Text page 4


The primary purpose, then, of doing this study is a completely private one.  I would do it even if I thought I’d have to keep it entirely to myself.  My circumstances give me the opportunity to explore and understand many crucial issues, to gain an understanding that only someone with my kind of differences would think to pursue.  This opportunity is a gift of rare and precious circumstances, a treasure unbearable to pass up.  To throw it away would be an obscene waste, even if no one else were interested, because 1 see its value, and that value has many layers. I want to learn everything I can from this treasure before my time is up.

The alternatives facing me come down to this:  if I do not do this work, I won’t fulfill myself; if I do the work, I will.  If I don’t do the work, I can neither live nor die at peace with myself; if I do the work, I can.

There is nothing mystical in this idea of self-fulfillment.  I don’t hold the belief that some mystic force impels me toward my destiny.  No, my knowledge of what my fulfillment entails is simply an identification of the facts of my life and what they add up to.  Knowing what I know about’my early life, and knowing what a treasure I’d be passing up if I don’t do this study, I have to see that the fulfillment of my unique and rich potential requires this work.  And I have wanted to fulfill this potential in this way since the first day of kindergarten.  (Before that, I had an even better way to fulfill myself, the basic plan for which I worked out at age three, but since the law barred my way, I have to blaze the next best trail.)

So that’s the primary purpose, completely private and all mine, involving no one but my own mind and it’s characteristic desire to “go into things and find everything that’s in them” – as applied to my own unusual beginnings and all they imply.


But there are other potential benefits, important secondary benefits, to be enjoyed by offering my work to others.

All of these benefits are personal, in that they all would fulfill interests of mine, including those that might affect strangers who share my values.  But I’ll start with those closest to home, my dealings with friends and acquaintances.

A DIFFERENT CONTEXT: Each human being has his own frame of reference. Each lives his own experiences, does his own thinking, draws his own conclusions…well, some people don’t do much thinking on their own, but the point is, each person has his own background of memory which includes the facts of his life, the thinking he’s done or the ideas he’s absorbed without thinking, the conclusions he’s drawn, correctly or otherwise, etc. All of this memory is a person’s frame of reference or context.

Each person’s context is specifically his own, but people with similar backgrounds understand each other more easily than people with very different frames of reference.

My frame of reference is very different. As the reader can tell from the first three pages of this introduction, a significant aspect of my life is well out of other people’s context, and so much of myself, my values and convictions and the subjects that interest me most, are deeply rooted in that part of my life that’s different. And it has to be that way because of the foundational nature of my differences.

This difference in frame-of-reference has meant that I either have to avoid talking about subjects that require reference to my unusual background, or that the other person must have the patience to listen to me try, extemporaneously, to explain a lengthy, complex body of information, and I must try to tie it all together for the listener so that he can see what I see, and see why I have drawn some conclusion or other. Before I began writing about my early life, I usually avoided referring to the subject with anyone but my mother, because I had this huge background of interrelated information and it seemed to me that I needed to explain all of it in order for any reference I made to be properly understood.

And I knew that one unusual fact leads to another in my frame, and how do I prove those facts to someone who has never known or even heard of such extreme development before? Besides, to explain it off-the-cuff was likely to lead to a lot of stumbling around, overloading the listener with too much information or leaving out pertinent facts. Frustration and misunderstanding was a more likely outcome than being understood. And I didn’t expect to be believed.

Also, in conversation it is unlikely that the listener will be able to retain the necessary complex of material and get it all straight, let alone determine the truth of it, and in the end I expected it was likely I’d wish I’d kept myself to myself. But this meant that in relation to the most personal and important subjects that I longed to discuss, I was a closed book. It means that I had so much I wanted to say, but didn’t think I should say it, and that my conversations had to be relatively impersonal and shallow, especially those about myself.  And I don’t enjoy shallow conversations, especially when they’re about myself (except for banter, but that’s play).

While I was writing my novel for children (beginning in November of 1979), I did partially open up about my past to a few people – I even for a time had a correspondence with a writer I thought might appreciate my memories relating to compulsory schooling, but in my few attempts to tell about my past I kept running into the fact that had always made me avoid telling my past before:

everything ties back to facts about me that are difficult to prove to others.  If I avoid those ties, I wind up distorting as I try to work around them.  Condensing distorts.  Giving information out of order and out of context distorts.  Instead of being satisfying, revealing my past in bits and pieces was often just another kind of frustration, and kept reinforcing my need to do an orderly, comprehensive study.

Since I’ve been writing this study, I have naturally become more articulate about my differences.  It’s easier for me to offer my information in an orderly fashion and draw it together for the listener in a way he can follow. And if he needs more context, I can offer him a comprehensive text (which is something I’ve felt a need for since I started kindergarten): if a person is interested in understanding me in-depth, I can hand him a book to read. And then I can have those conversations I’ve only fantasized about since kindergarten, because someone else will know my context.

But for most of my life I kept most of my unusual background between me and my mother, because I didn’t think anyone else could believe it, and didn’t want to experience the injustice of being considered a liar for telling the truth.  My mother knew my background firsthand, having been with me all day, nearly every day, ever since I was an infant until my first day of kindergarten, so at least I felt personally connected to somebody besides myself. But I couldn’t stand to keep myself to myself forever; I longed for intimate friendship and perhaps a romantic relationship, and closeness isn’t possible without revealing the deepest aspects of oneself.  That’s what intimacy Is, revealing those aspects and being understood and believed and appreciated for them.  

