If you control a man’s thinking, you do not have to worry about his action. When you determine what a man shall think, you do not have to concern yourself about what he will do. If you make a man feel that he is inferior, you do not have to compel him to accept an inferior status for he will seek it himself. If you make a man think that he is justly an outcast, you do not have to order him to the back door. He will go without being told; and if there is no back door, his very nature will demand one.
Survival in Solitary: Paul's insights: Inner consciousness v. isolation
Inner consciousness v. isolation
From: Survivors’ Manual: Survival in Solitary: A Manual written by and for people Living in Control Units (AFSC, fifth printing June 2012). Paul wrote this in 1994.
Before I begin sharing what I feel are some valid key points on “how to survive” the isolation in these dungeons, death traps, hell holes, SHUs, Supermax — or whatever you want to call them — let me first touch on three facts we can all agree on — a consensus:
1. The barbarian architects behind these sickass designs had (have) serious mental problems dealing with their own inferiority syndrome and dealing with peoples in the world.
2. These holes were purposely designed as torture chambers to break you mentally and physically into submission and to abandon your own beliefs, etc.
3. The isolations and restrictions in these dungeons that our captors like referring to as Control Units vary from state to state, prison to prison — some more isolated and restricted than others. However, their structure and use have the same malicious intent, and that is to control your existence and way of thinking.
This brings me to another very important point that I would like to paraphrase from Carter G. Woodson:
You recall the old adage — cliché: don’t let time do you, you do the time. There is great truth in that above cliché.
I have now been in prison 20 [in 2014: 39] years and 18 [in 2014: 37, Paul went to general population finally in June of 2014!] of them have been spent in various SHUs ('holes', segregation, control units) — from D.V.I. Folsom State Prison, San Quentin (briefly), then to the new more high-tech isolation chambers at Corcoran State Prison and now Pelican Bay State Prison. I have now been here since 1990.
I have many years of experience in these hell holes and have witnessed a great deal in terms of seeing individuals giving up their inner strength and beliefs because in their minds they could no longer deal with the mental torture, isolation, the materialistic restrictions, etc.
These individuals gave up and broke themselves because they were missing the key essentials to their inner consciousness that give them the power to survive isolation.
I have been asked over the years: “How have you been able to survive all this and still be mentally intact?”
My answers are very simple:
1. I know who I am and where I am going.
2. I don’t let time do me, I do the time.
3. My mind and thinking are far beyond prison walls.
Only my body is being held captive. To put it more plainly, 95% of time daily is spent writing and thinking outside of prison.
Now I would like to share with those who are new to this or/and those who have not yet developed the inner consciousness that gives them the power to survive — here are my pointers on how to survive and use isolation to your advantage:
1. Regrowth — begin with studying your history, culture, and yourself.
2. Make a real commitment to your inner consciousness.
3. Think of ways you can make positive contributions to our peoples in the communities.
4. Write letters with your ideas and input to unify yourselves with the young and old. Send your letters to family members, friends, churches, publications, progressive newspapers, radio deejays, artists, college students on campus, lawyers, etc., etc. Keep writing, don’t stop. You may not get responses from everyone you write to, but you will get some. In them some may be referrals to our peoples, or they may like your ideas and be willing to help you get it going.
Constantly writing these letters reinforces your inner consciousness to solidify your internal change beyond mere words. Your focus is no longer your immediate isolation; therefore your thinking is not controlled.
Knowing you are from your history and culture gives you self pride and respect. But you must take this to another level in reaching to the outside with a positive mission.
This is the power to survive these hell holes, because your ability to know who you are as a people and your ability in thinking outside the walls take away these barbarians’ control over your existence and your mind.
Like I said, many of these individuals I have seen give up or/and break themselves knew their history and were very politically conscious and had many applicable valid ideas to revitalize our communities. Their biggest problem was they never took the conversation and ideas outside of the isolated areas. They made absolutely no attempt to make contact with the outside. Soon they became bored with hearing only themselves, and those around them began to view them as good conversationalists with no actions behind their words. Their thinking stayed contained within the isolated walls and soon isolation consumed them.
The pointers I have shared with those reading this document have worked for me well, have kept me focused and, most importantly, they have kept me real and above prison.