Some things happened before I can remember.
Born a bona fide bastard in 1952, allegedly in Hartford according to my adoption records such as nowadays most of us just generally regard as being of dubious reliability, I wonder if my mother should have had an abortion instead. When her husband, a Fort Kent, Maine English professor, found out he wasn't my father he dropped me like a hot potato.
Against the adoption agency's stern advice, just before I turned two, I was adopted by a WWII bomber pilot hero decorated with a Distinguished Flying Cross for performance above and beyond the call of duty when he with his crew intact returned to base to land his B-24 Liberator that had one prop shot on the way in to and another shot on the way out from a bomb run.
My mother's mother, in charge of my adoption, only made one demand on my new parents, which was to not raise this child as a Catholic.
My WWII bomber pilot hero, "dad," was Presbyterian, and his wife, my mom, had spent a lot of time in a convent ca. Fort Worth. There they met after he had completed his quota to return stateside and train B-29 pilots, and she was a radio operator in the base flight control tower. Their song was SENTIMENTAL JOURNEY.
He taught me to play checkers, telling me that I would have to earn any victory because he would never just allow me to win. He liked checkers because it was "very mathematical."
She taught me soul.
However, when mom's sister in Fort Worth sent me a red and white chess set for Christmas in 1958 and I wanted him to teach me that game, he told me he would teach me when I was "old enough." So, by the time I was nine, my eight-year-old neighbor and I were still lining up chessmen on opposite sides of the floor and then throwing checkers at each other's line.
(His family sported a priceless ornately intricate carved ivory and coral set in a majestic wooden display case on the living room west wall centered above their piano there.)
I think my dad was mad because I had preferred playing outside with neighbor kids instead of practicing piano lessons. Of the only two times I ever saw him cry, the first one was when my compliance with his order to practice my piano lessons wasn't up to muster.
My dad had had enough of my antics by 1962, when he sent me to Brown School for "exceptional children," in Austin, where my fourth year of school was repeated per institutional policy. However, after learning how to play chess from another kid, among other things, like taking my first IQ test, I was presented with the opportunity to attend a nearby public elementary school, with the choice of being a 5th, 6th or 7th grader. Being the insipidly lazy slob I am, I just chose the 6th grade, to just be more like normal, again.
My one-year-older best friend at Brown School was in the 7th grade at a nearby junior high school. His two-year-older roommate had recently begun pretending to make us think he had the evil eye, that by looking at any object he told us to, and then into his left eye, and then back to that object, that object would then appear to change barely perceptably according to his description of such a "slight" change. My friend and I, vaguely feeling sleight yet cognizant enough to just doubt his roommate's claims of power, began asking around about this, and our favorite counselor, Al, told us the roommate had merely stumbled rather awkwardly onto the "power of suggestion."
We ended up checking out books on hypnosis, and though we failed to hypnotize each other, as had been suggested by some authors would be the case with someone who knew what was going on, we had read that the subjects most readily open to suggestion were those who were already asleep.
We lived in a dormitory with about thirty other kids. In open season it was fun to discover that we, too, had "the power," especially when we decided to try it out on the roommate. We decided that I had proved to be more effective with the other kids, so I very quietly stole upon the roommate after bedtime one night while my best friend comfortably enjoyed the bird's-eye view from his perch on the upper bunk above his roommate:
"Ricky," I whispered, calmly, confidently, waiting patiently, and then, again, with barely more volume, almost imperceptibly so, "Ricky..."
I sounded very friendly.
"Uhh," he moaned softly.
My friend's muffled giggle was pure joy.
Still, soft as velvet, I murmured, "Ricky?"
"Uhh," he repeated.
"You know you like to cuss, huh, Ricky," I suggested, knowing full well that this kid who'd sung O HOLY NIGHT like an angel during a Christmas holiday performance could cuss a blue streak long enough to turn a sailor's face red.
Ricky smiled, agreeing with, "Mmm," while my friend could hardly contain his glee.
"Well Ricky, when I say "Go," just count to ten and then yell, "Goddammit," just as loud as you can, okay, Ricky?"
He smiled again, in full agreement, "Mmm."
I quickly left the room to return to mine where I was getting back up into my bunk when, "GODDAMMIT" practically reverberated through the dark hallway.
From his desk downstairs, with lit flashlight sweeping around like a prison tower searchlight, the nightwatchman came bounding up the stairs shouting, "WHO WAS THAT?"
"I THINK IT WAS RICKY," my friend offered helpfully.
The nightwatchman went to their room with his bright glare to rouse Ricky from his shallow somnolence, asking the boy what was wrong, whereupon Ricky then proceeded to cuss out the nightwatchman for waking him up for no reason.
