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Friday, November 22, 2013

Rejecting one cult, accepting another

There have been several articles on the web recently about how Charlie Manson may be getting married, to a 25-year-old woman whom he has dubbed "Star," who visits him for up to five hours each Saturday and Sunday.

The 79-year-old Manson actually looks pretty good for his age. The swastika on his forehead doesn't exactly add to his appearance, and I won't be asking for the name of his barber any time soon. But his face is unlined, and his eyes even have that taut, wide open look that can result after plastic surgery -- one amenity Corcoran State Prison undoubtedly does not provide.

So Charlie's one guy you can believe when he tells you that no, he hasn't had any work done. 

Even more telling, Charlie still looks feisty and full of juice, at an age when a lot of men have simply given up. He's not much of a physical specimen, in fact never was. But if he were my cellie, I'd still have a hard time falling asleep at night. 

The most interesting thing about any sociopath is his childhood. We already know all about Charlie's: how he was born to an unwed 16-year-old girl who may have been a prostitute and definitely was an alcoholic, how his uncle made him dress as a girl for his first day of kindergarten, his stint at a boys' reformatory, the fact that he first raped another boy when he was 11. 

But what of Star? There's nothing about her that quite spells sociopathy, but she is obviously off kilter. How did she get that way? The only clue in the Rolling Stone article is this:

In 2007, Star moved to Corcoran to be near Charlie, who she visits each Saturday and Sunday for up to five hours a day. "Yeah, well, people can think I'm crazy," she likes to say. "But they don't know. This is what's right for me. This is what I was born for." She grew up near St. Louis, where her deeply religious family feared she'd lost her way ("I was smoking marijuana, eating mushrooms, not wanted to go to church every Sunday," she explains), so they locked her in her room for much of her high school years. A friend passed her some of Manson's environmental writing, and she started corresponding with him. When she was 19, she took the $2,000 she'd saved up working in a retirement home kitchen and hopped a train to Corcoran. Manson named her Star. She recently cut an X onto her forehead.

"Deeply religious" is often synonymous with "somewhat disturbed." When you think about it, most religions are really nothing more than socially acceptable cults. It's just that it's easier to see with other religions than with one's own. For instance, it wouldn't be a stretch for most readers of this blog to see Islam as a sort of super-cult, whose members believe and do all sorts of crazy things. But the main difference between most Muslims and most Christians is that the Muslims tend to take their religion far more seriously. There are Christians, however, who take their religion extremely seriously as well. And they are often described as "deeply religious."

Star is normal in one respect, though: she is not above the usual human frailty of projection. Here's what she has to say about former Manson family member Susan Atkins:

"That bitch was fucking crazy," she tells RS. "She was a crazy fucking whore. 'Oh Charlie, I did this for you.' She didn't know what she was doing."

Star's parents -- as deeply religious as they are -- are probably thanking their lucky, well, stars, that their daughter's real name wasn't used in the article. 


Anonymous said...

She sounds personality-disordered to me, probably Borderline type. Whilst sociopaths are more likely to be male, Borderlines are more likely to be female. They're neurotic, exceptionally erratic in behaviour and they frequently have very poor choices in partners. They often date sociopaths, narcissists and general lowlifes because they know they're less likely to be dumped by them, however badly they're otherwise treated - abandonment being something Borderlines are paranoid about. I wouldn't be surprised if there's also statistics to show them to be more likely to join cults.

- Gethin

John Craig said...

Gethin --
You're probably right. And it would make sense that somebody with abandonment issues would go after someone in prison -- who can't escape her, so to speak. I wonder if borderline syndrome is co-morbid with hybristophilia.

Borderline personalities are a type I've never really felt I had a good handle on, to tell the truth.

Remnant said...

The photo looks touched up to me. Google "Charles Manson images" and take a look at some other shots: he had a highly wrinkled and weather-worn face (how, I don't know given that he has been in prison so long) even ten or twenty years ago.

John Craig said...

Remnant --
I just Googled him, and you're right; not sure why that possibility did not occur to me. Thank you.

Spychiatrist said...

Creepiest coupling ever?

Perhaps, but does she look like Shelley Duvall, or is it just me?

The Shining, anyone.

John Craig said...

Spychiatrist --
Could be. I actually think she's sort of cute, at least minus the insanity. I thought Shelly Duvall was cute too, though I don't see the resemblance.

bluffcreek1967 said...

Maybe this is too obvious to point out, but it sounds to me like she's totally rebelling against the strict and legalistic religious upbringing she had. I've seen this sort of thing a lot over the years, and it often occurs (although not always) among authoritarian parents who can't balance their religious principles with the practical realities of the surrounding society.

Usually when the parents are devout and really trying to follow their religious principles, they tend to go to extremes, making everyone else in the family miserable. People, like this girl, often seek out the most bizarre and deviant types as their love interests.

John Craig said...

Ambrose --
I agree with you completely. It's the old "preacher's daughter" syndrome. They alway have a reputation for being the wildest kids in town, mostly because they're the most rebellious. If this one was actually locked in her room for much of her high school years, she had a lot of rebelling to do, and what better way to do it than to go to the devil himself?