Life Span Development and Personality

During a person’s life there are positive and negative events that may happen. While some of the events do not change a person’s development, many events have a greater impact on life than a person realizes. Heredity and the environment in which a person is subject may also affect each developmental stage of life. In order to understand what kinds of impacts familial and societal attributes have on a person’s psychological development one must analyze the subject’s life from early childhood well into the subject’s adulthood stages of life. From a very young age, Charles Manson was the victim of many events that led to his psychological developmental state as an adult. Herein, a review of Charles Manson’s life will shed light on how society and the environment have played major roles in his psychological development beginning from childhood.

The Life of Charles Manson

Charles Manson

     Charles Manson was brought into the world on November 12, 1934 by a woman named Kathleen Maddox when Ms. Maddox was merely 16 years of age. Maddox did not live a normal, happy life. According to Montaldo (2012), Maddox was “promiscuous, a criminal, [she] drank too much and failed to take care of her illegitimate child” (Born Charles Maddox, para. 1). Brought into a life of criminal mischief and a lack of love and happiness began a life of despair for Charles Manson. When he was only age six, Manson’s mother committed crimes and was found guilty. At this time, Manson was bounced from relative to relative. According to TwistedMinds (2007), Manson was sent to live with a “strictly religious aunt and her sadistic husband” (para. 1). He was called names and sent to school wearing girls’ clothing because his aunt wanted Manson to “act like a man” (TwistedMinds, 2007, para. 1). On another occasion, Manson lived with an uncle who committed suicide in an act of protest against those who wished to take the land he owned. After his mother was released from jail, Manson and his mother sat in a small café. The waitress jokingly stated that she would buy the child, to which Ms. Maddox replied that she would take a pitcher of beer and the child would be hers. Once the beverage was consumed, Ms. Maddox left without her son.

Kathleen Maddox

Charles Manson spent most of his young life living with psychologically challenged relatives as well as in a number of reform schools, which he escaped from on many occasions. Before the age of nine, Manson had begun to show signs of further rebellion by attempting to again be reunited with a mother who did not want him and turning to a deeper life of crime. While incarcerated, Manson became familiar with a famously known music and was repeatedly denied by the music industry. After nearly a lifetime in reform schools and in jail, Manson was released from prison and sent on his way. Manson rebelled against going back into society to which his cries for further help were denied. At the age of 34, Manson began gathering followers. These people believed that for one reason or another Manson had been sent to them. To some he portrayed himself as a reincarnation of Jesus Christ. In 1968, a popular music group, the Beetles, released a song called Helter Skelter. Manson believed that the song was portraying to him that a race war was coming in which the “blackies” would win; which needed to be stopped and a life of horrifying murder ensued. Manson’s followers, which were called “the family,” carried out some of the more gruesome murders in the name of their master’s beliefs. Most of the terrible crimes were committed because Manson wanted revenge on those who denied him in the music world, as well as, those who did not provide help with Manson needed it most. After Manson and “the Family” committed these and more heinous crimes, he was tried and convicted. According to Rosenberg (2012), Manson was sentenced to death “on March 29, 1971” (Manson’s Trial, para. 1). Manson is currently serving a lifetime sentence because “the death penalties were commuted to life imprisonment in the 1970’s when California law was changed” (Robinson, 1996-2008, The Arrest and Trail, para. 2). As can be seen through his lifetime, Manson suffered from a great deal of psychological disorder and many events that lead to the development of mental disorders.

