What does it feel like to be wrongly convicted
I was wrongly convicted of murdering my wife. I recall that first night in jail. It was not unlike being punched in the face. I was stunned, numb, and not sure of what lay before me. All personal control had been yanked away. What I wore, what I ate, where I slept, and where I could not go were all dictated by the State. In that situation, the absolute power of government becomes blatant, coercive, Orwellian.
The first few months of prison life are about adaptation. It’s a different society, a subculture of power — physical, emotional, and spiritual. There are simple rules. Obey and internalize those rules and you’ll get by.
As the years pile up, feigned apathy becomes your outward mask. But on the inside, anger and bitterness consume you. Revenge occupies your so-called free moments. At other odd times, you fantasize about living a normal life… or escaping to a tropical paradise… or dying in prison. You imagine building houses, establishing relationships with the opposite sex, or burning down the houses and the relationships of your enemies.
But as the decades accrue, an acceptance and an understanding of life creep in. If you’re lucky, you become calmer, more relaxed, more sure. You see the value of faith, hope, and of course, love. You come to appreciate pure things, like the behavior of animals and the joy of small children. It sounds cliche and almost banal, but time wears a man down.
In the end, if you are lucky, you see that our trials are what improve us. And if you are very lucky and somewhat insightful, you see that whatever your trial has been, it is exactly what you needed. Our trials make us who we are.
What does it feel like to be really old knowing that death is imminent?
I am in my 80s. To be this age is largely luck. To be this age and reasonably healthy with peace of mind is even luckier. To be this age, be healthy, and not lonely makes one feel so lucky that you want to gulp the moments down like a drowning man reaching air. I have been in five car crashes without being hurt (none were my fault). During the war as a child, I experienced several bombs falling within close range and where people within yards of myself were killed or injured. Numerous other such incidents sometimes gives one a sense of invulnerability, and other times that the next incident won’t be so lucky.
I regret much but also realize that having regrets meant that I had opportunities to regret; I was lucky to have those opportunities. There is a desire to leave one’s mark; graffiti on the wall of time; an apt engraving on a tombstone or small plaque on a park bench. The gifts of inheritance that will be gratefully accepted, and carry the essence of one’s past. The slogan ‘I was here’ seems as important as always, but much more in the sense of ‘I hope I deserve it’ rather than ‘And now you know.’
Much thought is sometimes given to organ donations, with an underlying feeling of ‘Please God keep me healthy and I will give my body to science in return.’ Though living on as a kidney transplant is more of an altruistic gesture than a religious one.
When friends pass away, it is not just their presence that is lost, it is also the memories they have of you. The “Do you remember when…?” conversations that pepper the elderly reminiscences. Fear of death is actually rare and is commonly a joke. On the other hand, fear of losing one’s memories, faculties, or independence is real. We put a great value on having people who we can trust — especially to carry out wishes when we are gone. Making final decisions can be upsetting, particularly if they relate to young people who are distant in age and lifestyle yet close in relationship.
One gets comfort from familiarity; the same cup; the same chair; the same view. One can be disturbed by the disruption or criticism of established habits. Having pets is a comfort, but caring for them can be increasingly difficult when joints get stiff, and even bending over is an effort.
It is easy to put off things till tomorrow, though there is the thought that there may not be a tomorrow. Oddly enough, the older one gets, the more likely it is that one will live longer. If the Devil hasn’t taken you yet, he may not be bothering. There is the constant sorting out of possessions no longer used, and not acceptable even for charity shops. The clothes that once looked smart in ones finger-clicking days now seem to say “How can you do this to me?” as they read your thoughts. There are the books you intended reading, but now never will. The postcards of forgotten places with ‘Hope you are well’ signed by some long lost friend. The photos of someone you knew well, but cannot now recall the name. Perhaps the more intimate letters from those you knew when time stood still.
So, what is it like to be in your eighties? It is really not much different from being any age where your concerns are getting through the day. On the other hand, people have more importance than possessions; comfort more worth than ambition; trust more value than money; love more satisfying than immortality.
Perhaps in some ways, one wants to leave the world as one entered it; without fear or pain; without anger or distrust; without possessions or debts; without demands or expectations; in innocence.
What’s it like to have a 160 IQ?
