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Transactional Analysis

Forty years ago, Games People Play revolutionized our understanding of what really goes on during our most basic social interactions.

More than five million copies later, Dr. Eric Berne’s classic is as astonishing and revealing, as it was on the day it was first published.

We play games all the time–sexual games, marital games, power games with our bosses, and competitive games with our friends.

Detailing status contests or combat between lethal couples like “If It Weren’t For You”, to flirtation favorites like “The Stocking Game” and “Let’s You and Him Fight,” where Dr. Berne exposes the secret ploys and unconscious maneuvers that rule our intimate lives. (more games are mentioned and explained further down)
Explosive when it first appeared, Games People Play is now widely recognized as the most original and influential popular psychology book of our time.

In the 1950s, Berne synthesized his theory of “human gaming” and built on Freud’s psychodynamic model, particularly the “ego states” to develop developed Transactional Analysis.

Transactional analysis, according to physician James R. Allen, is a “cognitive behavioral approach to treatment and that it is a very effective way of dealing with internal models of self and others as well as other psychodynamic issues.”

Transactional analysis (commonly known as TA to its adherents) is an integrative approach to the theory of psychology and psychotherapy.

Integrative because it has elements of psychoanalytic, humanist and cognitive approaches.

It was developed by Canadian-born US psychiatrist Eric Berne during the late 1950s and the theory still stands, found in people and characters, until this day. It is hereby explained:

Philosophy of Transactional Analysis:

  • People are OK; thus each person has validity, importance, equality of respect.
  • Everyone (with only few exceptions, such as the severely brain-damaged) has the capacity to think.
  • People decide their story and destiny, and these decisions can be changed.

Freedom from historical maladaptations embedded in the childhood script is required in order to become free of inappropriate, inauthentic, and displaced emotions which are not a fair and honest reflection of here-and-now life (such as echoes of childhood suffering, pity-me and other mind games, compulsive behavior, and repetitive dysfunctional life patterns).

The aim of change under TA is to move toward autonomy (freedom from childhood script), spontaneity, intimacy, problem solving as opposed to avoidance or passivity, cure as an ideal rather than merely making progress, learning new choices.

Key ideas of TA

Some core models and concepts are part of TA as follows:

The Ego-State (or Parent-Adult-Child, PAC) model

At any given time, a person experiences and manifests their personality through a mixture of behaviours, thoughts and feelings.

Typically, according to TA, there are three ego-states that people consistently use:

  • Parent (“exteropsyche”): a state in which people behave, feel, and think in response to an unconscious mimicking of how their parents (or other parental figures) acted, or how they interpreted their parent’s actions. For example, a person may shout at someone out of frustration because they learned from an influential figure in childhood the lesson that this seemed to be a way of relating that worked.
  • Adult (“neopsyche”): a state of the ego which is most like a computer processing information and making predictions absent of major emotions that cloud its operation. Learning to strengthen the Adult is a goal of TA. While a person is in the Adult ego state, he/she is directed towards an objective appraisal of reality.
  • Child (“archaeopsyche”): a state in which people behave, feel and think similarly to how they did in childhood. For example, a person who receives a poor evaluation at work may respond by looking at the floor, and crying or pouting, as they used to when scolded as a child. Conversely, a person who receives a good evaluation may respond with a broad smile and a joyful gesture of thanks. The Child is the source of emotions, creation, recreation, spontaneity and intimacy.

Berne differentiated his Parent, Adult, and Child ego states from actual adults, parents, and children, by using capital letters when describing them. These ego-states may or may not represent the relationships that they act out.

For example, in the workplace, an adult supervisor may take on the Parent role, and scold an adult employee as though they were a Child. Or a child, using their Parent ego-state, could scold their actual parent as though the parent were a Child.

Within each of these ego states are subdivisions. Thus Parental figures are often either more nurturing (permission-giving, security-giving) or more criticizing (comparing to family traditions and ideals in generally negative ways); Childhood behaviours are either more natural (free) or more adapted to others.

These subdivision categorize individuals’ patterns of behaviour, feelings, and ways of thinking, that can be functional (beneficial or positive) or dysfunctional/counterproductive (negative).

Berne states that there are four types of diagnosis of ego states.

They are the :

1. behavioural diagnosis,

2. social diagnosis,

3. historical diagnosis and

4. the phenomenological diagnosis of ego states.

For a complete diagnosis, one needs to complete all four types.

It has been subsequently demonstrated that there is in fact a fifth way of diagnosis.

It is known as the contextual diagnosis of ego states.

For example if a man says, “On July 5th, 2007 the alignment of the planets will create a gravitational field so strong that there will be the biggest tides in half a century”, what ego state would be diagnosed?

If that man was of a disheveled appearance, had not shaven for 2 days and was sitting on a park bench drinking out of a bottle in a brown paper bag what ego state would be diagnosed? Probably some kind of regressed Child ego state.

If that man was in an observatory wearing a white coat and carrying a clip board what ego state would be diagnosed? Probably Adult ego state.

The different contexts for the same statement would tend to result in a different diagnosis. The context in which the statement is made is central to the diagnosis of ego states.

There is no “universal” ego-state; each state is individually and visibly manifested for each person. For example, each Child ego state is unique to the childhood experiences, mentality, intellect, and family of each individual; it is not a generalized childlike state.

Ego states can become contaminated, for example, when a person mistakes Parental rules and slogans, for here-and-now Adult reality, and when beliefs are taken as facts. Or when a person “knows” that everyone is laughing at them because “they always laughed”. This would be an example of a childhood contamination, insofar as here-and-now reality is being overlaid with memories of previous historic incidents in childhood.

