Daniel’s amazing life: a therapeutic journey

“Every counsellor and psychotherapist – every person who cares, and wants to understand the strivings of the human heart – should read this book!”                    Fintan MacGall

Introduction to this new book about

Daniel O’Beeve’s Amazing Journey

A page of information constructed by Renata Taylor-Byrne:

9th December 2018

~~~

Nata-Lifestyle-coach8Jim Byrne is a doctor of counselling who has developed a novel approach to narrative therapy, which includes an understanding of the power of social stories about ‘who we are’, and ‘what is possible for us’ (combined with whole body-brain-mind-self-care!)

One feature of Jim’s approach is that he uses autobiographical writing to explore psychological and spiritual distortions in his clients and his readers.

For a number of years, he has been refining a story about the life of Daniel O’Beeve, which is intended to teach people just how much we can transcend our difficult social origins, if we are determined enough.  As he would express it: “We can heal our souls and minds and hearts, given a strong belief in the possibility of a forward moving journey to a better life!”

Front Cover.3However, he has found it very difficult to package Daniel’s story in a way that would preserve its value, while at the same time making it both accessible and appealing to potential readers.  (He published it as Metal Dog – Long Road Home; but found that this title does not help people to understand the significance of Daniel’s journey; and so he has withdrawn that version!”)

His target audience is anybody who is interested in psychology, philosophy, mythology or spirituality, in the context of individuals who are born into a difficult, distorting, dysfunctional family of origin.  In other words, anybody who is interested in the possibility of self-growth in the context of an extremely challenging early childhood history.

Image of Daniel for front coverWhen he first discussed the packaging of the story with Daniel, Daniel wanted it to have a zany title, like this:

Knit Your Own Psychotherapist, by Daniel O’Beeve.

Jim asked Daniel for more on that (bizarre) idea, and Daniel expanded it like this:

“I would suggest this as the flysheet/cover text:

Knit Your Own Psychotherapist – With bits of old wool.    

A semi-autobiographical story by a French-Irish psychologist”

~~~

Daniel’s email continued like this:

“Entrée:

“I was born into an Irish Catholic ‘mad house’ at the end of the Second World War.  My mother knitted – furiously, and never-endingly – woollen garments, for the family and for sale – while standing on one foot, smoking a Woodbine, which dangled from her pursed and nicotine stained lips, while she hummed patriotic Irish laments.  She knitted my itchy underpants; my socks which would not stay up, because they were too loose; my nightshirts; jumpers with shawl collars that sweated and itched all through the hot summers in school. She even threatened to knit me a white suit for my First Holy Communion (while all my school peers would be fitted out with little gray suits of worsted fabric). But the worst crime of all, and the one that caused the most psychological damage to my child-mind was this: She knitted me a woollen helmet from leftover scraps of many colours, and insisted that I must wear it to school every day, despite the fact that it encouraged every bully, within a five mile radius, to beat me up”.

~~~

Back cover Daniel's Amazing JourneyJim wasn’t keen on Daniel’s suggested approach.  He countered with this:

“Why don’t we call it something like:

The Construction of a Psychotherapist from Fragments of Broken Lives:

An Autobiographical narrative.

“Doesn’t that sound like it conveys the serious psychological content of your story?”

~~~

Daniel rejected Jim’s response, and countered with an even wilder idea than the previous one.  And so the conversation went back and forth, via email exchanges, for months and months and months.

~~~

After many attempts to come up with a message which accurately reflects to nature of Daniel’s journey, they agreed upon this:

Daniel O’Beeve’s Amazing Journey:

From traumatic origins to transcendent love

The memoir of Daniel O’Beeve, a strong-willed seeker: 1945-1985

Transcribed by Jim Byrne

~~~

Complete Cover.2

Description

This is the story of the life of Daniel O’Beeve, from birth to the age of forty years.  It is not a straightforward autobiography, nor even a straightforward fictionalized autobiography.

In order to tell his story, Daniel has had to interweave the basic history of his life with some innovative elements, like the following:

– Some psychoanalytic studies of aspects of his own development;

– Some Jungian dream analysis, and exploration of significant archetypes: like the Little Blue Bear; the Little White Goat; the Tall Woman; the Curious Boy; Sheikh Exal Rambini; and several others;

– And – even stranger – the research activities of a trio of intergalactic psychology researchers, under the leadership of a little, blue, three-eyed alien, by the name of Professor Valises, who came to earth to find out what makes us tick, and who – through an accident of history – ended up studying Daniel’s life – and analysing for our benefit some of the queerer developments in Daniel’s difficult journey.

