The Story of Yu

As I sit writing this week’s blog I am preparing to go to Brisbane for the launch of my new book, “Yu, The Dragon Tamer.” The book deals with a man contending with mental illness. It is written in the same Buddhist genre as my previous book, “Augustus Finds Serenity”.

The genesis of this book was an idea Dr Phil Harker put in my mind some time ago. We have often talked about human behaviour and indeed I have frequently used a model explaining human behaviour that Phil has developed. Many years ago he recommended that I should read a great little book by Narcisso and Burkett called “Declare Yourself”.

One of the themes explored by the above book is that human behaviour is often better understood by not looking so much as what preceded it (the cause of the behaviour) but by looking at what occurs after (the purpose of the behaviour). The authors illustrate that much behaviour is learned because it helps us get our way. Typically they instance, suffering, helplessness and anger as strategies we learn from an early age to get others to do what we want.

And even the aberrant behaviour of those with mental illness has a purpose. Generally the purpose has something to do with propping up a dysfunctional world view. And so it is with the unfortunate Yu. Yu, disowned by his father, is beset by guilt because he has not lived up to his father’s expectations. In these debilitating circumstances his mind conjures up a dragon whose task is it is to shelter Yu from a seemingly hostile world.

This story is written against a background of Yu seeking his own spiritual development. The narrative draws strongly from the Buddhist tradition in pursuing this ambition.

Once again I have been fortunate to have had a lot of assistance. The manuscript was read by a number of people in it development including Dr Phil Harker, Dr Cecily Moreton, my daughter Belinda Humphries, Greg Brown and Mark Brookes among others. I benefited by a very detailed edit by Anne Savage who made many helpful suggestions.

When you write you get engaged with your characters. I have a lot of time for this one. Yu is courageous, altruistic and has many great personal qualities. I suspect that that might be true for many we disparagingly call mentally ill, or even worse “insane”. Through no fault of their own, such unfortunate people have come to view the world in a dysfunctional way and have contrived to prop up their erroneous world-views.

Although Yu is assisted to find equanimity by Augustus (the main character in my previous book) there is no doubt in my mind that Yu is the real hero in this story.

The book launch is on Tuesday 12 October and the books should be in bookstores shortly. If you can’t get a copy please e-mail me on and I will ensure one is posted to you.

6 Replies to “The Story of Yu”

  1. I have read a lot of the writings of Dr Phil Harker and Ted in the past and I must confess that when I got my hands on an early draft of “Yu, The Dragon Tamer” I had an expectation in my head of what I would find. My expectation was completely wrong. This is not a text that requires you to read and re-read and ponder to get the marrow from the bones. This is a really easy and pleasurable read. A young teenager could pick it up and enjoy it or it could easily be read to a child as a bed time serial read. It is just a good story.

    That said, I could not help thinking about certain aspects of the book for some days and even weeks after I read it. It can be read for the pleasure of the story alone but if you are like me you will probably also find yourself thinking about your own dragons and other aspect of your life and those around you in a slightly different way.

    Thanks Ted.

  2. I have purchased a copy of the book and look forward to reading it.

    A quandary I have from the outset is the reference to viewing the world in a dysfunctional way. I think that the two very powerful forces that shape our world i.e. economics and religion, are dysfunctional. To believe that they are not is ignorance rather than the opposite of mentally ill (whatever that is…normal?).

  3. p.s.

    It is not generally socially acceptable to tell your friends this in public.

    You may be considered dysfunctional.

  4. “If there is to be peace in the world, the nations must live in peace.

    If there is to be peace among nations, the cities must not rise up against each other.

    If there is to be peace in the cities, neighbours must understand each other.

    If there is to be peace among neighbours, there must be harmony in the home.

    If there is to be peace in the home, we must each find our own heart.”

    Lao Tsu, China (sixth century BC)

    Closing quote from Paulo Coelho ‘Like the flowing river’

    We don’t seem to have learned a lot in over two and a half millennia.

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