Childhood developmental trauma, autobiography

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Trauma Book| Complex trauma | PTSD | Complex-PTSD | Childhood trauma | Developmental trauma | Developmental Trauma Disorder | DTD | Child abuse | Emotional abuse | Verbal abuse | Physical abuse | Loveless childhood | Autobiography | Fictionalized life story | Paperback | eBook |

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The Disconnected Heart of Daniel O:

The fictionalized autobiography of a seeker after love

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“How I healed my (mother-inflicted) childhood emotional wounds, and how you can heal yours!”

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A fictionalized-factual life story, combined with a subjective psychological self-analysis of developmental trauma disorder

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Kindle coverBy Jim Byrne, Doctor of Counselling – (and his alter ego, Daniel O’Beeve)

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Published by Alchemical Press, Hebden Bridge, 2022

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Copyright © Jim Byrne, 2022

Published by Alchemical Press, 27 Wood End, Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire, HX7 8HJ, UK.

Alchemical Press is an imprint of the Institute of E-CENT Publications.

Telephone: 01422 843 629.  

Email: drjwbyrne@gmail.com

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Contents

Publisher’s Foreword…….v

Editor’s Foreword…….ix

Author’s Preface …….xiii

Part One: The early life of Daniel O…….1

Chapter 1: Professor Valises sets the ball in motion…….1

Chapter 2: The difficult birth of Daniel O, born in a very strange place…….9

Chapter 3: From birth to the age of fourteen years…….23

Chapter 4: From fourteen to eighteen years of age… …….67

Part Two: Jim’s story of his dysfunctional relationship with his Mother…….105

Chapter 5: The breakdown and rebuilding of Jim’s damaged personality…….105

Part Three: The end of Jim’s journey…….173

Chapter 6: What have I learned about love and relationships from this journey? …….173

Chapter 7: The historical transmission of trauma…….181

Chapter 8: Touching the pain of my mother’s childhood trauma wounds…….193

Chapter 9: How to heal your own “mother-wound” …….207

References (for Part Two) …….215

Chapter 10: Updating Postscripts…….217

Postscript One: Regarding Professor Valises…….217

Postscript Two: From Daniel O’Beeve…….219

Postscript Three: From Jim Byrne…….220

Appendix A: Nine ways to reframe and resolve your “mother wound”. …….225

Endnotes…….253

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Kindle coverContext

“Life is a process of becoming, a combination of states we have to go through. Where people fail is that they wish to elect a state and remain in it. This is a kind of death.”

Anais Nin, in her book: ‘D. H. Lawrence: An Unprofessional Study’. 1964/1994.

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Acknowledgement

The core of this book would not exist if it had not been for the active encouragement of Brian Marley, Joanna Swann and Renata Taylor-Byrne.  I will always be grateful to them for that encouragement.

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Dedication

This book is dedicated to the children of planet Earth; and to Dr John Bowlby and all who followed him (including Dr Alice Miller and Dr Allan Schore) in championing the rights and needs of the vulnerable child. And every child is vulnerable. And every one of them needs love as much as she or he needs food and shelter.

A life without the feeling of being loved, from which comes the capacity to express love, is like a bird’s egg that has had its essential core sucked out. It is a mere shell.

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Publisher’s Foreword

By Renata Taylor-Byrne

“The word trauma comes from Greek, meaning a bodily injury. An emotional trauma is the type of wound that, if not processed and integrated into a psychologically meaningful context by the person affected, can become a void. This void can then expand to swallow not just the traumatized person but also their children and their children’s children. In this way, trauma can be passed from one generation to the next.”

Ruth E. Dixon. ‘Mad in America’: A blog post. November 4th 2022.

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Kindle coverWhen a child walks away from an abusive parent – when they are old enough to leave – they unknowingly, and unwillingly, carry that abusive parent in their heart and mind. And most often they head off into a life in which they repeat the same kind of abusive relationship with a “love partner”.

When the physical bruises of abusive parenting heal, the psychological scars remain intact, hidden in the subconscious mind of the abused child. And also stored in the physical tensions of body-memory.

Jim Byrne thought he’d walked away. Left it all behind. Sailed into a new life, at the age of eighteen years. But his physically and emotionally abusive childhood relationship with his mother (and his father) came back to haunt him at the age of twenty-two years.

At that point, his life imploded. He’d been over-consuming (“abusing”) sleeping pills for a few weeks, following total rejection by his peer group on a barren military squadron of damaged young men.

Eventually an ambulance came and got him; took him to hospital; where he saw a psychoanalyst for weekly meetings. After three meetings, the analyst told him that he (Jim) needed to examine his relationship with his mother.

Jim had no idea what a “relationship” could be. He had no idea what “having a relationship” with his mother could possibly mean. He had avoided her as much as possible from an early age, perhaps as early as his fourth year of life; and avoided her almost completely from the age of fourteen years; and he had not seen her at all for more than four years. As far as he was concerned, she no longer existed.

That injunction from his psychoanalyst – “explore your relationship with your mother” – came up again and again; when his first romantic relationship imploded; when his second romantic relationship imploded; when his first marriage imploded.

But it took him to the age of 32 years to get down to beginning to do the work.

It was not easy.

He had to meet somebody who wanted to “teach him how to love.”

He had to meet his soul-mate.

He had to read widely, and try various therapeutic approaches, techniques and strategies.

Then he had to invent a whole new approach to “narrative archaeology” in order to get into the depths of his subconscious mind, and to come up with some narratives and stories which seem to be the core scars and wounds of his childhood and later life.

