Sex-love and gender wars


Coming soon: The second volume of Dr Jim Byrne’s fictionalized autobiography, written as both self-therapy, and as psycho-education for the perplexed:

The Sex-Love Question and the so-called “Gender Wars”:

Or how my life was distorted by misinformation about sex and gender

The life-distorting socialization of Daniel O’Beeve

A fictionalized autobiographical story by Jim Byrne


Alchemical Press, Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire, 2023

Copyright (c) Jim Byrne, 2023



By Jim Byrne


1B, Front cover Sex-love bookThis is a book about my own sexual development, and gender identity, and the ways in which they were distorted by growing up in a very unhappy, but devout, Catholic family, in the Irish Free State, in the 1940s and 50s.

Sex is a very wet and sticky subject; and gender identity discussions are fraught with controversy. Nevertheless, I feel it is important to explore those elements of the foundations of my psychological life, in order to be reborn in a saner universe than the one in which I grew up.

I am like the character in the following statement by Gabriel Garcia Marquez:

“…He allowed himself to be swayed by his conviction that human beings are not born once and for all on the day their mothers give birth to them, but that life obliges them over and over again to give birth to themselves”.

I have given new births to myself many times over the past sixty years; and it seems I have not finished yet. To become whole is a fundamental urge of the human organism; and I left many potential parts of myself behind when I chewed off those limbs which were clamped in the trap which was my family of origin, so I could make a break for freedom, in July 1964.


1B, Front cover Sex-love bookThere are three main positions that can be adopted towards the subject of sex:

Firstly, the most “enlightened position” could be stated like this: “Sex is an essential part of how we keep the human race going; and it can be a pleasurable and healthy aspect of loving relationships.”

Secondly, the most “reactionary” or “ultra-conservative” position could be summarized as this: “Sex is disgusting and nasty, and has to be suppressed and repressed and kept out of the public mind.”

Thirdly, there is the “anarchic, anti-social and amoral” position, which states that: “There is no such thing as evil, therefore sex can be handled in any way you like; mixed with all kinds of sadistic and commercial elements, pornography and obscenity, and placed beyond the law and morality”.

Obviously, I reject the third position, precisely because it is amoral, irresponsible, and rejecting of lawful norms. It is a recipe for human misery and degradation; as well as the enslavement of victims of slave trading and prostitution.

I also reject the second position, because it has been found that repressing and suppressing sex does not work. Look at the sexual abuse that was done to innocent children and adults in Ireland by repressed Catholic priests. I went out with an Irish nun who said she left the order because she would rather sleep with a man than a fellow nun. That all the nuns in her convent paired off in bed after lights out time.  Need I say more? Suppression and repression do not work. 

So that just leaves the first position:

“Sex is an essential part of how we keep the human race going; and it can be a pleasurable and healthy aspect of loving relationships.”

1B, Front cover Sex-love bookMy question then becomes, how should parents and teachers go about teaching about sex-love to our children? Please note that I have substituted “sex-love” for “sex”, because humans are not like the animals of the field; we do not mate when nature dictates that we mate; we form relatively stable partnerships, which often turn into life partnerships, with a loved person; and we keep our sexual appetites in harmony and balance with our loving kindness towards our partner. (In most cases; and in an ideal world!)

I now want to refer to the process of mating; and to refer to the male member and the female receptacle; but I want to do that without causing any offence, or being obscene or crude; so I intend to follow Eric Berne’s solution, and to use anagrams for the key words involved.  Here goes:

When nature says “it’s time to cuff”, the animals of the field get cuffing. (Here ‘cuff’ is used as an anagram of a more common word for sexual intercourse, which is of Scottish extraction. [It is also used as a common swear word: “cuff off”]). For those animals, mating (or cuffing) is exclusively about the vigorous pushing of a pirk into a tunc. (Here ‘pirk’ and ‘tunc’ are used as anagrams of the two parts of the anatomy involved in cuffing – one of which rhymes with trick [pirk], and one of which rhymes with punt [tunc]). And, while pirks and tuncs, and cuffing, are part of human sex-love, it seems to me that we have a lot more explaining to do to our children before they can understand the subtleties of the difference between the birds and bees, on the one hand, and human sex-love on the other. The major difference being that humans are cultured beings, with family, tribe or national customs regarding how and when to engage in the rituals of sex-love, which are not all about pirks, and tuncs and cuffing!

And the question of how to educate our children – (about the biology, psychology and philosophy of human sex-love) – cannot be answered by showing high school pupils how to pull a condom onto a phallus; or warning them about protecting themselves from sexually transmitted diseases.


1B, Front cover Sex-love bookYou will not find any obscenities in this book. (Apart from the anagrams of common sex words above, none of which should cause offence, because they do not sound like the originals; and if you already know the originals, you can hardly accuse me of introducing them to your mind!)

I agree with Eric Berne that it is possible to write about obscenities without being obscene; and that it is important to remain pure by our own standards[1]. I strive for a form of graceful living; and that is not compatible with the use of vulgar language, harsh words, or obscenities. (Any clever high school boy could write about 43 shades of sadomasochism; and any angry high school girl could write about how all the fault and blame for the so-called “gender wars” lies on one side – [Her father’s!]).


