away from him. She tries to talk to him and tell him to calm down but, in his current state of upset, he doesn’t hear her or doesn’t pay attention.
His crisis manager steps in and gets him seated, although Kelly pushes even his own guy off of him and snaps angrily at him (it’s a sad thing in your career when you need a crisis manager on retainer to follow you around and keep you and your life in check). Once he finally settles down, and the camera zooms in, you can clearly see that although he is sweating like he has been running a marathon, there are NO tears. Kelly then starts talking about how there are REAL women out there that are REAL victims and that the authorities and everyone should be focusing on THEM. So, that brings me to his “non-denial denial”. Earlier he said that these women were all scorned and lying because “things didn’t work out” between them. To me, that’s an admission of a relationship, which he vehemently denies EVER happened in the first place at the start of the interview. Now, how can they be scorned lovers if they were never in a relationship to begin with? Tsk tsk tsk Robert.
There’s another small sideways rant Kelly goes on in an effort to distract viewers from the subject at hand. He spends a number of minutes portraying himself as a true victim of circumstance. He spends a lot of time spinning words and side-stepping verbal landmines, things that are a matter of public record such as the fact that Aaliyah was only fifteen years old to his twenty-seven when they married. That’s pretty much a felony in any state.
Kelly also seems to have a really hard time making true eye contact with Gayle King when answering her questions. It’s not like these are hard questions. Well, they wouldn’t be hard if 1)You were telling the truth and 2)If you hadn’t done anything illegal. He looks down and to the left a lot. I’m not going to speculate whether he’s remembering or creating things just by the direction he’s focusing his eyes however, the mere fact that he does NOT maintain eye contact during such a serious conversation leaves room for doubt as to whether or not he is telling the truth.
Later in the special, King makes a comment about how people have suggested that Kelly has a “cult” of sorts, like a harem. Kelly not only denies this but, he denies even knowing what a cult is saying, “I don’t even really know what a cult is but, I know I don’t have one.”
How do you know you don’t have something if you don’t even know what it is? This guy has been around for a long time, he has made tons of money (even though his current net worth is only estimated to be about $100,000 because of “legal troubles”) and I assume she can read and write because he is a musician. It’s not like cults are a new thing that just recently popped up. They’ve been around for a while. He can’t TRULY be THAT dense.
Moving on, because I get aggravated when people play stupid to avoid accountability. The special had a segment where they interviewed his two current live-in girlfriends. They seemed healthy enough. I couldn’t see any bruises or signs of abuse except that both of these girls sounded extremely rehearsed seeing as how they each said almost the exact same thing.
Another thing I noticed is that Robert was constantly asking for clarification about if Gayle was talking about him and if the cameras were on. Seriously? First of all, who else would she be talking about, this is a Gayle King interview with R. Kelly about R. Kelly. Again, is he really that dense? And yes, the cameras are on, you jackass. They are going to try to get every bit of your antics on camera they can. What a fool.
Next, R. Kelly talks about how he thinks it’s strange that no one else is dealing with the same allegations!!! Where the hell has he been??? Living under a rock? Is he not aware that his accusers are part of a huge movement called #MeToo??? He can’t possibly believe he’s the only person in today’s world that has been accused of sexual misconduct or inappropriate behavior over the last 20+ years. I’m not going to go through the huge list but I think it’s safe to say that if Kelly really believes that he is the only famous person under fires for sexual misconduct then he obviously lives in a bubble that only his ego and vulnerable women can penetrate.
Then, as we are afforded the magnificent opportunity to listen to him talk about how wonderful he is (and obviously how much in love with himself he is), we find out that not only does he fully believe that the only effect years of sexual abuse has had on him is the ability to channel the emotion into his music but, we also find out that he considers himself to be a lover of ALL women.
Gayle takes a moment to address the two decades of allegations, specifically those from the past and past court cases and Kelly says, “I beat my case.” I found this response interesting. Most innocent people would say something like “I was found not guilty” or “I was acquitted” or even “I won that case”. No. He chooses the word “beat”. That implies, to me, that he beat the system, got away with something. It just seems like an odd choice of words. I hear defeat, conquer, overpower. Not innocent. It sounds like a guilty person saying “the State didn’t prove their case so, I’m not guilty.”
Gayle King also asks him what the problem is, why so many women seem to find him so unlikeable. Robert maintains the problem is that he’s likeable, not unlikeable. There’s that ego popping out again, rearing its ugly head. That ego is probably one of his biggest problems and probably gets him into trouble the most, other than his mouth. He seems to have little to no filter between his brain and his mouth.
By the end of the interview, as Gayle King is winding things down and thanking him for showing up, Kelly looks like he’s been put the wringer. He looks sad, depressed, worn out and defeated…almost beaten down even. I will say the only time I saw REAL TEARS were when Gayle asked him about his children. At that point, he seemed genuine and heartbroken that he didn’t have the kind of relationship with his kids that he wanted to have.
Now, I don’t know if he’s guilty or not. Frankly, we will probably never REALLY know the truth. Based on his behavior in THIS interview, I lean towards him being guilty of SOMETHING. I don’t know what. But, if he ISN’T guilty, I am having a hard time figuring out what all these women are going to get out of coming forward, humiliating themselves, putting their personal and private lives and intimate secrets out for the world to know other than them seeking justice. He has no money. And even if he did, I think he’s made it pretty clear that he’s not very willing to part with his funds. So what do they stand to gain? No one wants to be known and famous for being one of the many girls R. Kelly violated. That’s not the claim to fame that most people aim for. And the girls’ parents maintain they’ve received no money from Kelly.
I’m not ready to render a final judgement on this man’s actions and maybe I never will be. But if he’s looking for sympathy from the court of public opinion, he did himself NO FAVORS by appearing on that Gayle King interview.