He had to learn how to “complete his experience” of being from a particular kind of family, with a particular kind of set of experiences. This meant facing up to extremely painful feelings of grief and anger and despair.

In this book, he has put together some of his psychological analysis, and some of his innovative “fictionalized autobiographical narratives”, and some additional literary innovations, in order to tell his story.

Some of his literary and analytical strategies, especially the use of “verifiable fictions”, and “observing aliens” may strike you as odd; but if you stay with the story, you will be richly rewarded.

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Jim established for himself that it is possible to heal from the worst kinds of childhood abuse.

His hope is that this story will help the readers of this book to recover from their own childhood developmental traumas, or complex traumas, at the hands of unskilful, damaged or “not-good-enough” mothering.

At the end of the book he has a chapter on “how to heal your own mother-wound”.

We hope you take this journey, and that you are at last successful in healing your own heart and mind; and/or helping others to heal theirs.

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Renata Taylor-Byrne

Alchemical Press, Hebden Bridge, November 2022

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Editor’s Foreword

By Kurt Llama Byron

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“The Absence of Love

“It’s not the absence of love; on the contrary,

It is the possibility that maddens us;

That comes so close yet seems so far away;

That flickers with a light we are unworthy of”.

          Selima Hill, in Staying Human[1].

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Kindle coverThis book exists because a baby boy was born into a family which knew nothing of love. An impoverished small-farming family. An uneducated[1], peasant family. A family dedicated to “beating the Fear of God” into their broken children. A couple of angry parents who had virtually zero emotional intelligence.

That should have been the end of it. Another failed experiment in human reproduction and zero evolution. Perhaps he would drink himself to death in his teens. Or join somebody’s army and kill for a living. Or spend seventy years in a living death.

In ten years of schooling, this little boy, Daniel, did not make a single friend; and, when asked to write about his happiest moment of life, when he was twelve years of age, he wrote about a huge marble monolith; which had different tones of black and grey; and some unevenness of the surface – some parts highly glossy, and some parts quite rough.

His teacher, Brother Herbert, was incensed by this failure to follow his instructions, and beat Daniel for his impertinence.

The following week, Brother Herbert set a similar assignment: “Write two pages about your happiest experience at home”.

Again, Daniel wrote about a huge marble monolith, with two smaller marble columns on either side.  And again, Brother Herbert beat him for his intransigence and impertinence.

Daniel was indifferent to all such punishments. He was, after all, beaten on a daily basis, at home, for the slightest imagined infringement of his parents’ rules. His expectations of other humans was that they would most likely be cruel and hurtful, and that was just how they were. (Of course, he did not know or use the words ‘cruel’ or ‘hurtful’, but he knew the emotional feeling equivalent of those states). He was their victim; a broken boy.

When he was twenty-two years old, he stumbled into psychoanalysis, and was asked to write about his inner life. He tried very hard to comply, but all he could come with was a reproduction in his own handwriting of a kind of generic scene from an Ian Fleming novel that he had read. A handsome man, with a suntan, and nothing inside his head or his heart – except perhaps straw, or sawdust – is lying on a massage table, waiting for an Indochinese female to massage his frozen body.

He could neither think nor feel. He acted in the safest, most cautious way that he could identify.

When he was thirty-two years old, something shifted; but not a lot; and when he was forty-two he set about writing the material which has been edited into this volume, which attempts to analyse his life; and to show the reader (who may also have been damaged in childhood) how to build a road out of misery and into happy fulfilment.

But he could not have written this illuminating and helpful text without the enormous help that was afforded to him by Professor Nuveen Valises, a small, fluffy, blue alien, who monitored Daniel’s life from afar, from soon after birth up to his fortieth birthday. Professor Valises’ report to Daniel helped him to “fill in the gaps” in his own limited understanding of who he was; how he came to be that way; and how he got out of the emotional dung heap into which he was thrown at birth.

It is only fitting, therefore, that I should begin this edited version of Daniel’s life by introducing Professor Valises.

However, first there is a horrible complication to explain to you, dear reader. And the best way to explain that complication is to ask Jim Byrne to write his own Preface to this edition.

Kurt Llama Byron

Editor

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Author’s Preface

By Jim Byrne

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“Childhood is a nightmare. Children are vulnerable to emotional distortion. Take good care of them, if you know how to love.”

Micky J. Moran, A Very Peculiar Tragedy. (Page 4).

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Preamble

Kindle coverTo those who say it is extremely vain of me to write my own autobiography – as if I was “somebody” – I must retort that I did not write this story to enhance my battered ego, but rather to try to heal and recover from a very sad case of childhood developmental trauma.

To those who say it was unfair, unreasonable or paranoid of me to hide behind a fictionalized account of my life, I have to say that I have used fiction to reveal my life rather than to conceal it!

How could that be?

Well, as a matter of historical fact, I retain very few conscious memories of my childhood, as is normally the case with developmental trauma disorder. My childhood is stored in black boxes, in the basement of my mind – beyond direct conscious inspection.

So, since it is impossible to directly inspect my childhood, to see what went wrong, I had to ask myself, “Is it possible to indirectly inspect my childhood, to maximally reveal what went wrong?”

And it was that question that caused me to consider the possibility that, if I created an ‘alter ego’[2], and walked him through what I assume to be the phases and stages of my childhood, this would throw up many insights into how I was deformed and distorted by my childhood experiences.