I am writing this book essentially as self-therapy; but also as a way of communicating to others…

– How to do self-therapy on sex and gender using fictionalized autobiography;

– How to repair one’s ignorance about sex-love and the delights of happy relationships;

– And how to become a fully functioning man (or woman) in a world of walking wounded!


It could be said that this book wrote itself, in outline, during a brief period of convalescence, necessitated by severe, sore, skin allergies; (reactions to food, I thought; or fungus; or viruses; but then…)

Certainly, the idea for this book surged up through me, into conscious awareness, like little blades of new grass, cracking through their concrete dungeon roof. Bursting out of the basement of my mind.

It almost felt like returning from a shamanic journey. One minute I was prostrated in bed, devoid of energy, feeling ground down by the constant pain of blisters on my left arm and hand, which nothing could relieve. And my legs were increasingly sore.

1B, Front cover Sex-love bookI had been struggling with allergies since the beginning of October (2022), about seven or eight weeks earlier. That was the point in time when I began writing and editing my previous book about my relationship with my mother: (titled, The Disconnected Heart of Daniel O.) And it was not just allergies with which I was tormented, but cold sores on my left hand, and that hand would swell up to 130-150% of its normal size!  My left ankle also swelled painfully. (And prior to this point, I had been extraordinarily healthy – apart from Candida Albicans overgrowth – for decades!)

I dealt with these ongoing allergy problems using alternative remedies, rather than conventional health solutions. (I do not take painkillers, as pain is a message from the body that something is wrong, and needs to be addressed. Antibiotics cause problems with our intestinal flora in the longer term. And pharmaceutical drugs have various nasty side effects.)

On 12th November, I wrote this in my journal:

“I am still trying to heal my left arm and hand, which seems to have a viral infection. But it could also be a combined viral/ bacterial/ fungal infection, with elements of food allergy. The symptoms are very varied from one part of my skin to another.

Anyway, despite the pain and soreness, I pushed ahead, and I got my book about my “mother wound” published a couple of weeks ago. I had no plans to write a sequel.  I thought, “That’s it. My relationship with my mother is now complete!”


1B, Front cover Sex-love bookI wrote in my journal how I tend to work too hard, for too long. And I internalize some of the emotional traumas of some of my more disturbed counselling clients.

And I feel my (dead) mother’s disapproval that I am writing about the ways in which she (inadvertently, unavoidably) harmed me. Passed on the harm to me that had been done to her!


So my sore limbs continued to be a problem.

Then, on 18th November, I wrote in my journal that my allergies had gotten much worst in the past couple of days, and are now at a pain level of 9/10, which is almost intolerable; and that I have now started using Barrie Konicov’s audio hypnosis program for healing allergies, by tracking back to the first time they occurred, to find the original trigger. (And I am eliminating certain foods, and using certain other healing foods; all self-directed. [“Physician heal thyself!”])


I begin to wonder if my allergies, or skin illness, is part of a “shaman’s sickness” – which is based on the idea that a person can go on a deep journey into their own subconscious mind, and on into the universal unconscious mind; and return with useful wisdom.  (This is not something that I would ordinarily consider). I have been receiving lots of highly helpful dreams for a long time, connected with the need to cure my childhood developmental trauma; and I begin to wonder if my illness is proving difficult to cure because I have not yet fully “surrendered” to being used in this way?!? (This will be explored further in Chapter 6, below).


1B, Front cover Sex-love bookI did a lot of writing in my journal, trying to track back to the origin of my allergies. Not much clarity there yet!

Then on Sunday, 27th November 2022, I wrote this (in my Morning Pages):

My skin allergies, and the cold sores on my left hand, continued through last weekend, and all the way through Monday. I was in agony. My energy plummeted. My mood was very low.

On Tuesday 22nd, when my wife (Renata) left to go to her regular activity in Halifax, she had to come to the bedroom to say goodbye, because I could not get out of bed: (Low energy, low mood). As soon as she left the house I went back to sleep. (I was seventy-six years young at this point!)

I awoke a few times over the next few hours, and told the world to “F**K off, and leave me in peace!” I had no physical energy to fuel a single step out of bed; and I had no psychic energy to fuel a moment’s interest in life!

Around 13.30 to 13.40 hours, I was dozing, on the edge of sleep. I was going in and out of dream states. I was in a dream in which I was about fourteen years old. I had recently finished school for good (probably three or four days before this point), and I was due to start work in about four days’ time. I was standing on the front path in the garden of our council (or Dublin Corporation) house. It was a lovely, sunny day. The road was totally deserted. Not a single car parked. (This was an era of very few cars in working class areas!) No people around.

From where I’m standing, I can see the eighteen houses, in three blocks of six two-storey houses, on the opposite side of the road from my parents’ house. Our side of the road is identical.