Finally, at age 27, I did risk telling a friend and one of his friends who both really listened to me. I took my time and even told a bit about my infant memories, and to my astonishment these two people believed me. I told them more than I had ever told any friend – only my mother knew more than they did.  For the first time I began to feel like somebody besides my mother understood me as I had longed to be understood.  I had really expected to be disbelieved.  I expected my friend would pull away from me, thinking I wasn’t the honest or sane person he had thought I was.

My friend’s friend was studying to become a psychiatrist, and happened to be studying child development at the time that I met her, and I think that is why the subject came up. She was a very good listener, very open to what I had to say, and -so I ventured to tell her more than I had told any acquaintance before. But I was taken aback when she became very excited by what I told her; what I said made sense to her – she had knowledge that allowed her to see how the particular infant memory I told her might be genuine.

Furthermore, she saw possible implications for her own area of interest in psychiatry, and when I told her that I was planning to write about my early develop­ment, she eagerly encouraged me to do so, and to not keep it to myself. I began to think that maybe it would be possible to publish the study someday. Maybe.

I had risked being rejected as a liar for telling a truth that I didn’t think anyone could be expected to believe.. .and I was believed. However, I couldn’t tell in conversation all that I can explain in a study. To gather the full import of my background takes the kind of complex but orderly presentation you get in a book. For someone like me to experience the full depth of closeness, I have to present myself in depth, and the most comprehensive way to do that is in a study like the one I’m doing. That’s in the nature of my situation.

I prepared myself for the possibility that when I finally did write everything out in detail, making it minutely clear the extreme degree to which I remember my early life, even the friends who had been believing me might become incredulous. I prepared myself for the possibility that they would pull away. But in order to find the genuine intimacy I would like in my life, I was willing to risk that possibility. I had to do the study for myself, for solitary, private reasons, but by talking about it and offering it to friends, I would be giving myself the chance to really be comprehended to the core… at the risk of being utterly misperceived.

Now, the above interpersonal purpose has to do with presenting a non-published version of my study to friends with whom I hope to deepen my friendship. But why publish it? After all, this study isn’t about some impersonal subject, it’s about me, and by presenting it to friends I hope to increase the closeness of our friendship. But why present it to the public?

By publishing this work, I open up more opportunities to find the people who have the background to be able to believe me – people who are similar to me, and the parents of such people, and researchers who have observed such children, or whose fields pertain to some aspect of my study. I open opportunities to find the people who, from their own backgrounds, can understand and believe what I have to say and who may even be able to add to my understanding of extraordinary mental ability in some young children.

By publishing my work, I enter the marketplace of ideas on a wide scale, where I can reach the people who have the context to be able to understand, believe, and appreciate what I’m doing. And we can exchange information and learn from each other, and that will enrich my life.

But I also have been aware that the implications of my early development hold profound promise for human devel­opment. If only I could prove my early life to others, it could revolutionize childrearing and allow the highest capabilities of the mind to be nurtured and realized. But how to prove it?  While I know that by telling my early life story in as comprehensive a form as I know how, I’m presenting something that makes .sense within itself, my only direct witness to my story besides myself is my mother.  And my only direct witness to the most private of my thinking as a young child is me. 

If the scientific community is to take me seriously, they may need to study a young child of my type – a child who has reached the final stage of cognition (known as “formal operations”) as a preschooler – while that child is still a pre-schooler. How could such a child be found?  Had such a child ever been studied?  How could I find out?

I realized that in time my own study, if published, might inspire a number of people to raise their children as my parents raised me, and this would increase the possibil­ity of another such child developing – one who could be documented during childhood.  But perhaps there already was such a child who was known to research, and I just didn’t know it?  So I wrote to the American Association for Gifted Children, telling briefly about my grouping of unusual traits in early childhood and saying that I expected those unusual traits, such as infant memory, rapid cognitive development, and needing much less sleep than most, to be causally linked, and asking if anyone at the Association had ever heard of a child with such a grouping of traits having been documented by professional research.

The answer was that I should read a book on a study of child prodigies – Nature/s Gambit – by Dr.David Henry Feldman.  I did. At least two of the six prodigies Dr. Feldman had studied had the grouping of traits I was looking for. So I sent Dr.Feldman a 70-page condensation of my first 20 years and waited.

Dr. Feldman had the background to be able to see the value of what I’m doing, to see that it is not far out, that it makes sense within the context of his own knowledge.  And when he was able to say that he considered my work to be important and that it should be published, a lock that had been sealed since I was five years old broke open for me and all sense of isolation dissolved. It wasn’t until then that I really believed I could tell the world what I’d wanted to say since kindergarten, and that it actually would be heard.

Here was somebody who really had enough background to be able to understand and believe what I have to say in-depth, who had oberved children with remarkable capabilities, including children who had the combination of unusual traits I had had as a young child. Here was a professional in the field of child development, specializing in the study of extreme ability, to whom I could tell everything, and he could see its significance and value because he had done the research himself that gives support to my claim that my kind of development can and does happen. (His research gives support, but my case is more extreme in regard to memory and, I think, in the distance I travelled through the cognitive stages. So I still think we need to turn up another extreme of my type to be studied during early childhood in order to cinch the case.)

As a five-year-old, I never expected to find somebody like Dr. Feldman to understand me. My prison door didn’t really break open until the day I got his letter in response to my first presentation to him. Doing my study is the key to everything that matters to me in my life. It’s the key to self-fulfillment on the solitary level, fulfillment at the interpersonal level… and what else …?