Berne suspected that Parent, Adult, and Child ego states might be tied to specific areas of the human brain (an idea that has not been proved).

The three ego state model has been questioned by a TA group in Australia, who have devised a “two ego-state model” as a means of solving perceived theoretical problems:

“The two ego-state model says that there is a Child ego-state and a Parent ego-state, placing the Adult ego-state with the Parent ego-state. […] How we learn to speak, add up and learn how to think is all just copied from our teachers. Just as our morals and values are copied from our parents. There is no absolute truth where facts exist out side a person’s own belief system.”

Transactions and Strokes

  • Transactions are the flow of communication, and more specifically the unspoken psychological flow of communication that runs in parallel. Transactions occur simultaneously at both explicit and psychological levels. Example: sweet caring voice with sarcastic intent. To read the real communication requires both surface and non-verbal reading.
  • Strokes are the recognition, attention or responsiveness that one person gives another. Strokes can be positive (nicknamed “warm fuzzies”) or negative (“cold pricklies”). A key idea is that people hunger for recognition, and that lacking positive strokes, will seek whatever kind they can, even if it is recognition of a negative kind. We test out as children what strategies and behaviours seem to get us strokes, of whatever kind we can get.

People often create pressure in (or experience pressure from) others to communicate in a way that matches their style, so that a boss who talks to his staff as a controlling parent will often engender self-abasement or other childlike responses. Those employees who resist may get removed or labeled as “trouble”.

Transactions can be experienced as positive or negative depending on the nature of the strokes within them. However, a negative transaction is preferred to no transaction at all, because of a fundamental hunger for strokes.

The nature of transactions is important to understanding communication.

Kinds of transactions

There are basically three kinds of transactions: (of which – even if you do not follow yet – worry not, there are examples given further on which clarify the whole by putting theory into application)

  1. Reciprocal/Complementary (the simplest)
  2. Crossed
  3. Duplex/Covert (the most complex)

Reciprocal or Complementary Transactions

A simple, reciprocal transaction occurs when both partners are addressing the ego state the other is in. These are also called complementary transactions.

Example 1

A: “Have you been able to write the report?”
B: “Yes – I’m about to email it to you.” —-(This exchange was Adult to Adult)

Example 2

A: “Would you like to skip this meeting and go watch a film with me instead?”
B: “I’d love to – I don’t want to work anymore, what should we go and see?” (Child to Child)

Example 3

A: “You should have your room tidy by now!” (Parent to Child)
B: “Will you stop hassling me? I’ll do it eventually!” (Child to Parent)

Communication like this can continue indefinitely. (Clearly it will stop at some stage – but this psychologically balanced exchange of strokes can continue for some time).

Crossed Transactions

Communication failures are typically caused by a ‘crossed transaction’ where partners address ego states other than that their partner is in. Consider the above examples jumbled up a bit.

Example 1a:

A: “Have you been able to write that report?” (Adult to Adult)
B: “Will you stop hassling me? I’ll do it eventually!” (Child to Parent)

is a crossed transaction likely to produce problems in the workplace. “A” may respond with a Parent to Child transaction. For instance:

A: “If you don’t change your attitude, you’ll get fired.”

Example 2a:

A: “Is your room tidy yet?” (Parent to Child)
B: “I’m just going to do it, actually.” (Adult to Adult)

is a more positive crossed transaction. However there is the risk that “A” will feel aggrieved that “B” is acting responsibly and not playing their role, and the conversation will develop into:

A: “I can never trust you to do things!” (Parent to Child)
B: “Why don’t you believe anything I say?” (Adult to Adult)

which can continue indefinitely.

Duplex or Covert transactions

Another class of transaction is the ‘duplex’ or ‘covert’ transactions, where the explicit social conversation occurs in parallel with an implicit psychological transaction.

For instance,

A: “I need you to stay late at the office with me.” (Adult words)

body language indicates sexual intent (flirtatious Child)

B: “Of course.” (Adult response to Adult statement).

winking or grinning (Child accepts the hidden motive).

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Phenomena behind the transactions:

Life positions

In TA theory,”Life Position” refers to the general feeling about life (specifically, the unconscious feeling, as opposed to a conscious philosophical position) that colours every dyadic (i.e. person-to-person) transaction.

However, lately, an Australian TA analyst has claimed that in order to better represent the Life Position behind disorders that were not, allegedly, as widespread and/or recognized at the time when TA was conceptualized as they are now (such as borderline personality disorder and narcissistic personality disorder) the above list requires alteration.

The difference between one’s own OK-ness and other’s OK-ness captured by description “I’m OK, You’re not-OK” is proposed to be substituted by description that more accurately captures one’s own feeling (not jumping to conclusions based only on one’s perceived behavior), therefore stating the difference in a new way: “I’m not-OK, but You’re worse”, instead.

Life (or Childhood) Script

  • Script is a life plan, directed to a reward.
  • Script is decisional and responsive; i.e., decided upon in childhood in response to perceptions of the world and as a means of living with and making sense of the world. It is not just thrust upon a person by external forces.
  • Script is reinforced by parents (or other influential figures and experiences).
  • Script is for the most part outside awareness.
  • Script is how we navigate and what we look for, the rest of reality is redefined (distorted) to match our filters.

Each culture, country and people in the world has a Mythos (a Greek word meaning “Legend”), that is, a legend explaining its origins, core beliefs and purpose. According to TA, so do individual people. A person begins writing his/her own life story (script) at a young age, as he/she tries to make sense of the world and his place within it. Although it is revised throughout life, the core story is selected and decided upon typically by age 7. As adults it passes out of awareness. A life script might be “to be hurt many times, and suffer and make others feel bad when I die”, and could result in a person indeed setting himself up for this, by adopting behaviours in childhood that produce exactly this effect. Though Berne identified several dozen common scripts, there are a practically infinite number of them. Though often largely destructive, scripts could as easily be mostly positive or beneficial.