1B, Front cover Sex-love bookAll the children went to school three or four hours ago. All the fathers, and teenagers, went to work before then. Some mothers have now gone out shopping (for their “messages”). Probably all the rest of the mothers, and infants, are in their homes, doing the kinds of things that mothers and infants do in their homes in this era, in this area.

Up the road, about four houses from where I stand, two dogs have approached each other – right in the middle of the empty road – and begun to sniff around and tussle for dominance. One is brown, with floppy ears and a short, stiff tail sticking upwards. The other is white, with a few small black patches, and spiky ears. Suddenly, the brown dog has gone behind the white dog and mounted it, just like the cows sometimes did in the field behind our old house, several years ago.

I felt a jolt of electricity shoot up through my legs, and into my short trousers.

The brown dog is now moving his hind quarters back and forth, like the crank of a steam engine, pushing the piston into the combustion chamber.

My whole body is electrified. The little brown dog begins to hump and pump as if his life depended upon doing this right and thoroughly. And it feels like the hair is standing upright on my head. And my body is warming dramatically.

Now I can feel a rhythmical musical beat – like a loud drumbeat – coming up through the earth and vibrating my body. (Years later, when I first heard Stravinsky’s ‘Rite of Spring’, I realized that this was the rhythm I was feeling on that dog-day – especially the heavily syncopated sections, like the one that starts about 23 minutes into the performance). It was electrifying.

1B, Front cover Sex-love bookThe world shrank down to the small space in which the little brown dog was performing his historical destiny; and I thought at any moment there would be a volcano opening up under me and those two dogs, catapulting us into a glorious conflagration of eternal fireworks! (Not that I knew any of those words on that day, but looking back, those are the words that describe the feelings I was experiencing).

However, while I was holding my breath, heart racing, expecting the volcano at any moment, instead, the front door of number 91 opens, and out steps the grim faced Mrs Turner; known by the rough children on the road as Mrs Thunder, because of her constant bad temper – (a bit like my own mother). In her hands she is carrying a white enamelled bowl, and she’s walking quickly but carefully. She puts the bowl down to open the gate, and then she strides across to the middle of the road and pours the contents – cold water, I think –  over the two dogs. The dogs yelp and yike and run off in opposite directions: one up and one down the road.

Next, Mrs Turner turns her angry attention to me. She squints her eyes, and screws up her nose with obvious distaste at my interest in the doings of the two dogs.

She looks disgusted. I am momentarily transfixed by her face, surrounded by big curlers, wrapped in a silken headscarf; a Woodbine hanging from her curled lip. Then I drop my eyes. The drums stop beating in my head and my heart. My body temperature plummets. I feel my face get hot and red. I feel terrible; like a very bad boy. A bad Catholic. I’ve been caught doing something that is outlawed by the Church.

Mrs Turner does a kind of deep “Harrumph” in her throat, and marches back to her garden and into her house.

The world goes back to its usual dark and cold and dreary depressive numbness. I feel locked back inside my brick casing.



1B, Front cover Sex-love bookI came out of my sleepy (76 year young) state…

And a realization hit me, like a frying pan in the face.

I was made to feel ashamed, all my childhood life, of being male; of having male genitals; of being curious about life. Curious about sex, and love and the mysteries of male female realtions.

Femaleness was represented to me as being beyond reproach; something wholesome and pure; but maleness was something to be ashamed of.

Suddenly, here and now, fifty-two years after the dog-gate affair, I was no longer lying in bed feeling weak. My energy returned like a fire on which petrol has been poured. I sprang out of my bed like a gazelle. My mood shot up. I felt great; enlivened; elevated; zinging!

I knew what I had to do.

I had to write a book about human sexuality and the apparent “gender wars”. I had to retrieve the dignity of maleness!

I went to the kitchen; ate two slices of gluten free bread; drank a cup of coffee; and came up here to my office to write this text.


1B, Front cover Sex-love bookI began typing on my computer, in an attempt to capture the little blades of new grass which were bursting through the deep concrete roof of my subconscious mind.

But these blades of grass were sparse indeed, as material for a whole book. They were just the first elements of a potential new fictionalized story about the mad world into which Daniel O’Beeve, (my alter ego), had been thrown at birth. Especially his bizarre sex education, and his lack of guidance regarding romantic love, or sex-love; as well as his linguistic poverty. (These are developmental deficits of utmost importance!)

The process of beginning to sketch the outline of this new story is difficult to describe. If I had to develop an analogy, it would go something like this:

Imagine a little boy (me), who has had some (but few) experiences of eating cooked fish in his life – so he knows something about fish, and especially cooked fish. He is playing in the garden of his next door neighbour. He finds the contents of their garbage bin (trash can) too fascinating to ignore, so he begins to trawl through it, discarding the most familiar cans and bottles and vegetable matter that he finds. Then he finds the skeleton of a fish, about six inches long. He knows it’s the skeleton of a fish. He can imagine what the tail looked like, and the head (including the one, accusatory eye, staring up at him).

