Blog post 2 – 6th August 2021
The archaeology of childhood traumatic stories – An auto-ethnographical approach
By Dr Jim Byrne, Doctor of Counselling
My own trauma journey
Long before I got down to writing about the trauma problems of other people, I had to work on my own childhood trauma damage. One of the ways that I did that was to write my own autobiographical stories about my origins and my ‘relationships’. Beginning with my story of origins, and moving on to my story of relationship problems, I eventually found my way into attachment theory and the work of Dr Allan Schore on the traumatizing effects of serious disruptions to early attachment bonds between mother and baby.
One of the main ways I did this work was to create an ‘alter ego’ – who I called Daniel O’Beeve. I then put Daniel into those situations through which I have lived, and which I could dredge up from my memory banks; and I observed how he got on – from the ‘outside’ – (objectification!). I then retrieved a lot of my old traumatic nightmares, and rewrote them in a literary style.
And then I created a set of ‘alien psychologists’ who could observe Daniel’s journey, through a “wormhole in space-time”, and to make comments about how to understand what is going on in his life, in a way that Daniel and I could never have commented! (Clearly this has to be called “a fictionalized autobiographical story”; and none of the characters in this story should be confused with any real individual, living or dead!)
I published all of that work in a book called Metal Dog – Long Road Home. And this is the Amazon books description of that book:
Daniel O’Beeve was a victim of childhood developmental trauma, before anybody had even thought to conceive of such a concept. He was a victim of abuse and neglect long before anybody gave a damn about the emotional welfare of children.
Daniel’s parents were both born into highly dysfunctional families; poor rural families that lived from hand to mouth; families who had been trained by the priests to “beat the fear of God” into their children.
Daniel’s parents did not love each other. They had an arranged marriage, and never learned to even like each other.
When Daniel was just eighteen months old, his father lost his farm and had to move to Dublin city, to eke out an existence as a gardener. Daniel was born into this mess. Unloved and unloving; beaten and emotionally abused; he grew up with very low emotional intelligence; no capacity to make contact with another human being; and a fear of everything that moved suddenly or rapidly.
He was then thrown into a city school at the age of four years, into a playground in which he was the only “culchie” (or hill billy) – in a sea of “city slickers” (called “Jackeens” by Daniel’s parents) – and this was against a backdrop of dreadful (‘racist’) antipathy between the Dublin and rural cultures in general.
In ten years of public schooling, Daniel did not make a single friend.
With no map of healthy human love, or workable human relations, he entered the world of work at the age of fourteen, like a drunk thrown out of a pub, late at night, in total darkness, mind reeling, and feelings jangled; and from this point forward he has to try to make sense of life; to make sense of relationships with girls; and to make some kind of life for himself.
For more, please go to Metal Dog – Long Road Home.
This is where I reveal some of the ways in which my childhood trauma affected my difficulties with trying to “got off” with a girl or woman, in a way that might possibly work. For more, please go to Metal Dog – Long Road Home.
That’s all for now. One day I will write up the precise methodology used in this work; but until then, try this outcome or product of my work. It contains rich clues to the ways in which a child can be damaged by our current family and community structures. And it is rich in psychological insights.
Dr Jim Byrne, Doctor of Counselling
The Institute for Emotive-Cognitive Embodied Narrative Therapy
ABC Coaching and Counselling Services