July 13, 2018

Comment Response

by Dymitri Haraszewski (author's profile)
This post is in reply to comments on:  Is It Possible To Have A Worthwhile Life In Prison thumbnail
Is It Possible To Have A Worthwhile Life In Prison
(March 29, 2018)


(address may change)
D. Haraszewski
AC 2622
P.O. Box 409060
Ione, CA 95640

Reply to Kyla (6k99)

Hi, Kyla. I got your comment today. Thanks! I'm flattered you asked me about prison counseling. As you can guess, not a lot of people want my advice anymore. :/ It feels good, which makes it even harder to tell you that I may not be the person you want to ask about this. If you read my introduction, you'll see that I have some pretty unconventional—and strong—views about prison issues. But I'll try not to let my bias make this worthless for you.

First, I'm really glad you want to help people. If your friends say you're say to talk with, then you probably are. What do you know about prison counselors in whatever state you're in? In California, at least, the "counselors" don't do much counseling at all—they're basically just prison administrators who deal with paperwork concerning security levels, which prisons an inmate is restricted from, what "jobs" he or she can be forced to do, etc. It's really not a helping job at all, and they certainly aren't in the business of relieving a prisoner's stress. But maybe it's different in your state.

I wonder—are you maybe talking about become a therapist in prison? They are usually psychologies (sometimes interns) who try to counsel prisoners dealing with their insane environment. Although I believe they often do more harm than good, I also think you can do useful work in prison mental health departments, assuming you keep a reasonable perspective of the circumstances of your clients, the inmates.

Still, I have to ask: why aim towards prisons at all? I strongly believe that the sooner we can eradicate this foul obsession with cages and punishment for society's consciousness, the better. It's like cancer—cut out the disease to save the body. i doubt the value of becoming part of a toxic system, even with the best interests.

Have you considered pointing your humanitarian impulses towards schools or international aid? Remember, prison counseling probably requires the same academic atta-girls as any other entry level psych position, so maybe it'd be better to work in an environment that doesn't enthusiastically promote the the self-loathing of people who are already weakened and debased. I'd much rather use any influence to encourage people to resist oppressions while they're still strong enough to reject the external—and internal—structures of dominance and coercion in our society begins imposing from birth.

You might consider the field of law too... It may be a way to work within the system to improve lives by defending accused criminals, civil liberties, etc. You can be a voice for the voiceless, if want to help in that way.

I realize I haven't answered your direct question: If you were my counselor, how could you help me? I guess my best short answer is do all you can to affirm prisoners' values as individuals and the legitimacy of their experiences. Help them escape the gravitational pull of that moral black hole they cynically label "rehabilitation", i.e. the relentless pressure to conform, obey, and negate the self. You could guide people into their own strength and, through that strength, towards generosity, understanding, and empathy. Towards being the kind of people the world needs more of.

Please feel free to write me at the address above if you want to talk less publicly.


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