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Redefining and Discounting

  • Redefining means the distortion of reality when we deliberately (but unconsciously) distort things to match our preferred way of seeing the world. Thus a person whose script involves “struggling alone against a cold hard world” may redefine others’ kindness, concluding that others are trying to get something by manipulation.

  • Discounting means to take something as worth less than it is. Thus to give a substitute reaction which does not originate as a here-and-now Adult attempt to solve the actual problem, or to choose not to see evidence that would contradict one’s script. Types of discount can also include: passivity (doing nothing), over-adaptation, agitation, incapacitation, anger and violence.

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* * * * * * * * Injunctions and Drivers: * * * * * * * *

TA identifies twelve key injunctions which people commonly build into their scripts.

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These are injunctions in the sense of being powerful “I can’t/mustn’t …” messages that embed into a child’s belief and life-script: (negative thoughts often haunting people are actually named, categorized, verified and listed)

  • Don’t be (don’t exist)
  • Don’t be who you are
  • Don’t be a child
  • Don’t grow up
  • Don’t make it in your life
  • Don’t do anything!
  • Don’t be important
  • Don’t belong
  • Don’t be close
  • Don’t be well (don’t be sane!)
  • Don’t think
  • Don’t feel.
In addition there is the so-called episcript:
“You should (or deserve to) have this happen in your life, so it doesn’t have to happen to me.” (Magical thinking on the part of the parent(s).)
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Against these, a child is often told other things he/she must do. (thus rooting mania, obsession and compulsive behavior into a personality, since childhood)

There is debate as to whether there are five or six of these ‘drivers’:

  • Please (me/others)!
  • Be perfect!
  • Be Strong!
  • Try Hard!
  • Hurry Up!
  • Be Careful! (is in dispute)

Thus in creating his script, a child will often attempt to juggle these, example: “It’s okay for me to go on living (ignore don’t exist) so long as I try hard“.

This explains why some change is inordinately difficult.

To continue the above example: When a person stops trying hard and relaxes to be with his family, the injunction You don’t have the right to exist which was being suppressed by their script now becomes exposed and a vivid threat. Such an individual may feel a massive psychological pressure which he himself doesn’t understand, to return to trying hard, in order to feel safe and justified (in a childlike way) in existing.

Broadly speaking, scripts can fall into Tragic, Heroic or Banal (or Non-Winner) varieties, depending on their rules.

Ways of Time Structuring:

There are six ways of structuring time by giving and receiving strokes:

  1. Withdrawal
  2. Ritual
  3. Pastimes
  4. Activity
  5. Games
  6. Intimacy

This is sorted in accordance with stroke strength; Intimacy and Games in general allow for the most intensive strokes.

Withdrawal

This means no strokes are being exchanged

Rituals

A ritual is a series of transactions that are complementary (reciprocal), stereotyped and based on social programming. Rituals usually comprise a series of strokes exchanged between two parties.

For instance, two people may have a daily two stroke ritual, where, the first time they meet each day, each one greets the other with a “Hi”. Others may have a four stroke ritual, such as:

A: Hi!

B: Hi! How are you?

A: Getting along. What about you?

B: Fine. See you around.

The next time they meet in the day, they may not exchange any strokes at all, or may just acknowledge each other’s presence with a curt nod.

Some phenomena associated with daily rituals:

  • If a person exchanges fewer strokes than expected, the other person may feel that he is either preoccupied or acting high and mighty.
  • If a person exchanges more strokes than expected, the other person might wonder whether he is trying to butter him up or get on good terms for some vested interests.
  • If two people do not meet for a long time, a backlog of strokes gets built up, so that the next time they meet, they may exchange a large number of strokes to catch up.

Pastimes

A pastime is a series of transactions that is complementary (reciprocal), semi-ritualistic, and is mainly intended as a time-structuring activity. Pastimes have no covert purpose and can usually be carried out only between people on the same wavelength. They are usually shallow and harmless. Pastimes are a type of smalltalk.

Individuals often partake in similar pastimes throughout their entire life, as pastimes are generally very much linked to one’s life script and the games that one often plays. Some pastimes can even be understood as a reward for playing a certain game. For example, Eric Berne in Games People Play discusses how those who play the “Alcoholic” game (which Berne differentiated from alcoholism and alcoholics) often enjoy the “Morning After” pastime in which participants share their most amusing or harrowing hangover stories.

Activities (Work)

Activities in this context mean the individuals work together for a common goal. This may be work, sports or something similar. In contrast to Pastimes, there is a meaningful purpose guiding the interactions, while Pastimes are just about exchanging strokes. Strokes can then be given in the context of the cooperation. Thus the strokes are generally not personal, but related to the activity.

Games

See below.

Intimacy

Intimacy as a way of structuring time allows one to exchange the strongest strokes without playing a Game. Intimacy differs from Games as there is no covert purpose, and differs from Activities as there is no other process going on which defines a context of cooperation. Strokes are personal, relating to the other person, and often unconditional.

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Games & their analysis

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Definition of game:

A game is a series of transactions that is complementary (reciprocal), ulterior, and proceeds towards a predictable outcome. Games are often characterized by a switch in roles of players towards the end. Games are usually played by Parent, Adult and Child ego states, and games usually have a fixed number of players; however, an individual’s role can shift, and people can play multiple roles.

