Sunday, September 23, 1984, Cleveland, Ohio, 15 days before Rahman would try to murder me and between the two days of the Man/Woman Training I delivered in Cleveland that weekend. One-thirty in the morning and I can not sleep — me of all people, who can always sleep.
Around and around in my mind, pictures of people who are not, as far as I am concerned, as they should be. Running my judgments of my fellow human beings over and over and over. Me, the guy who wrote WINNING THROUGH ENLIGHTENMENT, me the same guy who wrote TRANSFORMING # 1, the person who receives letters literally from around the world from people who transcend their judgments of others and give me credit, running my judgments about my fellow human beings and in the middle of delivering a powerful Man/Woman Training!
“This personality of mine,” I think, “this thing is not in my best interest. Even more than that, it is in the way of my work, my excuse for being on the planet. This personality has got to go.”
Then remembering back to my own words of that very day, delivered in the Man/Woman Training, and consistent with everything I know about human beings: “The personality does not change. You don’t like your personality? You don’t like your parent’s personalities, guess what? Personality does not, repeat, does not, change. You had best start liking those personalities.”
Hopeless, that is what it is, hopeless, it would take a miracle to change this judgmental personality and it is absolutely in the way of all I stand for in life. This is hopeless. Then, once more my mind displayed all the people I thought were wrong, knew were wrong so wrong I had to stay awake making them wrong, even though I needed to be fresh the next day to complete the Training.
“Enough!” And, immediately I am beside my bed, on my knees, praying, like a little child, “God, transform this judgmental personality. I will do anything, I will go through anything, anything, you name it.” Back in bed. Sound asleep before I hit the sheets.
No further thought of this event until waking up from surgery following the knife attack by Rahman, who now resides in a maximum security ward for the criminally insane.
When God wants to get even, God answers prayers. God is good for a few laughs. I have not prayed for a single item since then. In fact there has not been occasion for a conversation with God since that day after returning from England, whilst being stabbed. That dagger changed what I thought could not change — my personality — who I am in dealing with others — profoundly altered as a direct result of this attack. Miracles do happen and personalities do transform, rare though this may be. I will keep this personality and not complain.
It is the Summer of 1959, I am age 16 and I have decided that I am not well-read enough. I go on a reading binge, devouring one book each day. Amongst the library of books I read that Summer and the next are books by Sigmund Freud.
Now, you must understand that, all the hype aside, Sigmund is a brilliant individual. He can explain things which otherwise are absolute mysteries. I am reading his writings at a time in life when, to me, what a person writes is more important to me than who they are, that is, where they write from. What impresses me about Sigmund are his explanations. From reading those explanations I decided that life is explainable, that people are explainable and therefore predictable.
I wanted, more than anything, to lead a successful life so that I could contribute what I knew I had to contribute before passing on to wherever. It seemed to me that gaining the ability to explain and predict life and human beings would lead to success which would lead to contribution. I am 16 years old, and this is the way I have it figured out to myself. I am a kid in years only.
Just to pause and say the truth about Sigmund — although his set of explanations are as insufficient as any other set of explanations to predict life, and although they do sound good, anyway, it is who Sigmund is which makes a difference in the world.
Sigmund is that people do not have to live all their lives with what they are, that transformation of one’s psychology is possible. This is who he is, this stand or creation of reality which he is.This is his being. And this being of Sigmund’s sparks a revolution in the thought of humankind.
I, on the other hand, at age 16, make the mistake which I now consider that the entire field of psychiatry has made — I believe there are definitive and correct answers to the riddle of human beings. So, if a psychiatrist is one who is that these definitive, correct answers exist, then I became a psychiatrist at age 16. I got the world to agree that I was a psychiatrist and support me in practicing psychiatry when I was 30 years old. The world has it that I practiced psychiatry ten years. I have it that I practiced psychiatry from age 16 to age 40. I was paid for the last 10 of those years. I paid dearly for the first 14.
I went into medicine with the idea of becoming a psychiatrist and along the way I came to love medicine. However, when the time came to choose, like we always do, I chose consistent with my being, my stand about reality. When I had to choose a medical specialty, my intervening experience from age 16 to age 25, took a back seat.
So, in 1970 after medical school and a one year internship, I began my training in psychiatry at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, Texas, the same place I went to med school, the same place I studied and taught anatomy and met Karla.
If one is serious about psychoanalysis, that is, serious about the stand that the beliefs of the discipline of psychoanalysis are The Truth, then there is only one place to spend life — cloistered in a little room studying people, “analysands,” as they are called.You must understand that analysands exist only because analysts exist and analysts exist only because analysands exist. One without the other would contradict the stand about reality which psychoanalysis is. And, furthermore, the setting of the analysis, the quiet, peaceful room, is necessary to avoid the world’s contradictions of the reality that psychoanalysis is a stand for. Perhaps it is clear to you that we are speaking of Sigmund’s being when we speak of the stand that psychoanalysis is . This is one in the same with who Sigmund is, his being, the stand for the possibility of psychological transformation.
