Life After Death Question #18 - Life After Prison

by Damien Echols

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Life After Death Question #18 - Life After Prison

Unread postby Liz » Fri Dec 14, 2012 2:22 am

Comment on Lorri’s response to this interview question:

What has it been like to adjust to having a daily physical relationship?

L: I think what no one expected -- and some people still don’t understand -- is what it’s like dealing with someone who has been held in a cell for the last 10 years. You really couldn’t control much in prison, but Damien was very dignified in the way he handled himself. And he owned his space -- what little space he had in his life. I had a great deal of admiration for the man that he was in prison. I expected that man to walk out of prison and be the same man, and how could that possibly be the case?

He had a great deal of knowledge about many many things that he’d learned about -- I mean Damien completely exhausted pretty much every topic -- but it was all in his head, and he didn’t have practical knowledge of anything. So that, I wasn’t prepared for. And it took about six months for me to finally have this jarring epiphany that he isn’t capable of taking care of me or himself right now, and he’s struggling every day. We’re in New York City and he’s scared to death. He doesn’t understand a lot of things, he doesn’t know how to do most things, and he has to learn to live in this world.

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Re: Life After Death Question #18 - Life After Prison

Unread postby shadowydog » Fri Dec 14, 2012 9:00 am

I taught in the Middle East for two years some years ago and this was a common problem with our American students who grew up in the Middle East. When they went to the US on vacation, they would freeze at the strangeness and wouldn't know how to cope with everything around them that they were not sure how to use. We even had a term for it. We called it "cultural shock". Sometimes even adults experienced this. A friend went into a supermarket to buy some laundry soap when she went back to the US and froze. The shelf was full of so many different brands and sizes, she couldn't figure out what to do and fled the store.
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Re: Life After Death Question #18 - Life After Prison

Unread postby Liz » Sat Dec 15, 2012 4:37 pm

I think "culture shock" is a good term for it. But I think it was bigger than that. All the things we take for granted he probably had no idea about. He never had to think about them or worry about them.

I think being locked up in a tiny cell of 18 years would be part of the culprit. All of a sudden you've got all of this freedom and space. Plus walking out into New York City had to have been an assault against the senses. Sensory overload, as it were.
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Re: Life After Death Question #18 - Life After Prison

Unread postby Fern » Sat Dec 15, 2012 5:25 pm

Yes, I think for Damien it was more than culture shock - it was more like world shock or something. He wasn't coming from a different culture, he was coming from no culture. I can't even imagine what it must have been like. Personally, I think it would take a lot of guts to walk out onto a New York street after being confined for so long. I could easily see how someone in that position could've become agrophobic or just wanted to run away from the world and buy a house in the middle of nowhere on a huge plot of land. He wasn't even used to eating with cutlery. It's like he had to re-learn how to live in a cultured society.

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Re: Life After Death Question #18 - Life After Prison

Unread postby fireflydances » Sat Dec 15, 2012 9:35 pm

Fern wrote:Yes, I think for Damien it was more than culture shock - it was more like world shock or something. He wasn't coming from a different culture, he was coming from no culture. I can't even imagine what it must have been like. Personally, I think it would take a lot of guts to walk out onto a New York street after being confined for so long. I could easily see how someone in that position could've become agrophobic or just wanted to run away from the world and buy a house in the middle of nowhere on a huge plot of land. He wasn't even used to eating with cutlery. It's like he had to re-learn how to live in a cultured society.


Yes I agree. I had a friend years ago who went to Nepal and the Himalayas to spend some hiking around. She was gone about a month, maybe a little longer. We both lived in NYC at the time. When returned, I remember how hard it was for her to do things like simply walk around town, go to the store. I kept thinking it would wear off. In the end, it changed her permanently. She ended up moving to the West Coast to go to some eastern tradition medical school. And she always referred to what she felt as a form of culture shock. I don't think we realize how intensively busy our modern culture is.
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Re: Life After Death Question #18 - Life After Prison

Unread postby Cyn » Sun Dec 16, 2012 12:00 pm

Liz wrote:Comment on Lorri’s response to this interview question:

he didn’t have practical knowledge of anything. So that, I wasn’t prepared for. And it took about six months for me to finally have this jarring epiphany that he isn’t capable of taking care of me or himself right now, and he’s struggling every day.


I was surprised it took her that long to realize that. He must have been showing signs long before that.

Liz wrote:We’re in New York City and he’s scared to death. He doesn’t understand a lot of things, he doesn’t know how to do most things, and he has to learn to live in this world.


But she was from there, so it wasn't like he was all by himself--'a stranger in a strange land' having to feel his way around. He had a dedicated 'guide', so to speak, every step of the way. He wouldn't have even gone to NYC if he and Lorri hadn't gotten together, would he?

Fern wrote:Personally, I think it would take a lot of guts to walk out onto a New York street after being confined for so long. I could easily see how someone in that position could've become agrophobic or just wanted to run away from the world


Even though I have agoraphobic tendencies, and came from a quiet suburb of the relatively small town of Dayton, Ohio, I loved NYC from the first minute I arrived, and embraced it to the point of wanting to pack up and move there, but I can't begin to imagine the shock of going from an empty cell to the most exciting, bustling city in the world. He was very lucky to have Lorri by his side when he ventured into it, but like I said before, I don't know that he would have gone there if not for her (not far enough along in the book yet to find that out--just got it last week).
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