He then tries to imagine what the flesh looked like, once it had been restored, and locked inside of a scaly skin. Within seconds, he has constructed, in his creative imagination, a whole fish – called Donald – or Dolly. And then, of course, he has to try to imagine what Donald’s life was like; (let’s assume it’s a male fish!); where he was spawned; where he swam in his early years; where he was swimming when he was caught (in a net, or on a hook). Soon he has a whole story of the life of Donald. (All based on a simple skeleton!)

This was the kind of reconstruction task that I had to undertake, in fleshing out the sex education, the love deprivation, and the relationship nightmares of Daniel O’Beeve’s quest for love, for sexual union, and for an understanding of “what in Heaven’s name” (or wtf) was going on around him, in his daily life, between “the genders”, on this weird planet!

Of course, I had a bit more than a single skeleton: I had a few childhood memories of events; a few visual images of relevant objects; clear recollection of a few family stories; one or two photos; and some psychological theories about family life and individual development.

Like a bricoleur, I went to work with gusto, gluing shards of painful memory to bits of cast-iron lunacy!


Jim Byrne, February 2023


[1] Eric Berne, Sex in Human Loving. Penguin Books. 1070/1981.


Chapter 1: My early education about men, women and sex organs, up to puberty


“Countless years ago the people of Alzorus used the Planet Earth as a lunatic asylum. They called the people they dumped there ‘Earthlings’. I am an earthling”.

Brian Patten, The Earthling.


1B, Front cover Sex-love bookIn 1949, long before most people knew anything about Dr John Bowlby’s research on emotionally disturbed children, (and how their emotional disturbances largely came out of their disturbed relationships with their parents), I stood in a zinc bath, in a tin shack, attached to the back of a wooden lodge, at the end of a gravel avenue, in an urban village, on the outskirts of Dublin City.

I was three years old. In the other end of the bath stood my sister, Caitlin. She was pointing at the bottom of my belly.

I was not clear why she was pointing in that way, and turning her little, critical nose up in the air. My mother (Neeve) responded by explaining that the appendage on the bottom of my belly was called a “teapot”; that only boys and men had them; that they were “a curse”; and that she (Neeve) and Caitlin were “special” because they did not have one of those “awful teapots” attached to the bottom of their bellies.

I naturally intuited that this was another occasion on which I should feel ashamed of being me; of being a boy; of being like my father (Owen). This was another reminder that I had been born into the wrong tribe – the tribe of men – who were scorned by all right-thinking women and girls, as dirty, rotten exploiters, and abusers; who foisted their lustful ways upon the innocent bodies of girls and women.

I probably blushed, though I cannot remember the fine details. I probably felt ghastly; but that was quite a common feeling for me, then, and later.  I certainly felt rejected; an outsider; a no-good-nik.

I had been rendered self-conscious, like Adam in the Garden of Eden. I had lost my connection to the all.

Who was I now? Who could I be? Was there a place for me in this world?

It would take about thirty-five years for me to come to understand that I had been badly “caught in the gaze of the other” – the “critical other”. I had been “objectified” and “dehumanized” – de-individuated – by individuals who would spend their lives insisting that only women are ever objectified and dehumanized!


Interlude 1:

1B, Front cover Sex-love bookEven though we know that life is stranger than fiction, it still comes as a shock to realize that a green-faced alien is watching, from three billion light years away, as I blush and look down at my teapot. I have no words for the soreness in my heart, but I feel like I was born to live in a matchbox, and my family resents me for somehow escaping into the world of the real, important people.

I only know (today, when I am all grown up) about the green-faced alien – Dr Kala – because I have seen the final report, by Professor Valises, of the research project that set out to follow me through my life, to see… Well, we’ll see…

Dr Kabitza Kala is shocked by the negative way my mother is describing my sexuality – male sexuality; maleness; manliness. She knows that this is a hugely significant wound in the soul of her research subject – me. She, along with Professor Valises and Kolonel Mitta Balaga, have been observing my little life, on a moment by moment basis, since a few weeks after my birth. (Even my birth was recorded, by Inspector Sapakawa, who was the sourcing agent for this research project. He it was who found me, and identified me as an ideal candidate for Professor Valises’ research project).

Nowadays, even when the team members are asleep, every moment of my life is recorded with the most advanced audio visual equipment in the universe of the Intergalactic Federation, and analysed by the best psychological brains.

Dr Kala is not normally thought of as “a green faced alien”. She is in fact something of a ravishing beauty, in her 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. She has a kind of sexual energy that one imagines could produce ripples of pleasure in a stone wall!

Right now she has a big decision to make. She taps her crab-like claws on her desk, purses her lips, and hums. After a few seconds she decides. Even though Professor Valises is on a rare home leave, she knows this is too important to leave him out of the loop. So she walks across the control room of their sparkling space ship, and sits in front of the big komputa screen, and connects some plugs and sockets on a control panel.  Then he turns some knobs, and pulls a couple of levers. The screen hums and buzzes as the turling portette fires up, and an older blue, furry face appears on the screen.

“Valises”, says this older, blue man, with long white hair like a judge’s wig.

“Professoré!” says Dr Kala in an excited voice.

“Ah, Dr Kala. Nice to hear from you”.

