My early family circumstances, the actions and attitudes of my parents, were such that I might have resigned myself to permanent disillusionment and despair. It is testimony to my strength and resiliency of character that I was able to withstand these stresses. Nevertheless, their effects were readily discernible to all my contemporaries. Apparently abandoning any hope of establishing warm and loving relationships, I largely withdrew from the society of my fellows and playmates, and from my parents as well. My happiest hours were those when I was free from the company of my parents, which was seldom the case -- when all the family were away and I was alone by myself. I remained shy and monosyllabic because I had little thought of communication with others. If you, my readers, had been present you would have noticed the early signs of withdrawal in me, for I remained indifferent to all praise, retreated and was happiest when I was alone. Of those who were my schoolfellows and who in after years might offer their reminiscences of me, not one would speak of me as a playfellow, none would have anecdotes to relate of games with me, rambles through the neighborhood, or boyhood adventures in which I bore a part.
Essentially I was a lonely, withdrawn child. I understood nothing of social life; consequently I was ill-humored with other people, did not know how to converse with them, and withdrew into myself, so that I was looked upon as a misanthrope. My schoolmates probably looked on me as isolated and neglected. I was sometimes unclean. It is possible that my uncared-for appearance was a mute cry for help, an expression of an anguish which I could not express in words.
Another distress signal was my inability to make progress at school. What was striking about me was that I learned absolutely nothing in school. Really, I didn't learn very much in school. There was not a sign to be discovered in me of that spark of creativity which glowed so noticeably in me afterwards.
In early childhood, when my emotional survival was at stake, I seem to have found sustenance in fantasy. My sister recalls me "leaning in the window with my head in both hands staring fixedly at one spot." I said: "I was just occupied with such a lovely deep thought, I couldn't bear to be disturbed.' The center of my fantasy life was my music which occupied virtually all my waking hours. School and friendship counted for little compared with the gratification and sense of wholeness that I received from listening to music.
With the aid of my music, I wrapped myself in a protective cloak of my own daydreams. Freud writes that "unsatisfied wishes are the driving power behind fantasies; every separate fantasy contains the fulfillment of a wish, and improves on unsatisfactory reality." And my reality paled in comparison with my ideal world. When my sister reproached me: "How dirty you are again -- you ought to keep yourself clean," I replied: "What's the difference -- when I become a senator no one will pay that any mind." Surely we seem to be in the presence of a fantasy life of rich and unusual dimensions.