Tag Archives: mental health

Book Blurb for Supermax Prison: Controlling the most dangerous criminals


I feel fortunate to have received a book blurb for “Supermax Prison:  Controlling the most dangerous criminals,” written by Terry Turchie, author of “Unabomber:  How the FBI Broke Its Own Rules to Capture the Terrorist Ted Kaczynski.  Special Agent Turchie is now retired, pursuing a writing career.

Rarely does a book come along that truly shows the final point in the life of a violent criminal.  Supermax Prison does just that.  It brings the reader into the lowest depths constructed for human life in the United States:  incarceration for the human being too violent to live with others, even other convicts.  A must read for everyone interested in criminality, law and order and well written books.
-Terry Turchie, Speical Agent FBI (retired) Unit Director Unabomb Task Force


Wallow in the writer’s high


The title of my book has been changed to “Supermax Prison: controlling the most dangerous criminals,” which is due to be released in mid-June. I decided to share some of my thoughts before writing this book.
Writing is a journey of twists and turns laced with uncertainty. Gone are the predictable warm summer nights in southern Illinois, or the haunting call of a whip-poor-will.  Perhaps I have a general idea of where the story might lead, but I never know how it will end.  That would not be investigative journalism.  No, that’s back-ass storytelling.

I have logged in countless hours of psycho-therapy and written about troubled minds with difficult pasts.  Things are not as they appear. Perceived reality is a combination of our genetic makeup and life experiences, and opens the door for misguided decisions.  An individual’s perception of right and wrong oftentimes differs from mine.  False judgements and bias are not permitted.  Knowing this, allows me to experience empathy, understanding, and a host of emotions.  Only then, can I find the “sweet part” of the story where creativity is unleashed.

It has been said that artists perform their best work when under the influence of drugs.  One could argue that a gentle high might unleash a degree of creativity, but when you are trashed, the work has a manic flow.  I admit to the occasional glass of wine to prime the pump, but I’ve found a better way.  Look to the free spirit of childhood and envision the swish and sway, the pirouette and tour en l’air of a child dancing to the beat and lyrics of a simple song; the free flow of unrestrictive creativity; an emotional rush that trumps the steady pull from your favorite weed or a glass of wine.

While emotion and creativity are the staples of powerful writing, it must be harnessed with a loose bridle, allowing a degree of freedom. Writing requires the use of the right and left side of the brain at the same time.  If I can harness my creativity, writing skills, a nonjudgemental mind, the strength of a lion sprinkled with a dose of love, I can wallow in the writer’s high.

Come dance with me.

7301_100437136820483_587807534_nIt’s always there to some degree, mocking my every move.  A jig, a waltz, maybe Chubby Checker’s famous twist, or a seductive embrace as we move across the floor — my dancing partner, my pain.  Maybe it’s sharp, a get your attention pain; a boxer’s jab; possibly an unrelenting tooth acne; or a sustained, never-ending pain.  

Pain can be physical, psychological, or both, and when latched onto an individual, becomes unique.  Physical pain can be tested and more easily diagnosed than the illusive psychological pain that sometimes plays hide-and-seek with the mental health specialist.  Treatments for back pain are many — injections, physical therapy, spinal adjustments, medication, meditation, acupuncture, and when all fail, the surgeon sharpens his scalpel.

Two weeks ago I had a bone fusion performed in my lower back.  A herniated disk and the movement of two vertebra called for a bone fusion to eliminate the pain.  A back brace for support and oxycodone for pain are being used during the healing process.  I have become friends with oxycodone and refer to her affectionately as “oxy.”  When in my medicated buzz, I sometimes call her “foxy.”

As a survivor of childhood physical and sexual abuse, I have experienced psychological pain as well.  Memories of the abuse left me wrapped around a porcelain stool while I vomited poison into the mucus-colored water.  It was an emotional pain like I had never felt before.  Scared, lost, and without direction I turned to a therapist and have been treated with medication and talk therapy.  Life is good.  I have moved beyond surface emotions, and now experience the depth of feelings that life has to offer.