“Professoré. It’s happened. The final wound…”

“Slow down, doctor. Speak slowly…”

“It’s happened as you expected…”



1B, Front cover Sex-love bookIt’s always tempting to believe we can know the defining moments of a person’s life. The kind of key events that will shape the whole of their future. But do we ever?

We can make some good guesses, for sure. But individuals are deep and mysterious organisms. And we are as much at war between the various elements of our own subconscious minds, as we are in conflict with our family and wider culture. The cellars of our minds are impossible to ever penetrate with anything like certainty or clarity. Or even a good-ish guess!


How was I affected by the “denigration of the teapot” farrago?

Nine years later, in 1958, I was sitting in Brother Herbert’s class, in the Thorny Crown School, in Wattling Town. I was twelve years old. In short trousers. It was a very warm, early summer outside, and the sun was magnified by the large expanse of glass in the classroom windows. And I was wearing a thick Arran jumper, made from double-knitting wool with all the oils intact, like a fisherman’s waterproof jumper. My body was very warm.

Suddenly, I felt I was losing control of my body.

My “teapot” felt like it was expanding at an exponential rate, and it felt like my “spout” – (which is more commonly known as “the mickey” by rude boys!) – would surge out of the end of my short trouser leg, and lift the school desk off the ground and hurl it into the air. In the process, I would be exposed before the holy Brother (Herbert) as an animal; a beast. A fornicator. A mortal sinner. A heathen. A servant of the Devil. All because of the “mark of the evil teapot”, which was drawn to my attention by my sister and my mother, when I was just three years old.

But what else could my mother have done, way back then, when I was three years old, and she was asked for a “position” regarding my “teapot”, by my curious sister?

While I was struggling to answer that question – (in 2022, at the age of 76 years, [still trying to unravel my past!]) – I stumbled upon a poem by Rita Dove, the American poet, who is four years older than me – and thus not a modern enfant terrible. Her poem has the rather lengthy title of, ‘After Reading Mickey in the Night Kitchen for the Third Time Before Bed’.

1B, Front cover Sex-love bookThe reference to ‘Mickey in the Night Kitchen’ is about an illustrated children’s book, (titled In the Night Kitchen), by Maurice Sendak, in which Mickey is a little boy who is transported to a special Night Kitchen, where he finds himself to be naked, and (marginally, implicitly) curious about his own body parts.

(That book contains 54 images. And in 10 of those 54 images, Mickey is undressed. But only 4 of those images show a brief outline of his little innocent “teapot”. Nevertheless, this book was banned in America for almost thirty years.)

The main character in Dove’s poem is a three year old girl – the same age I was at the point of “Teapot-Gate”.

This girl is curious about her own genitals, and she asks her mother what this is. And her mother tries to explain. And then the girl asks her mother to let her see her own genitals. The mother agrees, and they sit on the floor “like a lopsided star”, looking at each other’s genitals.

Then the little girl jumps up, satisfied. ’We’re pink!’ she shrieks, and bounds off.

The little girl does not develop a morbid interest in sex. She does not try to involve the mother in sexual explorations. Her curiosity about her “neat cameo”, or “girl parts”, is quickly satisfied, and off she goes to her next exploration of the endless mysteries of life.

If only my mother could have been as accepting of my “teapot”, my “boy parts”, all those years ago, I could have been spared thirty years of misery, at least!  (All other things being equal; such as: If she had also demonstrated some degree of love for me; some degree of acceptance of me; some willingness to listen to me; to talk to me; to answer a question or two! To ‘converse’!)

But perhaps this was not her job. Perhaps my father should have educated me regarding “boy’s matters”, “male affairs”, “masculine issues”. At worst, this would have involved a balancing up of my mother’s prejudiced view of my teapot, and all things male.

1B, Front cover Sex-love bookBut my father was an autistic authoritarian, who was incredibly powerfully sexually repressed. He was a priest-ridden cypher, without any sense of agency. A joyless husk!

My father is the proof of the claim by Steve Biddulph – in his book, Manhood – that most men do not have a life. All they have is an act. And they repeat the same act, year after year after year – in the vain hope that, by doing the same thing over and over again, they will eventually get a different outcome. And they keep on going, until they reach their deathbed scene, and then they say: “I thought there might be more to life than this!”

I would have to have been insane to ask my father: “What is my teapot, and how come Caitlin and mammy don’t have one?”  He would have taken his belt off and skelped me several times on the bare legs! While denouncing me as a little whelp; and a son of Satan!


After I wrote this piece about my father, I drifted, mentally. Days and days went by. And then I began to get allergic skin reactions on the top of my back, from my neck down to below my shoulder blades.

I tried treating that sore skin with soothing creams, lotions, Neem cream, Dr Bach’s Rescue Cream, and so on.  Also, with dilute apple cider vinegar. And dilute TCP. Nothing seemed to help.

Then I tried focusing my awareness on that part of my back. All that came up were images of my father, from my early childhood. But there was no action. No soundtrack. No dialogue. No interaction. What could this mean?

