Press "Enter" to skip to content

How would you do in supermax?

Let’s hope none of us ever have to find out. But it appears the keys to surviving solitary confinement with your sanity intact are “grit” and an ability to direct your imagination.

Here’s the official grit self-assessment. So where do you rate?

Me? Well, directed imagination, I’ve got. Comes with the writer territory. Grit … not so much. I think, though, that when people take the grit test they’re tending to do the “90 percent of everybody is above average” variety of evaluation. Sitting at our computers it’s easy to say, “Yeah, sure, I never let setbacks discourage me. And I always finish what I start. And diligent, oh yeah, you betcha I’m the diligentest!” I told the truth about my failings and came out pretty much gritless. 🙂

Reality is the only real grit test, of course. And in a pinch, I think sheer pig-stubbornness might suffice.


  1. Pat
    Pat January 31, 2016 11:18 pm

    I scored a 4, and am not sure what it means. I would have thought my answers were “bad”, i.e. Low Grit, yet they scored me better than I expected. I wonder if I misunderstood the meaning of the test. To break it down according to the authors’ division, my interests are many and frequent, while persistence in effort is definitely high while it lasts. Maybe it IS just stubbornness.

    Sometimes I wonder if children’s survival is grit, i.e. the resilience of life – and maybe this is what the authors are alluding to. This grit might enable one to bear up under, say, the adverse condition of isolation. Confinement in itself would certainly do me in, yet I think I could tolerate isolation better than some; I already live alone and enjoy it, but would hate to be confined around people.

    (Then too, there’s always the possibility that the “experts” don’t know what they’re talking about.)

  2. FishOrMan
    FishOrMan February 1, 2016 1:32 am

    Just wanted to tell ya Claire I am in Amsterdam. Bed and breakfast build in 17th century overlooking one of the canals. Wife at business meeting in nearby town and kids sleeping in (still feeling the jetlag). It’s cold windy and occasionally rainy. Feels like at home, but more free. Although has the feel of more carefree than free. Never was much for safety in numbers. Not sure if you are looking but also just feels like a place you could create, write, paint whatever. Have a wonderful Monday back in the PNW.

  3. Claire
    Claire February 1, 2016 5:00 am

    FishOrMan — How cool for you (aside from being cold for you). Hope you get to go to the Van Gogh Museum while you’re there.

    I’m no longer looking to go offshore and if I were the place would have to be a) warm and b) someplace I could live on $600 a month or less. (That’s why I checked out Panama and Nicaragua a few years back.) But I’d love to hear more from you when you get back! Maybe you could do a writeup on Amsterdam as a refuge for freedomistas?

  4. Kent McManigal
    Kent McManigal February 1, 2016 8:36 am

    I scored 2.88- not very gritty.
    As with all things survey-y, there was too much “it depends” when choosing my answers. I’ll work like a maniac for as long as it takes, in spite of set-back after set-back, on things that matter to me. On things that don’t matter so much, I’ll abandon the project at the first sign of trouble and congratulate myself for not falling for the sunk cost fallacy. I am lazy in that I don’t like doing things the hard way when I can figure out an easier way that works just as well (or often, better). And I don’t tolerate busy-work.
    And, I’d better be able to direct my imagination or I wouldn’t survive day to day life, much less actual imprisonment.

  5. Bill St. Clair
    Bill St. Clair February 1, 2016 10:06 am

    3.38. I think I’d do fine in solitary. Not so well in genpop. I’d attack a guard or refuse to obey another prisoner and end up dead. Which would suit me fine. I definitely prefer death to prison.

  6. Karen
    Karen February 1, 2016 1:41 pm

    2.3 grit factor. I gave it up for Lent one year and lost track of it. With a good supply of books, I’d do far better in solitary than in the prison population.

  7. capn
    capn February 1, 2016 5:58 pm

    Is that good?

    Can I just turn in my score and skip the actual “box time”?

  8. Smitty
    Smitty February 2, 2016 9:51 am

    I got a 4.75

  9. Claire
    Claire February 2, 2016 10:20 am

    You people with the 4+ scores impress me.

    Unfortunately, I identify more with Karen and jed, down there (with me) in the 2.X territory.

    May none of us ever have to test our grit the hard way.

  10. Robert Fowler
    Robert Fowler February 2, 2016 11:06 am

    I scored a 3.68. I do have a good imagination so I would do good in solitary. 15 years of driving a truck is nearly the same thing. Endless hours spent driving alone.

  11. Desertrat
    Desertrat February 2, 2016 12:33 pm


    I guess I’m fairly gritty. During the final two years of taking care of my late wife (Alzheimer’s), I was out of the house maybe nine hours a week. In a way, it might be called solitary…

  12. WolfWalksSoftly
    WolfWalksSoftly February 2, 2016 2:26 pm

    I got a 3.88.
    I wonder how Rooster Cogburn would have done, I’ve been told he had Grit.

  13. FreedomLover
    FreedomLover February 2, 2016 2:34 pm

    As an ex-felon I spent one year incarcerated; eight months at a fire camp where the only impediment to “freedom” were three strands of barbed wire and the other 4 months in a a cell with another prisoner for 22 hours out of 24.

    I much prefer being alone in a cell accompanied with lots of literature. I can handle solitary confinement as look as there is something to read. Also, lots of calisthenics helps.

    If you are a “people-person” prison is not unbearable if you’re not confined to solitary and you know you’re going to be released in a reasonably short time.

    Prison requires a bit of Stoicism. This is where you now live . . . get used to it.

  14. Loco Gato
    Loco Gato February 2, 2016 3:32 pm

    Scored a 4.8 but I also do long range yacht deliveries, as in from French Polynesia to Oahu, and then to San Diego, alone. Same with Oahu to the west coast a few times, some with crew and some without crew. It is easier without crew until about 500 miles from the coast, ship traffic is a bitch! 🙂

  15. SxC Survivor
    SxC Survivor February 2, 2016 4:42 pm

    4.63 and have already done time in a state supermax facility….learned the system, power players, both guards and con’s, built alliances and dealt with shit from the above…

    Now married, self employed, successful, grandkids and no f**king way am i ever going back inside….

  16. keelie
    keelie February 2, 2016 6:40 pm

    I’m kind of embarrassed, but I got 4.88.

    I can think of many reasons, but I’m not going to get into my life-history.

    I find that as I get older, it gets progressively more difficult to maintain a decent level of “grit”.

  17. Simmerjuet
    Simmerjuet February 2, 2016 6:49 pm

    I scored a 4.88.. Sounds about right. I won’t go into my experiences but out of 5, it’s pretty right on.

  18. bctruck
    bctruck February 3, 2016 11:08 am

    33 years of long haul trucking. I called it the fiberglass prison. Yeah, Id do ok in solitary. Gen pop,,,,,,not so much.

Leave a Reply