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How Michael Jackson's Childhood Experiences Affected His Adult Life

Updated on September 16, 2020

An abused child can become a twisted adult

The subtitle here really reflects the main point I would like to bring out in this blog.

All the horrors that the Jackson kids had to endure may not be revealed, but what we know is enough for us to reasonably conclude, that an abusive father played a significant role in creating a side of Michael Jackson (MJ) which was undesirable. Had it not been for his own innate personality, talent, gentle and lovable spirit as well as his kind heart, Michael's eccentricities could have easily placed him in the "ridiculous people" category.

Let me pause to clarify the views that I expressed here. I do not think MJ was twisted. The aim is to use his life and experiences to show how some adults can, and have become twisted because of their childhood experience.

Images of Michael Jackson from childhood to adulthood

Father Joe Jackson

This may be judgmental in nature but many of us have the same view (based on my assessment)... Joe Jackson has the physical and behavioral attributes of a pimp. I can't help but wonder at this man. Michael's fans seem to be far more concerned with the turn that the pop star's life had taken than his very own father did.

Even though all the Jackson kids may have faced the same abuse as Michael, it is Michael it seems who was most affected. He apparently became so fixated on reclaiming his childhood he almost lost both it and his adulthood. Had it not been for Michael Jackson spilling his guts about his childhood, the world might have never come to know what he and his siblings had to endure all those years as they entertained us. I wonder if Joe Jackson ever even really appreciated his son and his accomplishments, or if he was more interested in milking more from his son's success. This realization (if it is so), would have no doubt hurt Michael even more. Could this have been the straw which finally broke the camel's back?

Even now, Joe Jackson seems far more interested in what Michael has or could have garnered through performing, rather than who his child had become.

Michael Jackson's: Man in the mirror

That Man in the Mirror

Michael was so on point when he sang of the man in the mirror. How many times do we see those who are given the gift of being parents use their power and authority to hurt their kids? We often hear that we live in a screwed up world, but who screwed it up?

I have seen children basically self-destruct as they try to gain the real love and attention from a parent. There is one little boy I know who is like a loose cannon at the moment as he tries to do (sadly) all that is bad, simply because he feels his mother does not want him. His father shows him very little if any love. I have seen programs on TV where adults weep openly about their childhood yearning for their parents to really love them. In some cases, these are programs where people are trying to find their parents they have not seen for years or who they have never seen. These are people who had themselves gone on to become parents and grandparents. The hurt after so many years is still so evident.

Some people are strong and become so resilient that they will show their own children more love than they received. Others become self-destructive and/or abusive to others, even their own children. How many news items have we seen lately where parents cause the death of or inflict unspeakable hurt on their own children? The point is that whether or not the parent is around, when the child feels unloved it can haunt them for life, even if they go on to become successful.

Michael's life should be an example to all parents and parents to be. A child's experience can affect his life has an adult for the better or for the worst. Even Michael's detractors would do well to bear this aspect of his life in mind. Are you doing the same thing to your children?

Michael had it all, except for his own peace of mind and total acceptance of himself. A dad who constantly said negative things about the size of his nose, caused Michael to try to change his features later in his life.

Michael Jackson may have fared better in that regards, had he spent all that money on seeking psychological healing rather than trying to change himself physically. Yes, he had a choice. There is one of his songs that could have served him well, and can help others to build a sense of resilience when we feel others are taking us for granted - Leave Me Alone.



Changing the Outward Man to Appease Inner Turmoil

I look around me and I can see many Michael Jacksons. Displeased with their childhood and who they are, they try to transform themselves through tattoos, excessive body piercings, bleaching the skin, face lifts, endless plastic surgeries, cross gender practices and the list could go on and on. Are all these people any better than Michael? Don't they all need help? Do parents even bother to take responsibility for the adults their child/ren become?

Changing our outward appearance to appease or quell an inner turmoil can only have temporary effects. This is the reason one physical change leads to another, then another and still another... It gets to the stage where it never seems to end. The black music industry and black actors, especially on the female side, has gotten to the stage where they go in dark skinned and now sport a "bleaching to become white" look. There is success, money, money and more money rolling in for these people, but discontentment with who they are seems to be a common theme.

That does not mean I am against cosmetics to advance one's look. Far from it. Cosmetic surgeries are necessary. The point I am trying to make here is that once a person learns to be discontented with themselves, no matter how nice that person is, it can really hurt their ability to truly be happy. MJ had gotten to the stage where he looked more and more like a walking Ad for cosmetic surgery. His discontent started with the false impression he was given as a child that his nose was basically unsightly. He went from a nose job to a total facial. Money and power can never replace true self-contentment and inner happiness. It brought MJ no comfort and Whitney Houston was never able to find back her true spirit. They were broken, their fans truly loved them, but their money could not mend them.