I then speculated that there was no action because there had never been any kind of relationship between me and my dad!

That – as I think about it today, at the age of 76 years young – is really very shocking! No relationship!

No relationship with the man who had to be my role model for how to be a man in relationship with other men, and also with women!

Holy Jesus!

1B, Front cover Sex-love bookI knew my dad had beaten me, mainly with his belt; and that he had shouted loudly at me; and browbeaten me. You don’t forget things like that!

One memory suggests that at least once, he hit me around the legs with the buckle-end of his belt.  (But, I also believe he was most often told – by my “loving mother” – to beat me, when she felt she could not hit me hard enough to fully express her rage against me!)

So, maybe I was “soft” on my dad, because he was mostly out of the house. He came home at the end of his working day, exhausted, and, for many years, had to flop on the sofa and inhale a little smouldering hillock of Potter’s Asthma Remedy, which contained opium, legally (in the 1950s).

He was in no condition to beat anybody at those times.

And he liked to read the Evening Herald once he was composed, mostly after eating a humble evening meal, about which he normally complained.

My mother’s cooking disappointed him. (And I understand why!)

These circumstances might have caused me to feel sorry for “Daddy”; to let him off the hook; even though he had punched me in the face, at the age of six years; knocking me down three concrete steps, onto a concrete floor, where I lay unconscious until my mother ran down and picked me up.

I suppose most of my self-analysis has focused on my mum – (mom? Mam? Mammy?) – because:

(1) She managed me and my little life on a moment by moment basis from soon after birth until I went to school at the age of four years; and then on a morning and evening basis, until the age of fourteen years.

(2) And because she was mentioned by my psychoanalyst – when I was twenty-two years old – as the source of my adult-onset, or adult-emergent, psychological problems.

1B, Front cover Sex-love bookCompared with my exposure to my mum (“mammy”), my father (“daddy”) was a veritable bit-part; a walk-on stranger; a frightening bloke in the background; a non-involved part of the wallpaper of my life.

I always knew my psychoanalysis was partial and incomplete; but I did not spot that a big part of what made it incomplete was the absence of a focus on my strange, estranged, cold, distant, non-involved, pitiable father (“daddy”). That was a huge oversight, if only because

(1) (Probably!) I subliminally saw my dad as my role model for being a man.

(2) (Most likely!) I saw his wife (“mammy”) as my model for a future marital mate.

(3) (And therefore!) I learned from dad (“daddy”) how to be a non-viable husband – in my first marriage! Where non-viable means “bound to fail!”

(4) And I (most likely!) learned how to be a (non-viable) father of children from my dad.

So how did I, “a child of above-average intelligence”, come to overlook the “sins of my father”?

Firstly, I was only of above average in particular aspects of intelligence: the ones that are promoted in school – reading, writing, arithmetic and some aspects of formal logic.  Plus rote learning and regurgitation!

I was woefully below average intelligence in the social-emotional realm. I lacked the vocabulary to be able to think-feel about social situations; and I lacked the internalized “emotional regulation” experience of being mothered by an emotionally intelligent mother. (My mother’s emotional intelligence was very low. [Two out of ten?!? On a good day!] She did not understand her own emotions, or how to keep them within a reasonable range. She did not understand my father’s emotional signals, or how to deal with them. And she did not know how to communicate about emotions with anybody. The main emotions she showed towards me were “doting”, up to the birth of my younger brother, Tandy; and then anger, from then onwards. I was just a nuisance to her. [But sometimes pride, as she told a visitor or neighbour, “Our Daniel is going to be a Doctor!”]).

1B, Front cover Sex-love bookSecondly, we (children) do not notice those aspects of our environment which are invariable from the start. If you grow up in a mud hut, then home means a mud hut. If you grow up living in a tree, then tree-life is the norm.  And if you have an autistic father from the start, then autistic father is normal father.  The other fathers are the oddballs – (and that is indeed how I responded when I came across an emotionally intelligent father! What an oddball! If a man smiled at me, I thought he was definitely very odd! [Not that it happened very often!])

Thirdly, perhaps because my mother was so critical and scathing about my father, when he was not around, it may be that I felt extra pity for him; empathy; especially since I was obliged (by my circumstances – and perhaps by my biology) to identify with him as my male role model. Perhaps I felt humiliated on his behalf. After all, we both had “teapots”. Not that I ever imagined or visualized my dad’s (daddy’s) teapot! Perish the thought! I was so well repressed, as a moulded Catholic, that no “bad thoughts” could enter my mind!

And mammy did not just judge and damn my father, but all men, as exploitative, oppressive dark bastards. (Even though, from time to time, she behaved like a seductive little girl around some men – some of whom were her illicit lovers!)

So, to sum up: I internalized the critical gaze of my mother and sister, on that fateful day when they denounced me and all manhood for the existence of the “oppressive teapot”. That experience was so intensely painful that it became archetypal – dominating my self-image!

Now my entire life’s prospects were ruined! Or so it felt to me.