Upon completion of my training in psychiatry I chose to practice community psychiatry. The environment of community psychiatry is as far away from the analyst’s couch as anything you can imagine. My theory was that if psychoanalysis is really The Truth, then it works in any environment. I made up this theory when I was still convinced that there is a “The Truth.” At the time I didn’t know that The Truth did not exist.
So, in Denver, for three years, I struggle to make The Truth fit The Circumstances. They refused, so I retired to San Francisco where I set up a private practice and repeated the mistake. Except for the analyst’s couch in the analyst’s office, psychoanalysis has too many contradiction to stand as reality.
By Spring of 1976 ,at another level of experience, and after three years of hard work in the state and federal supported public mental health system in Denver, I could see that mental health centers in the U.S. are designed to employ mental health workers, not deliver efficient service to people who need mental health care. I spent more than half my time dealing with the problems of the mental health workers, themselves. Patient care was secondary to mental health worker care. If you are a tax payer, I want you to know that you did not get your money’s worth.
Enough! I work at this crummy mental health center for 1/3 the income made by private psychiatrists. I quit. Packed and on the road to, where else, San Francisco. Fishermen go to where the fish are. Psychiatrists go to San Francisco.
Up and down. I never saw such hills. My Ford Pinto lasted one month til the day I accelerated it down a San Francisco hill going forward in reverse gear.
A new old car and the beginnings of a psychiatry practice. A little apartment on Jackson Street and a basement office at the Theriot’s house on Clay Street, San Francisco. Where there are too many doctors already. “Don’t come here. You can’t make it. There are people here who grew up here and know everyone and still can’t make it.” “With this many nuts,” I thought,”any shrink can make it.” I came to stay.
In six weeks my practice is full and I am working overtime. Every night my phone rings with new referrals for hospitalization. “How does Smothermon do it?” the other shrinks want to know. They are angry-most doctors are-and these doctors are angry with me for my success. How do I do it? I don’t know how I do it. It just happens. In the stuffy world of doctors, in a hard-to-make-it place, I am an instant success, a star, overnight. I pulled in an income I am embarrassed to mention and was well on the way to ruining my health by overworking my body all at the same stroke. How did I do it?
Years later I found out how I did it. A certain young, gay man, working at the major crisis referral center in San Francisco, decided that I had a sexy male voice. He loved to hear my voice, so for years, every time he had someone who needed emergency psychiatric hospitalization, he called me to hear my sexy voice. God is really a very funny guy. My life, in fact, if it is good for nothing else, is at least good for a few laughs.
From the beginning I was interested in what was happening in California, so I took it all in during my spare time. I got my Self trained, my Body re-aligned, my Being enlightened, my Brain LSD’ed, and tripped out in a lot of ways too much fun to mention here or anywhere else. I took all the seminars I could find and made them very valuable for myself.
I became a writer, a powerful and well-known one at that. How did I do it? I don’t know how I do it. It just happens. I didn’t have in mind becoming a writer until I had already finished the first half of my first book. I wrote for fun until I realized that I could, in fact, write, even though I could not spell. After that I wrote for fun.
Big house on a hill overlooking the Pacific Ocean, San Francisco Bay, the city of San Francisco, the whole thing. Friends, more than I could count, parties all the time, I live it up and up. I put in a hot tub at my house and fill it with people almost every day.
Many things changed and who I am, the stand for the possibility for the transformation of being, this stand, this being that I am, did not mutate, did not change. This is who I am. And, I realized that I had worked my way into a totally incongruous set of circumstances. I was practicing being the stand for the transformation of being in a system which supports the psychology of the untransformed state by worship of change.
To put this in plain English, the people who showed up in my office in no way had it as possible to transform their mental process, nor did they want to hear of it. They knew what reality was and they were there to get better, by which they meant to become more successful in relationship to the reality they knew was out there. They did not want to cope with the possibility of reality being a result of their own being and, to me, getting better was not worth the time of day.
It was merely the system of existing in the medical model where cure is evidenced by change and the worship of change has no relationship to transformation. It just so happened that Sigmund was a doctor, and his stand had something to do with curing people from diseases, so his language took that form.
It is 1982 and I am 39 years old, this is not going to be easy. To put it plainly, I am addicted to the income of a psychiatrist and my income from publishing and seminars in no way replaces it. To put psychiatry in the junk heap, where, in my life for my own integrity and self consistency, it must go, means that I must become unattached to money. Psychiatry is a false “profession” for me. I have professed to be what I am not. Although I do what psychiatrists do, I am not being a psychiatrist. It is a lie.
This turned out to be a great opportunity, for when I made all the changes I needed to make to survive on a lesser income, I rediscovered the freedom I once enjoyed. I celebrated my 40th birthday in 1983 a free man, free to be who I am, and living on the edge of not knowing what to call it. Something like free-lance being educator, now that I think about it… I am also the chief pupil of this education, this transformation.