Charlie Manson’s Childhood Wound

His Only Happy Memory Is Getting Hugged By His Mother

Manson was born to unmarried 16-year-old Kathleen Manson-Bower-Cavender,[1] née Maddox (1918–1973),[2] in the General Hospital, in Cincinnati, Ohio. Manson was first named “no name Maddox”.[3]:136–7[4][5] Within weeks, he was called Charles Milles Maddox.[3]:136–7[6][7]

Charles Manson’s biological father appears to have been Colonel Walker Henderson Scott Sr. (1910–1954)[8] against whom Kathleen Maddox filed a paternity suit that resulted in an agreed judgment in 1937. Manson might have never known his biological father.[3]:136–7[5]

In the biography Manson in His Own Words, Colonel Scott is said to have been “a young drugstore cowboy … a transient laborer working on a nearby dam project”.[9] Scott worked intermittently in local mills, but had a reputation as a con artist. He allowed Maddox to believe that he was an army colonel, although “Colonel” was merely his given name. When Maddox told him she was pregnant, he told her that he had been called away on army business; after several months she realized he had no intention of returning.[10]

In August 1934, before Manson’s birth, Maddox married William Eugene Manson (1909–1961), whose occupation was listed on Charles’ birth certificate as a “laborer” at a dry cleaning business.[7][11] Maddox went on drinking sprees for days at a time with her brother, Luther, leaving Charles with a variety of babysitters. They were divorced on April 30, 1937, when a court accepted Manson’s charge of “gross neglect of duty”.[12]

Attachment STAGE (0-18 months) the two options are:

The Avoider:
  Minimizer, Rigid Boundaries
Basic Fear (Wound):  Contact may lead to emotional and physical rejection, loss of self through contact with parent (partner).
Internal Message:  “Don’t be”
Core Belief:  I have no right to exist
Image of Partner:  Demanding, all consuming
Relationship to Partner:  Detached; avoidant
Core Issue:  Too much togetherness;  too many feelings;  too much chaos
Typical Frustration:  You hate me;  you feel too much
Recurrent Feeling:  Terror and rage

Mansion gathers around him all the mothers he never had

The Clinger:  Maximizer, Diffuse Boundaries

Basic Fear (Wound): Separation and abandonment;  loss of self through loss of contact with parent (partner)
Internal Message: “Don’t need me”
Core Belief:  I can’t get my needs met
Relationship Belief:  I am safe if I hold on to you
Image of Partner: Unavailable;  has no feelings; a rock wall
Relationship to Partner:  Clinging; demanding; attempts to fuse
Core Issue: Separateness
Typical Frustration: You are never there
Recurrent Feeling: Voracious rage and terror

Manson later characterized the first weeks after she returned from prison (age eight) as the happiest time in his life.[15]

On August 1, 1939, Maddox and Luther’s girlfriend, Julia Vickers, spent the evening drinking with a new acquaintance, Frank Martin, who appeared to be wealthy. Maddox and Vickers decided to rob him, and Maddox phoned her brother to help. They were incompetent thieves, and were found and arrested within hours. At the trial seven weeks later, Luther was sentenced to ten years, and Kathleen was sentenced to five years.[13] Manson was placed in the home of an aunt and uncle in McMechen, West Virginia.[14] His mother was paroled in 1942 when Charles was eight.


They moved to Charleston where Manson continually played truant, and his mother spent her evenings drinking. She was arrested for grand larceny, but not convicted. After moving to Indianapolis, Maddox started attending Alcoholics Anonymous, where she met an alcoholic named Lewis, whom she married in August 1943. As well as constantly playing truant, Manson began stealing from stores and his home. In 1947 (Manson now 13) Maddox looked for a temporary foster home for Manson, but could not find a suitable one. She decided to send him to the Gibault School for Boys in Terre Haute, Indiana, a school for male delinquents run by Catholic priests. He soon fled home to his mother, but she brought him back to the school. He spent Christmas 1947 in McMechen, at the house of his aunt and uncle, where he was caught stealing a gun.[16]

Manson (now 14) told the judge that there were only three persons in his life for whom he did care – his uncle in W.Va., a priest at Gibault and a second priest at another juvenile detention facility.

Manson returned to Gibault and ran away ten months later to Indianapolis, but instead of returning to his mother he supported himself by burgling stores at night, and rented a room. He was eventually caught, and a sympathetic judge sent him to Boys Town, a juvenile facility in Omaha, Nebraska. After four days, he and a student named Blackie Nielson stole a car and somehow obtained a gun, which they used to rob a grocery store and a casino, as they made their way to the home of Nielson’s uncle in Peoria, Illinois.[17][3]:136–146

In June 1966, Manson was sent for the second time to Terminal Island in preparation for early release. By the time of his release day on March 21, 1967, he had spent more than half of his 32 years in prisons and other institutions.  Telling the authorities that prison had become his home, he requested permission to stay,[3]:137–146 a fact mentioned in a 1981 television interview with Tom Snyder.[25]

Charles Manson could have been wounded in each of the six stages of childhood development but the Attachment Stage, the first one, 0 – 18 months, is crucial. No biological father, abandoned by William Eugene Manson, his father in name only. Mansion rightfully chose the Clinger moniker, fear of abandonment because his mother was going to abandon him every chance she got.

His Only Happy Memory Is Getting Hugged by His Mother