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Notorious cult leader Charles Manson died Sunday evening while serving multiple life sentences for his infamous “Manson family” murders in 1969, which captivated the nation.

Since then, Manson, who called himself “The Devil,” has become arguably one of the most well-known and heinous cult leaders of all time.

California State Department of Corrections

And with the news of his death, a new article has been published comparing Manson to President Donald Trump.

Newsweek cites psychoanalyst Mark Smaller, past president of the American Psychoanalytic Association, who makes a number of comparisons between the way Manson and Trump rose to power.

Smaller first cites the similarities in the way they addressed people.

He tells Newsweek that Manson lured in his followers by choosing people who felt alienated or marginalized, stating that:

“A charismatic leader knows how to speak to people in a way that will emotionally engage those people.”

While Newsweek goes on to state that Smaller doesn't think the two men are similar, he then states that Trump acquired his followers in a similar fashion to the cult leader: with the use of emotional language:

“Our current president speaks in an emotional or affective way to large numbers of people in our country who feel a kind of alienation or disconnection from the government. They feel very responded to and become his political base.”


The psychoanalyst goes on to say that it's not what the person is saying per se, but whether or not “he or she is able to do it in an emotional way.” If this is done, people who do feel left out now “feel like somebody has their back.”

Smaller continues to elaborate on the ways in which Manson honed in his followers, saying he playing into the deepest fears of a vulnerable person to manipulate them:

“Your parents don’t really care about you. Your community doesn’t care about you. The government doesn’t really care about you, but I’m going to not only care about you, I’m going to take care of you. I understand how angry, neglected, and hurt you feel.”

Dr. Carrie Barron, a psychiatrist at Columbia University elaborated on this concept of manipulation stating:

“There’s a very distorted dark side of empathy. You can use empathy to get inside another person and manipulate. You know the inner workings of another person. You’re able to perceive that without thinking about it.”

Despite Smaller's other remarks, he goes on to say he is less worried about the Donald Trumps of the world than the vulnerable people in society:

“I’ve never worried as much about the Donald Trumps in the world as I worry about the large amount of people in our country who feel alienated and disconnected and looking to follow somebody,” he said.

“We live in a time where the potential [is high] for adolescents to become very isolated and disconnected from their families, from their schools, and from their communities. As citizens of our communities, it’s our job to recognize and respond when we see that happening.”

If Smaller is making his statement on the basis of captivating the emotions of people, then individuals such as Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King Jr., and others could be compared, as well.

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