Dr Don Miller

"My Only Friends Are Crazy: A Psychologist's Journey"

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In the late Fifties, a psychology intern seeks insight against a backdrop of Venice California beatniks.

Book Title: "My Only Friends Are Crazy: A Psychologist's Journey"  -  A 12 minute movie trailer has been completed, a 60 page script is available - potentially the first episode in a sitcom.

Book Length: 121,000 words

Genre: Autobiography, Memoir

Overview: Don Miller cycles through multiple settings in the late 50s, including three institutions in which he interned, Beatnik Venice, UCLA, THE PARTIES and his several loves.  The losing of Fujiko Nakamura (meaning Little Flower in the Woods) resulted in his biggest episode of a broken heart. 

Synopsis: Always in trouble, from the Army to UCLA Don Miller  tries to understand why normal people avoid him (and bore him).   He wants therapy, which he can't afford, so has launched on this lengthy self analysis.  In his work inside the institutions and with his friends outside, he deals with a constant stream of the weird, the insane or at least neurotic. 

He wanted to, but just couldn't bring himself to wait in the chow line in the Army.  He rubbed all his supervisors the wrong way and was relegated to giving Rorschachs on the wards but snuck around doing therapy on the sly. 

Is his self analysis successful?  

Don realizes he seems to have abandonment issues, authority conflicts and puts up with horrendous abuse in fear of being alone. He seemed to prefer a negative reaction (to some of his defiant behaviors) to no reaction at all. Who might be interested in such a book? Anyone interested in psychology or psychiatry might enjoy the "Making of a Psychologist," the nitty gritty stuff of an internship (especially one where you are always in trouble). The general public would enjoy the interesting, weird characters and their stories.  Some readers have likened the book  to “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.”  Some readers could not stop laughing.

“On The Road” by Jack Kerouac was written in April 1951 and first published by Viking Press in 1957. What if, after writing “On The Road,” Jack had left it sitting in a box someplace and it wasn’t discovered until decades later? "My Only Friends Are Crazy: A Psychologist's Journey" was a long lost manuscript about the beat generation of decades ago with the added twist of a psychology student intern in trouble.

 If someone wants to know the right way to give a party, it is here, against a backdrop of Venice beatniks and student artists.  Anyone who wants to try a self analysis to find out why or how they tick will find satisfaction in the book. 

Opening/Excerpts from chapter one:


I met Hudson in spring of 1957, a few months before I went into the Army, while I was doing some substitute teaching and finishing up the credits for my credentials.  I was editing the campus literary magazine, "The Hornspoon." 

Anna, who had contributed a couple of poems we used, was a giggly, matronly type whose ebullience always gave me the impression she wanted to love the world to death.  She worked part time at a Post Office and her 21 year-old daughter Lydia worked full time, to help send mom through school.  Both did their share of loving the world to death.  Legend had it that in order to sleep with Lydia one had to sleep first with the mother.  I didn't find it that way at all. 

After discussing life, the magazine and her poems one afternoon, I gave Anna a ride home from school.  I met her daughter Lydia.  It wasn't long before Anna's daughter Lydia who was plumpish but bright and imaginative had me out in their back room reading lines from "This Is My Beloved," to me. "Hudson isn't here yet," she said, "so we can stay here awhile."

"Who's Hudson?"  I asked.

"Well, my mother always takes in strays, lost cats, dogs or people.  Hudson seemed to fit into the category of a stray."

The room where Lydia had taken me and where Hudson slept was an unconverted garage.  By that I mean that it was still actually a garage, but he had moved in there.  It was perhaps to the messiest place I had ever seen in my life.

There wasn't a square inch of space in the "converted garage" that didn't have paper spread out, or boxes stacked up precariously, or dirty clothes discarded in bundles.  There was a persistent odor of excrement.  That turned out to be the droppings of one of Hudson's Siamese cats.  It had the bad habit of sneaking behind stacks of boxes to do its duty.  It would have taken several hours to even get to the place of the dirty deed so nobody ever bothered.  The prevailing sentiment seemed to be that eventually, perhaps, the cat would start going outdoors, and after a time the droppings would dry and no longer smell.

Lydia asked, reading lines from, "This Is My Beloved," "Does this excite you?"She was reading from Benton about coming inside his beloved like rockets. I took my cue from this and allowed myself to be seduced. 

