Science & Tech

Avoiding Cults and Manipulators: Charles Manson

John Douglas

Lesson time 13:15 min

Charles Manson led a cult in the 1960s that ended with the infamous Tate–LaBianca murders. After detailing the crimes, John explains how we may know similar people in our own lives—not necessarily cult leaders, but people who share the same characteristics of a sociopathic personality.

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Topics include: Learning From Charles Manson • Case Study: Tate–LaBianca Murders • Identifying the Manipulator • Protecting Yourself From Manipulators


[MUSIC PLAYING] [SINGING UNISON] NEWSCASTER: Charles Manson and three of his female followers have been convicted of first degree murder for the brutal slaughter of seven people, including actress Sharon Tate. Although Manson did not directly perform the killings, prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi won a conviction against him by arguing that Manson had ordered them. CHARLES MANSON: I believe what I'm told to believe. Don't you? Don't you? Don't you? NARRATOR: It's estimated that there are between 2,500 to 3,000 active cults in the United States. - People played games, Fran. They lie. They lie. What can I do about liars? NARRATOR: While many have become household names-- Jonestown, Heaven's Gate, NXIVM-- the vast majority remain in the shadows, thinly veiled as a legitimate religion, self-help group, or club. You could be the victim of one of these cults. Some of you may be listening, thinking, nah, there's no way. I wouldn't say there's no way because they're very, very adept in looking for people who are susceptible. And in most members, the common thread is that they all have been under some type of stress in their life. They're having an identity crisis. Many of them are looking for self meaning, self-actualization. And so when you look at these cult leaders, they initially bombard you with love, provide you the things that you feel you're lacking initially. But now, there's got to be more to it. To get total control of them, you've got to be able to isolate them. You've got to be able to take them to an area and break off communication with the outside world. [MUSIC PLAYING] NARRATOR: In this chapter, what we're going to do is talk about how to recognize a cult leader. You don't have to be a cult leader to have the same kind of characteristics that you better be on the lookout for. A good example is the Charles Manson case, how he was able to have this control over others, which at the time was amazing to me and my colleagues as to how he was able to do that. CHARLES MANSON: I'm friend of everything I see, everything I know, everything I feel. NARRATOR: When you hear the name Charles Manson, it makes the hair stand up on the back of your neck. He was a scary individual, but oddly charismatic. But how did he learn to be this charismatic individual when he spent nearly the entire of his life in prisons? CHARLES MANSON: I'm brother in these hallways for 40 years and walking on my own two feet. NARRATOR: Manson was coming from this very, very dysfunctional family. His mother, named Maddox, wasn't even sure who the father was. She was involved in prostitution, robberies. He's being raised by an uncle. He rebels, drops out of school, starts committing all types of crimes-- stealing cars, taking them across state lines. And then he's caught. He keeps getting caught, caught, caught. He gets some heavy-duty jail time. But you see, in prison, what you have to learn are survi...

About the Instructor

Netflix’s “Mindhunter” was inspired by the FBI’s first criminal profiler, John Douglas. As chief of the National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crime, he conducted groundbreaking interviews with notorious criminals such as Charles Manson and Ed Kemper, changing interrogative tactics forever. On MasterClass, he teaches you to use his methods in everyday life, unlocking your intuition to read people's motives.

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John Douglas

Legendary Special Agent John Douglas teaches how criminal profiling methods can help you predict people’s motives to benefit your everyday life.

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