So I “created” Daniel O’Beeve – (or was he “given to me” by my non-conscious mind?) – and I walked him through many of the pages which constitute the present book; revealing many interesting insights and stories.

But if that was all I had to go on, it would seem a bit thin, as a personal history; so I also considered the possibility that my dreams and reveries might also contain clues as to what had gone on in my family of origin; and so I began to collect my dreams and reveries in my journal.  It was Sigmund Freud who argued that “dreams are the royal road to the unconscious mind”, and so that is good enough for me, as a justification for that strategy.

Then, thirdly, I decided to write a more straightforward “psychological report” of those aspects of my work on my past which I did beyond the age of 22 years.

The strangest development was that my therapy work – described in Part Two – gave me a couple of visual “archetypes” – or “literary devices” – known as “the little blue bear” and “the yellow-haired rag doll”.

Later, I was “given” other archetypes: Professor Valises, a little blue alien; Sheikh Exal Rambini, a strange sage and spiritual guide; “the little white goat”; and a whole host of others. Each of those archetypes evolved their own stories.

Then I worked hard, for a number of years, weaving all those strands of data into a coherent story of who I was as a child; how that affected my development; and how I escaped from the “stink pot” into which my birth and early life had thrown me.

Finally, by reflecting on my own journey, I was able to extract some guidance notes for readers of this book who might want to work on the healing of their own childhood wounds; and especially their mother-wound.

The impact of early childhood on adult life

“The child’s first relationship, the one with the mother, acts as a template, as it permanently moulds the individual’s capacities to enter into all later emotional relationships”.

Dr Allan Schore, in The Allan Schore Reader.[2]

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Kindle coverWhen an individual experiences a significant disruption of their bond with their mother, in the first two years of life – or even in the first five – they are highly likely to be marked for life, unless they have a successful curative relationship, including the possibility of a healing experience of psycho-therapy.

The kinds of marking for life that I mean includes the inability to relate successfully to a sex-love partner, in a marriage or marriage-like relation-ship; plus mood disorders and substantial unhappiness. Plus career difficulties.

And the cause of this marking is what some would call a “deep mother wound”, or mother-inflicted emotional damage. (And, it seems, from the research and writing of Dr Allan Schore, that infant boys are more susceptible to being damaged by an unskilful mother than are infant girls).

This book is about such a deep mother-wound, and how it affected the life of one male person; and how he sought to recover from this wound.

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Honest fictions and fictitious truths

The simplest way to express what is going on in this book is as follows:

This book represents the autobiography of Daniel O’Beeve; but Daniel is actually an imagined alter ego of mine.  So this is really the fictionalized autobiography of Jim Byrne.

However, “fictionalized” does not mean “false” or “untrue”. All of the fictional elements of this book are true. And every true statement in this book is fictional.

None of the characters in this book can be shown, beyond all reasonable doubt, to have lived on planet Earth, or elsewhere.

However, by the same token, none of the characters in this book can he shown to be total fabrications!

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The problem of human memory

To explain how this structure came into being, and why it has to take this form, I must clarify the fact that there is an objective problem with human memory that has to be got around, in order to access my childhood memories.

The best way to explain this is as follows:

Human memory is not only essential to our daily habits and decision-making. It is also potentially a disrupter of our daily activities.  If all of our memories were activated at once, we would not know what to do, or how to act, or speak or think or feel.

Memory has to work selectively, automatically, and non-consciously in order to helpful.

The way our brain-mind manages the selection of useful memories is to repress out of awareness all those memories which are not currently useful.

And traumatic memories from the past are definitely not helpful in managing our day to day lives. (The automatic actioning of learning based on those memories is important, but we know how to do that non-consciously!)

My approach

Kindle coverSome years ago, whenever I (Jim Byrne) set about retrieving my childhood memories, my brain-mind self-protectively closed down. I could not remember anything much from any stage of my childhood, and especially not from the first seven to ten years.

But then I came up with the idea of creating an alter egoDaniel O’Beeve – who is “just like me” in almost every respect; but who is not connected directly into the emotional centres of my brain, or my guts. Therefore, I could “walk him through” some of the experiences that I know I must have had, to see how he makes out. And thereby I can feel a milder form of my own personal history vicariously, by observing his journey and his suffering. And under these conditions, my mind does not go blank or close down.

So that is what I do in Part One of this book. I follow Daniel through the corridors and dungeons of my own rotten life, and observe how he gets on; and I loyally record what I see and hear.

Then, in Part Two, I use a more conventional “psychological analysis” approach to writing a report about my relationship with my mother, which was central to my childhood developmental trauma. Part Two illustrates all the therapeutic techniques that I used to heal my broken heart.

In Part Three, I will present four chapters, as follows:

– What I learned about love and relationships;

– The historical transmission of trauma through ‘races’ or ‘peoples’;

– How I got in touch with the deep pain of my mother’s own childhood developmental trauma;

– And how you can heal your own mother-wound (or father-wound).

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Then, at the end of this book, I present three updating postscripts; followed by an appendix which will teach you nine ways to process your own mother-wound (or father-wound; or other childhood trauma).

But first, let me introduce, in Chapter 1, the (fictional) “person” who watched over me (from afar), and took a real interest in me, throughout the first forty years of my life: Professor Nuveen Valises (who is almost human; and almost real!)

Do not worry! All will become clear as we proceed.