– Finally, there is a whole series of dream sequences of Daniel’s subterranean psychical journey – and these have a kind of Shamanic quality…

– And last but not least, he presents his own fragments of writing therapy…

The whole story is woven together into a tapestry of bitter-sweet vignettes of the most haunting quality…

~~~

Flysheet of O'Beeve book 2018

Since Jim and Daniel had failed to communicate clearly what this writing project is about, they left it to me (Renata) to try to clarify the message.  I hope I have helped to some degree (though I can well imagine some readers despairing of ever understanding what I have just written).

And if you want to get the paperback copy of this book, you can get it from Amazon outlets as follows:

Amazon US and worldwide Amazon UK and Ireland
 
Amazon Canada Amazon France
 
Amazon Germany Amazon Italy
 
Amazon Spain Amazon India
 

Anyway, here is an extract from the opening pages of the first chapter (written by Daniel) – which has jumped forward in time by twenty-three years from his birth.  Give it a try, and see what you think:

~~~

THE LIFE OF DANIEL O’BEEVE

Chapter 1

Front Cover.3It’s only seven o’clock in the evening, and already it’s very dark outside, on this cold and miserable third day of January, 1970.

It’s time for me to go. To go away again.  Alone.  Back to England.  Moving on.  Into another black night.

The dense clouds part, briefly, and the bright, full moon shines down on the glistening surface of the rain-washed, reinforced concrete slabs that make up Limavada Road, in Wattling Town, on the outskirts of Dublin city. The moon disappears again, and the road is plunged into darkness.

I am in the front bedroom of No.84 – the white, pebble-dashed corporation house in which my father lives; and in which I grew up from the age of ten to eighteen years. This is one of more than ten thousand such houses on this, the biggest housing estate in Western Europe.

I want to know the weather forecast for my journey, so I switch on the little transistor radio at the foot of my bed, but somebody’s changed the station to Radio Caroline.  James Taylor is singing about how he’s seen fire and rain, as have I.  He’s seen lonely days when he could not find a friend.  This is too painful to listen to; so I change to Radio Eireann, where Simon and Garfunkel are singing about how the boxer is laying out his winter clothes, and wishing he was gone – going home.  This is even more poignant for me, and so I switch off.

~~~

It seems I am always going away.  When I was eighteen years old, I left home, on my own, to go to England, to start a new life for myself (or, perhaps, just to escape my old life).  My life at home at that time was miserable.

A few months ago, at the age of twenty-three, after five years of absence, I returned to Dublin, after the disastrous failure of a strike I tried to organize at a sweat-shop factory in Bristol.

Since then I’ve become involved in radical politics.  And I have just left a very painful, short-term relationship with a twenty-one year old woman.

~~~

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Back cover Daniel's Amazing JourneyA few weeks ago, I sat in the National Library of Ireland, in Kildare Street, Dublin, and skimmed through a book (titled, Meditations) by Marcus Aurelius. I was supposed to be reading Karl Marx at the time.  I found a mystifying statement by Marcus, to this effect:

‘This thing that I am, whatever it may be, comprises flesh, and vital spirit, and a governing self’.

I was mystified by this statement, because, although I can find the fleshy ‘me’, I cannot access anything that might be called my ‘spirit’; and I do not seem to be controlled by a ‘governing self’.

I am like a robotic machine – with no ‘soul’; and there is no conscious driver of the bus of my life.

Daniel O’Beeve – who is ‘me’ – is a ‘thing’ that runs on automatic.

~~~

Now I am packing my suitcase – the cardboard one I bought four years ago, when I joined the armed forces, in Birmingham: another of the big mistakes of my short life. I am preparing to depart for London, on my own, with two weeks’ wages in my pocket.

I look under the bed for any soiled socks or underwear, find nothing, stand up, lock my case and turn towards the bedroom door.

I can hear the television booming from the living room downstairs.

I am going away for the last time – not like Cervantes’ character, Don Quixote, to fight a noble cause; or like James Joyce’s alter ego (Stephen Dedalus), to forge the unformed conscience of the Irish race in the smithy of my soul.  At best, I can claim to be going to the heartland of British capitalism to foment a socialist revolution.

At worst, I am simply moving to a less uncomfortable burrow, like a disturbed mole!

~~~

Front Cover.3Twenty-three is such a difficult age.  According to the psychological theory developed by Carl Gustav Jung, I have not even reached the middle of my adolescence, which runs from puberty to the age of about forty-five years.