I was reading the newspaper (the news, finance and sports sections) before I entered kindergarten (4 yrs., 10 mos. old). I also could add, multiply and divide any numbers. I “discovered” the Fibonacci sequence when I was around 7, and when I was in 1st grade, I tested past 8th grade (the limit on the test) on both math and English. So did school bore me? Yes, to the nth degree. Almost everything I learned I learned myself. I read 1-2 books per day. Does this make some things easy? Sure. Learning most things. I hear new ideas, new technologies I’ve never seen before and am able in a matter of hours or days of immersion not only to understand what’s going on but to explain them to others. I think faster and I formulate thoughts whole. I barely need to edit anything I write; I barely need to break a sweat solving many difficult problems. Lawyers have asked me where I went to law school (I didn’t); doctors have asked me about my medical training (I don’t have any), etc. If I’m interested in something, I learn it. But if I sit on my ass, that won’t make any difference, will it?
So if you have kids, don’t mainstream them. (I wasn’t intentionally mainstreamed; the schools were appallingly bad.) It’s torture. Like putting Michael Jordan in basketball camp with me. Keep them challenged and stoke their curiosity.
You have to learn how to communicate with others and you have to also learn whom to choose as friends. I grok that Keeping Up with the Kardashians may really be da bomb for some people — as well as au courant gossip. But you also need to know how to explain recondite ideas not only to your peers but to others. Because other people are in the real world and unless you expect to live in a cloister, you need to know how to persuade and interact with everyday people you meet.
IQ isn’t morality. Ted Bundy had a high IQ. Obviously bin Laden wasn’t stupid either. Nor Mao, Stalin or Hitler. (Stupidity isn’t morality, either, of course, but a smart sociopath can do a lot more damage than a stupid one.) So don’t presume that your high intelligence makes you morally superior to others: that’s up to your choices and since you can likely see deeper, further and more incisively, that’s a greater onus on you. Nor, of course, should you presume that those of average intelligence have a greater moral center. It’s individual choice.
So choose your friends wisely, seek challenges and don’t be shy. Now, this doesn’t mean being an arrogant prick. But if you try simply to fit in and to dumb yourself down (unfortunately, far more women than men fall prey to this), then you will bore yourself to death and you will have sentenced yourself to solitary confinement.
Look at it this way: if you were an elite mountain climber, you’d want to summit K2 and Everest and Danali. If you have great intellectual asperity, do you think that being (for life, not starting out) a barista or a bookkeeper or a receptionist is going to do it for you? No. It’s you who’s settling for such things, rather than demanding for yourself the challenge, wherever that may lie.
As to abilities. They are not distributed evenly, even among those of us who have very high IQs. I’m not good mechanically, so while surgery is intriguing to me, the fact that I’d likely butcher anyone I ever operated on makes that a non-starter. I simply lack the 3-D and mechanical intelligence necessary to be a surgeon. Similarly, while I can imagine architectural greatness, I lack the ability to be an architect. So I’m not. Strive for the utmost in excellence where you possess those requisite skills needed to achieve said excellence. Don’t be Sisyphean in your approach to life. Know thyself.
Dating/marriage. You’re smart. Very smart. So are you dating potential partners who are average in all respects? What in the world shall you talk to them about? When you’re questioning whether Nietzsche was actually a nihilist based on the most elegiac passages of Thus Spake Zarathustra — or when you marvel at Glenn Gould’s playing — or when you come up with a new sabermetric criterion — or when you think Blackadder is about 1000x wittier than The Big Bang Theory –just what are you getting from your partner and what are you offering him/her? There’s no there there. Choose wisely and choose the wise.
Bosses. Not the capo di tutti capi kind. But face it. You can’t work for an idiot. If the person you’re working for isn’t very smart or at least capable of truly appreciating what you bring to the table, you’re in for a world of hurt. So don’t do that, either.
Instead, aim for eudaimonia, Aristotle’s term for the happiness in life that arises out of fulfillment. To be fulfilled, you must do things you like. You must associate with people, professional and personally, whom you respect and who offer something to you. You can be that solitary preacher inveighing against others or promoting something, but if you receive nothing back you become quickly an emptied vessel. If you find those more intelligent than you, have the self-confidence to welcome them and to learn from them. Otherwise you’ll be sitting atop the mountain and you may very well be a God, but whom precisely will you be ruling?
What’s It Like To Be Addicted To Cocaine
My wife was addicted to cocaine. I should rephrase that, my now ex-wife was addicted to coke. We were married a very short time, three years, but we have a child together… so I’ve had to deal with her, her temperament, moods, druggie boyfriends, and addictions until our son turned 18. We met when I was 26 and she was 22. I had one more year left in the Marines and had met my future wife at a party where she did a monstrous line of coke. I had naively thought that she could walk away from drugs if she wanted, at any time. I was so very wrong. It took her almost 20 years to kick her addictions: alcohol, drugs, and sex. It would start with one drink on a Friday night with girlfriends. By the end of the night, she would have progressed from a drink to coke to whatever drug was also available to leaving with strangers to having sex with strangers for more drugs and she would find a way home by Tuesday or Wednesday.