Berne identified dozens of games, noting that, regardless of when, where or by whom they were played, each game tended towards very similar structures in how many players or roles were involved, the rules of the game, and the game’s goals.

Each game has a payoff for those playing it, such as the aim of earning sympathy, satisfaction, vindication, or some other emotion that usually reinforces the life script.

The antithesis of a game, that is, the way to break it, lies in discovering how to deprive the actors of their payoff.

Students of transactional analysis have discovered that people who are accustomed to a game are willing to play it even as a different “actor” from what they originally were.

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Analysis of a game:

One important aspect of a game is its number of players. Games may be two handed (that is, played by two players), three handed (that is, played by three players), or many handed.

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Three other quantitative variables are often useful to consider for games:

  • Flexibility: The ability of the players to change the currency of the game (that is, the tools they use to play it). In a flexible game, players may shift from words, to money, to parts of the body.

  • Tenacity: The persistence with which people play and stick to their games and their resistance to breaking it.

  • Intensity: Easy games are games played in a relaxed way. Hard games are games played in a tense and aggressive way.

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Either consciously or unconsciously played, a game’s ulterior motives can be damaging.

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Based on the degree of acceptability and potential harm, games are classified as:

  • First Degree Games are socially acceptable in the players’ social circle.

  • Second Degree Games are games that the players would like to conceal, though they may not cause irreversible damage.

  • Third Degree Games are games that could lead to drastic harm to one or more of the parties concerned.

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Games are also studied based on their:

  • Aim

  • Roles

  • Social and Psychological Paradigms

  • Dynamics

  • Advantages to players (Payoffs)

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Contrast with rational (mathematical) games

Transactional game analysis is fundamentally different from rational or mathematical game analysis in the following senses:

  • The players do not always behave rationally in transactional analysis, but behave more like real people.
  • Their motives are often ulterior.

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Some commonly found games:

this is a helpful tool for you to realize which games you might be playing (perhaps unwillingly) and to identify games other people might be playing with you. Either socially or in more personal relationships..

Here are some of the most commonly found themes of games described in Games People Play by Eric Berne:

  • YDYB: Why Don’t You, Yes But.
  • IFWY: If It Weren’t For You
  • WAHM: Why does this Always Happen to Me? (setting up a self-fulfilling prophecy)
  • SWYMD: See What You Made Me Do
  • UGMIT: You Got Me Into This
  • LHIT: Look How Hard I’ve Tried
  • ITHY: I’m Only Trying to Help You
  • LYAHF: Let’s You and Him Fight (staging a love triangle)
  • NIGYYSOB / NIGYSOB: Now I’ve Got You, You Son Of a Bitch
  • RAPO: A woman falsely cries ‘rape’ or threatens to – related to Buzz Off Buster

Berne argued that games are not played logically; rather, one person’s Parent state might interact with another’s Child, rather than as Adult to Adult.

Games can also be analysed according to the Karpman drama triangle, that is, by the roles of Persecutor, Victim and Rescuer. The ‘switch’ is then when one of these having allowed stable roles to become established, suddenly switches role. The Victim becomes a Persecutor, and throws the previous Persecutor into the Victim role, or the Rescuer suddenly switches to become a Persecutor (“You never appreciate me helping you!”).

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Examples of Games:

Why Don’t You/Yes But

The first such game theorized was Why don’t you/Yes, but in which one player (White) would pose a problem as if seeking help, and the other player(s) (Black) would offer solutions (the “Why don’t you?” suggestion). This game was noticed as many patients played it in therapy and psychiatry sessions, and inspired Berne to identify other interpersonal “games”.

White would point out a flaw in every Black player’s solution (the “Yes, but” response), until they all gave up in frustration. For example, if someone’s life script was “to be hurt many times, and suffer and make others feel bad when I die” a game of “Why Don’t You, Yes But” might proceed as follows:

White: I wish I could lose some weight.
Black: Why don’t you join a gym?
W: Yes but, I can’t afford the payments for a gym.
B: Why don’t you speed walk around your block after you get home from work?
W: Yes but, I don’t dare walk alone in my neighborhood after dark.
B: Why don’t you take the stairs at work instead of the elevator?
W: Yes but, after my knee surgery, it hurts too much to walk that many flights of stairs.
B: Why don’t you change your diet?
W: Yes but, my stomach is sensitive and I can tolerate only certain foods.

“Why Don’t You, Yes But” can proceed indefinitely, with any number of players in the Black role, until Black’s imagination is exhausted, and she can think of no other solutions. At this point, White “wins” by having stumped Black. After a silent pause following Black’s final suggestion, the game is often brought to a formal end by a third role, Green, who makes a comment such as, “It just goes to show how difficult it is to lose weight.”

The secondary gain for White was that he could claim to have justified his problem as insoluble and thus avoid the hard work of internal change; and for Black, to either feel the frustrated martyr (“I was only trying to help”) or a superior being, disrespected (“the patient was uncooperative”).

Superficially, this game can resemble Adult to Adult interaction (people seeking information or advice), but more often, according to Berne, the game is played by White’s helpless Child, and Black’s lecturing Parent ego states.

“Drunk” or “Alcoholic”

Another example of Berne’s approach was his identification of the game of “Drunk” or “Alcoholic.” As he explained it, the transactional object of the drunk, aside from the personal pleasure obtained by drinking, could be seen as being to set up a situation where the Child can be severely scolded not only by the internal parent but by any parental figures in the immediate environment who are interested enough to oblige. The pattern is shown to be similar to that in the non-alcoholic game “Schlemiel,” in which mess-making attracts attention and is a pleasure-giving way for White to lead up to the crux, which is obtaining forgiveness by Black.

