Anger Management Helps Former Gang Member in Prison
I woke up this morning to the news of the tsunami hitting Japan due to the massive earthquake.
I was still reeling from that news when I got hit with another ‘tsunami’ – an email courtesy of ‘Juan Garcia’ (real name withheld) who has spent 29 years in prison for murder. Check out this moving letter…
Dear Dr. Schinnerer,
I have to say that your online classes are my first real experience with anger management. I felt that I never needed it. I am currently in prison and serving life for murder. I am a former member of the Mafia and have never considered myself an angry person but one person pointed out to me that, of all people, I needed anger management most.
I am a recovering addict. I have been sober for over 6 years now and have found that with sobriety comes clarity.
The strategies that you provided in the first part of this course for coping with anger have already proven to be beneficial. I particularly like the emphasis on turning down the volume on negative emotions and turning up the volume on positive emotions.
The tools included in this course for dealing with anger such as deep breathing, mindfulness, exercise, forgiveness and positive assertiveness are activities that I was already aware of but have never practiced in a formal curriculum. Enhanced with the positive strategies such as self compassion, and prayer provide constructive and pro-social methods to deal with the effects of anger. I’ve only taken the first segment of the videos and read the supporting literature but already know that this is a course that I will complete and carry with me for the rest of my life.
In all of my 29 years in prison I’ve learned one thing – that violence and anger are a language that all convicts speak fluently. Admittedly, violence is the common medium of conflict resolution in jail and unfortunately, no programs exist that provide inmates with a method to deal with these maladaptive behaviors. For most inmates there is a lack of interest in the few groups that address substance abuse or coping skills. It’s as if the pervasive attitude in prison is apathy. But for me discovering this course is truly refreshing.
Though I am eligible for parole, the reality is that there is a very real possibility that I may spend the rest of my life incarcerated. But at least now I will be equipped with coping strategies that will help me deal with being immersed in a world of hostility and violence. I no longer wish to be the man that I once was. When I left the Mafia that part of me, the alter ego, died. What remains is the person, the man that I am attempting to become. Fortunately, I found this course and with it I will attempt to reclaim a bit more of my humanity.
(Real name withheld for security purposes)
Juan, thanks for the supportive words. I am so glad the classes are helpful. I hope that you may find your peace wherever you are.
All the best,
John Schinnerer, Ph.D.
Founder Guide to Self, Inc.