Helter Skelter

by Bill Brenner on February 3, 2010

The author admits that his OCD behavior includes an obsession with the Manson Case. Here’s why.

Ever since I was a kid and I first saw the 1976 TV movie on the Manson Murders, I’ve been fascinated. I’ve read “Helter Skelter,” the book by Manson prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi, dozens of times.

I own the 1976 and 2004 versions of the film on DVD, along with a documentary called “The Six Degrees of Helter Skelter,” where host Scott Michaels, keeper of the popular Findadeath.com site, takes the viewer on a tour of places connected to the case, including Cielo Drive, scene of the Tate murders:

Why the fascination with such an awful tragedy?

Not because of the brutal nature of the murders. I’ve seen the crime scene forensic photos, and they made me sick to my stomach.

It’s really part of my fascination with history. Like it or not, this is a piece of American history. It’s a snapshot of everything that went wrong in the 1960s, where a counterculture born of good intentions — a craving for peace in Vietnam and at home — lost it’s way because there were no rules, no discipline and there was no sobriety. I agree with those who believe the promise of the 1960s died abruptly in the summer of 1969.

I’m also fascinated because it shows how easily seemingly stable people can be brainwashed and controlled to the point where they would willingly heed orders to commit the worst of sins.

I’ve learned from my own struggles with mental disorder that when a person is at their lowest and they’re looking for purpose, even the sweetest among us can fall prey to a monster like Charles Manson.

It shows the dark path someone can take without help from the right people.

That’s not to say I see myself in these people. I don’t. I could never embrace what they embraced, even when I was at my lowest.

But the bottom line is that these people were controlled, that a defect of the mind allowed this kind of programming to happen.

It has nothing to do with my own struggles with OCD. But since that struggle has forced me to do a lot of homework on the brain and what makes it tick, I can’t help but be drawn to these cases.

This one is a lesson in history and mental disorder all wrapped into one.

How could I resist?

I just hope others who are fascinated by this case are sucked in for similar reasons and not because they glorify what happened.

Unfortunately, the latter certainly exists in society.

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