There are a variety of organizations involved in playing ‘Alcoholic’, some of them national or even international in scope, others local. Many of them publish rules for the game. Nearly all of them explain how to play the role of Alcoholic: take a drink before breakfast, spend money allotted for other purposes, etc. They also explain the function of the Rescuer role in the game. Alcoholics Anonymous, for example, continues playing the actual game but concentrates on inducing the Alcoholic to take the role of Rescuer. Former Alcoholics are preferred because they know how the game goes, and hence are better qualified to play the supporting role of Rescuer than people who have never played before.

According to this type of analysis, with the rise of rescue organizations which publicize that alcoholism is a disease rather than a transactional game, alcoholics have been taught to play “Wooden Leg”, a different game in which an organic ailment absolves White of blame.

The script for “Drunk”

Roles: Victim (addict), Persecutor (usually spouse), Rescuer (often family member of same sex), Patsy (enabler), Connection (supplier)

Pastimes: Martini (how much I used) and morning after (look what you made me do). Many addicts find unlimited access to these pastimes in organizations such as AA.

The game is played from the Victim role as “see how bad I’ve been; see if you can stop me.” The purpose is self-punishment and the garnering of negative (persecution) strokes and positive ones of forgiveness, and the vindication of an “I’m not OK” existential position. The game often becomes elaborated into a self-destructive life script, especially if the parents were also chemically dependent.

Effective antithesis and cure can be achieved through psychotherapeutic script analysis, redecision, relearning.

Racket

A racket is the dual strategy of getting “permitted feelings,” while covering up feelings which we truly feel, but which we regard as being “not allowed”. More technically, a racket feeling is “a familiar set of emotions, learned and enhanced during childhood, experienced in many different stress situations, and maladaptive as an adult means of problem solving”.

A racket is then a set of behaviours which originate from the childhood script rather than in here-and-now full Adult thinking, which (1) are employed as a way to manipulate the environment to match the script rather than to actually solve the problem, and (2) whose covert goal is not so much to solve the problem, as to experience these racket feelings and feel internally justified in experiencing them.

Examples of racket and racket feelings: “Why do I meet good guys who turn out to be so hurtful”, or “He always takes advantage of my goodwill”. The racket is then a set of behaviours and chosen strategies learned and practiced in childhood which in fact help to cause these feelings to be experienced. Typically this happens despite their own surface protestations and hurt feelings, out of awareness and in a way that is perceived as someone else’s fault. One covert pay-off for this racket and its feelings, might be to gain in a guilt free way, continued evidence and reinforcement for a childhood script belief that “People will always let you down”.

In other words, rackets and games are devices used by a person to create a circumstance where they can legitimately feel the racket feelings, thus abiding by and reinforcing their Childhood script. They are always a substitute for a more genuine and full adult emotion and response which would be a more appropriate response to the here-and-now situation.

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Becoming a Person

This abstract discusses the final steps of the process on becoming a fully grown person, independent, interdependent and unique, which comes from the acceptance of certain factors.

Based on 4 very influential theories.. merging a theory from each sector: Philosophy, Psychology, Spirituality, Physics..

or as Capra called it:

An Exploration of the Parallels between Modern Physics and Eastern Mysticism...


The final acceptance that man is nothing more, or nothing less, than a homo sapien, basically implies that there comes a point where man fully accepts his pure self without displaying (consciously or unconsciously) theaters of control; A collection of behaviors a human has been accustomed to getting certain responses from and thus repeats them in order to control others. Either this is done openly and knowingly, or at a more subtle (less aware) level as a way of life, but nonetheless controlling.

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Human:

“The basic discovery of psychotherapy seems to be – if our observations as human beings have any validity – that we do not need to be afraid of being merely homo sapiens.

It is the discovery that if we can add to the sensory and visceral experiencing, which is characteristic of the whole animal kingdom, the gift of a free and undistorted awareness of which only the human animal seems fully capable. We have an organism that is beautifully and constructively realistic. We have then an organism which is aware of the demands of the culture as it is of its own physiological demands for food or sex, which is just as aware of its desire for friendly relationships as it is of its desire to aggrandize itself, which is as aware of its delicate and sensitive tenderness towards others, as it is of its hostilities towards others.

When man’s unique capacity of awareness is thus functioning freely and fully, we find that we have, not an animal whom we must fear, not a beast who must be controlled, but an organism able to achieve, through the remarkable integrative capacity of its central nervous system, a balanced, realistic, self enhancing, other enhancing, behavior, as a resultant of all these elements of awareness. To put it another way, when man is less than fully man, when he denies to awareness various aspects of his experience, then indeed we have all too often a reason to fear his behavior, as the present world situation testifies. But when he is most fully man, when he is a complete organism, when awareness of experience, that peculiarly human attribute, is most fully operating, then he is to be trusted, then his behavior is constructive. It will not always be conforming. It will be individualized.”

( Taken by: A psychotherapist’s view on Becoming a Person by Carl Rogers * )

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This behavior and state of emotional maturity as well as grounded focused awareness derives from acceptance as well as growth.

Growth that comes when a human stops playing games, games of power or control, either consciously or unconsciously.

These games were first stated by psychiatrist Eric Berne, in his book: Games People Play: The Psychology of Human Relationships, in 1964. 

The book describes both functional and dysfunctional social interactions.

In the first half of the book, Berne introduces Transactional Analysis as a way of interpreting social interactions.

He describes three roles or ego states known as the Child, the Parent, and the Adult and postulates that many negative behaviors can be traced to switching or confusion of these roles.

He discusses procedures, rituals, and pastimes in social behavior, in light of this method of analysis.