I am too young to be wise, and too old to be directed by others.  So I wander aimlessly through a meaningless, chaotic life.  I am guided by my common sense, such as it is.  Because of the highly inadequate education – or ‘edjumacation’ – that I received at the hands of the Catholic Church; and the lack of much emotional or cultural socialization at home – I am at a loss to know what life is supposed to be about, or how to live it.  My level of emotional intelligence, on a scale of 1-100, is about 17!  I don’t know what I feel, or even if I feel anything – apart from a general, high level of background misery.  I cannot read the moods or intentions of others: apart from anger, which is a signal to get out of their way.

~~~

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The booming television noise is caused by my father – my dad – who is almost totally deaf.  I can hear the theme sound of the Twilight Zone booming through the floor below.  He is the only other person in the house.  According to him, my mother recently ran off with a ‘mad Republican’; and nobody knows where she lives.  My rotten brother Tandy, who is almost twenty-two, is living in Blackpool; Walter, who is twenty, is living up the road with his girlfriend, who is pregnant; Terry, nineteen, is out with his girlfriend; Peter, seventeen, is down the country (illegally) driving a vegetable truck for a living, probably under the influence of alcohol; and Minnie, thirteen, could be almost anywhere, living her wild child life, unrestrained by parental control.

So it is going to be relatively painless leaving the house.  I do not have to speak to anybody but my dad, and there’s no real point speaking to him.  He is almost completely deaf; and he keeps his hearing-aid switched off – for reasons only he seems to understand.  If I go in to say goodbye to him, he will pretend to be able to hear me; he will keep the television volume on maximum, so I will not be able to hear his mumbles; and I will have to pretend to be able to understand him.  So, it’s best to avoid all that, and slip out unnoticed.

When Hermann Hesse’s character, Siddhartha left home to seek spiritual enlightenment, he asked his father’s permission; and he waited patiently until he received it.  But I felt no such need.  I’d previously left my father five years ago; and in any case, he had never been connected to me in any meaningful sense of the term.  The bond between us was a bond of ephemeral disregard and misunderstanding.  A detached, cold coexistence in an unfeeling space.

~~~

Front Cover.3I’m wearing a warm leather jacket with fur collar, Levi jeans, and strong leather boots.  My head is kept warm by collar-length, thick hair, and a beard that reaches my breastbone. I zip up the jacket, and notice the sensation of the presence of ‘the ugly boy’, a kind of wraith that haunts me, like Arthur Miller’s ‘broken boy’ – a symbol of his life of suffering.  But unlike Arthur Miller, I cannot embrace or kiss my ‘ugly boy’, nor even allow myself to be aware of him for more than a second at a time.  So I zip my jacket and slap my chest, knocking the wind out of him, so he will not impinge too much on my consciousness for quite some time to come.

~~~

I sneak quietly down the stairs, out the front door, pulling it gently behind me.  I am off into the unknown – again!  And this time, I will never return.

~~~

As I walk down the garden path to the gate that leads to the pavement outside, I am shocked at how quiet it is, and how all alone I feel, on a housing estate of ten thousand homes.  But none of them is home to me.

~~~

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Interlude:

Front Cover.3Dreams and reality often seem to be interchangeable in the confused mental world in which we are now engaged.  Sometimes the story is controlled by Daniel-1, who is positive, hopeful and quite spiritual.  Sometimes it is controlled by Daniel-2, who is negative, depressive and nihilistic.  And sometimes the narration shifts to a neutral third eye in the sky:

As Daniel heads off down the road and turns left, a little, cornflower-blue bear shuffles out of the bushes by the gate, and follows him at a discrete distance.  The bear is wet and cold, and his arms are wrapped around his chest for comfort.  He is about three feet tall, made from some kind of terry-towelling material, with glass eyes and a down-turned, embroidered mouth. 

Behind the little blue bear, a peculiar porthole, about four feet across, opens up in the sky, surrounded by puffy white clouds.  If you look directly into that porthole, you will see a little cobalt-blue alien siting in the middle of an array of desks, looking out. Two bigger aliens – one green and one blue – lie sleeping in their desk chairs.

The little blue alien is furry, like a cat’s fur, with long white hair, draped down both sides of his head. And he has three eyes – one being in the middle of his forehead.  The gold ID-badge which hangs from a chain around his neck reads, ‘Professor Nuveen Valises, Director of Research’.

The little blue professor is fixated on Daniel’s retreating back.  Then Daniel stops by the bus stop and puts down his suitcase to light a cigarette. 

The professor, who can now see Daniel’s face again, looks very sad.  “I’m very worried about Daniel!” he says.

But his two colleagues cannot hear his words, because they are fast asleep.

“I wish I could rescue this poor little Earthling”, says the professor, and then buries his face in his little blue hands.

