The wounded healer

Other essays in Rhobin’s Rounds

Rhobin’s topic for August, 2016 was suggested by Victoria Chatham:

To make our stories interesting our characters often have some kind of psychological, spiritual or physical wounds. The process of healing them becomes the character’s arc, the meat in our stories. What mental, physical or spiritual wounds or scars have you used in your stories?

This is one of the major themes of my award-winning novel, Ascending Spiral.

This book is an autobiography, and it isn’t. In Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, one standard technique is to ask the client: “Design the person you’d like to be. Write a film script about a person who has your exact physical characteristics and history, but make the hero act in the way you would like to, if only you could.” The more detailed the script, the better. Then of course we ask the client to move into the script, to be the actor playing this role.

I don’t write movies but novels. So, that’s what I did. Ascending Spiral is my story, with sufficient changes to protect the guilty. Everything that happens in the book happened to me. However, Pip, the hero, has handled the many challenges the way I’d love to.

Indeed, writing this story has been good therapy for me, and I hope has made me a better person. It has also turned into exciting reading.

Like me, Pip started life as a stuffup. We both bought into our stepfather’s assessment: “If there is a wrong way of doing it, or even if there isn’t, he’ll do it that way first.” We both knew we were stupid, and ugly, and useless, and no one could possibly love us.

As a result, both of us became overperformers, rising to the top in many fields. Both of us became talented psychotherapists: helpers and healers.

In 2007, both of us were led to past life recalls, by a lady I called Caroline in the book. All the recalls I report for Pip were actually mine. On the basis of these, over about two years, I wrote the stories of an Irish boy in Viking times; Dermot, who fought the English in the Irish uprising of 1798 and was transported to Australia for the term of his natural life as a slave; Amelia, who was the plaything of a cruel, unfeeling husband; a person who lived where “there is no male or female;” and finally Pip, who, like me, was born into a Jewish family in a Nazi-occupied country while the bombs were falling.

In my recalls, I had no name for the first boy, so called him Padraig in the book. I only had two recalls for him: his first meeting with the girl who became my wife in the 20th Century, and his death. So, I don’t know much about him.

Dermot was certainly wounded, but no healer. He was a hunter, a warrior, a leader. I worked on his story years ago, but even now, occasionally I re-read it because I wish I could write a story like that. Hey, wait a minute…

Amelia didn’t start wounded, but cosseted and loved. Her problem was karma. Before birth, it was arranged that she should make restitution for Dermot’s last, disastrous choice. The wounding happened on her wedding night, both physically and psychologically. Readers tell me her story is inspiring and gripping, because of her reaction to her suffering over many years. The Lesson she didn’t learn, though, was how to lead her husband toward spiritual maturity. Instead, all she could do was to hate him.

After death, she requested a life not sullied by “male and female.” That could only be on a different planet. She experienced a life as a species all of whose members have unconditional, complete love for each other — but it was a jungle environment of constant battle against other species, of kill or be killed.

All of this was perfect preparation for Pip, for Bob. Pip became a mature soul. I wish I could say the same about Bob, but we’re working on it.

Bob and Ochre gray.jpg

Please leave a comment. Visit the other participants, and comment on their contributions too.

Skye Taylor
Victoria Chatham
Rachael Kosinski
Anne Stenhouse
Rhobin Courtright
Helena Fairfax
A.J. Maguire

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About Dr Bob Rich

I am a professional grandfather. My main motivation is to transform society to create a sustainable world in which my grandchildren and their grandchildren in perpetuity can have a life, and a life worth living. This means reversing environmental idiocy that's now threatening us with extinction, and replacing culture of greed and conflict with one of compassion and cooperation.
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14 Responses to The wounded healer

  1. Rhobin says:

    I enjoyed Ascending Spiral and how the characters morphed on into another. Interesting to know how you identify with the characters. Life is an unending learning experience for everyone.
    Love the photo!

    Like

  2. How interesting, that you use your own “past recalls” as part of a novel. As authors, we all put parts of ourselves into our books. But this is something I’ve not heard of before. Good for you, for coming up with such a novel way to write your story!

    Like

    • Dr Bob Rich says:

      Thank you, Rhobin. It’s not that I identify with the characters, but that they are me! This is actually fictionalized nonfiction.
      I love that photo too. That little boy is now a teenager, and would probably blush furiously if he saw it.

      Like

    • Dr Bob Rich says:

      Fiona, thank you for visiting. I do have a problem. I am not a square peg in a round hole, but a fractal-shaped peg that makes its own hole.
      🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Skye-writer says:

    I find the idea of writing your story by having the hero or heroine make their alter ego a better person. Or perhaps making better choices or reacting better. By doing so one might see things about oneself you didn’t know before.

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  4. Hi Bob, I’ve never heard of that exercise of making yourself the hero in your own life. How fascinating! And to turn that exercise into a novel is a brilliant idea. Your book sounds an intriguing read. Thanks so much for the thought-provoking post.

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  5. Dr Bob Rich says:

    Hi Helena,
    That’s where I have an unfair advantage, with my training in psychology. I’ve used the concept with hundreds of clients, and the ones who take it seriously benefit seriously. I did.
    Would you like a review copy of Ascending Spiral?
    🙂
    Bob

    Like

  6. Bob, you’re so cool. You literally sound like you stumbled out of a novel. I always enjoy your posts. 😀

    Like

    • Dr Bob Rich says:

      Thank you, Rachael. Sprung! I am entirely fictional, and don’t exist outside the electronic world.
      My words are actually created by a computer in another dimension. It refuses to join our dimension, because it finds us to be too crazy.
      🙂

      Like

  7. Hi Bob, This is fascinating. I haven’t heard of any of these methods before. anne stenhouse

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  8. Victoria Chatham says:

    Hi Bob, Your take on making yourself your own hero is fascinating and made me realize that, albeit unwittingly, I’ve used that technique for my Regency heroines. Have I been born into the wrong era I wonder? Also your ‘past recalls’ have brought to mind some of mine, one of which I could definitely enlarge on for a historical novel. Love that photo too.

    Like

    • Dr Bob Rich says:

      No, Victoria, you may well have lived in that period, which is why it fascinates you now.
      People look on reincarnation as an optional thing they can believe or disbelieve. I go with my interpretation of the evidence, which shows it to be fair dinkum. (Australian term, you may need to look it up!)

      Like

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