For example, a boss who talks to his staff as a controlling parent will often engender self-abased obedience, tantrums, or other childlike responses from his employees.

The second half of the book constructs a catalog of a series of “games” in which people interact through a patterned and predictable series of “transactions” which are superficially plausible (that is, they may appear normal to bystanders or even to the people involved), but which actually conceal motivations, include private significance to the parties involved, and lead to a well-defined predictable outcome, usually counterproductive.

Not all interactions or transactions are part of a game.

Specifically, if both parties in a one-on-one conversation remain in an Adult state, it is unlikely that a game is being played.

Therefore, in order for true interaction to occur, both individuals have to be in a grown up state, without trying to gain control. Having nothing to win and nothing to lose, communication can be honest and equal.

Unless we break the circle, we will continue playing the same game over and over again, having the same responses and experiences, over and over again.

We think we’re relating to other people–but actually we’re all playing games.

Transactional Analysis is discussed here in detail.

Transactional Analysis

& popular culture

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New Age author James Redfield has acknowledged Harris and Berne as important influences in his best-seller The Celestine Prophecy. The protagonists in the novel survive by striving (and succeeding) in escaping from “control dramas” that resemble the games of TA.)

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Redfield describes that “control dramas” are basically theaters of control (Transactional Analysis), although he suggests (in his book “The Celestine Prophecy”) that ulterior motives behind theaters of control are not only psychological but manipulating in terms of controlling energy.

..the link to Redfield’s insightful interview on Transactional Analysis as well as what happens after man is freed from playing games, can be found in this post

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To become a person, an individual, one has to look inwards as well as outwards. The internal search (psychotherapy) meets external observation and appreciation (physics) and thus man can become a medium, having a balance between the two.

It is probably true quite generally that in the history of human thinking, the most fruitful developments frequently take place at those points where two different lines of thought meet.
These lines may have their roots in quite different parts of human culture, in different times or different cultural environments or different religious traditions: hence if they actually
meet, that is, if they are at least so much related to each other that a real interaction can take place, then one may hope that new and interesting developments may follow.

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Werner Heisenberg

Introducing at this point: the theory of energetics,

which supports that energy is under transformation, thus evolving

(it sounds familiar doesn’t it? it’s based on the 2nd law of Thermodynamics..)

Everyone realizes, at one level or another, that manipulation is a feature of common human psychology. Manipulation occurs either due to subconscious or conscious Psychological ulterior motives (Transactional Analysis) which later on was studied and related to energy flow (notice that when you are having a conversation with someone who insists, how you are drained from strength, stamina, energy). In Redfield’s interview he clarifies the connection between Transactional Analysis and energetics.

Not only in terms of interaction but also in terms of evolution, when a personality evolves, it becomes witness of a change occurring, either around or inside him/her.

A fully grown individual who does not – consciously or unconsciously – play games, through the process of maturing, gradually realizes that everything is interconnected. A realization deriving from empirical knowledge, when a human has overcome his/her own personal dramas and is thus receptive to observing, clearly, the processes occurring inside him/her and around him/her.. and gradually it becomes evident that everything contains the same energy flow.


Not only is this felt and described in various literary masterpieces but is also proven with the connection of Western and Eastern philosophy.

Such a book is “The Tao of Physics” a book by physicist Fritjof Capra, published in 1975 by Shambhala Publications (The Tao of Physics: An Exploration of the Parallels Between Modern Physics and Eastern Mysticism) which is attached to this post and can be downloaded by clicking here:  The_Tao_of_Physics

“I had gone through a long training in theoretical physics and had done several years of research. At the same time, I had become very interested in Eastern mysticism and had begun to see the parallels to modern physics. I was particularly attracted to the puzzling aspects of Zen which reminded me of the puzzles in quantum theory.”

Fritjof Capra

hm.. what is energetics?

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Flow:

The basics of energy flow is broken down in the science of “Energetics”, mentioned here:

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Energetics:

(What is it?)

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Energetics is the scientific study of energy under transformation. Because energy flows at all scales, from the quantum level, to the biosphere and cosmos, energetics is therefore a very broad discipline, encompassing for example thermodynamics, chemistry, biological energetics, biochemistry  and ecological energetics.


Lehninger contended that when the science of thermodynamics deals with energy exchanges of all types, it can be called energetics.

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Aims:

In general, energetics is concerned with seeking principles that accurately describe the useful and non-useful tendencies of energy flows and storage under transformation.

‘Principles’ are understood here as phenomena which behave like historical invariants under multiple observations.
When some critical number of people have observed such invariance, such a principle is usually then given the status of a ‘fundamental law’ of science.

Like in all science, whether or not a theorem or principle is considered a fundamental law appears to depend on how many people agree to such a proposition. The ultimate aim of energetics therefore is the description of fundamental laws.

Philosophers of science have held that the fundamental laws of thermodynamics can be treated as the laws of energetics. Through the clarification of these laws energetics aims to produce reliable predictions about energy flow and storage transformations at any scale; nano to macro.

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Principles

of energetics:

Odum proposed 3 further energetic principles and one corollary that take energy hierarchy into account. The first four principles of energetics are related to the same numbered laws of thermodynamics, and are expanded upon in that article. The final four principles are taken from the ecological energetics of H.T. Odum.

Principles of energetics:

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* Zeroth principle of energetics

If two thermodynamic systems A and B are in thermal equilibrium, and B and C are also in thermal equilibrium, then A and C are in thermal equilibrium.

* First principle of energetics

The increase in the internal energy of a system is equal to the amount of energy added to the system by heating, minus the amount lost in the form of work done by the system on its surroundings.

* Second principle of energetics

The total entropy of any isolated thermodynamic system tends to increase over time, approaching a maximum value.