Influences of Heredity and Environment

Manson as a child

     From his birth, Manson was influenced by the environment. His mother was neglectful and wanted nothing to do with Manson. The relatives who cared for Manson as a child showed hatred, anger, and disgust towards Manson by calling him names and dressing the child in inappropriate clothing. Each time Manson tried to have a relationship with his mother she turned him away, which led to feelings of rejection and the deep need to be loved. The juvenile reform schools and jail system turned a blind eye to Manson’s needs by releasing him back into society after he firmly stated that he was not ready to become a part of something he did not understand. Manson was also denied by the music industry and led him to an even deeper hatred of society. Some would claim that Manson showed signs of influence from heredity because of the ease in which he came to crime; however, others would argue that it was the fault of those in his environment who caused Manson to rebel as he did. Whether or not Manson’s psychological development stemmed from the environment or heredity, everything in his life took a toll on his emotional development. When a child does not receive the care and love he or she needs to grow and learn, the child will seek out these kinds of emotional connections in one way or another. In order to find a connection to others, Manson sought to gain the missing elements in his life by adapting and adjusting to his environment.

Family Issues and Social Support

Manson family

     After years of neglect and betrayal, Manson began gaining followers who believed that he harnessed special powers that could only have been bestowed by God. He, lovingly, called these people “the family.” Manson ruled or controlled his followers by these same guidelines by using force, threats, and physical and emotional love to make the people do as he wished. According to Nielsen (1984), the “family” obeyed every word Manson spoke because his “word constitutes law [and that] the women were clearly subordinate factually” and ideological, which shows that the “family” viewed this lifestyle to have meaning and structure (p. 322, para. 7). The use of physical force as well as a “complex combination of harsh orders, intimidation, fear, persuasion and, especially, love” were methods that Manson used to have the “family” do his biddings (Nielsen, 1984, p. 322, para. 7). With the “family” beside him, Manson had finally found the social support he had been searching for his entire life. This information can lead a psychologist to determine what kind of personality Manson may have.

Theories of Personality and Theoretical Approaches

theoretical approach

     One theory of personality Manson may exhibit is the trait theory. According to Kowalski & Westen (2009), the “concept of traits, emotional, cognitive, and behavioral tendencies that constitute underlying dimensions of personality on which individuals vary” is likely to be the personality type Manson shows because of his emotional turmoil and neglect as a child (p. 453). Another theory of personality Manson may exhibit is the humanistic theory of personality because of the way Manson found “meaning in life and how to be [he can be] true to oneself” (Kowalski & Westen, 2009, p. 453). The theoretical approach that seems to be the most appropriate for Manson is the existentialism approach because it deals with the “meaning in life and mortality,” which may explain why Manson did the things he did (Kowalski & Westen, 2009, p. 445).


Many of the events may play a vast role in psychological development. When a person is subjected to harsh and inhumane treatment as a young child, the person’s psychological development may result in a manner that is not acceptable to society. Understanding the factors involved in development can lead psychologists to foresee the stages of development that may be lacking or enhanced by environmental and hereditary traits.


Kowalski, R. & Westen, D. (2009). Psychology (5th ed.). Retrieved from University of Phoenix, PSY300 website.

Montaldo, C. (2012). Profile of Charles Manson. Retrieved from

Nielsen, D. A. (1984). Charles Manson’s Family of Love: A Case Study of Anomism, Puerilism and Transmoral Consciousness in Civilizational Perspective. SA: Sociological Analysis, 45(4), 315-337.

Robinson, B.A. (1996-2008). The family; Charles Manson. Retrieved from

Rosenberg, J. (2012). Charles Manson. Retrieved from

TwistedMinds (2007). Charles Manson’s childhood. Retrieved from

Image source for Charles Manson: Ortega, T. (Posted: April 6, 2013). Charles Manson: One of scientology’s early celebrities: Charlie Manson! Retrieved from

Image source for Kathleen Maddox:, Inc. (2008-2015). Ada Kathleen (Maddox) Bower. Retrieved from

Image source for Manson family: Matt. (Posted: August 26, 2011). The Manson family blog. Retrieved from

Image source for theoretical approach: Sad614. (Posted: April 13, 2013). Theoretical approach. Retrieved from

Image source for young Manson: Indystar. (Posted: January 14, 2014). Retro Indy: Charles Manson. Retrieved from

Life Span Development and Personality