When I was brought back home to Albuquerque in 1964, my dad put off our chess game until challenged in the presence of my thirty-something brother-in-law, a Northwest passenger jet captain. He had been trained to fly single-engine jet fighters, but when told that in order to actually be an air force jet fighter pilot he had to sign an extra five-year commission, he declined, and was then assigned to fly C-130s out of Loring AFB ca. Limestone, Maine.
My dad only then relented to meet my challenge, but only under the condition that no one else would be around to watch.
Before I could capture his rook, he resigned after but a handful of moves somewhat most resembling a Fried Liver Attack, as I discovered later, from Emanuel Lasker, or perhaps Larry Evans.
He refused to ever play another chess game with me, teach me how to play bridge, or help me with algebra, among other things.
Meanwhile, before drifting off to la la land, at bedtime I would practice hypnosis book relaxation method and contingent karate book breathing exercise technique with the ultimate goal of autohypnosis, but I really never figured out if that was realized.
The following five years were fraught with delinquency that caused dad to hire an attorney to make sure I would be securely locked up so as to render his AEC security clearance secure.
So, on my 16th birthday, I was delivered into the custody of the state reformatory, the New Mexico Boy's School, in Springer.
In Springer, there were some remarkable books on the library shelves. For example, PROJECT BLUEBOOK propounded UFOs to be explained by more down-to-earth reasoning than little green men. However, BRAVE NEW WORLD REVISITED continues to this very day to be the very scariest thing I ever read, by far. Huxley had abandoned fiction after witnessing the inhumanely manipulative tactics of mass hypnosis employed by the Third Reich suggested his firm grip on reality must significantly tighten, in fact.
Meanwhile, my old friend from Albuquerque wrote me a letter about how he had dropped a knight to only take second place in a 1969 state chess tournament.
One weekend day a handful of kids in Springer were used for computer aptitude tests. The first two hours in a classroom were enough to earn a smoke break, and while outside after we had lit up, the subject of the test validity became topical, about which I registered as dubious. My unruly opinion raised the ire of a supervisor from the administration building assigned to test us, and my strong suggestion prompted his threat that I would get my ass back in there and finish the test or go to Treatment.
Treatment was the east wing of the single-story administration building where each disciplinary holding cell housed an individual kid who was caught for the most flagrant rule violations committed at a lodge or anywhere else outside of Treatment for that matter. It was tantamount to solitary confinement juvenile style.
Treatment was the only place where I could just hear myself think.
I loved Treatment.
Until staff figured that out, I had been allowed paper and pencil, and with these I began tabulating addition and multiplication from base two to twenty for even numbered bases.
First just noticing that in base C, B×B=A1, in base A, 9×9=81, in base 8, 7×7=61, in base 6, 5×5=41, in base 4, 3×3=21, and in base 2, 1×1=1 hooked me for life, though I loathe programming about as much as reading music and working out a calculus derivative. I hardly ever practice, if at all. I've been trying to learn how to just play a guitar for more than fifty years now. It's miserably pathetic.
On average, about a week per month, I spent a good 20-25% of my Springer time in Treatment.
In March of 1970, at the ripe old age of seventeen, more or less jettisoned as a waste of time, this "useless eater" was released on parole. Next, after getting a GED, before the Class of '70 graduated, while next working at a sheltered workshop, one of the supervisors there turned me on to P. D. Ouspensky, and his fascintating studies of people who are truly awake being the exception rather than the rule.
To sleep perchance to dream..
My old friend, handicapped playing black, and I played our last three games:
1 p-k4, p-k4
2 q-r5, p-kn3
3 q×p, resigns
1 p-k4, p-k4
2 q-r5, p-kn3
3 q×p, resigns
1 p-k4, p-k4
2 q-r5, qkn-b3
Under a vocational rehab program, GED test scores enabled my subsequent enrollment at the College of Artesia, a Parsons college, where secanol became a learning experience.
I never did like school much.
Falling behind on my research paper on religion, along with calculus, physics, English Lit, French, and whatever else I had signed up for, seemed more moot the more I talked to a few young vets, one of whom had lost part of his leg in Viet Nam.
In 1971 dropped out, enlisted under false pretense, was physically assaulted in the USAF, honorably discharged under medical conditions, spent the next few years getting crazier than hell, and ended up getting a disciplinary double dose of thorazine to shut me up that sent my blood pressure all the way down to 40/0 in 1974.
I nearly died.
The VA is still trying to cover all of that up, in my modestly humble opinion, pending further review, among other things.
To be continued...
Cream of the crop psychologists don't work in clinics, hospitals or private practice. They don't teach, and they sure as hell don't work for the VA.
Practice makes practical.
The best head-shrinkers get bought and paid for by Wall and K Streets ad firms, and all that money depends on consumers and voters absolutely never suspending disbelief in any such thing as the power of suggestion.