1B, Front cover Sex-love bookOf course – moving back to the poem by Rita Dove – I may be wrong about the way the mother (in that poem) satisfied her daughter’s curiosity about her genitals. Perhaps it is not as benign as I think. Perhaps there are hidden dangers.

After all, the book by Maurice Sendak (about naked Mickey, in the night kitchen) was eventually banned in the USA, probably in the mid to late 1970s, having been published in 1970. It was republished in 2001.

Of course, to us in the UK, it is surprising to learn just how much of American culture is dominated by right-wing Christian ideology, approaching (?) the degree of control that the Catholic Church had in Ireland in the period 1921-1968. (Though perhaps that level of theocracy will never be seen again, outside of modern day Iran; or Afghanistan).

And, although my reading of Dove’s poem is that “no harm was done” by the mother’s willingness to be very frank about female genitals (and periods) with her three-year-old daughter, I did find a review of the poem online – (by SudipDas Gupta[1]) – which does not see it as so straightforwardly benign. So I have to be careful – as a moral individual – to make sure that whatever I conclude or advocate does not have any unintended negative side-effects.

The horns of this dilemma are as follows.

– Are parents protecting their children by suppressing all words and images which could educate a child regarding the private parts of their bodies?

– Or are they harming their child out of fear of “Satanic sexuality” taking over?

This is a question that I – as a moral man – will have to reflect upon, long and hard.

But it is not directly relevant to the situation of little me in the little zinc bath with my older sister, way back in 1949.


  1. My mother stripped both of us and stood us in the bath of warm water, for the purpose of washing our bodies.
  2. There was no public audience. No strangers present.
  3. My mother did not say, “Let us refrain from drawing attention to each other’s private parts. That is not polite conversation!” No. She took sides. She denounced male sex organs, and implicitly applauded or ignored female sex organs.
  4. In the process, my mother fired a huge cannot shot in the apparent, or so-called “gender wars”; and wounded her son (me) in the process. She did not just undermine my respect for, and confidence in, my maleness. She branded me a virtual criminal against the female gender. And she seriously damaged my chances of ever having any confidence in myself as a sexually potent male!

She unwittingly committed a crime against her own son!


A1B, Front cover Sex-love booknd I could never recover from this terrible tragedy.

Why not?

Because, in actual practice, I could not then (or years later) ask either of my parents any questions, because asking questions had been outlawed. Children were to be seen and not heard. (“Curiosity killed the cat!”)

At least, that was how it seemed to me. It might be that my older sister, Caitlin, and my younger brother, Tandy, asked Mammy (Neeve) questions. It may even be that she might have tried to answer their questions (from time to time, to a limited extent?!); but I doubt it.

My memories of her are all of a woman “of few words” and lots of endless action. She ordered her kids around; she hit us; she regimented us; she shut us up.

She “worked her fingers to the bone” for us; from early morning to late at night; but did not like us! And did not show active affection for us (apart from moments of tenderness with Tandy – who was eighteen months younger than me; and a kind of sisterly regard for Caitlin, who was eighteen months older than me).

My dad was also a person “of few words”. We were like a little tribe of automata, chugging through our days, in a shared space, with little or no contact.  The concept of “conversation” was a difficult one for me. In my teens I watched the lads in the judo club “conversing”. It was a totally mysterious, alien and difficult process that I could only watch and, hopefully, in time, learn from. Slowly.

I was like a mute. An elective mute; who had no choice in his family of origin but to elect to be mute!

Of course, I had also seen boys playing in the three school “playgrounds” that I had frequented over a period of ten years; but there was more physical action than verbalizations in those contexts. There were words, for sure, as exclamations; shouts; yells; name calling; quick exchanges. Nothing that could be called a conversation.

And in my classrooms, there was nothing that could have been called a conversation between a teacher and a pupil. It was all about instruction and execution. Orders and submissions.


1B, Front cover Sex-love bookI did not have many words.

My parents spoke, when they spoke at all, in “restricted code”: which is a kind of informal language use, with limited vocabulary; quite unlike the enriched language of the “educated classes”. Our world was made up of a small number of objects and events; and a small number of possibilities.

Because of this restricted code, I could not think outside of the tiny box into which my parents locked me for most of my childhood. And my schooling was mainly aimed at Catholic conditioning, and preparation for the bottom end of the labour market!


Interlude 2:

It might seem to us that, if we knew all of the factors that impacted the life of a child, then we could perfectly predict the trajectory of their life. It might also seem obvious that we can know, or infer, which experiences are the most significant formative aspects of a person’s life. But Professor Valises would disagree.

For him, as for Carl Gustav Jung, there are levels of existence below the gross physical level; below the genetic level.

And this was what Valises and his team wanted to explore in the damaged life of yours truly.



1B, Front cover Sex-love bookSo it seems I was a little boy who was ashamed of being a little boy; and I was bullied by my older sister; and I could not defend myself physically against the bullying boys I met in school; and I had no idea how to be a man when I grew up. (Assuming I would ever grow up!)

