December 7, 2015
3801 Connecticut Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20008
Tanya A. Royster, M.D.
D.C. Department of Behavioral Health
64 New York Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20002
Dear Dr. Royster:
am a consumer of
mental health services provided by the D.C. Department of Behavioral
Health (DBH). I had a weekly out-patient psychotherapy consult with Alice E.
Stone, M.D. on Monday December 7, 2015. Dr. Stone is a third-year psychiatry resident working under the
supervision of Earl Baughman, M.D. (St. Elizabeths Hospital). I have
been a DBH consumer since mid-year 1996, 19 years. Supportive
psychotherapy is inadequate for my needs. I believe I need
I view my situation as precarious, desperate and futile. The failure of DBH to provide adequate
treatment for me is a terrible strain.
have formed an idealizing transference with my primary care doctor,.
Unfortunately, my primary care doctor is not a psychiatrist and psychotherapy with him
is not feasible. I yearn for a psychotherapeutic relationship that
will address my psychological needs.
If the truth be told I am not suited for the practicalities of life; my
mind floats in otherworldly dreams, more preoccupied with the potential
of the spirit than with everyday vicissitudes. I love language, books,
and music, and the most splendid moments of my uneventful existence have
been the few operas I have attended, or the books I have perused in
isolation from my fellows. I treasure every detail of the times I have
spent in isolation. As I read I imagine every sentence, every page and
every chapter as a mirror of my life, my passions and my afflictions. I
take refuge in this extravagant, romantic atmosphere whenever I feel
weighed down by the vulgarity of life.
I am an artist, really. Or
at least I am an individual with an artistic temperament. My moments of
highest joy are those I have spent alone. And that is the triumph and
tragedy of my existence. Despite the gratifications afforded by my
splendid isolation I still long for the Other in my loneliness: the
Other who might complete me. Failing to find that Other I live in
perpetual disillusion and frustration.
I am a rebel individualist
divorced from established dogma and institutions, a lonely incorrigible
seeker of new norms. For me life presents itself as a struggle for
individualism; I experience my life at times as humorously petulant and
at other times as a mystically yearning estrangement from the world and
the times. I sometimes feel, in my grandiose moments, that I belong to
the highest and purest spiritual aspirations and labors of our epoch.
spiritual and emotional struggles can be traced to my alienation from
my family in childhood. The roots of my estrangement from established
institutions and settled norms began in the peculiarities of my early
family life. Like most parents mine were no help with the new problems
of puberty to which no reference was ever made. All they did was take
endless trouble in supporting my hopeless attempts to deny reality and
to continue dwelling in a childhood world that was becoming more and
more unreal. I have no idea whether parents can be of help, and I do not
blame mine. It was my own affair to come to terms with myself and to
find my own way, and like most well-brought up children, I managed
badly. My parents seemed wedded to some vague suggestions of old-world,
Victorian morality with its belief in the inherent sinfulness of man, in
the necessity of breaking the will of the individual, and with its
uncompromising renunciation of all that is of this world. My family was
the first of many social structures which were to rouse the rebel in me.
was a hypersensitive, imaginative, lively and extremely headstrong
child, and proved to be a constant source of despair and annoyance to my
parents and my teachers. School held as little attraction for me as it
did for any incorrigible. Hardly had the fourth year of high school
begun before I became delinquent and was almost dismissed.
and law school were meant to end the morbid estheticism into which I
had allowed myself to drift. I hoped thereby to become an established,
respected member of society. This hope was never realized. Except for
the first few years, my law school education did not alleviate my
feeling that life is essentially meaningless, nor could my idyllic
retreat into academia long contain my inherent restlessness. By 1984,
upon completion of my LL.M. program at American University, the life in
the law had lost any meaning at all. It had become quite apparent to me
that I could not be both a creative dreamer and a "solid citizen," a
Phantasiemensch and a Burger, as the Germans would put it.
but a gifted misfit. My life has long been restive and discontented. I
am unable to bear a comfortable, established mode of existence for any
period of time. My life is grim and I live in endless mental agony.
live the life of a romantic vagabond, forever exhausted and distraught
in my quest for solitude. Before life can ever become meaningful for me,
I must find and come to terms with myself. I am forever taking painful
stock of myself and devote myself assiduously to solitary pleasures. I
live like a hermit in my emotional and financial poverty and for years
now, I have rarely left my apartment for more than routine outings.
1993 I began a writing that was to occupy me for the next ten years.
That writing would be my autobiography, “Significant Moments.” The
writing reflected my relentless quest for my self, and it assumed a
fresh impetus and a new stylistic direction from my restless spirit
during those years. I became an uninhibited and exciting innovator. The
autobiography was really a tense psychological study and reflected the
intoxicating emotional release of a Buddha-like search for the basic
unity and meaningfulness of life. I am sure if it were ever to be
published it would be greeted with a curious mixture of awe,
bewilderment, antagonism, and disgust. My own uninhibited self-exposure
would no doubt trouble even the staunchest of my supporters. I must
remind you that my new literary venture was not an
irresponsible deviation but a necessary culmination in my self-quest. It
has always been my belief that repressions had to be exposed, even at
the price of unpleasant notoriety.
The letters I have written to
you are actually an article of faith and not a document of
despair. Yes, I wallow in despair but I live in faith, a faith in the
ultimate meaningfulness of life. For me, life has never become the
perplexing absurdity it was for Franz Kafka or the Sisyphean monotonous
senselessness it was to become for Albert Camus. As I like to say, there
is always tomorrow.