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Jim Byrne, Hebden Bridge, November 2022

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Part One: The early life of Daniel O

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There are four chapters in Part One of this book, and I want to begin with a chapter about the pivotal role of a fictional alien, a professor of psychology, who may or may not exist as a universal archetype[3].

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Chapter 1: Professor Valises sets the ball in motion

“The universe is pure creative energy. And the highest expression of that creativity is the ability of some living beings to rewrite the history of their own world! And underneath that ability is a subtle universal energetic ‘substance’ which is still being explored in the philosophy of psychology, which may be capable of helping to restore the original mental potential of psychologically crushed individuals. This thesis explores my original research into this substance.”

Nuveen Valises, Doctoral Thesis, ‘The Theory of Elfa Badalla’. Dateline: Vanta 3428 APV. University of Juputus.

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The road that leads into the childhood of Jim Byrne necessarily passes through the birth and childhood of Daniel O’Beeve. And the road that leads into the childhood of Daniel necessarily passes through a point in space-time, about one hundred million light years from planet Earth. If you travel to that point, you will easily see a small, silvery star ship, shaped like a witch’s hat which has had its tip cut off…

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The Mandeliprian Z-45-type star ship dangles turbo-statically in space, just off the Yonto Binga asteroid belt, in the 14th division of the Federated Universe.

Inside, in the command chamber, a little blue member of the Klimmantz race is fast asleep on his desk. His multidextrous, three-fingered hands are flat on the desk, either side of his head, which is adorned with long, silvery, silk-like hair.

Instead of sitting on a chair, his lower body has been replaced by a motorized unit with four wheels for mobility, due to a catastrophic accident that occurred when he was a younger psychological researcher.

This is Professor Valises, coming to the end of a one-hundred hour shift, in the one-hundred-and-fiftieth year of his life.

All his adult life, he has been fascinated by the psychology of the differing people of the Federated Universe, as defined by the Intergalactic Federation.

And all his working life, he has worked for the Federation Research Council, in the Psychology and Human Relations Department of World Government.

Right now he is dreaming of that day when he will be awarded the medal of achievement for completing his lifetime research on the highly contested theory of elfa badalla.

Of course, the clock is ticking, as he is rapidly approaching his official retirement age, and he does not want to retire in ignominy, without completing his lifetime quest for that “biological backup” system which has allowed a few individuals, here and there, to recover from the total distortion of their genetic and socialized capacity to be normal and happy individuals.

He had first come up with the theory of elfa badalla after his accident. A few saskoos[4] earlier, he had interviewed some people in the Eighth Quadrant of the Cardoon Galaxy. From those interviews, he had established a grounded theory proposition that there were a few individuals in that galaxy who had been totally crushed; psychologically and morally destroyed; by the most unimaginable forms of child abuse – but who had mysteriously rebounded, in their thirties, or forties, and appeared to be totally free of any form of personal psychological distortion. He was just 45 years old at the time, and he’d formed an alliance with a biochemistry researcher, to try to expand his chances of finding the biochemical basis of this kind of strange “body-mind reset”.

Valises thought that the body of any advanced organism must have evolved a system of re-set, or backup – like restoring a computer back to an earlier time – to overcome later distortions or deletions. He argued that any intelligent system of evolution must build in a fail-safe system to allow for the possibility of a completely unworkable line of evolution. Otherwise, how can a branch of evolution recover if it takes a completely “wrong turn”?

He discussed this with Major Janti Valuva – a highly creative researcher whom he’d known from the early days of his doctoral research.

Janti had a theory that biochemical systems begin in the ether, and gradually materialize, at greater and stronger levels of physicality and visibility. So that, if a scientist is not careful, they will take the visible, physical reality of a biochemical process to be “the whole process”, and overlook the subtle, ethereal underpinnings of the visible manifestations.

Out of these conversations, Nuveen Valises evolved the theory that there was an invisible layer of biological information below the level of the already discovered POB (DNA); LAQ (RNA); and KAC (no Earth equivalent, yet!) He called this theoretical substance elfa badalla, and argued that, when a child is severely abused or neglected, so much so that it’s POB/LAQ/KAC heritage is totally distorted and rendered too dysfunctional to create a happy, creative and productive life, there is always the chance that, under the right circumstances, their elfa badalla could be called into play, which would restore them to a healthy state, comparable to some ancient ancestor!

And it was on one of his visits to Janti Valuva’s lab that he had his near-death experience. Janti had another whole line of investigation going on about the biological possibilities of combining some highly volatile gases under extreme pressure. He thought he could produce protoplasm, and specifically living skin, using such a process. As Nuveen Valises walked into the lab on that fateful day, Janti was pressing the button on a high pressure retort, and instantly the explosion occurred which almost killed Valises; and totally annihilated Janti.

Valises spent many saskoos in hospital, being turned into a half-organic, half-machine cyborg. During that time, he refined his theory of elfa badalla.

Two vanta (years) later, when he proposed his new theory to the Science Convention of Latuvia, he was laughed off the stage. Actually laughed out of the room!

But this just emboldened him; and so he took off for three destinations in adjacent galaxies, to search for individuals who made a miraculous recovery from child abuse or neglect.