Whether physical or psychological pain, we must always be aware of the monster in the closet, better known as depression.  Pain breeds depression.  While my depression pales in comparison to someone with a severe mental illness, it can be debilitating.  Depression is waking up in the middle of the night covered with leeches that suck the spirit from my soul.  But now, after years of therapy, I can spot them from a distance as they slither over a hilltop and crawl my way.  I refuse to allow a single leech to take residence in my soul.

While a “bring-you-to-your knees” pain has many negative side effects, it can be a blessing, and serve as a reminder of how good life can be.  Imagine a musical phrase of dissonance and intensity that drives towards the final cadence and then, with true beauty, resolves into a morning spring.  Tension followed by release brings joy to one’s life.  I will dance a jig without pain as my partner.



Back pain, writer’s mind, pain medication, and a wonderful therapist

7301_100437136820483_587807534_nWow, what an exhausting night filled with crazy dreams.  It has to be the combination of my back pain, the mind of a writer, a wonderful therapist, and the addition of pain medication.  Otherwise, I would have to accept the possibility that I’m a bit strange.  Hey, maybe they’ll write on my tombstone, “A good man, but a bit strange.”
A little background.  I’ve been having lower back pain for the last two years. I entered pain management and received injections in my lower back.  At first, they lasted for several months, but now they give me one pain free month.  That was three months ago.  Monday I will begin a different procedure where they block the nerves in my lower back.
Now the second point.  My wife loves dishes, and has multiple sets which she has accumulated over the past 46 years of marriage.  Yes, that’s what I said, 46 years.  We would buy a new set, she kept the old set.  It went on and on.  Finally, I went to Lowe’s and bought a cheap-ass set of cabinets that I hung in our garage.  Unfortunately, I didn’t take into account the weight load on the cabinets.  Days later, there was a crashing sound in our garage.  The cabinets had fallen onto the top of our car, causing substantial damage.  Why didn’t I have a lower deductible?  Well, the good news — we lost a set of dishes.  Now, a year or so later, she wants another set of dishes, followed by “If only you had installed better cabinets, not that cheap shit that you always buy.”
Now, the final point.  I have been in longterm therapy for some time dealing with the effects of childhood sexual abuse.  My therapist is a very skilled and compassionate therapist and would do anything for me.
Okay, here comes the dream.  It happened during the night, as most dreams do.  The dog was in her crate next to our bed.  Bailey, she’s my dog, takes such smooth rhythmic breaths.  I had taken some pain medication which should help me sleep.  I’m lying on top of the bed, watching some television, feeling myself slide onto that magical carpet that takes me to “la-la land.”  The back pain becomes a distant memory as I become surrounded by a gel-like substance.  Ah, this must be love, I thought.  Eventually, when, I’m uncertain, I found myself in a large store shopping for a new set of dishes for my wife.  Yes, another set of dishes.  I found a set for $225. which seemed okay.  But I couldn’t happen notice this set for over $600.  Two young ladies working at the store walked my way.
“Can we help you?” they asked.  This was a weekend job for the ladies.  They worked full time at the local Women’s Center, and we know how underpaid they are.  (I forgot to mention that I am on the board of directors for the Center, and I consider the employees to be angels.  How do I know they are angels you might ask?  Well, it’s because I’ve seen their wings.)  Okay, back to my dream.  I told the ladies how much I liked the $600. set but it was a lot of money.  They answered by saying that I could buy the set for a 60% reduction if I called a certain person.  “Who might that be?” I asked.  The person is a therapist who can get you the dishes for 60% off.  She is busy seeing clients at the moment, but you should call her later and give her our names. She will take care of you.
“Okay,” I said.  “Why would you tell me this.  You are employees for this store.  Something doesn’t seem right.”
“It’s okay,” they said.  “Just do it.  This therapist will do anything for you.  Just trust her.”
Well, that’s my dream.  I began putting all the pieces together in order to determine its meaning — the dishes; the back pain, a writer’s mind, a wonderful therapist, and the pain medication.  Yes, it makes sense, as most dreams do.  I’m not all that strange.