This Much I Know: Broadcaster, psychoanalyst and writer Michael Murphy

From a young age, I knew there would be three parts to my life.

This Much I Know: Broadcaster, psychoanalyst and writer Michael Murphy

From a young age, I knew there would be three parts to my life.

I knew they’d consist of working as a broadcaster, having some kind of psychoanalytic practice, and being a writer.

I thought the three things would happen simultaneously. In fact, they’ve happened in twenty year periods. But they have all happened.

More recently, I’ve managed to combine the three.

The key to being a good analyst is not only being able to see what someone’s problem is, but in getting them to see it too.

I’m not sure if I’d call it ‘fate’ but I do think there is an extra sense that happens in our lives that we’re not aware of, a type of extraordinary coincidence, or synchronicity.

As a child, I had a sunny personality. I was artistic and enjoyed writing and painting but wasn’t any good at sport.

I went to Newbridge College, a rugby playing school.

My class mates seemed to instinctively know the rules, but nobody ever told me what they were, so I never knew what to do when the ball came my way…

My earliest memory is being in my high chair when my grandfather, who lived next door in Castlebar, appeared with grapes he’d grown in his green house.

My key skill is as a communicator. It is essential to all my work.

I even began my working life as a communicator, by joining the Dominican Order of Preachers after I left Newbridge College.

Then I went to work in RTÉ, as a producer and then a newsreader. I was very nervous on air, for at least a year and a half.

Gradually, I became more confident. It was like any other job: it just took practice.

The biggest challenge I’ve faced so far was the death of my brother Kieran when he was only 42, and then being diagnosed with prostate cancer in my late 50s.

Coming back after that was very difficult.

I was lucky. I asked my partner Terry to bring me my laptop and, propped up in bed, I began writing my memoir.

I wrote down the trauma which really helped me and which, thankfully, has also helped other people who have been diagnosed.

I met Terry years back when I was making a series about the Rutland Centre. He was running the group therapy sessions there.

I’ve just written a book of poetry: The Ministry of Dreams — Collected Poems.

My next project is something completely different. I’m going to write a thriller.

I am very disciplined about writing. I get up at 5.30am to begin, which means bed by 9pm.

We spend two months of the summer in Spain, where I get up even earlier, usually 4am, to work in the cool of the morning.

My biggest fault is that I can be too open. I don’t have a filter.

If I could be someone else for a day I’d be Johann Sebastian Bach.

He was so gifted and had such a wonderful intellect.

My idea of happiness is being able to write in the quiet of the early morning in Spain, with our chocolate labrador Toga lying across my feet, far away from life’s everyday troubles.

My idea of misery is a migraine. At least twice a year I have massive migraines which are so intolerable that they make me want to chop off my head.

The trait I find most irritating in others is a lack of empathy. An inability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes.

The trait I most admire in others is honesty. People who can face their demons and the shadow side of their personality.

The best advice I ever received, and which I repeat to myself in times of crisis is, ’to thine own self be true.’

If money was not an issue I’d still be doing what I’m doing, with the added luxury of having someone to cook and look after the house for me.

I can’t say I believe in an afterlife. And I’m no longer a fan of organised religion.

So far life has taught me that ‘love was all that mattered in the end’.

It is a line from one of my poems, written for a man who was dying from cancer.

The Ministry of Dreams – Collected Poems will be launched in the Mayo County Library Castlebar on Thursday Nov 7 at 7.30pm, and in Dublin’s Hodges Figgis on Wednesday Nov 13 at 6.00pm.

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