Over a period of eight years, he found ten such individuals; and he interviewed ten individuals who knew each of them; using computer crunchable questionnaire systems. And when he crunched the data, the four most salient pieces of information he found were these:

  1. Each of those individuals were known from an early age to be determined to follow their own motivations and directions in life. They could not be easily channelled into established social patterns or boxes.
  2. After an average of twelve years of questing through unmapped territory, each of them experienced a magical transformation in their capacity to laugh and cry; to love themselves and others; and to dance in the street to the most basic drumbeat.
  3. Investigations of these individuals suggested to Nuveen Valises that they had reverted to having the character and temperaments of their ancient ancestors.
  4. The next question was this: Which ancient ancestors are stored in the elfa badalla of an individual? From what period in the history of their clan or gen? Further investigation suggested that their body-minds were reset backwards by an average of 1500 Earth years (or 45 kaltu-jantos).

~~~

And now Professor Valises was on the final leg of his research journey.  He needed to find a totally damaged baby/child, in a civilization that subscribed to, and could demonstrate evidence for, a balance of genes and socialization as the basis of their character and personality formation.

His theory of elfa badalla would be confirmed if any such child could be witnessed to make an unaccountable recovery, which could then be attributed to a reversion to the biochemical underpinnings of his ancient ancestors.

He had already submitted his proposal to the Research Review Panel of the World Government; and a search party had been established. They appointed Inspector Sappakawa to head this search party.

Valises was very frustrated by this appointment, because Inspector Sappakawa was famously incompetent.

~~~

Professor Nuveen Valises wakes up with a start, and rubs his little blue face with his multidextrous, three-fingered hands, and stares at the folder on his little desk.

Outside the portaview of his intergalactic exploration starship, two smaller ships are approaching.  These will be the two psychologists who have been assigned to his new project.

He presses the button on his chest which reverses his wheels, and then turns the knob which swivels him around to face the komputa screen behind him.  He doesn’t think of himself as being wheelchair bound, because his wheels had been fitted as prostheses when he had his unfortunate accident during the final year of his research collaboration with Major Janti Valuva, about one hundred and ten years ago. And they are now an integral part of his self-concept.

As a result of this accident, Valises had to have a mechanical heart, lungs and guts fitted; and a mobility unit attached where his little legs had once been.

Valises spent most of the early post-doctoral years of his career researching the brain structures of all of the different sub-species of homo pulvexis, pove ligarto, and cabasis ovinus. These were the only kinds of sentient beings with enlarged brains in the known universe – until recently, when Homo sapiens were discovered.  And the only paltry thing that he had ever been able to demonstrate, in his entire post-doctoral research career – up to the point of creating the theory of elfa badalla – was that all of the advanced sentient beings in the known universe can be divided into two types: those whose whole life is dictated by their genes, hormones, and other chemicals, which cannot be altered by environmental factors; and those whose whole life is dictated by the culture into which they are born, which cannot be predicted from their genes, hormones and electro-chemical analysis.

But now, in his one hundred and fiftieth year, just at the point where he was due to retire, a disappointed member of the Klimmantz race, he was suddenly back in business.  His chief research assistant, Kalata, had been experimenting with a directable wormhole technology, and she’d accidentally focussed in upon a strange blue-green planet in the Nove quadrant of the Palatine galaxy.  She referred some of her observations, of life on Planet 3EX771, to Professor Valises, who quickly concluded that something very strange was happening on this planet.  Against all expectations, it seemed that the environment was shaping the genes of the subjects they observed.  That genes and environment interacted in completely unpredictable ways.

This discovery led Professor Valises to write a research proposal, which resulted in Inspector Sappakawa and his assistant, Suttee Mala, being sent to planet 3EX771 (Earth), to try to firm up a research proposal, which would be directed by the Professoré, supported by a small team of psychologists.

~~~

The two approaching spaceships have now disappeared from his view, and the professor can hear the great hisses of gas discharged by the docking process, five stories above his head.  He is so excited it feels as if the seven-chamber mechanical pump in his chest will burst with glee.

~~~

The visitors arrive.

They are brought to Valises’ office by the Robot, Vik-ta-99.

~~~

Kindle coverProfessor Valises wheels himself up to his desk.

Opposite him sit the two psychologists assigned to his new and exciting project on Planet 3EX771.

The first is a female, and her name is Dr Kabitza Kala, from the planet Zupulus.  She wears a silver foil jumpsuit, with black insignia. She is 33 years old, a graduate of one of the best psychology programs on Zupulus, and renowned for her diligent post-doctoral observational studies of the Pitmios people from the Sparsee asteroid belt.  She has the typical Zupulian head-shape; like a cross between a lizard and a sheep; green, wrinkly skin, with little nobbles of yellow fur on the top of her head, between her up-pointing ears.  Her eyes are watchful and intelligent; and she has a pleasant smile.

The second is Ober-Kolonel Mitta Balaga, from the planet Rosdinat.  He is 79 years old, and just about halfway through his career. He’s dressed in a green military tunic with rows of medals and badges; with black leather trousers and black leather boots. He has been assigned by the Ministry of Social Regulation.  His involvement is mandated by the governments of those Federation members who live on planets where life is dictated by the environment.  Military control of their environment ensures peaceful existence for the people.  Mitta-Balaga has a doctorate in military uses of social psychology.  He has the cobalt blue skin of the peoples of the third quadrant, of a similar hue to Professor Valises, but Mitta-Balaga is from the giant-like Stuarmint race, with dolphin-smooth skin; while Prof Valises is from the diminutive Klimmantz race, with its equally cobalt blue skin which is more like teddy-bear fur.  Mitta-Balaga’s head is like a cross between a blue fox and a dolphin, though without the protruding snout, which is more flattened.  But his ears are like typical blue fox ears.