I am oppressed by my personal life, but also
by the times we live in. Our era is for me one of moral depravity and
intellectual mediocrity; of surface glitter, smug comfort, sham
conventionality, and foolish optimism. Man has lost his soul in the
world of money, machines and distrust. He has exchanged his spiritual
peace for physical comfort. All vital rapport with God and nature has
been lost, reason has supplanted faith and society has forgotten the
individual. I’m starting to sound like His Holiness, the late Pope John
But the fact remains that the middle-class core of our
civilization has never ceased to be the butt of my ire. The bourgeois
represents all that is negative. A stalwart and stodgy nonentity, he is
governed in all his ideals and pursuits solely by the impulse of self-
preservation. He fears individualism, and deliberately sacrifices the
precarious but precious intensities of life for comfort and security. He
is the characterless Philistine who epitomizes mediocrity, cowardice,
compromise, irresponsibility, and servility. He is the strapping,
insensitive, physical specimen who enjoys health and wealth but lacks
all culture. He has a sound appetite but no taste, a good deal of
confidence but no ideals. He possess a surfeit of zeal and diligence but
has no lofty aspirations or worthy goals. It is to him that the world
belongs, while persons like me -- the sensitive worshipers of beauty
and the earnest seekers after truth and the meaning of life -- are
misfits and outcasts.
Every day for me is an effort. A seemingly
senseless effort to survive. So much of my day is marked more by
strained effort than by spontaneity, more by futile persistence than by
passion, and more by recollection than by new horizons. I relive the
There has always been a very close relationship
between the circumstances of my life and my artistic aspirations. Each
represents a different stage in my struggle with myself and with life at
large, and each reflects a correspondingly different phase in both the
substance and the form of my art. My writings are replete with
uncertainty and vague presentiment. I live as a sensitive outsider who
cannot cope directly with my particular problem of existence. I resort
instead to fantasy and withdraw into the realm of beauty there to
indulge in the extremes of late esthetic gratification. My world is one
of perfumed melancholy. It is characterized by exclamatory remarks and
rhetorical questions, by sensuous adjectives and adverbs in languid
The form of my autobiography is loose: a random
succession of vignettes and dramatic monologues, held together primarily
by their common spirit of decadent romanticism. A Hoffmanesque fusion
of fantasy and reality, which is both cynical and morbidly intimate.
You, no doubt, would call it the work of a talented beginner whose world
of experience is still too limited, and whose imagination is entranced
by the facile flow of beautiful language. In the absence of discipline
and restraint, I fear that the whole is sacrificed to the part, and what
is meant to be art fails to become more than picturesque patter.
the last year, in my extreme isolation, my writing has become more
human and less shadowy; inertia and desperation yield to movement and
humor. My prose has achieved a more narrative style, and my language has
become leaner, crisper and more forceful.
And yet, despite the
emotional gratifications of my splendid isolation in the past year, I
was forced to face the overwhelming accumulation of tensions. I was
compelled to realize that in my desire to make existence less painful I
had been avoiding a close look at the true nature of my inner discord,
and had blindsided myself to the morally and spiritually impoverished
world around me. In my imagination I left the comfortable fold of the
bourgeois world, which had never afforded me the security I had hoped it
might, and accepted the more difficult existence of an outsider. Did I
have a choice in the matter? In a desperate and determined
effort to find myself, I began systematically to diagnose my inner
conflicts, to go my long-shunned inward path. Only now did I finally
come to grips with the intrinsic problems of human existence -- and of
my place in the human world.
In my isolation escape became quest, and in quest my inner problems resolved themselves into the basic malaise humain,
into the tension between the spiritual and the physical. For the past
year I oscillated between these poles, acclaiming first one, then the
other, then neither. I never ceased hoping for a harmonious accord,
though well aware that for me this was impossible. I acclaim spirit,
stressing self-knowledge and self realization with a Nietzschean
emphasis upon the superior being. But spirit as a guiding principle of
life can only mean greater individuation and more painful isolation. I
still lack the firm conviction and the inner fortitude necessary to
endure these consequences. The immediate reaction has been as extreme as
the initial impulse. My assertive Nietzschean activism has yielded
suddenly to a Schopenhauer-like passivity, a restless quest to a
quietistic acceptance, and self-realization to a yearning for
In the sober tone of acceptance which is
evident in the present letter, I realize that despite all efforts to the
contrary, my existence will probably continue as a restless tension, a
constant oscillation between life's opposing poles.
My path to myself has reached its climax in a fascinating confusion of symbol and irony, fantasy and realism.
is only now that I at last have found the peace of sincere
self-affirmation and life affirmation. The individual must take and
continue along that path which the predominant aspect of his nature
impels him to choose. Each, whether given to the senses or to the
spirit, must be prepared to suffer the lot of his kind; to attempt in
curiosity or desperation to do otherwise is to foster a perpetual
dissension of the divided self.
My center is the individual,
opposed to society, its mores, and its institutions. And that individual
is myself. I recall, nostalgically, the simpler years of childhood. I
re-experience youth with its excruciating years of awakening. I think
about modern man, the intellectual and the artist in particular, within
the framework of a declining culture.
It is in this, its
intimately egocentric nature, that my artistic temperament bears the
stamp of its age, an age of cultural decline, of spiritual and moral
distress, and of extreme loneliness.
I am predominantly an
esthete who lives only in dreams, hopes, and anticipation, and who
shrinks before realization. I am a self-preoccupied, temperamental
artist who vainly seeks a kindred soul. I am paralyzed by chronic
indecision and indulge in romantic morbidity. I am an outsider consumed
by my own hopelessness and loneliness -- a misfit, to whom the art of
life and the art of love are foreign, a timid soul who asks too little
of life and expects too much of it. I live in perpetual frustration and
cc: The Honorable Loretta E. Lynch; The Honorable Karl A. Racine