~~~

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Context

Front Cover.3This is my story – the story of Daniel O’Beeve – which is also something of a psychological thriller.  It’s a story of some real experiences, which have been fictionalized; and some fictional experiences which are ‘true’! The truth is more important to me than it is to Sophie Hannah.  In her 2015 story about Hercule Poirot’s investigation of a triple murder, Sophie has one of her characters, a Nancy Ducane, make this statement: “It is the job of art to replace unhappy true stories with happier inventions”.[1]

That may be some artists’ idea of the goal of their work, but it is not mine.  It is also very different from the function of psychotherapy.  It is the job of psychotherapy to help the suffering individual to process their unhappy true stories, so that they can disappear! Most human disturbance is caused, it seems, by the attempt to escape from experiencing our unhappy true stories!

That is one of the functions of this present book; both for me and for you. To face up to some facts of life!

When I was a little boy, I loved detective stories.  I think, at that time, I probably thought they were intrinsically interesting and an obvious choice for anybody to read. But that was not the whole story.  In fact, I now believe that I loved detective stories because, at some non-conscious level of mind, I knew that I was going to have to learn how to be a pretty damn good detective if I was ever going to resolve the mystery of my life.

At that time, when I was ten to twelve years old, I didn’t know (consciously) that there was a mystery.  At that time, I did not know that most of my soul was frozen; and that most of my life-potential had been stolen.

I was like the victim of a hit-and-run ‘accident’, who is lying, maimed, on the side of a dark and deserted road; who, in his delirium, begins to fantasize about growing up and becoming a traffic cop; a cop who goes around putting up CCTV cameras on every inch of the public highway, so that, if anybody is ever run over by a drunk driver, they (the victim) will be easy to find; and thus the drunk driver can be identified and brought to justice.

In reading detective stories, I was beginning to learn how to be a good psychoanalyst – by studying Charlie Chan and Hercule Poirot! A good detective wants to know where the body is buried; and a good psychoanalyst wants to know where the truth is buried.

~~~

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Front Cover.3I want to tell you who I am, and where I’ve been – but for your benefit.  However, first I want to say this:

The human brain-mind, at birth, is like a thousand shards of broken glass, scattered across the night sky.  This fragmented mess – this biochemical soup – is an uncoordinated cacophony of non-conscious feelings: Good and bad; physical and mental; pain and pleasure; love and hate; terror and rage. It takes at least two decades, and sometimes more, to fashion that loose association of electro-chemical elements into a relatively well-functioning committee of sub-personalities; or what we normally call ‘a person’.

The first requirement for success in integrating those myriad elements is to learn a coherent map of life from emotionally intelligent, moral, loving parents.

Because the environmental factors are often inadequate, it frequently proves to be the case that the individual fails to develop even a small fraction of their full potential for loving and living and creative work.

~~~

Background

My psychological development was retarded to dangerous levels of enstupidization by an entire culture of damaged individuals; helped along by a religion of monumental stupidity, inaccuracy, autistic sex-phobia, and general emotional dysfunction; and an ‘edjumacation’ designed to fit me for a lifetime of servitude to any parasite who wanted to exploit me economically.

~~~

When I reached my teens, my Japanese judo teachers tried to teach me a philosophy of life that could save me. It helped a little.  But I was already on the wrong track, and heading in the wrong direction. My map of life was written on the back of a crumpled postage stamp, stuck to the sole of my uncomfortable right shoe.

~~~

“If we do not teach our children about love and why it’s so much healthier than hatred, what will become of them?  If we do not teach them about their journey towards healthy sex-love relationships, in maturity, who will teach them?  And if we do not know enough about love and sex, and relationships, and how to manage our hatred and rage, what hope is there for any of us?”

Micky J. Moran, A Very Peculiar Tragedy…

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1. The journey begins…

Front Cover.3Strictly speaking, I should begin this book with these words: My name is Daniel O’Beeve, and this book represents the story of half of my life.  Or, this book represents the first half of the first half of my life.

That would accord this text a certain kind of credibility as a straight-forward autobiography.

But this is not a straightforward autobiography.  It is, instead, an auto-biographical novel; and so it requires a different kind of beginning.  Like this:

The mystery really began with the arrival of the email – if you can call it an email.  I’d been working hard all day, and right into the evening.  I was trying to write up a dream sequence – or was it a daydream sequence? – involving some strange men in a strange landscape.