~~~

“Welcome to the start of an exciting project”, says the professor, greeting his high-powered new associates.  He smiles engagingly at them, using two of his eyes, while his third eye, in his blue furry forehead, is scanning their curriculum vitae, which lie on the little desk before him.

“I have been assigned to lead this mission,” he continues, “which I hope and believe could result in a major breakthrough in our understanding of those cultures derived from what we think of as homo sapiens. I have my own idea what we may learn from studying these 3EX771 people”, he continues, excitedly, “but I think we will have our job cut out to make sense of this new, indeterminate interaction of social pressures and body-mind materials: including genes, hormones, and elfa badalla. And part of our mission is to determine to what degree these people may be governed by non-conscious life scripts”.

For a moment, the professor looked confused; disoriented; lost in thought.  Then he recovered himself, and said: “I’m assuming, of course, that they do have some elfa badalla!”

~~~

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Chapter 2: The difficult birth of Daniel O, in a very strange place

“Life is difficult for all human beings – but it is particularly difficult for children.  Children are born without a roadmap of the world, and they have to construct their own from the clues they pick up from their parents.  Some parents make it almost impossible for their children to reach a reasonable understanding of the nature of the world”.

Mickey J. Moran, A Very Peculiar Tragedy. (Page 8).

~~~

Preamble

If you want to understand the mind of any individual, you have to get to know as much as you can about the communal culture into which they were “thrown” at birth.

~~~

1. Nothing to be cheerful about…

Kindle coverSeveral miles inland from the coastal road that runs up the eastern seaboard of the Irish Free State, two deep, wooded valleys cut across each other at right angles, forming crossroads at the confluence of two rivers.  Cattle drovers from the surrounding countryside have been passing through here for hundreds of years – two days before the cattle market in Dubh Linn (or Black Pool) – or, later, Dub’lin – on a weekly basis.  Hence the existence of the hotel and four public houses in a community of less than one thousand people.

The people of Crumble are a dour lot.  ‘Nothing to be cheerful about round here!’ is a common sentiment.  The local farms are small, subsistence affairs, of about three to five acres each; on the periphery of a huge estate that is still owned by English landlords.  And it’s hard to eke out a living.

There’s hardly any cattle farming in this particular village through which so many cattle are herded.  Local people grow their own vegetables, raise chickens or turkeys, keep a few pigs; and go to the market some miles away once each week to buy what they do not grow, and to trade the surpluses that they have grown.

They travel to the market in their pony-traps or donkey-carts, and then mill around a big open field of dried earth (or rain-soaked mud), upon which selling stalls are erected.  Everybody dresses in black, or colours which cannot easily be distinguished from black.

There is no electricity or gas supply in the village; and the local schools (one Catholic and one Protestant) only cover the primary level of education. The schools are managed by the clergy, and the teachers are sectarian religionists.  It’s a very basic kind of life for people who do not count for anything with the national government.

On Sundays the locals go to their separate churches – the Catholic chapel and the Protestant church.  The Catholic chapel is four times the size of the Protestant church. (It is believed there are a couple of secret Jews in the village, but nobody knows who they are, because if they did, they would run them out!)

The women and men all wear black hats.  The women can keep their hats on during services, but the men must take theirs off.  This is one of God’s fundamental rules; for both Gods. (Possibly for all Gods!)

The Protestants and Catholics look askance at each other, when they encounter each other, but manage to muddle along in their separate social and economic grooves.

2. One night…

Kindle coverBut right now, night has fallen on this warm day in July, 1946, and the streets are in total darkness.  The moon is obscured by clouds.  The four streetlamps, which burn oil, are unlit – one in the middle of each of the small streets.   They are unlit by tradition; a tradition which began at the request of the British government, because the German bombers could use the lights in Ireland to locate themselves over England, between 1941 and 1944.

‘You’d have to be very close to see four street lamps in Crumble’, was the local response when it was announced that the government had agreed with the British that we would follow a blackout, after the bombing of North Strand in Dublin, three years earlier, which local republican rumours claimed had been the result of anti-English Dubliners leaving their lights on to help the bombers to bomb England.

But now, one year after the end of the war in Europe, the lights were still out, because the local parish council had very little money to pay for oil, and this was one way of cutting costs.

So the streets and the surrounding buildings are in total darkness; as they have been for the past five years.

Apart from the pubs, the hotel, two churches, two tiny schools, and a farm shop, the streets are lined with small, two-storey houses which have whitewashed walls, and green or yellow or black or white front doors.

In the Haymakers’ Inn, which is the main Catholic pub used by small farmers, the small bar room is full.  Six grey men in dark and dusty farm clothes and flat caps are sitting along the poorly illuminated wooden bar, mainly with their leather-patched elbows parked on the bar, small briar pipes in their mouths; puffing black shag smoke into the yellowed ceiling.  Another dozen or so are sitting glumly around the little round tables.

Their faces are flickering patches of black and yellow, illuminated by the oil lamps which are located on the bar, by the entrance door, and behind the bar.  Whole areas of the room are in total darkness.

The room is full of smoke from the pipe smokers, and the acrid smell of the small turf fire, which has been burning gently in the corner since about nine o’clock, when the heat went out of the evening.  The flames of the fire add an orange glow to the flickering lights that illuminate the closed faces of the customers.

Nobody speaks, and you can hear their rasping breaths, shallow and rhythmical, with occasional gurgles of saliva in the bowls of their pipes, which signals the need to spit in one of the spittoons on the floor, and then scrape out the pipe and refill it; relight it; and continue the satisfied sucking of a loved object.  (To love an object is okay in this culture.  To love a person? Mortal Sin! According to the priests.)

Rough workhands reach repeatedly for glasses of black stout, take a slug, sigh with pleasure; lips smack with satisfaction; and glasses are replaced gently, quietly on the bar.  Because of the strange illumination, the scene looks like it was painted by one of the Dutch Masters – perhaps Rembrandt or Flinck – without the fancy garments and hats.

The bald-headed, red-faced barkeeper washes and dries glasses, then pulls an occasional pint of black stout, which takes several minutes to settle down into a drinkable form, as the thick, creamy head shrinks from three inches to about one inch.  This requires some assistance, so he scrapes some of the thick froth out of each glass into a receptacle beneath the bar. Throughout all these processes, he keeps his distance from the customers at all times.

Requests for serving are more like grunts and codes than statements or questions.  No eye contact is made by anybody with anyone else.  It looks and feels as if there is an unwritten agreement that this place is for the efficient buying and drinking of black stout, followed by silent departure.