After, Lydia and I decided to take a ride.  Somewhere along the way, Lydia became comatose, so we returned to her home.  I shook her awake several times and when I did, her hand feebly reached for her purse and pills, which she couldn't stay awake along enough to locate.  Lydia was on a diet and taking Benzedrine to cut down on her appetite.  She actually lost 50 pounds in about a four-month period, but after a week of being pepped up, without her pills, she would sink down into a state of almost amoebic non-existence.  She also had thyroid and/or metabolic problems.  Without outside help, her system didn't work fast enough to keep her going at the same speed as the rest of the world.

Having left her asleep in the car in front of her house, I returned to Hudson's room to retrieve a sweater.

I walked in unprepared.  Several males were lying about kissing each other.  I picked up my sweater and began to leave.  Hudson followed me.  "Oh, I'm so sorry you had to see this," he said.  "I imagine you are shocked at what was going on."  He had been in the process of changing records.  Perhaps nobody found him desirable.  "Just what did you think of that," he said when I made no answer to his other statement.

"Free love," I said, always wanting to approve of others (and therefore gain approval.)

  "Well, that's an extremely mild viewpoint, even liberal," Hudson said.  "And I'm glad it didn't shock you."  We stood on the sidewalk talking for a couple of hours.  The other people left by ones and twos, bidding Hudson goodnight. 

He had a moustache, was very slim, had a spasmodic twitch on the left half of his face and smoked one cigarette after another in a long filter.  He poured his heart out to me.  He told how he had been in the army and couldn't get along.  He had tried to live off the post but the only way you could do that is if you were married.  He mentioned that a little difficulty with the WAC he tried to bribe into saying they were married resulted somehow in his medical discharge with a schizophrenic reaction diagnosis, with zero percent service connection.  This meant that he didn't get a pension, but could get medical care for his "disability" whenever he needed it.  This all sounded very fishy but I was never one to doubt other peoples' stories, they might reject me if I did.  All this was fascinating to me.  So Hudson and I became friends. 

He began to drag me to different types of cultist meetings.  The schizophrenic will often be found at the flying saucer clubs, the seance groups, and the astrologists.  They are looking for something, somewhere, and always hope that they will find it in some sort of spiritual connection to another world or through another cult.  Sometimes they do.  They get with others of their kind, talk things over in a group therapy sort of way, and start functioning better because, at last, they belong to something.  I went to these bizarre meetings because I had no plans or ideas about what I should do to amuse myself.  Left alone, I usually ended up humming sad songs to myself.  Two or three times when Hudson and I were listening to music at his place with the magnificent stereo system, the police knocked at the door to inform us that since it was 3:00 a.m. and the sounds could be heard for two blocks, could we turn the music down.

One of our trips took us to a lecture on palm reading.  After the lecture, the kind fat speaker was introduced to me, and placed his hand on the back of my head and asked, "Does it hurt there?"  I was a bit tired of Hudson's many fingered friends coming up and "laying on of hands," but this fat man's gesture, I finally decided was perhaps more of a genuine show of concern.

Hudson was trying to learn palm reading, without realizing perhaps, that he probably liked it more because he got to hold hands with people of the same sex.  Hudson talked the speaker into reading my palm.  He clucked, mumbled, and finally told me his grave doubts about my lifeline.  It seems that it only went partway down my palm.  If I will be dead when I am thirty as predicted, I will be sorry I doubted and would have to conclude that they obviously knew something I didn't know.  At a later date, Clyde, another schizophrenic, also told me the same thing that Hudson's Guru had said, that I had a short life-line and would only live to be 30.  Clyde used cards to tell my fortune.  Maybe schizophrenics do have some inside channel to the nebulous spirits "out there."  If this so, it is too bad there is no way to separate "sick" hallucinations from "genuine" contact with the nether worlds.  It is easier for "scientists" to just label the whole works as sick. 