This went on for our three year marriage. I had enough of her lies and threw her out and filed for divorce. Living with her was horrific: lies, lies about lies, drugs, small plastic bags turn up in the laundry, lethargic behavior for days after a binge, STDs, etc. It was horrible. I did the best I could to shield our son, but I know that I wasn’t successful. Our son was a bed wetter until he was 14. I tried my best to keep a decent house, but money was always missing. She turned to stripping, which meant more drugs and druggies. I had to drop out of college for the time being.
After filing for divorce, we had a long and tenuous custody battle. She somehow lied enough to remain a sympathetic figure to the court. I agreed to shared custody when I didn’t have enough money to fight for custody any longer. I had even sold my car to pay for the lawyer fees. We shared custody as I tried to rebuild my life. Eventually I went back to school, dated (or dated as well as a person with a crazy ex- can date), met a wonderful woman, married, bought a home, etc. All the while, our son was living in a drug den part-time. She would lie about stuff that our son would mention; her family would lie to cover up for her, because they knew I would take her back to court if I had any proof; our son started lying to cover up her drug use. She would cry and plead with him that she would get help. We tried the counseling route as a large extended family (my wife, ex-wife, me, and our son), but my ex- would lie about everything to the therapist. This went on for over a year.
Finally her lies fell apart and we had irrefutable proof of her drug, sex, and alcohol addictions. We immediately got full custody and got our son on a better path. He was in 7th grade when he came to live with my wife and I full time. We put him in the best schools we could afford, paid for tutoring, and tried to provide a normal life. Soon after he moved in with us, he stopped wetting the bed. This was a good and hopeful sign. He excelled in high school and is now a freshman in college. He won partial academic scholarships for engineering school and is doing a little better than average (mostly As and Bs) in their honors program.
About two years after my ex- lost custody, she must have hit rock bottom and started to clean up. She eventually cleaned up and got married. She and her husband sued us for custody of our son in his senior year of high school. Our son said it was because her new neighbors looked down on her because she didn’t have custody of him. They must have surmised that there was something wrong with her for not having custody. It was another long and tough fight, but we prevailed–but at the emotional expense of our son. Again, it was another emotional and financial nightmare for our family. I felt like I was a slave to a recovered drug addict… fighting her every step of the way.
Cocaine ruined almost twenty years of my life, stunted our son’s life, and indelibly colored all of my relationships… all of them. I have never done any drugs, except smoke pot five or six times when in high school. I feel like coke destroyed my life, hurt my son, and hurt my new wife (she had to deal with my coke-head ridiculous ex-wife with frequency). I abhor drugs. They took all my money, made my life a living hell, and turned my then-wife into a cheat, whore, and liar. My ex- had a somewhat bright future when we met. She had dreams, she was pretty, and she wanted so much from life. Coke and her drug-use turned her into a monster.
I haven’t spoken a word to her since our son turned 18. I have no idea how she is doing, but I really don’t care. We are all still recovering from her b*llshit. My son turns 19 next month and will be starting his second semester in engineering school. He has trouble with female relationships and is in counselling to help him along. Luckily, he is a caring and empathetic young man. The bad part is that he has no tools to cultivate any kind of relationship with women. So he just doesn’t date and I feel he’s probably terribly lonely at school. He has friends, but they all have girlfriends and boyfriends. None of them know how bad he had it as a child. It all goes back to his mom’s coke habit. Maybe one day we’ll all recover and be normal.
What is it like to be a sociopath?
I would like to preface this answer with me stating that I do not believe I was ever a complete sociopath although I was told by multiple mental health professionals that I displayed antisocial tendencies. Whatever the hell that means. I have read that antisocial personality disorders cannot be diagnosed before adulthood. However, I also read that certain traits have to be established in adolescence. So here’s my experience with these traits growing up.
Factor 1: Personality “Aggressive narcissism”
I was a kid that everybody’s parents loved. I was extremely charismatic and made acquaintances easily. However, I got a lot of my friends in trouble and would come out looking like the good kid. Currently, one of my good friends from middle school and high school is facing heavy probation if not prison time for trafficking. I led him into drinking and drugs and within a year he was selling. His parents still love me since they have no idea I was the one pressuring him into sneaking out to re-up and push more. It benefited me since he always had money and we were best friends. All the perks of selling drugs with none of the down sides. I also used to be (and still am a little) a serious misanthropist, but, got along with everyone. I just didn’t really like most of the people I was friends with, or anyone else for that matter.