~~~

3. Darkness is where the demons dwell…

Kindle coverThe Cullen Boys, as they are known, are in the middle of the bar – two big, strapping farmhands.  They see that the barkeeper is sidling towards the left end of the bar, as the clock ticks up to eleven o’clock – and they know what will happen next.  In unison, they drain their glasses, pull the peaks of their flat caps down over their eyes, tap their pipes into the ash trays on the bar, and push the empty pipes into the top pockets of their worn coats. Then they stand up from their bar stools, and swivel towards the door.  As they do so, the barkeeper picks up a small leather mallet and strikes the bar once.  As the Cullen boys turn to leave the bar, the remaining men drain their glasses, grunt or burp, turn like toy soldiers and follow the Cullen boys out into the street.

Sean and Padraig Cullen have left their big black bicycles outside the front of the pub, on top of the others, for a quick escape.  They had already removed their bicycle clips when they arrived, because the hill home is too steep to cycle.  As they wheel their bicycles away, now, they hear two or three men behind them grunt farewells, or say goodnight.

It’s only about fifty yards to the end of the street – five small houses and a small Catholic chapel – where the boys, no longer deserving of the name, as they are in their late thirties, turn sharp right and enter onto the steep hill homewards.  At this point they both switch on their bicycle lamps.  They are not cowards, but they believe that it could be dangerous to walk up this hill in the total darkness because there are big, waterlogged ditches on both sides of the road, and at least one or two drunks have drowned in them over the decades.

They also believe in demons and the devil, and they know that darkness is where they dwell.  This is the point at which they normally begin to whistle – token whistling; little incomplete attempts at a tune; which is not so much an expression of culture as it is of panic.

Here, on the dark road home, the devil runs the show.  When dawn comes, the freshly washed priests and vicars will emerge from their hiding places; the devil will withdraw, and god will reclaim the day.

The boys have a few miles to walk before they get to the Cullen farm, where they will collapse into bed together, in a bed shared with two younger brothers, and out of which they will be hauled by Old Man Cullen about four o’clock in the morning, to prepare to milk the herd – the Cullens’ being one of the few cattle farms this close to the village.

So they trudge off up the hill, side by side, pushing their heavy bicycles in silence.  The moon emerges to illuminate their journey for a couple of minutes, and then is obscured again by cloud cover; only to emerge again two minutes later.

As they turned the gentle bend between Dennehey’s turkey farm and the Flynn’s run-down homestead, where the gradient of the hill steepens significantly, a cloud passed over the moon, and they were plunged into deeper darkness.  Immediately after this point, they were stopped in their tracks by a loud scream.  They looked at each other in terror through the gloom.  Could this be it?  The demonic confrontation they had long expected?

Silence!

They recovered their composure and walked on, gasping as they pushed their great black bicycles up the steep incline; tired out by a hard day’s work and too much porter.

As they got closer to the gate of Flynn’s farm – on the right of the road – they heard it again; this time louder; and this time it was clearly a woman in distress.  She was shouting and screaming now; wailing and protesting.

As they reached the gate, they wondered what it could mean.  By the gate, they could remember the spot where Old Man Flynn’s Model-A Ford had stood, on the side of the road, inches from the ditch.  This was the car in which he died, about seven years ago, after weeks of using it as his home, in the coldest winter they had known, locked into a mound of snow.  They had no idea why Old Man Flynn had taken to living in his car.  There were rumours of ‘interfering with’ his children; but they had no idea what that actually meant.  The phrase, ‘interfering with’, was like a blow to the guts, a painful grasping at the heart, a fear of falling into a big black pit.  It had no images attached to it, and no descriptors.  It was one of the night terrors of Catholic childhood.

Because of this confusion about why Old Man Flynn had died the way he did, they did not consider stopping to see if anybody needed their help.  It was none of their business.  They were not citizens of a Grecian democracy.  They were pawns in a plot that had not been explained to them!

