Daily Archives: August 2, 2021

Prison and Personality Changes by Wayne T. Dowdy

In the last few years I have written a lot of content relating to prison life and its effect on people, including myself. My writings help me to share life experiences, good and not-so-good, with others who may be interested in reading a different perspective on a variety of topics.

My objective in most of my writings is to educate others, or to otherwise express views to fuel thought processes.  One platform I use is Quora.com, and as can be seen in the following screenshot, a lot of people read what I write.  One of my more popular answers related to challenging technology after release.  https://www.quora.com/If-you-ve-spent-a-long-time-in-prison-what-technology-did-you-find-hardest-to-adjust-to-when-you-were-released/answer/Wayne-T-Dowdy?

Click the image below to go to my Quora Profile.

The latest contribution is in response to the question, “Do you feel that confinement has changed your personality?

I will end this blog post with my answer to the question that includes a link to a blog I wrote before my release and an excerpt:

“No Doubt! Decades in prison changed my personality.  In prison a person often must behave in a different manner than he or she normally would do, especially when interacting with others. 

“In the more dangerous prisons, such as some of which I’ve lived, a person becomes desensitized to external stimuli and learns to do what needs or doesn’t need to be done to survive. Sometimes that may be not responding when seeing an act of violence that the more humane side wants to stop or by getting involved in a situation that he or she doesn’t want to be involved in (participating in a violent confrontation between groups or individuals).  Only those who have lived in the insane world of incarceration may understand what that means. 

“Some of the behaviors learned to survive may involve violent reactions/responses to a situation that a sane person would simply walk away from, whereas in prison, if a person walks away, he or she may become a target for the predators if viewed as weak or a coward, and then have to deal with more unpleasant situations than wanted, examples too vast to go into for the purpose of this answer.

“For me, one of the ways that prison life changed my personality is how I function in a relationship and interact with others.  Even though I may appear to be normal on the surface, on the inside I may feel more restrained to behave the way that I would have before my incarceration where the display of affection is concerned.

“I was released on August 28, 2018, after serving 30-years and 10-days in the United States Federal Bureau of Prisons. Though I have successfully reintegrated because I decided to change my life in 1995 by getting clean and sober, I still cannot let go of the effects of decades in prison.

“In 2015, long before my release, I paid my publisher to create a website for me because I wanted my voice to reach outside the bars, walls, and fences. On my website I posted a blog, Damage and Prison that I will post a link to below. Some of the effects of decades in prison continue this day. The difference is that I refuse to allow my old behaviors and past to control my actions today. I focus on making healthy decisions as I continue my quest for a better life and to help others to know that change is possible.

DAMAGE and PRISON

Excerpt from Damage and Prison by Wayne T. Dowdy

“Upon release, I will have to undo decades of damage done by the prison experience: suppressing healthy emotions and needs. I must learn to be normal, whatever that may be in an imperfect world filled with broken toys, damaged from life experiences.

[I continue to work on behaving as I normally would do as a free citizen, if not for the damage caused by the extensive incarceration. I still struggle when it comes to relationships. I am a decent, loving, kind, and gentle human being, who doesn’t have to pretend to be bullet proof.]

“I sent out the following message to a friend who posted it on social media for me. A lot of people liked it so I will share:

’03/05/17: To all my Faithful Friends: I hope March brings each of you lots of love and success or whatever your hearts desire. For me, I’d be happy to be able to walk through a park or to sit on a lake to listen and observe the beauty of nature; to give someone a hug, kiss someone special, or to just be able to sit and watch animals; or to pet a dog, cat, rabbit, or a chicken. 🙂

“Hell, I’d be happy to watch some fish swim around in an aquarium. I am looking forward to going to the Georgia Aquarium to see some really big fish! So much in life people take for granted until it’s gone. One day soon I will be reentering the human race. Then I will be able to interact with each of you like a normal person. Have a great day! Wayne’

“[Georgia Aquarium: I walked by the Georgia Aquarium en route to a job fair at the City of Refuge, but have not been to watch the fish swim. I will go soon now that I’m working and can afford to buy the tickets. Everything is expensive!

“Update 08/02/2020: I did visit the Georgia Aquarium with loved ones and enjoyed the experience but was shocked by the entry-cost and food prices.]

“The above indicates the desensitization of prisoners. For over 28-1/2 years, my physical contact with other humans and mammals has been severely restricted. That is definitely true on an intimate level about lovers and sexual intercourse! During this sentence, I have resisted romantic-relationships. I’ve only been involved in three since 1988, and only one of those included physical contact (hugs and kisses on a visit).”