Grandiose sense of self-worth
Ultimately, I don’t know if I qualifying for this section, but I do know that I developed extreme arrogance at a young age. I considered myself the smartest kid in the room from early elementary school well into high school. I sold myself as a commodity in group projects. During group projects, I demanded control and delegated only the simplest of tasks to my other group members. If the project was a success it was because I made it a success. If it was a failure, it was because things were not done exactly my way.
From the very beginning of my educational career, I acquired a highly developed skill of lying. At first it was out of necessity to hide my laziness, but eventually became so habitual that I would lie about petty situations for no reason whatsoever. Lying in situations where the truth would not have gotten me in trouble. I was lying to people who didn’t need to be lied to.
The divorce of my parents’ right before middle school open new doors for me and enabled my negative traits. Because the two of them were not on speaking terms and were constantly working, I could do hardly any schoolwork and they wouldn’t find out until the end of the year. When coming from my dad’s to my mom’s or vice versa, I would tell the incoming parent that I had completed all my schoolwork at the other parents house. When the previous parent would ask me if I had any work to do, I would tell them that I needed a book from the other parent’s house to do it. My parents are not idiots, in fact they are both highly intelligent, but when one is an accounting manager and the other a senior associate at a CPA firm, it is easy to take advantage of their busy schedules in multiple distractions. At the end of the year when report cards would come out, they would wonder why my grades were so bad and I would tell them it was because I didn’t turn work in. I would then quickly do enough assignments to get a passing grade and cram them in the bottom of my backpack. I would then present them with the completed work and tell them that I just didn’t turn it in and it wasn’t that I didn’t do it, I was afraid they weren’t good enough. The rest of the missing assignments I said I lost over the course of the year. Then eventually, after enough parent teacher conferences and administrative interventions, I was forced to keep our written planner. At first this was an easy enough problem to deal with; I would just keep a second set of books or cook the book I had. What finally led to the downfall of my little operation was when they start are requiring signatures from both the parents and teachers; I couldn’t forge all the signatures.
Lack of remorse or guilt
As far as the lying and all the hoops I had my parents and teachers jump through, I felt as though they did it to themselves. Why were they forcing me to do stuff that didn’t matter? The only time I really regretted stuff is when it affected my ability to do nothing in a negative way. Even then I was only sorry I got caught.
Shallow affect (genuine emotion is short-lived and egocentric)
For the most part growing up, I had genuine emotions, but some of them were egocentric in the sense that when somebody went away, it was more a concern of my own loneliness. But that isn’t that bad, is it?
Callousness; lack of empathy
I felt bad for some people, but it is very easy for me to say they deserved it. Victims of uncontrollable circumstances received my condolences, but my experience planning and scheming didn’t let me feel bad for people who failed to plan. If you can’t play the game, don’t roll the dice.
Failure to accept responsibility for own actions
As probably outlined in the previous paragraphs, nothing was ever my fault. Playing off my parents, teachers and using lies, I concocted some very convincing and some not so convincing justifications as to why my misfortunes were the results of other people’s actions.
Factor 2: Case history “Socially deviant lifestyle”.
Need for stimulation/proneness to boredom
Throughout elementary school, middle school and high school, I was constantly being given detention, kicked out of class or just suspended. One time, in my sophomore English class, I was asked to sit in the hall for talking or playing on my phone or something like that. The hall was long and had horrible acoustics. I sat directly outside the door and started whistling. I was able to whistle while breathing in or out. I used this to sustain a whistle for 5 minutes. Eventually, my teacher swung open the door and told me I could come back inside as long as I stopped that whistle. When I came back in, the entire class was a radiating the joy that comes with seeing a teacher in distress. It made my day.
At home I was able to get away with a lot of things. A lot of things are just inherent of being a rich kid: free gas even though I had a job, was given my car even though I was supposed to buy it, had credit card debt paid off for me, could come and go as I pleased. Other things were just blatant disregards of my parent’s wishes or authority. I think most kids in my position possess some of these habits.
