RETIRED journalist Dick Bellringer has published a book called Tales of the Self.

Inspired by the tragic life of his grandfather, the book explores who we think we are.

Dick said: “The legend in my family is that my grandfather was an alcoholic, but in fact he suffered from an undiagnosed mental health problem and spent the last years of his life, between 1914 and 1919, either in mental institutions or, disastrously, in the Army. We can only assume that in those days the stigma of being an alcoholic was less than that of being mentally ill.

“Discovering this led me to ponder about our natures. If it was so easy to manipulate a person’s history, what does that say about the rest of us.

“Where do our personalities come from? Are we single entities, individuals or are we multiple selves and personalities that we somehow mould into a single personality? Even worse, do we actually have identities at all or is what we call our self a fiction from which we build a single narrative?”

“When I say I’m going to have a word with myself, who or what is ‘I’ and who or what is ‘myself’?”

His enquiries led him to research at Salisbury Cathedral library into witchcraft, schisms in protestant thinking – including the distinction between Total and Partial Depravity – Dr John Dee the alchemist and astrologer to Queen Elizabeth I, and the Civil War as well as philosophy, psychology, history and the Enlightenment – and much more.

“It became something of a detective story as I sought that elusive will-o’-the-wisp – the Self,” said Dick. “With identity politics so prominent these days and in the so-called post-truth era, I believe that who we are is of paramount importance. It is in the answer to this question that, in part at least, resides our ability – or not – to act freely and to rediscover our quest for truth.”

Tales of the Self, which is printed by Salisbury Printing Company Limited, is available at The History Bookshop, 98 Fisherton Street, Salisbury priced £10.