And yet, somewhere deep in my subconscious mind I had stored my own version of a nursery rhyme which I learned in junior school. For me, it was about Cinder-fella. And one day, my Princess would come, wave a magic wand over me, and I’d be cured and healed, and able to live a happy life as a man, with a woman at his side. Happy… Er??? That’s it.

(In practice, at the age of twelve, I found myself with my head in the knickers of Angela O’Flaherty while she was still wearing them. [Angela was my own age, and a friend of Caitlin’s]. I had no idea how I got my head into her knickers; or what I was doing in there; or how to get out again! Nevertheless, I found it strangely satisfying. And she did not seem to object to my presence!)


Interlude 3:

Professor Valises returned from home leave as quickly as he could. Kolonel Mitta Balaga had arrived back from sick leave the day before. And Dr Kala was already for the most interesting discussion that would result when they had their next meeting.

Right now, Dr Kala is playing a recording of the moment at which Daniel’s mother denounced his teapot. The professor’s little blue furry face looks contorted with sadness and anger. He almost does that Earthling thing of slapping his own forehead to emphasize the stupidity of Daniel’s mother, but he stops himself in time to prevent injury to his third (wisdom) eye in his crinkled forehead.

1B, Front cover Sex-love bookKolonel Balaga is also transfixed by this shocking moment.

Ober-Kolonel Mitta Balaga is 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; and black leather trousers and black leather boots. 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; his face is more flattened.  But his ears are like typical fox ears.

“Pause it there”, said the professor, in a kindly but firm voice, pointing at the screen.

Dr Kala stopped the action on the komputa screen, as Daniel, standing naked in the zinc bath, looks downwards in shame; cheeks red and eyes closed.

“This is appalling”, says the professor. “And, doctor, I think you are right. This is the final nail in the coffin of this child’s life chances. His life is now all but ruined”.

The kolonel pricked up his ears at this. “All but…?” he enquires.

“Yes”, says the professor. “Do not forget that, according to my theory, when a highly evolved sentient being from a social species – like this one – is damaged in this kind of way, their basic protoplasm database is shot. This includes POB (DNA); LAQ (RNA); and other elements. But it does not include their elfa badalla. If we can find some way to encourage them to keep working for recovery, then their elfa badalla can come to their rescue, by resetting their protoplasm database by 900 years, back to their ancient ancestors. This is a basic restore and reset process at the subtle level below the genes”.

1B, Front cover Sex-love bookDr Kala raised her right eyebrow, into her green wrinkled forehead, and looked at the kolonel sceptically. “Do you buy that, kolonel?” she asks.

“I remain to be convinced!” says Mitta Balaga, looking somewhat guilty about not being more supportive of the little furry Klimmantz professor, who he admires so much.

“That’s what we are here to find out”, said the professor. “Like good scientists, good psychologists, we have to collect all the relevant data, and then form our conclusions, perhaps many years or many decades from now”.

“On a more practical note”, said the kolonel. “I think there are signs that Daniel is becoming perfectionistic, and substituting feelings of anxiety and depression for his sense of shame about his sexuality, or gender identity”.

“Again”, said the professor, “this is something to monitor and assess over the longer term”.

“And what about the ways in which the limited vocabulary of his family is restricting the growth of his emotional intelligence?” asked the kolonel.

At this point the professor turned the palms of his little three-fingered hands upwards, and stretched them outwards in disbelief; and, because he could not resist the urge, he rolled his eyes upwards and then slapped his forehead loudly with his little right palm, and hurt his third eye quite badly!

It took all the effort he could muster to refrain from swearing!


1B, Front cover Sex-love bookPostscript: Dr Eric Berne, a mere Earthling psychologist, has lectured and written about sex in human loving, and in his book on the subject, he implies that, at this early stage in Daniel’s life, from age three to twelve years, the sex education that he should be helped with is simply the question of “where do babies come from”?

In Daniel’s case, this question – which was probably raised by his sister, Caitlin – was answered as follows: “Babies are born under a cabbage head; and brought to the house by the nurse (midwife)”.

And Daniel continued to believe that until long after he had begun to have doubts about Santa Clause; the Little People; and Ever Watchful God.

Eric Berne is also convinced that it is impossible to teach sex education to children in a brief conversation; or a few brief conversations. For him, sex-education is much like the teaching of history or geography. It takes years, or decades to cover the full curriculum; and many adults are still useless at history and/or geography when that period of education is over. So we should not hold our breath regarding the learning of sex as a subject.

And in my opinion, we should not be trying to teach sex education to our children. We should be helping them to learn about sex-love, or sex in human loving; or how to understand love and relationship for a growing human. (See chapter eight for the basic curriculum for Sex in Human Loving: 101. Everything that I have learned about love and relationship, I will include in Chapter 8. And then I will add some material on sexual matters, for men, in Chapter 9).

This book then is a synthesis of fictionalized autobiography, and psycho-sexual education and heart-healing.


[1] Gupta, SudipDas. “After Reading ‘Mickey in the Night Kitchen’ for the Third Time Before Bed by Rita Dove”. Poem Analysis, Accessed 25 December 2022.


Coming soon… Watch this space…