* Third principle of energetics

As a system approaches absolute zero of temperature all processes cease and the entropy of the system approaches a minimum value or zero for the case of a perfect crystalline substance.

* Fourth principle of energetics

There seem to be two opinions on the fourth principle of energetics:


– The Onsager reciprocal relations are sometimes called the fourth law of thermodynamics. As the fourth law of thermodynamics Onsager reciprocal relations would constitute the fourth principle of energetics.


– In the field of ecological energetics H.T. Odum considered maximum power, the fourth principle of energetics. Odum also proposed the Maximum empower principle as a corollary of the maximum power principle, and considered it to describe the propensities of evolutionary self-organization.

* Fifth principle of energetics

The energy quality factor increases hierarchically. From studies of ecological food chains, Odum proposed that energy transformations form a hierarchical series measured by Transformity increase (Odum 2000, p. 246). Flows of energy develop hierarchical webs in which inflowing energies interact and are transformed by work processes into energy forms of higher quality that feedback amplifier actions, helping to maximise the power of the system” — (Odum 1994, p. 251)

* Sixth principle of energetics

Material cycles have hierarchical patterns measured by the energy/mass ratio that determines its zone and pulse frequency in the energy hierarchy. (Odum 2000, p. 246). M.T. Brown and V. Buranakarn write, “Generally, energy per mass is a good indicator of recycle-ability, where materials with high energy per mass are more recyclable”

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* * * * * * *

All this.. is simply a collection of ideas and theories, stated for the sake of philosophical pondering, therefore open to discussion. Everything that has been stated in this post should be taken into mere consideration and not complete acceptance.

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footnotes:

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Carl Rogers (January 8, 1902 – February 4, 1987) was an influential American psychologist and among the founders of the humanistic approach to psychology.

Rogers is widely considered to be one of the founding fathers of psychotherapy research and was honored for his pioneering research with the Award for Distinguished Scientific Contributions by the American Psychological Association in 1956.

For his professional work he was bestowed the Award for Distinguished Professional Contributions to Psychology in 1972.

Towards the end of his life Carl Rogers was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for his work with national intergroup conflict in South Africa and Northern Ireland.

The person-centered approach, his own unique approach to understanding personality and human relationships.


The illusion of choice

The illusion of choice or control may be crucial to our motivational systems and feelings of well-being for some adaptive reasons deriving from natural selection. Perhaps it is only the belief in internal control that keeps one actively trying to manipulate the environment, which in turn is crucial for survival.

Who are you? How do we form an identity? How many types of identity are there?

Social Identity, which is the part of an individual’s self, is a concept which derives from his/her membership in a social group, together with the value and emotional significance attached to that membership.

Ethnic Identity, which is the part of an individual’s self knowledge that concerns his/her membership in a particular ethnic group.

Adolescents who identify with both mainstream culture & their ethnic group, create what is called a bicultural or integrated identity.

Those who maintain a strong ethnic identity, maintain a separated identity.

Individuals who give up their ethnic heritage in favor of mainstream culture are said to be: assimilated.

Those who feel weak ties to their own ethnic culture as well as the mainstream culture, feel marginal, since they are outsiders in both cultures. Or, they adapt and become Bi-cultural.

BiCultural Competence is the successful functioning in both one’s culture of origin as well as in the new culture.

Under the circumstances and according to those circumstances of a culture, the according corresponding social norms emerge.

Social norms are rules and expectations about how group members should behave.

Whereas social role refers to the set of norms that apply people in a particular position..

Internal attributions (moods, attitudes, personality, ability, health, preferences) and external attributions (pressure, money, weather, social situation) in turn usually determine Stability Vs Instability.


Social exchange is broken down in terms of interaction, on the basis of costs and benefits to each person, of possible ways he or she can interact. Even when unaware, the process of interaction creates rewards or benefits (information, smiles, approval, money, feelings) and costs (boredom, disapproval, being misunderstood) for the people involved.

Variations in speech other than the actual verbal contact, called para-language, carry a great deal of meaning. Voice pitch, loudness, rhythm, inflection, hesitations convey information.

This is why sometimes we intuitively “know” what the other person is about, or what is saying, or what he/she really means.

Multiple channels are the three channels of communication, verbal, visible, paralinguistic and provides most information about a person’s real emotions. Conflicts across channels are particularly important in interpreting apparently deceptive communications.

In conflicting situations, the non verbal communication is the one relied upon most heavily. The instinct as one can calls it.

People tend to imagine that everyone responds the way they do. They tend to see their own behavior as typical. This tendency to exaggerate is called the false consensus effect.

…….. Self Regulation:

 

Self Regulation, refers to the ways in which people control and direct their own actions.

EVERY

SITUATION IS DIFFERENT

and therefore needs to be assessed according to the particular Self Concept.*


An aspect of Self Regulation involves self-complexity, which is the way people think of themselves according to the different groups they belong. For example, one can be a son, a brother, a friend, a husband, a father and a man, at the same time.

Another aspect is self efficacy, which is the expectations that we hold about our abilities to accomplish certain tasks. The smoker will not stop smoking unless he believes he can do it, however much he may want to stop.

Self Awareness, leads people to evaluate their behavior against a standard and to set an adjustment process in motion, for meeting the standard they set for themselves.

Self Attention, causes people to compare themselves to standards such as physical appearance, intellectual performance, athletic prowess or moral integrity.

We attempt to conform to the standard, evaluate our behavior against the standard, decide that it other matches the standard or does not and continue adjusting and comparing, until we meet the standard or until we give up.


An accurate *Self concept is knowing who we are and what we want to do.