They walked on!

~~~

4. A difficult birth…

IKindle covernside the Flynn’s farmhouse all was not well.  Neeve, the twenty year old daughter, had come home to her mother’s place to give birth to her second child.  The girls who slept in the big bedroom to the right of the front door had been sent to stay with various aunties, and Neeve had the room to herself.  Birth was a secret process, and the less the children knew about it the better!  (Best to tell them a nurse would bring the new baby in her suitcase, having found it under a cabbage plant!)

Neeve had arrived the day before she was due to give birth, and lounged around, waiting.  She was not expecting to be detained for very long, because her first child, Caitlin, had ‘slipped out like an oiled pea’ after thirty minutes of labour.

She arrived before lunchtime yesterday, and her waters finally broke during breakfast today; and she was hurried off to the side room by the midwife in attendance.  But now, tonight, she has been in labour for sixteen hours – and she is in a state of exhaustion and despair. The midwife, Mrs Meehan, had to send for Old Nurse Sweeny, because she was at her wits end.

Nurse Sweeny had tried everything she knew to get this girl to deliver her second baby, but nothing worked.  Although she ordered her to push, to shove, to breathe, to squat on the bed and bear down, nothing worked.  And now the girl had become hysterical, thinking this unbearable pain could never be dislodged from her unmentionable parts.

The girl’s mother, Old Mrs Flynn – as distinct from the younger Mrs Flynns who were married to her older boys – was agitated, as she went from room to room trying to distract herself from the screams and curses of her daughter.

Several of Neeve’s older brothers and sisters, along with a couple of aunts, sat around the big room to the left of the front door, waiting for the event to be over, so they could get on with their own lives.  All the younger children were upstairs, under orders to go to sleep – but how could they with such a racket going on downstairs?

Nurse Sweeny had prepared a concoction of herbs, and forced the girl to drink it.  This was followed by wild evacuations of the bowels, for which no advanced planning had been made, and then by much urination, but the head of the baby remained intractably, if visibly, lodged in the poor girl’s dilated vulva.

Old Nurse Sweeny went to the next room and talked to Old Mrs Flynn, and tried to persuade her that a doctor would have to be called, as they had exhausted all their know-how, and were at their wit’s end.  It looked like Neeve and the baby might die, if a doctor was not called urgently.

But Old Mrs Flynn shook her head and pushed the nurse away, insisting, regrettably, that she definitely could not, under any circumstance, afford to pay a doctor.

~~~

5. An innocent goat…

Kindle coverThe next few hours were a nightmare for everybody.  All the children who were in bed upstairs were distressed by the wild screaming.  The girl’s husband, Owen, was in shock, sitting by the fire staring into ash and embers.

Now Neeve just wailed, weakly, from time to time, like a dying animal; and then fell into brief unconsciousness.  Awake again, she wailed and cried.  Sobbed.  Then temporary silence.  Then she would rouse up and bash her head against the headboard and shout, Jazis, Jazis, Jazis Christ! Will somebody kill me, please!

Somewhere after two o’clock in the morning, the goat, tied up in the barn, next to the delivery room, began to respond to Neeve’s screams with its own bleats.

The goat-bleating was unnerving everybody, and Old Mrs Flynn paced up and down, brushing the tangle of fuzzy grey hair out of her eyes.  She was not a woman who knew much about self-restraint.

“Mother of God”, she intoned, after the goat had bleated more than a dozen times, in tandem with Neeve’s screams.  “I’ll kill that goat if it doesn’t stop!”  Her wrinkled face, like an ancient Native American who had been dehydrated for a decade, was more tense and angry than usual, which was saying something.

But the goat was nowhere near finished, and continued to bleat and blah, every time the girl cried out.

Finally, Old Mrs Flynn lost control, picked up a big, thick tree-branch from the pile of firewood by the open fire, and, brandishing it like a club, went out, slamming the door behind her; yanked open the creaking barn door and obviously struck the goat a heavy blow.  Instead of quieting the beast, this had the effect of producing a wild shriek, following which Neeve began to cry, “Oh God help me!  God help me!  God help me!”

The goat screamed; the stick thudded again and again; the girl cried out; the goat screamed; the stick thudded, over and over and over.

End of extract…

~~~

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About the author

Daniel for cover - 001Jim Byrne is a doctor of counselling, from the University of Manchester, UK (2002/3-2008/9. He is a survivor of childhood abuse and emotional neglect. He’s spent may years helping counselling and therapy clients who have serious problems of emotional attachment to their parents, and later to their marriage partners. He has explored several strands of thinking about the use of fiction as a healing art, especially the use of fictionalized autobiography as writing therapy.

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[1] The largely uneducated nature of Daniel’s family of origin is probably not at all relevant. After all: chimps and bonobos, with no schooling whatsoever, manage to care for their young with much more apparent love and affection than Daniel ever got from his (“inhuman”!) human parents!

[2] An ‘alter ego’ is a ‘second self’ or different (hidden) version of oneself (like Superman and Clark Kent; or Jekyll and Hyde).

[3] An archetype is a literary device in which a character is created based on a set of qualities or traits that are specific and identifiable for readers. The term archetype is derived from the studies and writings of psychologist Carl Jung who believed that archetypes are part of humanity’s collective unconscious or memory of universal experiences. In a literary context, characters (and sometimes images or themes) that symbolically embody universal meanings and basic human experiences, independent of time or place, are considered archetypes. (Source: Literary Devices, online at https://literarydevices.net/archetype/)

[4] A saskoo is the standard 40 day “month” in the Galactic Calendar, established by the World Government in the vanta (year) XP*^93 APV.

[1] Selima Hill, from ‘Sunday Afternoon at the Gravel-pits’, in Neil Astley (Ed.) Staying Human: New poems for staying alive. Bloodaxe Books. 2020.

[2] Rass, E. (2018). The Allan Schore Reader: Setting the course of development. London: Routledge.

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