At last, in total exhaustion, I switched off the computer and began to ‘palm’ my eyes.  I kept my eyes open, and cupped my hands over them – fingers close together – so I could stare into total darkness.  That was a blessed relief.  My eyes were tired and sore.

Suddenly there was a bright flash, which shone through my hands: revealing my black bones, surrounded by pink muscle and flesh.  I was so startled that my hands fell away my eyes.  And there, on the computer screen, was a strange email.  The text was like flickering, blue gas flames; and the background was a kind of mucky cream smog.  Despite the poor contrast between them, I could easily read the message, which said:

From the scratchpad of Professor Nuveen Valises, Head of Research Team, Planet 3EX771.  valises@IFspaceship29.fed

Dateline: 3619 APV

Daniel: You have completed your mission admirably; and so, I thought, had I.  However, I now realize that if you do not write the story of how you did it, my mission will also have failed.  So I must strongly request that you get down to writing up where you have been, and what you have experienced, so we can both rest easy knowing we have completed our historic missions.

What follows is a single sentence summary of the abstract of my report to the Intergalactic Federation:

+We-an hipotiste Daniel’s mirt skurpt anstrazhan toll Daniel valay rasoltav ohum rurlattah ugg gir andluttay im oan positatay oneroot cun higga uppanparon oan dazt vurlt dit zoon moedhuur haast lowershowal-zan wur mit gut wan sexoullarm ditch ihram Faltaar.+

Oh, sorry.  I should have realized… I will have to translate that for you.  When you get down to writing your story, I will send you a full transcript of my report, translated into English. That may help you to fill in some of the blanks.

Good luck!

Nuveen Valises

~~~

The problem with this message, of course, was that the computer was switched off!

~~~

Front Cover.3So I switched it back on and was relieved to find that the piece I had been working on was still intact.  This is what it said:

I don’t know if this was a dream, proper, or a daydream.  But I could see the two drab men walking around the mounds of ash and rubbish.  There were three mounds.  The men always walked alone. Sometimes one would walk a figure of eight around the two rubbish mounds on the left; while the other man walked round and round the mound on the right.  Then they would change over.  Every so often they would, inevitably, meet, at the front of the site, in my field of vision. Then they would speak briefly to each other in monotone voices.  They had no news for each other: good or bad.  They bemoaned the nature of existence!

Away to the left, the director of the piece sat all alone on a three-legged stool.  He had a face like a crumpled page of newsprint.  He seemed happy, or satisfied, with the general depressive tone of the scene.

Between me and the mounds of rubbish stood a little boy in short trousers with tousled hair and a short sleeved shirt.  His feet were bare.  He scratched his head constantly.  After a while he spoke to the little white goat, who stood quietly beside him.

“What is the significance of this grim routine?” asked the curious boy.

The goat, of course, made no reply.

“Why has the director made the scene so barren?” he persisted.  “And how has this illusion been perpetrated?”

From the right of the scene, a very tall, dark woman, with long black hair, tied back with a black ribbon, stepped into the frame.

“He has taken away the work that would bind them to sanity!” she tells the curious boy.

“Ah!” said the boy.  “Loss of meaning!”

“Yes”, said the tall woman.  “Meaning and structure, both! But not just the meaning that is derived from work; but also the purpose that is derived from family relationships”. 

“Yes”, said the boy.  “I see.  No partners.  No children!”

“And how could the audience understand what these men are up to unless the director includes something about their childhood?” asks the tall woman, rhetorically.

“Their childhood is that important?” asked the boy.

“Their childhood defines who they are!” said the tall woman.

~~~

Where do these ideas come from? I am plagued by random thoughts and strange visitations!

~~~

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Front Cover.3Sometimes, when I’m dreaming, I become aware that the feeling of my feet walking along a solid surface is a reality, and that I am walking through a concrete reality and a dreamscape at the same time.  And sometimes, when I am wide awake, and walking through a perfectly normal scene, I realize that I am also progressing through a dream sequence in my mind.

~~~

Professor Valises wants me to write the story of my life; and the tall woman wants me to be aware that my childhood defines who I am.  Who am I to disappoint them?

~~~

[1] Sophie Hanna (2015) The Monogram Murders – The new Hercule Poirot Mystery.  London: Harper.  Page 191.

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However, if you are not yet ready for this 650 page story, you could try the first third of the story, which is presented in Daniel’s Wee History of His Part of Old Ireland.***

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