His struggles with vitiligo had no doubt helped to further shatter his already fragile acceptance of his physical appearance. With the lack of melanin in parts of his skin leaving him with white patches on his body, it could not have been easy. If you have never seen someone who has the disease you may never understand. I have two or three such tiny patches on my skin since my teenage years (I think), but they have never grown any larger. I have seen people that it affects and leaves them with an "unsightly" appearance (beauty is in the eyes of the beholder).

MJ chose to whiten his skin rather than remain with the unsightly patches. That is understandable. It is said that he questioned these developments in his health, but whatever the case, he had to make a choice. Painting himself to conceal his skin condition must have been super annoying.

Arthur Wright


The Man Who Turned White - Arthur Wright

"The Man Who Turned White" is the story of another African American singer and dancer, Arthur Wright, whose vitiligo struggles is so similar to MJ's. Author Wright faced this dilemma from back in the 1960s. He too eventually whitened his skin.

My point here again is that we never know what life will throw at us. It is really better for kids to have a strong support network during childhood, so that they can develop that strong sense of self acceptance. This will help them to be better able to deal with situations that life may decide to hurl at them. I am not the strongest and most resilient person there is. Far from it. I am stubborn, resilient, vulnerable, tough, easily hurt, sometimes unsure of myself, confident, and like to self analyse. It's all in the mix, and can sometimes cause life to feel like a roller coaster. I know I would need the love and support of my family to help me through situations that I may find hard to handle on my own.

I think sometimes it can be so hard to mend one's spirit when it has been broken. Whitney did not lack parental love and support, but whatever had broken her spirit held her captive until the day she died. As for MJ, somehow I sense he was breaking through his clouds. I sense that he was trying to help himself, find that inner peace that was taken from him and never got a chance to blossom during childhood. He was fighting back.

Loving Michael Jackson and Loving Our Children

I have deep reservations about the charges brought against Michael Jackson during that tumultuous period of his life which ultimately sent him into seclusion. Even in death he is still on trial for things of which he had been declared innocent.

I believe it is safe to say that for most of his life Michael was exposed to hurt and exploitation, starting with his father and then being added to by other people he encountered in his life.

There are many twisted adults around, whose character or eccentricities came about as a result of childhood experiences - perverts, murders, rapists. These people learn to hurt others as a part of expressing their hurt. Michael Jackson expressed his hurt by telling us about it in both words and songs, as well as in his bid to change his physical appearance. Who is more dangerous?

Let Michael's life be an example to us as parents/guardians. Let us pay closer attention to how we choose to raise our children. Let us learn to listen to them and help them to become who they were meant to be, rather than trying to mold them into who we want them to be.

Michael, it seems, was destined to be the King of Pop. With proper parenting and encouragement he would have become a more stable King of Pop. I have read the opinion of other people who believe that MJ loved and sought the approval of his father. That is the reason the nose comments hurt him so badly. It is also felt that after becoming a father, Michael endeavored to show his father the kind of father he had wanted him to be. There are people who resonate with MJ where this is concerned. Never believe that what we say to our children will just bounce off and roll into the sea of forgetfulness.

Our children may be destined to become a top lawyer, doctor, nurse, business man ect... What we do can affect just how successful they become as well as the extent to which they may excel or crash and burn. By loving and cherishing our children, we will honor the memories of this great man, Michael Joseph Jackson, even more.

As a parting shot, MJ's son Prince Michael, is said to possibly be showing signs of the same disease (vitiligo) that changed his father's skin color. It is genetic. My strongest hope is that MJ had prepared his son for the possibility of having to deal with it. The child seems happy and unperturbed by the large white patch under his right arm. That is a marvelous sign.

Rest in Peace Michael.

Michael Jackson - Leave Me Alone Lyrics

This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.

© 2009 Althea Reader


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    • heavenleigh707 profile image

      Heaven L Burkes 

      8 years ago from The Invincible Heart of Neverland

      I agree that he was abused in his childhood. I agree that he reacted with more emotional sensitivity than his other siblings. Tormented yes. Twisted no. Thank you for attempting to understand some aspects of him here. No one who is "twisted" would have done so much for humanity - given so much - and cared so much.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      your not dead your on that island you faked the death

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      he was an amazing person and there will never be another one like him. dispite all of the terrible things he had to go through, i think he made a big diffence in the world and help break a wall between racial issues. may he rest in peace.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      r.i.p king of pop

    • ohic32 profile imageAUTHOR

      Althea Reader 

      8 years ago from Jamaica

      Hi Rhona, MJ's life is sort of bitter-sweet isn't it? Thanks for sharing your views.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      He's the kindest person i've ever come across. It breaks my heart to think that he was abused and didn't have a childhood then he grew up traumitized by what his farther said to him and apart from all this, he had terrible illnesses and died young...It's safe to say that he did accomplish alote, but he still didn't have a good life! If there is a God, he could of really used his help. God obviously works in mysterious ways.