Poor behavioral control
For the most part I was well behaved as far as outbursts and anger are concerned, but there was this one time I reacted quite poorly to a nice jacket of mine being ripped. A group of friends and I decided to go to another friend’s party. When we got there, it turned out that it was the friend’s asshole brother who was throwing the party. We went to the door and that guy answered and we asked for his brother. He freaked out, obviously drunk, and told us that this was his party and he doesn’t care if his brother invited us, he wanted us to leave. We turned around and headed back to the car. This guy then decided it was a good idea to follow within a foot behind me yelling things into my ear. When we got to the car, I turned around to tell him we were obviously leaving and he could relax when I caught a sucker punch to the face. So I rushed him. I aimed low to take him out and dug my shoulder into his gut. He responded by hitting me in the back a few times and then grabbing my brand new, expensive jacket and trying to pull it over my head. I heard the arm pit seams rip and stopped caring about what was going to happen. In my right hand I had my keys which also had my spring assisted box cutter I used for work. I opened the blade and drove it into his side. He immediately let go and grasped the point of entry. I jumped in the car and told my friend to get us the hell out of there. As we left he asked what happened. I calmly said, “He punched me, then ripped my jacket, so I stabbed him.” I ditched the box cutter on the roof of a store a few miles away. The kid was fine since it was a small blade and he was wearing 37 undershirts, but someone called in the stabbing any way. The next day at school (he went to a different school than me) he was bragging about getting stabbed and the police came to question him and everyone thought he was a badass.
Lack of realistic long-term goals
Well, my realistic long-term goals went out the window with my 1.2 high school GPA. So I went to junior college. Failed out because it felt like 13th grade and I would rather work and be with my friends. Then I decided I was going to join the military. Couldn’t do that because I have one kidney. Then I was going to be a cop. Didn’t do that since it didn’t make sense to be shot at for $68k/year and I had too many traffic violations. So then I worked until I built up enough motivation to go back to college and here I am.
I once over drafted my bank account by $700 to drive to Bakersfield for my friend’s birthday, just to return home broke and terminated from my job since I missed the new schedule and three days of work without notification.
I don’t know what more I can say to describe my irresponsibility other than the
year I was 18 I racked up about $5000 of debt while working and having no
I was an above average truant and had multiple traffic violations before I even got my license. Along with that, I was an avid, yet recreational, user of different drugs and alcohol.
Early behavior problems
I wasn’t too bad. I got into a few fist fights and was transferred from my first middle school to another. In this process I was held back which put me in the correct grade since I had been skipped ahead.
Revocation of conditional release
Never paroled or put on probation, but had a few warrants for delinquent accounts with the county and state.
Traits not correlated with either factor
Promiscuous sexual behavior
I was a serial monogamist for the most part, but I had some extracurricular activities with a few girls who were less than pure. I probably should have been a bit more careful, but at the time BC was the only thing I cared about. Luckily, I came out clean.
Many short-term marital relationships
Haven’t been married and divorced yet which is more than I can say about a good portion of my friends. I definitely had some commitment issues that resulted in short lived relationships.
As my lies got more and more complex, I developed the need to have skills like extreme attention to detail, access to things I wouldn’t normally have access to and counterfeiting. I learned how to non-destructively get through various locks and security measures including motion detectors and how to not leave a trace.
I then started producing different documents that I needed for school and work and figured out how to replicate finger prints just in case. I also worked on my poker face, keeping my story straight and attention to the details that could get me caught. It was a regular thing for me to steal liquor, cigars and whatever else from the local drug store.
Acquired behavioral sociopathic/sociological conditioning
I have been known to transparently interfere with others’ interpersonal relationships by seeding distrust and playing with their feelings. Who hasn’t done that?
I have heard that you can ‘grow out’ of antisocialism and that it is rare to find a true sociopath over the age of 30. I don’t know if that is true, but I know that I hardly act like I used to. There are some residual traits, like I still possess my ability to lie and some of my shadier skills, I still drink pretty heavily and have a hard time balancing my check book some months. But, some of those things you cannot unlearn and others are also associated with being a college student who enjoys a good party. I still stand by opinion that I never was a serious sociopath, but I think this may be as accurate of an answer as you will get from anybody since sociopaths do not believe they have the problem. It is the other people with the issue.
As you can see, I scored very high in the narcissism section and was pretty normal in the social deviant part. I would probably still act that way, too, if it weren’t for meeting my ex-girlfriend. She became the only person I ever really treated fairly without trying to create a willing victim. Well, maybe on our second go around. But she was the one that really got to me and showed me that it is much more rewarding to be normal and not a selfish narcissist. I might still be an asshole, but at least I am doing better.
I really wish I could apologize to my parents, family and my ex for how I treated them, but I think it is a topic best left alone. If you guys do see this, I am sorry.