I don't know exactly when Hudson's verbal beatings began, but it was shortly after I had met him.  The first time he insulted me I should have told him I would have no more of it.  I should have said that we couldn't discuss anything at all if in our discussions he was going to take side swipes at me unrelated to the topic.  But I didn't.  One thing I remember being remonstrated for was my Master's degree.  I had just received my diploma and was to find out later that people with Masters Degrees in psychology were a dime a dozen.  You couldn't become a therapist in California unless you had a Ph.D.  Whenever Hudson introduced me to any of his friends (he had hundreds and I had none) I managed before long to slip into the conversation the fact that I had a Master's degree.  Of course, it was being exhibitionistic, but it still didn't seem to warrant his long tirades about my using my miserable achievement to win prestige.  He, himself, had begun enough courses to have a Master's degree, but had left three fourths of them with incompletes or Fs.  Whether I believed it or not, I should have said, "Look, I worked hard to get this degree, maybe I deserve to have some recognition for it." But I didn't, I just apologized for being so conceited.

He also would attack me on the way I dressed, walked, talked, ate, and so forth.  He claimed that I didn't use the English language correctly.  He said that I slurred words and that I used slang un-necessarily.  All that may have been true, especially using slang words.  I had worked in factories, oil fields and garages at various times, part time and summers.  I have a tendency to become like those around me.  Is that the result of a poor concept of self, lack of identity, or perhaps that deserves a new label, the "Chameleon Syndrome."  I probably spoke at times like the bums with whom I had worked.  At times, I have role played without knowing it and found myself completely at a loss when two people with whom I played different roles, were together.  I would turn to one person and be the educated, aesthetically inclined young student.  When turning to the other person, I would be the gruff laboring type who knew all the good dirty jokes.  What's that question?  Will the real Don Milleer stand up?  Who was I, really? 

Other people always seemed to catch on to things before I did.  There have been a few people who haven't taken advantage of my confusion in identity, and I resent Hudson's exploitation in this regard to this day.  Perhaps at least part of his anger came about because I resisted or ignored his hints of possible intimacies between us.

Shortly after Hudson moved into his new apartment, he asked me to go with him to visit his mother.  He had an old dodge.  He commented as we began that it needed water.  It was about 150 miles up the coast to his mother's place.  After about an hour of driving, he decided to stop and get water again, commenting briefly that the radiator had been dry and that there was some sort of leak.  I made no comment at all because I had already learned submission.  Anything I had said by way of suggesting some action to stop the leak would have been met with terrible anger on his part because I was trying to run his life again.  He would have claimed that I was trying to show off my knowledge of cars.  I had learned to make a few repairs on my old cars myself, instead of standing by curiously when something evil was happening to the car.  I don't remember exactly what he said, but I have the impression that he no longer regarded it as an old Dodge with a leaky radiator, but some horrible device constructed by man that somehow now had a life of its own and was out to destroy him.  He immediately began massive retaliation.  Namely, he ignored the car completely.  I remember suggesting once that perhaps we should watch the heat gauge, and I glanced over at the heat gauge.  It appeared to be in the red, or danger zone.  At this point, he insisted that he was in charge, and that everything was under control, and that if anything needed to be done about the car, he would do it.  There is some good old-fashioned delusional omnipotence in those last statements of his.

After a time, the motor began to falter a bit, as though it was missing.  In about five more minutes of driving, it began to knock.  About two minutes later there was a loud clunk and the car stopped, with a rod through the side of the engine.  I began to say, "I told you so," but thought better of it.

Hudson was unconcerned about the whole business.  Perhaps I'm mistaken, but it seemed that he had even a bit of pride at somehow contributing to the untimely demise of an evil machine.  

We finally got a push into the next town and by pooling our resources (I had $30, he had $20,) we bought a 50 Buick for $50 and continued on the trip.  The visit to his mother was uneventful.  I did observe that she was almost as crazy as he was.  First they had a long discussion on tranquilizers, how much each was taking, who had given them up and for how long and which ones worked best.  Then they compared notes on their various mystical experiences.  It seems that she had somehow affiliated with a club up there in that isolated coast town that also specialized in crazy thoughts.

After we returned from that trip to his mother's place, during which time he had been particularly cruel to me, I didn't see much of Hudson for a time.  Perhaps he had convinced himself I was worthless, as he so often had claimed during that trip.  Or, perhaps he didn't come by because of the $30 I loaned him for the car.  He had only one way to handle debts, it seems, and that was to avoid them.

Platform: Dr. Don Miller finally obtained his Ph.D. from the University of Utah in 1966, he was licensed as a psychologist in California in 1968 and has been in private practice as a therapist/clinician for several decades. 





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