    • profile image

      noah girod 

      8 years ago

      m.j. is a gay basturd

    • ohic32 profile imageAUTHOR

      Althea Reader 

      8 years ago from Jamaica

      Thanks. It was nice of you read through and share your view.

    • LADYGIRL profile image


      8 years ago

      That is a very Good Hub. You really did broke it down in this hub. I like the way you express your self through words. Good Job...

    • gmwilliams profile image

      Grace Marguerite Williams 

      8 years ago from the Greatest City In The World-New York City, New York

      You have spoken the truth. Mr. Jackson was exploited by his father. Father Jackson was a failed singer and entertainer who was a struggling steelworker; however, he saw talent in his children, particularly Michael, and saw them as a meal ticket to a better life.

      It is well known that Michael did not have a reasonable childhood. It was spent constantly performing. Mr. Jackson want to play but his father wanted him to perform. As a result of having very little reasonable childhood, Mr. Jackson tried to recapture his childhood as an adult to the detriment of his adult development. Many children who were forced to be adults as children try to recapture the freedom of childhood as adults. How sad.

    • ohic32 profile imageAUTHOR

      Althea Reader 

      9 years ago from Jamaica

      Thank you all for your comments :).

    • saif113sb profile image


      9 years ago

      Great information hub.

    • peanutroaster profile image


      9 years ago from New England

      What a sad, fascinating life. Its criminal when a failed adult like Joe Jackson tries to relive his own life by abusing children.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      How right you are. Thankyou

    • ohic32 profile imageAUTHOR

      Althea Reader 

      9 years ago from Jamaica

      Smiles Jessica... We all wish for him the same. ^_^

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      I belive that michael in his dad did not get along . I also believe that a person can turn his life around . Michael was a shy and loveable man i belive that michael was inacent . I dont belive michael would hurt a inacent child . MJ loved his children very much he was a great father . may you rest in peace my the heavens above love you like you loved your children .

    • ohic32 profile imageAUTHOR

      Althea Reader 

      10 years ago from Jamaica

      Ok. I will try to provide what I learnt in another hub.

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      i want to know more about michael jackson when he was a child

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      Michael Jackson does not deserve to face death but i'm sorry to say but it had to happen sometime or another and it just happened to be that he faced death back then.

      R.I.P King of Pop

      You may have physically left us, but you still lie somewhere in everyones heart

    • ohic32 profile imageAUTHOR

      Althea Reader 

      11 years ago from Jamaica

      Yes Sapphfaith... may his soul rest in peace. He was indeed a great man who touched many many lives in so many varied ways.

    • profile image


      11 years ago

      The ends does not at all justify the means. A better end could have been achieved had more acceptable means been employed. Michael Jackson's life is a mirror for many parents and children. The dos and dont's, pros and cons, benefits and consequences are plain for all to see. However, just like just about everybody knows the ill effects of drug use and many still do not adhere, it will be a lesson many will not heed. It is just a pity it had to be the focal point for so many. It overshadows his success in such a way, it is a good thing he is so talented. Oh, and by the way, what about the power of choice? Michael did not have to yield. He did not have to. Such a PITY he did. Love him still. Always will. Rest, Michael, in peace. I pray that you do.

    • ohic32 profile imageAUTHOR

      Althea Reader 

      11 years ago from Jamaica

      A valid point to ponder though I disagree. I disagree even with Michael may I add. There is a way of being successful without being exploited by your own Dad.

      Tough love does not have to bring hurt to the ones we love. Joe Jackson to this day comes off as a pimp and looks the part may I add. The hurt Michael suffered at childhood caused him to literally change his physical features.

      I hated the end result and didnt (still do not) like to look at him in the final transformed stage. I still love the man and am truely awed by his talent.

    • popintervention profile image


      11 years ago from Atlanta, GA

      Yes, you make valid points. However, I can already hear Joe Jackson's answer to you. "The end justified the means." I don't know if the world would have ever had Michael had he not be exploited by his father. Michael told Oprah that he wouldn't change his childhood in retrospect because it made him the man he was. It made him attuned to the needs of suffering children.

      I'm not at all okaying Michael's childhood, just adding more things to ponder.


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