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Independent Self

There have been many attempts to describe the levels of intimacy in human behavior. The basic categorization concluded in three major states of being, either in such a state or between states. That is, the relationship between dependence – independence – interdependence.

My personal favorite (discussing mostly the state of being when one is dependent, then moves to independent and then is able to be and chooses to become: interdependent) is Jorge Bucay (which I undoubtedly suggest for further reading).

Moreover, the foundation of this concept is to understand the following (which I quote from various sources, since I couldn’t have put it better myself and is thus a collage of theories):

Independent Self is a bounded, unique, more or less integrated, motivational and cognitive universe, a dynamic center of awareness, emotion, judgment, action, organized into a distinctive whole and set contrastingly, both against other such wholes and against a social background.

Taken by: Social Psychology textbook*

Interdependence is a dynamic of being mutually and physically responsible to, and sharing a common set of principles with others. This concept differs distinctly from “dependence” in that an interdependent relationship implies that all participants are emotionally, economically, ecologically and or morally “interdependent.” Some people advocate freedom or independence as a sort of ultimate good; others do the same with devotion to one’s family, community, or society. Interdependence recognizes the truth in each position and weaves them together. Two states that cooperate with each other are said to be interdependent. It can also be defined as the interconnectedness and the reliance on one another socially, economically, environmentally and politically.

Taken by: Marx first used the term interdependence in the Communist Manifesto (1848) in describing the universal interdependence of nations in comparison to the old local and national seclusion of independence and self-sufficiency. Will Durant made one Declaration of Interdependence on April 8, 1944. Others have been written in the years since, and interest in the United States has picked up in the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks. Leaders as diverse as Mahatma Gandhi, Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Stephen Covey have written and spoken at length about interdependence.

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. . . . . . .
As I see it,
basically, Independence is what derives from our personal struggle to become a whole individual. To be free. To be emotionally mature and responsible, in theory and in actuality, for our own actions.
Interdependence could describe the bond of man with social factors but in a healthy relationship and not some form of dependency or extreme intimacy.
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The best way to put it is:
Interdependence is and ought to be as much the ideal of man as self-sufficiency. Man is a social being. Without interrelation with society he cannot realize his oneness with the universe or suppress his egotism. His social interdependence enables him to test his faith and to prove himself on the touchstone of reality.  

Mahatma Gandhi, Young India, March 21, 1929, p. 93

Explanation: A child is born dependent and is celebrated, in an independent society, when they can say “I can do it for myself.” However a tribal child is encouraged to grow beyond independence into interdependence, so they can say “I can do it for others”. Truly successful tribes and organizations are by their nature inherently interdependent, whose elder leadership’s multi-generational visioning skills are guiding and evolving diverse competing interests into completing interests, for the benefit of all. The independent is grandchild to the interdependent. by Tom Harris


The community stagnates without the impulse of the individual. The impulse dies away without the sympathy of the community.  

William James, Great Men, Great Thoughts, and the Environment, Atlantic Monthly, October, 1880

When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe.  

John Muir, My First Summer in the Sierra, Houghton Mifflin, 1911, Chapter 7

…for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. And they have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom.  


Moreover, I am cognizant of the interrelatedness of all communities and states. I cannot sit idly by in Atlanta and not be concerned about what happens in Birmingham. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. Never again can we afford to live with the narrow, provincial “outside agitator” idea. Anyone who lives inside the United States can never be considered an outsider anywhere within its bounds.  


Independent thinking alone is not suited to interdependent reality. Independent people who do not have the maturity to think and act interdependently may be good individual producers, but they won’t be good leaders or team players. They’re not coming from the paradigm of interdependence necessary to succeed in marriage, family, or organizational reality.  


Hence, international co-operation and solidarity and the relentless search for consensus become an absolute imperative. They are the only possible alternative for all nations, whose interdependence is being made increasingly manifest by the rapid development of production technology, of transport and communications, as well as by the overhanging threat of deterioration of the environment and exhaustion of natural resources. And what is one to say of the frightful accumulation of means of destruction in a world facing the no less frightful problems of hunger, disease and ignorance?  

Federico Mayor, Address to the “Symposium 80” on International Cultural Relations: Bridges Across Frontiers, Bonn, 27 May 1980

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and here comes the twist..

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Illusion of Self:

“According to research by Anne Wilson and Michael Ross in 2001, you see the person you used to be as a foolish bumbler with an awful haircut, but your current self as a badass who is worthy of at least three times the praise.”

“The findings of these studies showed you tend to accept credit when you succeed, but blame bad luck, unfair rules, difficult instructors, cheaters and so on when you fail. When you are doing well, you think you are to blame. When you are doing badly, you think the world is to blame.

This behavior can be observed in board games and senate races, group projects and final exams. You attribute everything to your amazing skills when things are going your way, but once the tide turns, you look for external factors which prevented your genius to shine through”.

Taken by:  Mr. McRaney.

More on his blog here: http://youarenotsosmart.com/2009/10/20/self-serving-bias/

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references:

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* Carl Rogers (January 8, 1902 – February 4, 1987) was an influential American psychologist and among the founders of the humanistic approach to psychology. The person-centered approach, his own unique approach to understanding personality and human relationships.

Rogers is widely considered to be one of the founding fathers of psychotherapy research and was honored for his pioneering research with the Award for Distinguished Scientific Contributions by the American Psychological Association in 1956.

For his professional work he was bestowed the Award for Distinguished Professional Contributions to Psychology in 1972.

Towards the end of his life Carl Rogers was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for his work with national intergroup conflict in South Africa and Northern Ireland.

 

PS:: Further reading here http://www.panarchy.org/rogers/person.html